Joe Gavazzi

Joe Gavazzi Knows


Call it anything you want…a hoagie, a sub or a hero sandwich.  Nothing is better than a sandwich packed full with your favorite deli meats and cheeses.  You know how much you enjoy wolfing one down while watching a football game where you have invested some of your hard-earned money.  

This article, dealing with Week #1 of College Football games, can give you 10 times the pleasure of one of your favorite sandwiches.  It presents, IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER OF THE TEAM WHO IS SANDWICHED, 10 great “Play Against” situations with teams who are sandwiched between the exhilaration of their finish from last season and a look-ahead to their next game.  No doubt these teams will be overpriced and ill-fated in their quest to cover that big number.  A brief analysis is presented of each game along with the current early season line.  In the write-ups below, Your “PLAY ON” team is underlined.

Georgia Southern at Auburn (-35)

With 16 RS and a Top 10 experienced team, Auburn will be in the thick of the SEC West race.  They were clearly battle-hardened to end last season facing Alabama in the Iron Bowl and Oklahoma in their Bowl game.  Dead ahead on the schedule is a meeting with Defending Champion, Clemson.  It is a revenge meeting for a 19-13 loss last season to the Tigers on opening day.  More was expected from GA Southern in the 1st year under HC Summers.  He went away from the highly successful running game that had seen the Eagles lead the Nation in that category for 3 consecutive seasons under the guidance of former HC Fritz.  Summers, a non-option coach, saw his team struggle badly down the stretch finishing 2-7 SU.  The hiring of new OC Cook (a Paul Johnson disciple) means a return to those option game principles that serve to shorten the game and help them come in under the number against a Tiger team who is definitely in look-ahead mode.

Boston College (-2 ½) at Northern Illinois

The Eagles put a capper on a winning season for 5th year HC Addazio last year with a 36-30 Bowl victory against Maryland.  It was good for a 7-6 SU season.  But there will be little focus on this opponent as next week they are slated to host Wake Forrest, whom they beat 17-14 last November 26th, in the Conference opener.  With 16 RS, this could be the best Eagle team ever under Addazio.  Unfortunately for BC, they are facing one of our bounce back teams in Northern Illinois.  Under 5th year HC Carey, the Huskies have gone from 2 to 3 to 6 to 7 losses AND NO BOWL BID LAST YEAR.  This, from a team who had 6 consecutive MAC West titles.  To the credit of Carey and the Huskies, they bounced back from a 1-6 SU start for the season to win and cover 4 of their last 5 games.  It was a year when they were plagued with QB injuries.  This year, with a veteran defense, it looks like a big bounce back season. What better place to start than against an ACC foe who is looking dead ahead to their Conference opener next week.

Kent State at Clemson (-38-)

Some may believe that the defending National Champs, these Clemson Tigers, are due for a downer.  But with a perennial outstanding defense and first class offensive line returning, it’s just a matter of time before a signal caller emerges to take the place of departed QB Watson.  Though they have scheduled an easy opener in this Kent State team, do not expect a blowout to take place.  Dead ahead for these Tigers in the next two weeks are games against Auburn and Louisville which will clearly have major implications on the National landscape.  Kent has been a major disappointment under 5th year HC Haynes going just 12-35 SU and 16-27 ATS.  Major issues have been on the offensive side of the ball where they have averaged just 18 PPG in the Haynes era.  The underrated aspect of this Kent team, however, is a defense that allowed less than 30 PPG in each of Haynes 5 previous seasons.  But you will most likely be the Lone Ranger in this one once the public scans the Flashes log from last season and note they lost to Alabama 48-0.  Only for the brave!

Appalachian State at Georgia (-14)

Ending the season with a 31-23 Bowl victory vs. TCU and scheduled to play at Notre Dame next Saturday, leaves these Georgia Bulldogs ripe for the plucking against one of the more underrated teams on the CFB landscape.  Not that I am expecting any less than a superior season from a team with Top 20 experience and 18 returning starters under 2nd year HC Kirby Smart.  But today they line up against the App State Mountaineers.  This is the team who took Tennessee to the limit on opening week last season with the Vols barely surviving 20-13.  Much could be the case on opening day of 2017 as 5th year HC Saterfield has his team primed for the Sun Belt Conference Championship.  Watch QB Lamm and RB Moore behind a veteran line as the Mountaineers give the Bulldogs all they can handle on opening week with Georgia far more interested in their date at South Bend next week.

