The college football season rolls on and we’re rolling right along with it, though some weeks it rolls right over us. That was certainly the case for me last week, as all three of our bets failed to cash. No bother– if history is any indication we’ll probably bounce back in a big way… I sure hope so, anyway!!
Here are this week’s selections:
Georgia @ Tennessee Saturday 20:30 GMT
Line: Georgia -3 (Titanbet)
The ‘Dawgs were exposed by Alabama last week, and while conventional wisdom dictates that they’ll respond with an impassioned effort on road in Tennessee on Saturday, they’re likely to run into a home team that meets their “want to”, and then some. There’s probably no team in the country that has suffered as much heartbreak as the Vols this season. They blew big second-half leads in losses to Oklahoma and Florida and followed that up by losing a home game to a disappointing Arkansas team. Many people have now totally written them off, but I have a piece of advice for those folks: be careful. Remember, these are 18, 19, and 20-year old kids we’re dealing with. They’re often motivated in different ways and by different things than professional athletes, and I don’t view Tennessee’s track record this season as a negative, necessarily. I expect to see a sharp, hungry, battle-tested Tennessee team on Saturday, one that senses the season slipping away and plays to their potential. And make no mistake, there is plenty of potential there. The Vols looked demonstrably better than both Oklahoma and Florida throughout most of those games, and their biggest weakness– the secondary– won’t hurt them as much as usual this week because Georgia is a run-first team with issues at the quarterback position. Don’t be surprised if Tennessee springs the upset here.
Georgia Tech @ Clemson Saturday 20:30 GMT
Line: Clemson -7 (Ladbrokes)
The Georgia Tech bandwagon is nearly empty now that the Jackets have lost three straight games, but you can count me as one of the last remaining passengers– though I’m admittedly sitting in the back with my eye on the exit. Thing is, what they do– the devastating triple-option attack led by quarterback Justin Thomas– still hasn’t really been stopped by anybody. Notre Dame came the closest, controlling the Tech offense for most of the game and surrendering just 22 points, but I have zero faith in the ability of Clemson’s defense to do the same. After all, just three weeks ago the Tigers were gashed for 202 rushing yards by tiny Appalachian St., a team that can generously be labeled “Georgia Tech Lite.” And if you can’t stop the Jackets from doing what they want to do on offense, then your very best case scenario is a back-and-forth, “whoever has the ball last wins” type of game. That’s sort of what I’m expecting here, as I do expect the Clemson offense to have some success, and in a game like that I’ll always take the 7 points. As a matter of fact, I believe Georgia Tech is worthy of a 2-unit play in this situation.
Florida @ Missouri Sunday 00:30 GMT
Line: Florida -4.5 (PaddyPower)
A lot of people are identifying Missouri as a good situational play here and jumping on the home ‘dog, which has brought the number back down to 4.5 after it crept up to 5.5 a couple of days ago. And you can see where those people are coming from– the Tigers have beaten the Gators handily in each of the past two years, Florida’s only true road game this season has been an ugly win over Kentucky, and the Gators really hadn’t been impressive in any of their games until last week’s surprising win over Ole Miss. I think Missouri backers are overlooking one key matchup here, though, and it’s the matchup that I expect to be the story of the game: the Florida defense vs. the Missouri offense. The Gators have one of the finest defenses in the entire country, a unit littered with NFL prospects in both the front seven and the secondary. While much of the attention has been focused on the budding Florida offense– the still-unsettled quarterback situation, the discovery of playmakers Brandon Powell and Antonio Callaway, the fast-improving line– the defense is the reason why the Gators are 5-0, and if they keep winning it’s going to be the defense that does the heavy lifting. The lifting may not be all that heavy this week though, as Missouri has a putrid, difficult-to-watch offense that ranks 106th nationally in yards per game and has produced fewer points than all but two teams in the SEC this season. I’ll be very surprised if the Missouri offense is able to produce more than 10-14 points in this game, meaning turnovers and other such self-inflicted wounds are probably the only way that Florida can lose here. While things like that are certainly possible with a young team on the road, that’s not the type of thing I want to be relying on as a bettor. I think I’ll back the better team instead.
Miami @ Florida St. Sunday 01:00 GMT
Line: Florida St. -9 (bwin)
One thing that makes handicapping college football a little different than handicapping the NFL is the ability to identify teams that are significantly overrated but have not yet been exposed, even midway into the season. In the NFL, of course, the competition is such that “pretenders” are identified fairly early; you’re just not going to be able to win five or six games in a row unless you’re a pretty good football team. In college, however, the talent disparity between some of the “haves” and “have-nots” and the existence of schedules that sometimes feature just two or three truly losable games for the “haves” make it so we can sometimes get a team– almost always one of the big-name “haves”– that skates through nearly an entire season before being exposed as a pretender. Such is the case, I believe, with the 2015 Florida State Seminoles, a big-name program that has a decidedly small-time offense this season, especially if Dalvin Cook– who is questionable this week with a hamstring injury– isn’t out there. Cook is a one-man show for the Noles, as Notre Dame transfer quarterback Everett Golson has looked totally lost at times and as a result the passing game has yet to get on track. Golson’s counterpart on Saturday, Miami’s Brad Kaaya, is a good-looking young player who was instrumental in helping the Canes nearly upset the ‘Noles last season, throwing for 316 yards against a Florida St. defense that was superior to this year’s version. If I knew for sure that Dalvin Cook wasn’t going to play I’d be calling for the outright upset here, but as it stands now all I can commit to is Miami and the points. I’d advise you to keep a close watch on Cook’s status over the next couple of days.
Recommended Bets (1-3 unit scale)
2 units Tennessee +3 at 2.0 (Titanbet)
2 units Georgia Tech +7 at 1.95 (Ladbrokes)
1 unit Florida -4.5 at 1.95 (PaddyPower)
1 unit Miami +9 at 1.91 (bwin)