College Football 2018 Week 10 Bets

In the middle of one of the biggest betting weekends of the year in horse racing, I still find some time to make college football upset picks.  Of course, with the first CFP Poll out and season altering games such as Alabama-LSU, Notre Dame-Northwestern, Georgia-Kentucky, and Michigan-Penn State, this is a weekend to sit down and just enjoy all the action.  Here are my five upsets of the Saturday card:

Season: 12-13 (8 Outright)

  • AIR FORCE (+6.5) at Army
    • The Commander-In-Chief Trophy is on the line when these two military academies face off.  Air Force has already beaten Navy and a win over Army would see the Trophy come back west.  Air Force has the points scoring offense to match up with Army very well and this should be anything but a blow out either way.  A close game that might be decided by just a point.
  • IOWA (+3.0) at Purdue
    • The Boilermakers are still riding high off of their win against Ohio State, at least in the eyes of Vegas.  They didn’t look too great against Michigan State last week (but good enough to keep it close) but now face an Iowa team that wants revenge after last week’s loss in Happy Valley.  Watch out for the Hawkeyes.
  • PENN STATE (+12.0) at Michigan
    • 12 points is a huge line to give an in-conference rival.  Especially one that hasn’t lost by double digits in two years (though that game was against Michigan, and in the Big House).  I’m under the belief that Penn State’s offense will find ways to score and keep them in this game, one that could easily become a shootout.
  • COASTAL CAROLINA (+14.0) v Appalachian State
    • Last week, App State saw their quarterback Zak Thomas go down with an injury.  He has since been day-to-day and mainly sitting out of reps instead of practicing.  While I do think they still will win, the Chanticleers have been rolling strong and should put up a test to the bruised Mountaineers, keeping this game close on the surf turf.
  • TEXAS TECH (+13.5) v Oklahoma
    • It has been just a bit over two years since Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes dueled out in an absolute offensive onslaught in Lubbock.  Now the teams meet again under the lights at Jones AT&T Stadium.  The Red Raiders have been playing with a much better defense than previous years and have been scoring at will against many good teams; meanwhile Oklahoma has been on a tear since their loss in the Red River Shootout.  This could be another memorable classic, and one that should be decided by whoever has the ball last.

(All spreads from ESPN)

Breeders’ Cup 2018 – Friday Analysis

The Breeders’ Cup 2018 Weekend is about to begin, and what a way to kick off the festivities at the end of the main portion of the racing calendar.  On Friday, the Breeders’ Cup debuts the new Juvenile Turf Sprint, the start up to the rebranded Friday card – Future Stars Friday.  Five championship races for two year-olds will be on tap as we begin the World Championships of Thoroughbred Horse Racing.  Joining me to cover the Friday card is John Piassek (@theyreoff), the co-founder and handicapper for The Daily Gallop and the managing editor and handicapper for DanonymousRacing.com.

Continue reading Breeders’ Cup 2018 – Friday Analysis

College Football 2018 Week 9 Bets

Week 9 is headlined by the Florida-Georgia/Georgia-Florida rivalry in Jacksonville, a top matchup in Palo Alto between Washington State and Stanford, a tough Iowa team making the trip to Happy Valley, and Texas going under the lights against Oklahoma State trying to get another statement win in the Big 12.  But outside of those big games, there are plenty of matchups to look at and games to bet.  Here are my five upsets of the week:

Season: 10-10 (7 Outright)

  • TEXAS TECH (+ 6.0) at Iowa State
    • The Cyclones have blown out the Red Raiders the last two years… but Texas Tech has gotten themselves a defense this year.  Revenge is a sweet sweet thing and Texas Tech has been playing well.  Iowa State might have a great defense, but can’t see a blowout going their way.
  • NORTHWESTERN (+ 3.5) v Wisconsin
    • The Badgers haven’t won back to back games in Evanston since ’97/’99.  They’ve won the last two years, but Northwestern has been getting much better and rarely lets Wisconsin grab three straight as of late in this rivalry.  A win for the Wildcats would spoil Wisconsin’s chances at a Big Ten title, and put themselves in a big spot for their own Big Ten title quest.
  • USF (+ 8.0) at Houston
    • Vegas loves the Cougars this week, but without Ed Oliver, can they stop the Bulls?  USF loves to score and Houston has been playing close games against good teams.  More than a touchdown is a lot of points to give.
  • NAVY (+ 24.0) v Notre Dame (Neutral Site)
    • San Diego County Credit Union Stadium plays host to a long standing rivalry of Navy and Notre Dame.  The Irish will be heading into Navy territory on the West Coast against a team that runs a very tough to stop offense.  This will be a new look for Notre Dame to see this year and they have struggled against big underdog teams.  It is a lopsided rivalry, but never a blowout; 24 is a lot of points to give.
  • HAWAII (+ 26.0) at Fresno State
    • The Bulldogs would love to make their case for the best Group of Five team, and a big win against Hawaii would go a long way.  Hawaii’s offense hasn’t been rolling since their 5OT game against SJSU, but they will need to to beat Fresno State.  This will be Fresno State’s first tough test, and although they should win, it will be a close one.

