Andrew Lange’s Bet On and Bet Against College Football Teams
My preparation for the college football season is in full swing as I put together a list of teams I feel can offer money making opportunities. Below is a list of five teams I’ve classified as “bet on” and “bet against.”
2018 Record: 2-10 SU. 5-6-1 ATS
2019 Win Total: 5.5un-135
Week 1: NL vs. Portland State
I remember betting on Arkansas in Week 3 of last season against North Texas as -5.5 chalk. A loss is a loss but when you lose 44-17 as chalk it tends to stick. Oddly, it forced me to follow the Razorbacks a lot closer than most teams. I knew coming in it was a rebuild with Chad Morris running a totally different scheme than Bret Bielema. And it’s the worst conference in the country to be starting from scratch. But there were signs: 24-17 loss to LSU, 37-33 loss to Ole Miss, 400 yards of offense vs. Alabama, and a 24-17 loss to Texas A&M. Not bad for a team with a -10 turnover margin in SEC play, no quarterback, and no offensive line.
Make no mistake, 2019 is still a rebuild. A bowl game would be a massive accomplishment. But Morris, with zero to work with, went 4-4 ATS vs. the SEC. This year, he’s got two quarterbacks, Ben Hicks from SMU and Nick Starkel from Texas A&M, that are upgrades.
This isn’t the type of situation where big gains are going to occur — the SEC is just too tough. But that’s exactly what you want — a team that is improved, which Arkansas will be, but still viewed as a conference bottom feeder, which unless they spring a massive upset or two, again, they still will be.
Tulane Green Wave
2018: 7-6 SU, 6-7 ATS
2019 Win Total: 5.5ov-165
Week 1: -3 vs. FIU
Willie Fritz can obviously coach. Here’s what he did his first three seasons in New Orleans.
2016: -1.07 ypp vs. AAC
2017: -0.96 ypp vs. AAC
2018: +0.42 ypp vs. AAC
Last year, he led Tulane to a bowl which was huge for the program. Defensively, they were very sound last season and expect the be the same this year. The big question is offense. They had two quarterbacks last year that combined for 50% passing. Late last season, they made a switch at OC and brought in Will Hall who was from UL-Lafayette and Memphis. Hall didn’t have much a hand in last year’s bowl game but he’s a tempo guy and I don’t think it was a coincidence that he showed up and Tulane proceeded to score 41 and run a season-high 86 plays. This isn’t going to be a situation where they just run tempo to run tempo — Fritz is still a run-first, grind-it-out type of coach. But I love the fact that here’s a team on the rise and Fritz still went out and made an obvious upgrade. I’ve heard rumblings about Tulane being a “bet on” team but they are still the 9th or 10th team you think about in the AAC. And the league is loaded this season. Outside of UConn and maybe Navy, everyone is either established or on the upswing.
Utah State Aggies
2018 Record: 11-2 SU, 10-3 ATS
2019 Win Total: 6.5ov-140
Week 1: +3.5 at Wake Forest
The minute I heard Matt Wells was leaving for Texas Tech and taking his staff with him, I thought that Utah State would be a good fade next season. The minute I heard they hired Gary Andersen, I though the Utah State would be a really good fade next season. And the minute I heard Andersen hired Mike Sanford, who torpedoed the Western Kentucky program, as offensive coordinator, I was pretty much all in on the fade.
For starters, a lot went right for Utah State. Wells was sorta in purgatory coming off of 6-7, 3-9, and 6-7 seasons. He brought in offensive coordinator David Yost in 2017 and by 2018, his system was in place. He had a talented quarterback in Jordan Love who came in with Yost and thrived. They were +14 in turnovers. And they played in a Mountain West Conference where virtually every team outside of Fresno State and maybe Nevada failed to meet expectations.
This year, with a new staff and a brutal uptick in strength of schedule, I’m seeing major regression. I’m trying to not to let Andersen’s questionable career moves skew my outlook. But he had one big season out of four his first stint at Utah State. He inherited two really good Wisconsin teams and bailed. And Oregon State is still cleaning up his mess. Love is really good and he’ll cover a few games on his own and compared to the rest of the league, USU could still win 6 or 7 games. But I’m in agreement with the market who took Week 1’s game from +2.5 to +3.5 at Wake Forest.
Similar to Utah State, Washington State had a lot of things break right in 2018. The Cougs’ +8 turnover margin may not seem all that outlier-ish but given their style of play, it’ll be very hard to duplicate. And the PAC-12 was another league that top to bottom was way down. Statistically, Washington State won 11 games, the most in the PAC-12, and went 7-2 in league play and was only +0.38 ypp vs. the league. To compare, Washington went 10-4, 8-2 (they won the PAC-12 Championship) and were over a ypp better.
Here’s a team that wasn’t on anyone’s radar last year. There was a new quarterback, tons of roster turnover, and despite all that, they popped for one of the best seasons in school history. I believe in Mike Leach’s mad scientist ways as much as the next bettor, but laying -33 vs. New Mexico State in Week 1 tells me this team is being priced as if there will be no drop off.
2018 Record: 4-8 SU, 6-5-1 ATS
2019 Win Total: 8.5ov-120
Week 1: -34 vs. South Alabama
Is there a more obvious “bet on” team in the country? Everyone knows and loves Scott Frost. There’s guys out there who paid off there student loans from his point spread covering days at UCF. Last year, things start off worse than expected, but Brasky rallied, closed the season strong, and now everyone is pointing towards this season being the program’s coming out party. The problem I have is not improvement — they’ll be fine. They showed it last year when they went toe-to-toe with Ohio State and Iowa. But here we have a team with monster expectations that could be favored in as many as 11 games!
5Dimes’ Look-ahead Lines
-9.5 at Colorado
-5.5 vs. Northwestern
-2 at Minnesota
– 2.5 at Purdue
-3.5 vs. Wisconsin
-4.5 vs. Iowa
Favored to win the Big Ten West
And if the Cornhuskers come out of the gates strong, which they should (possible 4-0), what’s that line going to be vs. Ohio State? The look-ahead is currently +6.5 but given the hype, oddsmakers won’t be shy about bumping this team up quickly.
A couple of close late season losses and a high profile coach doesn’t mean everything is going to be smooth sailing. If they had a prop on whether or not Nebraska finishes the season with a winning point spread record I’d gladly bet the “no.”