Here are some college football notes and observations that bettors can use going forward.
Time to buy USC
If you want an early best bet for the week, here it is: Take USC -7 against No. 19 Colorado on Saturday. This is a case where an unranked team is a substantial favorite against a ranked undefeated team. If you look at just records and rankings then Colorado would seem to be the obvious play. However, a deeper handicap favors the Trojans.
Colorado was a team I wrote about selling last week and specifically mentioned this would be the game to start fading the Buffaloes. They won and covered against Arizona State, which was the ideal result to begin betting against Colorado.
USC is coming off a bye week after finishing September with a 3-2 record. It was a really tough schedule of games in the opening month especially as they broke in true freshman JT Daniels as the starting quarterback.
USC lost on the road to Stanford and Texas, and bounced back with wins over Washington State and Arizona. The victory against Arizona only read 24-20 on the scoreboard, but USC jumped out to an early 24-0 lead — they were in control most of the game. Because that result looked closer than the actual play on the field, there is some line value on USC this week.
The bye came at the right time. Expect Daniels and the offense to elevate their play for the rest of the season.
Almost time to sell West Virginia
The most over-ranked team in the country is No. 6 West Virginia.
Their best win of the season was against Texas Tech in a game where the Red Raiders quarterback left the game with an injury. The other wins came against Tennessee, Youngstown State, Kansas State and Kansas. Last week, they failed to cover the spread against Kansas, and Will Grier threw three interceptions in a 38-22 win.
The schedule of games is going to get tough for the Mountaineers; they play Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma in November. We’ll find out if West Virginia is for real during that stretch. If they go into the Texas game 7-0, then I’ll be looking to sell West Virginia at that point.
There might be an opportunity to bet against West Virginia this week as they travel to Ames for a date with Iowa State. West Virginia is a six-point favorite as of Tuesday afternoon. The Cyclones are coming off of an impressive 48-42 win at Oklahoma State, where they were led by third-string quarterback Brock Purdy and were without leading rusher David Montgomery. Starting QB Kyle Kempt could be healthy for this game, but Purdy looked like a capable replacement.
I would monitor where this line goes and the Iowa State situation this week, and possibly begin fading West Virginia this week.
Louisville has hit rock bottom
While reviewing the box scores from Week 6, the one that jumped off the screen was from Louisville’s 66-31 loss to Georgia Tech on Friday night. Georgia Tech only attempted two passes — they completed one — and still dropped 66 points on the road. That’s because they ran for 542 yards on 65 attempts.
Maybe this performance was expected for Louisville after they lost a heartbreaking game to Florida State six days earlier. Regardless, this is a new low for Bobby Petrino in his second stint at Louisville.
There were a lot of question marks about the Cardinals this season as the post-Lamar Jackson era began. Petrino eased some possible nerves when he said he expected the offense to be better and more balanced at ACC Media Days. Now Louisville is 2-4 and 0-3 within the conference.
They have some big games coming up, including a road game at Clemson, but it seems like this team has quit on the season. Maybe they can provide an all-in effort in the final game of the year against in-state rival Kentucky. However, who knows where the program will be by then and if Petrino will be on the hot seat.
The betting markets have finally caught up to Alabama
Alabama is the best team in college football by far, and they have put up amazing stats through the first six weeks. However, they haven’t met market expectation the last three games.
Alabama is officially in a tailspin: Crimson Tide has failed to cover in 3 consecutive games – while still outscoring opponents by an average of 40 points a game this season
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) October 6, 2018
Alabama has given up fourth quarter touchdowns in games against Texas A&M, Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas to fail to cover the spread in three straight games.
This is a good lesson going forward to bet on Alabama to cover the first half spread if you want to wager on the Crimson Tide. The oddsmakers are inflating the point spreads in Alabama’s games and Tua Tagovailoa amazingly hasn’t thrown a fourth-quarter pass, which has allowed teams to cover late against Alabama.
Ohio State’s hangover after playing Penn State continues
Something to file away for next season is to bet against Ohio State the week after they play Penn State.
In 2016, Ohio State lost to Penn State and then staved off Northwestern 24-20 at home and never had a chance to cover a 26-point spread.
Last season, Ohio State rallied to beat Penn state 39-38 in a game that gave them control of the Big Ten East. The following week, they had a famous 42-24 loss at Iowa that greatly impacted the College Football Playoff decision between Alabama and Ohio State for the fourth spot.
Last week, Ohio State started slowly before eventually pulling away to a 49-26 win against Indiana, but didn’t cover the spread.
Next season, Ohio State plays Penn State late in the year — the week before the Buckeyes travel to Ann Arbor to play Michigan. Maybe that can be the perfect spot for Jim Harbaugh to record his first win against Ohio State.
Stay away from the Nebraska-Northwestern game in Week 7
The college football lines open on Sunday night and that’s usually when we see the biggest line moves. The line move in the Nebraska-Northwestern game has stuck out, as money has been flying in on the 0-5 Cornhuskers.
Northwestern opened as a nine-point home favorite. That number went down to -6 in 45 minutes. On Tuesday morning, there was another strong move towards the underdog and now the Wildcats are only a 3.5-point favorite.
I actually agree with this line move and wouldn’t bet on Northwestern. I’ve been following Nebraska closely all season, and they have been on the wrong side of injuries and turnover luck all season. Their stats are impressive for an 0-5 team and a win is coming soon for Scott Frost’s program.
This could be the perfect spot for Nebraska’s first win, with Northwestern feeling good about themselves after a stunning win at Michigan State. The Wildcats are 0-2 straight up as favorites this season, so this isn’t their preferred role.
Another factor in this game is this: Northwestern doesn’t have a good home crowd. There will likely be more Nebraska fans in the stadium who are making a weekend trip to Chicago.
I would have loved to bet Nebraska even at the point spread of +6. Now that it’s close to a field goal, everyone should stay away.