Free NCAA Football Picks Week 4: Under-the-Radar Matchups Provide Great Betting Profits
Another week, another Thursday night football game that I have absolutely no interest in regardless if the score is 0-0 in overtime or a 63-60 shootout (the former is the more likely outcome). Instead, I will watch No.21 South Florida host Temple in a game the Bulls will be seeking to avenge last year's 46-30 loss. As of writing this, the Bulls are 19-point favorites and the total is hovering around 63/63.5 depending on what book you use.
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Tomorrow's college card is a light one with just two games taking place. The night starts on the "Smurf Turf" in Boise, Idaho, where the Broncos will play host to the Virginia Cavaliers. Both teams come into this game with a 2-1 record, but the Broncos are laying 13.5 points with the total set at 53. The second game is a battle of Pac-12 teams with Arizona taking on the No. 23-ranked Utah Utes. The Utes are currently 3.5-point favorites with the total set at 57.5.
From a Top-25 perspective, Saturday's card features two games between ranked opponents. No. 16 TCU travels to No. 6 Oklahoma State (-12.5) to tangle with the Cowboys, and No. 17 Mississippi State travels to Georgia to play the No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs (-5.5). The majority of ranked teams start conference play this weekend, so do not be surprised when a handful of ranked teams lose outright to conference foes.
However, the purpose of this weekly piece is to help you specialize in finding those under-the-radar games with soft lines in order to increase your edge over the book and turn a profit. We all know there are two kinds of bettors - "sharps" and "squares" - but what most people don't realize is that most of the sharps specialize in smaller conferences with lesser teams where the lines are softer. The reason being is that these games/teams generally fly under the radar from the betting public, thus leaving more value in the betting line. On the flip side, square bettors would be considered "generalized" bettors, which means they bet on what the media tells them to bet.
Last week I took a step backwards in terms of my record. Coastal Carolina couldn't muster anything until it was too late against UAB, and UL-Monroe missed the cover by a field goal. This brings the record to 3-4, +0.6 Units.
This week I have two "under-the-radar" games from the Saturday board that I expect the get the job done. I will use $100 as my unit of wager, and as always all lines are courtesy of our friends at 5Dimes.
Ohio @ Eastern Michigan(-2.5) Saturday Sept. 23, 2 p.m. EST
For my first pick, we go to the MAC where we find the 2-1 Ohio Bobcats taking on the 2-0 Eastern Michigan Eagles. Let's break down the visiting team first. The Bobcats come into this game on the heels of a 42-30 win over everybody's favorite doormat, the Kansas Jayhawks. The result shouldn't surprise you, but the way the Bobcats were able to move up and down the field with ease should. They racked up 196 rushing yards and 254 passing yards. Quarterback Nathan Rourke had his best game of the season, throwing two touchdowns and no interceptions. The running game was led by A.J. Ouellette, who racked up 102 yards and one touchdown on just 10 carries.
Eastern Michigan comes into this game fresh off a bye after taking care of Rutgers by a score of 16-13 on Sept. 9. That was the Eagles first win against a Big Ten opponent in 39 tries and their first win against a Power 5 school in 59 games. But let's call a spade a spade - it was Rutgers. I could put a team together in a few minutes that would compete with Rutgers. Quarterback Brogan Roback passed for 260 yards in that one with one touchdown. They also didn't have much of a run game - Shaq Vann rushed carried the ball 16 times for just 67 yards and lost a fumble.
The competition will certainly be tougher for this Eagles' team, and Ohio will be looking to avenge a 27-20 home loss last year. Ohio has played in tougher games compared to Eastern Michigan, and I like what Ohio brings to the table offensively with its balanced attack and ability to hit a handful of big plays.
Pick: 2-Unit Play on #337 Ohio +2.5 (-110)
Army @ Tulane (-2.5) Saturday Sept. 23, Noon EST
For my second selection of the day, I find myself fixated on this game between a 2-1 Army squad and a 1-2 Tulane team who are both coming off an ass-kicking to Oklahoma and Ohio State, respectively.
For me, this game is about which team is in better shape for this game. Army comes into this game decimated with injuries all over the field. On the defensive side of things, their senior captain, Rhyan England, was carted off the field after suffering a knee injury and will be out for the foreseeable future. The team has also lost cornerback Jalen Sharp in practice last week to a torn ACL, Brandon Jackson, who unfortunately passed away from injuries sustained in a car accident, and Marcus Hyatt, who was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder. As a team, they have had to take players from the offensive unit and have them practice on defense in order to get ready for this game. On the offensive side of the ball, both Rick Kurz (left tackle) and Zach Saum (tight end) also left Saturday's game due to injury, and they may not even make the trip to New Orleans for this matchup. Army's situation is not something I would recom mend backing with your money.
Tulane, on the other hand, comes into this game on the heels of a predictable and expected blowout loss at the hands of the Sooners. They are, however, relatively healthy, which means they should be able to cover this small line at home. The only significant news to keep an eye on is the health of QB Jonathan Banks, who is practicing this week after missing the OU game with an upper-body injury. All signs point to him getting the start ahead of sophomore Johnathan Brantley, who left the OU game with cramps in the third quarter.
I know this won't be a very aesthetically pleasing game to spend three hours of your time and watch, but I can assure you this is one of those spots where the line screams "bet me".
Pick: 4-Unit Play on #382 Tulane (-2.5) -110 .
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