 

(All lines from ESPN)

College Football 2018 Week 8 Bets

Heading into Week 8, we just escaped a week of chaos where ranked teams constantly went down.  What will this week hold?  Here are my 5 upsets to watch (with the spread):

Season: 7-8 (5 Outright)

  • MARSHALL (+2.5) v Florida Atlantic
    • Marshall has been scoring very easily this year, although their record may not seem like such.  FAU has been up and down this year, and unable to put together a good contest on the road.  The Herd is tough at home and should be able to win outright in my opinion against the Owls.
  • CHARLOTTE (+16.5) at Mid Tennessee State
    • Hard to see what Vegas sees here.  Can’t fathom this line being this large, but it is.  Charlotte has been playing good football this year and has a good defense; MTSU has been doing much of the same, but allows plenty of points per game.  Can’t see MTSU winning by more than 10.
  • NC STATE (+17.5) at Clemson
    • Although the Textile Bowl has been all Clemson, it hasn’t been a blowout in recent years.  I do not know what Vegas is thinking once again with this line, but two undefeated teams will clash in Death Valley, both looking for ACC supremacy, and I can’t see it being a blow out one way or another.  NC State is a very strong team up front and can exploit the weakness in Clemson’s secondary.  This is Trevor Lawrence’s first test too.
  • OREGON (+3.0) at Washington State
    • For the first time in years, the Ducks get to play Washington State with a healthy quarterback.  For years injuries have plagued Oregon against Washington State, but not this year.  The Cougars do look good, but Oregon has been much better this year and should walk out of Pullman with a win.
  • PURDUE (+12.0) v Ohio State
    • Under the lights in West Lafayette, Ohio State tries to stay undefeated against a Big Ten West foe.  They were in this spot just last year – a heavy favorite on the road in conference… and lost to Iowa.  Purdue is a very solid team, and much better than their record states.  This offense of Purdue should be gunning and should be able to exploit an Ohio State defense that struggles against the pass.  This will be a much closer game than expected.

College Football 2018 Week 7 Bets

We had a tough week last week, but time to get back at it! Due to time constraints, I will just be posting my upsets without as much explanation as per usual. With that, here are my 5 upsets to watch:

Season: 6-4 (4 Outright)

  • INDIANA (+5.0) v Iowa
    • Indiana has been putting up yards and points this season. Iowa hasn’t been blowing people out. I think when these two teams face off in Bloomington it will be a close 3pt game.
  • BALL STATE (+3.0) at Central Michigan
    • Central Michigan has one win this season, and that came against FCS Maine. Ball State is rolling with two straight as they head to Kelly/Shorts – should win outright too.
  • SAN JOSE STATE (+15.0) v Army
    • The Black Knights go cross country to face winless San Jose State at Levi’s Stadium. SJ State might be 0-5, but they aren’t getting blown out and Army isn’t blowing anyone out.
  • NEW MEXICO (+1.0) at Colorado State
    • While I’m not a fan of only getting a point, I don’t think I will need it. New Mexico puts points up week in and week out. Colorado State can’t stop teams from scoring.
  • COLORADO (+7.0) at USC
    • The Buffaloes haven’t gotten much respect this year, but the only undefeated left in the Pac-12 looks to take their offense to SoCal. Should be a good test for them but I think that their rolling offense is good enough to keep it close and maybe even beat USC.

(All Odds from ESPN at Time of Writing)

Mountaineer Magic in the Fun Belt

The Mountaineers have been hot this year! No… not those Mountaineers from the Big 12, the Mountaineers of the Sun Belt.  Calling Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina their home, the Mountaineers of Appalachian State have been on a roll this season, allowing just 32 points in their last four games, and not allowing a single point in the second half to teams since their OT loss at Penn State week one – no other team can say that.  And we haven’t even talked a bit about any of their players.

Everyone remembers eleven years ago, when the defending back-to-back FCS National Champion walked into the Big House in the first live football action on the Big Ten Network, and stunned the college football world with a win over No. 5 Michigan.  Most couldn’t tell you what an Appalachian State was, or where they came from, or if they even knew how to play football (well… they do, in case you were wondering).  But this upstart program was far from a shocker, rather it is a program laced with history.

