Ten good bets to make for the college football wagering weekend ahead
The coming weekend will be the eighth weekend of the 2020 College Football season. But if you live in Upper Midwest, or anywhere in Big Ten country, this is the first week of the college football season as far as you are concerned. The Big Ten Conference will begin their season this weekend to try and catch up with the other power five conferences, the SEC, ACC, and Big 12, who’s seasons are already well underway. Pac-12 fans will have to wait until November 7th for their season to kickoff but until then we will be able to enjoy football from four out of the five power five conferences.
College Football Storylines This Week
A lot of people already have Ohio State penciled in for a spot in the CFB playoff despite not having seen them play a single snap this season.
t will be interesting to see whether or not the Buckeyes and their star quarterback Justin Fields live up to the expectations. Fields is currently second favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this season at +250, trailing only the preseason favorite Trevor Lawrence who stands at +110 to win the Heisman. Fields begins his abbreviated campaign to win the trophy this Saturday at noon EST in Columbus where his Buckeyes will host the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Along with fifth ranked Ohio State, the Big Ten has four other teams who will kick off Saturday in the Top 25 having not played a single down.
They are Penn State(8), Wisconsin(14), Michigan(18), and Minnesota(21). The last two schools, Michigan and Minnesota, will be facing off this Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The Wolverines are currently favored by 3.5 and are not the only road favorite in the Big Ten kick off weekend. Penn State is favored by 6.5 going into their matchup against Indiana University in Bloomington and Iowa is also favored on the road against Purdue by 4.5. All the other home teams including Northwestern, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, are expected to handle their opponents with ease.
As a University of Maryland Alum myself, I am certainly hoping that Northwestern does not take care of business and the debut of Taulia Tagovailoa for the Terrapins gives us a small shred of hope for the rest of the season. Before kick off anything is possible, that’s the fun of the first week! Right now, Maryland fans have the same amount of optimism that Vanderbilt fans had before they kicked off week one of the SEC.
Anything can happen but we are not expecting a lot! (I am currently a grad student at Vanderbilt and every season I am blessed with the joy of rooting for the two worst teams in the two best conferences. Hence, why I need gambling to have any opportunity to root for a winner.) ANYWAY! There is a lot to look forward to for any and all college football fans this week so without any further wait let’s look at my Top Ten Bets for this week in College Football!
10. Maryland +9.5 @ Northwestern
At the risk of sounding like a bind homer I am going to pick the University of Maryland here. There is plenty of data to back me up here though! Maryland is a completely different team at the beginning of the season than they are at the end of the season. Maryland has not lost a season opener since 2009! This includes wins over nationally ranked Miami, Navy, and Texas twice, once in College Park and once in Austin too. These are not just cupcake wins.
Maryland wins their season openers no matter who you throw at them. In the first three games of the season over the last ten seasons Maryland’s record is 21 and 9. I expect this trend to continue and I expect the spark they get from their new starting QB Taulia Tagovailoa to be enough to help Maryland keep the game close. I expect the Terps to cover the 9.5 and possibly even have a shot to win out right.
9. Alabama -19.5 vs Tennessee
I went to undergrad at the University of Maryland, but I live in Tennessee now so I see Volunteers fans everywhere I go. Even though I live in Nashville not Knoxville, I still spend every Saturday surrounded by the orange and white of the Tennessee Volunteers and I can honestly say I have never seen a fanbase have the wind taken out of their sails the way the Tennessee Volunteers fans have had the wind taken out of their sails this season. They were undefeated and leading the Georgia Bulldogs 21-17 at halftime in Athens and since they have been in a complete free-fall.
Since leading at half in Georgia the Volunteers have been outscored 61 to 7. This includes last week’s embarrassing home loss to Kentucky 34 to 7 in which Guarantano threw not one but two pick-sixes. The Volunteers are considering benching their starting QB and have no signs that they are going to be able to turn things around. They just fired their defensive coordinator and to make matters worse, The Vols are welcoming Alabama with a COVID-free Nick Saban fresh off a 41-24 win over Georgia to Knoxville. Things are only going to get worse for Tennessee this week. Alabama wins this one easily.
8. South Carolina money line +175 at LSU
Staying in the SEC, I like underdogs South Carolina to win in Baton Rouge this weekend. It could not be more obvious that LSU is not the team they were last season. After three games, Coach O and the LSU tigers have begun their title defense with a 1 and 2 record. The Tigers only win coming against lowly Vanderbilt. South Carolina is 3-0-1 against the spread and coming off a good win against Auburn.
While LSU is 1-2 against the spread. The Gamecocks have played every game close and I think they will be able to matchup offensively with LSU and could certainly go score for score with them. Partially because USC has a competent offense and partially because LSU’s defense cannot stop anyone anymore. LSU has not showed me anything to prove that they can win this game by a touchdown. In fact they have not shown me anything to lead me to believe they can win this game period. I think South Carolina covers the 6.5 and wins outright over LSU.
7. Auburn -3.5 at Ole Miss
One last pick in the SEC this weekend! Auburn is undeniably in a slump this season. After a solid win in their season opener against Kentucky, Auburn was blown out by Georgia, beaten by a mediocre South Carolina, and won by the skin of their teeth at home against a bad Arkansas. This week when they roll into Oxford to take on Ole Miss, Gus Malzahn could very well be coaching for his job.
