Over .500 to stay!
Week 7 Review: 4-1. Winners: Auburn +4.5, UF-LSU over 59.5, Iowa St -6.5, Texas Tech -18.5 (BB). Loser: Duke +320 moneyline.
Back after a very good Week 7. I was so wrong about Duke beating UVA straight up, I got four spread-beaters to even it out. Not a single one of the five picks was ever in doubt, which is certainly no problem when 80% of them are going your way. The key remains selectivity. It’s the primary factor in making college football the best sport to bet. You’re unlikely to be as wrong as I was about Duke when picking an NFL game, but you’re also very unlikely to find four spreads that are so clearly favorable in a given NFL week either. In keeping with the prioritization of selectivity, some games I would very much like to play have been excluded. Wisconsin at Purdue would typically be a green light given how difficult it is to prepare following a win as large as Purdue’s at Iowa. It’s natural for teams to come crashing back to earth, but Wisconsin’s offense is just something that cannot be bet on right now. The same goes for Clemson. Yes, I do think this is a chance to buy low on them at Pitt, but is the risk that they simply aren’t the same team at all because of the offense one of the five best on a full board? I can’t say that it is. On to the picks.
Bet 1: UCLA -1 vs Oregon (2:30pm CT, ABC; all odds via PointsBet)
Chip Kelly wanting this game really bad is obvious, but him getting it? I think it’s quite probable. Oregon needed to rally to beat Cal at home. UCLA should be a 7 point favorite. “Win in Columbus” is not default Oregon. That result carries less and less influence as the season wears on. Kelly is 0-2 vs his former school since being hired at UCLA, failing to knock them out of any fringe CFP hopes in a home game would just be too much of a failed opportunity to expect out of a coach his quality. UCLA should win by 10 plus.
Bet 2: Ohio State at Indiana under 59 (6:30pm CT, ABC)
Might seem unnecessarily risky betting the under in a game involving an offense that’s averaged 59 points per game over their last 3, but here we are. Indiana showed an encouraging amount of fight in their loss to Michigan St a week ago, they just couldn’t overcome the hole of an early pick-six. Crucial to the under, IU’s offense is a mess. With Penn St on deck for OSU, there is no reason they wouldn’t want to be a little more vanilla than usual in just getting out of town with a 38-10, or so, type win.
Bet 3: Georgia Tech +6.5 at Virginia (6:30pm CT, ACCN)
Coming back after Virginia with the second team facing them after last playing in the October 9th Duke-GT game. The loser lost 48-0, the winner is going to produce a tight game, at a minimum. The ACC is a league of tremendous parity in 2021. In that type of playing field, factors like bye weeks will make an increased difference. The market is pricing in a benefit for Tech, but this should be a close game throughout. Some +6.5’s are larger than others, and this qualifies.
Bet 4: Louisville -5.5 (-105) vs Boston College (3pm CT, ACCN)
ACC Bye Week Advantage Part II. Both teams coming in off consecutive losses, but one is coming off their bye (BC’s was two weeks ago, so not too worn down) and at home. BC’s promising season has been derailed by the Jurkovec injury. His replacement Grosel has been less efficient in each start as they’ve gone by. This is a chance for Louisville to get their season back on track versus a team on the ropes with their backup QB. Teams only fail to win these games by a touchdown plus if they’re at a serious talent disadvantage, which Louisville is not.
Best Bet: Northwestern +23.5 at Michigan (11am CT, Fox)
(Full disclosure, I’m a Northwestern fan, they’re the team I’m most knowledgeable about.) This is not the same NU that lost 56-7 at Nebraska, and this is not going to be the same UM that blew Wisconsin out in Madison. The Cats aborted the defensive experiment they were running under first year DC Jim O’Neil over their bye week before Rutgers, and have returned to something similar to the prior functional system that led to winning their division two of the last three years. Michigan is coming off the bye (hypocritical homer!), but coach Harbaugh has made an overt choice to be focusing on big games more in 2021 than in prior years, which makes sense as they were his Achilles’ heel. They have been spending significant time on MSU, knowing NU is extremely unlikely to interrupt their undefeated season. This is not going to be the total bloodbath it would have been a few weeks ago. Keep an eye on NU’s passing game to generate chunk plays via WR Stephon Robinson. Michigan should escape, but look for something in the 27-17 range.
Let us never be under .500 again. Go Cats! (17-15 ATS on the season)