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Raptors avenge Huskies by beating Knicks in most impressive performance yet

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It’s only been 75 years since a team called the Toronto Huskies hosted the New York Knickerbockers in what is considered the first game in NBA history.

It was held at Maple Leaf Gardens on Nov. 1, 1946. The Huskies lost, 68-66.

It’s an oddly under-celebrated moment in league history or even Canadian sports history.

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It could have something to do with the Huskies finishing last, going through four coaches in a single season, immediately folding and the NBA taking nearly 50 years to return.

Regardless, the momentous occasion was observed in Madison Square Garden with a match-up between the Knicks and the Toronto Raptors, whose only acknowledgement of their forebearers is a well-received retro jersey they trotted out a few years ago. “The Huskies, man. That’s awesome,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. “Remember when we wore those Huskies jerseys? They were awesome.”

But what about the history?

“The significance of that for me is I lived right up there by Maple Leaf Gardens [now Mattamy Athletic Centre] part of I think, my first year in Toronto, and now it’s a grocery store. I went in there and I saw the sign on the pillar [commemorating the event] and I was taking pictures of that, going, ‘Man, that’s incredible. That’s incredible.’ Like, I didn’t even know that, you know, when I was there nine years ago as a Raptors assistant. So hey, pretty cool. We’re (in) a rematch. I think we owe ’em one, don’t we?”

You know what they say about payback. The Raptors got theirs Monday night with their most impressive win of the season as they reversed what seemed like a brewing Knicks blowout in the second quarter to dominate the second half on their way to 113-104 win, handing the Knicks just their second loss of the season and improving the Raptors to 5-3 with their fourth straight victory.

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They did it without emerging rookie star Scottie Barnes and benefitted from a career-high 36 points from OG Anunoby, who has found his legs after a spotty start. Fred VanVleet delivered too as he scored 13 of 17 points in the second half while adding nine rebounds and seven assists in 37 minutes

Anunoby was exceptional, converting on 13 of 27 shots and going 4-of-12 from three while snaring six rebounds and making just one turnover in 41 minutes. His highlight was a third-quarter dunk on a lob from VanVleet — “Fred threw a nice pass and I jumped” — but more noteworthy is that helped limit burly Knicks star Julius Randle to 22 points and 13 shots.

“I think that we told him ‘we’ll let you develop a lot more offensive opportunities but we don’t want to let your foot off the gas at the other end’ because we consider him one of the better, top, top defenders in the league,” Nurse said.

“It’s good that he’s getting in shape, he’s able to play hard at both ends.”

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The Knicks got a 27 points and 5-of-8 three-point shooting from Canadian men’s team star RJ Barrett, who followed up his 35-point career-high from Saturday in fine style.

It was a win for Nurse too as he pressed plenty of buttons with perfect timing — from starting Svi Mykhailiuk (15 points on seven shots) in place of Barnes, to giving Khem Birch extra minutes ahead of a struggling Precious Achiuwa, to finding early minutes for the likes of Malachi Flynn and Justin Champagnie, to playing his second-half starting five the full 12 minutes in the pivotal third quarter.

“I feel like sometimes you just gotta sacrifice,” said Birch, who acknowledged he was tired by the end of his stint. “Say if someone else was doing well like that and then I was on the bench, I wouldn’t complain either. I would let them keep rocking, keep rolling, and that’s what Coach Nurse does sometimes. I appreciate that, sometimes coaches have a set rotation but Coach Nurse goes off of feel for the game.”

The Raptors looked like they could be in trouble before the game started. Barnes was ruled out just prior to the tip due to a sprained thumb on his right hand he suffered in the final minute of the Raptors’ win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. He had an MRI Monday morning and went through a light workout on the floor of Madison Square Garden without having a splint or wrap of any kind on, but he was just shooting and handling the ball. He was ruled out shortly after.

“It’s just sore a bit,” said Nurse. “Nothing too bad.”

But with Barnes’ 35 minutes to fill, there were opportunities for others in a Nurse rotation that has proven surprisingly difficult to crack.

The first beneficiary was Mykhailiuk who — coming off a strong 16-point outing against the Pacers — got the start in place of Barnes. It allowed Nurse to keep his second unit mainly intact after Nurse considered promoting Dalano Banton and Chris Boucher.

