College football handicapper Victor Holliday provides BetPreviews with his NCAAF Week 7 best bets.
Between a storied program firing its coach for alcohol abuse, the year-long suspension of the starting quarterback of a top-10 team, and the unexpected retirement of an all-time great coach, it’s been an interesting past few days in the college football world, to say the least. The most surprising of those stories was probably the suspension of Florida quarterback Will Grier, who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and will not be eligible to play until Week 7 of next season. It’s a huge blow for the Gators, who travel to LSU on Saturday as 7.5-point underdogs.
After a disastrous Week 5 we righted the ship last week with a 2-unit win; let’s hope we can keep it going with these three selections:
Louisiana Tech @ Mississippi St. Saturday 17:00 GMT
Line: Mississippi St. -14 (Coral)
This is Conference USA vs. SEC, and based on that alone many people will view this as a mismatch from the get-go. I’d be willing to wager that most of those people haven’t seen Louisiana Tech play, however. The Bulldogs (the La Tech Bulldogs, that is– these teams are both Bulldogs) are terrific offensively, ranking 17th nationally with an average of 493.7 yards per game. Their quarterback, Florida transfer Jeff Driskel, has resurrected his career this season and looks to be headed for all-conference honors. Driskel should have plenty of success against a vulnerable Mississippi State defense that has only faced one sophisticated passing attack this season– that of Texas A&M, and in that game (two weeks ago) the Aggies amassed 322 yards through the air in a 13-point victory. Mississippi State will score plenty of points themselves this week, as Dak Prescott is likely to have a big day against an undersized, overmatched Tech defense, but I certainly don’t think this game will be one-sided. Louisiana Tech will score some touchdowns and make things interesting, and as a 14-point ‘dog they’re worthy of a bet.
Michigan St. @ Michigan Saturday 20:30 GMT
Line: Michigan -8.5 (BetVictor)
The Big House will be rocking this weekend, there’s no question about that. It isn’t necessarily surprising that Jim Harbaugh has injected life into the Michigan program, but I don’t think anybody thought the Wolverines would be this good this soon– especially not after a season-opening loss to Utah. And yet, here we are: 5-1 Michigan, coming off three straight shutout victories, is a whopping 8.5-point favorite over the undefeated Michigan State Spartans, who happened to be ranked 4th in the latest Coaches’ Poll. The fact that we are treating Michigan like this just six games into Harbaugh’s tenure is remarkable, but it begs the question– is it time to “sell high” with the Wolverines? I mean, let’s face it, they simply don’t have much offensive talent. Their quarterback, Jake Rudock, is a game-manager type who isn’t even particularly good in that capacity, as he’s thrown more interceptions than touchdowns on the year. The Spartans, meanwhile, have scored 24 points or more in every game they’ve played this season, so there’s certainly a chance that Rudock will be pulled out of his comfort zone this week by trying to keep pace with Connor Cook and Sparty. Not that I think Michigan St. will light up the scoreboard this week, for the record: I don’t. I expect an ugly, low-scoring game (a.k.a. Big Ten Football, am I right??) that comes down to the 4th quarter. Neither of these teams has any business being an 8.5-point favorite over the other.
Wake Forest @ North Carolina Sunday 00:00 GMT
Line: North Carolina -17 (PaddyPower)
Larry Fedora’s North Carolina team isn’t particularly talented, at least not when compared to the nation’s elite. The Tar Heels are no longer the NFL factory that they briefly were under Butch Davis, and after losing 17 combined games over the past three years they lost in Week 1 of this season to the South Carolina Gamecocks, a team so disappointing that its coach just quit a few days ago. HOWEVER– and this is a big ‘however’– when Fedora’s teams are physically superior to the opposition they not only win, but they usually win big. Real big. As a matter of fact, eleven of the 21 wins that Fedora has as coach of the Tar Heels have come by 20 points or more. This is partly due to the “step on the throat” mentality of the coach, but it has more to do with the style of the Carolina offense: they spread you out, they play with a pace and urgency that can best be described as “hair on fire”, and they play that way for 4 quarters, regardless of what it says on the scoreboard. In other words, this North Carolina team will blow you out if they can. The Demon Deacons, who scored just 3 points against Boston College last week and have produced 17 points or fewer four times this season, will be nothing more than a sacrificial lamb on Saturday.
Recommended Bets (1-3 unit scale)
1 unit Louisiana Tech +14 at 1.87 (Coral)
1 unit Michigan St. +8.5 at 1.92 (BetVictor)
2 units North Carolina -17 at 1.95 (PaddyPower)