NCAA Football Betting and Handicapping: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 9/30/2013
Clearly the story of the college football weekend is at Southern Cal, which was pounded by Arizona State on Saturday. Trojans AD Pat Haden promptly fired head coach Lane Kiffin about the second Kiffin stepped off the team plane, literally. Haden didn't even let Kiffin ride home on the team bus from the airport. Harsh but funny if you are anti-Kiffin, which it sure seems many people are in this world. It is amazing how this guy keeps upgrading jobs despite really never doing anything to deserve it. Some lower-level school will hire him next season like how Western Kentucky took a shot on Bobby Petrino.
Kudos to Bovada for being on top of this as it already has next USC coach odds. The favorite is former USC linebacker and Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio at 3/1. He was a pretty good head coach with the Jags and has been a very good defensive coordinator in the NFL -- currently with Denver -- but has no collegiate coaching experience. According to The Denver Post, Del Rio won’t be allowed to break his Broncos contract before it expires in February. That would seem to rule him out since he wouldn't be able to recruit much. The Broncos aren't likely to be too flexible since they are the Super Bowl favorites.
Boise State's Chris Petersen and Vanderbilt's James Franklin are at 5/1. Petersen has been linked to about every big-time job opening, including turning down UCLA two years ago, although it did get as far as contract parameters. He always says he's happy in Boise, but the bloom might be a bit off the rose for him. CBS Sports columnist Bruce Feldman claims he has a source close to Petersen who says Petersen is "looking for a change." I think Petersen would leave now. The Broncos already have two losses, and he's just not going to be getting blue-chip prospects to come to the smurf turf. USC is one of the best jobs in college football, although right now it has clearly fallen behind UCLA. Still, the L.A. area churns out probably the best collection of high school talent anywhere outside of the greater Miami area.
Franklin has turned Vanderbilt into a solid program in the nation's toughest conference and is really charismatic, which would play well with boosters. He's also black. Not saying that matters, but that would play well in the inner city. Clearly he would jump at the chance to upgrade to USC because there's a limit to what you can do at Vandy (i.e. the Music City Bowl).
I think the really interesting option is Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris at 9/1. No, he doesn't have head coaching experience, but he would bring an exciting brand of football to a market that needs a reason to come to games. I don't see Del Rio doing that, although Morris might not be a big enough name to satisfy boosters. Kevin Sumlin (12/1) is, but would he really leave Texas A&M already? I'm a bit surprised Miami's Al Golden isn't on this list.
I am feeling better and better about my preseason choice of Oregon's Marcus Mariota as the Heisman winner as he is now the overwhelming +150 favorite at Sportsbook.ag. He actually was somewhat quiet in Saturday's 55-16 win over Cal, but the weather was terrible in Eugene. Mariota was 11-of-25 for 114 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for a score. The big news from that game was an ankle injury to Ducks running back De'Anthony Thomas. It doesn't appear to be serious, but he's probably iffy this week against Colorado. The Ducks don't need him to beat the Buffs as they are 38-point favorites but they might the following week against Washington. Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (+500) and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater (+600) round out the favorites.
Week 6 Trap Games
I had my first losing week on trap/letdown/sandwich games in Week 5. I hit on Florida State failing to cover the 21.5 at Boston College but missed on South Florida +20 at home against Miami (wow the Bulls are bad) and Washington State +10.5 at home against Stanford. I am really starting to believe in the Cardinal, who have a huge date with Washington this week.
Temple (+33.5) vs. Louisville: I'd hang back and wait on this line as I'm guessing it will get to at least 35. Yes, the Cardinals have been off since slaughtering Florida International 72-0 on Sept. 21, but here's guessing they aren't too worried about Temple and more focused on a quick turnaround game Oct. 10 against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights might be the only team on U of L's regular-season schedule that has a chance to pull an upset. Speaking of which, I love SMU and the 6.5 this week against Rutgers as well.
Mississippi State (+9.5) vs. LSU: I'd also hang back on this line as I believe it gets above 10. I also think the Tigers will be spent after losing Saturday's thriller at Georgia. Plus, LSU faces Florida the following week. The Bulldogs had last week off to prepare for this one. They shouldn't lose by less than a touchdown, and an outright upset wouldn't be a stunner.
Tennessee (+10.5) vs. Georgia: And speaking of those Dawgs, I like the Vols here for exactly the same reason. UT essentially had a scrimmage last week against South Alabama, although it only won by a touchdown in what was clearly a sandwich game between Florida and the Georgia matchup. In addition, Dawgs star running back Todd Gurley is a bit banged up. You will want to check out the Vols' uniforms in this one as they will wear "Smokey gray." They are really sharp.
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