2011 College Football: Week 7 Picks Against the Spread
The college football season moves into Week 7, and we're moving ever closer to the first release of the BCS standings on Oct. 16.
What does that mean?
Some coaches may be eager in running up the score a bit to make an impression, but oddsmakers are going to be prepared, especially after an ugly Saturday for the sports books.
In this week's installment of the AP Top 25 poll, 10 of the top 11 were in action last week, outscoring their opponents by a combined 464-127 margin.
The sports betting public watched those highly-publicized teams cover the spread by an average of 14.05 points a contest.
Let's take a look at the upcoming week from a betting perspective, as my handicapper line was created before the betting odds were released in Las Vegas.
San Diego State Aztecs at Air Force Falcons
The Air Force Falcons were in a tough spot last week, coming off a 35-34 overtime win over Navy as three-point road underdogs, traveling to South Bend and dropping a 59-33 decision.
San Diego State is coming off back-to-back losses to Michigan and TCU, which will have a deflated team traveling to Fort Collins.
Many around the program figured the team would be up for the challenge, only to watch them get out-gained by a combined 187 yards in those two contests.
Bettors will find that the Aztecs came away with a 27-25 win as one-point home underdogs last year, which could set this game up with a similar ending.
One major angle in this game may be the fact that San Diego State first-year head coach Rocky Long has seen the triple-option offense plenty of times, which limits Air Force's edge with the quick turnaround between games.
Handicapper Line: Air Force Falcons (-2.5)
Las Vegas Line: Air Force Falcons (-6)
Pick: San Diego State Aztecs (+6)
USC Trojans at California Golden Bears
The oddsmaker definitely has to inflate this line due to California's second-half collapse in front of a prime-time audience last Thursday, failing to cover as 23.5-point road underdogs in a 43-15 loss to Oregon.
I'm not exactly sure it's going to matter when USC has out-gained Cal by a combined 774 yards in the last three meetings.
Last year's meeting resulted in a 48-14 Trojans' victory as two-point home favorites, which featured Matt Barkley throwing for 352 yards and five touchdowns, connecting with star wide receiver Robert Woods seven times for 116 yards.
This one could look similar in every way, especially with no home-field advantage in this one, as the Trojans have covered three consecutive trips to the Bay Area in this series.
With all that being said, USC has made just one trip outside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, falling flat on its face in a 43-22 loss at Arizona State as 2.5-point road underdogs.
Handicapper Line: USC Trojans (-7.5)
Las Vegas Line: USC Trojans (-3)
Pick: USC Trojans (-3)
Indiana Hoosiers at Wisconsin Badgers
I'm really not sure where the linesmaker can place this line considering the Wisconsin Badgers are 4-0-1 ATS on the year.
Things get even more complicated when figuring in last year's 83-20 win over Indiana on this same field as 22.5-point favorites.
Sharp bettors are going to watch the release of this line closely, knowing that the Badgers are going to be gearing up for road trips the following two weeks, traveling to Michigan State and Ohio State.
Wisconsin also pushed as 34-point favorites in its season opener against UNLV, which was actually a spread loss if bettors placed bets early in the week in that contest.
This will likely win the early season award for highest-priced line in the Big Ten Conference through seven weeks of action.
Handicapper Line: Wisconsin Badgers (-31.5)
Las Vegas Line: Wisconsin Badgers (-38)
Pick: Indiana Hoosiers (+38)
Michigan Wolverines at Michigan State Spartans
Get ready for the sneaky handicapper line of the week, as Michigan State has really dominated the last three meetings in this series statistically.
The Spartans covered the number in all of those contests, including a 34-17 win as five-point road underdogs a year ago.
Bettors are going to place a lot of weight on Michigan State's 31-13 road loss to Notre Dame, while giving Michigan way too much credit with its 35-31 home victory over the Fighting Irish.
The Wolverines have a much improved defensive unit, while also facing a tougher schedule in terms of offensive foes.
It's still important to note that the Spartans are giving up just 173.4 yards a game, including just 275 to Notre Dame.
Plain and simple—Michigan will not be able to overcome a 24-14 first-half deficit like it did last week to Northwestern in the team's first road game of the season.
Handicapper Line: Michigan State Spartans (-3.5)
Las Vegas Line: Michigan State Spartans (-3)
Pick: Michigan State Spartans (-3)
South Carolina Gamecocks at Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Connor Shaw era has officially started in Columbia, but bettors must be careful as the show hits the road this week.
Let's go back to Week 1 of the season, as the sophomore thrower was replaced by Stephen Garcia in the early stages, as the team escaped with a 56-37 win as 21-point neutral-site favorites over East Carolina.
Just about any quarterback in the country would have a field day against the Kentucky Wildcats, a team that has dropped its last three games by a 137-20 margin.
South Carolina will now travel on the road for the first time since a 45-42 win over Georgia as 2.5-point favorites back on Sept. 10, while Mississippi State returns to Starksville after spending the last two weeks on the road.
From an oddsmaker standpoint, the Bulldogs were placed as 3.5-point home underdogs versus the LSU Tigers in Week 3 in a weekday prime-time event.
