We’re going to try something new here. If it goes well we might even do it again. We’re going to look back at the week that just was in college football from a betting perspective. The shocks and surprises. The moments that make bettors feel like geniuses, and the ones that make you want to give up betting forever. The spectacular victories and the bad, bad, bad beats. The blowouts and the tight games. In short, everything that makes college football betting so great and so frustrating. Eight games stand out this week:
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Ohio State 31, Central Florida 16
I wouldn’t bet on a team with a big spread this early in a new coaching regime, but if I had I think I’d be out for Urban Meyer’s head today. The game was tight for a while, but then Ohio State woke up and ran it from 10-10 to 31-10 without breaking a sweat. Halfway through the third quarter, though, the team just packed it in for the day. The offense relaxed, and the defense just looked to avoid big plays. Central Florida scored once more, and the final score was 31-16. An easy win for the Buckeyes. The spread, though, was 15.5, so the Knights actually covered by 0.5 points. Ouch. Nothing worse for bettors than an easy win that should have been much easier.
Sacramento State 30, Colorado 28
The Colorado rebuilding process has gone on for so long now that it’s easy to forget that they were ever relevant. This was another major setback. Sacramento State isn’t much of a team, and no team from the Big Sky should be a challenge for a Pac-12 team at home. The Buffs were favored by 21, but they gave up a field goal as the final second ticked off the clock to bring shame to their school and conference — and crush the souls of any bettor who still found a reason to trust them. There was a small reason to suspect that this upset was possible, though — Sacramento State upset Oregon State last year as 23-point dogs.
Kansas State 52, Miami 13
The Wildcats were at home and were favored by 7.5 points, so the fact they won isn’t surprising. Covering the spread by 31.5 points is another story, though. Two things emerged in this one. First, I could write for an hour and not cover all the issues the Hurricanes have. Second, K-State QB Collin Klein is a total beast. He creates impossible matchups and is very hard for teams to defend. He’ll make better teams than Miami look bad this year.
South Florida 32, Nevada 31
With just over eight minutes left Nevada scored to go up 31-20. They were at home and they were cruising. They looked like they would easily outperform the odds — they were favored by just one point. If only the game was just 57 minutes long. South Florida scored with 2:37 left. Less than two minutes later they were in the end zone again. They missed both two-point conversion attempts, but it didn’t matter — they had won by one. No team threw away a win in uglier fashion than Nevada.
Louisiana-Monroe 34, Arkansas 31
This was just stunning. Arkansas, ranked No. 8 in the country, was favored by 30 against a team that hadn’t had a winning season since 1993. People expected them to be a huge test for Alabama, so they certainly should have had no issue here. Not only did they lose, but they looked terrible doing it. There are easy excuses — most notably the injury of QB Tyler Wilson. Still, Louisiana-Monroe kept gambling on fourth down, and they kept connecting on them. One game means little in football, but you can’t help but have real doubts about this Arkansas team until they prove themselves again.
Georgia 41, Missouri 20
If you didn’t watch this game you would assume it was ugly. Georgia was favored by just one on the road in Missouri’s SEC debut, but the Bulldogs cruised to a three-TD victory. This is a very good example, though, of how the scoreboard alone doesn’t always tell the whole story. Georgia certainly deserved to win, and they looked good late, but for much of the game this was a back-and-forth war. Sometimes in a blowout loss it’s easy to downgrade the team that loses — like Michigan against Alabama last week. That’s not the thing to do here, though. Missouri still has game.
SMU 52, Stephen F. Austin 0
SMU was favored by just 17 here, but they covered by 35. Impressive, but not quite as impressive as the score would indicate. The SMU secondary was a concern heading into the season, and it still is now. They allowed 377 passing yards. That didn’t add up to anything since Stephen F. Austin, almost impossibly, threw seven interceptions. Still, there are some solid offenses that will feast on the Mustangs if they don’t tighten things up in a hurry — just like Baylor did in the opener, and just like Texas A&M should next week. In other words, don’t be fooled by this score.
Arizona 59, Oklahoma State 38
The Cowboys were favored by 10 on the road here, and the public was heavily on their side in this one. That’s not surprising given the success Oklahoma State has had recently and the struggles Rich Rodriguez had in his first year at Michigan. What happened, though, was a result even more shocking than the one in Arkansas in my eyes. Arizona didn’t just win this one — they dominated on both sides of the ball. The defense was very sound against a tough offense, and the offense was surgical. The story coming into the season was that Arizona had empty cupboards that would take time to fill. They’ll still hit some rough patches, but it’s no longer okay to underestimate this team. This team covered by 31 points and, incredibly, it was no fluke.
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