NCAA Football Betting Odds: Week 9 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
On the Opening Line Report story Monday, I wrote about how no FBS team had gone winless against the spread this decade - sadly, I didn't really have the time to research if one had done so ever. Connecticut had been the only team yet to cover this season but did last weekend in a close loss to South Florida.
Well, it seems only fitting to flip the script here. Washington State is the lone unbeaten ATS team in the country at 7-0. The Cougars' one straight-up loss was on Sept. 21 at Southern Cal, 39-36 as 4.5-point underdogs. Wazzu has come close a few times in failing to cover. It was -30 at home on Sept. 8 against San Jose State - maybe the nation's worst team this year - and won 31-0.
On Oct. 6 at Oregon State - the Pac-12's worst program - the Cougars were -18.5 and won 56-37. Washington State was actually down 30-28 midway through the third before scoring 28 straight points. Oregon State scored with 35 seconds left; clearly, Beavers coach Jonathan Smith was unaware of the spread because he opted to kick the PAT instead of potentially going for 2 points and the cover. Hey, why not practice your 2-point try in competition?
The closest a team has come to finishing unbeaten ATS this decade that I've found was Northwestern in 2012 as the Wildcats were 12-1 ATS. That team finished 10-3 straight up after beating Mississippi State 34-20 in the Gator Bowl (Dak Prescott was the Bulldogs' backup QB then). Northwestern's one non-cover was as a 3-point underdog at Penn State in a 39-28 loss - and that took a late Nittany Lions TD.
Mike Leach has done another terrific job at Washington State - remember, he had agreed to become Tennessee's coach this past offseason before things got really messy in Knoxville. The No. 14 Cougars are the Pac-12's only shot at the College Football Playoff, but they are 3-point underdogs (opened at -4.5) at No. 24 Stanford on Saturday night. The Cardinal are right in the Pac-12 North race as well but blowout losses to Notre Dame and Utah ended their playoff hopes.
This will be a game of total opposites as Stanford will try to eat clock with Bryce Love, while Washington State's Gardner Minshew leads the nation in passing yards. Uncharacteristically, the Cardinal are weak against the pass, allowing 252.1 ypg, second-worst in the Pac-12. Still, I like Stanford at home to win by a TD and end Washington State's quest for ATS perfection.
Here are notes for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order.
No. 9 Florida vs. No. 7 Georgia ( -6.5, 52): If you plan on backing the Dawgs, and I do, then you are thrilled here because this line opened at 8 early in the week and is now under the magic number of 7. It's one of the most important "Cocktail Parties" in years between these two in Jacksonville. Seems like one or the other has been very good this decade but not both at the same time. I believe the winner will claim the SEC East Division and face Alabama (and lose) in the conference title game. Yes, Kentucky is 4-1 in conference like the Gators and Dawgs and already beat Florida, but I fully expect Georgia to go to Lexington next week and win. UF's remaining schedule is easy. Both come off a bye week.
No. 6 Texas at Oklahoma State (+3.5, 59.5): If you are backing the Pokes, waiting suited you as this opened with the Horns as 1.5-point favorites. I'm not sure how to feel about this one. Feels like a potential trap game for Texas with it hosting No. 13 West Virginia next week. Plus, UT's only true road game so far was an ugly 19-14 win at Kansas State. Then again, the Horns are off their bye week. Oklahoma State isn't all that good, but Stillwater at night is a zoo. The big question is whether Texas starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger will play. He injured his shoulder in the first quarter of UT's 23-17 win over Baylor on Oct. 13. It looks as if Ehlinger will go. One worry is that if his shoulder isn't 100 percent it might limit his running ability on short-yardage plays. UT uses him often in that situation and Ehlinger has 230 yards rushing and a team-high six touchdowns. He also owns the school record for consecutive passes without a pick at 168. Shane Buechele is a capable backup.
Arizona State at USC (-6, 54.5): Interesting that this line has risen two points because it appears the Trojans will be starting third-string quarterback Jack Sears, although the freshman was a mega-recruit (which USC quarterbacks aren't?). Starter and true freshman JT Daniels went into concussion protocol (and is still in it as of this writing) after he took a hit late in the third quarter of last Saturday's loss at Utah. Backup Matt Fink suffered three broken ribs after scrambling for a first down in the fourth. Fink is for sure out. I guess the question is: Who goes in if Sears, who hasn't thrown a collegiate pass, gets hurt? USC also will be without top linebacker Cam Smith. The four-year starter leads the team with 47 tackles in six games and also has five tackles for loss with one sack this season. Southern Cal can still win the Pac-12 South, it just needs to win out and get some help. Don't forget that USC closes the regular season at home vs. Notre Dame, but that wouldn't affect anything in conference.
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