But Mykhailiuk didn’t exactly run with the opportunity — he didn’t attempt a shot in the first quarter and had only one in the half when he converted a turnover nicely on the break.

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The general lack of aggression seemed pervasive. Meanwhile, the Knicks — who sat atop the Eastern Conference before the game with 5-1 mark and boast the league’s highest-scoring offence and a top-10 defence — got rolling early.

They knocked down their first four triples and were 6-of-11 by the end of the first quarter to jump out to a 34-26 lead as the Raptors were just 1-of-7 from distance.

The Raptors were trailing by 15 with four minutes to go in the half when things started to turn. It was interesting who helped it change direction.

Nurse went to Flynn with five minutes left in the half, paired him with little-used rookie Champagnie and brought Birch in early for Achiuwa, who has looked lost lately after a strong pre-season.

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The new-look lineup got rolling quickly: Flynn knocked a three and assisted on triples by Gary Trent Jr. and Anunoby. It was nothing fancy, but the kind of solid decision making that can carve out some extra minutes for someone in Flynn’s position. Champagnie kept possessions alive on the glass. The Raptors closed on an 18-7 run and cut the Knicks lead to 57-53 at the half.

Nurse kept juggling. He started Birch over Achiuwa out of half time. It was an easy decision, really.

In a brief sequence before Nurse sat him down in the second quarter the second-year centre failed to push the ball to an open Anunoby on the break and missed the lay-up himself; he lost track of Knicks centre Mitchell Robinson in the paint and surrendered a dunk and then barrelled into Robinson at the other end to kill another Raptors possession before it started. Achiuwa was 1-of-5 in his 11 first-half minutes.

It’s not like Birch is all-star material, it’s just the 29-year-old Montrealer completes his assignments, sets timely screens, and doesn’t try to do too much.

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He finished with just six points, but the Raptors were plus-20 in his 31 minutes as he settled Toronto down defensively and drew praise from Nurse for his ability to contain Knicks guard Kemba Walker on switches. Overall, it was an impressive outing given Birch said he’s still gaining his timing after missing 10 days in training camp due to getting COVID-19.

“I’ve always been a guy who just wants to make winning plays, I don’t care about the box score,” said Birch, who averaged 11.4 points a game with the Raptors last season but has cracked double figures just once in eight games this year. “Now that I’m here, I got my contract [he signed a three-year, $20 million deal in the summer] I can show that I can just make winning plays and some nights I might have four points, some nights I might have 10 so I’m just happy I’ve been able to be stress-free this year and contribute to wins.”

But there were plenty of contributors as the Raptors outscored the Knicks 38-22 in the third and took a 91-79 lead into the fourth, a 17-point turnaround sparked also by Anunoby and VanVleet combining for 22 points in the period. Hurrying the Knicks into six turnovers — to none by the Raptors — helped also.

For the game the Raptors held a 17-9 edge in turnovers, 13-7 advantage in offensive rebounding and a massive 99-76 edge in shots attempted.

Revenge is best served old.

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SEC college football picks, odds in Week 5: Arkansas stays tight with Alabama, Georgia takes out frustration

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The calendar will flip from September to October as the Week 5 college football action takes center stage on Saturday, which means that SEC division title races are starting take shape. No. 2 Alabama will head to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to take on No. 20 Arkansas in a battle between SEC foes. It was anticipated this could be a battle of undefeated title contenders, but the Razorbacks’ loss to Texas A&M last week erased that possibility. No. 7 Kentucky will travel to Oxford, Mississippi, to take on No. 14 Ole Miss in a clash of cross-division, undefeated teams that are looking to break through on the national stage. 

There are intriguing games for other reasons, too. Auburn will take on LSU at Jordan-Hare Stadium in a game that could determine the future of Tigers coach Bryan Harsin. The second-year coach was rumored to be on the brink of receiving a pink slip had the Tigers lost to Missouri last week, but they escaped in overtime in one of the sloppiest games of the year. 

What else is going on around the conference in Week 5? Let’s take a spin around the league and make some picks in this week’s edition of SEC Smothered and Covered.

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Hurricane Ian hitting the East Coast has forced changes to SEC games in Week 5. Keep up to date with all of the movement at this link here

Appetizer: Drew Sanders, the double agent?

