Welcome to the second season of The Old College Try. I’ll be here each week, trying to beat the book by betting on college football. All lines accurate as of Wednesday, 10/7. This week’s photo from Jason A G on Flickr. Picks appear in bold.
Whew, that was a crazy weekend. When the dust finally settled, our gambling locks went 5-2-1 on the weekend. A great result, but it was a rollercoaster ride to get there. We started with a blowout loss backing Louisiana Tech against BYU, as Mormon Manziel and their monstrous defensive line made short work of the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball. This was the only game where we were definitively on the wrong side.
Then we had to wait all the way until the 3:30 slate for our next picks. Kentucky is the loss that really hurts. The Wildcats were up by two touchdowns in the second half despite AJ Rose celebrating too early on what should have been a 75 yard touchdown and then fumbling on the one-yard line (which hurt because of the bet but also because that score would likely have pushed me into first place in a large Draftkings contest — shout out our brand new DFS series). Kentucky would go on to run for over 400 yards on 7.3 yards per carry and i’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team lose a game when they ran for 400 yards. But they’d also have two running backs get injured, as well as have their kicker miss a field goal and then an extra point in overtime to give Ole Miss the win.
As painful as that was, though, we’d have some luck in the night games. A 24-point fourth quarter helped us to hit the over in the Oklahoma-Iowa State game, and LSU kneeled the ball inside the Vanderbilt 10-yard line to seal our under. Only the Oklahoma State bet and both Georgia bets were relatively sweat free. So we could have been 6-1-1, but I’ll certainly be happy with 5-2-1 on the week.
On the season, the picks are 12-5-2 (yeah, I can’t really believe it either) with a profit of $640 or 6.4 units. That’s a great start, and if we can win go up just a few more units, I may start to mess around with some parlays.
I don’t love the board this week, and as a result our card is much smaller. We’ve got four plays today, all on sides, so congratulations to those of you who hate betting totals. Hopefully a tighter focus will lead to even better results than we’ve had thus far. I’m sure you’re tired of me rambling about process, though, so let’s get to our gambling locks.
The Sophomore Coaching Season Showdown of the Week
Louisville -4.5 at Georgia Tech (-110)
Bet: $220 to win $200
Hopefully this one goes better than Friday night’s pick because this is our first 2 unit play of the year! Listen, I know this is our third time betting the Cards this year, but the first two went 1-0-1, and we’re still in the green backing this team. So we’re keeping our weeknight pick right here in Atlanta for this showdown between the birds and the bees.
Both programs are in the second season of a full program turnaround by a coach coming from Group of Five school, both teams enter this game at 1-2 and coming off a bye week, and the similarities don’t end there. Georgia Tech and Louisville rank 36th and 37th, respectively, in yards per play through three games, and they rank 34th and 35th in opponent yards per play.
So why take Louisville on the road when they’re giving up four and a half points? Well, I think Louisville’s competition has been a bit better than Tech’s so far. They have faced two teams with legitimately good defenses (Pitt, Miami) while Tech has yet to face one. Louisville has plenty of problems, but their struggle offensively has been preventing elite defensive line talent from affecting their plays in the backfield. Tech doesn’t have that kind of front seven yet, and I think Satterfield with a bye week will be able to get the Cardinals playmakers in space often enough to score some serious points. I’ll lay the 4.5 with Louisville in a game where I think they will score in bunches.
The Omar Little “Come at the King” Cover of the Week
Miami at Clemson -14 (-110)
Bet: $110 to win $100
Looking just at the numbers, this line looks to be about right. Certainly not far enough off to be a must bet game, anyway. Miami’s been great so far. In fact, you could argue that they’ve been better than Clemson so far. The Canes have been slightly worse defensively on a yards per play basis (allowing 4.9 vs Clemson’s 4.6), but slightly better offensively (6.6 vs 6.5). Miami’s a different team this year; they come into Clemson with a fast-paced offense and their own Heisman hopeful at quarterback to compliment a talented defense.
