College Football 2011: Last-Minute Vegas Line Changes and Injuries
Week 2 of my Las Vegas line switches and picks is here. If you listened to me last week, you ought to have made out pretty well.
My crazy pick, Ball State over Indiana outright, made you 240 percent, but I seriously doubt anyone took it (hell, I didn't!). Utah State covering Auburn was embarrassingly right. Stanford, my pick of the week, covered in a huge way at home against San Jose State.
Of course, I missed some, too. The anti-Notre Dame fan that I am still took them -10, and they lost. I was big on Oregon -4 over LSU, and they got torched.
Still, last week's picks were 5-2, so you could've made some dough. But enough talk!
Be sure follow this series each every Saturday morning during the college football season.
Toledo at No. 15 Ohio State
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I'm going to have to be a reporter on this one, rather than give my pick. The line has confused me.
The Ohio State Buckeyes opened as 18.5-point favorites over incoming Toledo and have remained so ever since. That means there are bets coming in from both the favorite and underdog sides, which is tough to gauge.
Toledo is regularly one of the highest scoring offenses every year, and they got off to a good start last week when they scored 58 points in a win behind five passing touchdowns.
They won't score 58 this week, but can Ohio State outscore them by more than 18? It's tough. Take your money elsewhere.
No. 16 Mississippi State at Auburn
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Here's my pick to focus in on this week. The defending champion Auburn Tigers barely escaped Utah State last week, while Mississippi State made an example out of Memphis.
In case you didn't know, Auburn is going to be absolutely terrible this year. They'll be dueling it out with the Ole Miss Rebels for the bottom spot in the SEC West. The likelihood of a loss to the Bulldogs is quite high.
With Mississippi State coming in completely healthy with quarterback Chris Relf and running back Vick Ballard, I see little chance that Auburn stays within 6, the current line. It should be -7.5, so you better believe I've acted accordingly.
Cincinnati at Tennessee
DISCLAIMER: I was, am and will always be a Tennessee Volunteer. I'm an alumnus and bleed orange. That being said, my friends know me as the perpetual cynic with my sports teams, and I never bet for or against them...until this week.
Cincinnati is getting a ton of love from Vegas, opening as only 7-point underdogs and shrinking to 4.5 by the week's end. Cincinnati finished 4-8 last year, and the Vols finished 6-7. Tennessee graduated virtually zero talent and is playing at home.
Freshman Marlin Lane is going to get more action in the Vols' offense, coach Derek Dooley has said, which is great news for those wanting to bet on the favorites.
Can someone tell me what this line is doing? I'm all over this. I took it at -6 and took it again at -4.5.
No. 11 Virginia Tech at East Carolina
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Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech's highly-touted quarterback, failed to impress in his first game with the Hokies. They did, however, win 66-13 over Appalachian State, a team never to be overlooked.
The line against East Carolina opened at -21 in favor of Virginia Tech and fell each day to its low at -17 (where I pounced). Bettors came to their senses and have brought it back up to -17.5, but that's still a friendly offer.
The Hokies were down 7-17 at one point during their meeting with East Carolina last year but still won the game 49-27. They have an electric running back in David Wilson, and their defense is always excellent under Bud Foster.
This could be a blowout, i.e., more than 17.
Nevada at No. 13 Oregon
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The Oregon Ducks are pissed. Their quacks are going to be as ferocious a quack as you've ever heard. While they're facing a Nevada Wolf Pack team that lost only one game last year, they lost a ton of talent to graduation and the draft.
The Ducks are 27-point favorites, a lot to live up to, but I think it's within the realm of reason. Nevada lost their heart and soul in quarterback Colin Kaepernick and also their top running back. They didn't play last week and may have an adjustment period at the start of the game.
Oregon is healthy and hungry. I'm not used to taking such huge favorites, but this could be an exception.
No. 6 Stanford at Duke
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Stanford ripped San Jose State to shreds last week 57-3. Duke lost to the Richmond Spiders 21-23. I smell another week one for the Cardinal.
Andrew Luck rocks. He might be a top-10 NFL quarterback right now. His Stanford squad opened as 21-point favorites, and that line has grown slightly to 21.5. I'm on it, and I feel great about it.
Sorry to be so short, but a win's a win.
No. 3 Alabama at No. 23 Penn State
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At first glance, this game looks like a surefire classic. Then you pause and remember: Nick Saban is Alabama's coach.
The Crimson Tide disappointed the college football community last year when they owned the Nittany Lions 24-3, rather give fans a nail-biter. Alabama has a very different team this year, but they're just as talented. The only difference is that the game will be played at Penn State's field.
I think the line here, which has stood still, is just about right on at Alabama -10.5. Because of the half point, there will be a winner and losers, but this spread is right on. Just enjoy the game.
No. 12 South Carolina at Georgia
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How often is a top-15 team only a 3-point favorite against an unranked team? It's not often, but it's the SEC, and it's early in the season.
That's a great opportunity to make money. Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks might be shuffling quarterbacks in true Spurrier fashion, but they had an impressive comeback against East Carolina last week.
Georgia, on the other hand, could be a Top 25 team that starts 0-2 with a loss this weekend. They're at home, but that's the only thing they have going for them. It seems like losing A.J. Green and your top two running backs isn't a winning formula.
South Carolina -3 looks like a nice bet.
Utah at USC
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Like I said, I'm a huge Tennessee fan, which by definition means I can't stand USC. Of course, it's not their fault—it's Lane Kiffin's.
Knowing that, you can curb my enthusiasm on this prediction, but hear me out:
Dating back to 2006, USC has lost at least one game against a team that they absolutely should have beaten handily. They barely escaped with their lives when they won by two at home against a weak Minnesota Golden Gophers team. Kiffin ain't that good, folks.
Furthermore, Utah hasn't been an easy win since the Urban Meyer days. They beat Montana State 27-10 and received votes for the AP Top 25.
Utah is a nine point underdog and a +265 payout outright. Flip them a dime, and join me in a little anti-Kiffin banter.
Notre Dame at Michigan
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Notre Dame made me look stupid last week when they lost by three after I recommended taking them -11. I won't make that mistake again!
The Irish are undoubtedly wondering if Brian Kelly is the man. They've switched from Dayne Crist to Tommy Rees as the starting quarterback and are in a state of flux.
The Michigan Wolverines are rejuvenated with their new coach Brady Hoke. They handled Western Michigan with no problem 34-10 last week and looked like a solid team in the process.
Notre Dame is a lame 3-point favorite and has been all week. I'll take Michigan at home with the points.