Arkansas linebacker Drew Sanders has established himself as one of the best players in the conference regardless of position. The former five-star prospect out of Denton, Texas, has 31 tackles on the season and is tied for third in the SEC in tackles for loss per game (1.63). He’s also a former member of the Alabama Crimson Tide. 

Could he be a secret agent? Well, not officially, but Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman knows that his star transfer isn’t going to be surprised by anything he sees.

“I would assume, for him, there would be some familiarity with what Bama is doing,” Pittman said. “We’ll try to downplay that as much as possible, because it is about shedding blocks and tackling and doing his assignment.”

This was shaping up to be a battle of undefeated teams prior to last weekend, but a reeling Texas A&M squad and a Hogs’ field goal attempt off the top of the goal post put an end to that plan. It didn’t erase the interest level in this game, though. Pittman’s squad absolutely has to win Saturday’s game vs. the Crimson Tide, otherwise its hopes of winning the West will disappear like a rack of ribs at a tailgate party. 

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Main course: Chris Rodriguez’s impact

Kentucky is typically a juggernaut at developing stud offensive linemen who are effective as run and pass blockers. This year … not so much. The Wildcats have given up more sacks than any other team in the SEC (16) and allowed Northern Illinois to sack quarterback Will Levis five times last weekend. Nothing against the Huskies, but that shouldn’t happen. 

They will get running back Chris Rodriguez back from his early-season suspension this week, though, and he should at least provide more of a threat in the running game to help Levis work off play-action. The preseason All-SEC selection rushed for 1,379 yards and nine touchdowns last season while adding three touchdowns as a receiver out of the backfield. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said Monday that Rodriguez has prepared to make an impact over the last couple of weeks.

“For Chris, it was just a matter of managing him while he was out. Just getting him the reps that we needed to. The last week or two, as I mentioned last week, he was getting reps with the first and second team — mainly the second team or different quarterbacks just to make sure he wasn’t totally removed from practicing our plays, along with staying in shape, being on the scout team, doing whatever was necessary for staying in good shape.” 

Dessert: Do or die for Bryan Harsin

Reports surfaced last week that Harsin could be fired as early as the day after the Missouri game if his team lost to the visiting Tigers. That didn’t happen; Auburn used a Missouri missed field goal at the end of regulation and a walk-off touchback in overtime to escape with a win. Or a “non-loss,” considering how sloppy the game was. 

In essence, it was the worst possible scenario for all parties. Harsin’s incredibly ugly win against Missouri the week after getting blown out by Penn State made it impossible for the powers-that-be to get rid of him last Sunday, which also gave him another week to “coach back into” his job if he can figure things out. Could that start this week against LSU? Harsin’s Tigers are nearly double-digit underdogs, which suggests that there isn’t much faith in him surviving beyond this weekend. Even if he does, Georgia looms next weekend prior to the bye week. 

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Simply put, Harsin needs to dominate LSU and upset Georgia to stay employed. Otherwise, those who staged the attempted coup in February will likely get their way and move into a new era of Auburn football.

Picks

Straight up: 38-8 | Against the spread: 19-21-1
*Previous picks were made on Instagram since SEC Smothered & Covered starts in Week 3

No. 7 Kentucky at No. 14 Ole Miss

Featured Game | Ole Miss Rebels vs. Kentucky Wildcats

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The Rebels have settled on Jaxson Dart as their No. 1 quarterback, and he will provide a nice complement through the air and on the ground to a rushing attack that is second-to-none in the conference (280.75 YPG). That will wear down a Kentucky defense that isn’t as deep or consistent as it has been in previous years. The Rebels defense, which is third in the SEC in tackles for loss per game (7.0), will keep Levis in third-and-long situations — leading to an Ole Miss cover. Pick: Ole Miss (-6.5)

No. 2 Alabama at No. 20 Arkansas

Featured Game | Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

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The 17.5-point spread is interesting, due in large part to the hook. If a 17-point Bama win cashes an Arkansas ticket, I’m all in for the Hogs. Alabama has played one-score games in four of its last five true road tilts, and the combination of Hogs quarterback KJ Jefferson and running back Raheim Sanders will bust enough big plays to at least keep this game close into the fourth quarter. The Crimson Tide will win it by two touchdowns when all is said and done but won’t get the cover. Pick: Arkansas (+17.5)

