There is a chill in the air, Christmas decorations are on sale, the NBA is in full-swing, college basketball is tipping off, and college football point spreads are getting tight: It must be November. It is very important to remember to pick your spots late in the season. Don’t forget to strongly consider coaching familiarity, motivation, and weather in these conference games down the stretch.
As I mention every week, 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. 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 without further ado, let’s kick it off for week 11.
Betting on College Football – Week 11 Quick Hitters
(All point spreads and totals are as of noon CST on Thursday)
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Nebraska looking to “turnover” a new leaf. The Huskers are coming off strong back to back conference wins, but turnovers still plague this team. Nebraska is -9 in turnover margin, which is the worst in the Big Ten. Their opponent, Penn State, ranks first in the conference at a +9 turnover margin. Nebraska pulled out wins against Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Michigan State despite losing the turnover battle. They may not be so lucky this week against a disciplined Penn State team. You can read more on this game at Sides and Totals to consider. (Line = Neb -8, 52.5).
Hogan’s Heroes. Redshirt freshman, Kevin Hogan, took over for the struggling Josh Nunes last week as Stanford’s quarterback. Hogan ended up picking apart Colorado, one of the worst defenses in the country. His impressive performance was enough for head coach David Shaw to appoint him the starting QB against Oregon State this Saturday. A lot of people think that Hogan can jump-start this inconsistent offense. It will be interesting to see how the freshman responds against one of the Pac-12’s best defenses. You can read more on this game at Sides and Totals to consider. (Line = Stan -4.5, 44.5).
Pros vs Joes. It is no secret that “wiseguy” handicappers love to bet against the general public in some situational spots. These spots usually consist of trap games, sandwich games, or a team being overrated based on name recognition, undeserved rankings, or fluke performances. Either way, the sharp handicappers usually see something that the general public fails to consider. I usually don’t put too much stock into this sharp money vs public money if I feel I have an accurate read on a game, but sometimes I will take a closer look at a matchup to see why the wiseguy’s are leaning heavy on one side. Here are some of the games the wiseguys like despite the public taking the other side at 70% or higher rate (Wiseguy pick is listed first):
UConn (+3) vs Pittsburgh on Friday: Public perception of Pittsburgh is pretty high after they nearly pulled off the upset in South Bend last week. However, the Panthers are in a tough spot here, playing a conference game on the road in a shortened week. I know UConn has underachieved this year (to put it mildly), but you have to think they will be ready to go on their home field on national TV. Meanwhile, Pitt may still have a bit of a hangover after their heartbreak in South Bend last week.
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Army (+17) @ Rutgers: I thought this line was a little bit high when it was first released. With the exception of their game at Temple, Rutgers doesn’t really blow-out their opponents in convincing fashion. The Scarlet Knights have had a bye week to think about their upset loss to Kent State, but this game may be a grind-it-out low scoring affair that favors Army getting the points.
Virginia (-1) vs Miami: Virginia had a breakout performance against NC State last week, and the wiseguys expect some of that to carry into this week. Meanwhile, Miami may be a bit overvalued coming off a national TV win against Virginia Tech. On top of that, the Hurricanes have had some struggles on the road this season. Jimmyshivers has a write-up of this game here.
Buffalo (+2.5) vs Western Michigan: The public mainly perceives Buffalo as the perennial cellar dwellers of the MAC. Despite their 2-7 record the Bulls have been playing better the past two weeks, due in large part to the return of their star RB, Branden Oliver.
Arizona State (+9) @ USC: As of Wednesday night, 88% of the money was on USC, yet the line moved from USC -11 to -9. Arizona State has sharp money written all over it in this one. The way the USC defense has been playing, ASU has a good chance at keeping it within a touchdown, or possibly getting a backdoor cover.
Utah (-1) @ Washington: Utah has been very impressive in their last two wins over Cal and Washington State. The wiseguys must be buying into the fact that this Utah team is improving. However, Washington has been pretty good at home this season, getting upset wins over Stanford and Oregon State. Both teams have caught their fair share of breaks in the past two weeks. This should be an interesting and competitive game on Saturday.
Missouri (+3) @ Tennessee: Missouri has shown new signs of life the past few weeks, getting a convincing win over Kentucky and playing Florida tough in the swamp. They have their starting QB, Franklin, back from injury, but he threw four INT’s against the Gators. He has to play better if Mizzou wants to keep up in this game. Meanwhile, Tennessee continues to underwhelm, as they had to sneak by Troy in a close game last week.
Gone in a flash. Kent State ranks #11 in the nation in rushing yards per game, due in large part to Dri Archer, their talented flex-back. Archer, who many people claim is Darren Sproles’ (Saints RB) clone, has the ability to take it the distance every play with his great speed. He only has 97 carries on the season (11 per game), but he is 2nd in the nation with a 9.2 yards per carry average. He is listed at 5′ 8″ 164 lbs, and runs a 4.21 40-yard dash. Archer and the rest of the Golden Flashes should find plenty of running room against Miami Ohio, who ranks #121 in yards per carry allowed. (Line = Kent St -6.5, 56)
Shedding some light on the Sun Belt. Despite their unimpressive 2-7 record, Florida Atlantic is 7-1 ATS as an underdog this season. The Owls have played well in the past two weeks, winning vs Troy and losing by only a touchdown to a solid Navy team. This week, they will play at Western Kentucky, a team many people consider one of the favorites to win the conference. (Line = WKU -17, 49.5)
The Best of the Worst. Like Florida Atlantic, there are several other teams have a bad overall record, but they fare pretty well against the spread. It is important to identify these teams, because the general public may continue to undervalue them based off their subpar overall record. These teams include:
Tulane: (2-7 Overall, 6-3 ATS) This Week: Pk at Memphis (SabertStxVii has a write-up of this game here)
UNLV: (2-8 Overall, 6-2-2 ATS) This Week: -2 at Colorado State
Texas State: (3-5 Overall, 5-3 ATS) This Week: +20.5 vs #20 Louisiana Tech
Indiana: (4-5 Overall, 6-3 ATS) This Week: +7 vs Wisconsin
Home field disadvantage? As head coach of Nevada, Chris Ault’s teams have typically been very good against the spread at home.That is not the case this year, as Nevada is currently 0-4 ATS in Reno. This week, Fresno State comes to town, boasting the 13th best scoring offense in the country. Fresno State is 7-0 ATS as a favorite this year, 2-0 ATS as a road favorite. (Line = Fresno -3.5, 70)
Take the under in a West Virginia game? If you would’ve asked me that early in the season, I would’ve thought you were crazy. This week, when the Mountaineers travel to Oklahoma State, it might not be such a bad idea. The over/under is set at 79, which West Virginia and Oklahoma State have not hit in their past three games, even with WVU-TCU going into double overtime last week. West Virginia’s offense seems to be slowing down, while Oklahoma State’s defense has marginally improved week to week (all relatively speaking). There is a 40% chance of late showers in Stillwater, with the winds at around 20mph. (Line = OkSt -8.5, 79)
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.