We’re back after an extended offseason due to minimal confidence in whether or not teams like Akron and Hawaii could cover +53 spreads. The temperature is finally below 70° and more B1G teams are playing conference games than not. While not writing a column I have been keeping track of all of FBS through 3 weeks (FCS too, when they beat my pathetic Wildcats). There’s no shortage of revelations, both good – Duke, Kansas, Washington, among others, and bad – Notre Dame, Houston, and the two schools who’ve already fired their head coach. So read on to discover the strong profit opportunities the season’s best slate to date offers.
Bet 1: Maryland at Michigan over 64.5 (-107) (11am CT, Fox; all odds via PointsBet)
Michigan dropped 59 on the Terps last November, and by all indications they’re even more dynamic now that JJ McCarthy is the unquestioned QB1. The UM defense may look to have not dropped off at all after losing Hutchinson, Ojabo and company, but Taulia and his skilled group of weapons will provide a big step up in competition after a non-con schedule everybody but Minnesota can make fun of. The spread is UM -17, so the predicted score is 41-24. I think the Wolverines threaten 50 while the Terp offense puts up respectable numbers by either keeping it close early, or against a conservative defense in the second half.
Bet 2: TCU -2 (-107) at SMU (11:00am CT, ESPNU)
TCU head coach Sonny Dykes up against his former team in just his third game for the Horned Frogs. His successor, Rhett Lashlee, has that working for him in terms of motivation, but the more impactful advantage is Dykes’s knowledge of his former team. TCU hasn’t been overwhelmingly impressive in their two wins (at Colorado by “just” 25, and FCS Tarleton St), but a coach versus the team he just left, with a bye week to prepare, is going to give their best effort. SMU put up a bunch of yards in their loss at Maryland last week, but it took nearly 100 plays to do it. They’re a team that should get better as the season goes along, but taking this home loss will be part of the process.
Bet 3: North Carolina -1.5 (-107) vs Notre Dame (2:30pm CT, ABC)
The polar opposites in terms of coaching experience has been a light-hearted storyline all week, but it’s not for nothing. The Freeman era has not gotten off to a smooth start, while Mack Brown’s crew has had their own problems barely getting past Sun Belt opponents in their last two games. This is another example of a team coming off a bye week though. At home off a bye is about as advantageous as it gets for the Tar Heels. Their defense will need to make some plays, but ND being forced into playing the backup QB Pine will prove pivotal. A close home win versus Cal shouldn’t be as reassuring as this tight spread implies. ND has feasted on ACC opponents as of late, but UNC is lying in wait.
Bet 4: Florida Atlantic at Purdue over 59 (-107) (6:30pm CT, BTN)
Willie Taggart’s FAU offense looked awful their last time out vs UCF, and Purdue’s defense is pretty good (at least when they don’t have to kickoff from their own 10 yard-line), but the lack of running game will simply result in too many plays for this not to turn into a 52-28 type shootout. Charlie Jones can keep his Biletnikoff campaign buzzing as the Boilers want to wash the taste of the dreadful Syracuse loss out of their mouths. N’Kosi Perry has been around forever and has the chops to put together a few drives in what’s shaping up to be his best college season. Purdue sticks out of the B1G West like a sore thumb, and the presumption of the under does not apply here.
Best Bet: Minnesota -3 (-107) at Michigan St (2:30pm CT, BTN)
This feels like the Washington game all over again. In spite of their bad loss in Seattle, MSU received more votes than Minnesota in both the AP and Coaches poll. You have to love when the betting market shows such disregard for the rankings that now they’re a home dog. Just as Washington being favored as an unranked team was a giveaway, the same is true here. Minnesota’s schedule has been a total joke, but their execution against it has been flawless. Losing their best receiver Autman-Bell ahead of a game against such a poor passing defense isn’t good news, but by the same token if there’s a secondary for backups to step up against, it’s MSU. But Minnesota should win this game with their defense. Sparty has been missing the spark from their breakthrough 2021. An early lead and Minnesota will take the air out of the ball with Mo Ibrahim, winning comfortably.