Wyoming at Iowa (-13)

For starters, 19th year Iowa HC Ferentz has never been known as a pointspread dominator in the role of home chalk.  In fact, in the previous 4 seasons, his Hawkeyes are just 7-13 ATS in that role.  Again this year, Iowa will be competitive in the Big 10 with a veteran experienced defense and a powerful OL returning 4 starters.  It is clearly not a good situation either for them considering that an SEC team Florida was their opponent in a 30-3 Bowl loss and that in-state rival Iowa State is on the docket for next weekend.  But they will be ill-advised to sleep on this Cowboy team for 4th year HC Bohl has a major NFL prospect in QB Allen, as well as the return of 8 starters to the defensive front.  Considering that the Cowboys went from 19 to 36 points last year, it will be no surprise to this bureau if Wyoming steps up much as they did in a 30-28 upset of Boise (as +14) and a 34-33 upset of San Diego State (as +8) last year.  

Nevada at Northwestern (-24)

This is a veteran Northwestern team who, with 17 returning starters, is a team with Top 20 experience.  This opener, however, finds them caught in an ACC sandwich, coming off a 31-24 win over Pitt in their Bowl game and a date next week at Duke whom they defeated 24-13.  True enough, Northwestern was 3-1 ATS as home chalk last season.  That, however, was an anomaly considering they were 2-8 ATS as home chalk the previous 3 seasons.  New Nevada HC Norvell is an offensive guru who has experience in big time football as OC at Nebraska, Oklahoma and UCLA as well as an assistant role at high-scoring Arizona State last season.  Don’t be surprised if flying footballs find Nevada more than capable of doing no worse than coming through the back door in this matchup against a Big 10 host in an ACC sandwich.  

UTEP at Oklahoma (-44)

Even with 1st year HC Lincoln Riley as one of the youngest mentors on the CFB landscape, do not expect a letdown from a Sooners team who was a perennial National Title contender in the 18 years under former HC Stoops.  The Sooners offense will not miss a beat behind QB Mayfield and his entire starting line returning.  But the defense remains a bit suspect considering the 29/432 they allowed last season.  Last season, saw the Sooners finish with 10 consecutive victories after their 1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS start.  One of those losses came to Ohio State on this very field.  That just happens to be next week’s opponent in one of the biggest early season revenge games of the year.  With the Sooners finishing 2016 with high-profile victories against rival Ok State, and against Auburn in their Bowl game, will it be any wonder if a letdown is inevitable against the lowly regarded UTEP team to open the season. Big Dog bettors beware as under 5th year UTEP HC Kugler, the Miners are just 13-23 ATS as underdog.  But with the Sooners looking dead ahead to their revenge game vs. Ohio State, having a less than superior defense, is it any wonder the back door could swing wide open for the cover this afternoon in Norman.  

Akron at Penn State (-33)

This is a Penn State team that is among the Top10 most experienced in the country including 16 returning starters.  Leading the way is QB McSorley and RB Barkley, a potent offensive tandem that averaged 38 PPG LY.  Today, however, it will be doubtful if we see the best of the Nittany Lions.  Penn State closed last year with a Big 10 Title by beating Wisconsin, 38-31, followed by one of the most exciting Bowl games of last year, a 52-49 loss to USC.  Considering that an early season revenger against in-state rival Pitt for a 42-39 loss last year is on the horizon, it is doubtful that they are primed for this Akron squad.  Under 6th year HC Bowden, the Zips had a bit of a downer last year going 5-7 SU.  But they return Top 30 experience including 15 RS as well as a terrific trio of offensive triplets in QB Woodson, WR Chapman, and RB Ball.  The Zips were 6-2 ATS L2Y as road dog and have the ability to come in under this number against a Penn State team who is looking ahead to next week’s revenge game.  

Rice vs. Stanford (-31) (August 26th at Sydney, Australia)

Sandwiched between a 25-23 victory vs. North Carolina in last year’s Bowl game and a meeting with USC in their next game which will point out early season PAC 12 superiority, is there any wonder that Stanford might be a bit flat for this contest against lower echelon Rice, whom they beat 41-17 last November 26th.  The Owls are looking to bounce back from a pair of dismal seasons in which they were a combined 8-16 SU allowing 37 PPG.  The 3-9 SU 2016 season was a major disappointment considering they had 16 RS. Though many skill position players need to be replaced, it is meaningful to note that the entire OL returns.  That is a huge advantage in early season action.  Let’s see if they can parlay it into a cover against a Stanford team who will be far more interested in the sites of Sydney than a Rice team they recently beat, and their matchup vs. USC with whom they will wish to share little of their playbook.  