In 1928, a school from Boone, North Carolina, then known as the Appalachian State Normal School, put an English professor, Graydon Poe Eggers, in charge of their first football team (he would later coach their basketball team).  Although going 3-6 in their first season (a season where the Georgia Tech Golden Tornado and USC Trojans would win the National Title), it would be 1 of only 5 losing seasons for the school before 1955.  The next season, they named C. B. Johnston as head coach, a student of the six time National Champion winning Michigan coach Fielding Yost, where he led them to their first Conference Title in 1931.  But true success wouldn’t come until Duke All-American Pierce “Kidd” Brewer stepped up to the plate; in 1937, he led an unbeaten and unscored upon in the regular season Appalachian State team, outscoring opponents 206-0.  He would become the namesake of the App State stadium.

Throughout the 40s and 50s, Appalachian State would continue to perform well in the NAIA, but true success didn’t come until the move to the Southern Conference in the 70s.  Working their way into the NCAA, App State would remain steady for their first decade at the level, playing about .500 ball; in 1975, they would get key wins over East Carolina, Wake Forest, and South Carolina, three wins that went along way to securing App State a spot among the Division 1 teams.  By the 80s, they gave future Texas and Hall of Famer Mack Brown his first head coaching job, before finding their stride with two coaches, Sparky Woods, who would right the ship, and Jerry Moore, who would pilot it.  While Woods may have given App State their first two playoff births in the Division I-AA (now known as FCS), Moore took them to the playoffs in 18 of his 24 seasons at the helm.  Under Moore, they won three back-to-back-to-back FCS National Championships, had two NFL draftees, a Walter Payton Award winner, and became the first ever FCS team to receive votes in a final AP poll.

Of course, as much as history matters to many, it doesn’t matter what a team did in the past – it only matters what they do now… and App State is still doing it.  Since becoming a full time FBS member, they’ve won three straight bowl games, capping them off with a 34-0 win against Toledo in last year’s Dollar General Bowl, took a 9th ranked Tennessee team to OT in Knoxville, had an NFL draftee in Colby Gossett, and took 10th ranked Penn State to OT in Beaver Stadium (fun fact, the Michigan, Tennessee, and Penn State games all occurred on September 1st).  This season, they are averaging nearly 7 yards per play, just about 10 players on average per touchdown, and an 82% red zone scoring percentage.

The star of this team, quarterback Zac Thomas.  This sophomore lead his team out for the first time at Beaver Stadium, one of the toughest places to play, especially for a new quarterback.  Being calm and cool in the pocket, he led drive after drive, for 270 yards through the air, another 43 on the ground, and 3 total touchdowns, putting the Mountaineers in position to upset a pre-season pick for National Champion.  While they only got into OT, Appalachian State garnered enough attention to gain some votes in the Coaches Poll (although the AP Poll remained silent).  He followed up with a perfect 14 for 14 day at Charlotte, with 4 total touchdowns in the route on the road.  After their loss to Penn State, the Mountaineers would outscore opponents 204-32; Kidd Brewer would be proud.  During that time, Zac Thomas would account for 16 of the team’s 28 offensive touchdowns, with WR Corey Sutton, Kansas State transfer and life long App State fan, catching 4 of those, including a 90 yard touchdown.  Jalin Moore, who was the standout star coming into the season, reached 400 yards and six touchdowns before his most-likely season ending injury on Tuesday against Arkansas State; Moore had back-back 1000 yard rushing seasons coming into this season, and was well on pace for another.\

Now, they are creeping their way up into the Top 25, trying to join the 2016 Troy team as the only Sun Belt teams to ever be ranked in the AP Top 25.  They currently sit with 11 points on the AP Poll (good enough for 31st) and 38 points in the Coaches’ Poll (good enough for 29th).  Do they have the wins at top ranked teams like many others on the polls – no.  Do they have the toughest schedule in the nation – definitely not.  Do they have all the national eyes on them – no.  But what they do have, wins – only Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin have had more wins in their last 50 games than App State has.  And they just keep on winning.

With strength on offense and defense, Appalachian State deserves respect.  While they never will be said in the same breath as the Bamas and Ohio States of the world, they will keep on winning, the Rock will keep on rocking, and the Mountaineers will be a Group of Five team to watch for years to come, especially with games at North Carolina, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Miami, Texas A&M, and Clemson scheduled over the next ten years.

So, AP Poll, Coaches Poll – you watching?

