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 Thursday, 10/29. Picks appear in bold.
Welcome back to another edition of the Old College Try! We went 3-4 last week for a loss of $130. That brings us to 18-13-2 on the season with a total profit of $270. Whew, that number keeps dropping and we need to turn it around.
Going 3-4 is never fun, but last week was a special kind of hell. Let’s jump into those losses a bit to see what happened.
Kentucky over Missouri was just a bad bet. As I pointed out in last week’s post, Kentucky can’t do anything but run the ball. They only threw 13 times in this game, and Mizzou’s defense was good enough to stop the run when they knew it was coming. Bad bet, not a bad beat.
Betting Minnesota was also probably a bad idea. At the same time, the Gophers were missing their starting punter, kicker, kick returner, right tackle, right guard, a starting linebacker, and some of their backups (presumably due to COVID). We didn’t find this out until the day of the game. But these are the breaks you get when you take bets on Thursday in 2020. All of that aside, Joe Milton and Michigan looked much better than I expected, and so despite the team I bet losing six starters and then some without my knowledge, this was the third most painful loss of the week.
On to Auburn-Ole Miss, and I think we all know where this is going. The SEC has since admitted that they blew a call towards the end of the game — the Auburn kick returner touched the ball before it rolled into the endzone and a Rebels player dove on it — which likely would have put Ole Miss up 7 (likely 8 after an xp) points with only a few minutes to go. Instead, referees gifted Auburn a shot at a win late in the game for the second time this season. All that being said, this game played pretty even from start to finish. Auburn had 462 total yards to the Rebels’ 444, indicating that this game was pretty much 50/50. With the +145 moneyline, this still feels like there was a lot of value on the bet, and the blown call doesn’t help at all.
And we arrive at the worst loss of the week. Penn State lost to Indiana in overtime after a great play by quarterback Michael Penix Jr, but the Nittany Lions should have run away with this game. They held Indiana to only 3.5 yards per play and a total of 210 yards. Penn State, on the other hand, gashed the Hoosiers to the tune of 490 yards on 5.64 yards per play. A couple untimely interceptions, along with three missed field goals (yes, they missed three field goals in one game), cost Penn State the win and cost us the cover in a game where their opponent had a 5% postgame win expectancy, according to ESPN’s Bill Connelly. That’s one of the four unlikeliest wins in college football this year. Always fun to be on the wrong side of these.
I currently have no power and thus no internet in my home (thanks, hurricane), so most of this week’s article was typed out on an iPhone. As a result, you’ll find that the write ups are a little shorter, the gifs are missing, and there’s certainly a chance you stumble onto a typo. My apologies in advance. On the bright side, the important part is still here: our locks of the week. So let’s
The Lustrous Lilliputian of the Week
Kansas State +4 at West Virginia (-110)
If you haven’t watched Kansas State play yet this year, you might not be aware that the best player on either of these teams (apologies to Leddie Brown) is a five-foot-five ball of energy doing a beautiful Darren Sproles impersonation in the Big 12. Deuce Vaughn is an absolute blast, and he’s proven himself to be both the best running back and the best pass catcher on this Kansas State team.
West Virginia has a solid defense, but I think their numbers are a bit overstated at the moment. They rank 7th in the nation in yards per play against, but let’s take a look at who they’ve faced thus far. Their first five games have come against Eastern Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas, and Texas Tech. Exactly two of those teams have offenses that could even be considered mediocre. Kansas State’s offense isn’t quite as high powered as either Oklahoma State’s or Texas Tech’s, but it is good enough to put up some points even against a solid (not fantastic) West Virginia defense. On the other side, Leddie Brown is great, but I don’t have any faith in Jarret Doege.
I actually think Kansas State’s going to win this game, but I’ll definitely take four free points if the book is going to give them to me.
Lonesome Longhorn: The Big 12 Cattle Drive of the Week
Texas at Oklahoma State -3 (-110)
Ok, let’s start with all the counterarguments. Tom Herman as a dog is a trend that plenty of people love. Texas should be as talented as Oklahoma State is, and an undefeated team only being a 3 point favorite at home is usually an indicator that you should go the other direction. Oh, and this has been exactly the kind of game that Oklahoma State has traditionally choked in.
