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, November 12th. Picks appear in bold.
It’s Week 11 and we have been on an abysmal streak of going 2-3 every week. The picks are now 22-19-2 with a $30 profit, which has dwindled down all the way from $640 earlier in the year. I was hoping that this was the week that we could turn all of that around.
Unfortunately, the combination of coronavirus breakouts across the country, some teams likely losing a bit of the motivation they had earlier in the season to quarantine, and the fact that these are college kids on college campuses, most of whom probably attended Halloween parties 2 weeks ago have all added up to plenty of bad news for the sport.
More than half of the SEC games have been postponed this week, along with the Ohio State game, Pittsburgh-GT, and Memphis-Navy. Seems like we’re doing great with the whole COVID thing.
I was actually planning on making this a 7-game card, but with all of the cancellations I’d have to stretch pretty hard to call all seven of those best bets or locks. So we’re reigning it in this week and only picking four games. Can’t go 2-3 when you pick four.
The B1Ggest Dissapointment of the Week
Penn State -3.5 at Nebraska
Bet: $110 to win $100
Ok, it’s time to figure this out. How bad can this Nittany Lions team really be? They lost a close one (while looking like the better team) against Indiana in week 1, then got beat handedly by Ohio State. That was Ohio State though, so no shame in a loss. Then in week three they got absolutely roasted by little Tua and the Terps.
Now they face a Nebraska team who should be outgunned and outmanned. Is James Franklin really this bad? Can Sean Clifford go a game without throwing multiple interceptions? Has Penn State completely quit on this season? We should know the answers to all of these questions on Saturday.
I don’t think Franklin is a great coach, but I also don’t think he’s bad enough to start out 0-4 with this team and this schedule. Nebraska had a decent showing last week against a sneaky-solid Northwestern team, and might have even pulled out a win if they could have protected the ball a bit better. I still don’t think they can hang with Penn State this weekend, though.
This is the week that Sean Clifford is just a bit smarter with the football, and this is the week Penn State gets its first win. If you’re watching this game, key in on Jahan Dotson because that kid can play and I don’t know if Nebraska has anybody that can contain him. Nittany Lions by a touchdown or more.
The ACC Over of the week
Florida State at NC State Over 59 (-110)
Bet: $110 to win $100
Florida State ranks 32nd in the country in pace of play, running 76.5 plays per game. NC State is pretty middle of the pack, but they’ve been scoring points, putting up 41 on Miami last week. I don’t think they’ll slow down at all this week either, as Florida State’s defensive line has struggled to make a difference against either the run or the pass.
NC State got creative with their playcalling last week, and Bailey Hockman delivered when receivers were open. This one also has a bit of extra motivation to it as Hockman transferred to NC State from Florida State after being told he wasn’t good enough to start for the Seminoles. I think he’s going to go in looking to score 60 on Florida State by himself, and even if he doesn’t get there, I feel pretty good about the over.
My only concern here is that we don’t know what’s happening with Florida State’s quarterback situation. If Jordan Travis doesn’t play, NC State -10 is probably a better play than the over. I think he’s going to give it a go, though, and if he does I’d much rather be on the over (although NC State still wouldn’t be the worst play).
The Revenge Fade of the Week
Utah -3 at UCLA (Even)
Bet: $100 to win $100
You really shouldn’t try to get back after a bad loss by betting against the team who cost you. It’s a bad idea. That being said, if Chip Kelly’s team couldn’t do it last week I don’t know when they’ll be able to do it.
UCLA looked completely lost in week 1, turning the ball over left and right. They struggled to stop Colorado on the ground or through the air, and they ran only 65 plays to Colorado’s 92. Utah may not be the most talented team in the nation, but under Kyle Whittingham, they’ve always been well coached and they always play hard. That might be enough to beat UCLA all by itself. I’ll take the Utes to roll in this one.
“Take Me Home, Country Roads”: The West Virginia Home Win of the Week
TCU at West Virginia -3
Bet: $110 to win $100
You might look at this and think, “TCU’s coming off of back to back wins, and West Virginia has lost two out of their last three. Plus, TCU beat the same Texas team that the Mountaineers just lost to! What are you doing picking WVU as a favorite in this game?”
And sure, you’d be right about all of those things. But West Virginia has also played much tougher at home as they are 4-0 in Morgantown and 0-3 on the road so far in 2020. Plus, this is a pretty good match up for them regardless of location.
TCU ranks 78th in the country against the run, allowing 4.4 yards per play. That will hurt them going against Leddie Brown, one of the best backs in the Big 12.
West Virginia’s defense, on the other hand, has been exceptional. As the below tweet states, they are the only Power 5 team with a grade over 90 for both coverage and run defense. Their competition hasn’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard against other teams, but it’s not like TCU’s offense is a step up from Texas or Oklahoma State’s.
TCU quarterback Max Duggan has had some decent games this year, but he does most of his damage on the ground. West Virginia has one of the best defensive lines in the Big 12 and should be able to control the line of scrimmage. Without the threat of a big play to stretch the defense, I think West Virginia will be able to shut down the run game and win this one easily.
Can We Bet on the Dawgs?
No. And I don’t want to talk about it.
Thanks for reading The Old College Try this week, and let me know if you are following or fading these picks (hope you’ve been fading recently) here in the comments or on twitter (@slapnslide). As always, best of luck on all of your gambling endeavors this weekend, and bet responsibly.