Time flies when you’re having fun. It’s College Football Week 9 already (Week 10 if counting Week 0), and it feels alternately like it’s been months and also like a flashpoint in the space-time continuum.
Our CFB Best Bets went 2-2 ATS last Saturday. The wins were on Baylor +3.5 in a 32-29 outright upset of Cincinnati and Utah +7 in a 34-32 upset of USC, while the losses were on Tennessee and Utah State.
Our record remains at a respectable 15-13-2 ATS (53.6%), so let’s get to this Saturday’s card.
Oklahoma is ranked No. 6 and in the CFB Playoff hunt. The Sooners got their big win vs. Texas two weeks ago but almost had a letdown by only beating Central Florida 31-29 last Saturday. We expect Kansas to at least give Oklahoma a similar scare, with RBs Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw Jr. leading the way. Tuley Noted: While Kansas was blown out 40-14 by Texas, it gets the benefit of the doubt in common-opponent comparison by routing Central Florida 51-22 and now gets to go to school by comparing game tapes with an extra week to prepare).
Also, Marc Lawrence (who was in Matt Youmans’ Friday Night Invitational on VSiN last season) of playbook.com passes on that “Jayhawks coach Lance Leipold is 29-10-1 ATS at home in FBS play, including 13-1-1 ATS versus greater than .700 opponents and 12-1-1 ATS when his team is .700 or better.” The Jayhawks look to rock the chalk, and we’ll also have some on the Kansas +300 moneyline.
Louisville started the season with six straight wins before falling 38-21 to Pitt, so longtime readers will immediately recognize this as an “anti-swagger play” (a letdown spot after having a long win streak snapped) for Louisville. As of my Thursday afternoon deadline, this line was sitting at 4.5 with Duke QB Riley Leonard’s status still uncertain with an ankle injury he suffered last Saturday. Duke was poised to upset Florida State with a 21-17 lead in the lead quarter, but Leonard went down, and the Blue Devil offense only gained 35 yards the rest of the way and was outscored 21-0 the rest of the way, so we probably need Leonard to start to make this play.
Let’s move to the Mid-American Conference, as I’ve been reminiscing a lot lately about my Northern Illinois University “glory days” (as a sports reporter and columnist at the Northern Star, not on the actual playing field) and cursing The Fates for missed opportunities. But I’m not missing this opportunity with a live home underdog. Usually, point spreads make sense. The better team with the better record and better stats is usually favored, and it’s just a matter of by how much. And then there are games like this where Western Michigan (2-6) is a 3-point favorite over Eastern Michigan (4-4). It would be understandable if oddsmakers made WMU the favorite if this was in Kalamazoo, but it’s in Ypsilanti. Granted, Eastern Michigan has been outgained in every game, so that’s probably why this line is the way it is, but gimme the conference dog with the better record any day.
Staying in the MAC, both these teams are 3-1 in the East Division, so this is a huge game in the conference title race. Miami (OH) was undefeated in MAC play, and Brett Gabbert (younger brother of NFL QB Blaine Gabbert) was a contender for conference player of the year before he suffered a fractured leg in the third quarter of the Redhawks’ 21-17 loss vs. defending MAC champ Toledo. If Gabbert hadn’t been hurt, this line would be closer to a field goal, but longtime readers know I often love getting overadjusted lines with backup QBs as we usually get a “next-man-up” performance. Redshirt sophomore Aveon Smith started nine games last year when Gabbert was also injured, and we believe he can do enough to at least make this a one-score game.
This is another case with the team with a better record being an underdog (Tuley noted: I’m not saying you should bet these dogs in every case; there are many times the oddsmakers have it right, so I am being selective here). Wyoming (5-2) visits Boise State (3-4), and I have to think part of the reason for this line is the legend of the Broncos’ home-field advantage on the blue turf. However, Boise State isn’t as good as we’re used to seeing, especially as its defense ranked No. 116 in total defense and No. 108 in scoring defense, while Wyoming has impressive wins over Fresno State and Texas Tech.