Utah Utes at Washington State Cougars (Thursday, October 27)
It has been a wild, unpredictable year in the Pac-12, and don’t say WagerBop didn’t warn you. Our
preseason FBS scroll warned that it appeared the Trojans had taken “all the chips” on the College
Football Playoff betting board that would normally have been distributed among powerhouse teams from the west coast, with bookmakers and bettors assuming that Southern Cal could be the only potential unbeaten or 1-loss playoff representative to come from the conference. But sure enough, USC lost to #14 ranked Utah in a 43-42 corker last weekend. The Utes’ 2-loss status makes Utah a legit spoiler.
Utah (-7) is favored by FanDuel Sportsbook to crash the party in Washington this Thursday, but there’s
only so much partying to be had when the home team has lost 2 straight. The Cougars roared into
October by beating Big Ten stalwart Wisconsin, waging a shoot-out classic of Washington State’s own
against the victorious Ducks, and then clobbering California 28-9 as 14 players touched the ball for a
well-balanced attack. The momentum came to a halt on a trip to Pasadena that produced an
unsurprising 16-point loss. But moreover, WSU followed up with an ugly disappointment at Oregon State in which quarterback Cameron Ward took double-digit hits and was inaccurate.
Thursday’s O/U (55.5) point-total line on the Pac-12 recognizes that Washington State’s defense has
remained stout at most junctures of the season. The Ducks scored most of their points vs. the Cougars
with a tremendous late-game rally, and Washington State held California to under 50 rush yards in the
game to follow. The Utes’ weaponry in the offensive backfield could be depleted for the time being, as
disgruntled RB Tavion Thomas was observed removing his pads and leaving the sideline early last
Saturday despite no reported injuries. The junior’s likely demotion on the Utah depth chart leaves HC
Kyle Wittingham down a talented rusher just as Washington State has reasons to run more and try to
protect QB Ward.
Ergo, we could be looking at a weird game-planning scenario in which the favored team looks to pass
more often on the road, while the host underdog looks to play power football. The chemistry could make
the Utes a dodgy pick on the moneyline, but it’s also a classic blow-out scenario if the Cougars’ positive
gains are measured in 3-yard rushes and 20-yard drives, while Utah just plays defense and every so
often scores a long TD.
WagerBop’s Pick: Utah ATS (-7)
East Carolina Pirates at BYU Cougars (Friday, October 28)
The Cougars of BYU are suffering from a porous defense and a 3-game losing skid after starting the
fresh season 4-1. BYU scored the first 14 points in last weekend’s battle with fellow Group-of-5
contender Flames of Liberty University, but the Flames burned the Cougars for nearly 400 rush yards
and won 41-14 as opposing QB Jaren Hall’s offensive line struggled in comparison.
East Carolina is considered a live (+3.5) underdog while BYU’s (-154) moneyline understandably draws
limited action at the sportsbook. It helps that ECU holds a superior 5-3 record and is coming off a 21-
point win over visiting UCF Knights.
The Cougars need this game very badly, and yet it’s interesting to imagine just how thinly BYU would be
handicapped in a bout forecast to produce an “Iowa” type of point total. With so much riding on the line,
including potentially the Cougars’ bowl eligibility given such a difficult upcoming schedule, we’re
expecting to see BYU in near-top form again. The Pirates flourished against the Knights thanks to a
terrible game from opposing QB John-Lee Plumlee. For this weekend, Hall should have the host offense
in better shape to execute.
WagerBop’s Pick: BYU (-154)
Boston College Eagles at Connecticut Huskies (Saturday, October 29)
BC has been hitting against granite for 3 out of the last 4 weeks, losing by substantial scores to Florida State, Clemson, and Wake Forest of the powerful ACC. Blue-collar defense, no matter how physical, combined with a pedestrian offense is a recipe for pro football upsets more than NCAA-level surprises. To the casual eye, The Eagles appear content to wait patiently and try for 6+ wins against more vulnerable teams on the schedule, but sportsbooks aren’t sure that the Huskies of UConn is the “get well” foe.
