NCAA Football Betting Odds: Week 4 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
It's simply reality that college football can't have mega-showdowns each weekend. And if we are being honest, Week 4 looks like perhaps the weakest on the 2017 schedule (not counting only the Army-Navy week, no offense to that game). If you don't want to take my word for it, consider where ESPN GameDay is going Saturday: Times Square in Manhattan. And I don't mean the Little Apple where Kansas State plays.
There are obviously thousands of alumni from many major football schools living in New York City, but it's not exactly a college football hotbed. NYC is a professional sports town. It wasn't always that way as Fordham and especially Army had great teams in the 1930s and 1940s, and I'm sure there will be segments featuring the biggest college football moments in the history of the city. It will be GameDay's 81st location overall. My question is this: Which game will Lee Corso be picking for his headgear? Usually you can bet a prop on which team he will choose at 5Dimes, but that's not available. It will be strange not to have a raucous background of fans on the show from one team.
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There are two games featuring ranked teams this week: No. 16 TCU at No. 6 Oklahoma State and No. 17 Mississippi State at No. 11 Georgia. I'm guessing that ESPN's producers are saving Stillwater and Athens for later this season. I can almost guarantee they are targeting Oklahoma State for the Bedlam game on Nov. 4 vs. Oklahoma when I believe both will be unbeaten. Perhaps the show will be in Jacksonville for Florida-Georgia the week previous.
One more interesting note from the first three weeks: There has been a 73 percent increase in the number of targeting penalties enforced compared with the same point in 2016. The rule hasn't changed from last year, either. Are players still going for guys' heads or are referees simply looking more for it? What does this matter from a betting perspective? If a guy is called for targeting, he must miss a half of action. So if it happens in the first half of a game, he's out the second. If it occurs in the second half or any overtime, he must sit the first half of the next game. So keep that in mind if a big-name player is ejected for targeting this weekend.
Here are some notes and any major line moves for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order.
Kent State at No. 19 Louisville ( -44): This screams potential letdown game for the Cardinals as their national title hopes are gone and, most likely, so are their chances to play in the ACC title game because it's hard to see Clemson losing twice. Surprisingly, Lamar Jackson didn't slide too much on the Heisman odds after last week's lopsided loss to the Tigers (not that it was his fault in the least) as he's now +550 at Bovada . As of this writing, this has the largest line move on the board as Louisville opened at -37. Why the shift? The Cards are taking a solid lean, but it's most likely because Kent State starting quarterback Nick Holley has been lost to a season-ending torn ACL. He wasn't much of a passer with 106 yards through the air but was the team's leading rusher with 207 yards on 35 carries. KSU already had lost backup Mylik Mitchell, so senior George Bollas gets the call. He has seen action in each of the past three seasons because Kent State has been so injury-ravaged at the position and has a total of 1,213 yards passing, four touchdowns and nine interceptions. KSU, incidentally, opened the season with a 56-3 loss at Clemson and managed 120 total yards while allowing 665.
NC State at No. 12 Florida State (-13): This line opened at -11.5. It seems like forever ago that the Seminoles lost star quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Deondre Francois to a season-ending knee injury back on Sept. 2 in that loss to No. 1 Alabama. So true freshman James Blackman finally makes his first career start as FSU's past two weeks were wiped out by Hurricane Irma. He'll be the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Seminoles since 1985. Do not rule out an upset here. NC State has one of the best defensive lines in the ACC if not the country. Ends Bradley Chubb and Kentavius Street combined for 15.5 sacks with 31 tackles last season, and defensive tackles Justin Jones and B.J. Hill are great against the run. All four will be drafted next spring, with Chubb for sure in the first round barring injury. The fact NC State has been able to play the past two weeks -- after losing Week 1 to South Carolina -- is a huge benefit. FSU has won the past four in the series.
Syracuse at No. 25 LSU (-22.5): LSU is also on letdown alert after its national title and likely SEC title hopes were wrecked in last week's blowout loss to Mississippi State. Last season, the Tigers' best running back actually wasn't Leonard Fournette (when he played) but Derrius Guice, who led the SEC with 1,387 yards. I thought he had a legit Heisman shot but is now +5000. The junior had back-to-back strong games to open the season but was held to 76 yards on 15 carries vs. MSU and might not play here. Late in the third quarter against the Bulldogs, Guice sustained an injury to his left knee. He hasn't practiced this week. SU coach Dino Babers had this good quote about Guice's status: "If he's not going to play, they probably have a 5-star or 4-star that we haven't seen on tape that would make our job more difficult because we haven't seen him." Only a coach! This is Syracuse's first-ever trip to LSU, which has won 48 straight home games against non-conference opponents.
No. 3 Oklahoma at Baylor (+27.5): That spread tells you how fast Baylor has fallen from the Big 12 elite after the whole off-field/Art Briles mess. The cupboard was left very empty for new head coach Matt Rhule. This team lost by 3 at home to Liberty, 7 at home to UTSA and by 24 last week at Duke. On the bright side, three projected starters are due back here in running back Terence Williams, safety Taion Sells and cornerback Grayland Arnold. Neither Williams nor Arnold have played in 2017 because of injury, while Sells was on a three-game suspension. Last year, Williams ranked fourth in the Big 12 in averaging 5.66 yards per carry. He finished with 1,048 yards and 11 scores on 185 carries. Baylor is 6-4 since 2010 against opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 10, but those were very different Bears teams. OU quarterback Baker Mayfield is now the +275 Bovada favorite to win the Heisman. Mayfield is hitting on 76.8 percent of his passes for 1,046 yards (he sat out one half of a blowout) with 10 TDs and no picks. His 226.9 pass efficiency rating would shatter the FBS record of 196.4 he set last year. OU has a national-best 13-game winning streak as well as 12 in a row on the road. It has won 16 consecutive Big 12 games, one shy of the school record.
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