Featured Game | Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Texas A&M Aggies

The Bulldogs are home favorites over a ranked Aggies team for good reason. Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 44.4% of their passes on third downs (17th nationally), which sets up well against an Aggies team that will be without star wide receiver Ainias Smith. Texas A&M topped Arkansas essentially because of a fumbled punt return and a freak fumble recovery/scoop-and-score, but even those won’t save them in the land of the cowbells. Pick: Mississippi State (-3.5)

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LSU at Auburn

Featured Game | Auburn Tigers vs. LSU Tigers

Auburn’s offensive line has been a disaster this year, and now its quarterback position is an unmitigated disaster. Meanwhile, LSU’s defense has given up just 39 plays of 10 or more yards this season (tied with Georgia for third in the SEC). It’s going to make Auburn put together multiple sustained drives, and that’s unlikely considering Harsin forgot that running back Tank Bigsby exists during the majority of the Missouri game. The visiting Tigers will win by double-digits. Pick: LSU (-9)

No. 1 Georgia at Missouri

Featured Game | Missouri Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs

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The Bulldogs have to be embarrassed after Kent State stayed within 10 points into the fourth quarter last week, and they’ll take it out on Missouri on Saturday night in Columbia. The Tigers average a league-worst 5.62 yards per play, and the way to hang with the Bulldogs is to capitalize on shot plays. Coach Kirby Smart’s crew will take out its frustration on Missouri and win by at least 30 points. Pick: Georgia (-28)

SEC teams vs. FCS opponents

*No lines have been published

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 5, and which top-10 favorite will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned more than $3,100 in profit over the past six-plus seasons — and find out.

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Canada crushes Puerto Rico in FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup quarterfinal – Sportsnet.ca

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Canada has advanced to the semifinals at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup for the first time since 1986.

After going 4-1 in first-round play, Canada hammered Puerto Rico 79-60 in quarterfinal action on Thursday in Australia.

The Canadians will be heavy underdogs in the semis on Friday against the top-ranked United States. The Americans defeated Serbia 88-55 in the first quarterfinal.

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The Americans have won 28 consecutive games in World Cup play since losing to the Russians in the 2006 semis — the tournament is held quadrennially.

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Canada will try to win its first medal since capturing bronze in 1986. That result matched its previous best of third in 1979.

Kia Nurse led Canada with 17 points, one of five players to score in double figures for her team. Bridget Carleton had 15, while Laeticia Amihere and Natalie Achonwa had 12 apiece. Kayla Alexander had 13 rebounds for Canada.

Canada jumped out to a 26-11 lead after the first quarter and never was threatened.

China faces France and Belgium meets Australia in the other quarterfinals.

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College football odds, picks, predictions, best bets for Week 5, 2022: Proven model backing Oklahoma, Oregon

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Kentucky and Kansas are often known for their basketball prowess, but the Wildcats and Jayhawks both enter the Week 5 college football schedule undefeated. The Wildcats survived an upset bid from Northern Illinois last week and will now go on the road to face the Ole Miss Rebels in an SEC showdown. Kansas, meanwhile, notched its fourth win of the season after beating Duke 35-27 and will battle Iowa State at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Before this season, the Jayhawks recorded three wins or fewer in each of the past 12 years. 

The Week 5 college football odds from Caesars Sportsbook list the Jayhawks as 3.5-point underdogs against the Cyclones. The Wildcats are 6.5-point underdogs against the Rebels in an 12 p.m. ET kickoff in Oxford. Should your Week 5 college football picks include backing Kansas or Kentucky as underdogs, or should you look elsewhere on the CFB odds board for value? Before locking in any Week 5 college football picks on those games or others, be sure to see the latest college football predictions from SportsLine’s advanced computer model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times. Over the past six-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated a stunning profit of more than $3,100 for $100 players on its top-rated college football picks against the spread. Anyone who has followed it has seen huge returns.

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Now, it has turned its attention to the latest Week 5 college football odds from Caesars and locked in picks for every FBS matchup. Head here to see every pick.

Top college football predictions for Week 5

One of the college picks the model is high on in Week 5: No. 18 Oklahoma (-5) goes on the road and covers against TCU at noon ET on Saturday. The Sooners were upset by Kansas State, a team that has been very tough on the Sooners recently, in Week 4. But the Sooners have a much better track record against the Horned Frogs. Oklahoma has won eight straight against TCU, and all but two of those wins have come by more than five points. The last two wins in the series have come by an average of 20 points.

