College Football Value Teams - Saturday Previews
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Believe it or not, we're pretty much at the midway point of this here-and-now 2018 College Football season and - in case you've missed it - there's been a slew of teams that have offered up great value along the way whether they be undersold as underdog sides or maybe the good folks in Las Vegas simply have not "believed" in some of these squads.
Here's some examples ...
ARMY - There's no doubt that everyone thinks of this Black Knights on the Hudson crew as a gritty triple-option attack but truth is Jeff Monken's club throws the ball a lot more than you realize and there's some real size / speed on this year's team. Note the 28-21 overtime loss at 29-point favorite Oklahoma back on Sept. 22nd! This weekend Army finds itself in the utterly rare situation of being double-digit road favorite (- 14.5) at San Jose State - no great value there - but the West Pointers are 3-1-1 ATS (against the spread) in 2018 and they could be a betting bargain in those down-the-road service academy games against Air Force and Navy.
COLORADO - Gotta admit that last week's game when the CU Buffaloes were merely a 1.5-point home favorite against Arizona State looked suspicious to us ... why wasn't Colorado more like a 4- or 4.5-point favorite? Ahh, Colorado proved it was underrated with that 28-21 win against the Sun Devils and we also believed Colorado should have been a bigger opening-day favorite against rival Colorado State (a 45-13 Colorado win/cover as 7-point betting favorite). This weekend the Vegas experts have installed USC as a full TD fav against Colorado ... another pro-Buffs value pick?
IOWA - Don't ask us why but for the last several seasons the Hawkeyes have finished right around the .500 mark spreadwise ... in fact this Big 10 team entered the 2018 campaign at 25-24-1 versus the vig including 6-6, 7-6, 6-6 and 6-6-1 ATS seasons from 2014 thru 2017. Call it pointspread mediocrity but one thing we noticed is that Kirk Ferentz's squad really blew a batch of games when in the chalk role: Not this year. Iowa's a perfect 4-oh spreadwise as favorites this season with covers against Northern Illinois, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Minnesota and gut feeling is the numbers-crunchers out there have yet to "catch up" with this Iowa team. Now, the 'Eyes are just a 5-point fav at Indiana this Saturday and they may well be undersold as home favorites down the line against Maryland, Northwestern and Nebraska. Stay tuned
UTAH STATE - Okay, so our pro-Utah State play over BYU last Friday night was a cruise job win, eh? The Aggies buried their in-state rivals 45-20 and hope you noticed that the price tag for that prime-time clash went from BYU minus 3 points to Utah State favored by a point-and-a-half. In other words, Utah State was severely under-valued for that TV bash and have been under-valued all throughout 2018 (see 5-0 ATS mark while heading into Saturday's Homecoming Game against 24.5-point pup UNLV). Maybe we all can catch Utah State getting road points at Hawaii and/or at Boise State later this season.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND REPORT
Just to remind y'all that last weekend we witnessed three different Top 10 teams go down to defeat - LSU, Auburn and Oklahoma all were stung by diccult losses - and so the "upset alert" is being sounded here with a batch of Top 10 teams
#2 GEORGIA (6-0, 4-0) at #13 LSU (5-1, 2-1) - 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Count us among the folks that are a tad surprised that the Georgia Dawgs are a 7.5-point betting favorite for this matinee clash in the Bayou ... Doesn't that seem a bit high? True, Georgia is averaging a haughty 42.8 points per game - and that includes 41, 43, 38 and 41 points scored in those four Southeastern Conference wins - and now there's two Georgia quarterbacks that are in starring roles with starter Jake Fromm (1,200 yards passing with 12 TDs and 2 INTs) and backup Justin Fields (3 rushing TDs and 2 passing scores in limited duty) getting snaps but LSU's gonna play this game with a nothing-to-lose attitude after last week's 27-19 loss at Florida. Just keep QB Joe Burrow in the upright position and we could see outright upset here in this high-profile SEC tilt.
PITTSBURGH (3-3) at #5 NOTRE DAME (6-0) - 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Sure, the ND Fighting Irish is a whopping three-TD betting favorites for this showdown in South Bend but fact of matter is Brian Kelly's crew can't afford to take its foot off the pedal and so there is some "pressure" on QB Ian Book (887 yards passing with 9 TDs and 1 INT) and speedy RB Dexter Williams (career-best 178 yards rushing last week against Virginia Tech) to pour on the points ... hey, Pitt RB Qadree Ollison has five TDs this year and could scoot for a monster game if Irish are asleep at the wheel. Note Notre Dame has failed to cover four of its last five games when in a twin-figure favorite role.
#7 WASHINGTON (5-1, 3-0) at #17 OREGON (4-1, 1-1) - 3:30p.m. ET, espn2
Take a second and consider that in the past two years the UW Huskies have slugged the Oregon Ducks by a combined score of 108-24 - think the kids from Eugene wouldn't like to knock Washington from the ranks of the Pac-12 undefeated right here? Hey, Oregon's a FG underdog for this bash but Mario Cristobal's gang will pull off the mild upset if - and only if - lean QB Justin Herbert (15 TDs, 5 INTs) steers clear of making the costly red-zone mistake here. Did you realize that Washington's failed to cover seven of its last 10 away games?
#10 UCF (5-0, 2-0) at MEMPHIS (4-2, 1-2) - 3:30 p.m. ET, espn2
The SU (straight-up) winning streak for the UCF Knights is up to 17 in a row - take note that Central Florida's 13-4 against the odds during this streak - but this is no rollover game considering Memphis sports double-revenge from a year ago including that wild 62-55 double-overtime triumph in last year's American Athletic Conference Championship Game. The UCF gang is averaging 575 yards a game - that's third-best in FBS play - and QB McKenzie Milton has thrown for 1,501 yards with 15 TDs and only 4 INTs. If the Tigers - a 4.5-point pup here - wish to keep the ball away from Milton, then RB Darrell Henderson (156 rushing yards per game) must motor his way to a big game. Spread goody: UCF is 13-6 ATS in conference games the past two-plus seasons.
#15 WISCONSIN (4-1, 2-0) at #12 MICHIGAN (5-1, 3-0) - 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Perhaps you've seen that the Michigan Wolverines have taken all the cash this week - the price tag's risen from -6.5 to - 9 points and gotta admit we didn't think the Wisky Badgers would be entering this Big 10 tilt as nearly double-digit favorites ... but Michigan's defense has awoken as the unit ranks first nationally in total "D" and RB Karan Higdon (averaging 5.8 yards a pop with 5 TDs) has emerged as a super-back. Spread Stat: Wisconsin is 1-4 against the juice so far this year.
#16 MIAMI (5-1, 2-0) at VIRGINIA (3-2, 1-1) - 7 p.m. ET, espn2
Here's an ACC affair that shouldn't get swept under the rug just 'cause "The U" is a solid road TD betting favorite: Miami is fresh off a major domo comeback win against archrival Florida State en route to a 28-27 non-cover triumph and so what's left in the old gas tank here? We will tell you that Virginia's covered six of the last nine games in this series.