NCAA Football Betting Odds: Week 8 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
We are past the halfway point of the 2017 college football regular season, so I guess I'm overdue in talking about Stanford running back Bryce Love. Somehow, he's making Cardinal fans forget about one of the best players in school history, former Heisman runner-up Christian McCaffrey.
At Bovada , Love has caught Penn State's Saquon Barkley as the +140 Heisman co-favorite. Love, a junior from North Carolina who was +10000 on that prop before the season (some books didn't even list him), leads the country by a country mile in rushing with 1,387 yards. His yards per attempt of 10.3 also is tops in the nation if you throw out ridiculous Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate and his 16.5 ypc in limited action (more on him below). The NCAA single-season rushing record was set by Barry Sanders at 2,628 yards in 1988 when he won the Heisman Trophy with Oklahoma State. Whatever happened to that guy? Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon came close to breaking that mark in 2014 with 2,587 yards. Love has nine carries of at least 50 yards, more than anyone for a full season Gordon had 10 three years ago.
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Love is averaging 198.14 yards per game with a season low of 147 last week against Oregon, but he wasn't needed much with Stanford rolling to a 49-7 victory. Let's say Love plays 13 games including a bowl - I don't think Stanford wins the Pac-12 North and thus plays in the conference title game or it would be 14. At his current pace, Love would finish with 2,576 yards rushing. Sanders made his mark in 11 games, so he's still The Man regardless.
No Stanford player has won the Heisman Trophy since QB Jim Plunkett in 1971. The Cardinal have had four second-place finishes in the past eight years in Toby Gerhart (2009), Andrew Luck (2010, 2011) and McCaffrey (2015). I'm not confident Love wins the award because the Cardinal already have two losses and probably get at least one more. They are off this week before visiting Oregon State next Thursday. They still have to play at No. 15 Washington State, vs. No. 12 Washington (good luck rushing for 100 yards on that team) and vs. No. 13 Notre Dame. Love could take the lead on next week's Heisman odds, though, because Barkley faces the nation's No. 1 defense in Michigan on Saturday night.
Here are some notes and any major line moves for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order.
Tennessee at No. 1 Alabama (-36): This opened with the Tide at -33. I don't want to touch on this too much as I always talk about Tennessee and/or the Crimson Tide, but this isn't just the biggest spread ever in a rivalry that dates to 1903, but I couldn't find any number in a betting database that had the Vols as this big of underdogs. The closest would have been on Oct. 22, 2011, when the Vols were -30 at Alabama and lost 37-6. The Tide have won 10 straight in this series and only two have been decided by single digits. How many by at least 36 points? Just last year's 49-10 victory in Knoxville. Will Nick Saban take mercy on Butch Jones here or will Saban try to win by 70 against a bitter rival? Knowing him, the latter. It's quite possible Jones is fired on Sunday if this goes sideways.
No. 21 Auburn at Arkansas (+15.5): This opened with the Tigers at -13. Speaking of coaches who might be fired on Sunday, I give you the Hogs' Bret Bielema. Arkansas is winless in the SEC and probably is only looking at one realistic victory: the season finale vs. Missouri. The Hogs' two overall victories are against FCS school Florida A&M and New Mexico State. Bielema might get starting QB Austin Allen back for this one. He sat out last week's blowout loss to Alabama with a shoulder injury. Redshirt freshman Cole Kelley made his first start and was 23 of 42 for 200 yards with a TD and a pick. Not too shabby against that defense, although the Razorbacks were outrushed a ridiculous 308-27. Allen is probably 50-50 at this point. The only worry for Auburn here, which is a bit banged-up on both lines, is if the players look past Arkansas and to next week's bye. Auburn holds a 14-11-1 advantage in this series and won 56-3 last year. Coach Gus Malzahn played wide receiver for Arkansas in 1984-85 and became a legendary high school coach in that state before getting his college break.
Colorado at No. 15 Washington State (-10): Not much spread movement, but the total has dropped four points to 53. I don't know if you heard Mike Leach's press conference following his Cougars' shocking 37-3 loss at Cal last week, but I highly recommend Googling it. That guy is hilarious. The Washington State AD left for Nebraska this week, and he hired Leach at Wazzu and remains tight with the coach. So, naturally, the Leach-to-Nebraska rumors have started. Leach says that's not happening, and frankly I don't see him as the type of guy who wants to live in Lincoln (he still has a home in Key West). The big player note here is to Washington State junior receiver Tavares Martin. He has been suspended one game for a violation of team rules. He leads the team with 37 catches, 502 yards and seven scores. Not what QB Luke Falk needs coming off a game where he had five interceptions vs. the Bears and was sacked nine times. Colorado is a shell of the team that played for the Pac-12 title last year and is 1-3 in the conference, barely beating a terrible Oregon State team last week 36-33. The Buffs do have one of the nation's top running backs in Phillip Lindsay (995 yards, 10 TDs). He has totaled 466 yards and five scores in his past two games.
Arizona at Cal (+3): This has the biggest line move on the board as of this writing as the Bears opened at -1.5. The Wildcats' quarterback Tate is something else. In his first start of the season two weeks ago at Colorado, he set an FBS quarterback record with 327 yards rushing (four TDs) along with completing 12 of 13 for 145 yards and a score. He was almost as good last week in a minor upset of UCLA, rushing 15 times for 230 yards and two scores and completing 9 of 13 for 148 yards and a TD. Why did Rich Rodriguez not start this guy from Week 1? Arizona could conceivably win the Pac-12 South, although it has lost top linebacker Devante Downs for the season. Downs was hurt vs. Wazzu and had been named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week twice this season. He leads the team in tackles (65), interceptions (2), sacks (3), forced fumbles (2) and fumble recoveries (2). Arizona has won three straight in this series, but it's the first meeting since one of the most memorable games of 2014. The Cats won 49-45 at home on a 47-yard Hail Mary as time expired. Arizona was down 31-13 entering the fourth quarter.
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