Western Michigan at USC (-27)

Maybe the biggest sandwich of opening week is that faced by these USC Trojans.  After a 1-3 SU, ATS start to the season, the Trojans finished the year with 9 consecutive victories when this year’s returning QB Sam Darnold was inserted in the lineup.  The dessert came with consecutive season-ending victories against Oregon, Washington, UCLA, Notre Dame, and a final comeback 52-49 win vs. Penn State in their Bowl game.  With 27-10 revenge against Stanford next week, it is doubtful USC comes with full focus (or a full game plan) against a Western Michigan team whom they know has lost their high-profile coach.  Gone from the Broncos is high-profile HC Fleck whose “row the boat” mantra lead the Broncos to a 13-1 SU season and 8 point loss to Wisconsin in their Bowl game.  Now, Fleck has matriculated to Minnesota and the team will be led by former WMU QB Lester who looks to keep the boat going.  With QB Flacco, the brother of Joe of NFL fame, one thing we know is that the Broncos will never stop rowing the boat making them definitely live at this inflated price.  

Opening week is an exciting time for CFB fans, underdogs are often the rule of the day.  The above 10 games give you ample opportunity to fill your pockets with green while you stuff your stomach with your favorite hoagie and end the day looking like a hero.

The Top 10 Meal Tickets for Opening Week of 2017 CFB
by Joe Gavazzi

The Offensive Double Rushers,  200 Club and Offensive Oafs
By Joe Gavazzi  

Last week in this space, I authored an article on “The Defensive Dandies, Duds and 200 Clubs” for 2017 CFB.  Refer to last week’s article at to review those findings.  I also promised we would take a look at the offensive statistics this week.  They are presented in a group of 3 charts below pointing out the best and worst offensive teams in the nation.  If you follow “Keep on Trackin’” in the Pointspread Prognosis Newsletter, you will see the value of the first two lists presented in this article.  This millennium it is a long term 75% ATS situation to “Bet On” any team who double rushes their opponent as well as to “Bet On” any team who, in any given game, runs and passes for 200 or more yards if their opponent does not.  With that as a background, I present the 3 groups of teams entitled “The Double Rushers, the 200 Club and The Offensive Oafs” along with the parameters for each.  


Average 250 or more RYPG
Average 4.5 or more OYPR
Allow 50% or less RYPG as their offense gains
Allow less than 4.5 DYPR

It should come as no surprise when we add up the ATS column to find out that these qualifying teams have a 41-21 ATS record.  But you do not have to isolate your pointspread winners to only these teams.  If you review the “Stat Matchup” for CFB games each week, you can project which teams will “Double Rush” their opponent and, IF THEY ARE NOT ON THE NEGATIVE SIDE OF THE TO MARGIN, will provide you a great opportunity for pointspread winners.  Now let’s take a look at the Double Rushers with the parameters outlined below.  Note that in this list there are several teams which overlap with the double rushers.


Average 32 or more PPG
Average 200 or more RYPG
Average 4.5 or more OYPR
Average 200 or more PYPG
Average 7.5 or more PYPPS

Unlike the above list of Double Rushers, the ATS results show only a 50% ATS return.  The reason for this is that, due to space considerations, I have not included any defensive parameters for these teams. That does not mean you should ignore the thinking of this highly successful theory.  Once again, if you go to your Statistical Matchup of the teams on a game-by-game basis, you can draw your own conclusions about which teams will run and pass for 200 yards against this week’s opponent, while holding their foe to less than 200 YPG both running and passing.

Now let’s look at our 3rd offensive list which, unlike the groups above, point out the impotent offenses this CFB Season.  I call them…


Score 20 or less PPG
Average 340 or less YPG
Average 120 or less RYPG
Average 3.5 or less YPR

In an era where there are more high scoring CFB games than ever, it is clearly important to score the football.  No longer does defense only win football games.  The pointspread record of the teams on this list are proof of that fact.  There are several teams who were “almost qualifiers” for this list.  Such teams include Kent State (3-4 ATS), ODU (1-5ATS), Temple (2-5 ATS) and Texas State (2-5 ATS).  As the season goes into the 2nd half, you want to stay far away from these teams unless they are getting substantial points against a disinterested favorite.  

There you have it!  A look at our statistical review for the offensive side of the football at the half way point of the 2017 CFB Season.  Along with the defensive groups presented last week, you have all the ammunition you need to make solid conclusions from a statistical perspective on each week’s card.  For the conclusions of this bureau, while incorporating situational and technical considerations, enjoy the read of the CFB Pointspread Prognosis selections each week.