Sitting at just 6-8 in college football, where we’ve had a few breaks go against us so far. It tends to average out in the long run, so hopefully a few good things in store for us.
Notre Dame at Pittsburgh: The Fighting Irish are favored by 9.5, which is down from the 10-point line we saw earlier in the week. Notre Dame is undefeated, although they haven’t really played the toughest schedule around, while the Panthers are 3-3 on the season. Pitt’s rushing defense is strong and the Irish are a better rushing than passing team, so if they’re unable to get the ground game going, this one could be pretty interesting in the fourth quarter. Both teams played Louisville and the Irish won by 12-7, while Pitt won 23-20, so don’t think the Irish should be favored by more than 7, so will take a shot on the Panthers plus the points in this one.
Florida State at Louisville: The Cardinals are favored by 4 with a total of 61. The Seminoles have been a different team since Travis took over at quarterback and now he faces his old team. Both teams have had troubles stopping people at times, while both offenses are capable of putting some points on the road. FSU is coming off a big win against North Carolina, but think they can get some points on the scoreboard against the Cardinals’ defense. Louisville should also have some success in this one, so will take the over 61 in this one.
Middle Tennessee State at Rice: Only in 2020 could we see one team playing its seventh game of the season against a team making its season debut, but that will be the case when Middle Tennessee travels to Rice on Saturday. We don’t know how bad Rice will be this season, but we do know how bad Middle Tennessee is this season, so it’s no surprise to see Rice favored by 4 in this one. Middle Tennessee has allowed more than 700 rushing yards in its last two games and the Owls can move the ball on the ground. Rice closed the season strong last year and should be ready to go in this one. Can’t expect Middle Tennessee to be too terribly motivated for this one and they have a bye on deck after this one. Will go ahead and lay the number with the Owls.
A fair slate of college football games on tap for Saturday, so we’ll get right to it.
Kansas at West Virginia: For all the talk about how different this college football season is than any other, some things remain the same and one is that Kansas isn’t a very good team this season. The Jayhawks have lost their last two games by a combined 94-21 score and things shouldn’t be any easier against a West Virginia team that can move the ball on the ground or through the air. Each team has had a shot at Baylor this season and West Virginia was able to come away with a 27-21 win, while Kansas lost 47-14 to the Bears. Both teams are coming off bye weeks and will go ahead and lay the 22.5 points with West Virginia in this one.
West Kentucky at UAB: UAB has moved to -13.5 over the Hilltoppers in this one and the betting has been pretty much split down the middle. The Blazers aren’t a bad running team, but can also move the ball through the air, while West Kentucky relies on the pass a little more, which could spell trouble against a UAB defense that has held all four foes to under 200 passing yards and has at least two sacks in each game. The Blazers are coming off a bye week and will take them in this spot.
Army at UTSA: The Cadets are favored by 8 in this one after opening as 7-point favorites and getting a small majority of the wagers. UTSA started off the season in fine fashion, winning their first three games, but have dropped their last two. They’ve been competitive in both games, losing by 8 to UAB and by a touchdown to BYU. A closer look at the Roadrunners, shows the team probably played their best football in their two losses instead of their three wins, which weren’t all that impressive considering the likes of teams they beat. Army and UTSA have both played Middle Tennessee and the Roadrunners pulled out a 37-35 decision, while Army drilled MTS by a final score of 42-0. The Cadets are coming off a poor effort against The Citadel, a game they won by just 14-9 and believe they’ll come out a little bit stronger and can take control of the game in the second. Will lay the points in this one, as well.
Not the greatest of slates for this Saturday of college football, with Hurricane Delta having an effect on a couple of the plays I had penciled down to take here, so we’re down to just two plays, but will be able to look at each of them a little more closely.
Texas Tech at Iowa State: Even though the crowd was small, they were loud last week as the Cyclones were able to pull off the upset against the Oklahoma Sooners. Now, they find themselves favored by 12 over a Texas Tech team that is coming off losses to Texas and Kansas and barely was able to get past Houston Baptist opening week. That pus Iowa State in a bit of a tough spot, historically, as home favorites of 10 or more points who won their previous game as a 7-point home underdog are 45% over the years against the spread. These teams win, as evidenced by their 11-1 straight-up record the last 12 times, but these same teams are just 4-8 ATS, doing enough to win, but not cover the number. Texas Tech can throw the ball and put some points on the scoreboard, it’s just a question of how their defense does against Iowa State. Still, don’t like the spot for the Cyclones and will take a stab on Texas Tech +12.
Mississippi State at Kentucky: The Wildcats opened as 2-point favorites and now the line is up to Kentucky -3, but think the home team is the right side in this one. The Wildcats have a huge edge rushing the football in this one, while the Bulldogs are solid at stopping the run. Kentucky is a better passing team than they’ve shown, but when you run the ball for 408 yards as they did last week, you don’t have to put the ball in the air too often. The Bulldogs pulled off the upset of LSU in their first game and then lost to Arkansas last week, while Kentucky lost to Auburn to start the year and then lost a game they probably should have won last week, eventually falling when they missed an extra point in overtime. Think the Wildcats are the better team and they need this one a little more, so will take a shot on the small home favorite in this one.
Last Saturday was one of the most frustrating days we’ve had in quite some time, as everything that could go wrong did, and we dropped all three plays, with all three actually looking good into the second half. But those things are going to happen and we’ll look to get back on track this week.
