Bettors don’t seem to think too much about situational spots in college football. There was a big one on Thursday night, as Marshall had to shake off a brutal loss to East Carolina to play on a short week against Appalachian State. The Thundering Herd covered, albeit barely, and needed a special teams TD to do so.
College kids are resilient and maybe have more bounce back ability than the professionals in some respects, but there are a lot of situations that pop up in college football that can make the task at hand that much more difficult. The college game seems to be played with more emotion than the NFL game as well, which increases the likelihood of letdown spots or sandwich spots.
As you are finishing up your final thoughts on the Friday and Saturday games, here are a few situational spots to think about.
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No. 22 Fresno State Bulldogs (-30, 59) vs. UNLV Rebels
Sunday and Monday had to be tough days at the Fresno State complex. Whether that meant practice or film study, the dramatic win over UCLA had a long-lasting effect in terms of the preparation for an inferior opponent (to put it nicely) in the UNLV Rebels. Not to mention, Jake Haener was quite banged-up off of his heroic performance against the Bruins.
UNLV is awful, but are the Bulldogs motivated, engaged and prepared enough to cover -30?
I have a best bet on the total for the game that subscribers can check out here. Is UNLV one of those “hold your nose” bets you have to consider? I would say so, especially if this line increases with public bets riding Fresno after last week’s thriller.
San Jose State Spartans (+ 2.5, 62.5) vs. Western Michigan
San Jose State is in a real brutal spot this week traveling east to Kalamazoo to take on the Western Michigan Broncos. The Spartans just played out in Hawaii last weekend and came away with a 17-13 win in their Mountain West Conference opener.
Now SJSU goes back into non-conference play and takes another long flight to do so.
On the other hand, WMU will be without head coach Tim Lester, who tested positive for COVID. The Broncos also got one of their biggest wins in the Lester era with a 44-41 win at Pitt.
This isn’t a game on the radars of most bettors, but if you are betting this game or looking for opportunities on the card, this is important information. It’s hard to say which situation is worse, but I’d have to look closer at the Western Michigan side with the travel factors.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (+ 12.5, 63) vs. No. 21 North Carolina Tar Heels
It seems painfully clear that Clemson is not the same team that we saw last season. The offense has really struggled with DJ Uiagalelei at the helm. However, the Tigers are still a top-10 team and the class of the ACC until proven otherwise.
Georgia Tech may very well have been two yards away from knocking off the Tigers in Greenville last week. The Yellow Jackets had 1st-and-Goal at the Clemson three-yard-line in the final 30 seconds of the game and got stuffed. It would have been a seminal moment in the tenure of Geoff Collins, who is 7-18 in three seasons.
Now the Yellow Jackets, with 29 points in two games against FBS foes, will be forced to keep up with North Carolina’s high-powered offense. If there was any kind of residual hangover from the Clemson loss, it could be a tough Saturday for the Jackets. My guess is that will be the case and UNC will run roughshod over the Jackets.
No. 15 BYU Cougars (-23.5, 53.5) vs. USF Bulls
This is the best example of a situational spot in Week 4. BYU is ranked in the top 15 and has a big spread this week against a bad USF team. Will the Cougars be motivated to blow out South Florida?
BYU has beaten three straight Pac-12 opponents with wins over Arizona, Utah and Arizona State. There were some questions about BYU last week after winning The Holy War for the first time in nine games. Overcoming a spot like that may mean a letdown in the following game. That would be this one.
Situational spot bettors have to be keyed in on this game. It is only one data point, but it will be one of those games that either goes into the column that confirms or disproves the value of a perceived bad spot.
Oh, and one last thing... BYU plays Utah State next week in another in-state rivalry game and the Aggies look awfully good this season.
Teams that overcome these brutal spots get a bump in my power ratings because I respect how hard it is to be focused under those conditions. If BYU looks the part of a big favorite here, I will be very impressed. Others may downplay it because USF is terrible, but the context of this game means something to me.
It would be USF or nothing.
No. 11 Florida Gators (-19, 63.5) vs. Tennessee Volunteers
One final game on the situational spot radar this week is Florida vs. Tennessee. The Gators put everything into last week’s 31-29 loss to Alabama. They roared back from a 21-3 deficit to really make a game of it and came up short on a game-tying two-point conversion attempt with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
What did Tennessee do last week? The Volunteers had a quasi bye week with a blowout win over FCS Tennessee Tech. UT was able to prepare for UF. The Vols were able to work out some offensive kinks with a first-year head coach in Josh Heupel by scoring 56 points against the undermanned Golden Eagles.
Does that benefit Tennessee’s quest to stay within the number or pull the upset here? Florida is quite a bit better than Tennessee, hence the -19 line, but the spot could be a great equalizer in a game like this. That is a lot of points if Florida starts slow in this game. Maybe a Tennessee first half play at + 10.5 is a good way to look at this one.