Appalachian State Mountaineers at Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (Thursday, November 3)
App State vs Coastal Carolina is now a national headline on Saturdays, mostly because the Sun Belt is no longer a field of patsies. But while Boone, North Carolina has been the site of tremendous giant-killing joy and pale disappointment in 2022, the Sun Belt’s newfangled powerhouse from Myrtle Beach remains consistent with a 7-1 record.
You may be looking to validate CCU’s (+3) underdog’s point spread, but if so, it’s worthwhile to look beyond the Mountaineers’ performances against the Power-5 this season. The Chanticleers, in spite of the team’s shiny record, has suffered some home-field pratfalls of its own that compare equitably to the Mountaineers’ problems vs Troy and James Madison. Coastal Carolina slipped through a relatively weak visiting slate of Army West Point, Gardner-Webb, Buffalo, and Georgia Southern in close calls before falling to Old Dominion.
App State’s another Group-of-5 team with a Dante-worthy floor and a skyscraper of a ceiling. The Sears Tower may not be threatened by the Mountaineers’ climbing tools in November. But it’s safe to say that Boone has emerged from October’s awful slump. Appalachian State has scored 12 touchdowns and allowed only 2 in the last pair of games. Given CCU’s propensity for 4th-quarter drama, and the importance of Thursday’s kickoff, it may however be safest to pick the Mountaineers on the moneyline.
WagerBop’s Pick: Appalachian State (-146)
Duke Blue Devils at Boston College Eagles (Friday, November 4)
Do not let anyone say they’re skipping Friday’s prep football playoffs because an “exciting” FBS team is hosting a prime-time kickoff. (World Series baseball may be considered the better of 2 excuses.) With the BC Eagles featured on FanDuel’s main CFB tab this weekend, it’s a wonder that users aren’t staring at an Over/Under line in the middle 30s instead of (47.5) points on Duke and Boston College. But the spread is more thought-provoking.
The Blue Devils’ (-9.5) spread is too conservative, distorted by historical results or a perception that Duke will revert to form. The Eagles are working on an offense with less breakaway speed, less dominant line play, and less explosive pass-plays than the Iowa Hawkeyes in 2022-23 (if one can believe that).
Only a bad defensive performance could keep the Blue Devils’ 5-3 lineup from flourishing against a host squad that just lost to Connecticut by a “World Series” kind of final score. However, the 2022-23 Duke Blue Devils haven’t let poor offenses hang around outside of Georgia Tech on October 8th, and last weekend’s rousing win over Miami puts them in a class apart from sluggish Boston College.
WagerBop’s Pick: Duke (-9.5)
Air Force Falcons at Army Black Knights (Saturday, November 5)
It is fascinating to contrast the Over/Under line on a game like Air Force Falcons (-7.5) at Army Black Knights with point-total odds on the more celebrated Army-Navy battle of academies. West Point and Annapolis have combined to produce the “Under Bowl” of the last decade, finishing well-fought games with point totals in the 20s and low 30s over and over.
What lies behind the perpetual betting outcome is that Flexbone-option teams know how to defend each other without needing a 4-week training camp session and constant pep talks. Coaches at academies teach their LBs to “step out” and protect against dangerous QB keep reads and pitches in mirror-match kickoffs against other triple-option playbooks. Subsequently, games featuring explosive dual-threat quarterbacks often turn into slow burners.
Black Knights vs Falcons is drawing (41.5) total points against standard O/U odds for Saturday, a dull line that takes the service-academy stalemate angle into consideration as well as last weekend’s tight 19-14 Air Force defeat with Boise State visiting town.
However, the Bronco defense was (and is) in the midst of making a last stand after BSU’s offense proved so self-destructive early in the season, and the Falcons’ attack has been lively otherwise. West Point has likewise scored a healthy amount of TDs against the Group of 5 this year. There are no such speculative angles that would produce wise over-total-points picks if the Falcons at Black Knights game was destined to be slow-paced in any event, due to coaches’ tactics lying in uniformity (excuse the pun) with how it often goes in December’s military showcase. But consider that Troy Calhoun’s offense at 5-3 Falcons has finally evolved into something closer to the “multiple” attack of Boise State than Jeff Monken’s purist approach with the Black Knights. It may only take a few shotgun snaps for Air Force to blow the bout open … or commit wild turnovers which help manufacture a ragged Commander-in-Chief game, for once filled with short turns on offense.