The model sees this as a great bounce-back spot for Oklahoma as it is favored by less than a touchdown against a relatively unproven TCU squad. Dillon Gabriel throws for 300 yards in the simulations, with Marvin Mims leading the way with more than 60 receiving yards for OU. The Sooners win more than 60% of the time, making them one of the teams to include in your Week 5 college football best bets. 

Another one of the model’s top college football picks: No. 13 Oregon (-16) has no trouble with the double-digit spread against Stanford in Saturday’s 11 p.m. ET kickoff in Eugene. The Ducks are coming off a thrilling 44-41 come-from-behind victory over Washington State last week. Quarterback Bo Nix was the star of the show, throwing for 428 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Nix has now accounted for at least three touchdowns in each of his last three games. For the season, Nix has thrown for 1,100 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions, while also averaging 4.6 yards per carry. 

Oregon is averaging 198.2 rushing yards per game this season, which ranks 29th in the nation. Stanford, meanwhile, is giving up 30.33 points per game this season. The Cardinal have also allowed 40 or more points in back-to-back Pac-12 games. SportsLine’s model is projecting the Ducks to rush for over 200 yards against Stanford on Saturday. That helps Oregon control possession and post 41 points in this one as they cover in almost 60% of simulations. See which other teams the model likes here.

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How to make college football picks for Week 5

The model has also made the call on who wins and covers in every other FBS matchup in Week 5, and it says a top-10 favorite will go down hard in one of the week’s biggest games. You can only get every pick for every game at SportsLine.

So what college football picks can you make with confidence? And which top-10 favorite goes down hard? Check out the latest college football odds below, then visit SportsLine to see which teams win and cover the spread, all from a proven computer model that has returned more than $3,100 in profit over the past six-plus seasons, and find out.

College football odds for Week 5 (via Caesars)

See full Week 5 college football picks, odds, predictions here

Thursday, Sept. 29

Utah State at BYU (-24, 60.5)

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Featured Game | BYU Cougars vs. Utah State Aggies

Friday, Sept. 30

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Tulane at Houston (-2.5, 55)

Featured Game | Houston Cougars vs. Tulane Green Wave

UTSA at MTSU (+5, 63)

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Featured Game | Middle Tenn. Blue Raiders vs. UTSA Roadrunners

San Diego State at Boise State (-5.5, 40)

Featured Game | Boise State Broncos vs. San Diego State Aztecs

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Washington at UCLA (+2.5, 65)

Featured Game | UCLA Bruins vs. Washington Huskies

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New Mexico at UNLV (-16, 45.5)

Featured Game | UNLV Rebels vs. New Mexico Lobos

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Saturday, Oct. 1

Michigan at Iowa (+10.5, 43)

Featured Game | Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines

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Kentucky at Ole Miss (-6.5, 55.5)

Featured Game | Ole Miss Rebels vs. Kentucky Wildcats

Oklahoma at TCU (+5, 67.5)

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Featured Game | TCU Horned Frogs vs. Oklahoma Sooners

Oregon State at Utah (-11, 56)

Featured Game | Utah Utes vs. Oregon State Beavers

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Wake Forest at Florida State (-6, 66)

Featured Game | Florida State Seminoles vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

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Rutgers at Ohio State (-41, 60)

Northwestern at Penn State (-25.5, 52.5)

Featured Game | Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Northwestern Wildcats

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Alabama at Arkansas (+15.5, 61.5)

Featured Game | Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

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Oklahoma State at Baylor (-2.5, 55)

Featured Game | Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Texas A&M at Mississippi State (-3, 46)

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Featured Game | Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Texas A&M Aggies

NC State at Clemson (-6.5, 46)

Featured Game | Clemson Tigers vs. NC State Wolfpack

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Georgia at Missouri (+27.5, 55.5)

Featured Game | Missouri Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs

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Arizona State at USC (-24, 61.5)

Featured Game | USC Trojans vs. Arizona State Sun Devils

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Stanford at Oregon (-16, 62.5)

Featured Game | Oregon Ducks vs. Stanford Cardinal

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