Ole Miss were beaten 33-21 by that same bad Arkansas team last weekend and have only one win on the season. They are also giving up 47 points per game and 579.5 yards of total offense per game. It is now or never for the Auburn Tigers offense and Gus Malzahn. Auburn’s defense is holding opponents to 24 points per game and if they can keep that going this weekend, they win this game and cover the 3.5 with ease.
6. NC State +16 at UNC
These teams are too competitive for the spread to be this large. UNC is coming off their first loss of the season to a bad Florida State team and will be motivated to get back to their winning ways, because that is a loss they cannot have if they want to have any shot to challenge Clemson in the ACC. On top of that, NC State lost their starting QB to a broken fibula for the next 4-8 weeks. That being said, 16 points is still a gigantic spread for the Tarheels to cover if they want to beat a good NC State team. NC State is 4-1 on the season and 4-1 against the spread too.
The Wolfpack’s only loss came to a good Virginia Tech team in Blacksburg in week two. Since then they have rattled off three straight wins including a win over #24 ranked Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. This game is in Chapel Hill but it will hardly be a road game for the NC State considering UNC are right down the street and Covid-19 protocols will limit attendance. The loss at QB for NC State certainly will not help and I see UNC winning this game outright but give me the Wolfpack with the 16 points all day.
5. Penn State -6.5 at Indiana
Penn State returns a strong connection on their offense with QB Sean Clifford and Running Back Journey Brown both coming back for their junior year. The two lead Penn State to a 34 to 27 win over Indiana at the end of last season in State College. Now they will have to go to Indiana, but I think they will go into Bloomington with the confidence knowing they have already beaten Indiana and can do it again.
Brown had 100 yards rushing and a TD in that game last season too. This veteran experience will be incredibly valuable for Penn State in this first game of the new season after a long layoff. That is why I think Penn State does not have any trouble covering the spread in this game because the core of their offense has already been there done that. Penn State will win this game by at least a touchdown if not more.
4. Miami -11.5 vs. Virginia
This is another double digit spread that I think gets covered with ease. Virginia beat Duke soundly in the first game of the season and since then have lost every game they have played. Not only has Virginia lost three straight games but they have lost them badly. In the three-game stretch UVA lost to Clemson by 18, NC State by 17, and Wake Forest by 17. Virginia is losing games and losing games by a lot. Miami on the other hand is 4 and 1 this year with their only loss coming to Clemson. In their 4 wins Miami has won each game by at least 12 points and that is why Miami is 4 and 1 against the spread. This includes solid wins against Pittsburgh, Florida State, and Louisville.
All three of these teams are much better then UVA in my opinion. What we have here is a classic case of two teams trending in the opposite direction. Miami is trending up and UVA is tending down. These trends are going to continue this weekend and Miami is going to be Virginia by at least two touchdowns.
3. Coastal Carolina -4.5 vs Georgia Southern
Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC might be home to the second-best football team in the state of South Carolina right now after Clemson. Coming off a big win against number 21 ranked Louisiana, Coastal Carolina should have an easy time with the rest of their conference schedule in the Sun Belt. And if they stay healthy, they have a great chance to finish undefeated. The combination of Quarterback Grayson McCall, Running Back CJ Marable, and Wide Receiver Jaivon Heiligh form one of the most formidable trios on the offensive side of the ball in college football.
Georgia Southern are a strong running team but will need to be able to pass the ball if they want to keep up with the offensive fire power of Coastal Carolina. So far this season Georgia Southern has played well but has not proved it can be an effective passing team. This game could be a slow slug fest if Georgia Southern has their way but regardless I think Coastal Carolina will remain undefeated and be able to cover the 4.5.
2. Michigan State -12.5 vs Rutgers
As a Maryland fan I do not have much to cheer for but I can always take solace in the fact that we are not the worst team in the Big Ten. I know we are not the worst team in the Big Ten because Rutgers is also in the Big Ten. Rutgers is my favorite team to fade every week. Last season they were a team that you could never give too many points to, their opponents almost always covered and then some. Even Maryland beat Rutgers 48 to 7 last season. I know Michigan State has not been the national powerhouse they once were in the past few seasons but to only handicap them by 12.5 points against Rutgers at home is an insult.
Last season Rutgers did not come within 20 points of their opponent in a single conference game and I have no reason to believe they improved in the off season. Their closest conference loss was 27 to 6 against Penn State in the last game of the season. Coincidentally in the game before that Rutgers was shut out by Michigan State 27 to 0. I see this game following a similar path. 12.5 is too small a spread for this game. Take Michigan State minus the points and feel very confident when you do.
1. Clemson 1st Quarter -10.5 vs Syracuse
This has been my favorite bet on the board the entire season. It is a little pricy but it has hit every single time. Clemson money line is always astronomical this week it is not even offered on most books and if you want to play Clemson vs the spread you have to count on them beating Syracuse by 44.5. The first quarter price is always the cheapest and Clemson always wins the first quarter because that is when they are playing all of their starters. In the first quarter, Clemson has their foot on the gas the entire time.
They have to build leads that will impress the college football playoff committee against their weaker ACC opponents. This week they are hosting the very weak Syracuse Orange. When playing to their full potential Clemson will be able to score at will against Syracuse without conceding a point. I see Clemson winning the first quarter by at least 14.
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