The college football schedule is getting more intense, and the matchups are a lot more intriguing. When you put two teams on the field that are basically the same talent wise, Vegas finds it harder and harder to put lines together. This is when the general public can find mismatches and take advantage of the city of sin.
Week 10 is a perfect example. Three ranked teams will play each other, and there are various other high profile teams that will battle it out in what should be one of the more exciting weeks of college football.
Can you spot the advantages?
Line: Colorado +26.5
Vegas is gutsy for throwing out nearly four touchdowns Colorado's direction. Uh, has anyone seen UCLA play recently? OK, maybe I should give the Bruins the benefit of the doubt playing against BCS contenders in Stanford and Oregon, but both of those games were tough watch. There was also an alarming trend in both: quarterback Brett Hundley looked uncomfortable and continuously made poor decisions.
Injuries to the offensive line have allowed defenses to get in the backfield and rattle the sophomore quarterback. Even when he has time to throw the ball, he's indecisive and can force balls at times. Even a poor defensive Colorado team should be able to capitalize on a few big plays.
All of the numbers point to UCLA winning this game large, and it certainly could happen. However, nobody can feel comfortable with the way the Bruins have played as of late. This is more of a pick against UCLA, rather than confidence Colorado can get the job done.
Key Trend: Washington got trampled after going back-to-back at Stanford and Oregon. What makes UCLA any different?
Line: Michigan +4.5
The Michigan State defense that is allowing less than two touchdowns per game should scare everybody. However, giving a solid Michigan team nearly five points is mind boggling. The Wolverines are averaging more than 40 points per game. No matter how great the Spartans defense may be, great offenses always find ways to score points. Shoot, 12 points last year was good enough for the Wolverines to escape with a win.
How will Michigan State keep up?
Did I mention that Michigan is also coming off a bye week?
Giving this many points to arguably the better team that can actually score and had an extra week to prepare is quite dangerous on Vegas' end.
Key Trend: Road team is 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 meetings.
Line: Minnesota +10
I guess Vegas doesn't want to get burned again after Indiana pulled off the upset against Penn State a couple of weeks ago. But giving 10 points to a team that has found a rhythm and is playing for its head coach isn't the wisest move ever made.
Minnesota has won two straight quality games against Northwestern and Nebraska. The offense has improved quite a bit since quarterback Philip Nelson has been thrown onto the field, and the defense leads the Big Ten with 52 tackles for loss. The Hoosiers? Sure, they score a ton of points, but a defense ranked 113th in scoring is the reason they've lost three of the last four games.
Forget the points, the Golden Gophers have won four of the last six meetings against the Hoosiers.
Being handed 10 free points is a gift.
Key Trend: Golden Gophers are 5-1 against the spread versus a team with a losing record.
Line: North Carolina -3
The favored team is correct, but three points is way too low.
North Carolina should blowout its in-state rival by at least two touchdowns. Although the Tar Heels' 2-5 record isn't pretty, they are playing much better football as of late. They could have easily beaten Virginia Tech or Miami, and they finally got the job done convincingly against Boston College. This is a very talented team that should still believe they can make a last-second run at a bowl appearance.
Meanwhile, North Carolina State was stomped by Florida State last week and has now lost four of its last five games. With such a crushing defeat, I see the Wolfpack traveling down a similar path as Northwestern after the Ohio State loss.
It only makes sense to go with the hotter team that is on a mission to end the season strong. North Carolina will win big.
Key Trend: N/A
Line: Georgia -2.5
It's hard to trust either one of these teams heading into this annual rivalry, but Georgia seems to have the more complete roster of the two struggling SEC powerhouses.
Quarterback Aaron Murray should be able to have success against a beat-up Florida defense, while the Bulldogs should also have Todd Gurley back on the field. That's great news for Bulldog supporters. Meanwhile, Florida's offense has only scored more than 20 points four times this season, so Georgia's lackluster defense shouldn't be a problem this week.
It will take at least three touchdowns for the Gators to have a chance, and Will Muschamp's group hasn't shown much hope in getting that type of production out of his offense.
