College Football Betting: Six Teams That Should Be On Bettors’ Radar
The college football betting markets are constantly moving. Teams play games and oddsmakers and bettors react. Play well on the scoreboard or box score and you’re likely to receive a power rating bump. Lose is spectacularly bad fashion or get outgained against an FCS squad and you’re likely to be downgraded. In the end, a team can go from “bet on” to “bet against” and back to “bet on” over the course of a 12-game regular season. In today’s piece, I discuss six teams that have exceeded or fell well short of preseason expectations and as a result offer money making potential moving forward.
Syracuse (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) – If it weren’t for Hugh Freeze coaching from a hospital bed, the Orange would likely be winless against the spread. Off a 10-4 season and a top 25 preseason ranking, Syracuse was projected to be a top three or four ACC team. They’ve looked anything but through three games. They limped past Liberty, got destroyed by Maryland, and were totally outclassed vs. a Clemson team that they lost to by only four a season ago. Quarterback Tommy DeVito looks lost at times in large part because he’s working behind a suspect offensive line while attempting to run Dino Babers’ up-tempo system. Oh, and the defense was just torched for 600+ yards in back-to-back games. All of this led to Syracuse opening Week 4 as a -4.5 home favorite over the MAC’s Western Michigan. To start, Babers is an excellent coach and I think DeVito will eventually start to figure things out. If anything, he has a coach that still believes in him. And perhaps Babers’ confidence has something to do with Syracuse’s schedule the remainder of the season. Take a look at some of the defenses the Orange will face:
Western Michigan – Allowed 582 yards and 51 points to offensively inept Michigan State
Holy Cross – 185th in Sagarin’s Ratings
NC State – Allowed 40 points to offensively inept West Virginia
Florida State – 37 ppg allowed through three games
Boston College – Allowed a Lew Miles’ coached team to score at will
Wake Forest – 13th in the ACC in total defense in 2018
Louisville – 14th in the ACC in total defense in 2018
Syracuse got ambushed by Maryland and looked bad like virtually every team does or will vs. Clemson. The Orange may be down a tick but so is the ACC and they manage to duck both Miami and Virginia.
Florida State (1-2 SU, 0-2-1 ATS) – The marriage between Willie Taggart and Kendal Briles is one I’m not totally sold on working long term. Taggart’s job is potentially on the line and he hired an offensive coordinator that wants to run 85 plays per game thus exposing an already shaky defense. That said, last week was a step in the right direction as the Seminoles led a really good Virginia squad late in the fourth quarter on the road. I also like Taggart bringing in buddy Jim Leavitt to “consult” with the defense. Ultimately, whether or not Taggart can coexist with Briles will define the season. FSU has played three straight games in which the defense was totally gassed in the second half. Remember, the markets LOVED this team heading into the season. Now they see the Seminoles open -8.5 vs. Louisville and immediately bet it down to -6.5. That line is over two touchdowns in Week 1.
North Texas (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) – During the preseason, I gave out a recommendation on North Texas to with C-USA on the BettorIQ Podcast. The reason is I’m a big believer in head coach Seth Littrell and his quarterback, Mason Fine. Despite their 1-2 start, I haven’t downgraded the Mean Green yet it looks as if oddsmakers have. Last season, NT closed as a -25 road favorite at UTSA and finds itself -18.5 at home vs. the Roadrunners this weekend. I also think their 0-6 ATS slide to close the year has crept into this season as well. The Eagles ran into what looks to be a up-and-coming SMU squad in Week 2 and then outgained defensive-minded Cal 329-278 in a quietly impressive 23-17 road loss. C-USA is completely up for grabs this season and North Texas is as talented as any team in the league.
Wisconsin (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) – Back in May, the Golden Nugget’s Games of the Year had Michigan -5 at Wisconsin. Now we see the Badgers open -2.5 and bet up to -3.5. It’s hard not to be impressed with two shutout wins by a combined 110 points but USF and Central Michigan aren’t exactly heavyweights. The Badgers also draw the Big Ten East’s “big three” in Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State. And don’t forget back-to-back games vs. division rivals Iowa and Nebraska. I will admit, I’m not fading the Badgers just yet; in large part because I’m not trusting of Michigan. What I’m hoping for is another Wisconsin win — one that will undoubtedly vault the Badgers into the playoff discussion. Once that occurs, there will be multiple situations to bet against this squad.
Penn State (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) – I’ve watched the Nittany Lions closely the last two weeks and despite two victories, I came away unimpressed. Buffalo outplayed them in the first half; the same Bulls squad that got hammered at Liberty last week. And despite having a clown for a head coach, Pittsburgh played toe-to-toe with the Nittany Lions both on the scoreboard and in the box score as a +17.5 underdog. PSU’s offensive line which allowed 31 sacks a year ago, looks extremely suspect and so too does the pass defense which allowed two average quarterbacks to average over 7 yards per attempt (PSU ranked fifth last season with 5.7 ypa allowed). Next week’s trip to Maryland smells ripe for PSU’s first loss of the season.
UCF (3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS) – The Knights have been a point spread covering machine since 2016 (29-13 ATS) and have justifiably earned the title of “Class of the AAC.” Make no mistake, this is a good football team but I can’t help but notice how the betting markets continue to pound this team each and every week. Against Florida Atlantic, UCF opened -9 and closed -14. Last week against Stanford, opened -6 and closed -9.5. This week, opened -10 at Pitt and currently -12. That is some serious movement and eventually, the ceiling will be reached. The problem is unlike Wisconsin and Penn State, UCF doesn’t face many teams of comparable ability. And Josh Heupel looks comfortable letting everyone know that his team is deserving of playoff consideration. This is one team to perhaps have some patience with. Win at Pittsburgh this week and then name the score vs. UConn, and October 4th’s trip to Cincinnati sets up for a prime bet against situation.