Don’t be fooled by our Thursday college football prediction this week, or Saturday’s pick on Notre Dame and Georgia Tech for that matter. WagerBop is too experienced at rolling strikes against Las Vegas to start throwing gutter-balls to the left after throwing gutter-balls to the right. Wide point-spread underdogs are falling like dropped cupcakes, and not all of the thrash-victims represent the usual suspects who aren’t likely to cover (+20) ATS.
Give Sin City’s handicappers credit for seeing FBS blow-outs in the making when others forecast close games. Ohio State made Purdue’s defensive performance of 10-weeks-hence look like a fluke on route to covering a 3-TD point spread. Even the Kentucky Wildcats, a slumping team that badly needed a careful win over Vanderbilt, chose to open up on offense last Saturday and saddle Vandy with another big deficit, eventually covering by 1/2 a tally.
How are so many likely upset-bids laying eggs in a season in which Samford can score 42 points on Florida…in the opening half?
It’s time to expand on a Bill Parcells maxim – that every year is a new deal. Despite the presence of 6-year veterans in this year’s FBS ranks, consistency from any school on the gridiron is just too much to ask for. It’s time to treat every week, every game, and every quarter of college pigskin as its own animal.
You won’t find me doing a lot of live-betting on the FBS on Rivalry Weekend. Not that WagerBop isn’t holding firm with a winning prediction record in 2021, but it’s getting hard enough to call accurate shots well in advance.
Thurs. 11/18: Louisville Cardinals at Duke Blue Devils
Week 11 saw several of college football’s notable 20-point favorites win their games. Will the Louisville Cardinals (-20.5) follow suit and demolish the Duke Blue Devils on Thursday night?
Duke’s problems are leaning on Thursday’s wide point spread more than Louisville’s success. The visitors are 5-5 and have won only once in 3 tries away from Cardinal Stadium.
Louisville can, however, boast of 5 solid performances in its last 6 games, including hard-fought upset bids at Wake Forest and North Carolina State, last weekend’s 41-3 pasting of visiting Syracuse, and a 6-point loss to Clemson.
The Blue Devils haven’t shown any spark at home since a 3-game winning streak in September. Since then, the program looks like a dead duck that’s about to overhaul its coaching staff. Duke has lost 4 straight lopsided games and is more likely to hang with Miami on Senior Night than compete with Louisville.
Recommended bet: Louisville (-20.5)
Fri. 11/19: Memphis Tigers at Houston Cougars
Houston has quietly put together an impressive win streak since losing to Texas Tech in a September opener. Rice, Grambling State, and Connecticut don’t combine to form the most difficult out-of-conference schedule in AAC history, but the Cougars have proven themselves against a tough conference too, averaging 42 points in victories over Tulsa, Tulane, and SMU. Friday’s opponent Memphis hasn’t played away from home for a while, but the Tigers did not travel well in October. QB Peter Parrish passed for 3 picks to nix the Tigers’ chances in Week 8 during a 24-7 UCF win.
17th ranked Houston has a (-8.5) point spread that is cautious on the part of bookmakers, who should consider that UH has destroyed comparable teams by double-digits. 2 of Houston’s losses ATS come from a typically tight outcome vs Navy and the team’s frigid-in-summer opener.
Recommended bet: Houston (-8.5)
Sat. 11/20: Michigan State Spartans at Ohio State Buckeyes
Similar to how a Heavyweight boxing clash can wear down both fighters, the Michigan-Michigan State war of 2021 appears to have slowed down the victor every bit as much as the vanquished. Michigan’s offense may be down to a bare-bones depth chart, but the Wolverines are holding serve with Ws while MSU falters.
The Spartans lost to Purdue in Week 10 before meeting a Maryland team in freefall and coasting 40-21. Bookmakers aren’t giving MSU (+19.5) much of a chance at Ohio State on Saturday, as the Buckeyes have now surpassed MSU in the AP poll and are just coming off a blow-out of Purdue.
Regardless, a spread of 3 TDs overshoots the mark for a battle of Top 10 rivals. Michigan State’s loss to Purdue can be partly attributed to a Michigan-game hangover. C.J. Stroud’s success with the Buckeyes must be weighed against OSU’s fortunate fall schedule, which gets much harder from here on out.
The Ohio State passing game is operating at an elite level thanks to Stroud, but he’s still not a dual-threat QB. Facing tougher teams in back-to-back crucial games, the #5 Buckeyes could potentially regress to the type of offense Ohio State played in September, when OSU averaged just 10 points in the opening half of games vs Minnesota, Oregon, and Tulsa. Michigan State is the better pick ATS on Saturday and an excellent money-line gamble at 6-to-1 odds.
Recommended bet: Michigan State (+570) or (+19.5)
Sat. 11/20: Iowa State Hawkeyes at Oklahoma Sooners
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Army takes to the gridiron bright and early and blows-out a weak team like UMass, even though the Black Knights have barely out-scored the MAC in 2 games. Oklahoma’s thin spread is more puzzling, since the Sooners lead the Big 12 despite having lost to Baylor last weekend, and Iowa State is 6-4 and coming off a loss of its own. OU has held opponents to under 130 rush yards per game, has suffered no catastrophic injury problems at key positions, and is leading the conference in offense.
When there is a QB controversy, it can feel like there are no worthwhile quarterbacks on the roster. Hype surrounded the phasing-in of talented frosh QB Caleb Williams, but OU’s signal-caller was nicked up and frustrated in a loss against Baylor.
The Iowa State defense could give a young QB plenty of problems, except ISU hasn’t been stopping opponents when playing away from Ames. Cyclone defense has been porous against the run in recent road losses at West Virginia and Texas Tech, handing Oklahoma a simple game plan to help get Williams back in his groove.
Recommended bet: Oklahoma (-3.5)
Sat. 11/20: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
When Georgia Tech nixed the Flexbone offense upon Paul Johnson’s departure, they chose to become the “Vanderbilt” of the ACC. Saddled with 3-star recruits in the starting 22, the Ramblin’ Wreck has no chance to ascend in the Power-5 by utilizing the same style as most other FBS teams, illustrated by this year’s active 4-game losing streak and 3-7 record.
GT’s success ATS in the post-CPJ era has often come against teams like Notre Dame (-17.5), as Georgia Tech’s coaches prepare exotic tricks to help the Yellow Jackets stay close on the scoreboard. But the timing of the UND contest is bad for Georgia Tech, which blew a chance to beat Boston College in Week 11 and has an emotional Senior Day bout against rival Georgia looming.
Recommended bet: Notre Dame (-17.5)
Sat. 11/20: California Golden Bears at Stanford Cardinal
John Elway may still be angry about the Big Play, that still-viral clip from the 1980s in which the QB’s Stanford Cardinal was beaten by California in the Big Game thanks to 6 opposing laterals and Stanford’s own careless marching band. Stanford, unfortunately, can’t ask Elway for help with its offense, as he has his own problems with the Denver Broncos. Bookmakers are giving the sagging Cardinal a decent shot to prevail in this year’s Big Game anyway, marking Stanford just a (+1.5) pick against the spread.
The Golden Bear defense is an impressive unit. Cal held Colorado and Arizona to 13 combined points in 2 of its last 3 games, and even held Oregon under 25 points. California’s thin line ATS is as prompted by an 0-4 road record as the fierce rivalry match-up, but the Big Game could have a neutral-site vibe in 2021 without a Stanford crowd to make noise.
Even if Mr. Elway doesn’t approve…pick the Bears in prime-time on Saturday.
Recommended bet: California (-1.5)
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.