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Kramer: A bettor's guide to Week 7 in college football

By Adam Kramer  (VSiN.com) 

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Less than two months ago, he was the Heisman favorite. In fact, Spencer Rattler had all the key ingredients one looks for when scouting for the award.

Quarterback? Check.

Favorable offense with an offensively-charged head coach? Check.

Major college football program? Check.

I didn’t bet Rattler to win the Heisman. But I understand why people did, even if they did so at 3-1 or 4-1. 

But now? He can be yours for 60-1.

Do not -- and I cannot emphasize this enough -- bet him. Take that money and give it to charity. Bet on Ping-Pong. Whatever. Just not this.

For an undefeated team coming off its most exciting win of the year, Oklahoma has a fascinating quarterback conundrum brewing. After calls from Sooners fans for the backup quarterback a few weeks ago, Lincoln Riley finally benched Rattler on Saturday in favor of freshman Caleb Williams after another slow start against Texas.

Williams responded with 212 yards passing, 88 yards rushing and three touchdowns. More importantly, he led Oklahoma to a thrilling 55-48 victory over its rival.

At this point, one has to assume that Williams will start moving forward. If Riley goes back to Rattler, the fans will self-combust. So will I, for that matter.

Regardless, it’s hard to find a parallel to the kind of season Rattler has endured. While plenty of Heisman favorites have disappointed in the past, I can’t think of many that have been outright benched. The fact that his team is still unbeaten makes it even weirder.

Players underperform. Teams disappoint. I’ve had countless Heisman wagers go sideways over the years. But Rattler is in his own category: a former five-star recruit with loads of talent who could still end up in the NFL come spring, stay with his program or transfer out of Oklahoma in need of a fresh start.

I’d actually prefer to bet on this, quite frankly.

The friction is fresh, and so much is still to be decided. But one thing is clear: Anyone holding a Rattler Heisman ticket might as well toss that thing away. And the drama in Norman for an unbeaten team, still very much in the mix of a College Football Playoff appearance, is just beginning. 

The Appetizer: Football Tidbits and Observations

1. I wasn’t in a rush to bet Alabama -17 (or more) points. I had a Texas A&M + 13 ticket from the offseason that I sat on. I didn’t feel great about it, to be quite honest. But I sat on it. While the Crimson Tide can still win a national title, we witnessed a ton of issues with this team on Saturday. Mistakes. Defensive issues. Drops. I thought after the Florida game that Alabama was mortal. That is indeed the case. I'm very interested to see how a young team not familiar with much adversity responds.

2. Iowa, what a win. As a homer for the Hawkeyes, that is about as thrilling of a football outcome as I can remember. With that said, the loss of Penn State QB Sean Clifford flipped that game immensely. If he doesn’t exit, Iowa doesn’t win. I still think the Hawkeyes are a great team, but they have to find more offense. The passing game has to get better, or they will stumble in one of these games. 

3. The early buffet of college football on Saturday might have delivered the greatest 1-2 punch in morning-slate history. Oklahoma-Texas and Ole Miss-Arkansas both featured 103 points, very little defense and a ton of late-game drama. It was hard, quite honestly, to maintain focus with so much offense going on. I have very little to add other than I love this sport a great deal.

4. We need to talk about Kenneth Walker. Michigan State’s star running back is having an absurd season, and he is doing it for an unbeaten team. Against Rutgers, Walker ran for 233 yards -- his second 200-yard game of the year -- and through six games, he has 933 yards. Walker has run his way into the Heisman conversation, and at 12-1 odds to win the aforementioned trophy, his performances are no longer a secret. What an awesome, fun player.

5. I thought North Carolina was way overhyped over the offseason. That said, I didn’t see things getting this bad. Although they closed as a 17.5-point favorite, the Tar Heels lost outright to Florida State on Saturday. I actually like quarterback Sam Howell, and I think he could grow into an interesting NFL prospect. But at 3-3, UNC is a bit of a mess. 

