NCAA Football Betting and Handicapping: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 11/4/2013
Much like the Thursday night NFL games this season, college football's Thursday schedule has largely been a bore. That all changes this week in perhaps the best Thursday night schedule in years: No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 6 Baylor at 7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1 and No. 3 Oregon at No. 5 Stanford on ESPN (all rankings BCS standings).
I still don't know what to make of the Bears, but I am stunned they opened as 14.5-point BookMaker favorites (love OU there). Baylor QB Bryce Petty is dwarfing the numbers that Robert Griffin III posted when he won his Heisman at the school. The Bears are averaging an absurd 63.9 points to lead the nation (No. 1 in passing and No. 7 in rushing) and allowing only 15.9, No. 6 nationally. However, they have played one of the worst schedules in the country. The best team probably has been Kansas State, and Baylor was trailing that one 25-21 in the fourth before winning, 35-25. The Sooners did a decent job against this offense last season in winning 42-34 (Petty wasn't the QB then). I just wish Baylor and Oregon could play as it would be a blur of green.
The Ducks opened as 10-point favorites, and they should re-jump Florida State in the BCS standings with a win. It's realistically Oregon's only chance of losing in the regular season, and I don't think the Pac-12 North Champion, be it UCLA or Arizona State (or someone else), can hang with the Ducks in Eugene in the conference title game. Thankfully, both the Ducks and Cardinal didn't play Saturday, so both should be at full strength. The most interested party certainly will be those Seminoles as it seems a lock they won't lose in the regular season, either, but could get left out of the BCS title game. By Saturday around 11:30 p.m. we should have a great idea of which teams will play for it all with Alabama hosting LSU in that day's biggest game. The Tide opened as 11-point favorites, another line that surprises me for how big it is.
The University of Miami should be somewhat encouraged that it hung with Florida State for a half on Saturday night, but any chance for an upset (and it wasn't a very good chance) ended when star running back Duke Johnson was stopped on a fourth-and-two in the third quarter and proceeded to break his ankle on the play. He's done for the season, a crushing blow to The U.
Miami is definitely a run-first offense, and Johnson was the workhorse. He had 23 carries for 97 yards before getting hurt against the Noles and finishes the season with 902 yards and six TDs on 145 carries. The Canes have a pretty good backup in Dallas Crawford, but he's not a big guy and really was better as a No. 2. That puts more pressure on Stephen Morris, who has been very inconsistent this season and is missing his top receiver, injured Phillip Dorsett. The Hurricanes will be in the driver's seat to win the ACC Coastal if they can beat Virginia Tech this week, with Miami opening as a 6.5-point favorite. Thus, we could see an FSU-Miami rematch in the ACC title game.
Wake Forest nearly upset Miami two weeks ago thanks to a big game from receiver Michael Campanaro, but he was lost in Saturday's defeat to Syracuse for 4-6 weeks with a broken collarbone. Campanaro, Wake’s all-time leading receiver, entered the game averaging 113.1 receiving yards per game and with six touchdowns. The Wake offense is terrible as it is -- now it may be tough to get bowl eligible at 4-5 and with one win over I-AA Presbyterian.
Missouri shouldn't have much trouble at Kentucky this week, regardless, as the Tigers opened as 14-point favorites, but they could have starting quarterback James Franklin back. He has been sidelined since Oct. 12 with a shoulder injury. Freshman Maty Mauk has played pretty well in his absence. Coach Gary Pinkel no doubt would like Franklin to get the rust off this week before Mizzou finishes the regular season at Ole Miss and against Texas A&M. The Tigers lead the SEC East by a game over South Carolina and Georgia. They would lose a tiebreaker with the Cocks but win one over Georgia. I guarantee you that Alabama would rather face Missouri than the other two in an SEC title matchup.
Week 11 Trap Games
Only my second losing week on trap game picks this season last week. I hit on Colorado +26.5 at UCLA but missed on Massachusetts +22.5 against Northern Illinois and Purdue +30.5 against Ohio State. The Boilers might be the worst team among the five power conferences.
Connecticut (+28) vs. Louisville: UConn stinks and has been trashed at Cincinnati and Central Florida in its past two games. However, the Huskies have played fairly well at home (almost upset Michigan there) even though they don't have a win to show for it. The Cardinals will have their eyes on next week's game at Houston, which leads the AAC.
Wake Forest (+35) vs. Florida State: I expect this line to grow and think the Noles will suffer a big-time letdown after beating the Hurricanes. Wake won't be able to score much -- especially without Campanaro -- but has a pretty good defense and should be able to stay within 28. This is FSU's last regular-season game outside of Florida. I will say this though: If Oregon loses Thursday, I'd change my tune here as then FSU would be totally energized by controlling its own BCS fate.
Kansas (+31) at Oklahoma State: The early lean is heavily on OSU, so this line could grow by a few points. The Jayhawks aren't very good, but OSU will be coming down off a big win at Texas Tech and with eyes on next week's matchup at Big 12 leader Texas. KU has covered against TCU, Oklahoma and Texas this season.
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