Bengals will battle Steelers to close out busy betting weekend

For sports bettors it is indeed a most wonderful time of the year, with baseball playoffs and college football and the NFL coming at us hour after hour, channel after channel. Hey, no complaints here, right?

In that spirit, here's a quick preview of the next 48 hours or so in sports betting.

In hardball action Friday night the St. Louis Cardinals will try to clinch their second straight National League pennant when they host the San Francisco Giants for Game 5 of the NLCS at Busch Stadium (8 pm ET, Fox).

St. Louis scored two runs in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings on Thursday night to pull away for an 8-3 Game 4 victory. 

Righty Lance Lynn (18-7, 3.78) gets the chance to pitch the Cardinals into the World Series on Friday night, while lefty Barry Zito (15-8, 4.15) has been tasked with keeping the Giants alive.

As of Friday morning most baseball books were listing St. Louis at around -160 for Friday's Game 5. If San Francisco can pull out a victory the series would head back to AT&T Park for Game 6 Sunday and, if necessary, Game 7 Monday.

Moving to Saturday on the college gridiron:

The action begins, among other places, in the ACC, where 5-1 Clemson, the defending conference champ, is favored by eight points over 4-3 Virginia Tech (Noon ET, ABC/ESPN2).

The SEC also offers up a big game early on as 5-1 Texas A&M is a three-point home dog vs. 6-1 LSU (Noon ET, ESPN).

In the “Big Game” 4-2 Stanford is favored by 2.5 points over 3-4 Cal (3 pm ET, Fox).

In an interesting game in the Big Ten 6-1 Northwestern is a six-point home dog vs. 4-2 Nebraska (3:30 pm ET, ABC/ESPN2).

Notre Dame, 6-0 and No. 5 in the BCS standings, is favored by 13 points at home over 4-3 BYU (3:30 pm ET, NBC).

In the battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy 4-2 Michigan is favored by 10 points at home over 4-2 Michigan State (3:30 pm ET, Big Ten Network).

In a “must-see” SEC battle 6-0 Florida, No. 2 in the BCS standings, is favored by three points at home over Coach Spurrier and 6-1 South Carolina (3:30 pm ET, CBS).

Down in Big 12 country 5-1 TCU is a 1.5-point home dog vs. 5-1 Texas Tech (3:30 pm ET, ABC/ESPN2).

Back in the ACC 5-2 Duke – yes, the Dukies are 5-2 – is a 10-point home dog vs. 5-2 North Carolina (7 pm ET, ESPNU).

In a new Big 12 rivalry 5-1 West Virginia is favored by 2.5 points at home over 6-0 Kansas State (7 pm ET, Fox).

BCS No. 1 Alabama is favored by 20 points at 3-3 Tennessee (7 pm ET, ESPN).

In a Buckeye State brawl 5-0 Cincinnati is favored by five points at 6-1 Toledo (7 pm ET, ESPN3).

And for a little Saturday nightcap action way out west 3-3 Arizona is favored by seven points over 3-3 Washington (10 pm ET, Pac-12 Network), and 5-0 Oregon State is favored by 10 points over 2-4 Utah (10:30 pm ET, ESPN2).

Looking ahead to Sunday's professional action:

The 4-2 Vikings are favored by 6.5 points at home over the 4-2 Cardinals (1 pm ET, Fox).

In a rematch of a hard-hitting AFC playoff game of last January the 5-1 Texans are favored by 6.5 points at home over the 5-1 Ravens (1 pm ET, CBS).

The 4-2 Giants are favored by 6.5 points at home over the 3-3 Redskins (1 pm ET, Fox).

The 3-3 Patriots are favored by 10 points at home over the 3-3 Jets (4:25 pm ET, CBS).

And Sunday night the 3-3 Bengals are getting 1.5 points from the visiting 2-3 Steelers (8:30 pm ET, NBC). Pittsburgh pivot Ben Roethlisberger left practice early on Thursday after injuring his right ankle, but is expected to be ready for Sunday Night Football.


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