I am not in a great mood.
I am not in a great mood, because Auburn caught the most irritating backdoor cover against my Lock of the Week, Oregon, who all but laid down and died at the feet of the Tigers. USC was on pace to cover against Fresno State, until starting QB JT Daniels went down with injury. Notre Dame beat Louisville by 17 on an 18 point spread; Vanderbilt fumbled in their own territory to give up a late field goal and lose the cover.
I went 1-4 last week, and as most handicappers will tell you, it hurts worse when every single cover is within reach until the clock hits triple zeroes. What I would have done to be blown out on just one of those, so I could stop thinking about it.
Either way, my underdog ML bet cashed on SMU, so we're only down -1.7 units after Week 1. Easily salvageable with a few more lucky bounces in Week 2.
Year to date: 1-4
Money: -1.7 units
Lock of the Week
Ohio State (-16) v. Cincinnati (Saturday, 12:00 PM EST)
Well, I mean, this is just silly.
Ohio State -- the Ohio State University -- catching about two touchdowns against a Group of 5 team? I'm hammering this line. There are several reasons why:
Firstly, the Ohio State rushing attack under Ryan Day is back to what we saw from pre-Dwayne Haskins Buckeyes. With QB Justin Fields installed as a true dual threat and RB J.K. Dobbins as one of the top draftable RBs in the country, the sheer athleticism of the Ohio State backfield will test the Bearcat defense in space.
"But the Cincinnati defense held up Chip Kelly's spread attack at UCLA!"
Yeah, but Ohio State has 1) a QB who can throw it and 2) a receiver corps UCLA wouldn't even know what to do with. Cincinnati doesn't have the secondary players to load the box against the Buckeyes, which means they'll have to make concessions somewhere.
"So what? Cincinnati's offense can keep pace! Desmond Ridder and Michael Warren III and Josiah Deguara are all NFL-caliber players!"
Maybe they are, but the Ohio State defense returns nine starters and had a highly effective run defense last year (9th in Front 7 Havoc, 6th in Adjusted Line Yards) -- and the running game is what powers the motor of the Cinci offense (60th in rushing S&P+, 92nd in passing S&P+ in 2018). Ridder needs to keep pace with Fields and the Buckeye attack with his arm, and I'm not sure he has that kinda talent.
At the end of the day, the disparity in talent (5th in 4-year recruiting average, as compared to a nice 69th) spells a dominant win for an Ohio State team that looks different, at least schematically, from the team that struggled to cover heavy favorite margins last year -- and lest we forget, their 4-6 record as a favorite included a 2-0-1 run by Ryan Day as the interim head coach. This Ohio State team planted Florida Atlantic in the first quarter and cruised over their grave for a meaningless failure to cover; they'll wash Cincinnati clean as well.
Texas A&M (+17) v. Clemson (Saturday, 3:30 PM EST)
I'm in on Texas A&M covering, and I may throw a tiny figure on the spread just to have something to root for during the game -- but I'm not willing to bet this strongly against Clemson at this juncture. This is still the preseason top seed in most polls, the National Champion, in a huge home game after Texas A&M nearly embarrassed them in College Station. Trevor Lawrence looked a tad shaky against Georgia Tech -- I don't think he got suddenly worse, folks. I think he's just knocking the rust off.
BYU (+160) v. Tennessee (Saturday, 7:00 PM EST)
Right, so BYU lost bad to Utah -- but when you get closer into that game, the story is bad turnovers and short fields that poured points onto the Utes late. This was a 9-6 football game at the half, while Tennessee just got absolutely pantsed by Georgia State -- at home! I don't expect a strong home showing for the Volunteers, while Zach Wilson and the experienced Cougars should be able to control game flow and keep the Volunteers offense on the sideline and on long fields. Good value here for a Cougars team with a ton of under-appreciated talent.
Five For The Road
Texas (+6.5) v. LSU (Saturday, 7:30 PM EST)
I like LSU, and my gut tells me they cover a 6.5 spread -- they have the talent to. But my head reminds me of the Tom Herman Underdog. Herman, one of the strongest trends as a head coach ATS in college football, is a shocking 13-2 ATS as a dog. This line has widened from +4.5 to +6.5, so hold out and see if you can get a touchdown spread. That said, I'll never fault you for taking a very legit LSU team here. It's a heart v. head spot, and I've gotta stick with the head here.
Miami (-5) @ UNC (Saturday, 7:30 PM EST)
Okay, so the opening game for Mack Brown's UNC was fun, but I'd be shocked to see them come out the tunnel with the same gas as they did for South Carolina. Meanwhile, Manny Diaz's Hurricanes had a strong opening showing against Florida, punching for four quarters and riding the ups and downs of a young roster. Yeah, Miami can't pass protect -- but UNC lost most of its starters along the defensive line from 2018, and QB Jarren Williams' got great escapability. Miami's more talented at basically every position -- this spread is pitiful.
Tulane (+17.5) @ Auburn (Saturday, 7:30 PM EST)
Huge sharp action on a great Tulane team going against an Auburn team that's lying to you -- they got outplayed by Oregon for 3 quarters and absolutely stole a backdoor cover. Tulane and the Willie Fritz and Will Hall's option offense absolutely blew the doors off of FIU in Week 1, with multiple high recruiting transfers in ex-Oklahoma State Cowboy WR Jalen McClesky and ex-LSU Tiger QB Justin McMillan. This is a huge letdown spot for Auburn after a critical Week 1 game, with a shaky freshman quarterback against a good pass rush from the Green Wave. Grab this before it drops to 17.
Oregon (-24) v. Nevada (Saturday, 7:30 PM EST)
Holy overreaction, Batman! We have one of the most experienced and powerful offenses in football in Oregon going against a Nevada team that upset Purdue on turnovers -- the differential was +5 in favor of the Wolfpack! Justin Herbert and the Ducks were +0.5 turnovers/game last season, and will be looking to right the ship after a crushing loss to Auburn (see above) last week. Nevada's good, but Oregon's one of the best teams int he country. This should be an absolute blowout.
Cal (+14) @ Washington (Saturday, 10:00 PM EST)
Last season, Cal was an away dog three times: against BYU, Washington State, and USC. They covered all three times, and won outright twice. Now, none of those lines were as large as this one is against Washington, but again, Wilcox is 11-5 as a dog over the two seasons he's coached the Golden Bears. His defense has never been stronger than it is this year, and while Washington QB Jacob Eason sure looked good against Eastern Washington, he has never been a quick processor, and Cal will capitalize with turnovers. This will be low-scoring, ugly, and within the spread.