Let’s get you prepped for bets and ballgames in Week 11 of the college football season. We’ve got injury updates, ATS factoids, tweets, opinions and more.
Here we go…
—Here’s our Blake Von Hagen on the SEC postponements for this Saturday. Since Blake’s story, the Georgia at Missouri contest became the fourth SEC game to get scrapped for this Saturday. There’s hope that with some schedule re-arranging that Alabama at LSU could still be played. The path for this to happen involves teams — like LSU — that aren’t going to be in Atlanta playing games on the same day of the SEC Championship Game (12/19). I would love for this to happen because I’m on Alabama ‘over’ 8.5 wins. If the Crimson Tide (or any other SEC team for that matter) doesn’t get all 10 games in, plays on its season win total become no-plays (or pushes, refunds or whatever you want to call it).
–Florida falls into a vintage letdown scenario when it hosts Arkansas on Saturday night at The Swamp on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. The Gators could be without several key players. Starting senior safety Brad Stewart, starting offensive guard Stewart Reese and star TE Kyle Pitts are listed as ‘questionable.’ Starting BUCK Jeremiah Moon is ‘doubtful’ with a foot injury, and junior DB Trey Dean remains ‘out ‘ indefinitely with an undisclosed injury. Loyal readers know I’m a UF alum and obviously a fan, so I want it to be clear that I won’t be happy at all if Dan Mullen doesn’t rest Pitts this week. I’m confident he will. And even if he’s cleared this week and/or next week, I’m just fine with him sitting out next week at Vanderbilt, too. We see lots of car crashes in college football and the NFL every week, but that collision was next level when UGA’s Lewis Cine was ejected for targeting on his hit against Pitts. Both players were clearly left with concussions, and it appeared as if Cine lost several teeth and was spitting blood as he made his way off the field.
–As of Thursday afternoon, most shops had the Gators as 17.5-point home favorites against the Hogs, who won’t have head coach Sam Pittman on the sidelines after he tested positive for COVID. The Razorbacks are the nation’s most lucrative money maker this season with a 6-0 spread record. Feleipe Franks is enjoying a stellar bounce-back season in Fayetteville, where he landed as a grad transfer after sustaining a season-ending injury in Florida’s Week 3 game at Kentucky last year. With Kyle Trask entrenched as the starter, Franks new it was best for all parties to look for a new home. He’s found it at Arkansas, which should be 4-2 straight up if not for getting robbed of victory at Auburn. Franks has a 14/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio after throwing three TD passes without an interception in last week’s 24-13 comeback win over Tennessee.
–I’m all over Boston College as a double-digit home underdog vs. Notre Dame. I explained why right here.
–As of Thursday afternoon, most books had North Carolina listed as a 13.5-point home favorite Saturday vs. Wake Forest. The Tar Heels are playing their seventh game in seven weeks, while the Demon Deacons are off an open date and have had two weeks to prepare for UNC. Furthermore, and this could apply to Notre Dame’s situation (which we’re also fading, as noted above) as well, Mack Brown’s club has the Fighting Irish on deck in Week 12. During Dave Clawson’s seven-year tenure in Winston-Salem, Wake Forest (4-2 straight up, 5-1 against the spread) has compiled a 19-7 spread record in 26 games as a double-digit underdog. In their last 18 games as road underdogs, the Demon Deacons are 13-5 ATS. They’re 2-0 ATS as double-digit puppies this year, including a 23-16 win over Virginia Tech as 10.5-point home ‘dogs. Wake Forest has quietly won four games in a row both SU and ATS. Three of those wins have come by 17 points or more.
–With Wednesday’s 38-31 loss at Ball St., Eastern Michigan lost yet another heartbreaker. I feel for this EMU squad that’s been such a lucrative money maker for me through the years. Yet again, the Eagles lost outright but hooked me up with a winner as an 8.5-point road underdog. In doing so, Chris Creighton’s bunch improved to an incredible 19-3 ATS in its last 22 games as a road underdog. Folks, just bet on EMU blind when you see a “+” next to its name.
–Toledo led by 10 at Western Michigan last night with less than a minute remaining as a 1.5-point road underdog. Then all hell broke loose in Kalamazoo. The Broncos scored and then recovered an onside kick to set up what you can see in the clip below. Needless to say, the Rockets are the early leader in the clubhouse for the worst Bad Beat of Week 11.
–San Jose State (3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS) is off to its best start since 1982 and will be shooting for its first 4-0 start in 65 years Saturday when it takes on UNLV as a 15.5-point home ‘chalk.’ The Spartans might be without starting quarterback Nick Starkel, though. The former QB at Texas A&M and Arkansas was knocked out of last week’s 28-17 win at San Diego State in the first quarter with an injury. Starkel, who is listed as ‘questionable’ vs. the winless Rebels, has completed 58-of-79 passes (73.4%) for 706 yards and seven touchdowns compared to only one interception.
–Chip Kelly’s tenure at UCLA has been an unmitigated disaster from the start, and it only got worse with last week’s 48-42 season-opening loss at Colorado. The Buffaloes were without their best RB, Alex Fontenot, and were starting a QB that played safety last year. The Bruins are now 7-18 SU with a 10-15 ATS mark on Kelly’s watch. They’re 4-9 both SU and ATS in home games. Utah is a three-point favorite at UCLA on Saturday.