I know it's a big game and both teams should be ready coming off a bye, but Georgia by less than a field goal is a steal.
Key Trend: Favorite is 4-1 against the spread in their last five meetings.
Line: Wake Forest +3.5
Did the Wake Forest-Miami game not teach anybody anything?
Although the Demon Deacons aren't exactly tearing it up with a 4-4 record, they have been competitive throughout the year with two of those losses being decided by a field goal or less. Quarterback Tanner Price is one of the more underrated players in the ACC, and the defense is averaging a solid two turnovers per game.
Syracuse is coming off a bye week, but neither side of the ball has been able to play with any consistency. The offense is ranked 82nd in the country, while the defense is allowing 29 points per game. Ugly losses against Northwestern, Clemson and Georgia Tech make this team impossible to support.
Wake Forest could end up winning this game straight up, but taking the points makes this pick nearly impossible to avoid.
Key Trend: Demon Deacons are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games overall.
Line: Mississippi State +13
The value pick of the week!
Go ahead and jump on Mississippi State before Vegas finds out about this this team's potential. The Bulldogs are starting to pick up a little bit of steam with three wins in their last four games and should give South Carolina trouble. Dual-threat quarterback Dak Prescott is an emerging superstar and is certainly going to give an inconsistent Gamecocks' defense all it can handle.
South Carolina has gone all season without living up to the hype. You can never be sure what team you're going to get, and the recent victory over Missouri may make matters worse. The letdown factor is likely going to kick in big time for the home team. Not to mention, the status of running back Mike Davis remains up in the air after suffering a knee injury.
The Gamecocks may win, but nearly two touchdowns is way too much.
Key Trend: Bulldogs are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
Line: Northern Illinois -23
Is Victor Cruz going to suit up for Massachusetts?
Then why in the world is the line any less than 30 points?
Northern Illinois is undefeated and averaging nearly 42 points per game. The offense is starting to jell more and more as the season goes on, and the defense's plus-one turnover margin is second best in the MAC. It's also a team that you don't have to worry about taking the foot off the pedal once the game gets out hand. The Huskies have to do whatever they can to impress voters in hopes of returning to a BCS bowl.
As for UMass, it's a 1-7 team that has lost to football powerhouses such as Maine, Buffalo and Western Michigan.
Yeah, this game will be over before halftime, and Northern Illinois will cover with ease.
Key Trend: Huskies are 9-2-1 against the spread versus a team with a losing record.
Line: Virginia Tech -5
Look, I know Virginia Tech can look like one of the lousiest BCS teams in college football on any given Saturday. Thanks to Logan Thomas and his fascination of completing passes to the other team, the Hokies lost to Duke last week and needed overtime to beat Marshall a few weeks ago.
But this spread is an overreaction from Vegas.
Before last week, Virginia Tech was beginning to win voters over and was climbing up the polls. The defense is still by far the best in the ACC and remains second in the conference with 28 sacks. That's not great news for a Boston College team that has allowed 17 sacks in seven games and just got beat up on both sides of the ball to North Carolina.
Even with Thomas' struggles, Virginia Tech will find a way to win in convincing fashion. After all, the Hokies have won the last five meetings and all were decided by at least a touchdown.
Key Trend: Favorite is 5-2 against the spread in their last seven meetings.
Line: Miami +21.5
Vegas must be drunk. The line can't be right. Seriously? I'm just waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out of my computer screen and provide me with the real line. You're really giving the Hurricanes three touchdowns?
Some would pinpoint this line as accurate due to Florida State steamrolling teams and Miami performing below-average the last few weeks. But everybody must remember that this is one of the more heated in-state rivalries in college football. Throw the numbers, statistics and records out the window when these two teams meet up.
The only numbers that do matter include 11 of the last 14 games between these two teams have been decided by single-digits. Out of those 14 meetings, only one was decided by more than 22 points. Yes, Jameis Winston and company are scary good, but Miami will be awake for the biggest game of the year.
Key Trend: Hurricanes are 9-2 against the spread in their last 11 conference games.