I received a great response to the college football piece I put together last week detailing some of the top betting systems have formed this season using the DraftKings Betting Splits data on VSiN.com.
I figured for this week, I’d showcase another valuable feature on our website that seems to go underutilized each season, that being the TEAM TRENDS listed for every matchup on the board. The trends are sorted each week by a grading scale and separated by which team or total side they favor. For this exercise, I went through all 18 of the games featuring a ranked team and handpicked one of the trends I felt was quite relevant to the upcoming matchup.
Along with the specifics of the trend, I’ve detailed the reasons why I find that angle important, giving you a glimpse into the type of things I look for when handicapping college football games, at least as it pertains to trends. Enjoy the analysis and good luck on your college football Week 9 wagers.
Again, these are all the big games featuring ranked teams and they are sorted in rotation order.
Thursday, Oct. 27
(103) VIRGINIA TECH at (104) NC STATE
* Play AGAINST VIRGINIA TECH vs. decent team outscoring opponents by more than 7.0 points per game (13-2 ATS last 15 games)
Analysis: It's been about five seasons since Virginia Tech was really competitive at the upper levels of the ACC. One of the reasons is the Hokies have struggled against their best competition. At 2-5 in 2022, they are facing an NC State team that is still very good even without QB Devin Leary.
(107) UTAH at (108) WASHINGTON STATE
* Play ON UTAH on ROAD vs. team with a winning record (17-8 ATS last 10 years)
Analysis: One reason Kyle Whittingham has been around so long at Utah is that his teams are gritty, disciplined and relatively consistent. This type of mentality tends to travel well, and it lends to teams performing in any environment against even the best opponents.
Saturday, Oct. 29
(117) ILLINOIS at (118) NEBRASKA
* Play ON ILLINOIS with more than 6 days rest (8-0 ATS last 2 years)
Analysis: Illinois is in control of its destiny in the Big Ten West, and despite the 6-1 record, I still don't think oddsmakers and bettors are taking this team seriously. As I wrote about in my College Football Strength Ratings update this week, the Illini are still badly undervalued, with a top-10 Effective Strength Rating of 30.6. That is higher than teams like Oregon and Ole Miss. For this week, they are rested and come in on an 8-0 ATS streak when playing with more than the standard week of rest. Who stands in the way? A perennially underachieving Nebraska team.
(127) MISSOURI at (128) SOUTH CAROLINA
* Play ON SOUTH CAROLINA on winning streak of three or more games (11-2-2 ATS last 15 games)
Analysis: The 2017 season was the only one of the last eight in which the Gamecocks won more than seven games. When you win only 5.6 games per season over a nine-year stretch, there aren't a whole lot of chances to play on winning streaks. Scarcity makes situations like that more special, and the cohesiveness of a team not used to putting streaks together can grow quickly. After winning its last four games, including the last two in upset fashion, South Carolina is ranked for the first time in a while. Celebrating that accomplishment in front of its home fans this week, there is little to no chance of a letdown.
(129) KENTUCKY at (130) TENNESSEE
* Play AGAINST TENNESSEE vs. big-play passing team averaging more than 8.30 yards per attempt (22-10-1 ATS last 10 years)
Analysis: There are a few angles this week that suggest Tennessee needs to avoid looking ahead to Georgia next week. First, the Vols are just 4-10-1 ATS in their last 15 home game before facing the Bulldogs, so there is that obvious look-ahead danger. Second, this trend showing that Kentucky is a different team in 2022 than we are used to seeing. Quarterback Will Levis has been talked about as a potential No. 1 pick in next April's NFL draft and they are gaining 9.4 yards per pass attempt. I'm not sure Kentucky can keep up with Tennessee's offensive attack in volume, but in efficiency it can.
(131) TCU at (132) WEST VIRGINIA
* WEST VIRGINIA has won last six ATS vs. TCU (6-0 ATS last six games)
Analysis: West Virginia is a team with some pretty strong tendencies in head-to-head play against its Big 12 rivals. Those tendencies have continued to play out in 2022. The Mountaineers were on a 1-6-2 ATS run vs. Kansas, and they lost 55-42. In the series vs. Baylor, home teams were 7-2 ATS in the last 10 going into this year's meeting. WVU won at home in a 43-40 upset. Last week, coach Neal Brown's team was trying to buck a trend of playing poorly against Texas Tech (3-7 ATS skid). They lost 48-10. Does the fact that West Virginia plays very well against TCU get you thinking about a potential upset of the unbeaten Horned Frogs on Saturday?
