Welcome to the first installment of Betting on College Football – Quick Hitters. This segment is meant to shed some light on significant trends, stats, and situations for the weeks upcoming games. It is important to remember that these trends and stats are only one piece of the puzzle when trying to figure out which team to place a wager on.
Hopefully, these tidbits of information will help solidify, discourage, or at least have you take a closer look at any potential bets you are looking at placing. They shouldn’t be followed blindly, but instead they should be considered and factored into the broader context and reasoning for selecting a side. So now that the obligatory disclaimer is out of the way, let’s kick it off for week 8.
Betting on College Football – Week 8 Quick Hitters
(All point spreads and totals are as of noon CST on Thursday)
- Georgia looking to arrive early to the party? It would be easy for the Bulldogs to overlook Kentucky at any time, let alone the week before their biggest game of the year against #2 Florida at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. (Line = Geo -27.5, 58.5)
- Rock solid in Rocky Top. Tennessee currently ranks third in the nation for fewest sacks allowed. QB Tyler Bray has only been sacked 3 times this season, which translates to 1.01% of his pass attempts. The offensive line will need to hold up against an aggressive Alabama defense that has forced sacks on 10% of pass attempts this season ranking 2nd in the country. (Line = Bama -20.5, 55)
Tennessee QB Tyler Bray – Spruce Derden US PRESSWIIRE
- The “Old Ball Coach” fares well against his former team. As coach of South Carolina, Steve Spurrier is 5-2 ATS vs. Florida. That includes a 3-0 ATS and straight up record when the spread is less than a touchdown against the Gators. (Line = UF -3.5, 41)
- Will the Bulldogs get caught napping? Mississippi State is in a classic letdown spot. This is a team that has struggled early in the year to inferior opponents (won 30-24 @Troy, won 20-10 vs. South Alabama). They are undefeated, coming off a quality win vs. Tennessee, and they have a huge opportunity at #1 Alabama on the 27th, but first they have a pesky Sun-Belt opponent in Middle Tennessee, who has already won at Georgia Tech this season. (Line = MissSt -19.5, 56)
- The Tigers may take a bite out of the Hokies’ defense this weekend. In their first two road games of the season, Virginia Tech has given up 537 and 533 total yards (@Pitt and @UNC respectively). They will travel to Clemson this week, who poses a high-powered, balanced offense averaging 525 total yards per game. (Line = Clem -8.5, 62)
- Option right, option left; it all works the same. Boston College gave up 516 rushing yards to Army’s option attack in week 6. They will face a similar option offense in Georgia Tech, who is averaging 331 rushing yards per game, ranking #3 in the country. Boston College will try to bounce back after getting destroyed at Florida State last Saturday. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech should be fresh and ready to turn it loose following their bye week. (Line = GT -14, 61.5)
- Miami’s defense can’t stop a nosebleed. The Hurricanes, who are currently starting three freshmen on their defensive line, have had trouble stopping the run all year. They currently rank 121st in that department, only better than three FBS schools. They probably won’t improve on that ranking after taking on a Florida State offense that averages 236 rushing yards per game (12th overall). (Line = FSU -21, 56.5)
- Cincy better be ready for blast-off vs. Rockets. One week before what may be the battle for the Big East title vs. #16 Louisville, Cincinnati will travel to the Glass Bowl to play a Toledo team that boasts the 16th best offense in the country. (Line = Cin -6.5, 64.5)
- Northern Illinois and Akron will have plenty of “MACtion”. NIU has the #9 rushing offense in the country, averaging 247 yards per game and 5.8 ypc. They will face a porous Akron rush defense that ranks #112 nationally. On the other hand, Akron should keep the stat guys busy with an offense that ranks #24 in passing. They will face a vulnerable NIU pass defense that ranks #101 in the country. All I can say is this game is going to be MACtastic! (Line = NIU -13.5, 66)
- Temple may run into problems this week. Temple runs the ball a whopping 62% of the time, more than power running teams like LSU, Alabama, and Wisconsin. The Owl’s one dimensional offense will be facing a stingy Rutgers defense that ranks #2 in the country, giving up a measly 58 rushing yards per game and only 2.3ypc. (Get the complete game breakdown at Opening Line Sports CFB Blog)
- The Huskies don’t like to stray too far from home. Since the beginning of last season, UConn is 0-6 ATS as a road underdog, including losses @ Western Michigan and @ Rutgers earlier this season. On Friday night, they will travel to play a Syracuse team that has shown improvement in the past two weeks. (Line = SU -4.5, 43.5)
- The Cardinals rule on 3rd down. This year Louisville ranks #4 in the nation in 3rd down efficiency, converting 56.3% of their attempts. Their opponent this week, South Florida, is allowing opposing offenses to convert 44% of the time, ranking 83rd in that category. (Line = Lou -6.5, 54)
- The Bears hibernate on 3rd down. The Baylor Bears rank dead last (#124) in 3rd down defense, allowing opponents to convert 70% of the time! They are matched up against a Texas offense that ranks #6 overall in 3rd down efficiency at 54%. I’m not sure the Longhorns will even need three downs to keep the chains moving in this one. (Line = Tex -10, 80)
- How much does West Virginia pay their defensive coordinator? I’m going to take a wild guess and say “too much”. Despite averaging 53 points a game at home this season, West Virginia is only 1-3 ATS on their home field. If Morgantown is such a difficult place to play, why can’t the Mountaineers seem to cover on their home field? Oh right, their defense has given up over 42 points per game to FBS schools. They will host Kansas State on Saturday. (Line = WVU -2.5, 71.5)
- Is it basketball season yet? Surely Kansas fans are asking that question following a bleak 1-5 start. The Jayhawks are listed as 35 point underdogs at Oklahoma this weekend. However, OU has a huge showdown with Notre Dame next week, so maybe Bob Stoops will pull his starters early, giving Kansas a chance to cover the five touchdown spread.