Baylor at West Virginia: West Virginia let us down last week and now they’re at home getting 2.5 points from the Bears and we’ll come right back with the Mountaineers plus the points in this one. West Virginia should have some success running the ball and Baylor will be taking a decent step up in class here, having thumped Kansas in their opener, while the Mountaineers lost to a decent Oklahoma State squad.
Virginia at Clemson: This one was moved to 8 p.m. and the Tigers are favored by 28.5 with a total of 55 and will go to one of my favorite systems, involving games with big favorites and relatively low totals. You can play with the numbers a little bit, but in general, teams favored by at least 28 points are 237-162-8 (59.4%) in totals when the total is 55 or lower. Clemson is capable of scoring 56 points themselves in this one and the Cavs should be able to put up a few scores themselves, so will take the over in this one.
Memphis at SMU: This could be the most entertaining game of the day, as the Tigers are favored by 2.5 with a total of 74. Memphis hasn’t played in nearly a month, while SMU has been beating up some weak foes, but are just the second team the last 20 years to be made a home underdog after scoring 60 or more points in back-to-back weeks. Overall, teams who score 60 in consecutive games are 33-19-2 ATS and 3-1-1 when a dog. Will take the Mustangs plus the points and the over in this one.
Navy at Air Force: A bit of a square play here, but have to take the Midshipmen and lay the 7 points in this spot. Air Force hasn’t played yet and the Midshipmen have a couple of games in, although one of those was a beatdown at the hands of BYU. Navy did defeat Tulane in their second game. Air Force is missing some key players in this one and won’t be at full strength.
The SEC opens play on Saturday, as the big boys of the college football world will slowly be trickling in over the next four weeks. A couple of games postponed, which is something we’re going to have to get used to this college football season, and we saw it first hand last week when our play in the Houston game was voided after they canceled the game. We dropped the other play on Appalachian State, who turned in a lackluster effort.
Alabama at Missouri: Alabama has been bet up to 28-point favorites after opening 26.5-point favorites. This is one of those games you don’t want to overthink or try and get cute and just take the better team, laying the steep number. Last season was a bit of a bummer by Alabama standards and believe they won’t let up on teams, as they look to do whatever it takes to get back to the playoffs. This will be a bit of a transition year for new coach Eli Drinkwitz, as the SEC is a huge step up from Appalachian State. The schedule is brutal for Missouri early, with Alabama, LSU and Florida in the first five weeks. Alabama should be able to wear Missouri down in this one and thing they’ll get there against the spread.
West Virginia at Oklahoma State: Decent game here that sees the Cowboys favored by 6.5 after opening 8.5. These two teams have played a couple of good ones the past few seasons and think this one should be another entertaining game. The status of Oklahoma State quarterback Sanders is unknown right now, but even if he goes, he probably won’t be as effective as he usually is. The Mountaineers are probably a little better than people think this season. Oklahoma State wasn’t all that impressive against Tulsa last week and West Virginia had an extra week to get ready for this one, so will take the road dog.
Kentucky at Auburn: The Tigers opened 8.5 and the line is now down to 7.5 despite the betting in the game being pretty much split right down the middle. The one thing the Wildcats should be able to do this season is run the football fairly well, which makes them a bit dangerous as an underdog. As long as they can keep the game close in the early going, Kentucky has a chance to be there at the end. Auburn lost a lot of talent from last year’s team and knows that they have a tough Georgia team waiting in the wings, so will take a shot on the underdog in this one and take Kentucky +7.5.
Time to jump into the college football mix, as there are a good number of games on slate Saturday and there will be more next weekend when the Southeastern Conference kicks things off.
Appalachian State at Marshall: The Mountaineers will travel from Boone, N.C. to face the Thundering Herd in Huntington, West Virginia, with both teams bringing 1-0 records into this one. West Virginia spanked Eastern Kentucky 59-0 two weeks ago and were off last week, while Appalachian State was disposing of Charlotte 35-20 in a non-covering effort. Marshall completely dominated their stats, as you would expect based on the final score, while App State was a little more impressive against Charlotte than the final score indicated, rolling up 226 more total yards than Charlotte.
Both teams returned the same number of starters from a year ago, with the Mountaineers getting back quarterback Zac Thomas and a strong offensive line up front. App State’s non-covering effort against Charlotte helped keep the opening line down, as the Mountaineers were favored by 3.5, although the betting public has pushed the number to 4.5.
Still like Appalachian State in this spot, as the team is on a 12-5 ATS run as away favorites dating back to 2016 and Marshall is on a 2-7 ATS slide at home and have gone just 2-4 as a home underdog since 2016.
Shawn Clark is a new coach for the Mountaineers but has been an assistant coach there for the past five seasons, so the change should be an easy one.
Houston at Baylor: Baylor opened as 4.5-point favorites in this one and the line is now 4 at William Hill. Baylor has a new coach in Dave Aranda, who comes over from running the defense for LSU. They also have just 9 returning starters compared to 19 for the Cougars, which is really the story of this game.
Houston was pretty much a dumpster fire last season, but while they finished 4-8 straight-up the Cougars were only outscored by three points a game and were 4-1 ATS as an away underdog, being outscored by just 1.8 points in that role. The Cougars did run the ball well last year and should have some success against a Baylor team that has to replace its entire offensive line. Houston rushed for 214 yards per game a year ago and that was one of Baylor’s defensive strengths, but with nine starters gone on that side of the ball, they’ll be hard-pressed to duplicate that success.
The Bears should score some points but Houston should be able to match them on the scoreboard and will take a chance on the underdog in this one.