College Football 2011: Last Minute Vegas Line Changes and Injuries
Week 4 of my Las Vegas line switches and picks is here.
Last week, I wasn't as successful as usual but still won more than half the bets. Cha-ching!
The biggest game of the week, Oklahoma versus Florida State, started going south with my prediction of Oklahoma -3.5, but an injury to Seminoles quarterback EJ Manuel may have been the turning point. We'll take what we can get.
Ohio State, Auburn and Tennessee made a fool of me with convincing losses against the spread, but the week was still a winning one at 55 percent.
You'll notice a lot of SEC games on my list this weekend.
That's for two reasons—1) that's the conference I know best, and 2) those are the lines that have moved the most this weekend.
I'm at 14-10 for the season. What am I still doing in school with this record?
Please keep reading to see my picks for this week.
Be sure follow this series each every Saturday morning during the college football season.
Georgia at Ole Miss
The Georgia Bulldogs opened as 10-point favorites and grew to 10.5 by midweek. Perhaps Pete Boone's letter to Ole Miss Rebel fans helped push the line back to 10, but I think it's a gold mine.
Ole Miss traveled to Vanderbilt last week as mere three point underdogs, a virtual pick 'em. They left wounded, tired and embarrassed after the SEC East doormat pulverized them 30-7.
The Rebels' starting running back and best offensive player, Brandon Bolden, remains injured, only making matters worse.
Meanwhile, Georgia is beginning to play more like the experts believed they would at season's start. They had a tough loss to a talented Boise State squad and then lost a barn burner to South Carolina.
Last week's shellacking of Coastal Carolina has lifted their spirits for this week's road game.
Is Georgia not better than Vanderbilt? I acted on this line the day it was released.
No. 3 Alabama at No. 14 Arkansas
I'm excited to watch these two SEC West foes battle it out. What a game it was last year!
The key players involved last season—Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Ryan Mallet and more—are gone for the most part, which bodes well for the Arkansas Razorbacks, who opened as 12-point underdogs.
Bettors considered the fact Arkansas is playing at home this Saturday and likely with a ton of passion. They pushed the line down to 11, but in my view, that doesn't change the strategy much.
The Alabama Crimson Tide come in undefeated after a big with at Penn State. They look like their usual dominant selves, but I can't help but think this one is going to be another close one.
Arkansas running back Ronnie Wingo, Jr. has filled in nicely for the injured Knile Davis, who is out for the season. Quarterback Tyler Wilson has one 200-yard receiver already and two more about to join that club.
Alabama will win but not by 11.
No. 11 Florida State at No. 21 Clemson
The Florida State Seminoles seem extremely deflated after their loss to Oklahoma last week, which cost them their quarterback, EJ Manuel.
Manuel remains day-to-day according to ESPN, but even if he is able to travel to Clemson and take on the Tigers, he won't be at 100 percent after his shoulder injury.
Furthermore, Clemson looks ready to explode.
They have as much talent as anyone in the country, recruiting from the football-rich breeding ground that is the state of South Carolina. Their fans are rabid over the speed of DJ Howard and arm of Tajh Boyd.
This one could get out of hand for Florida State. I'll be waiting to confirm that Manuel is out for the game, so I can take Clemson.
No. 7 Oklahoma State at No. 8 Texas A&M
The game of the week is the Oklahoma State Cowboys at the Texas A&M Aggies.
Oklahoma State has proven to have one of the top offenses this year, averaging more than 52 points per game, which includes their 37-point total against formidable Arizona.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden leads the entire country in passing yards, with 1,154, but this hasn't hampered their running game. Running back Joseph Randle averages 6.1 yards per carry and has 378 yards on the season.
They know offense.
Texas A&M's offensive numbers are more down to earth, though they have still been great. Their advantage comes from a bye week before this game, as well as playing at home in front of the famous 12th Man that is their infamous fanbase.
The line has remained at Texas A&M -4, and I'm not likely to touch this one.
Vanderbilt at No. 12 South Carolina
For non-bettors, this game will be a boring one to watch. The South Carolina Gamecocks are sure to win against the Vanderbilt Commodores, though the Commodores are much improved.
For bettors, it's an intriguing matchup whose uncertainty has been reflected in the movement of the lines.
South Carolina opened as big 18.5-point favorites and remained that way for a few days. Whether it was the perpetual rhetoric of Vandy coach James Franklin or something else entirely, the line has dropped quickly to the Gamecocks at -15.5.
That's a full three-point drop, indicating a lot of uncertainty in the lines here.
Both teams are undefeated and South Carolina has weathered some tough storms already. Do I think they'll win? Absolutely. But they tend to play these games too close, and Vandy actually has a solid defense.
I wish I could've gotten the Commodores plus 18.5, but 15.5 is still okay.
No. 2 LSU at No. 16 West Virginia
If the LSU Tigers had any offense whatsoever, they'd be a great bet for the National Championship. Instead, we get to be entertained by Les Miles' tricks each and every week.
Not a bad trade-off.
The West Virginia Mountaineers and South Florida will mostly likely be battling it out for the Big East this year, as if anyone cares. Vanderbilt, one of the worst teams in the SEC, beat the 2010 Big East champions two weeks ago in football.
The fact that LSU is a 6.5 favorite is an indicator of their offensive woes. The line has risen from its opening of LSU -6, but until it gets to LSU -7, it's still a great bet.
Once it passes seven, your bet demands consistent offense. That's not going to happen but -6.5 will.
No. 23 USC at Arizona State
For the first time this season, the USC Trojans are ranked in the AP Top 25. Also for the first time this season, USC is the underdog.
Bettors should rank the teams.
When they travel to Arizona State, USC will be looking to "upset" the Sun Devils, who lost by just one point in Los Angeles last year, 34-33. Until their loss to Illinois last week, Arizona State was ranked in the Top 25.
USC has narrowly avoided disaster in two of their first three games. They're very talented but have no leadership at the head coach position (check my bio), which is going to cost them both in the short and long term.
The Trojans have been 2.5-point underdogs all week.
No. 15 Florida at Kentucky
I've been referring to Vanderbilt as the doormat of the SEC, but that's no longer the case. That distinction now belongs to the Kentucky Wildcats, one of the worst teams I've seen in a while.
Sure they're 2-1, with wins over Western Kentucky and Central Michigan, but how about that home loss to Louisville? Gross.
The Florida Gators are fast, strong and ready to climb the ranks with a few more wins. They've been 20-point favorites all week, giving bettors a chance to win with a three-touchdown win.
This is my game to hone in on for the week.
Colorado at Ohio State
After a tough loss in Miami last week, the Ohio State Buckeyes will almost certainly right the ship at home against the Colorado Buffaloes.
Colorado lost by 17 at Hawaii in their opening game and while I understand that they've improved, I doubt playing at the Horseshoe is going to be much better than the balmy climate of Honolulu.
Ohio State is mad, much the same way Oregon was mad after their first week loss to LSU. Oregon followed it up with a 49-point beating of Nevada.
This feels similar to that, and while the steady 17-point line demands a lot of the Buckeyes, I still like them to cover at home against a subpar opponent.
Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
I can't stand the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In the words of Peter Griffin from Family Guy, they really "grind my gears." But the fact of the matter is they underachieved in the first two weeks.
They seemed to find their stride at home against No. 15 Michigan State last week. Now they travel to the Pittsburgh Panthers, who lost to the Fighting Irish 23-17 last year.
Notre Dame has improved since last year and every week this year. They opened as seven-point favorites, but fans of the Irish, as always, shoved that line upward to 7.5. They should still be in good shape to cover.