- Can Nebraska contain Kain? Earlier this season, Nebraska allowed 344 and 371 yards rushing at UCLA and Ohio State, respectively. Both teams gained majority of those yards through the zone-read option, similar to what Northwestern runs with their QB-Kain Colter and RB-Venric Mark. Northwestern averages 218 rushing yards per game, ranking #18 nationally. However, Nebraska is coming off a bye week in which the primary focus of their preparation was placed on containing the zone read. (For a full breakdown of this game, visit Opening Line Sports CFB Blog). (Line = Neb -5, 61.5)
Northwestern QB Kain Colter
- Wisconsin’s revamped offensive line will put the Gophers in a hole. Minnesota’s defense allowed 7.3 ypc @ Iowa, and 6.1 ypc vs. Northwestern, with their undersized front seven getting blown off the ball in both games. They will play at Wisconsin this week, who racked up 457 yards rushing (8.2 ypc) against Purdue last Saturday. The Badger’s offensive line and rushing game overall seems to be building with confidence ever since they replaced their O-Line coach after week 2. (Line = Wisc -17.5, 45.5)
- Navy’s offense will be running down a dream matchup. In four games against FBS opponents, Indiana has given up an average of 268 rushing yards per game, ranking #110 in rush defense. Navy’s option attack is averaging 232 yards rushing per game, 17th in the country. (Line = Navy -2.5, 60)
- USC = Underdogs Surely Cover. In their first six games of the year, USC is only 1-5 ATS. They are favored by 41 points over Colorado on Saturday. The Trojans easily have the talent to cover, but the question becomes when will Lane Kiffin call off the dogs and pull his starters? The last time USC was favored by 40+ was week one vs. Hawaii, and they failed to cover, even after jumping out to a huge first quarter lead. There is speculation that Kiffin didn’t want to run up the score on his former assistant, Norm Chow, during that game. I’m not so sure he will be so kind to Colorado and their head coach, Jon Embree. However, I really don’t want to place a wager that is directly tied to Lane Kiffin’s mindset, because I’m not sure if anybody has an accurate read on that. If you do choose USC against the spread, I would advise you to fill up a full glass of water to swallow all those 40+ points, and maybe some ibuprofen later.
- Fresno State will put on an aerial circus against Wyoming. In five games against FBS schools this season, Wyoming is giving up an average of 225 yards passing to opposing QB’s, who collectively have completed 70% of their passes for a total of 12 TD’s and 1 INT. Those numbers include an Air Force team who only attempted 9 passes in the game. Fresno State QB, Derek Carr, is having a career season, averaging 300 yards per game, completing 68% of his passes for 19 TD’s and 4 INT’s. (Line = Fresno -15.5, 63)
- B-Y-Who? Next week Notre Dame will try to validate themselves as national title contenders against an Oklahoma (#9) squad that is finally living up to preseason expectations. However, this week they will play a struggling BYU team that will limp into South Bend following a 42-24 home loss to Oregon State. It could be very easy for the Irish to peek ahead to next week’s huge road test. (Line = ND -13.5, 40)
- Trend of the year so far. Through the first seven weeks of the season, double digit home underdogs (with the spread between 10 and 19.5) have gone 30-10 ATS, including a perfect 3-0 last week. This week Texas-San Antonio, UMass, Akron, Duke, and Buffalo fit that profile. That’s not exactly the most trustworthy group of teams to place wagers on. Maybe this is the week that trend pulls closer to the average.
If you have any questions regarding matchups (covered or not covered in this article), feel free to post your inquiries in the comment section. I will be periodically checking and responding to all questions. You can also contact me on twitter (@OpeningLine), and I should respond relatively soon.