WagerBop’s Pick: Over (41.5)
Tennessee Volunteers at Georgia Bulldogs (Saturday, October 5)
If we conveyed to casual readers that there was an 8-point line between #1 and #2 in college football, they might conclude that the Georgia Bulldogs or Alabama Crimson Tide are taking on a school from outside the powerful SEC. Nope, it’s the history of visiting Tennessee that has caused bookmakers to set a wide point spread on Georgia (-8.5) vs UT on Saturday.
Tennessee’s ledger of bright-light failures over the past 10-11 years is immense, especially at away games. Tennessee collapsed after a strong start at Tuscaloosa last season and later lost the 2021 Music City Bowl to Purdue in an overtime result 48-45. Yet looking beyond that, the ledger of the high-profile Volunteers’ let-downs is epic in variety and scope. Fans’ listicles often feature the 2011 SEC Championship Game loss against Florida or a pair of 2015 midseason defeats at Oklahoma and Florida.
There really are better reasons than history to pick the Bulldogs on Saturday. For example, most of Georgia’s performances this season that’s given odds-makers pause can be explained by circumstances and changes in the FBS scene. The Bulldogs felt the sting of 2022’s super-senior-filled, transfer-tastic minor conferences against Kent State. Georgia’s issues trying to defeat Mizzou in midseason made the Dawgs look shaky at the time, but since then Missouri has proven to have an above-par SEC program going in Columbia.
The Bulldogs’ form since the Missouri game has been far more convincing, with Georgia allowing less than 2 meaningful touchdowns in a dynamite run of 3 in-conference demolitions. Volunteers’ knack for heroics, followed by pratfalls, makes us hesitant to recommend UGA against the point spread, as does the likelihood of HC Kirby Smart standing pat with a 7-point lead in a 4th quarter “6:00 offense” scenario. UGA is, however, very unlikely to lose a scrum played between the hedges to an inferior defensive team.
WagerBop’s Pick: Georgia (-315) (With Parlay Picks)
Liberty Flames at Arkansas Razorbacks (Saturday, October 5)
The Arkansas Razorbacks (-13.5) own an inflated point spread against the Liberty Flames for less well-defined reasons, as easily-distracted Arkansas already failed to cover against the virtual 99-point underdog Missouri State early this season. With all due respect to Bobby Petrino’s revival in Springfield, the Bears are an FCS squad that can’t hold the Liberty Flames’ jocks. The Flames, lest anyone notice, are ranked in the Top 25, and comes off a crushing 28-point win over BYU, while standing at 7-1 instead of 8-0 only because of a 1-point heartbreaker vs Wake Forest. If the Razorbacks had the Flames’ credentials, Arkansas would be 30-point favorites instead of getting favored by just 2 touchdowns over Liberty.
WagerBop’s Pick: Liberty ATS (+13.5)
UCLA Bruins at Arizona State Wildcats (Saturday, October 5)
With so many complicated picks on big games, how about a Pac-12 wager for which the sportsbook’s error is displayed right in the main markets? The UCLA Bruins (-10.5) spread may appear reasonable given UCLA’s ongoing struggle to stop elite opposing QBs and rushers, and considering that Arizona State is competing at home with a program-wide overhaul motivating players to go hard and “audition” for the coaching regime-to-be in ’23.
On the other hand, though, the Wildcats come off allowing a big day on offense to woeful Colorado, and FanDuel’s O/U (66.5) point-total line reveals even less respect for Arizona State’s defense than is commonly given to Chip Kelly’s squad.
Even if the Wildcats rally in the opening half, the gridiron could begin to tilt toward the deeper and faster lineup in the 2nd half … and we’ve got a whole history of Oregon and UND (and UCLA) to demonstrate the Kelly family’s merciless style of pigskin once their favored side is winning at the line-of-scrimmage and rolling downhill.
WagerBop’s Pick: University of California-Los Angeles ATS (-10.5)
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.