Nine Week 3 stability mismatches

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After last week’s college football stability mismatches produced a sterling record of 7-2 ATS to run the season mark to 12-7 ATS (63.2%), let’s look at the Week 3 plays that qualify under my system, which quantifies teams’ stability levels. These will be the final plays for the system this season, as I believe oddsmakers will catch up after this week, as they typically do.

If you missed the explanation and other details about the stability method or are new to VSiN, just check Season 5, Issue 2 of Point Spread Weekly or our 2021 College Football Betting Guide. You can download the report from either issue.

The stability system, which I’ve employed for 10 seasons without a losing campaign, measures one team’s stability against another’s. Using a time-tested point-assigning process for coaches, quarterbacks and returning starters, I come up with an overall stability score for each team. When the difference between these scores is 8 or higher, I consider it a stability mismatch.

It’s important to note that the difference in stability scores has nothing to do with the point spread for a given game. I am simply assuming that oddsmakers have not given enough credence to the stability difference and that their lines are off because of it.

I have put together a list of the top stability mismatches for Week 3. Again, this will be the last week I will offer plays, as I typically believe that after two or three games, the lines more accurately reflect teams’ strength. But history has shown that you should feel comfortable employing this strategy for this final week.

SATURDAY

(121) COASTAL CAROLINA (-13) at (122) BUFFALO

Stability Advantage: Coastal Carolina by 11

Analysis: Two teams that were involved in stability system plays last week go head to head. The Chanticleers were a play-on team and beat Kansas 49-22, and if you bet the game early in the week after reading my PSW report, you would have won on a line of -25.5 or so. The game closed at -27. Nonetheless, Coastal was impressive in putting up huge points behind QB Grayson McCall. Buffalo was a play-against team at Nebraska and was beaten soundly 28-3. The Bulls might have fooled a few people in Week 1 with their 69-7 blowout of Wagner, but their true identity was revealed in Lincoln. This Buffalo team is not the one of last year. It is missing many key players from that group, including RB Jaret Patterson, and is basically starting anew under coach Maurice Linguist. This game would have been special in 2020, but this week it’s a stability mismatch.

(163) ARKANSAS STATE at (164) WASHINGTON (-16.5)

Stability Advantage: Washington by 12

Analysis: Washington disappointed last week on our system, coming up with a second straight woeful effort at Michigan to drop to 0-2. The Huskies are still commanding some respect from oddsmakers, however, as they are listed as 16.5-point favorites over Arkansas State. Washington has put up just 17 points in the first two games, coming up far short of the 90 scored by the Red Wolves. This contributes to what seems an unusually high chalk line for the Huskies. This appears to be one of those games when the experts might be overtly telling you how it’s going to go: Pac-12 team takes out early frustrations on retooling Sun Belt squad in Seattle?

(167) OLD DOMINION at (168) LIBERTY (-23.5)

Stability Advantage: Liberty by 8

Analysis: Coming off a 10-1 season of 2020, Liberty and stud QB Malik Willis had high hopes for this fall and set their goals accordingly. One of those goals was an undefeated season, and after surviving a fairly tough contest at Troy last week, the Flames still have their sights set on that. With all 11 offensive starters back and coach Hugh Freeze in his third season, the sky is the limit for Liberty’s offense. While Freeze’s team had one loss last year, Old Dominion had one win and has made several changes because of it, including new coordinators and 12 new starters. The Monarchs are a large underdog for a reason. After seeing the line open at + 23, bettors have moved ODU to + 27.5. Neither figures to be enough if Willis has his way.

(169) EAST CAROLINA at (170) MARSHALL (-10)

Stability Advantage: East Carolina by 9

Analysis: Though the stability system is 12-7 ATS so far, two of the losing plays have been East Carolina in back-to-back weeks. The Pirates look to get their first win Saturday when they travel to Marshall. The going hasn’t been easy, as conquerors Appalachian State and South Carolina have been impressive in the early going. But third-year coach Mike Houston must be disappointed having been unable to score an upset in either contest. Marshall has put up 93 points in its two early wins, including 49-7 over Navy last week, and seems to be getting a little extra benefit of the doubt from oddsmakers for this one. The Herd are laying 10. Just a couple of weeks ago, the number would have been 5, according to my power ratings. I don’t believe what we’ve seen so far constitutes a move that large. ECU should make a game of this one.

