College Football Weekly Predictions - Week 3
by Alan Matthews - 9/17/2009
That's more like it! We evened our season record at 3-3 on the sides last week thanks to Kansas covering the -12.5 against UTEP and West Virginia covering the 6.5 it was giving East Carolina in a 35-20 win. The loss was North Carolina, which beat Connecticut but fell a few points off a cover.
The first two weeks in college football are arguably the most unpredictable. Oftentimes a team doesn't look as good or as bad as it did in Week 1, as the old saying is that every team makes its biggest leap forward in Week 2. In my opinion, that will start to show in Week 3 now that just about every school has played one home and one away game. Now we try to find a rhythm.
Here are the three games I like this week:
Michigan State at Notre Dame, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Current line: The Irish are 10-point favorites. A smart bettor would have been all over this line about 24 hours ago - it was at 11.5. So obviously some smart Michigan State backers were.
Who the public likes: Approximately 59 percent favor Notre Dame, and that hasn't moved more than a percentage point or two.
I understand why the oddsmakers are making Notre Dame such a big favorite. After all, the Irish offense seemed to go up and down the field at will last week against Michigan, but all the breaks (and calls, in my opinion) favored the Wolverines, and they won. Before that game, we saw the Spartans lose at home to MAC school Central Michigan, 29-27. Sure, it was fortunate that the Chips got a final-minute onside kick, but if you watched that game at all, and I did, then you know that CMU deserved to win. But history says this will be a close game and that State might win outright. Eight of the last 10 games in the series have been decided by 10 points or less, and the visiting team has won seven of the past eight. Overall, the Spartans have won nine of 12 in this series, including six in a row in South Bend - the longest winning streak of any opponent at Notre Dame Stadium. Those are all called trends, folks.
Take Michigan State and the points.
Tennessee at Florida, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Current line: Florida -30. You read that right, Gators minus 30. Believe it or not, this line opened about 1.5 points lower at most books, so apparently a majority of bettors don't think this line is obscene.
Who the public likes: Despite the line movement, it appears backers of Tennessee are gaining. The Vols are getting approximately 48 percent of the action as of this writing.
This probably will be the most-talked about spread in college football this season. You know the story by now: Lane Kiffin, on the day he was introduced in Knoxville as UT's new coach, claimed he was looking forward to singing "Rocky Top" after beating the Gators in Gainesville this year. And then Kiffin basically called UF coach Urban Meyer a cheater for calling a recruit while he was on campus - Kiffin was reprimanded for that and apologized.
The last time someone "dissed" Meyer, it was Mark Richt with that infamous Georgia end zone celebration in 2007. So last year the Gators put a 49-10 whipping on the Dawgs, which included two timeouts by Meyer in the final minute. UF has won four in a row in this series and the past two by a combined 63 points. But the Vols have pride, too, and the Gators almost might be trying too hard to run it up. Only five games in this series' rivalry have seen the winning margin (for either team) exceed this year's spread. That Tennessee defense will keep this reasonable.
Take Tennessee and the points.
Cincinnati at Oregon State, Saturday, 6:45 p.m.
Current line: Beavers are getting 1.5 at home. This line has actually moved about a half-point toward OSU.
Who the public likes: This is shocking to me, as approximately 84 percent favor the Bearcats.
This game is a matchup of two very underrated programs. There is a key injury to be aware of as the best player on the field, Oregon State RB Jacquizz Rodgers, missed some practice this week with an ankle injury, but he says there's no question he will start Saturday. Rodgers, last season's Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, is off to a better start than 2008, averaging 134.5 yards on the ground per game -- OSU is 15-1 in its past 16 when it has a 100-yard rusher. Cincinnati, meanwhile, is second nationally behind No. 1 Florida in scoring offense (58.5 ppg). But the Beaver defense has allowed just 28 points over the last three games, including last year's Sun Bowl. Plus, the Beavers have won 26 straight nonconference home games.
Take Oregon State and the points.
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