LB looks at the NCAAF Week Seven fixtures and picks his best bets and upsets across all of College Football.
Navy @ SMU (Friday)
The Midshipmen travel to Dallas for some Friday Night Lights and I smell an upset. If you take season averages, or preseason expectations, then SMU being 12.5 point favorites makes sense. But The Mustangs look out of sorts and their vaunted defense has allowed 34, 42 and 41 points in the last three games. They look particularly poor on the ground and that could play into Navy’s triple-option hands. Navy started the season so poorly, as they tend to do, and now once again look to have taken a step up after the bye week.
Navy is weak against the pass and SMU does have an elite receiver in Rashee Rice. However, SMU over-rely on Rice and Navy can afford to double up on him. Navy’s defense is #18 in the country for takeaways and SMU are #118 in terms of giveaways. I can see The Midshipmen frustrating SMU’s offense and forcing Tanner Mordecai into making mistakes. The Senior QB has thrown 6 interceptions to his 12 TDs and has been sacked 5 times in the last three games.
Everyone knows Navy likes to play it slow. They will run the ball at every opportunity, run the clock down and put Mordecai and The Mustangs under a lot of pressure. I’m not sure SMU will be able to handle it.
Utah State @ Colorado State
The Aggies are 11.5 road favorites here and they will cover with ease. Utah State were annihilated by Bama on the opening day and it took them a few weeks to recover. Now they have hit their stride and fortunately for us the market, or the betting public, does not seem to have caught up. Colorado State are a mess and unfortunately the whole program looks to be heading in the wrong direction. Two more starters have entered the transfer portal this week, most notably star defensive back Tywan Francis who already has 37 tackles and 2 deflections on the season. More worrying, The Rams will have to start Freshman QB Giles Pooler – their 3rd choice in that position and their 3rd starting QB in three games. Colorado State have a 1-4 record, which includes a 15 point loss to #90 Middle Tennessee and a humiliating 31 point loss to FCS Sacramento State. Utah State put up 26 points at BYU and beat Air Force in their last two games. This won’t be close.
San Jose State @ Fresno State
This game is not quite as big a mismatch as the one above but it is not far off either. This line opened at 3 points and congratulations to anyone who got money on it. It is now out to 8.5 and that still looks too low. Everything points to a Spartans blowout win. Logan Fife will start under center for The Bulldogs and I’m not sure there is a bigger drop off in talent from QB1 to QB2 in The Mountain West. He has thrown 4 interceptions and a worrying zero TDs in three games and has been sacked 7 times. Fresno is successful on less than 40% of 3rd Downs, and even UConn kept them to 0-7! With passing stats like that it is no surprise Fresno wants to run the ball more. The problem is San Jose are really good at stopping the rush. The Spartans will get into the lead and Fresno will have to chase it – and the more Fife tries to throw, the more San Jose will score.
An interesting angle here for me is for the final quarter. San Jose have shown a willingness to keep scoring late, and have won the 4th Quarter of each of their last three games by at least 7 points, despite already leading. The 4th Quarter spread is currently just 0.5 with MyBookie and 1.5 in most places.
Stanford @ Notre Dame
The Irish are notoriously slow starters and have lost all five 1st Quarters so far. However, Notre Dame have turned the corner since Drew Pyne came in and the 2 TD spread here feels right. Stanford to win the 1st Quarter and Notre Dame to win the game is +500 (5/1) and that seems way overpriced.
Alabama @ Tennessee
There are a ton of other games I want to bet this week but that I will avoid. However, The Crimson Tide is one I cannot skip. I am still not convinced by Tennessee and to see Alabama just 7 point favorites really is a surprise. Everything has gone right for The Vols so far, and game after game they are gifted field position and scores. That will not happen against The Tide. Considering this has been bet down to 7 points, and a monster 81% of the bets are on Tennessee, it looks like a public overreaction. I would love to know what this line would be if there were no questions around Bryce Young’s shoulder. I’d hazard north of two TDs. Even without Young I expect Bama to cover though.
Navy @ SMU: Navy +12.5
Navy @ SMU: Navy Moneyline Win @ +400 (4/1)
Utah State @ Colorado State: Utah State -11.5 (2U)
San Jose State @ Fresno State: San Jose State -8.5 (2U)
San Jose State @ Fresno State: 4th Quarter San Jose State -1.5
Stanford @ Notre Dame: 1st Quarter Stanford, Notre Dame To Win The Game @ +500 (5/1)
Alabama @ Tennessee: Alabama -7
There are a couple of other strange lines this week. Clemson opened 6 point favorites over FSU, 82% of the bets came for The Tigers, but the line moved in to 3.5. As much as I believe Clemson are somewhat overrated, that’s a red flag.
Utah are really tough to beat at home and I want to bet the Utes at -3.5. However, the manner of their to UCLA is a little worrying. USC have no win of note yet and they were lucky to beat Oregon State. My gut tells me that Utah are still a Top 15 team and UCLA are the real deal – but I’ve lost twice on the Utes already so I’m going to sit this one out. A double digit Utah win would not surprise me though.
Texas are laying 16.5 at home to the mercurial Iowa State and it feels like a trap. If Texas get ahead early they could win by 20 points – but The Cyclones have a history of turning big games into slogs. After a 49-0 Red River Shutout last week, would a 10-9 win here surprise anyone?
And one final entry in the “surprises that would surprise nobody” category – Nebraska are 14 point underdogs at Purdue but if Casey Thompson can keep the interceptions down I can see a road win for The ‘Huskers.