What’s up, ladies and gentlemen?! Another weekend full of bets and ballgames is upon us. Let’s get you ready for the all of the action with the latest injury news, tweets, trends, ATS factoids and whatever else we can find of interest.
–As of Friday afternoon, the postponement count was at 14: San Jose St. at Fresno St., Washington St. at Stanford, Michigan St. at Maryland, Wake Forest at Duke, Charlotte at Marshall, Ga. Tech at Miami, Navy at South Florida, Houston at SMU, Central Arkansas at Louisiana, Utah St. at Wyoming, UNLV at Colorado St., ULM at La. Tech, Texas at Kansas and Ole Miss at Texas A&M.
–My thoughts are with anyone who bet the ‘under’ for Tulane-Tulsa early in the week when it was in the 52-53-point range. It moved up steadily on Thursday and closed at 55.5, so those late backers of the ‘under’ still cashed. Likewise, you got hosed if you took Tulane and didn’t get on it before lunch on Thursday. By that time, the number had dropped from being 6.5 or six all week to 5.5. I fortunately got Tulane and the ‘over’ early in the week so I won both. However, a small personal play on the Green Wave on the money line did get busted by Tulsa’s improbable comeback win in double overtime. With its third-string QB in after the Golden Hurricane’s top two QBs were injured, Tulsa hit a 37-yard TD pass on the final play of regulation to tie the game at 21-21 and force OT(s). After both teams traded field goals in the first extra session, Tulane QB Michael Pratt threw a pick-six that gave Tulsa a 30-24 win as a 5.5-point home ‘chalk.’ The Golden Hurricane became the first team in college football since 2005 to win four games when it trailed by 14 points or more in the same season.
–With Stetson Bennett ‘out’ (shoulder) for Saturday’s home game vs. Mississippi St., reports out of Athens have indicated that QB JT Daniels will (finally) take his first snap for Georgia when he gets the starting nod against Mike Leach’s depleted team. Mississippi St., which was a 24.5-point road underdog at most spots as of Friday afternoon, had another defection this week when starting sophomore DE Nathan Pickering opted out of the rest of the season. Pickering had 16 tackles, two sacks and one QB hurry in five games this year. QB KJ Costello remains in concussion protocol and is ‘out’ at UGA. Eighteen players have now left the Mississippi St. team with intentions of entering the transfer portal, while four others like RB Kylin Hill, a fourth-team All-American RB in 2019, have opted out. According to SI’s Ross Dellenger, MSU left Starkville for Athens on Friday afternoon with 50 players planning on dressing out. Another report from an MSU beat writer stated that 49 scholarship players are available at UGA.
–After missing back-to-back games at Kentucky and vs. Florida, UGA sophomore WR George Pickens is expected to play Saturday vs. MSU.
—East Carolina is a 3.5-point favorite at Temple. Why, you ask? Well, the Owls are going with a fourth-stringer as their starting QB against the Pirates, who are 5-13 ATS in their last 18 games as road favorites.
—Kansas St. (4-3 straight up, 5-2 against the spread) is 17-6 ATS with seven outright wins in its last 23 games as a double-digit underdog since late in the 2009 campaign. The Wildcats are 35-13 ATS as road ‘dogs going back to 2007 & regardless of home/away/neutral, they’re 51-22 ATS in their last 73 games as underdogs since midway through the 2009 season. Chris Klieman’s team is 3-0 ATS with a pair of outright wins in three games as a double-digit underdog this year. As of Thursday, Kansas St. was an 11-point underdog at Iowa St. The Wildcats have won 11 of the last 12 head-to-head meetings, with the lone defeat coming in 2018 when the Cyclones rallied from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit for a 42-38 comeback win. Nevertheless, K-St. easily took the cash as a 13-point road underdog. Iowa St. hasn’t beaten the Wildcats by more than 11 points since 2005.
–After missing the home loss to Oklahoma St., Kansas St. senior TE Briley Moore is expected to return against Iowa St. In six games this season, Moore has 19 catches for 271 yards and three TDs. However, Kansas St. is reportedly dealing with some COVID-19 positive tests. Klieman told the Associated Press, “We don’t have enough (healthy) guys to shift around. That’s probably our issue. We’re (practicing) with the guys that we have, just knocking on wood that we can get through Wednesday’s tests, and Friday’s tests. We’re not the only ones in the country dealing with this. We’re just down so many guys in certain spots that we can’t even move people. So I’m just knocking on wood that we get good results the rest of this week.”