The Buffet: The Five Best Games of the Weekend

1. Georgia (-22.5, 44.5) vs. Kentucky

The most important game of the week comes from a matchup with a point spread north of three touchdowns. Although Georgia has been largely dealt significant point spreads all year, the Bulldogs are still 5-1 against the spread. And lately, they are looking dominant with backup QB Stetson Bennett leading the way. Kentucky, meanwhile, just beat Florida and LSU in consecutive weeks, which speaks to talent and coaching. Outside of the close call against Tennessee-Chattanooga, the Wildcats have been exceptional -- and also good to backers. But this is another obstacle entirely, and playing in Athens won’t make things any easier.

2. Arkansas (-3.5, 53.5) vs. Auburn

Sam Pittman made the right call. He went for the two-point conversion knowing his defense was cooked against Ole Miss. The play design itself was very “meh,” but I liked the attitude and the Hogs covered for the sixth time in seven games. Auburn was quasi-competitive with Georgia for much of the game, although the Tigers couldn’t keep up (or cover the 15-point spread). This spread, however, signifies some confidence in Auburn moving forward. Even on the road, I lean toward the underdog. Although I am curious to see where this spread and total progresses over the course of the week.

3. Texas (-5, 60.5) vs. Oklahoma State

If you bet Texas (+ 3.5) last week, I just want you to know I was thinking about you over the weekend. Also, I am sorry. That was not a pleasant loss considering how big the Longhorns were up early and the fact that the game seemed destined to end on a field goal. It didn’t, and here we are. It will be fascinating to see how Texas rallies after that loss, and Oklahoma State is plenty capable of letting that hangover linger. The Pokes are unbeaten, and they will showcase a defense that is ranked in top 25 in the nation. Offensively, however, OK State is currently ranked No. 89 nationally, and I am just not sure that’ll be a good fit for this game.

4. Alabama (-17.5, 59) at Mississippi State

It happened. Alabama lost. It still feels a bit surreal, although the Crimson Tide earned that L. What I am interested to see is how this team -- and especially this offense -- responds. And in terms of an opponent, Mississippi State is an interesting one. It’s an odd place to play, especially considering what happened last week to Alabama. The Bulldogs have also been a bit underrated this year, plus they come in off a bye after beating Texas A&M the prior week. Alabama’s pass defense wasn’t superb on Saturday, and it’ll likely be tested once again by Mike Leach. While a bounce back from Nick Saban wouldn’t surprise, this one intrigues me.

5. Baylor (-5, 48) vs. BYU

It’s an odd matchup played at an odd time of the year, although I am very much up for it. Also, somewhat strangely, these two will be conference foes soon enough. BYU was not up for its game against Boise State last weekend, and the Cougars lost 26-17 at home as six-point favorites. On the other side, I bet against Baylor last week, and that was a very bad idea. The Bears crushed West Virginia 45-20 as a short favorite to move to 5-1. While the reputation at Baylor has long been about offense, the Bears have the nation’s No. 21-ranked scoring defense at the moment. For BYU, having struggled offensively of late, that could be an issue.

Last Call: Parting Shots on Other Games of Note

Cincinnati (-20, 56) vs. UCF: If the Bearcats are going to be pushed, this feels like a game that could fit the criteria. And last year, UCF nearly upset Cincinnati in a really wild game. But both teams are drastically different, and I just don’t know if Central Florida has enough firepower.

Florida (-9.5, 58.5) at LSU: We’re seeing point spreads and outcomes not normally attached to LSU, and the Tigers being nearly double-digit ‘dogs at home speaks volumes to the state of the program. Given what we saw last week, at what point do the Tigers just quit? Are we already there?

Ole Miss (-3, 79) at Tennessee: The total actually opened at 85.5, which is delightful. It came down on Sunday night a bit, although it likely won’t move far. Tennessee is a pretty fascinating team that seems to be improving rapidly. I kind of like the Vols.

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