–If I had a vote for National Coach of the Year, my ballot would look like this right now:
1-Sam Pittman (Arkansas)
2-Jamey Chadwell (Coastal Carolina)
3-Brian Kelly (Notre Dame)
4-Hugh Freeze (Liberty)
5-Kalani Sitake (BYU)
6-Luke Fickell (Cincinnati)
7-Tom Allen (Indiana)
8-Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M)
9-Nick Saban (Alabama)
10-Dan Mullen (Florida)
–The bad news keeps coming for the Seminoles, who fell to 2-5 both SU and ATS (1-5 SU vs. FBS foes) in last week’s 41-17 home loss to Pitt. Former FSU WR DJ Matthews announced today that he’s transferring to Indiana. Matthews is old news for FSU, leaving the team months ago. However, QB James Blackman (no biggie here, either; dude wasn’t ever going to touch the field again wearing garnet and gold) has left the team along with WR Tamorrion Terry, who had 60 receptions for 1,188 yards and nine TDs in 2019. Most important, FSU’s best player, senior DT Marvin Wilson, is out for the season with an injury. Mike Norvell’s team is a 9.5 to 10-point underdog Saturday at North Carolina St. I got on the Wolfpack at -7 earlier in the week.
–Another play I got on Sunday was Ole Miss -7 vs. South Carolina. However, that number is 11-ish now, so it’s tough to recommend at this point.
–West Virginia is 4-0 both SU and ATS at home this year, while TCU is 2-0 both SU and ATS in a pair of road assignments. As of Thursday afternoon, the Mountaineers were favored by three or 3.5 points. They’re 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games as home ‘chalk,’ while the Horned Frogs are 14-7 ATS in their last 21 games as road underdogs. WVU junior RB Leddie Brown is listed as ‘questionable’ after leaving last week’s 17-13 loss at Texas early with an injury. Brown is seventh in the nation in rushing yards (741), has nine rushing TDs and a 5.3 yards-per-carry average. He also has 26 receptions for 176 yards and two TDs.
–With UCF backup QB Darriel Mack leaving the program earlier this week, there’s been a little more curiosity on the status of McKenzie Milton. Here’s the latest:
–Most books have Alabama listed as a -400 favorite to win the SEC Championship Game. Florida has the next-shortest odds at +200, followed by Texas A&M (25/1), Georgia (50/1), Auburn (125/1), Missouri (250/1), LSU (500/1), Arkansas (750/1), Kentucky (750/1), South Carolina (750/1), Tennessee (750/1) and Vanderbilt (100,000/1).
–Barring some upset wins in the coming weeks, it appears as if Tennessee and South Carolina are going to move on from Jeremy Pruitt and Will Muschamp, respectively. If either or both do so, look for Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze to be a candidate for both jobs. Keep Carolina offensive coordinator Joe Brady in mind for potential SEC openings as well. Brady has done a stellar job for the Panthers, especially when you consider how much time RB Christian McCaffrey has missed. And obviously, he was the brains, coupled with Joe Burrow’s greatness, behind LSU igniting its long-dormant offense into a juggernaut in 2019.
–Speaking of potential job openings, are Jim Harbaugh’s days in Ann Arbor going to be numbered soon? Will it be a mutual parting of ways if things continue to go South on the Wolverines? They’re four or 4.5-point home underdogs Saturday vs. Wisconsin. (By the way, there appears to be hope for the Badgers that Graham Mertz will get cleared to play at The Big House). If Harbaugh does exit his alma mater, where will Michigan turn? Luke Fickell is the hot name, but would the life-long Ohioan sign up with the bitter enemy. He turned down a huge raise to take the Michigan St. job last year. However, isn’t Michigan — at least in the long term in terms of tradition, facilities, money and fan support — easily the second-best Big Ten job? If that’s the case and with it seeming abundantly clear that Ryan Day isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, isn’t this the gig that would give Fickell the best chance to win in the long term if he wants to stay in the Midwest? We shall see.
–I”ll be a guest on the Chris Vernon Show in Memphis at 12:30 Central early Friday afternoon. You can watch it live on the Grind City Media YouTube channel if you wish. Make sure to stay tuned for Vinnie Verno in the segment after mine.
–Without being able to just glance at my Phil Steele magazine to check out any team’s schedule in this COVID-infested 2020 campaign, there are certainly some looming games that I wasn’t aware of and here’s one that I was thrilled to learn about earlier this week. Liberty plays host to Coastal Carolina on Dec. 5. Who knew? Only time will tell if both teams will still be undefeated but if they’re, this one will be a can’t-miss game to watch.
–Speaking of the Chanticleers, their game at Troy has been postponed due to COVID. Also, Pitt at Ga. Tech has been nixed. Twelve total games for Week 11 have been scrapped.
–The Maryland football team, which has won back-to-back games and was going to host Ohio St. before the game was cancelled due to a COVID outbreak among players for the Terrapins, has moved into a hotel where it will remain through Sunday. The team will be getting daily COVID tests to get a grasp on the situation. Maryland went into Happy Valley last weekend and dealt out a 35-19 pimpslap as a 27-point underdog in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.
–Mississippi St. starting junior safety Marcus Murphy has opted out of the rest of the season. In six games, Murphy had 34 tackles, one tackle for loss and one pass broken up.
–Still dealing with the impact of a COVID diagnosis and a concussion sustained earlier this year, So. Miss starting QB Jack Abraham has chosen to sit out the rest of the season. The Golden Eagles, who are 2-5 SU and 1-6 ATS, are on their third head coach and should be near the top of your Fade List.
–See below for a costly injury in the Fun Belt:
–ICYMI last weekend:
–I didn’t come close to hitting any panic button last week when UGA took a 14-0 lead on my Gators. In fact, all that deficit did was help me make more greenbacks. See the tweets below for the proof:
–Best of luck to all on their wagers this weekend! I’ll try to update this page with breaking injury news between now and noon Eastern on Saturday. If you check back looking for something fresh, you’ll know I’ve added some intel if there’s an “UPDATED” time stamp at the top. I’m out…