Welcome to my first late-week college football update story. If you read Doc's every Monday, and you certainly should be doing so, then you know I do an Opening Line NCAA Report that day for the coming week. Obviously, the lines are going to change dramatically on a handful of games from Monday to kickoff on Saturday (I will only look at Saturday games here). Sometimes it's because major injuries are revealed or others simply because bettors are hammering one side with heavy action. Here are a few examples.
Kansas State at Texas-San Antonio (+17): This line opened with K-State at -21 but I'm pretty sure why it has dropped four points. Wildcats starting quarterback Jesse Ertz was lost indefinitely in last week's 34-0 win over South Dakota. Now Joe Hubener gets the call. What's interesting about him? He has never started a game at quarterback, not even in high school. He completed 9-for-18 passes for 147 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions while rushing nine times for 38 yards against South Dakota after Ertz was lost. Hubener was recruited as an athlete, but Coach Bill Snyder liked him enough to shift him to QB. This should be interesting. UTSA isn't a bad team, losing by only 10 at ranked Arizona last week.
Missouri at Arkansas State (+11): This has dropped from an open of 14. My guess it's because that Missouri star running back Russell Hansbrough, and to a lesser extent starting center Evan Boehm, are both questionable against the Red Wolves. Both suffered leg/ankle injuries in Mizzou's easy season-opening win over SE Missouri State. Hansbrough had just two carries for 23 yards before he left. He rushed 205 times for 1,084 yards and 10 scores last year. Boehm has started 41 consecutive games and needs 10 more starts to break the school's career starts record.
Notre Dame at Virginia (-13): This opened at 9.5, and there's no key Virginia injury that would have caused it to jump so much. It's just that no team takes more overly optimistic bets after a strong game than the Irish do. They are taking as much as 90 percent of the lean at some books off last week's 38-3 blowout of Texas. Maybe the Longhorns are lousy. This also will be Notre Dame QB Malik Zaire's first start in a true road game. The Wahoos have won four of five home openers under Coach Mike London and gave No. 7 UCLA all it could handle last season in Charlottesville in the opener. This is the biggest game there in years, so the crowd will be going bonkers.
San Diego State at Cal (-14): This has risen 5 points, the biggest line jump I have seen as of this writing for Saturday's games. A lot of people liked Cal as a sleeper in the Pac-12 this season as they have a future NFL first-round quarterback in Jared Goff. The up-tempo Bears beat Grambling State 73-14 last week, scoring 52 points in the first half before most of the starters took a seat. The 73 points were the second-most in school history. SDSU, projected as one of the Mountain West's best teams, looked just OK in a 37-3 opening win over FCS school San Diego. Since Oct. 3 of last season, San Diego State has played 10 games and ranks both sixth nationally in total defense (298.2) and scoring defense (17.8). These teams haven't met since 1996. I have no explanation for this line shift other than the Cal bandwagon is growing and the Bears are taking nearly 80 percent of the lean.
Appalachian State at Clemson (-18.5): This has dropped from an open of 21. I told you on Monday that Clemson lost leading returning receiver Mike Williams in its season-opening 49-10 win over Wofford. I don't think that has anything to do with this drop. App State opened with a 49-0 win over Howard. I can see Clemson looking past this one and toward a Thursday night game at Louisville in the Tigers' ACC opener. With such a quick turnaround, Dabo Sweeney might get star QB Deshaun Watson out of this one early.
Wake Forest at Syracuse (-3.5): This has dropped from 6 and makes sense. For one, Wake actually showed it might have an offense in 2015 after having the worst in the FBS last year. The Deacons put up 591 yards, their most in 40 years, in a 41-3 win over Elon in Week 1. OK, it's Elon. Syracuse looked fine in its opening 47-0 win over Rhode Island but also lost senior QB Terrel Hunt to a season-ending Achilles' injury. So now the Orange turn to true freshman Eric Dungey. He was a solid 10-for-14 for 114 yards and two scores vs. URI, but the Deacons have a pretty good defense.
Rice at Texas (-14): I'm surprised this line has only dropped 1.5 points from its opening after how bad Texas did look against Notre Dame, managing only 163 total yards. That was the fewest by any FBS team last week. Head coach Charlie Strong is already panicking. He demoted co-offensive coordinators Shawn Watson and Joe Wickline and named receivers coach Jay Norvell his new play-caller. Norvell is in his first season at Texas after a seven-year run as an assistant at Oklahoma. Watson came to Texas with Strong from Louisville, where Watson had been calling plays since 2011. Seems a bit early to make this change for Strong, whose seat is boiling hot right now. Can you imagine if UT were to lose to Rice? The Owls aren't a bad team, finishing 8-5 last year and thumping Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl. Rice opened this season with a 56-16 win over Wagner. The Owls are taking the lean here, so it might be under two touchdowns by kickoff.
Idaho at USC (-43): Every week I will point out the biggest line on the board (non-FBS foes not included), and this is it. Idaho is quite possibly the worst program in the nation with one-win seasons in each of the past three. The Vandals lost at home by 17 to MAC school Ohio last week. The Trojans played another Sun Belt team in Week 1 and crushed Arkansas State 55-6. The only question here is how long the USC starters stay in ahead of next week's Pac-12 opener vs. Stanford.
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