Aside from a couple of marquee Big 12 battles the college football slate is rather quiet this week, but that shouldn’t stop us from making a little money, should it? I might not have any “bet the mortgage” locks like we delivered with Oklahoma last week, but you may want to take a look at these three games:
Illinois @ Minnesota Saturday 17:00 GMT
Line: Minnesota -4.5 (BetVictor)
These teams are both struggling at the moment, with Illinois having lost four of their last 5 while Minnesota hasn’t won since October 10th. Both teams desperately need a win to keep bowl hopes alive, though, so this should be a hard-fought game. The thing I’m really having trouble getting past here is the 4.5-point number… I mean, the Gophers are soooo bad on offense; they’re a run-first team that simply can’t run the ball (103rd nationally in rushing offense). They’re not particularly good on defense either, having surrendered 36.4 points per game over their last four contests, but I’m not as concerned with the defense because Illinois is not explosive offensively. The Illini are pretty good on the defensive side of the ball, however, as they’ve surrendered 30 points or more just twice in ten games. That means we should see a tight, ugly game here– the type of game where 4.5 points could really come in handy. I’ve yet to bet on them this season, but I think Illinois is a good value this week.
LSU @ Mississippi Saturday 20:30 GMT
Line: Mississippi -6 (bet365)
If you ever need a reminder of how ridiculous the concept of “job security” is in college football, look no further than LSU’s Les Miles. Two weeks ago the Tigers were on the tip of everyone’s tongue as a national championship contender with the Heisman frontrunner, and now, 14 days (and two losses) later, anonymous reports are coming out of LSU saying that Miles could be in trouble if his team doesn’t finish the season strong. Ahh, the undying loyalty of a college football booster. Well, I certainly don’t think Les Miles should be fired, but I do think his team is in a tough spot on the road in Oxford this week. This is primarily because Ole Miss has something that LSU does not: a competent passing attack. As good as Leonard Fournette is, he’s not able to entirely carry the offense against SEC defenses when everybody in the building knows he’s getting the ball. And while Brandon Harris is an elusive runner who has made some timely plays over the course of his career, he simply can’t beat a defense with his arm. The Rebs’ Chad Kelly, on the other hand, has been a revelation this season; a strong-armed, fearless flamethrower who has been the driving force for an Ole Miss offense that is averaging over 40 points per game. LSU’s struggles on defense were kind of a dirty little secret when the Tigers were racking up wins, but after allowing 61 combined points over the last two weeks the secret is out. Ole Miss is catching LSU at the just right time, and I think they’re going to put the proverbial foot on their rival’s throat this Saturday.
Texas A&M @ Vanderbilt Sunday 00:30 GMT
Line: Texas A&M -6.5 (BoyleSports)
Is the Texas A&M offense for real? The Aggies looked like championship contenders back in September, opening the season with a good non-conference win over Arizona St. and scoring 28 points or more in each of their first five games. They’ve lost three games since then, however, producing just 36 total points in those three losses. So it look like we have our answer– A&M’s up-tempo spread attack is too much for lesser defenses to handle, but top-tier SEC defenses have no problem smothering the Aggies. Well, in case you haven’t noticed, Vanderbilt– yes, Vanderbilt– has a defense that can measure up to just about anybody. The ‘Dores have allowed their opponents to reach 20 points just three times in ten games, and they’ve held four teams to 13 points or fewer. They just seem to be getting better, too, as they held 10th-ranked Florida to 9 points two weeks ago and suffocated Kentucky in a 21-17 victory last Saturday. I don’t have much faith in the A&M offense in this matchup, and the Aggie defense has surrendered at least 17 points in every game this season, including last week’s win over tiny Western Carolina. I expect a tight, competitive game here, and I think Vanderbilt is a good bet as a 6.5-point home ‘dog.
Recommended Bets (1-3 unit scale)
1 unit Illinois +4.5 at 1.91 (BetVictor)
1 unit Mississippi -6 at 1.8 (bet365)
1 unit Vanderbilt +6.5 at 1.95 (BoyleSports)