College Football Betting and Handicapping: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 10/23/2012
Could this Saturday’s Duke at Florida State matchup be a preview of the ACC Championship Game? Yes, I can’t believe I just wrote that. Could Duke – Duke!! – win the ACC’s Coastal Division? A great stat: since 2000 Duke has produced one player who has been selected in the NFL Draft, and that was a seventh-rounder.
The Blue Devils (6-2, 3-1) sit atop the incredibly weak Coastal after stunning North Carolina 33-30 on Saturday. Duke had 234 yards rushing -- the most ever on the ground by a David Cutcliffe-coached Duke team. It was the Blue Devils' first win against North Carolina since 2003 and their first home victory in the series since 1998. That got the Blue Devils bowl eligible, which they haven’t been since 1994. The Dukies haven’t won more than five games in a season since then. Certainly Cutcliffe will be on the short list for several higher-profile jobs this offseason (Auburn? Arkansas?); Ole Miss made a huge mistake in firing him after the 2004 season.
Duke does control its destiny but has a challenging conclusion its schedule (at least as challenging as the ACC can get) in that it travels to FSU this week as a 27.5-point underdog, hosts Clemson, visits Georgia Tech and hosts Miami (Fla.). Since the ACC grew to 11 schools in 2004, Duke’s win over Clemson that year marks its only victory against any of those teams. The Canes and Hokies, who have four losses before the end of October for the first time since 1992, still control their destiny as they both have two conference losses. UNC also would but isn’t eligible for postseason play.
Duke is still a +3000 long shot at Sportsbook.ag to win the ACC. The Seminoles have been favored all season and still are, currently -500. FSU holds the head-to-head tiebreaker in the Atlantic over Clemson, but the Tigers should win out, while Florida State still must visit Virginia Tech and Maryland.
Heisman Trophy Update
Sportsbook.ag has yet to update its Heisman odds after Week 8, but I’d be stunned if Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein hasn’t surpassed West Virginia’s Geno Smith as the betting favorite.
Klein’s Wildcats really do look like a National Championship contender now after their 55-14 stunner at WVU on Saturday. I wasn’t overly surprised K-State won, but by 41 points?!? Klein threw for a career-high 323 yards and three touchdowns (on 19-of-21 passing) and ran for four more scores. He now ranks second in the FBS behind Alabama’s A.J. McCarron in passing efficiency. Not bad for a guy who is thought of as a runner first. Smith, meanwhile, suffered his first two interceptions of the season, was sacked four times and held to his lowest passing yardage output (143) since 2010.
K-State is up to No. 3 in the BCS standings and +400 to win the national title. The Wildcats have now beaten the two preseason Big 12 favorites – Oklahoma and WVU – as a road dog this year. Coach Bill Snyder has yet to play for a national title in Manhattan, with the most painful loss coming as a big favorite vs. Texas A&M in the 1998 Big 12 title game when a win would have put then-No. 2 KSU in the title game.
Klein and Co. are on major trap alert this week at home vs. Texas Tech – KSU is a 7.5-point home favorite. Red Raiders QB Seth Doege is playing himself into a Heisman finalist, having thrown 13 combined touchdowns the past two games (the previous one was vs. WVU). Texas Tech still has just one loss, and that came to Oklahoma. So theoretically, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Kansas State could all finish tied atop the Big 12 with a single loss. Oh, and Red Raiders coach Tommy Tuberville is 6-2 vs. Top-5 teams all-time.
Week 9 Trap Games?
Let’s be clear here: Colorado stinks. But I fully expect the Buffs to cover the opening 46-point spread at Oregon on Saturday. The Ducks just played back-to-back solid teams in Washington and Arizona State and no question will be overlooking Colorado with a visit to USC awaiting UO in Week 10. The Trojans likely are in a similar spot this week as a seven-point favorite at Arizona.
One other dog worth a look: Kent State (+13.5) at Rutgers. The Big East-leading Scarlet Knights, who now play two straight outside the conference, better not overlook the Golden Flashes (6-1 ATS), who are leading the MAC East ahead of ranked and unbeaten Ohio. Keep an eye on Kent State running back Dri Archer. He is averaging 10.1 yards per carry on 68 attempts, rushing for 687 yards and eight touchdowns this season. He is averaging a stupid 47.4 yards on 11 kick returns. He has returned three kickoffs for touchdowns and his average per return is easily tops in the nation.
Last week, I hit on Oregon minus-9.5 over Arizona State and Oregon State minus-10 over Utah. I missed on South Carolina plus-3 at Florida, but I wrote that story before the Marcus Lattimore injury news became known; I absolutely shifted to the Gators once I found that out. This week, I will preview Clemson at Wake Forest (Thursday ESPN game), Notre Dame-Oklahoma (game of week; loser is out of National Championship picture) and Mississippi State-Alabama (one of late kickoffs of Saturday and a nice LSU warm-up for the Tide).
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