Texas Tech figures to be fired up for Big 12 clash

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach undoubtedly has been in a sour mood following last week’s 41-10 thumping at the hands of Big 12 North leader Missouri.

It obviously was not the Red Raiders’ best work, and, to top it off, media types have been questioning Leach since the game ended about his refusal to punt on fourth down and how it cost his team against the Tigers.

Situations such as today’s are just the type that Leach’s teams have thrived on in the past, and, for that reason, I’m recommending laying the 131/2 points and backing Texas Tech against Colorado.

Since coming to Tech, Leach is 18-7 against the spread off a straight-up loss, while also bringing home the money as a home favorite and covering 23 of 35 games in that role.

The Red Raiders also have revenge in their corner as the Buffaloes humiliated them 30-6 in Boulder last year with Tech as a 61/2-point road favorite.

On the flip side, in its two road games against opponents not named Baylor, Colorado struggled, losing by 19 points to Arizona State and by 27 points to Kansas State. The Buffaloes have failed to cover seven of their past eight games as underdogs.

Finally, with quarterback Graham Harrell throwing the ball all over the place, Leach typically does not leave the back door open and is not shy about adding a late touchdown.

Other selections for today (home team in CAPS):

PENN STATE (+4) over Ohio State — The top-ranked Buckeyes have been Big Ten road warriors for the most part, with the notable exception of trips to Happy Valley.

The Nittany Lions are 4-1 against the spread in their last five as home underdogs and have upset Ohio State twice in the past three meetings in State College, Pa., and lost the other by one point. The Buckeyes’ first-year starting QB, Todd Boeckman, has not faced a defense of the Nittany Lions’ caliber this season.

Ohio State-PENN STATE (Under 40) — This game features extraordinary defenses and ordinary quarterbacks. Both coaches will try to play it relatively close to the vest and ask their defenses to win the game. Penn State’s past 29 conference games are 20-8-1 under the total, while four of the past five in the series went below the total.

South Carolina (+3) over TENNESSEE — The visitor in this Southeastern Conference series has covered 10 straight, and the Volunteers have been miserable as conference home favorites in recent years, going 0-9 against the spread since the start of the 2004 season.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is 6-2 against the spread off a straight-up loss and 7-1 as an away underdog.

California (+3) over ARIZONA STATE — Under coach Dennis Erickson, the Sun Devils have ascended to near the top of the Bowl Championship Series totem pole, but this game against a wounded Cal team represents their first real test of the season.

Lining up against a slate of inferior opponents, Arizona State previously has been favored by at least nine points (and an average of 15 points) in every game this season. To date, Colorado and Oregon State are the only teams the Sun Devils have played with legitimate bowl aspirations.

Central Michigan (-21/2) over KENT — The Golden Flashes lost veteran QB Julian Edelman to injury for the season last week and elected to take the redshirt off true freshman Giorgio Morgan, who is athletic but untested.

Technically, Central Michigan is 14-3-1 against the spread in its last 18 Mid-American Conference games, 8-2 ATS on the road in conference play, 8-2 ATS off a straight-up loss, and 13-2 ATS as a favorite its last 15 games.

TEXAS A&M (+3) over Kansas — The Jayhawks qualify as one of college football’s surprise teams but will be playing just their third road game of the season. And Kyle Field has little in common with venues in Manhattan, Kan., or Boulder, Colo. The Aggies feature one of the loudest and most intimidating environments.

Kansas has lost seven straight outright to A&M, which is in its preferred home underdog role, going 5-0-1 against the spread since the start of the 2004 season.

Last week: 1-6 against the spread

Season: 17-24-1

Texas-based handicapper Paul Stone of Vegas Sports Authority (vegassports authority.com) is providing weekly college football analysis for the Review-Journal this season.

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