NCAA Football Betting and Handicapping: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 11/25/2013
This could be one of the most unique weeks in college football history, and it has nothing to do with what happens on the field. I'm talking about the accusations put forth against Florida State quarterback and Heisman front-runner Jameis Winston. The redshirt freshman has been spectacular, leading the nation with a QB rating of 194.5, and the Noles are beating teams by an average of 43.4 points per game. They should steamroll Florida this week and then Duke/Virginia Tech/Miami in the ACC title game to play for the National Championship.
However, the Florida state attorney may decide this week whether to charge Winston, who has been accused by a former FSU student of sexual assault. Florida State has a rule that says any player on any team charged with a felony is indefinitely suspended, although there is some loophole for extraordinary circumstances. Should FSU officials not suspend Winston if he is charged, it would no doubt create a firestorm of criticism. If Winston were suspended, suddenly it seems like the Gators could pull a big upset this week in what is their bowl game. Yes, even after Saturday's shocking home loss to Georgia Southern, which didn't complete a single pass. I also think the Hokies or Hurricanes could beat a Winston-less FSU team (but not Duke). There is no opening line on FSU-UF because of Winston's potential status.
Then you have the Heisman. Some voters probably already crossed Winston off their list, which really isn't fair because we don't know all the facts yet. That said, it might be wise to throw a few dollars on someone like Alabama's A.J. McCarron, who is +200 at Sportsbook.ag. If the Tide beat Auburn this Saturday and McCarron has a huge game, he could get a groundswell of support. I think he's the only guy with a chance as any shot Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (+1500) or Oregon's Marcus Mariota (+10000) had were dashed when their teams were dominated in losses over the weekend. Ohio State's Braxton Miller (+1500) might have a shot if he hadn't missed a few games early this season. The biggest riser on the odds is Boston College running back Andre Williams (+1500). He has three straight games with at least 200 yards rushing and is the first FBS back to eclipse 2,000 yards since UConn's Donald Brown in 2008. Unfortunately for him, BC still isn't enough on the national radar to give Williams a real chance unless he goes for 500 yards or something this week at Syracuse.
It's probably my favorite week of the regular season this week with several rivalry games that will have a big impact on BCS bowls. Ohio State opened as a 14-point favorite at struggling Michigan. The Wolverines have looked terrible for about a month, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see them pull the upset. That would of course end OSU's national title hopes, but the Buckeyes will play in the Big Ten title game regardless.
Alabama is -10.5 at Auburn in the Iron Bowl. I'm sure the SEC honchos would never root for a team on the record, but they have to be pulling for the Tide because a loss would mean the SEC's chance of extending its seven-season streak of National Championships would end. No one-loss SEC team will play for it all this year barring Ohio State and Florida State losing this week or next. Could you imagine an Auburn-Missouri SEC title game? I happen to think Mizzou loses this week at home to A&M in Manziel's final regular-season game. The Tigers opened as 4.5-point favorites.
The UCLA-USC game is now just for bragging rights as Arizona State clinched the Pac-12 South and a date with Stanford -- courtesy of Oregon's gag against Arizona -- in the conference title game by beating the Bruins on Saturday. The Trojans are 3.5-point favorites. If they win this game, Ed Orgeron's case gets even stronger. I think they do. Should Duke win as a 5.5-point dog this week at North Carolina, the Blue Devils draw FSU in the ACC title game. Virginia Tech goes with a Duke loss and win at Virginia, and the Hokies are 13-point favorites. Miami goes with those two losing and a win at Pittsburgh (+2.5). Georgia (-3) vs. Georgia Tech doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but Dawgs fans begin life without four-year starter Aaron Murray, who is done for the year with a torn ACL.
Week 14 Trap Games
This will be it for trap games this season, and it's been a winning one. Only below .500 twice all year. Last week I liked Colorado at +22.5 against USC, and the Buffs lost by 18. I also took Arizona +19.5 against Oregon, and the Wildcats won outright. I must say I also did like most of those FCS cupcakes against FBS foes, and most got crushed, but Georgia Southern was in that group and paid off.
Minnesota (+14.5) at Michigan State: The Spartans seem totally set up for a letdown here. They are playing in the Big Ten title game regardless. Coach Mark Dantonio is saying all the right things; he believes Sparty is playing for an at-large BCS bowl here (if MSU loses to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game) with a win. That may be true, although I tend to think Wisconsin gets the call over the Spartans because they draw better. Oregon's loss definitely helped the Big Ten in that regard because now the Pac-12 won't get two BCS bowl teams and the Big Ten should.
Southern Miss (+14.5) at UAB: Brett Favre's alma mater has become the worst program in the FBS, having lost 23 straight games, the longest skid in the country. However, the Golden Eagles played Middle Tennessee somewhat evenly for most of last week. UAB isn't all that great at 2-9 and ranking 120th nationally in points allowed at 42.1 per game. Last year, Southern Miss had a 16-point lead on UAB before falling by eight.
TCU (+12.5) vs. Baylor: The Bears are no doubt going to be in the dumps after getting smoked at Oklahoma State to see their BCS hopes and likely Big 12 title hopes dashed. The Frogs have been a big disappointment since joining the conference but had last week off to prepare for this one. Frankly, I think most Baylor players will overlook TCU and want to beat Texas the following week. A large chunk of Baylor players from the Lone Star State weren't deemed worth of playing in the burnt orange.
Doc’s Sports is offering a great deal for new clients – you can get $60 worth of free college football picks with no obligation. No credit card is needed, and you will never have to deal with a salesman. See what all the hype is about with $60 worth of free college football picks by clicking here.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent College Football Handicapping
- 2022 San Diego State Aztecs Football Predictions and Betting Odds
- College Football Odds and Predictions for Top Games of Season
- Current Coaches with Best College Football Bowl Game Record
- Bowl Season Winning Betting Strategies
- 2021 College Football Bowl Season: Best Underdogs to Bet On
- Esparza Goes Bowling: Doc’s College Football Handicapper to Release Picks for Every Bowl Game
- Bowl Game Schedule - College Football Bowl Schedules for 2021-2022
- NCAA Football Predictions: Championship Week Opening Line Report and Picks
- NCAA Football Predictions: Week 13 Opening Line Report and Picks
- NCAA Football Predictions: Week 12 Opening Line Report and Picks