College Football Week 3 Early Line Moves
Bettors are still feeling out a majority of the college football landscape. Reactionary moves aren’t as prevalent as they were heading into Week 2 but there are still those searching for and betting into perceived market inefficiencies. Below we’ll discuss Week 3’s early line moves and how to approach each game from a betting perspective.
UCF at North Carolina
CRIS Opener: UCF -11
CRIS Current: UCF -14.5
Comment: Make no mistake, UCF could have covered the -52 vs. FCS South Carolina State last week but took its foot off the gas in the fourth quarter. Yes, Larry Fedora has been up against it the last two years with graduation, injuries, and suspensions. But being outclassed by East Carolina (41-19) put him that much closer to being the first coach of the season to be fired. The score was somewhat deceiving – ECU led 21-19 at the break. But UNC failing to score a single point in the second half suggests Fedora may have lost his team. This is nothing more bettors like than piling on an already toxic situation. And while the line continues to climb, UCF certainly fits the profile of a team capable of beating a downtrodden team by margin. I don’t see a reason to buy back on UNC unless the market really goes crazy.
Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh
CRIS Opener: Pittsburgh pk
CRIS Current: Georgia Tech -3.5
Comment: Despite giving up two kickoff return touchdowns, Georgia Tech led USF 38-28 early in the fourth quarter. The Yellow Jackets coughed it up three times however; now six giveaways on the season after only 15 in 2017. Another box score that was somewhat deceiving as Tech outgained USF 602-426. The margin would have been far closer had it not been for USF’s aforementioned special teams’ scores. Tech was also hit with 8 penalties for 80 yards after being the fourth-least penalized team in the country a season ago. In the end, it was a wild game with nine lead changes and 1,124 yards of offense. Pitt meanwhile was hammered by Penn State, 51-6. The Panthers ran for 245 yards but were limited to 55 yards through the air thanks to some dicey weather. Bettors though concerned that Appalachian State rolled up 451 yards and 38 points on a young Nittany Lions’ defense and Pitt managed just six points.
West Virginia at NC State
CRIS Opener: West Virginia -1
CRIS Current: West Virginia -3.5
Comment: The Mountaineers and particularly quarterback Will Grier (9 TDs, 1 INT, 12.7 ypa) have looked the part with blowout wins over Tennessee and Youngstown State. NC State hasn’t done anything specifically wrong with a wins over FCS powerhouse James Madison and Georgia State. But the betting markets may be a bit leery of the Wolfpack who popped for nine wins a season ago but lost seven players to the NFL Draft including three along the defensive front line. That’s a huge hit for a program of NC State’s caliber and could really come into play against a top-tier quarterback and offense. If you like West Virginia, wait as -3 or possibly -2.5 should pop up at some point during the week.
North Texas at Arkansas
CRIS Current: Arkansas -7.5
Comment:First-year coaches struggling early on are nothing new. Especially those overhauling the previous regime’s offensive and defensive systems. Arkansas got a cupcake win in Week 1 over FCS Eastern Illinois thanks to a +5 turnover margin. But in hindsight last week wasn’t an easy spot with having to travel to elevation to face a Colorado State squad that had been embarrassed its first two games. The Razorbacks opened -11.5 and closed as high as -14 and led 27-9 in the third quarter before melting down in a 34-27 loss. The story here though is the point spread adjustment. To start the year, there wasn’t much difference between Colorado State and North Texas from a power rating perspective. CSU obviously looked bad vs. Hawaii and Colorado but North Texas’ wins over SMU and Incarnate Word weren’t earth shattering. If you buy into what you saw out of Arkansas the first six and half quarters of the season, this price may be cheap – and it looks as if it could be headed to -7.
Eastern Michigan at Buffalo
CRIS Opener: Buffalo -3
CRIS Current: Buffalo -5
Comment: Noted for its inability to win close games (6 losses by one score in 2017), EMU finally pulled one out with a big triumph against Purdue. The Boilermakers “won” the box score but played ultra-sloppy in the rain-soaked upset loss. This was a very formulaic line move; big underdog posts power 5 road win and must go back on the road the following week. Buffalo snagged its own upset win with an outright win at Temple catching +4. Still, the early money is predicated on a potential EMU letdown.