OK, we had the appetizer of college football Week 0, and now we get the main course with a full Saturday schedule in the middle of a full five-day Labor Day Weekend schedule.
We split our first plays of the season at 1-1 ATS last Saturday. We lost our first play on Ohio +3 at San Diego State, though it was kind of a bad beat as Ohio QB Nathan Rourke was 8-for-10 for 75 yards, and the Bobcats looked like the better team early until he was knocked out of the game on the last play of the first quarter. Ohio was still leading 6-3 when Rourke’s backup, CJ Harris, was intercepted to set up SDSU’s go-ahead TD on the final play of the first half and the Bobcats were never able to rally in a 20-13 loss.
At least we won with our actual Best Bet of the day with Hawaii +17.5 at Vanderbilt. We were mostly on the right side as the Rainbow Warriors were competitive most of the game, trailing just 21-14 at halftime. Honestly, it could have gone either way as Vandy did get up over the spread with a 35-14 lead on the second play of the fourth quarter. Hawaii rallied to get the backdoor cover in a 35-28 loss, so we’ll take the split to start the season and move on to our plays for Labor Day Weekend.
One other quick note. Even though I didn’t bet Utah -5 vs. Florida on Thursday night, true to my “dog-or-pass” nature, I was very happy with the Utes’ 24-11 win vs. Florida. We gave out Utah Over/Under 8.5 wins in the VSiN College Football Betting Guide and as our value bet at 6-1 to win the Pac-12 (still available on the defending conference champs who swept USC last season). They’re also our longshot pick to win the CFB Playoff at 70-1 (we got 80-1). We feel even better about those plays, especially as the Utes got over the big hurdle of their season-opener without star QB Cameron Rising, who is expected to play next week vs. Baylor.
And now let’s get to our (hopefully) live underdogs on the holiday weekend.
Call me a homer as my alma mater is NIU, but the Huskies were the Mid-American Conference champions two years ago. They were off to a good start last year before QB Rocky Lombardi suffered a knee injury in the third game, and the season went downhill from there. Lombardi brings the “winning is the only thing” mentality back to the Huskies, who shouldn’t be more than a TD underdog against Boston College, which was just 3-9 last year. The Eagles were last in the ACC in offense, and that was with QB Phil Jurkovec, who they lost to the transfer portal and WR Zay Flowers, who was the No. 22 pick in the NFL Draft. NIU should be in this the whole game. Gimme my Huskies as live dogs in a game that should be closer to pick ’em.
I usually avoid college football games with spreads over three TDs because they’re usually physical mismatches, and the favorite almost always gets up over the spread. At some point, we’re at the mercy of whether the favorite takes its foot off the gas and clears the bench and if the underdog is able to get in the back door. (It worked with San Jose State vs. USC last Saturday, and to a lesser extent with our winning play on Hawaii, though that line wasn’t quite this high.) Regardless, I keep going back to the fact that Iowa has been offensively challenged for so long that it might not even get to the minimum 24 points needed to cover this number, let alone top any more points that Utah State manages. With an Over/Under of 43.5, that would equate to Iowa 33.5 to Utah State 10. That seems even less likely for Iowa to put that many points on the board even against a Mountain West foe.
This is another big spread, but I’m backing new Colorado coach Deion “Prime Time” Sanders. Love him or hate him, Sanders was exciting to watch as a player, and you can’t argue with his success as a coach. He also brings his son Shedeur Sanders (70 TD passes in two seasons at Jackson State) and many more transfers. Granted, this Big 12 opponent (and the Pac-12) is a big step up in class from the SWAC, but you’re getting nearly three TDs with a highly motivated underdog against a team that is just hoping to start the season with a win and won’t be concerned with the winning margin.
This could be seen as a situational play with Oregon State making its season debut against a San Jose State team with a game under its belt. (This is similar to Hawaii vs. Stanford on Friday night, though all the value was sucked out of that at +3 so we’ll see how that worked out.) However, we’re also encouraged by the fact SJSU didn’t roll over against an even better offense in USC with defending Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and getting the backdoor cover in the 56-28 loss. That was a much bigger spread at 31 points, but that experience should help the Spartans as they try to keep up with the Oregon State offense that has high hopes with Clemson transfer quarterback DJ Uiagalelei. But it’s still no USC, and the Beavers lost five of their top seven tacklers from last season.