NCAA Football Betting and Handicapping: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 11/18/2013
Duke University playing in the ACC Championship Game? Basketball, sure that sounds right, but in football? It can't be. Yet there the Blue Devils are atop the ACC's Coastal Division and in control of their own destiny to play opposite Florida State in Charlotte for the conference's automatic BCS bowl berth (Noles probably at least a 24-point favorite if that happens).
Duke handed sinking Miami its third straight loss on Saturday, and now it's simple for Coach David Cutcliffe's team: win at Wake Forest this week and North Carolina next and Duke will play Florida State. Duke opened as five-point favorites against Wake and should be able to beat the Deacons. UNC could be a different story as the Heels would love nothing more than to knock their rivals from the title game. The Heels have turned things around with a four-game winning streak and have a glorified exhibition this week against Old Dominion.
As many as five teams could win the Coastal should they all finish with the same amount of losses. Virginia Tech is in the second-best shape behind the Blue Devils. It closes next week at Virginia. The Hokies must win that game and hope for a multi-team tie atop the Coastal because Duke would win a head-to-head tiebreaker with Tech. Miami, once No. 7 in the country but clearly not all the way back yet, must beat Virginia this week -- Canes are 20-point favorites -- and win at Pitt next. It would need Virginia to beat Tech and Duke to lose to North Carolina. The Canes may lose against Virginia themselves with a defense that has given up at least 41 points in three straight games.
It really won't matter who wins the Coastal because FSU should steamroll in the title game. The Seminoles have outscored their ACC opponents a whopping 411-98. Currently on Sportsbook.ag, Alabama would be a four-point favorite over FSU in Pasadena for the BCS title.
Conference Title Picture
The two most important games this week feature No. 4 Baylor at No. 10 Oklahoma State and No. 17 Arizona State at No. 14 UCLA. The Bears moved up one spot in the BCS standings with Stanford's upset loss at USC this weekend. It appears that Baylor will jump No. 3 Ohio State should the Bears win in Stillwater. I'm pretty stunned that OSU is getting 8.5 points in that one.
The Pokes played perhaps their game of the year on Saturday in winning 38-13 at Texas to put Mack Brown back on the hot seat in Austin after his biggest home loss in 16 years. Baylor managed 63 points against Texas Tech despite playing without No. 1 running back Lache Seastrunk and top WR Tevin Reese. The latter is done for the year, while Seastrunk could return Saturday after missing the Red Raiders game with a groin injury.
If Baylor (9-0, 6-0) wins out, it will take the Big 12 title. An OSU win would allow the Cowboys (9-1, 6-1) to control their destiny. Texas (7-3, 6-1) still has a shot as it finishes against Texas Tech on Thanksgiving and at Baylor on Dec. 7.
Meanwhile, Arizona State can clinch the Pac-12 South on Saturday night with a win at UCLA. The Sun Devils have won five straight thanks largely to a terrific defense that is limiting teams to 282.8 yards in that stretch. UCLA (+2.5) would control its own destiny with a victory Saturday, but the USC game on Nov. 30 would still matter. The Trojans, rejuvenated under Ed Orgeron, need to win at Colorado this week and against the Bruins while having ASU lose twice.
Expect a great game between the Sun Devils and Bruins. In 2011, ASU missed a 46-yard field goal as time expired, losing 29-28. Last year, UCLA drove 65 yards in 93 seconds, kicking a 33-yard field goal on the last play of the game to win 45-43.
The Big Ten title game also could be set this weekend. OSU should destroy Indiana as a 32-point favorite to clinch the Leaders Division. Michigan State simply needs to win this week as a 7.5-point favorite at Northwestern or next week against Minnesota to win the Legends.
Week 13 Trap Games
Yet another winning week on my trap games with Mississippi State covering the 25.5 against Alabama and Temple nearly upsetting Central Florida as a 17-point dog. I missed on Iowa State +24.5 at Oklahoma. That game was 10-10 at the half before the Cyclones went to sleep in a 48-10 loss.
Colorado (+22.5) vs. USC: The Trojans are feeling good about themselves again and trying like heck to get Orgeron the full-time job, although that seems highly doubtful; the team recently interviewed Jack Del Rio and also has eyes for Kevin Sumlin. The Trojans just played a very physical game against Stanford and probably will get caught looking ahead to the battle of L.A. Colorado has played decent at times at home and has some confidence off its first Pac-12 win last week against Cal.
Arizona (+19.5) vs. Oregon: The Ducks now control their fate again in the Pac-12 North with Stanford's loss, but there's something about Oregon's 11th game of the season recently. Per ESPN: In the 11th game of last season, Oregon lost to Stanford, 17-14, in overtime. In the 11th game in 2011, Oregon lost to USC, 38-35. In the 11th game in 2009, Oregon held on to win at Arizona, 44-41, in three overtimes. Arizona isn't half bad and will ride star running back Ka'Deem Carey to keep that Ducks offense off the field and stay within shouting distance.
Any FCS team vs. an FBS team (lines TBA): You have the Citadel at No. 7 Clemson, Coastal Carolina at No. 11 South Carolina, Chattanooga at No. 1 Alabama, Alabama A&M at Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern at Florida, Old Dominion at North Carolina. All those FBS teams have much bigger games next week -- Alabama at Auburn, Clemson at South Carolina, Florida State at Florida to name three -- and will play their starters as little as possible on Saturday.
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