Boston College is only favored by (-7.5) points on the spread against an FBS program that didn’t even
make it through the COVID-19 era without going dark on Saturday evenings. The unheralded Huskies
have acquitted themselves well over the front half of the season, debuting with a big victory over Utah
State and later upsetting Fresno State’s Bulldogs.
Those wins for UConn and losses for BC may cloud the truly reasonable forecast on Saturday’s kickoff,
especially since the Huskies’ host venue of Rentschler Field isn’t exactly “The Horseshoe” when it comes
to producing noise and enemy nerves on 3rd downs. UConn has plenty of sample size worked up
against the ACC in 2022-23, and the results betray a team that’s not ready for prime-time against the
Power-5 yet. The Huskies’ pass offense was pitiful against Syracuse and NC State, contests that
Connecticut lost by a combined score of 89-24. Boston College will play solid run defense and dare the
hosts to open up on difficult down-and-distance, setting up its dull offense to produce on a short field.
WagerBop’s Pick: Boston College ATS (-7.5)
Ohio State Buckeyes at Penn State Nittany Lions (Saturday, October 29)
Ohio State looks the part of a genuinely dominant offense that had a shaky start against the Fighting Irish, then hit the “on” switch for several crushing performances. Ohio State’s offense is only ranked 4th in the Football Bowl Subdivision, but that’s somewhat deceiving, as OSU substantially leads Georgia, Tennessee, and Oregon in yards-per-play and stands tied with the Volunteers in TDs scored. Buckeyes’ receiver Emeka Egbuka was among several skill players who punished the proud Iowa defense last weekend in a 52-10 thrashing.
Las Vegas only has one question left: whether OSU can take its show on the road. C.J. Stroud’s team
has flourished at a CFB-worthy level, but with the aid of an epic home stand in September. The blow-out
over the Hawkeyes was at The Horseshoe, too. Saturday’s setting in Happy Valley may be responsible for the Over/Under set at a cautious (60.5) total points (cautious for this side of the 2022-23 Big Ten
schedule) even as the Nittany Lions are handicapped as a severe (+15.5) point-spread underdog.
The loud crowd at PSU will be a chaos element, along with an explosive Nittany Lions offense that
bounced back from a loss to Michigan with a nice performance at Minnesota. Speculators may think that
the noise plus a few injuries on the perimeter will slow the Buckeyes down, though if that happens, in the
4th Quarter it’ll just create a tighter finish and faster offense.
WagerBop’s Pick: Over (60.5)
Missouri Tigers at South Carolina Gamecocks (Saturday, October 29)
FanDuel’s Over/Under line on the Gamecocks vs the Tigers is also inaccurate by a few points, due to an
ironically similar angle to the flaw behind Ohio State-at-Penn State’s point-total markets … even though
the games are forecast to progress differently in style.
Mizzou’s record against the Power-5 may be ugly, but the team has stubbornly refused to go down easy
against SEC opponents, even fighting the Georgia Bulldogs to a 6-point margin. That is reflected in the
Gamecocks’ paltry (-3.5) point spread this Saturday afternoon, and yet the O/U (47.5) total-points line
seems to ignore what a close contest in the final quarter (or going into halftime) can do to an otherwise
USC has been averaging 25+ points against superior defenses from schools like Texas A&M and
Kentucky, so it’s hard to gather where the sub-50-point line comes into existence to start with. UMC—
and coach Eli Drinkwitz’s playbook—can still be dismissed out-of-hand by too many analysts loyal to the
older SEC brands and tactics, making the mid-afternoon bout an example of a game that inspires only the odds that gamblers are expected to take seriously and bet on, not necessarily the objective score-
Southern Carolina’s fresh top-25 ranking is also a reason for the Gamecocks to play for style points and
extra TDs if the Tigers’ offense happens to abide by the consensus pick and come out flat.
