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.
Finally a winning week, and man did we need it. The column went 2-1 (with one game cancelled) for a $90 gain, putting us at +$120 on the season with a 24-20-2 record. Maybe our luck is finally turning?
And that one loss? Penn State, once again managing to lose a game in which they outgained their opponent by a massive amount (in this case, 501 yards to 298). I can’t be mad about this one though, because apparently this is just who Penn State is. They march down the field only to turn the ball over in the red zone, and every time an opponent gets close to their own side of the field, they allow a touchdown. It’s not a great recipe for success.
You know what was a great recipe for success? Making only four picks last week. So we’re going to do it again.
The Dominant Defense Double Dip of the Week
Wisconsin -7 at Northwestern (-115)
Bet: $115 to win $100
Wisconsin at Northwestern Under 44 (-110)
Bet: $110 to win $100
Northwestern has been good this year, but their offense has been pretty mediocre so far against defenses that are less than stellar. They blew out Maryland in week 1, but since then they’ve put up 21, 21, and 27 against Iowa, Nebraska, and Purdue, respectively. That seems like a bad sign seeing as they have the B1G’s second best defense as their match up this week.
On the other side, Wisconsin has been blowing people out. But they’ve also faced teams that have been completely lost defensively. Wisconsin’s offense is much more competent than Northwestern’s, but this is Graham Mertz and co’s first big test. Northwestern has plenty of players on the defensive side, and should be able to at least slow Wisconsin down. Expect lots of punts and some field goal attempts on both sides.
Taking a touchdown favorite with a total this low is something I might normally discourage, but I think these are both the right plays this week. I see this total landing somewhere between 35 and 42 points with something like 31-10 or 27-14 being the most likely scenarios.
“The Sumlin of all Fears” Nuclear Coaching Meltdown of the Week
Arizona at Washington -11.5 (-110)
Bet: $110 to win $100
This might be a bit of a contrarian play, seeing as Washington just barely scraped past Oregon State last week while Arizona took USC to the wire. Most people take a look at those scores and this lines and say “this looks off.” When that happens, going the other direction is often the right play.
I don’t believe in Kevin Sumlin in any way, shape, or form, and does anybody think that Arizona should be improved after losing their only offensive bright spot for the last few seasons in Khalil Tate? Sure, Tate struggled last year, but that seemed to be more of an issue of the coaching staff failing to use him correctly (as well as lost time due to injuries) than a lack of ability on his part. Outside of one special Johnny Manziel season, Kevin Sumlin has underperformed for his entire coaching career. I’m not going to bet on him turning it around this year.
On the other side of this equation, I think Washington is the more talented and more physical team. They let up some big running plays last week, so there is at least one defensive hole to fix. Arizona doesn’t seem like well equipped to exploit that hole, though. Washington has more talent up and down the roster and should be able to run the ball well on the Wildcats. This is a pretty big number, but I think Washington can cover it.
The Minuteman Massacre of the Week
Umass at FAU Over 50.5 (-110)
Bet: $110 to win $100
There was a lot more value on this one at its opening line (47.5), so I hesitated a bit in including it here. However, I think FAU has been trying to push pace a bit more recently (despite that atrocious game against Western Kentucky) and UMASS isn’t good enough to prevent the Owls from playing their game, so the current line is still worth a play.
I see FAU scoring over 40 in this game with minimal resistance from the Minuteman defense, and UMASS, as bad as they are, should have chances to put up at least a couple of scores on a pretty weak FAU defense. Even without UMass hitting double digits, though, I think we have a good shot.
If FAU decides to run up the score here, I just don’t see much stopping them. This total is too low not to play.
Can We Bet on the Dawgs this Week?
No. As I’ve said in the last few columns, I can’t justify taking the Dawgs as a “best bet”, especially as a big favorite, until I see something out of the offense. Even if Daniels does start, I’d like to see a good week offensively before I can put money on this team.
Now Mississippi State is awful, and they haven’t put up points on anyone this year except for LSU. If I was going to bet on this game, it would probably be on the under. The (much) better idea is to avoid it entirely, though.
That wraps up another week of The Old College Try! Let me know what you think of the picks in the comments or on twitter (@slapnslide) and enter your email below to follow the blog by email. Best of luck on your weekend bets, and gamble responsibly! You might be seeing your family next week and we don’t want you to have to lie about how much you lost this time.