(135) OHIO STATE at (136) PENN STATE
* Play ON OHIO STATE on ROAD vs. solid passing defenses yielding less than 6.20 yards per attempt (6-1 ATS last seven games)
Analysis: I've seen some so-called experts out there indicating that Penn State has a good chance of limiting Ohio State's incredible passing attack this week because of its solid passing defense. The Nittany Lions have faced Minnesota and Michigan, each averaging a respectable 8.8 yards per pass attempt, with varying results. Neither of those offenses is even close to the Buckeyes when it comes to big-play passing ability. Ohio State, averaging 10.5 YPA, beats solid passing defenses because its passing attack overwhelms those opponents.
(137) WAKE FOREST at (138) LOUISVILLE
* Play OVER the total LOUISVILLE as HOME underdog of 7 or fewer points (9-1 last 10 games)
Analysis: Fundamentally, this trend makes a lot of sense. Other than its miserable 2-10 season of 2016 in which it scored just 19.8 PPG, Louisville has been a very competitive team with a good and sometimes elite offense. When the Cardinals are home underdogs of any sort, you have to figure it's against a team that has a pretty explosive offense of its own. Assuming these teams play up to their usual offensive standards, this should be a shootout on Saturday.
(139) NOTRE DAME at (140) SYRACUSE
* Play ON NOTRE DAME on ROAD vs. team with a winning record (8-1-1 ATS last 10)
Analysis: It's a fairly well-known tendency at this point. Notre Dame seems to play better football away from home. Just this season alone, the Irish are 0-4 ATS in South Bend but 3-0 ATS elsewhere. Perhaps it’s something about the opponents being motivated to play at Notre Dame. For this week, coach Marcus Freeman's team faces a Syracuse team that is having a great season at 6-1 but comes off its first loss. The Irish, who are also 20-4 ATS in their last 24 October road games, are underdogs. I'm projecting they'll be a live one.
(141) MICHIGAN STATE at (142) MICHIGAN
* MICHIGAN STATE is on runs of 6-1 ATS and 12-3 ATS versus Michigan
Analysis: Yes, I know, Michigan is much better than Michigan State this year. However, there is something to this big brother-little brother arrangement that always gets me on the side of the Spartans in this rivalry. Let's go back to 2016, the last time the Wolverines were significantly better than the Spartans. What happened in the late-October game that season? Michigan won by only nine as a 25-point favorite. It's easy to think this game could be a rout, but MSU comes off a losing streak-snapping OT win over Wisconsin and always gets up for this game. Can Jim Harbaugh's team do the same?
(145) CINCINNATI at (146) UCF
* Play ON UCF vs OPPONENT on winning streak of 6 or more games (6-1 ATS last seven games)
Analysis: This trend has a sample size of only seven games, but there is some foundational strength to it, and I believe the results of last week speak even more to how important it will be. UCF has obviously been one of the better Group of 5 programs over the last decade, winning nine games or more seven times. A team that good takes a lot of pride in taking down its top opponents. In fact, I believe coach Gus Malzahn's team had to be looking ahead to Cincinnati when it laid an egg at East Carolina last week. UCF has a noteworthy home-field advantage, hosts have ruled this head-to-head series of late, and now the Knights have an added chip on their shoulder. Don't be surprised to see them end the Bearcats' six-game winning streak on Saturday.
(153) PITTSBURGH at (154) NORTH CAROLINA
* Play ON PITTSBURGH on ROAD vs. lesser defensive team allowing more than 29 PPG (8-2 ATS last 10 games)
Analysis: It's strange to think that North Carolina is a 6-1 team despite allowing 32.4 PPG. These are typically the teams that I'm not comfortable laying points with, even at home, as they are susceptible to the upset loss or even the backdoor cover because they have trouble holding leads. Pittsburgh has been very good as a road team under coach Pat Narduzzi (6-1 ATS last two years) and has also been a potent wager when facing bad defenses on the road. Expect Pitt to score some points and make this one interesting, at least.
