As we alluded to back at the beginning of the year, the college football landscape is not much different than the stock market. The key principle is simple: buy low, sell high. That will scare much of the public off. After all, who wants to bet on a team that most see as slumping or just plain shitty? But the entire goal in gambling is to avoid becoming part of the public, because the public never wins. Have you seen the casinos in Vegas? Do you think they were built off grant money and government funds?
Of course not. The gambling business is supported by its consumers. And the consumers, by and large, are idiots. Sure, a few huge publicly-backed teams may win every week. But Vegas does not make money if they all win, or even if 60 percent of them win. So, with that said, let’s take a look at the college football market and determine which teams have inflated value and which are underrated and headed for a breakout.
Georgia Tech – An easy #1 pick. This team barely plays defense, turns the ball over like crazy, does not value or care about field position, and leaves points on the board constantly. GT was a huge moneymaker early, but provided the most painful moose in the last 3-5 years by simply not kneeling up 17 with less than a minute to go against NC State. Then the Jackets scored early and went on autopilot against Maryland, barely pulling out the win. Georgia Tech may very well cover against Virginia this Saturday…but after that? It’s just not a very good bet that the Yellowjackets can continue scoring 50 points a game in a conference that knows the option attack inside and out. Be wary.
Clemson – Another ACC squad that has shocked everyone. But look closely at the teams Clemson beat earlier in the season. Florida State – Uh, this team will struggle to win 8 games. Auburn – The luckiest damn team in the country with VERY little talent to speak of. Virginia Tech – Hokies came out flat and frankly don’t have many weapons outside of David Wilson. Defense could not stop Miami. This team was HORRENDOUSLY overrated in the preseason. Maryland has also, predictably, disappointed with Randy Edsall. But with a banged up Tajh Boyd, taking Clemson to cover eight points on the road is asking for trouble.
Oregon – Yes, the Ducks beat everyone by 30-40 at home. But with the absence of a running game from QB Darron Thomas, how can you expect UO to not miss a beat without LaMichael James? He leads the nation in rushing for a reason. Kenjon Barner is good, but so is ASU’s defense. I grabbed this line early at 16.5, and it has shrunk to 14 since Monday. Still think that’s too many points, even in Eugene.
Rutgers – It’s time to get off the Scarlet Knight train. They’ve gotten two victories nobody expected them to get in the past two weeks, but it’s time for reality to set in. The reality is that Rutgers is an absolutely horrendous single-digit favorite. The trends are really astonishing. Navy just gave up a billion points to Southern Miss, which is surely fresh in many people’s minds. But USM is about 982358329 times better offensively than RU. It’s painful to watch Rutgers try to run the ball. Please only attempt to do so with adult supervision.
Utah State – Few things excite me more than watching Utah State’s offense in motion. The Aggies anally violated Wyoming last week, so they’re naturally a favorite on the road at a Fresno State team that looked totally defeated against Boise. But I think it’s incredibly foolish to bet on USU as a road favorite at this point. If the Aggies have proven anything, they have shown they can give a game away better than anyone else in America. Will gladly take the field goal cushion in backing the Bulldogs this week.
Central Florida – I’m seeing upwards of 80 percent of bets being placed on SMU. Really? Central Florida was in a pretty clear lookahead situation last week against Marshall and looked terrible. Meanwhile, the Mustangs’ huge win over TCU is still fresh in people’s minds. UCF is now being offered at 3.5. Jump on it while you can, because if the Stangs win, it very likely won’t be by more than a field goal. This is the best secondary SMU will see all year.
Idaho – I don’t know how any team is an underdog to New Mexico State. I do know Idaho has looked terrible for the entire season. But this is prime letdown territory for NMSU, who just beat rival New Mexico last week. I wouldn’t bet on the Aggies as a favorite against an FCS team, and I certainly wouldn’t do it against a WAC foe after coming off such an emotional win.
Pittsburgh – A pair of bad Big East losses has most people wishing ill upon the Panthers. I don’t really buy it. Yes, Pitt needs a quarterback in the WORST WAY. However, Utah’s QB situation is actually worse. No, I’m not exaggerating. It’s true. This will probably be an ugly contest, but with the line under a touchdown, Pitt has some pretty clear value.
Now, onto the card:
Navy +4 at Rutgers – So many trends in favor of the Midshipmen, who actually lead the country in rushing. Rutgers has a formidable defense, but it won’t see anything like Navy’s option game this year. Prime letdown spot for RU after a great win over Pitt last week. Might sprinkle some on the moneyline (+160) as well.
