College Football Predictions: Teams With Great Betting Value
by Trevor Whenham - 9/17/2010
It’s just two weeks into the season in college football, but we are already starting to get a handle on which teams are good and which ones aren’t - at least in the bigger conferences. Inevitably, though, there are teams out there that are better than people give them credit for because they don’t get a whole lot of attention. Here’s a look at five teams that should treat bettors pretty well this year and aren’t yet getting the credit they deserve.
Central Michigan - A lot of people probably wrote off Central Michigan this year, and you can’t really blame them. After all, they lost a fantastic QB in Dan LeFevour, and the head coach did what all Central Michigan head coaches eventually seem to do - he left to coach Cincinnati. So far, though, they have been tougher than a lot of people gave them credit for, and they have covered two college football point spreads as a result. First, they covered a big 32-point spread against Hampton, and pitched a shutout in the process. Then they traveled to play a tough Temple team, and though they lost they allowed just 13 points and they covered a 7.5-point spread that a lot of people took the other side of. They are in a tough conference in the MAC, but the Chippewas have a QB in Ryan Radcliff who has some big shoes to fill but has gotten off to a good start, and they have a defense that has some chops. They are going to cover some more spreads.
Air Force - Air Force is a better team than people seem to think they are. I mean, I know they are heading to Norman to play Oklahoma, and I know Oklahoma is at least theoretically an elite team, but 17 points is a lot to give these Falcons. After all, so far this year they ran up 65 points in their opener, and then totally dominated a decent BYU team on both sides of the ball in their second contest. They are playing good defense - especially against the pass - and they have the top running game in the country so far so they can set the pace of play. I think people are eventually going to notice this team, but I hope they don’t do it quickly so we can continue to take advantage of weak lines.
Eastern Michigan - Eastern Michigan is one of those teams that I really like to find - they aren’t good, but they might just be good enough if the spread is big. They have played twice so far this year, and though they have lost both they have covered both spreads handily. Because they lose they don’t get much attention, so the spreads aren’t likely to shrink. There are two reasons why this team is sneaky-competent. First, they are a decent running team - certainly better at that than any other aspect of offense. Second, they have a surprisingly effective pass defense. They play a few teams that can really air the ball out, so it will be interesting to see if that pass defense can continue to serve them, and their backers, well.
Utah State - I like a lot about this team. They faced a massive 34-point spread against Oklahoma in their opener, but they lost by only a touchdown - and they almost pulled off the win. If you have paid any attention to this team then you know that that result was no fluke. Diondre Borel is a very nice quarterback, and this is a reasonably balanced and productive offense. They can also defend against the run pretty well. They didn’t cover the big 31-point spread against Idaho State in the second game, but only because they didn’t try to - they took the foot off the gas in the second half once they were fully in command. This is a very well coached team that wants to climb into the next level after a long history of futility, and they are going to be fun to watch.
NC State - The Wolfpack are an afterthought in the ACC this year (and every year). Though they haven’t given us a lot of reason to really change that they are the first team to jump out to three wins and three covered spreads. They have showed some versatility, too - they covered a 33-point spread in their opener, won as road dogs in their second, and beat a tough Cincinnati team at home in the third game. Russell Wilson is playing very well at quarterback, and Mustafa Greene has been productive on the ground. This team is far from perfect, but they’ll cover more spreads than they don’t.
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