(171) TROY (-10.5) at (172) SOUTHERN MISS

Stability Advantage: Troy by 12

Analysis: Both teams enter Saturday’s contest 1-1, with the victories coming against FCS teams and the losses to FBS foes. The Golden Eagles have had a devil of a time replacing departed QB Jack Abraham, and rookie head coach Will Hall hasn’t found the answer. This was expected to be a rebuilding year of sorts for USM, but the 31-7 loss in the opener at South Alabama had to be incredibly humbling. Troy’s loss came at the hands of Liberty, nothing to be ashamed of, as the Flames were one of the country’s biggest surprises last year and brought back nearly the entire team. The Trojans begin a three-week road trip with this contest and figure to be set up for success. They are heavy on experience in their third year under Chip Lindsey, and they have converted nine of their last 13 tries ATS as road chalk.

(179) SOUTH CAROLINA at (180) GEORGIA (-31)

Stability Advantage: Georgia by 14

Analysis: A battle of 2-0 SEC teams is one of the feature games on the Week 3 schedule, although if you ask most experts, South Carolina and Georgia are on completely different trajectories. For the Gamecocks, this was expected to be a rebuilding year under first-year coach Shane Beamer. A rout of Eastern Illinois and a squeaker over East Carolina don’t exactly prove it won’t be. They will have their hands full against the Bulldogs, who might be the best defensive team in the country. They have yielded just 10 points in the first two weeks to Clemson and UAB, teams that were expected to be prolific offensively. Georgia is loaded up and down the roster and surely remembers the shocking 20-17 loss it suffered to the Gamecocks two years ago in Athens. That was the only regular-season loss coach Kirby Smart’s team endured that year. The line for this game accurately reflects oddsmakers’ perceptions of these unbeaten teams.

(183) UTAH STATE at (184) AIR FORCE (-8.5)

Stability Advantage: Air Force by 14

Analysis: Count me among the many who are shocked at what new coach Blake Anderson has already done at Utah State. His Aggies are 2-0 despite a preseason win-total prop of just 3. Could they get the prop-tying win at Air Force? Well, after Utah State scored just 15.5 ppg last season and is averaging 37 in 2021, I guess anything is possible. I’m still skeptical, as the Aggies shocked a rebuilding Washington State team and, as always, routed their FCS foe. I see this as a real litmus test — it’s a conference game, Air Force has outscored the Aggies 66-14 over the last two years and the Falcons are off a solid 23-3 win over Navy. Coach Troy Calhoun’s team is also the more stable in terms of knowing and executing systems. Expect the hosts to move to 3-0. 

(193) RICE at (194) TEXAS (-26.5)

Stability Advantage: Rice by 8

Analysis: For the third straight week, our stability system is suggesting a play against Texas. In Week 1, the Longhorns looked great in dominating Louisiana. In Week 2, they looked unstable trying to find their footing against Arkansas. Week 3 presents an in-state matchup against Rice, and the oddsmakers have set up the line in expectation of a relatively easy win for new coach Steve Sarkisian & Co., who are listed as 26.5-point favorites. Sarkisian is already making a QB change, however, as Casey Thompson will get the start over Hudson Card. The latter struggled last week, and the change will do nothing but lead to further instability, if you ask me. The Owls have not looked great in their two losses, failing to cover in either game, but they share a common opponent with Texas already. Rice lost to Arkansas by 21 points, the Longhorns by 19. The logic is obviously oversimplified, but that comparison wouldn’t lead a bettor to expect a four-TD win by either side.

(199) ARIZONA STATE (-3.5) at (200) BYU

Stability Advantage: Arizona State by 10

Analysis: BYU’s upset win over Utah certainly changed the perspective on the Cougars, as what was expected to be a rebuilding season after the departure of stud QB Zach Wilson is now showing promise. With only half their starters back in an otherwise senior-dominated season in college football, coach Salani Kitake’s team now faces another stiff test in hosting Arizona State. The Sun Devils have won two games by 27 points each but failed to beat the Vegas number in either. Even so, the 78 points they have scored haven’t even touched the surface yet on what this offense is capable of behind QB Jayden Daniels. Coach Herm Edwards’ team reloaded with 20 starters back and surely would like to put a full game together before hitting conference play next weekend.

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