Week 11 Edition
Last Week: 3-6 (.333)
Last Six: 32-21-1 (.602)
Total: 51-40-1 (.560)
Baylor (+17.5) over #11 Oklahoma
Oklahoma is better than Baylor, but this spread is too high. The Sooners defense is leaky, ranking only 69th in Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric and though quarterback Seth Russell and the Bears haven’t been as prolific in 2016, their offense is still good enough to give the Sooners a game.
#1 Alabama (-29) over Mississippi State
This quietly might be the best Alabama team we’ve seen under Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide is the best team in the country by nearly every major metric, including ESPN’s Football Power Index and Football Outsiders’ FEI. They also rank 13th in the nation in yards per play offensively and, more impressively, rank first in opponent yards per play. Their defense has given up only 2.9 yards per play in the last three games! The spread can’t be high enough against a Mississippi State team that has looked weak this season aside from their upset win over A&M a week ago.
Georgia (+10.5) over #9 Auburn
Auburn could be without their best running back in Kamryn Pettaway. He’s arguably been the main reason why the Tigers have been one of the best teams in the country over the past month; but with his absence, I’ll take the home underdog in a conference affair.
Wake Forest (+35) over #6 Louisville
Louisville is tremendous. They’ll probably blow Wake Forest out of the water in the first half. But a five touchdown spread is just too much. It’s likely that the Cardinals will choose to rest Lamar Jackson and their other key players early in the second half if they play as well as they have in recent weeks. Look for the Demon Deacons to get a back-door cover.
#8 Texas A&M (-9) over Ole Miss
Mississippi’s defense has fallen apart. They’re ranked just 87th in the country in opponent yards per play; and if you look only at their last three games, that ranking falls to 114th. Combine that with the fact that Chad Kelly is out for the season and the Rebels have problems this weekend against the 12th man.
Oregon (+3) over Stanford
A key rule in betting: Don’t bet the house against a home underdog. I also like how Oregon’s offense (20th in yards per play) is far better than Stanford’s (107th). Even though the Ducks have serious holes defensively, I bet they contain Christian McCaffrey and the Cardinal offense in front of their home crowd.
Iowa (+21.5) over #3 Michigan
Michigan is great: They’re ranked in the top ten in both offense and defense by a variety of metrics. However, like I’ve said in some of my other previews, they’re getting a few too many points on the road. Iowa isn’t that great, but surely they’ll be pumped up to play the #3 team in the country at home. Think back to when Penn State upset the then #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes a few weeks ago. I’m not saying the Wolverines will drop from the ranks of the unbeaten…but they’ll have a tough time covering a three-touchdown spread.
#25 Arkansas (+7) over #24 LSU
I called the Razorbacks to upset Florida last week and I’m going to run it back again. I’m a little nervous about the fact that favorites that are public underdogs–like LSU is in this game–have gone a robust 67-53 with the spread this year. Nonetheless, Arkansas is at home and I’m not a fan of LSU’s quarterback, Brandon Harris.
Game of the Week
#20 USC (+8) over #4 Washington
Very tough game to call and here’s why. Washington is terrific in all three phases of the game: According to Football Outsiders, they are 3rd in offense, 9th in defense, and 11th in special teams. My one critique of the unbeaten Huskies, though, is that they really haven’t played anyone. Sure, they notched a solid road victory at Utah and blew out the likes of Stanford and Oregon. I think they’re in for more of a struggle against a USC team that has rebounded after a 1-3 start. They now sit at 6-3, and they quietly rank 12th in ESPN’s Football Power Index.
Because many bettors tend to overvalue favorites, I often believe in taking the underdog until there is plenty of evidence convincing me otherwise. I don’t find enough to take the Huskies -8.