After a shaky stretch, I got hot last week. There’s simply no denying it. You want to know what pissed me off, though? I had UCLA +3 against Stanford and they were literally winning for the entire game. Then the Cardinal pulled off a miraculous touchdown as time expired to get the late cover. Nonetheless, I’m shooting for the 7-2 week this time around.
*Note- All odds courtesy of Vegas Insider (not all games on Bovada had lines posted)
**Note- Home team in Italics
#14 Miami (-7.5) over Georgia Tech
I was tempted to leave this game alone because a) the Hurricanes have yet to play anyone good this year and b) they are being backed by over 80% of bettors. Nonetheless, I love the ‘Canes against a mediocre Yellow Jackets team because I have a lot of faith in potential first-round QB prospect Brad Kaaya and the Miami offense, which is currently ranked 3rd in yards per play. Sure, they haven’t played a high-caliber team yet. However, that hasn’t prevented them from being ranked 14th in ESPN’s Football Power Index. Simply put, Miami is one of the best teams that no one is talking about.
Louisiana-Monroe (+32.5) over Auburn
Auburn may be ranked 15th in FPI, but this 32.5 point spread is way too high. For starters, the Tigers are coming off an emotional, upset win over LSU. Let down game, anyone? Moreover, Auburn’s offense is hardly potent: They’re ranked only 73rd in yards per play. Take the points.
#11 Tennessee (-3.5) over #25 Georgia
If Georgia running back Nick Chubb was healthy, then I’d love the home underdogs in this scenario. After all, Tennessee is coming off their biggest win of the year over Florida and the Bulldogs are coming off a blowout loss to Ole Miss. That would’ve been a perfect time to buy low on Georgia and sell the Vols at their peak. However, no Chubb means the Bulldogs are a no-go for me. They simply have too many questions on both sides of the ball.
#4 Michigan (-10.5) over #8 Wisconsin
The Wolverines have been terrific at home under Jim Harbaugh: Their average margin of victory at the Big House over the past two years is roughly 25 points, and that includes a 42-13 loss to Ohio State. In reality, Michigan’s true level of performance at home has been more comparable to their 49-10 win over Penn State last week.
But being a good home team alone doesn’t justify taking Michigan -10.5 points over a top-ten team. The Wolverines are also a great play because they rank third in the nation in opponent yards per play. That’s bad news for Wisconsin’s offense, which lacks big-play ability. Furthermore, I hate to be “that guy,” but I’m going to discredit the Badgers’ two quality wins this year. We now know that LSU is not the preseason darling that many expected them to be and I’ve been telling everyone for weeks now that Michigan State is overrated. Simply put, don’t be afraid of the points.
South Carolina (+18) over #9 Texas A&M
South Carolina’s days as a strong SEC team appear to be over. However, I still like them to cover a massive spread against an upstart Texas A&M team who looks prime to bet against given the fact that roughly 70% of bettors like them on the road as large favorites. Taking that many points on the road against a fellow SEC opponent is never a sound bet, in my opinion.
Oklahoma (-3) over #21 TCU
Disappointing start to the season aside, Oklahoma will get back on track this weekend. TCU certainly won’t be a pushover, but the Sooners are ranked higher in FPI (12th vs 25th) and have been the victim of some unfavorable turnover luck in their two losses against Houston and Ohio State. The small spread makes Oklahoma all the more enticing as well.
#16 Ole Miss (-14) over Memphis
I struck gold by taking Ole Miss last weekend to beat Georgia. Why not run it back once again? After all, it’s the eighth best team versus the 49th best team, according to FPI.
USC (-10) over Arizona State
I’ve had to have discussed the concept of sharp money before in this column. But in case I haven’t, “sharp money” is an indication that the guys that do this for a living are backing a certain team. How do you notice this? Well, if the majority of the betting public, say 70%, is taking one team (like they are with Arizona State) and yet the line has moved in favor of the other team (like it has with USC), then there are likely a few savvy bettors who have placed massive sums on the team that the public is betting against. That’s exactly the situation we have here: Arizona State is being taken by over 70% of the public, yet the line has dropped from -8 to -10 in favor of USC. Simply put, don’t let USC’s 1-3 record cloud your judgement. Be a contrarian and take the Trojans.
Game of the Week
#3 Louisville (-2) over #5 Clemson
Let me be clear: I just want to see a great game; because the truth is that I have no idea who to take in this matchup. Betting against this Dabo Sweeney’s Clemson Tigers at home when they are home underdogs just doesn’t sound smart. Nonetheless, I can’t un-see what I’ve witnessed Louisville do this year. Lamar Jackson and company are just too damn good: They’re first in the nation in yards per play by a mile and they’re also in the top ten in opponent yards per play. How can Clemson exploit them? Of course, the Cardinals offense might slow down away from home in Death Valley against a very good defense, but what does “slow down” for the Louisville offense really mean? Will they only score 35 in this contest? Simply put, I think their offense will be too much for a Tigers team that hasn’t been as prolific offensively in 2016.
Jabrill Peppers photo courtesy of Associated Press