UCF +3.5 at SMU – Probably could’ve guessed this would be high on the card. Both teams are going to struggle to score. But this is a huge game for UCF, and SMU has historically struggled to cover in GJF Stadium. Will take my chances on the Knights and their running game.
Arizona State +16.5 at Oregon – Barner may go nuts, but I think this line is just off. ASU can finally play offense this year, and they don’t always have to pass either….not a great running team, but still better than terrible. Oregon has played two teams with a defense this year, and Darron Thomas didn’t look good against either of them. Can I interest anyone in a very juicy ML play?
Virginia +7 (+100) vs Georgia Tech – UVA’s had two weeks to steam over that pathetic performance against Idaho AND prepare for the option. Georgia Tech has really been wearing down over the past two weeks. Stephen Hill’s hands have turned back into cement blocks. I don’t think this looks good for GT.
Fresno State +3.5 vs Utah State – As explained earlier, just can’t bet the Aggies as a road favorite. Also, they historically have 2-3 games a season where they totally poop themselves. I’m betting this is one of them, especially after coming off such a dominating win. Young teams don’t handle success very well.
Texas Tech -3.5 vs Kansas State – Think the Wildcats finally get beat by a team with a good quarterback. I have backed Tech a lot this year (2-1 betting on them), and I feel like Neal Brown can whip up something to finally break through Bill Snyder’s defense. Very worried about Tech’s ability to stop KSU’s one-play offense, but in the end I just feel TTU scores too many points.
Baylor +8.5 at Texas A&M – I’ve heard damn near everything about this game to make me stay off Baylor. None of their fans are coming. TAMU wants revenge. Griffin might be nicked up. Sorry, not buying any of it. The Aggies still haven’t figured out how to play defense, and if not for a blocked field goal return for a TD, we might be talking about a three-loss team. Do you realize Texas A&M has forced THREE turnovers all season?!?!?!? THREE!!! You have to try to be that incompetent. Think BU takes a big step forward here.
Tulane -1.5 vs UTEP – At home in the Superdome and playing a team I think is terrible, I’ll take Tulane to win. The line crossed the zero, which is usually a pretty good indicator that the newly-favored team will win the game. Tulane absolutely NEEDS to win this game to have any shot at going bowling. A loss means Bob Toledo is probably gone. Too much at stake here for the Green Wave to lose in my opinion.
Northwestern +6 at Iowa – This is just asking for trouble, especially going against a team I backed last week. But Iowa isn’t very good, and I think NW is a better team. They should win this game as long as they get off the bus…and play all four quarters, unlike last week.
Michigan +1.5 at Michigan State – MSU’s offense is really terrible without Treadwell. Maybe seeing the Michigan defense will be a cure, who knows. But I think the Wolverines will pull another W out of their asses before they start to come back to earth a bit into November.
Wake Forest +7 vs Virginia Tech – I may have missed the boat already on WF. I really hope I haven’t. VT simply isn’t that great a team. I think the Deacons will be able to move the ball…they just have to put it in the end zone. Red zone efficiency is absolutely crucial here.
Iowa State +16 at Missouri – Tigers have got to show me they can consistently move the ball. Not sure they can do it yet. ISU isn’t very good defensively, but they are capable of forcing turnovers. Very small bet on a team I like. Don’t screw me Steele.
Oklahoma State -7 at Texas – Hate to be on a road favorite in such an obvious public trap, but I can’t help it. Don’t think UT will be able to even slow down OSU’s offense. The RRR seemed like a soul-crusher for the Horns, and you know Gundy’s team will be wary of any comebacks by UT since they’ve been burned by them in the past.
South Carolina -3 at Mississippi State – I think the Garcia fiasco has finally been put behind them, and the Cocks will play pissed off for a few weeks. Others might see it as a distraction, but I see it as a unifying point, especially when Connor Shaw proved he could move the ball. Yeah it was Kentucky, but even though MSU’s defense is significantly better, I see the Bulldog offense turning the ball over multiple times. Melvin Ingram for Heisman.
Louisville +14 at Cincinnati – Louisville ain’t NC State, and believe it or not, Cincy does not like to sling the ball around like in the Brian Kelly era. This is a run-first team now, and UL excels at defending the run. I expect a street fight that will be decided by a touchdown either way. I also expect it to be a hideous game to watch, which is why I’m keeping this to a small bet.