WagerBop’s Pick: Over (47.5)
Ole Miss Rebels at Texas A&M Aggies (Saturday, October 29)
Texas A&M is a mess at 3-4, and yet the Texas A&M is somehow only (+2.5) point- spread underdogs against powerful visitor Ole Miss on Saturday night. Bookmakers could point to the legions of sentimental Lone Star State fans (and sportsbook users) as the reason that the spread won’t budge further in the Rebels’ direction.
But we’re thinking that the Rebels should have been the highly-ranked brand of the pair all along in 2022. Alabama’s vulnerability on defense has been shown in spades since A&M had their “impressive” showing in a 24-20 loss to the Tide on October 8th. Tennessee’s unholy blitz of scoring drives against the Crimson Tide in victory could help to rank Nick Saban’s unit down after the fact, but too many sportsbook users are still treating the Aggies’ offense as the unit to originally “expose” the Tide when that’s really UT.
LSU, meanwhile, had a breakout performance against the visiting Rebels in Week 8, frustrating
Mississippi QB Jaxson Dart (a name isn’t everything, after all) and rumbling for 252 rushing yards in a
45-20 romp that included a shut-out of Lane Kiffin’s offense in the latter half. The Rebels are 4-0 at home against FBS opponents Troy, Tulsa, Kentucky, and Auburn, but the noise of Kyle Field is woven into the Rebs’ (-132) line to triumph.
It is one thing to say that a successful no-huddle offense tends to rebound after a bad half of football. If
A&M can still be counted as a special team in 2022-23, then obviously, Rebel fans should pick out a
different Saturday to hope for a get-well outing. But the angle our betting odds may be blind to is that the Rebels’ miserable, disappointing season ironically makes home-field advantage into a double-edged
sword. It won’t take more than 15:00 worth of slick Rebel drives or A&M mishaps to get a large, finicky
College Station crowd to start jeering the home team, adding more pressure in a must-win situation.
WagerBop’s Pick: Ole Miss (-132)
Wyoming Cowboys at Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (Sunday, October 30 – Midnight EST)
It has been a bummer year for speculating on overnight “bail-out” games at Hawaii, and not just because
the wonderful old Halawa stadium is temporarily dark, or even due to the sports-broadcast industry
losing a giant in the late, beloved Robert Kekaula in 2021. Kekaula’s trusty gridiron maxim was
“momentum is the 13th man,” and yet the Rainbow Warriors have enjoyed little of the 13th man’s help in
2022, as Hawaii sags at 2-6 overall.
Evaluating the FBS transfer portal of the modern day is like staring at 5 local boxers’ W/L records of “9-
1.” If every boxer on late-night TV is at least 9-1, who, pray tell, is actually losing to them, and where is
“Glass Joe” with the 1-99 record? No “W” ever goes without an “L” just as no incoming college football
transfer goes without a departure somewhere. But so long as the transfers are arriving at bigger-money
programs, the sports media won’t focus on the aftermath at the player’s previous school.
The Warriors, a (+10.5) point-spread underdog to the visiting Cowboys, are the “Glass Joe” of the 2022-23 season, having lost 25+ transfers to other universities due to coaching upheaval and a continued dearth of bowl berths.
Hawaii’s typically pesky defense has been turned into a colander, ranked #112 and below charitable
defenses from teams like Bowling Green and FIU. FanDuel Sportsbook’s considerably cautious (50.5)
Over/Under total, however, illustrates that the Cowboys are not about to show up and simply overwhelm
its vulnerable MWC rival.
UW is 5-3 against a modest slate after only a handful of complete performances in 2022-23. Wyoming
suffered a 2-game losing skid after a tense win over Air Force and could have peaked again in last
weekend’s rousing host triumph over the Aggies. Wyoming’s QB Andrew Peasley went 10-of-21 against
NM Lobos—of all teams—earlier this fall. Worse still for Wyoming, the Warriors’ defense appears to be
coming to life against pedestrian rivals, holding San Diego State to under 100 rushing yards 2 weeks
ago. The Warrior’s defense could cause problems for the Cowboys on an emotional evening.
WagerBop’s Pick: Hawaii 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.