(167) USC at (168) ARIZONA
* Play ON USC on ROAD vs. weak defensive team allowing more than 31.5 PPG (11-4 ATS last 15 games)
Analysis: For as much as both USC and Arizona are in the early stages of their head coaches' tenures at their schools, this trend on USC still feels like one that should sustain in the Lincoln Riley era. USC's offense this year behind QB Caleb Williams is electric, and the fact that Arizona is yielding 36.3 PPG and 8.3 yards per pass attempt has to be of grave concern to the hosts. USC is a 15.5-point favorite, but is there any scenario in which you don't see the Trojans hitting the 40-point mark?
(171) STANFORD at (172) UCLA
* Play AGAINST STANFORD vs. prolific-scoring team averaging 36 PPG or more (11-4-1 last five years)
Analysis: You could say this is a dangerous spot for UCLA after the disappointing loss at Oregon, particularly in terms of covering a big chalk number, but the Bruins are a veteran team that still has plenty to play for, including a potential trip to the Pac-12 title game. They've also been very good at taking care of business for coach Chip Kelly, and are currently on a 7-0 SU and ATS streak versus teams with a losing record. The Cardinal allowed 40+ to Pac-12 foes Washington, USC and Oregon, and it's fairly likely UCLA hangs a number as big or bigger in this game.
(173) OREGON at (174) CALIFORNIA
* Play ON CALIFORNIA underdog of more than 7 points (13-2 ATS last 15 games)
Analysis: This is a tendency that just doesn't die. Year to year, era to era, California continues to thrive in the big underdog role. The Golden Bears always seem to rally when the odds are against them. Just this season alone, they have nearly upset Washington and Notre Dame on the road. At the same time, when they are expected to win, they usually don't meet those expectations, most recently losing as a 14.5-point favorite at Colorado. For this week, Cal hosts red-hot Oregon and plays as a 17-point dog. After the Ducks put a hurtin' on UCLA last week, they are riding high. I wouldn't put it past them to play flat here against Cal in a game that won't motivate them nearly as much.
(179) OKLAHOMA STATE at (180) KANSAS STATE
* Play ON OKLAHOMA STATE vs. good team with 70% or better winning percentage (17-4-2 ATS last five years)
Analysis: On a grand scale, is there any team across the country that faces more doubt from experts each year than Oklahoma State? It really doesn't matter how much the Cowboys win, how much they win by, or even sometimes who they beat, the respect meter just never pegs. After last week's huge upset of Texas, it seems coach Mike Gundy and OSU are proving doubters wrong again. On Saturday, they face a team that seems to have grabbed the nation's attention with the play of its quarterback, Kansas State. Adrian Martinez, who went out last week with an injury, has been fantastic, but he is a game-time decision for this one. The respect for the Wildcats and how much they have improved is just another source of motivation for Gundy's underrated club.
(183) OLE MISS at (184) TEXAS A&M
* Play UNDER TEXAS A&M vs. elite rushing team averaging more than 5.0 yards per carry (13-2 last 15 games)
Analysis: Besides the fact that Under the total has converted seven straight games in the Ole Miss-Texas A&M rivalry and that Ole Miss has shown a 9-1 tendency to go Under the total as a road favorite of seven points or fewer, there is also this little matchup trend gem that shows how A&M has fared against elite rushing opponents. Not only do the Aggies limit these rushing attacks, but it also lends to them playing a more conservative game. Look for a tight, defensive-oriented game here.
(191) FLORIDA at (192) GEORGIA
* Play UNDER GEORGIA vs. decent rushing team averaging more than 4.4 yards per carry (20-5 last 25 games)
Analysis: Aside from the two back-to-back games in which it really didn't seem all that motivated (vs. Kent State and Missouri), the talented Georgia defense has allowed a total of 20 points in its five other games. While there could be a slight danger this week in overlooking Florida with Tennessee on deck, the nature of this rivalry leads me to believe the Bulldogs will be in game mode for the Gators. Recently, coach Kirby Smart's teams have had a tendency to play Unders in games in which their opponents are good at running the football. Florida is a better running team than passing team, making it difficult to forecast them penetrating the Georgia defense much. Between that specific matchup strong spot and the look-ahead potential, I'll call for an intense, but lower-scoring, perhaps boring matchup here.