Welcome back to our weekly look at college football’s lines. Here, we take one of the most volatile sports in one of the most volatile years and pretend to be able to predict it. It’s kinda fun.
Last week, we went 2-3-1 on the listed bets, though if you follow me on Twitter, you know we pivoted off the Alabama-Ole Miss under once the weather cleared up. Both teams show up in our favored bets for this week.
Here are three lines I like when looking at an uncomfortable Week 7 slate. I’ll be around on Twitter if there are any other games you’re looking at. Odds are supplied by our friends over at BetOnline.
UNC @ Florida State: UNC -13.5
This line has been carried all the way up for -9.5, so congratulations if you got in on it earlier; shallower than two touchdowns still has a good amount of value.
While the UNC offense has been weirdly streaky and its defense has plenty of holes against the quarterback run game, it is impossible to argue with its offensive firepower facing an absolutely horrible defense in Florida State. The Seminoles can’t stop anyone, let alone Javonte Williams and Michael Carter, who comprise the best running back duo in all of college football.
Florida State just allowed eight yards per rush against a quality Notre Dame rushing attack and is now up to 5.5 yards allowed on an average rushing attempt across the season. Quarterback Jordan Travis has helped galvanize the Seminole offense, but with Tamorrion Terry just off of knee surgery, he’s lacking for the passing game weapons necessary to hang with the top-five ranked Tar Heels. Head coach Mack Brown’s team should cover here comfortably.
Alabama @ Georgia: Over 56.5
Since the news broke that Alabama head coach Nick Saban had contracted COVID-19 and will be unable to coach for Saturday’s premier game, I’ve been looking for an angle on the spread, which has swung two points in Georgia’s favor after opening with Alabama as -6.5 favorites. I still don’t feel confident enough anywhere on this game’s outcome to bet that, though I’d lean Georgia winning outright as the most profitable bet you can make there.
As it is, however, I took over on the 56 point total when it opened and will stay on that bet happily. If Saban’s absence does anything, it affects the defense for Alabama negatively, and Alabama’s defense has already been struggling mightily. Georgia doesn’t have the QB run game that Ole Miss did to really shred the Crimson Tide, but it does have enough size and talent at running back to stay ahead of the sticks on an inexperienced Alabama front, and Stetson Bennett has been an adept middle of the field passer so far this year—that’s where the Alabama pass coverage seems weak this season.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s run defense is stifling, but Alabama has had tons of success on explosive plays with its stable of playmakers at wide receiver in DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and John Metchie. Mac Jones has the requisite accuracy to hit the Alabama WRs in their one-on-ones against Tyson Campbell, DJ Daniel, Eric Stokes, and the rest of that NFL-riddled secondary. I think this total is low because of the history of the game and the lack of true star talent at QB, but the playmakers are too good for me to ignore a total this low.
Ole Miss @ Arkansas: Ole Miss -1.5
I’ve been as pleased as anyone with Arkansas’ sudden competency under head coach Sam Pittman, and a lot of credit goes to defensive coordinator Barry Odom, who has taken a unit with little NFL talent and contrived some good defenses against Mississippi State and Auburn. Unfortunately, he meets Lane Kiffin and the supersonic lawn mower that is the Ole Miss offensive attack—for this, there is no answer.
Ole Miss simply has way too much firepower for the Arkansas defense to handle. Even though the Hogs’ offense has been comfortably mistake-free with Florida transfer Feleipe Franks at the helm, it only takes a couple of field goals or a penalty-riddled drive to fall behind the Rebels pace and need to fall on the pass to climb out of the hole; that’s how they’ve survived so far, of course, but it makes the game longer and gives Kiffin more possessions. Their rushing attack won’t be enough to keep Matt Corral on the sideline.
After a dominant win against Mississippi State and an emotional loss against Auburn, Arkansas is due for a bit of a letdown spot. I think I’d trust Kiffin to cover any spread less than a touchdown against inferior offenses.