All of that being said, I’m going to go with Mike Gundy and the Cowboys here. Oklahoma State has the better defense (or the only defense in this game), and Texas has struggled to throw the ball consistently this year.
The Cowboy offense hasn’t been clicking on all cylinders yet this year, but Spencer Sanders returned last week, Tylan Wallace is still there, and Chuba is a monster. I think they get right against Texas this week and put up some points. On the other side, their defense should be able to hold Sam Ehlinger’s solo act in check. I like Okie State to win by a touchdown or more.
Hog-Tied: The Ugly SEC Under of the Week
Arkansas at Texas A&M Under 55 (-110)
Bet: $110 to win $100
This will be a short one. A&M has a solid defense and a fairly inconsistent offense. Jimbo also likes to slow the game down and run as few plays as possible for some reason that I still haven’t quite figured out. Arkansas’ defense has looked very good in the early going this year, and even though they like to push the pace a bit, I don’t think they have the playmakers to put up big numbers on a good defense. 31-24 seems like the ceiling for this one, barring some crazy plays happening, so I’m happy to jump on an under in the mid 50’s.
The Fraudulent Football Fixture of the Week
Indiana -11 at Rutgers (-110)
Bet: $110 to win $100
If you can get this at -10 at your book, I’d feel a lot better about it, but I’m still happy to lay the extra point. Both of these teams won games with misleading scores last week. Penn State’s game has already been explained in detail, but Rutgers managed to rack up 7 turnovers (5 recovered fumbles!) in their game against Michigan State, leading to 38 points despite a pretty bad offensive performance.
So, what to make of two fluky wins? Well, I think Indiana played a much better team in Penn State and I trust Michael Penix Jr. and company to move the ball much more easily against this Rutgers team. I don’t buy Rutgers suddenly being back under new coach Greg Schiano. The Hoosiers should be able to shut Rutgers down offensively, and I think 31 points covers this spread. Indiana will get to 31, so I’ll lay the points.
The “Buy it Before the Price Jumps” ATS Early Bird Special of the Week
Ohio State -12.5 at Penn State (-110)
This might be the last chance you get to take Ohio State as a favorite of under two touchdowns until the playoffs this year. Maybe Michigan, but every other spread will likely be 17-20+. Sure, it’s a talented Penn State team. Sure, the Buckeyes didn’t cover in this game last year, and rivalry game dogs are always fun to back.
Still, Penn State showed last week just how fallible their team is, and you can’t make mistakes like that against this Buckeye team. It’s not quite a Clemson/ACC situation, but I don’t think the margin between Ohio State and the next best team in the B1G and Clemson vs. Miami or Notre Dame is all that different.
Sean Clifford is fine, but he’s not the elite level of quarterback that you need to take down Ohio State. Penn State is also down their first two options at running backs as Journey Brown and Noah Cain are both out. Does 12-and-a-half points still feel like enough in this game? It doesn’t to me. Bet the Buckeyes.
Can We Bet on the Dawgs?
Listen, you absolutely can. My best guess on a score for this one is something like 38-10 UGA. They are coming off of a bad loss to Alabama and will be going into this week’s match up off a bye and with plenty to be upset about. Kentucky hasn’t been able to throw the ball at all this year, and if this Georgia defense knows that you’re going to run the ball, you’re day is not going to go well.
If it was closer to 14 (man, I wish Kentucky could have pulled out a win last week), I’d be forced to use this as one of the locks and I’d probably even make it a 2-unit bet. We need a week off after betting on the that Bama loss, though, and at 17.5 I can probably afford to hold off on adding another game to the card.
Thanks for reading The Old College Try! Also check out our weekly DFS article, where Tyler Badger has already helped a reader win one Draftkings jackpot, as well as many other high-placed finishes. Let me know which picks you like in the comments or on twitter (@slapnslide). Best of luck this weekend!