The college football betting gods have not been kind to me thus far. Following a 1-2 record last Saturday, I am now 11-15 against the spread on the season.
So, as a public service agreement, I will continue to post my picks for those to fade. Hey, you’re welcome!
205 UCLA Bruins at 206 Cal Golden Bears, 6:00 p.m. CT
Before looking at the spreads each week, I like to guess what the lines will be for the top matchups. Then I’ll look at the real lines and if I’m off, I’ll do more investigating. When I got to this matchup, I had Cal anywhere between -10 and -14. When I saw the Golden Bears were only laying a touchdown I was shocked.
Sure, the Bruins put up a good fight against Washington last week, covering as a double-digit dog. And sure, at some point, Chip Kelly’s program is going to be undervalued at the betting window because of their youth (the assumption is they’ll get better each week). But the Huskies were in a classic look-ahead spot with a trip to Eugene coming up the following week so I’m not going to overreact to UCLA’s performance last week.
The Bears, meanwhile, have lost back-to-back Pac-12 games to start the season, which is probably why this line is so low. Cal turned the ball over nine times in those conference defeats, but out-gained Arizona by more than 200 yards last Saturday night. If the Bears merely protect the football tonight, their talent will eventually take over. UCLA is starting freshman galore on both sides of the ball and seeing as how this is a revenge spot for Cal (the Bears lost 30-27 at UCLA last season), I know I’m going to get the home team’s best effort tonight.
Prediction: California -7
175 West Virginia Mountaineers at 176 Iowa State Cyclones, 6:00 p.m. CT
Iowa State is a trendy underdog this week because it upset Oklahoma State as a 10-point dog last week in Stillwater, while West Virginia played a sloppy game in a win over Kansas (the Mountaineers failed to cover). At first, I saw some value in WVU with some calling for an outright ISU win tonight (I tend to be a contrarian and fade the betting public). But after studying the matchup more, I can see why plenty of bettors are siding with the Cyclones.
Freshman third-string quarterback Brock Purdy ignited ISU a week ago in Stillwater when he stepped in seamlessly following another injury under center for the Cyclones. Defensively, ISU is allowing just 3.1 yards per rush and 7.6 yards per pass. If Matt Campbell has a formidable offense now, there’s no reason to think they can’t win at home tonight.
Meanwhile, Will Grier threw three interceptions a week ago in that win over the Jayhawks and WVU now has a negative turnover margin on the year at -0.5. If Purdy plays well again, ISU’s defense remains stout, and the Cyclones force a turnover or two, I love the home dog here.
Prediction: Iowa State +5
167 Ole Miss Rebels at 168 Arkansas Razorbacks, 6:30 p.m. CT
This is probably why I’m 11-15 on the season, right? Because I back teams that are 1-5 with losses at Colorado State and at home to North Texas?
The Hogs lost to Texas A&M by only seven as a 20-point road dog two weeks ago and scored 31 points against Alabama last Saturday at home. In fact, had the Razorbacks not fumbled once at the goal line and once at midfield, then the score would have been even closer than Alabama’s 34-point victory.
Arkansas is 10-4 straight up and 11-3 against the spread versus Ole Miss in this series. The Hogs are also 6-1 against the number in their last seven games versus the Rebels at home and are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games as a dog versus Ole Miss.
Speaking of the Rebels, they’re just 7-23-1 against the spread in their last 31 games as a road favorite, which includes a 3-17-1 ATS mark in games in which they’re allowing more than 13 points per game. The Rebels have a horrendous defense, allowing 35.5 points per game, which ranks 107th nationally. I know Arkansas sucks but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value here on the home dog.
Prediction: Arkansas +6.5
155 Colorado Buffaloes at 156 USC Trojans, 9:30 p.m. CT
At some point the bubble will burst for the Buffs and hey, maybe it’ll be tonight in a place they haven’t had much success winning. That said, I took them a week ago as a small favorite versus Arizona State and two weeks ago played them on a Friday night against UCLA as a 9-point favorite. They won and covered both contests.
I just feel like the Buffs have been undervalued this season because nobody believes they’re as good as their 5-0 record. That might be true, but I’ll still take a full touchdown against a USC team that starts a freshman quarterback and hasn’t been dominant this season.
I’ve heard plenty of pundits say, “Just stop Laviska Shenault Jr. and you’ll shut down Colorado.” Sweet. Nobody has shut down Shenault yet, so I’ll take the risk and grab the 7.
Prediction: Colorado +7