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REASON FOR PICK: Your free pick for Thursday, August 28th, 2014, comes in the NFL as the Patriots and the Giants meet in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Patriots have a real strong QB rotation for 2014 and rookie Jimmy Garrappolo will play the whole game. The kid has looked and he'll be facing NY Giant backups. Garoppolo has played well this preseason, throwing for 334 yards on 24-for-37 passing with four touchdowns and no interceptions. And this Patriots defense is deep. New York is playing its 5th preseason game and has little to prove at 4-0. The defense has allowed 26 and 24 points the last two weeks and the rotation behind Eli Manning isn't impressive with Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib. With Odell Beckham Jr. still injured and Marcus Harris now on Injured Reserve, the wide receiver corps is thin. Their offensive line is a problem: Outside of J.D. Walton at center, the rest of the offensive line is in flux. Play the Patriots!
REASON FOR PICK: My free play is on Rutgers at 10:00 ET.

Rutgers makes its Big Ten Conference debut Thursday when it meets Washington State at Century Link Field in Seattle. The Scarlet Knights have been picked to finish last in the seven-team East Division by Big Ten writers. Rutgers' challenge will to be able to match the physical play prevalent in the Big Ten. Head coach Kyle Flood said his team is up to the challenge. "We've played physical offenses before, we've played bigger teams before," Flood told reporters. "We've never built our team to be the biggest team. It's not philosophically how we go about things. But when we've played at a high level, we've been able to compete with anybody in the country."

The Cougars, playing in the Pac 12 (picked to finish fifth in the league's six-team North Division), are not known for physical play. However, led by record-setting QB Connor Halliday, they can surely put point son the board. Halliday set school records for completions (449) and attempts (714), and equaled the school record with 34 TD passes. Halliday also threw 22 interceptions last season and almost has to get improvement from his running game for Washington St to make any real strides.

The Cougars finished last in the nation at 53.4 rushing YPG last season but the hope is that the emergence of freshman RBs Gerard Wicks and Jamal Morrow could help take some pressure off Halliday. Getting a more balanced offense will help but the defense had better improve, as well. Washington State allowed 458 yards per game in 2013, 102nd among the 123 FBS teams (also allowed 32.5 PPG). It returns its entire defensive line (is that good news?) but must replace three in the 2ndy.

Rutgers opened 4-1 in 2014, losing only its opener at Fresno St, which was one of 2014's best games (FSU won 52-51 in OT, as Rutgers' two-point try failed). However, by the 1st week of December, the Scarlet Knights needed to beat USF, just to become bowl-eligible. They did that but lost 29-16 to Notre Dame in The Pinstripe Bowl. QB Gary Nova threw five TD passes vs Fresno St but by year's end was on the bench.

Rumor has it that Ralph Friedgen, who coached Maryland from 2001-10 but has been unemployed for three years before be hired as offensive coordinator, has been an excellent influence on Nova.

I've decided to 'bite' on that prospect. Century Link Field, home of the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, is nearly 300 miles from Washington State's campus in Pullman, so this is hardly a home game for the Cougars. Mike Leach is prone to brain cramps (is it possible to forget the fiasco in the New Mexico Bowl last December?) and Rutgers has won four of its last five season openers (only blemish is last year's overtime setback at Fresno State).

Take the points and run!

Good luck...Larry

GAME: (137) TULANE vs (138) TULSA
REASON FOR PICK: Play - Indianapolis Colts (Game 105). Edges - Colts: 5-1 ATS preseason off BB losses vs sub .500 opponent; and 2-0 SUATS preseason off BB SUATS favorite losses. Bengals: 7-12 SUATS preseason off SU underdog win. With teams off BB SUATS favorite preseason losses that scored 13 or more points in their last game are 13-3 SUATS since 1983 when facing a foe off an away game, including 7-0 SUATS if the foe owns a win percentage less than .666. With that we recommend a 2-unit play on Indianapolis. Thank you and good luck as always. Marc’s powerful database shares a killer Key Play on Thursday night’s college football card. Hurry, get it now - you’ll be glad you did!
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Art Aronson

Art Aronson

This is a 1* Free Play on the Washington Nationals. The  Today's Free Picks By Art Aronson