Welcome to The Old College Try. Each week, I’ll be here, attempting to grow a starting bankroll of $1,000 by making picks on NCAA football games. To see previous weeks’ picks, click the links below. All lines accurate as of Wednesday, 11/6. Featured Image from SBNation.
What a week! The Old College Try picks went 5-0-1 for our best result (and our first draw) of the season in Week 10. If it weren’t for SMU shockingly going for two when they were down 8 with only a few minutes left, we would have had a perfect card. Still, the undefeated week yielded a profit of $252.33 to bring the bankroll back up to $819.80 and any week without a loss should be celebrated.
Enough about the past, though. Turning our attention to the upcoming slate, it’s the week of the Road Warrior, as we are picking visiting teams almost across the board. In a bit of a rare moment for the column, we don’t have any totals plays this week – good news for those of you who only like to bet on sides. We’ve got five games on the card this week, including a matchup of undefeated teams and a big money line dog. So without further ado, let’s get down to business with our best bets of the week.
The Battle of the Big 10 Unbeatens
Penn State -6.5 at Minnesota (-110)
Bet: $70 to win 63.64
The Nittany Lions travel to Minneapolis to take on the Golden Gophers this week, and one of these teams will leave Saturday with their first loss of the season. Minnesota isn’t a completely fraudulent team, but they certainly don’t seem like a team that should be undefeated through 8 games. The Golden Gophers started out barely squeaking by in out of conference games against Georgia Southern, Fresno State, and San Diego State. Since the start of conference play, they’ve played against a second or third string quarterback for the majority of every single game. That seems impossibly lucky, right? Again, I think Minnesota is a good team – they’ve got a great coach in PJ Fleck and they have talented wide receivers that should give Penn State defensive backs some trouble. They haven’t seen anything like this Nittany Lion team, though.
As ESPN’s Chris Fallica tweeted earlier this week, Penn State is the only team in the country in the top 10 in offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, and special teams efficiency. No matter who you’ve played, that’s pretty impressive. Quarterback Sean Clifford and KJ Hamler have been a dynamite duo, and the Penn State defensive front should be able to get into the backfield early and often on the other side of the ball. This feels like it should be over a touchdown at least, and I see Minnesota crumbling in their first real test of the season.
Lottery Ticket Letdown of the Week
Louisville Moneyline at Miami (+210)
$50 to win $105
I won’t go in too deep on Louisville this week as I’ve probably written up their games more often than any other non-Georgia team this year. They’ve been very solid offensively despite a shaky line, they’re a bit inconsistent on defense, and they have a great coach in Scott Satterfield.
If you’re going to follow me here, you should know that the numbers favor Miami almost across the board. They are a very solid defensive team who has been unlucky in spots and has improved on the offensive side of the ball. They have the better unit in the trenches on both sides of the ball, although their offensive line has its issues. Coming off of a big rivalry win against Florida State, though, I think they’re in a real let down spot here. Plus, with Louisville coming off of a bye, I think Satterfield has a game plan that can at least partially negate the Miami pass rush. I’ll take Louisville to win straight up, but if you are feeling a little bit less bold I think buying a half point and taking the Cardinals +7 is probably the smarter play.
The Scoreboard-Straining Shootout of the Week
Kansas State +7 at Texas (-110)
Bet: $70 to win 63.64
Two efficient offenses – though they excel in very different ways – and two porous defenses should make for a barn burner in Austin. The scary parts here: Tom Herman is coaching at home with an extra week to gameplan as Texas is coming off of a bye. Texas is also a great candidate for a bounce back, as quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s four interceptions against TCU (in a game where I was on Texas, unfortunately) accounted for more than half of his season total.
That’s not enough to scare me off of a hot Kansas State team getting seven points here, though. Coming off of back to back wins against Oklahoma and in-state also-ran Kansas, former North Dakota State head coach (and 6-time FCS National Champion) Chris Kleiman has this Wildcat team fired up and believing they can beat anybody. Hell, after manhandling Oklahoma for most of that game, it isn’t that hard to believe. Texas has looked much shakier lately, and I don’t think the bye week is enough to completely correct course for the Longhorns. I like Kansas State to keep it close in this one, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they grind out a win.
The Playoff Ranking Slight of the Week
Baylor -2.5 at TCU (-110)
Bet: $70 to win 63.64
Gary Patterson burned me a few weeks ago as a home dog, but this time the pick is based on football (although I have zero regrets for fading those atrocious uniforms). Baylor has been really good so far this year on both sides of the ball, ranking 11th in offensive yards per play and 17th in the country in yards per play allowed.
TCU, on the other hand, has been pretty mediocre on both sides of the ball. With Baylor and coach Matt Rhule getting a couple of extra days to prepare after playing on Thursday last week, I think the Bears deserve a higher spot in the college football playoff rankings, and I think they’re a bit undervalued in Vegas at the moment. I expect them to come out with a chip on their shoulder and beat TCU by double digits. If they do, it’s going to be hard for the Playoff Committee to keep them out of the Top 10.
Can We Bet on the Dawgs?
Georgia -16.5 vs Missouri
Bet: $70 to win 63.64
I really wasn’t planning on going back to the well with the Dawgs this week, but hey, they covered for us against Florida. Now they take on a Missouri team – yes, coming off of a bye – who has been really bad lately. The Tigers have failed to cover in three straight games. What’s worse, they’re 0-3 on the road this year. Three road losses may be excusable for a solid SEC team in some years, but these losses have come against Wyoming, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky. Doesn’t exactly inspire much faith in the Tigers.
Georgia, on the other hand, is coming off of a big win against Florida. After their first complete performance against an extremely talented Gator pass rush, the offensive line will look to build on their success against a much less intimidating Missouri front. Georgia should have a big advantage in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and if the Dawgs can run the ball successfully, it could be a very long day for their opponents. I’m happy to lay the points with Georgia this weekend.
Hit me up on twitter (@slapnslide) or in the comments below to let me know what lines you like this weekend. As always, thanks for reading The Old College Try and I hope to see you back next week after another profitable Saturday.
P.S. For any Georgia High School Football junkies out there (or just any degenerates that need something besides college football to bet on), my buddy Sam – @GreenEgsAndSam on twitter – runs both a great football newsletter and the Officially Unofficial GHSA Playoff Bracket Challenge. Let me know if you want to participate and I will put you in touch with the Commissioner himself.
Total Bets: Risking $330 to win $359.56