We’ve been waiting all summer (in and out of the Tuley’s Takes home office) for Saturday, Sept. 3 and the real start of the college football season to bring our favorite sport officially back. It was nice to have three weeks of NFL preseason games, plus CFB Week 0 last Saturday and a handful of games on Thursday and Friday, but Saturday was the final game and it didn’t disappoint.
There were other sports to follow on Saturday (MLB, golf, tennis, UFC, etc.), but college football ruled the day and there were exciting finishes throughout the day even if you didn’t have any money on the games (and even moreso if you did).
The craziness really started when East Carolina pulled within 21-20 against No. 11 North Carolina State with 2:58 left in the game. The Pirates looked like they were going to tie the game, but their kicker Owen Daffer missed the PAT wide right. The defense forced a punt and it looked like Daffer would have a chance to redeem himself and give ECU an upset of a ranked team in front of the home crowd. However, Daffer missed a 42-yard FG wide to the right as ECU lost 21-20. The consolation for ECU bettors is that the Pirates still covered as 12.5-point home underdogs; however, money-line bettors at around + 375 had to be sick to their stomachs!
The most amazing thing on Saturday was that wasn’t the most mind-blowing finish in the country, but it also wasn’t even the craziest one in the state of North Carolina. That had to be in the North Carolina-Appalachian State game. App State actually closed as a 3-point home favorite but had to play catch-up as North Carolina built a 41-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The game was already Over the betting total of 56 points, but we hadn’t seen nothin’ yet.
The Mountaineers rallied to tie the game at 49-49 with 4:00 left in regulation. North Carolina marched right down the field to take a 56-49 lead, but App State answered with another TD with just 31 seconds to play. This time, the Mountaineers went for the win and had a beautifully designed play but QB Chase Brice (who was otherwise brilliant with 361 pass yards and 6 TD passes) overthrew a wide-open receiver to trail 56-55.
But that wasn’t even the craziest past.
App State had to resort to an onside kick, which was fielded by North Carolina’s Bryson Nesbit who ran it back for a 43-yard TD return instead of taking a knee. That put the Tar Heels up 63-55, but allowed App State to get the ball back on the ensuing kickoff (and aided by a UNC unsportsmanlike penalty). Note to coaches: teach your players game theory and how not to allow your opponents back in the game.
After a long kickoff return, Brice needed just 2 plays to get back in the end zone. The Mountaineers had to go for 2 this time to try to tie the game, but Brice was stopped just short of the goal line as North Carolina held on for the upset as 3-point road dogs.
Other fantastic finishes included No. 24 Houston having to outlast Texas-San Antonio 37-35 in triple OT – though UTSA covered as a 3.5-point home dog – plus Florida holding off No. 7 Utah in the only outright upset of a ranked team so far this season.
In the latter game, Utah led early (7-0 and again 10-7 and 13-7) before Florida took a 14-13 lead into halftime. On the first drive of the second half, Utah marched right down the field but was stuffed on 4th-and-goal at the Florida 1-yard line. Still, Utah took a 19-14 lead late in the third quarter and a 26-22 lead with 6:26 left in the game. However, Florida responded with QB Anthony Richardson’s third rushing TD of the game for a 29-26 lead with 1:25 left. That was plenty of time for Utah QB Cameron Rising to put Utah in position to win the game (or at least send it to overtime), but on 2nd-and-goal from the Florida 6-yard line, Rising was intercepted by Amari Burney to end the threat.
It was a great day to be a sports bettor; unfortunately, I went 0-4 ATS with my top plays as I lost my Best Bet on Boise State + 2.5 at Oregon State and also lost with Middle Tennessee State, Army and Memphis.
At least I won with both of my MLB 1st 5 inning plays as the Giants led the Phillies 4-3 after 5 innings on the way to a 5-4 victory while the Astros led the Angels 1-0 despite facing Shohei Ohtani.
Let’s recap the rest of Saturday’s (full-game) betting results and then look for more plays on Sunday..
CFB: In Saturday games between ranked teams, No. 2 Ohio State (-17) beat No. 5 Notre Dame 21-10 but did NOT cover while No. 3 Georgia (-16.5) easily covered in 49-3 rout over No. 11 Oregon and No. 19 Arkansas (-6.5) covered in 31-24 win vs. No. 23 Cincinnati. Of the other 14 ranked teams in action, only No. 7 Utah (-2.5) lost SU as Utes came up just short in a 29-26 loss at Florida. Those teams went 13-1 SU and 9-5 ATS with the other non-covers by No. 6 Texas A&M (-35.5) in 31-0 win vs. Sam Houston, No. 13 NC State (-2.5) in 21-20 win at East Carolina, No. 21 Mississippi (-21.5) in 28-10 win vs. Troy and No. 24 Houston (-3.5) in 37-35 win in 3OT at Texas-San Antonio.
MLB: Faves went 11-3 Saturday with the only upsets by the Nationals (+ 326 in 7-1 win at Mets), Giants (+ 107 in 5-4 win vs. Phillies) and Royals (+ 105 in 12-2 rout at Tigers). Mariners (-165) beat Guardians 4-0 for 6th straight win. Home teams went 9-5. Overs 8-6.
More MLB: Faves lead 1,182-775 SU (60.4 percent) on the season with 30 pick-'ems (faves usually win around 59 percent; still ahead of pace; gap had been narrowing but now back over 60 percent). Home teams lead 1,052-933 (53 percent, usually closer to 54 percent but on the rise). Unders lead 978-902-104 (52 percent).
Florida State + 3.5 at LSU: Both teams had down years last season and are trying to restore their programs to their former glory. I know the old adage to take the team with a game under its belt hasn’t worked too well recently (around 48 percent), but I’m still taking Florida State, which routed Duquesne 47-7 in its opener. Brian Kelly replaced Ed Orgeron as LSU’s coach but he’s going to need time to rebuild the program. I would be passing on this game if it was still at 3, but we’re now getting + 3.5 just about everywhere and I don’t agree with the adjustment with this game being played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans instead of in Baton Rouge.
Rockies 1st 5 + 100 at Reds: This is an early start (12:10 p.m. ET/9:10 a.m. PT), so don’t get shut out as I had a really hard time finding a dog I liked on this Sunday’s MLB card. Arizona’s Zac Gallen is favored in his start vs. the Brewers and Miami’s Pablo Lopez doesn’t get enough run support to take him at the Braves with Max Fried. So, that leaves us with the Rockies and German Marquez (7-10 but Rockies are 13-12 in his starts, 1.38 WHIP). The Rockies are 2-1 in his last 3 starts, plus his WHIP is even lower at 1.16.
Good luck today (and every day!).