Believe it or not, we’re already into Week 5 of the college football season (the sixth week if you count Week 0).
I wish we had happier news to report from the “Tuley’s Takes” home office as far as our CFB plays are concerned, but last weekend we lost with Boston College and BYU before salvaging the day in the "get-out" game with New Mexico State +3.5 in a 20-17 loss at Hawaii. Even though our longtime readers know that you can usually get better lines with our dogs closer to kickoff, our published play here was New Mexico State +3, so we have to grade it a push for a 0-2-1 ATS weekend. That dropped our posted record here to 6-8-1 ATS.
There’s an old saying in the sportsbooks here in Las Vegas that it’s hard for bettors to be hot in both college and pro football. Win on Saturday/lose on Sunday . . . and vice versa.
We’re off to a 10-5 ATS start with our NFL “takes” column (posted on Wednesday), but we’ve gone 2-6-1 ATS those same three weekends in the colleges after a solid 4-2 ATS start. You’d think “football is football,” and if you’re succeeding at one you should succeed in the other as well, but it’s never easy, right?
But we keep trying. Call me stubborn, but despite losing the last two Friday nights, I’m doing it again before getting into Saturday’s loaded card.
In the VSiN College Football Betting Guide, Utah was my pick to win the Pac-12 at 6-1 and my longshot pick to win the national championship at 80-1. That was assuming star QB Cameron Rising would be back from a torn ACL by the season opener against Florida, but the Utes are still off to a 4-0 start and up to No. 10 in the AP Poll even without Rising. The overall talent and depth on both sides of the ball are why I picked them to repeat in the loaded Pac-12 (remember, they swept USC last to win the conference title last year and returned most of those players).
They’ve overcome other injuries in addition to Rising, so they’ve done a great job of “next man up.” I still have Utah as favored in this matchup even if Rising is still unable to play as Bryson Barnes and now Nate Johnson have filled in admirably, while the defense (which allowed just 7 points to UCLA last week and is giving up just 9.5 points per game) can contain DJ Uiagalelei and the Beavers’ offense.
Staying in the Pac-12 (which we seem to be watching a lot more of this season), Arizona State has lost three straight after beating the Sun Belt Conference’s Southern Utah by only 24-21 in the season-opener. I’m sure not many people are looking to back the Sun Devils here, but they only lost 42-28 at USC last Saturday as Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and the Trojans weren’t able to pull away until late. If Arizona State could stay within 14 points of USC, I see no reason why it can’t stay within 12.5 of Cal, which was just beaten by 27 points, 59-32, by Washington. And they’re now laying double digits against a similarly talented team?
Baylor is off to a 1-3 after getting run over by Texas in a 38-6 loss last Saturday, but I keep going back to the fact the Bears only lost 20-13 to the aforementioned Utah team three Saturdays ago. UCF is 3-1 and has statistically been better than Baylor, so we understand the Knights being favored, but not by double digits, so we see value in the big underdog. UCF was 3-0 with wins over Kent State, Boise State and Villanova, but then stepped up in class (to use a horse racing term) by losing 44-31 at Kansas State last Saturday in its Big 12 debut. By the same token, we see Baylor stepping down in class after having to face Utah and Texas. We’ll take the generous points.
We’ll go with a different “directional” Florida school with USF. The Bulls are only 2-2, but they’re coming off a 42-29 win over Rice. I don’t often bet against the military academies as I respect the effort they put out and love betting them as motivated underdogs, but I’m willing to fade them if I see an unworthy favorite. South Florida QB Byrum Brown has 885 passing yards with six TDs and 3 INTs, and also leads the Bulls with 357 rushing yards and five more TDs. The Midshipmen lost 28-24 to Memphis last time out to fall to 1-2 and doesn’t look as strong as recent Navy teams. South Florida’s weakness it its pass defense, but that’s not a concern against Navy’s option-running attack.