College Football Betting and Handicapping: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 10/16/2012
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith almost certainly lost his chance at a National Championship with Saturday’s 49-14 blowout loss at Texas Tech, the school’s worst defeat in 11 years. But did Smith also cost himself the Heisman Trophy?
The short answer: No. But Smith’s perceived “lead” over the field dwindled. Smith appeared confused by the Red Raiders’ defense as he was 29-of-55 for 275 yards and a touchdown. By comparison, Smith was averaging 81.4 percent completions, 399.2 yards and 4.8 touchdown passes per game heading in (WVU had been averaging 52 points). At least he didn’t throw an interception and has yet to all season.
Smith remains the heavy favorite at Sportsbook.ag at -250 to win the Heisman. But the hopes of Kansas State’s Collin Klein (+600), Ohio State’s Braxton Miller (+600) and Southern Cal’s Matt Barkley (+700) just got better. Smith and Klein face off this Saturday in Morgantown, with WVU as an opening 3-point favorite.
Klein could overtake Smith as the favorite if he has a big game and K-State pulls the upset. And don’t rule out the Wildcats, who are No.4 in the first BCS standings, playing for the national title if they do win this week because they should be favored in every regular-season game afterward. They host Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas (which was outed as a fraud by Oklahoma) and visit TCU (which lost its starting quarterback for the season) and Baylor (which can’t stop anyone). Kansas State is now +1200 on Sportsbook.ag to win it all. WVU dropped to +8000. Remember that KSU won’t have to play in a conference title game, whereas the likes of possibly Alabama and Florida (which won’t leave the Sunshine State the rest of the regular season) and also probably Oregon and USC would.
Oklahoma will be rooting hard for the Mountaineers this week. The Sooners re-established themselves in the title chase with their 63-21 blowout of Texas in the Red River Rivalry. The Sooners had 677 yards of total offense and held Texas to just 289. OU has won three in a row over Texas – leading to some whispers that it might be time for Mack Brown to retire (he says he won’t) – and the past two by a combined score of 118-38. It’s the first time Texas has lost to Oklahoma by at least 38 points in back-to-back seasons. Texas has now lost nine straight games against AP Top-25 teams.
OU jumped to +1200 to win the BCS National Championship and is No. 9 in the BCS standings. However, just to win the Big 12 the Sooners will need to win out in conference play and Kansas State to lose twice because the Wildcats won 24-19 in Norman on Sept. 22. Look for a major letdown game this week for Oklahoma as it hosts Kansas as a 35-point favorite. Think the Sooners might not be looking toward that Oct. 27 game with Notre Dame?
The Irish could be in for a similar trap game this week at home vs. BYU, which is a 13.5-point dog. Notre Dame QB Everett Golson suffered a mild concussion in Saturday’s win over Stanford, but, as of now, is expected to play this week. Frankly, the Irish might be better off starting Tommy Rees anyway. He directed Notre Dame to the tying field goal vs. the Cardinal with 20 seconds left in regulation, and then threw a seven-yard TD pass to T.J. Jones in overtime. Coach Brian Kelly says Golson is his starter if healthy.
BYU has a good defense, although it didn’t show up in last week’s 42-24 home loss to Oregon State. The Cougars bring pressure against the pass and dare the opposing QB to take shots down the field to make them pay for gambling up front. Oregon State has a good passing attack, even with Sean Mannion out, and was able to exploit that. But that’s not Golson’s strength. Rees is the better pure passer. (Is this also the week Notre Dame allows its first rushing touchdown of the season?)
Looking for another potential trap game? Saturday’s Middle Tennessee-Mississippi State game is screaming it out. The Bulldogs are a surprising 6-0, their best start since 1999, after beating Tennessee this past weekend. They will absolutely be overlooking the Blue Raiders this week with an eye toward the Oct. 27 showdown at Alabama. Middle Tennessee, a 20-point dog, isn’t too bad, having won big at Georgia Tech this year.
Last week, I missed on Colorado covering vs. Arizona State, LSU doing the same against South Carolina (barely) but did hit on New Mexico taking care of business at Hawaii. This week, I will preview Oregon at Arizona State (Thursday; amazingly, the Ducks’ first true road game of the season), South Carolina at Florida (game of week) and Utah at Oregon State (one of final kickoffs Saturday).
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