Yep, I know I keep repeating myself every week about how this college football season is flying by, but it’s Week 10 (Week 11 if counting Week 0), as the calendar has already turned to November.
Our Best Bets took a step back last Saturday as we went 2-3 ATS with wins on Kansas +9 (at least that was our top play!) in the Jayhawks’ 38-33 upset of Oklahoma and Miami (OH) +7.5 in another outright upset of Ohio by the score of 30-16.
Our losses were on Duke +4.5 vs. Louisville, Eastern Michigan +3 vs. Western Michigan and Wyoming +5 vs. Boise State. Those were all ugly losses, but we’re fine with that, as the more frustrating losses are of the coin-flip variety.
Our official record here is still above .500 at 17-16-2 ATS, but we hope to finish the regular season strong.
Let’s get to this week’s CFB plays (which we’ll be following all weekend along with the Breeders’ Cup, as that’s always been a long-shot lover’s paradise for yours truly, Dave Tuley). I gotta say that nothing really jumps out at me on the whole card like Kansas did last week, but I’ve had some of my best days when I felt this way, so we trust the process.
We’ll start on Friday night to kick things off and then have a trio of plays on Saturday.
I’ve been following Boston College since successfully fading the Eagles with my alma mater, Northern Illinois, in the season-opener (I’ve been reminiscing about my time at NIU a lot lately as it’s been 35 years since I graduated in 1988 (hello to all my classmates and instructors I’ve been chatting with lately). Despite that loss to NIU, the Eagles are 5-3 and on a four-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Orange is 4-4 and on a four-game losing streak, so basically, the only reason Syracuse is favored is due to “home-field advantage” (which regular readers know I’ve been putting less and less stock in since the pandemic in all sports). BC has the better running game, averaging 221 yards per game, and I’ll take Thomas Castellanos over Syracuse’s Garrett Shrader in a battle of middle-of-the-road college QBs.
Mississippi comes into this game at 7-1 and ranked No. 10 in the nation. Part of me thinks this number is too short to take Texas A&M (5-3), as it seems like we should be getting more points, especially since oddsmakers will usually take on even more of a home-field advantage with the better team. But, sometimes, that can be seen as a clue from the oddsmaker that the dog is especially live as they don’t want to give too many points to sharp bettors. Ole Miss has the better offense, but A&M has the better defense, and we’ll count on that to be the difference to pull off the minor upset (in the oddsmakers’ eyes with such a short spread) of this ranked home team (which will be seen as a bigger upset by the media).
This is one of those lukewarm plays I would probably pass on if I thought I saw live underdogs on Saturday’s card, but “a play is a play,” and I’m firing away. Again, I’m unsure why Virginia (2-6) is favored, except for being at home. Virginia did play better in its 29-26 OT loss at Miami (FL) last Saturday, but Georgia Tech also beat The U 23-20 back on Oct. 7 and is also coming off a 46-42 upset win vs. No. 17 North Carolina. There could be a letdown after a win like that, but we’ll instead look for the Yellow Jackets to carry that momentum into this week vs. an inferior team. (Another blast from the past with more Tuley Trivia: My cousin, Terry Tuley, was an assistant coach at Georgia Tech in the late 1970s/early 1980s on Bill Curry’s staff).
Through the years, I’ve had hundreds of people ask me what I look for in my handicapping to find live underdogs with my “dog-or-pass philosophy. There are many things I can point to – because, just like the Breeders’ Cup this weekend in looking for long shots, I try to look at all angles and play the percentages when I believe I have an edge – but what it almost always comes down to a more esoteric feel of whether I feel I’m getting enough points to make it worth a bet (meaning that, in the long run, if I made this particular bet that I’d come out ahead). For instance, in this case, I don’t believe Washington State should be favored by nearly touchdowns. If this line was close to 7 or even 10, I would probably pass. Both teams are pretty bad this year and don’t play much defense. I’m not saying Stanford is going to run the ball up the Wazzu, but the Cougars do allow 30.9 points and 446 yards per game, so it should take much for Stanford to stay within single digits or another mediocre team. And don’t forget the Cardinal went toe-to-toe with a much better team in No. 5 Washington before losing just 42-33.
Tuley P.S. – The last two weeks, the last game I’ve dropped from this column has covered, so this week that play would have been Houston +4 at Baylor, so do with that what you will.