Using the alias Monsterloc, Rich Velez went 81-36-2 ATS (69.2 percent) to win the Golden Nugget’s inaugural Ultimate Football Challenge last year.
Velez, a San Francisco financial adviser, is in contention again this season in the $1,000-entry contest in which players make seven weekly ATS picks on college and NFL sides. He’s tied for 10th place with a 46-28-3 record (62.1 percent).
Velez specializes in college football and shared his best bet with us this week in East Carolina, a consensus 15-point favorite at Connecticut.
“East Carolina is showing vast improvement down the stretch under coach Mike Houston,” Velez said. “The Pirates are on a 5-1 ATS streak with near outright wins vs. SMU and Cincinnati in their last two. These teams are going in opposite directions.”
East Carolina, a sharp play at Caesars Entertainment sportsbook, lost 46-43 as 24-point underdogs Nov. 2 to a Cincinnati squad that crushed Connecticut 48-3 the following week.
San Diego State-Hawaii U48
Handicapper Paul Stone placed third in the Golden Nugget contest last year with a 77-36-6 record (68.1 percent). Stone leads the Review-Journal’s College Football Challenge this season with a 33-27 record and shared his best bet on the San Diego State-Hawaii Under, which is at 48 after opening at 50½.
The Aztecs are the top under team in the nation at 9-1, and Stone (@paulstonesports) noted that the Warriors have averaged only 11 points in regulation the past five years against San Diego State.
“San Diego State, in a trademark of coach Rocky Long, plays tough defense and a ball-control offense featuring a top-level running back,” Stone said. “They’ve had Raashad Penny and Donnel Pumphrey in recent years, but they don’t have that caliber back this year.
“The Aztecs actually rank 118th in yards per rush attempt and 104th in scoring offense with 22 points per game. This one screams under.”
Ohio State (-18½) over Penn State
This week’s marquee college football matchup is Ohio State-Penn State, ranked Nos. 2 and 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
The Buckeyes (10-0) opened as 17-point home favorites at Circa Sports, where the line was quickly bet to 19. The consensus line is 18½, and Stone is backing Ohio State.
“I made Ohio State minus 20,” he said. “Ohio State joined the 1971 Nebraska team this past weekend as the only team in the last 100 years to win its first 10 games of the season by 24 or more points. Their average margin of victory is 41.7 points.
“Ohio State has stubbed its toe the last three seasons as a large favorite, but those three games were on the road. The Buckeyes are at ‘The Shoe’ on Saturday, they’re better this year than those three editions and (defensive end) Chase Young is back after a two-game suspension.”
NFL best bets
Mark Franco leads the Review-Journal’s NFL Challenge with a 33-21-1 ATS record (61.1 percent), and Doug Fitz is second at 31-22-2 (58.4 percent). The handicappers shared their best bets for Week 12, with Franco taking the Titans (-3) over the Jaguars and Fitz backing the Packers (+3½) over the 49ers.
“We have two teams heading in opposite directions here, with Jacksonville dropping two straight games and averaging just eight points, while Tennessee has won three of its last four games (3-1 ATS) while averaging 26 points,” said Franco (FrancoSports.com). “The Jaguars have been terrible on defense. Look for Titans running back Derrick Henry to have a big day and quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is hitting at a 71 percent clip with eight touchdowns since taking over the offense, to play well again.”
Fitz (Systemplays.com) said the Niners are a bit overrated after winning their first eight games.
“San Francisco was the supposed best team in the NFC, but they’ve lost three in a row against the spread, assuming a line of 10½ or 11 against Arizona, which was available all week,” he said. “The Packers are 7-3 ATS, they have Aaron Rodgers, they’re getting points and they’re coming off their bye, which is a pretty big plus.”
Sharp college plays
MGM Resorts reported sharp plays on Michigan, Texas and Maryland. Caesars Entertainment took sharp action on Michigan, Wake Forest, East Carolina, Iowa, Iowa State, Oregon State and Hawaii. And the Westgate reported wiseguy wagers on Michigan, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Colorado State and Colorado.
Sharp NFL plays
Caesars took sharp plays on the Broncos, Titans and Seahawks, and the MGM reported wiseguy action on the Jets and Rams.
More Betting: Follow at reviewjournal.com/betting.