In gambling, they tell us to trust the process. I am trying to do that this week, because last week I felt great about my process but wound up with horrendous results.
I had action on 13 college football games. On 10 of those games, my wagers had closing line value, meaning I had a more favorable number than someone who bet on the same team (or the over or under) after I did. There are no guarantees in this business, but when you beat the closing line, it’s supposed to mean better results more often than not.
But on those games, I went a brutal 1-8-1, part of a 2-10-1 week that dropped me to 47-44-2 (a 51.6% win rate) on the season. Maybe it’s just a weird year, or maybe we can get back into the winning column by trusting that process with early lines again in Week 8.
All bets are for one unit unless otherwise noted.
BET: Over 60 @ -115
This is partially a bet on the health of FSU quarterback Jordan Travis, but it sounds like he’ll play despite a minor shoulder injury suffered in last week’s win over North Carolina.
My guess is this total is so low because of a slight overreaction to Louisville’s bizarre 12-7 loss at Notre Dame. The fundamentals about Louisville have not changed: good offense, bad defense. FSU also has a bad defense but seems to have an improving offense now that Travis is under center, and I think this game should get north of 60 points.
BET: Ohio State -21.5 @ -130
I got this line early, because my sportsbook has had bets on this weekend’s Big Ten games posted for a while. I had to pay for it with some bad juice (I’d need to bet $130 to win $100 on an Ohio State cover), but I feel fine about it because I strongly suspect the Buckeyes will destroy the Huskers. They could be covering this spread by some time in the third quarter.
Ohio State feels right at anything inside four touchdowns, because I don’t think Nebraska is good and believe the Buckeyes have every incentive to run the score up as much as possible. The bigger the margins Ohio State wins by, the less ammunition SEC people might have to argue the Buckeyes shouldn’t get a Playoff spot after a shortened Big Ten season.
BET: Notre Dame -9.5 @ -115
This line has moved in my favor to 10.5, where I wouldn’t feel nearly as good about it as I do at 9.5. But I’d still think about the Irish there and would stay away from Pitt.
The Panthers have a difficult QB situation with starter Kenny Pickett injured. Arizona State transfer Joey Yellen has a big arm, but in his first start against Miami, he repeatedly tried to take the top off the defense with deep passes, and it didn’t work well.
Notre Dame has a solid secondary that should prevent Pitt from making the huge plays it will probably need to sneak away with a cover. I also think Notre Dame will score into the 30s, while Pitt might not be able to reach 20.
College Football Expert Picks
BET: West Virginia -3 @ -105
WVU might not be great, but Texas Tech is bad. Since firing Kliff Kingsbury and replacing him with Matt Wells, the Red Raiders have barely gotten better on defense while falling precipitously on offense.
They scored a bunch of points (56) against a terrible Texas defense that couldn’t tackle, but since then they’ve scored 21 against Kansas State and 15 against Iowa State. Now they’re replacing QB Alan Bowman with Utah State transfer Henry Colombi. That move feels more designed as a “light a spark” thing than something that will clearly make Tech better, given both QBs have played plenty and averaged an equal 6.6 yards per throw.
BET: Navy +12 @ -110
This line has moved against me, and you could get the Midshipmen at something like +15.5. That’s a great value opportunity, I think. Navy has looked a ways better the last few weeks after a couple of ugly early losses to BYU and Air Force. More than that, this game is in Annapolis, where Navy is always a tough out, and I’m tempted by any triple-option team as a double-digit underdog because of how much clock that offense winds.
I was prepared to bet Navy at anything more than +10 and was surprised to be able to get them at +12 on Sunday. The line movement against me has been a little confusing, but I would be excited to take a shot with the Mids at anything near a 15-point spread.
BET: Memphis -13 @ -112
We still don’t know a ton about Temple, because the Owls have only played two games. But it’s possible they’re extremely bad, given how much they struggled with an abhorrent USF last weekend before pulling out a two-point win. Memphis has a great offense that could score well into the 40s without breaking a deep sweat.
Temple’s offense might be decent, but I don’t think it’s explosive enough to steal easy points against Memphis and keep this game especially close. QB Anthony Russo is averaging 6.6 yards per throw over two games despite having faced almost no pressure against either Navy or USF. Memphis doesn’t have a world-beating pass rush but does have a few guys (tackle O’Bryan Goodson, end Morris Joseph) who could heat up the kitchen for Russo.
NCAA Football Picks
BET: Louisiana +2 @ -110
This game feels like a dead tossup to me. I would favor Louisiana ever so slightly on a neutral field, but this game is in Birmingham, which is worth a few points in the Blazers’ direction.
Given how even I think this matchup is, it’s hard not to take multiple points in either direction. This line has even moved a hair against me since I took the Ragin’ Cajuns at +2, and you could now find them a lot of places around +2.5. I like that value a lot, but if you’d rather wait and see if the number ticks up to a field goal, I wouldn’t take it personally.
BET: Liberty -10.5 @ -110
Liberty can score. The Flames put up 38 on Syracuse, which has a bad defense but at least has Power 5 talent, last weekend. Southern Miss’ defense is really bad and has not kept a team below the 30s this year. If Liberty scored into the high 30s or low 40s, that wouldn’t be surprising, and I think it’d be enough to cover at home against a team in disarray.
College Gameday Picks
BET: Baylor +10.5 @ -110
I would’ve set the line for this game at basically half the margin sportsbooks did. To me, Texas should be a 5.5-point favorite in this game, not favored by more than a touchdown and a field goal. Baylor has only played two games and remains something of an unknown, but the Bears’ defense should be solid enough to make Sam Ehlinger have to really work for it to get the Longhorns into the mid-30s. On the other side of the ball, Texas’ defense is bad enough that even an anemic Baylor offense should be able to get to 17 or 20, with higher numbers also in play. So with this large line, the Bears represent strong value.
BET: Appalachian State -10 @ -110
I have beaten the early line movement here, as the spread has moved to around 11.5. But I would feel comfortable with the Mountaineers at anything less than a 14.5-point spread. Arkansas State’s defense is in bad shape and will play under new leadership this week, after both the unit’s coordinators got fired the day after giving up 52 points to Georgia State last week. Boone is not a good place to visit if you’re not properly prepared.