College Football 2018 Week 6 Bets

Moving on to Week 6 offers us a lot of value with games, even with some big games like the Red River Showdown and Notre Dame heading to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech.  Here are my 5 underdog points plays you should keep your eye on:

Season: 4-1 (3 Outright)

  • MARYLAND (+17.5) at Michigan
    • Going to the Big House isn’t the easiest task, but this year has seen Michigan going backwards at times while the Terps have been rising.  Michigan struggled against the two toughest teams that they’ve faced, Notre Dame and Northwestern, and Shea Patterson has yet to look like the QB to lead this Wolverines team.  They should win, but a more than two touchdowns and a field goal points spread is too much to pass up.
  • EAST CAROLINA (+10.5) at Temple
    • Hard to knock ECU with their two losses – one by a lightning delayed to the next day game to NC A&T and the other to USF during Hurricane Florence.  Otherwise, they could have easily been 4-0 entering this matchup at Temple.  Temple caught a Maryland team off guard and rolled a weak Tulsa team, but didn’t get the job done with Villanova and Buffalo – even if they win this week, they are facing a much better ECU and hard to see them winning by much.
  • AIR FORCE (+3.0) v Navy
    • It hasn’t been easy for Air Force this year, with tough road losses to FAU and Utah State, and then a stunning home loss to Nevada.  But when Navy comes to town, it is a new team in Colorado.  Navy has yet to win a game by more than a point, with two losses to teams west of the Mississippi this year.  Travelling isn’t something that the Midshipman do well and that may come to bite them against their rival.
  • BOWLING GREEN (+21.0) at Toledo
    • Heading to the Glass Bowl for this one.  Bowling Green has losses at Oregon, against a rolling Maryland, and at Georgia Tech – all teams with very good defenses.  Toledo… not so much.  Although Toledo has been hot, they have been allowing 450+ yards per game (mostly through the air) – not that Bowling Green is much better with 500+ (but mostly on the ground; Toledo is a passing team).  This will be a shootdown in the MAC – nowhere near a runaway win like the line says.
  • SOUTH ALABAMA (+11.0) at Georgia Southern
    • South Alabama has had it rough, with games at Oklahoma State, at Memphis, and at Appalachian State.  Now they go on the road to a Georgia Southern team that tries to out run you rather than outscore you like the other teams they’ve faced.  Georgia Southern isn’t going to be pulling away from the Jaguars, leaving this game much closer than the line says.

(all lines from Draft Kings at the time of writing)

The CFP – One More Month

It is amazing that we are already a month into the College Football Season.  We have seen thrilling last second victories, comebacks, collapses, and upsets abound.  Already we have seen great games in the forms of LSU-Auburn, Stanford-Oregon, and Ohio State-Penn State, with many more not named and so many more to come.  But, with all of the polls that come out each week, the movement in each is nearly meaningless.  The only thing that matters is what the College Football Playoff Committee decides in just four weeks.  A lot can happen in these next few weeks, from the top teams going down to surprising upstart teams rolling in.  Let’s see how these next four weeks could play out.

Continue reading The CFP – One More Month

College Football 2018 Week 5 Bets

With all of the country’s focus on the two top ten matchups that we have under the lights this weekend with Penn State – Ohio State and Notre Dame – Stanford, we cannot forget about what is a very juicy undercard as we head into conference play.

Each week I will post my 5 underdog points plays that you should keep your eye on.

  • ARMY (+7.5) at Buffalo
    • The Bulls come home to UB Stadium 4-0, after a trouncing of Rutgers.  But this is their first test of the year, and get an Army squad that travels well.  Buffalo won by just 7 points against the two best teams it faced, Eastern Michigan and Temple – neither stack up to what this Army team has been doing lately.  Should be tight.
  • NEVADA (+5) v Air Force
    • The last three games in this Mountain West cross-divisional series have been decided by one possession.  The Wolf Pack are 2-2 thus far, losing two early kickoffs out east.  They get to travel close to an Air Force team that has just one win, and that was to FCS Stony Brook.  I find this to be a very odd line for this game, even with Nevada’s blunders on the road.
  • GEORGIA SOUTHERN (+3.5) v Arkansas State
    • The Eagles took care of business at home their first two weeks before going to Clemson.  Now they are back home at Paulson Stadium against an Arkansas State team that has been squeaking out wins in their last two.  It isn’t easy winning at Georgia Southern and this could easily be a one point game in the end.
  • SAN JOSE STATE (+11) v Hawaii
    • Facing a 4-1 Rainbow Warriors team is a challenge, but they play noticeably worse on the road.  SJ State is still looking for their first win, but I can give them a pass when their last two games came on the road at Washington State and Oregon.  This is a very generous line here.
  • BYU (+17.5) at Washington
    • One of the sneaky ranked v ranked games of this week, BYU has been play strong fundamental football thus far.  Going into Camp Randall a few weeks ago and knocking off Wisconsin was just a taste of what it looks like BYU has in store for the rest of the season.  Now they get to head up to Seattle to face off with a Washington squad that hasn’t quite looked themselves as of late, and might be looking past this game to the big Pac-12 slate that they have coming up.

(all lines from Draft Kings at the time of writing)

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