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Home underdogs - Covering the spread as usual

9:27 AM, Oct 1, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Wagering on home underdogs is usually a smart bet each and every season and in the 2012 campaign they are covering at a 54 percent clip.

That number hasn't won folks a ton of money, but it has kept them in the black. Still, if gamblers who love this trend just happened to stay away from betting any of the games in Week 5, they would be way above .500 at 59 percent. Last week's 10-12-1 mark dropped the overall percentage down to the aforementioned 54 percent.

Not only is betting on home underdogs against-the-spread a solid proposition, taking them on the money line is also a smart wager. Between weeks two and four, 12 of the 20 ATS home dogs won outright. Four of them (Wake Forest and Arizona in Week 2, Pittsburgh in Week 3 and UNLV in Week 4) were double-digit underdogs while three others were getting a touchdown or more.

This past weekend began with more of the same when the Washington Huskies beat Stanford, 17-13, as seven-point dogs on Thursday night. And when Kent State knocked off Ball State at home as 2.5-point underdogs as the first set of Saturday games were being completed, the winning percentage was a stout 61 percent. Unfortunately, road favorites clicked at a 60 percent clip the rest of the day.

Week 6 could have as many as 20 possibilities to choose from. Read on for a closer look at two of them.

ACC and BIG 12 HOME DOGS

The most intriguing pair of games are North Carolina State against Florida State and Texas Tech versus Oklahoma.

The Wolfpack have given the Seminoles fits over the years, not only covering nine of the last 11 meetings but also winning five of them. North Carolina State's exploits have been nothing short of remarkable, particularly since Florida State was favored in all 11 contests.

Moreover, all five Wolfpack outright wins came when the Seminoles were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, including twice when Florida State was ranked inside the Top 10!

The Seminoles are currently third in the country, so the Wolfpack will surely have their hands full. Florida State is sixth in the country in scoring, ninth in total offense, third in total defense and seventh in scoring defense.

It also must be pointed out that they have played two non-Football Bowl Subdivision teams as well as Wake Forest, so their numbers are definitely skewed. In their two other contests, they won by just 12 and 13 points, respectively, failing to cover each time.

The Wolfpack are 3-2 but could easily be 4-1 if not for six turnovers against Miami (Fla.) this past Saturday. The Hurricanes also were fortunate to score the game-winning touchdown on a 62-yard strike from Stephen Morris to Phillip Dorsett with about 30 seconds left in the game. That loss will certainly keep the Wolfpack focused versus Florida State.

The other key game pits undefeated Texas Tech against a one-loss Oklahoma squad. Even though the game will be played in Lubbock, the 2-1 Sooners are favored over the 4-0 home team.

Oklahoma has not looked like its old self in either of its two FBS contests.

Texas-El Paso, one of the early 2012 home underdogs to cover, trailed the Sooners by only three points heading into the fourth quarter in Week 1 despite Nick Lamaison completing just four of his first 17 passes for 24 yards. The Sooners were able to pull away late to get the 24-7 victory, but it certainly was far from easy.

Three weeks later, they turned the ball over three times to Kansas State in a 24-19 loss against the Wildcats. Oklahoma's defense was abused for 213 rushing yards on 4.8 yards per carry after having an extra week to prepare for the Wildcats' running attack.

The Sooners have an extra week once again to get them ready for Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2012 season as they are 4-0. Their schedule has been fairly easy, but they did go into Ames and take down Iowa State last Saturday.

The game was close heading into the fourth quarter, but Texas Tech pulled away with 10 unanswered points to get the 24-13 victory. The defense was the story as it held the Cyclones to 189 yards of offense and just 3.3 yards per play.

The Red Raiders upset Oklahoma last October as 29-point underdogs. It was only their second career win in Norman. The four other victories came at home with three of them coming in the last three matchups in Lubbock.

Texas Tech has been the underdog the last six meetings and the Sooners are favored once again.

AFTER FIVE WEEKS

My overall record through Week 5 stands at an even 34-34 after a 9-8 week. The five-star plays are 8-5, the three-star selections are 3-8, the two-star picks are 16-14 and the one-star plays are 7-7.

As a reminder, the five-star plays are when my personal plays coincide with my power rating plays (games with at least a five-point differential between my line and the actual line). The three-star choices are my personal picks, the two-star plays are the games the power rating system picks and the one-star plays are my personal secondary selections.

THIS WEEK'S JEFF FRANK "DIRTY DOZEN"

1) Alabama, 103; 2) Oregon, 102.5; 3) Florida State, 102; 4) Georgia, 101.5; 5) USC, 100.5; 6) LSU, 99.5; 7-T) South Carolina and Texas, 98.5; 9) Florida, 97; 10) Texas A&M, 96.5; 11) Oklahoma, 96; 12) BYU, 95.5

(The Top 12 is not a reflection of a given team's won-loss record. It is based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all 124 FBS teams are assigned a power number, which changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous week.)

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