—Washington St. isn’t going to have its starting QB Jayden de Laura at Stanford, according to Theo Lawson’s reporting late Thursday night. De Laura, a true freshman who was the prize of Nick Rolovich’s first recruiting class, has completed 43-of-72 passes (59.7%) for 548 yards with a 4/1 touchdown-to-interception ratio through two games. The Cardinal had been favored by two or 2.5 points for most of the week. The game has been taken down at most betting shops. A few books re-posted the number with Stanford anywhere from a four to 5.5-point home ‘chalk.’
UPDATE at 5:19 p.m. Eastern: Washington at Stanford has been cancelled.
–FanDuel is offering some look-ahead lines for Week 13, including Notre Dame -7 at North Carolina and Florida -20.5 vs. Kentucky. FanDuel also has an early Iron Bowl number with Alabama installed as a 21-point home ‘chalk’ vs. Auburn.
–As you can see in the tweet below from UCLA beat writer Ben Bolch, several Bruins including three-year starting QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson are awaiting word on whether or not they can play Saturday at Oregon. DTR and several teammates are quarantining due to contact tracing with a teammate that tested positive for COVID-19.
–Even though Eastern Michigan failed to cover the number as a 6.5-point home underdog in Wednesday’s 45-28 loss to Toledo, the Eagles are still 26-4-1 ATS in their last 31 games as underdogs.
–If Florida’s team total in the first half is 28 points or fewer for Saturday’s noon Eastern kickoff at Vanderbilt, that’s a major recommendation on the ‘over.’ I had other thoughts on how to back the Gators’ spectacular offense without laying 30-plus points in this quick-hit article.
—This ESPN story took a deep dive into how FSU’s football program has gone to hell over the last six years.
—I discussed the South Carolina vacancy in this video on MajorWager’s YouTube channel. Please rate, subscribe and all that good stuff if you wish. Also, here’s a Week 12 video discussing many of the topics I touch on in this column.
–Since making the video linked to above, I’ve talked to a few people in the sports media industry. From what I’ve gathered from several conversations, I don’t think Hugh Freeze and South Carolina are going to be a match. Freeze might be eyeing other SEC jobs. Now of course, South Carolina is the only current vacancy but like I’ve said many times over the past month, Jeremy Pruitt is a goner in Knoxville.
—MajorWager’s Blake Von Hagen penned this column on the offshore odds for the man who will become the next coach of the Gamecocks, who are 6.5-point home underdogs Saturday night vs. Missouri.
–According to multiple reports this week, Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle is ahead of schedule in his recovery from surgery on the broken ankle he sustained in a blowout win at Tennessee. Waddle is hoping he can be ready for the College Football Playoff semifinals.
—Louisville won’t have star RB Javian Hawkins for the rest of the season. Also, South Carolina has lost three key players off its defense that have opted out since Will Muschamp was fired this past Sunday. The mean ol’ Twitter streets were rough on ‘Boom’ earlier this week, but it was good to see many notable people come to his defense, including Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst, ESPN’s Ryan McGee and many others. I’m a ‘Muschamp Guy.’ Always have been, always will be.
–That last-second TD pass by Arizona QB Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins to beat Buffalo last week won this bettor a 10-team parlay that paid out nearly $60,000:
—Wake Forest saw its four-game winning streak ended last week when North Carolina turned a 45-31 deficit going into the fourth quarter into a 59-45 lead with 2:39 remaining. With the game tied at 45-45 with 4:11 left, UNC sophomore QB Sam Howell scored on a 20-yard TD run to give the Tar Heels their first lead since they took a 24-21 advantage early in the second quarter. Mack Brown’s team extended its lead and went ahead of the number for the first time in the entire game on Javonte Williams’s 15-yard TD run with 2:39 left. But facing a 3rd-and-18 play, Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman hit Jaquarii Roberson for a huge fain that put the Demon Deacons into UNC territory. Then with 57 ticks remaining, Hartman found Roberson again for a five-yard scoring strike and the subsequent two-point conversion make it a 59-53 final. UNC’s threat of the frontdoor cover was rightfully denied, with Dave Clawson’s team covering the spread as a 13-point underdog and dodging what could’ve been a horrific Bad Beat, especially when you consider that the Deacs led 45-24 with less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter. Wake Forest is on a 5-0 ATS run going into
Saturday’s game at Duke as a single-digit ‘chalk.‘ an unexpected open date this weekend.