I’m just not ready to trust it yet, at least not against this Clemson team. We haven’t seen a whole lot out of the Tigers so far this year, but it feels like they’ve been sleepwalking through the first few weeks. With a marquee match up against a top 10 team in the country, though, I think Dabo’s squad will show up big. D’Eriq King and co. are great, but Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne are better. Miami’s defense has a lot of talent, but Clemson’s got a whole lot more. These are the types of games that the Tigers show up for, and I’ll bet that they’ve had this game circled for a while. They cover easily and leave no doubt as to who holds the belt in the ACC.
The Big 12 Principle Play of the Week
Texas Tech +12.5 at Iowa State (-110)
Bet: $110 to win $100
I’m sure I’ll come to regret this, but we’re taking Texas Tech and the points against Iowa State here, even without knowing the status of starting quarterback Alan Bowman.
We discussed our Big 12 principles last week: no Big 12 team should be favored over another Big 12 team by more than 10 points, except for Kansas, who everyone should be favored over by somewhere between 15 and a million points. Both these principles held true, as Kansas got beat by a lot more than the spread (although slightly less than a million), and Texas, the only Big 12 team favored by double digits, lost to TCU straight up.
Ok, so Texas Tech is 1-2 with maybe the worst non-Kansas defense in a conference of terrible defenses. On the other side, you can make an argument that Iowa State sports the best defense in the Big 12 (at least outside of Stillwater) at the moment. But this is still the team that lost to Louisiana–Lafayette by 17 when they were a 14-point favorite earlier this year.
I’m not saying that the Cyclones are a bad team or that they haven’t improved. I’m just saying I don’t trust them to win by more than 12 against a team with an offense as explosive as Texas Tech. Matt Campbell has traditionally been a better underdog than a favorite, and I’m hoping that trend continues. I’ll take the Red Raiders to cover 12.5.
Can We Bet on the Dawgs?
Tennessee at Georgia -12.5 (-110)
Bet: $110 to win $100
Yeah, we’re 3-0 so far in Georgia games after two bets on the Auburn game, so why not? Tennessee’s offensive line, led by Georgia transfer Cade Mays, has looked dominant through their first two games, giving their backs enough room to run that the Vols have barely had to throw the ball at all. That’s the thing, though: when they have thrown, it hasn’t gone that well. Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano is 33/54 for 449 yards on the season against two less than stellar pass defenses.
Tennessee will need more from their QB if they’re going to cover this number, much less beat UGA. Bill Connelly’s SP+ (probably the most prominent power ratings system in college football today) has Georgia rated as the fourth strongest defense in the last 30 years. Guarantano might have to throw the ball 40 times in this game, just like Bo Nix did last week. If that happens, I think Georgia will win easily.
Tennessee has some very solid players on defense, and Pruitt has proven himself to be a great defensive mind, but this team still allowed 31 points to a mediocre South Carolina offense. With an improving Stetson Bennett and an offense that is just starting to click, I expect Georgia to put up some points, and I don’t think the Vols can keep up. I’m looking for George Pickens to put up his first big game of the year now that defenses will have to pay a little more attention to Kearis Jackson and the other weapons on offense. If Tennessee packs the box to stop Zeus and gives Jackson the attention he deserves, Pickens should receive plenty of one-on-one coverage, which usually results in a downfield completion.
You could certainly argue it’s a bad spot to back UGA. Coming off an exciting win with a lookahead game next week against Alabama and going up against a team and coaches who are very familiar with this Georgia team (and have probably had this game circled all year). I get all of that. I’m still willing to roll with the more talented team to take care of business at home.
That wraps up our locks this week; thank you to everyone that reads and especially to those that share the article. If you enjoy this weekly column, you can follow this site on Facebook, Twitter (links to the right and below this article) or by email. Let me know if you’re following or fading these picks (or if you want to talk about any of the other games on the schedule) here in the comments or on twitter (@slapnslide). Best of luck in all of your gambling ventures over the weekend.