From total upheaval a few short days ago to maintaining the status quo; at least that’s what last week meant to our Bet the Board Top 10 heading into Week 9. However, that could be the last time we utter those words heading down the home stretch, with so much yet to be decided in quests for conference championships and dreams of making the college football playoff.
The biggest game to keep tabs on this weekend, not only for our poll but the entire college football landscape, is Penn State’s trip to Columbus to take on Ohio State. Sure, call us captain obvious but this game is fascinating on a number of levels with the perplexing point spread (for some) being the most obvious. We can’t tell you how many tweets, texts, calls, and emails we have received asking; “how is Penn State a touchdown underdog.” Honestly? This line projected out to Ohio State -9.5 before Penn State beat the snot out of a lifeless Michigan offense, and a young and untested Wolverine defense. There are more questions than known commodities heading into the showdown, most notably has 5th-year senior, J.T. Barrett turned the corner from dreadful efforts against both Oklahoma to start the year and Clemson to close last season. His numbers are outstanding, but they’ve come against the likes of Indiana who is winless in conference to date, Rutgers, Army, Maryland, Nebraska, and UNLV. What about you, Penn State? Where are the elite offenses your #9 defense has encountered this season? Do wins over Pittsburgh, Akron, Georgia State, Iowa, Northwestern just to name a few leave you brimming with confidence against a NFL caliber offensive line and stable of running backs wearing scarlet and grey? We don’t have a strong opinion on the game, but just know you’ve been warned because if it’s too easy to take the points in this business, it’s usually fool’s gold (just ask Kentucky backers from last Saturday).
Without further adieu, here’s our top 10, which remains unchanged from the way it looked rolling into last week. Spoiler alert: it won’t look this way again next week.
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Oklahoma State
Underrated: Mississippi State
Don’t look now but there’s a SEC team getting more love from bettors and oddsmakers than anyone in the national media. Hail State has quietly put together a 5-2 SU, 5-2 ATS campaign highlighted by their pasting of LSU back in mid September. The one issue for State has been opposing defenses that are stout in the trenches; see the two game stretch against Auburn and Georgia where they were outscored 80-13. Aside from that the Bulldogs have shown great balance offensively under Nick Fitzgerald’s guidance while coupling it with a run defense that’s over achieved. We don’t make the underrated or overrated claim based on one game, but we’ll see the difference of opinion on the field this Saturday given the unfavorable spot of catching the Aggies off the bye. If State can sidestep this difficult trip to College Station there’s no reason to think they can’t finish out the season at 9-3 with the only other landmine coming on November 11th against the nation’s consensus #1.
“You are what your record says you are” is the biggest load of crap cliché in sports. If you approach sports betting looking merely at records, just start lighting your bankroll on fire. The ‘Canes are a great story; one of college football’s traditional powers starting their climb back to relevance in just year two of the Mark Richt regime. Unfortunately for Hurricane nation this team is a ticking time bomb having won their last three games by a combined 13 points. Don’t get us wrong, UNC won’t catch them with their pants down this weekend. It’s a four week finishing stretch that sees Miami host Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, and Virginia all before traveling to chilly Pittsburgh, which might reveal ample wagering opportunities to fade this paper tiger.
Double Digit Dog of the Week: San Francisco 49ers +13 (5-3 ATS)
This is a college football website. This is a college football column. Therefore, we should be betting college football games here, right? Well, I’m changing the rules for this week and we’re taking the investment advice to Sunday as we look to back the much-maligned San Francisco 49ers for their cross-country trek to Philadelphia. The Eagles enter with critical injuries on their offensive line (Jason Peters) and at linebacker (Jordan Hicks). Throw into the equation a short week of preparation against an 0-7 opponent they can easily beat if they just play average football, and it makes this underdog price tag very attractive. This is still a 49ers team that knows how to play competitive football dropping five games by 3 points or less; fully expect them to be engaged all four quarters looking for that elusive first win. It’s no blood bank guarantee, but taking nearly two scores will have you sitting pretty come Sunday.