College football forecast: Iowa, Texas among best bets

Matt Youmans  
VSiN senior editor

October 12, 2019 05:17 AM
hurts
Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts has put up big numbers in Oklahoma's offense. Hurts and the Sooners will face a tougher task against the Texas defense today at the Cotton Bowl.
© USA Today Sports Images

It has been a rollercoaster college season through six weeks, with more lows (four losing Saturdays) than highs, and more bad beats than lucky wins. But whining is a waste of time and hopefully things turn and it’s time to start winning consistently.

These are my five best bets for Week 7:

121-Louisville (plus-7) over WAKE FOREST: It’s no surprise to see Scott Satterfield, the former coach at Appalachian State, turn the Cardinals into a much more competitive team. Louisville is 3-2 straight up and ATS after finishing 2-10, 1-10 last year while quitting on Bobby Petrino. The quarterback switch from Jawon Pass to Micale Cunningham is an upgrade for the Cardinals, who have developed a strong ground attack. The Demon Deacons are 5-0 but their three best wins — against Utah State, North Carolina and Boston College — each came by six points or fewer and this should be another close call.

126-Texas (plus-10½) over Oklahoma: With opposing quarterbacks who are Heisman candidates, this Red River shootout in Dallas has the potential to be a thriller. A major concern for the Longhorns will be their banged-up and young defensive backfield. Jalen Hurts is capable of inflicting pain. The Alabama transfer has found new life in Sooners coach Lincoln Riley’s offense. Hurts has hit on 75.2 percent of his passes for 1,523 yards and 14 touchdowns while leading the team in rushing with 499 yards and seven TDs.

Sam Ehlinger has 17 touchdown passes for Texas, a 7-point underdog in a 48-45 victory over the Kyler Murray-led Sooners last year at the Cotton Bowl.

In July, the Westgate SuperBook opened the Sooners as 3-point favorites. Ehlinger and the Longhorns, who fought toe-to-toe with LSU and have faced a far tougher schedule, should be live as double-digit ‘dogs. (The South Point is the last Las Vegas book offering plus-11).

Tom Herman is 5-0 ATS as a double-digit underdog as Texas coach, and the Longhorns have covered the past six regular-season meetings between the teams.

182-NEVADA (-2½) over San Jose State: Wolf Pack coach Jay Norvell used a bye week to shake things up and make a quarterback change to Malik Henry after an embarrassing 54-3 loss to Hawaii. This line is showing too much respect for the Spartans, who were 17-point ‘dogs in a 59-14 loss in Reno two years ago.

197-Fresno State (plus-3½) over AIR FORCE: Jeff Tedford is a big winner as Fresno State coach (24-8 straight up) and following his underdog trend (9-0-1 ATS) has been money. The Bulldogs hung tough in losses to USC and Minnesota and should do the same against the Falcons, who went 4-14 ATS the past nine years in the game after facing Army and Navy.

204-IOWA (plus-3½) over Penn State: In his 21st year at Iowa, Kirk Ferentz is the definition of an old-school coach. He wins with defense and toughness. It’s often ugly with the Hawkeyes, who want to drag high-flying Penn State into a low-scoring street fight under the lights tonight in Iowa City. The Nittany Lions outscored their first two Big Ten opponents — Maryland and Purdue — by a combined 94-7, but they struggled against Pitt’s physical defensive front.

The betting public always shows affection for powerful offensive teams, so a team such as Iowa rarely gets much love. In their highest-profile games, the Hawkeyes beat Iowa State 18-17 and lost 10-3 at Michigan. Senior quarterback Nathan Stanley passed for 260 yards against the Wolverines but also threw his first three interceptions of the season. Iowa’s hideous offensive performance against Michigan is the reason Penn State opened as a four-point road favorite. That line was too high and has been bet down a point by sharp players. The Hawkeyes and Lions each rank in the nation’s top five in scoring defense and total defense, but the home ‘dog in this matchup has played the tougher schedule.

When these teams met in Iowa City two years ago, a Penn State team led by Saquon Barkley was favored by 11 and pulled out a 21-19 win in the final seconds. Expect this one to go to the wire, too.

—For entertainment purposes, and for those interested to know the opinions which I have not bet, here are five more leans that are not for the record:

Oklahoma-Texas Under 76; Maryland-Purdue Under 54; Tennessee plus-6½ over Mississippi State; Texas A&M plus-17½ over Alabama; Army -4½ over Western Kentucky. 

Last week: 5-3 against the spread

Season: 20-23-1

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