–Wake Forest (4-3 straight up, 6-1 against the spread) has not missed Jamie Newman, who transferred to Georgia before electing to opt out. Hartman threw for 439 yards and four TDs without an interception at UNC. The third-year sophomore signal caller has eight TD passes without an interception, in addition to two rushing TDs. For this career, Hartman has a 28/10 career TD-INT ratio and five rushing TDs.
–Wake Forest might not have had senior LB Ja’Cquez Williams at Duke, but the ACC showdown was postponed due to COVID late Tuesday. He was listed as ‘questionable’ after sustaining a concussion in the spread-covering loss at UNC. In seven games this year, Williams has produced 55 tackles (32 solo), four tackles for loss, one sack, two QB hurries , one forced fumble and one pass broken up. You can see the play he was injured on in the clip below.
–Arkansas WR De’Vion Warren is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Warren had 15 receptions for 278 yards and three TDs in seven games. He also had 35 rushing yards on four attempts for a 8.8 YPC average.
–La. Tech WR Adrian Hardy has opted out of the rest of the season. In seven games this year, Hardy had 33 receptions for 440 yards and four TDs. Skip Holtz will also be without senior RB Justin Henderson for the rest of the 2020 campaign. Like Hardy, Henderson decided to opt out. He was a second-team All-C-USA selection in 2019 when he ran for 1,062 yards and 15 TDs while averaging 5.6 YPC. Henderson hadn’t been nearly as productive through seven games this year, rushing for 252 yards and two TDs with a pedestrian 3.4 YPC average. He had nine catches for 37 yards as well.
—Late-Night Action! There are three televised games in the late slot Saturday night. Utah will host USC as a short home underdog in its season opener at 10:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. This Pac-12 showdown will feature the return of Jake Bentley, the former South Carolina starting quarterback. Under normal circumstances, I’d be all over the Utes as home underdogs. They’re 6-4 ATS in 10 such spots under Kyle Whittingham since 2012. However, Utah is expected to have quite a few COVID absences, so the game is a pass for me. (But let me sneak this point in — I don’t think USC is very good this year. The Trojans
could should be 0-2.) The other late games are Washington St. at Stanford (FS1, 11:00 p.m. ET.) and Boise St. at Hawaii (CBS Sports Network, 11:00 p.m.). The Broncos, who were 14-point road favorites as of Friday afternoon, have won seven games in a row over Hawaii both SU and ATS, and they were favored by at least 13 points in all seven of those contests.
–Before I dip out and finish my SEC Notebook that’ll be published at VegasInsider at some point Friday night, allow me to share one of my NFL plays for this weekend. I’m taking the Dolphins -3.5 at Denver. If you can buy the half-point to the key number of three without being forced to risk more than -130 juice, you probably want to do that just in case. Anyway, Miami has won five games in a row both SU and ATS to improve to 6-3 SU and 7-2 ATS. Former Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa has been outstanding in his first two career starts, throwing five TD passes without an interception. The Broncos are in a 1-3 slump both SU and ATS and were just beaten down badly at home last week by the Raiders, who left the Mile High City with a 37-12 victory. Denver QB Drew Lock (ribs) is ‘questionable’ (as of Friday afternoon), but he’s not any good anyway. In fact, I want him to play. Lock has a 7/10 TD-INT ratio this year and it appears as if John Elway has whiffed again on a QB he’s drafted in the first round.
–After cashing another winner with the Seahawks on Thursday night, my NFL picks are on an 8-0 run. I’m currently ranked No. 1 out of the 36 NFL handicappers on VegasInsider in overall money (units earned — +12.19) and second in winning percentage (60.0%!). Going into Sunday, my documented NFL record at VI is 39-26-2. I’m still working on my plays for Week 11 in the NFL, and you can check them out at this link here (with more to follow).
–Best of luck with your wagers, stay out of trouble and have a great weekend! I’m out…