Don't be surprised if Mississippi State doesn't run the ball 50-plus times in this contest, which was a recipe for success with Auburn picking up a 16-13 upset win over South Carolina by putting the ball on the ground 67 times for 246 yards.
Handicapper Line: South Carolina Gamecocks (-2)
Las Vegas Line: South Carolina Gamecocks (-5)
Pick: Mississippi State Bulldogs (+5)
Baylor Bears at Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M needed last week's 45-40 win over Texas Tech as 8.5-point road favorites in the worst way.
The Aggies will now return home for the first time since watching their 20-3 second quarter lead evaporate in a 30-29 loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Let me tell you—that loss doesn't look so bad considering what the boys from Stillwater are doing to other opponents.
Baylor will be considered a dangerous underdog in this matchup due to Texas A&M's inability to defend the pass, but there's no shame in allowing yards to Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Texas Tech.
I will say one thing, Kansas State's win over Missouri on Saturday really gives some credence to Baylor's 36-35 loss in Manhattan two weeks ago.
Handicapper Line: Texas A&M Aggies (-6)
Las Vegas Line: Texas A&M Aggies (-10)
Pick: Baylor Bears (+10)
LSU Tigers at Tennessee Volunteers
These two teams played in one of the more exciting games of the year last year, resulting in a 16-14 LSU Tigers win as 16.5-point home favorites.
LSU is absolutely rolling right now, tallying a 41-11 win over an over-matched Florida team Saturday, but managed to drop a spot in the AP Top 25 poll.
The Tigers could be caught looking ahead to the next two games ahead, playing against Auburn and Alabama.
That's definitely a statement that you wouldn't say about playing Tennessee a few years ago.
The Volunteers have fallen into an alternating pattern against the spread, which could prove useful Saturday.
Oddsmakers will have to drop a number on the Tigers in this contest due to the Volunteers inability to cover as 2.5-point home underdogs Saturday in a 20-12 loss to Georgia.
Handicapper Line: LSU Tigers (-14.5)
Las Vegas Line: LSU Tigers (-15.5)
Pick: Tennessee Volunteers (+15.5)
Oklahoma State Cowboys at Texas Longhorns
Last week's results are definitely going to way heavily on the Las Vegas bookmakers, considering Oklahoma State tallied a 70-28 win over Kansas, while Texas was handed a humiliating 55-17 neutral site loss to the Oklahoma Sooners.
Let's also remember that the Cowboys registered a 33-16 win as four-point road favorites on this field a year ago.
This year's traveler is probably four points better in terms of the betting line than last year's unit that went into Austin.
With that being said, Texas did turn the ball over five times against Oklahoma, with three of those returned for scores.
Oklahoma State is also 9-0 ATS as road favorites off consecutive wins, while Texas is 1-6 ATS when playing with revenge against an opponent that is off at least two victories.
Handicapper Line: Oklahoma State Cowboys (-6)
Las Vegas Line: Oklahoma State Cowboys (-6)
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Virginia Cavaliers
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets against-the-spread train is starting to slow down, capturing a 21-16 win over the Maryland Terrapins as 15.5-point home favorites.
Virginia isn't going to be an attractive option to bet on Saturday, but allowing just 116.4 rushing yards a game is definitely noteworthy against this week's opponent.
With that being said, Georgia Tech has won the rushing battle by a combined 672 yards in the last two years in this series.
Handicapper Line: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-8)
Las Vegas Line: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-8.5)
Pick: Virginia Cavaliers (+8.5)
Ohio State Buckeyes at Illinois Fighting Illini
The Ohio State Buckeyes will travel on the road for a second consecutive week and look to snap a two-game losing streak.
It's going to be a tall task after letting a 27-6 lead slip away in Lincoln, ultimately dropping a 34-27 contest to the Nebraska Cornhuskers as 10-point road underdogs.
Illinois took care of business with a 41-20 win over Indiana as 14-point road favorites, coming into Week 7 with a perfect 6-0 record.
The Fighting Illini will be favored in this series for the first time since 2001.
Handicapper Line: Illinois Fighting Illini (-4.5)
Las Vegas Line: Illinois Fighting Illini (-3.5)
Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini (-3.5)
Alabama Crimson Tide at Ole Miss Rebels
Alabama has not allowed more than 14 points this year, which really puts the oddsmaker in a bind.
Ole Miss was idle last week, which is actually in advantage when choosing this game against an opponent that has played six consecutive weeks to start the season.
Bettors will definitely place some emphasis on the Rebels dropping a 30-7 decision to Vanderbilt as 2.5-point road favorites, while Alabama easily took care of business against the same opponent this week in a 34-0 win.
One thing is certain, the Crimson Tide will win the statistical battle, as the Rebels have been out-gained by triple digits in terms of yardage in four of five games this year.
Handicapper Line: Alabama Crimson Tide (-22)
Las Vegas Line: Alabama Crimson Tide (-23.5)
Boise State Broncos at Colorado State Rams
Boise State enters off a 57-7 blowout win over the Fresno State Bulldogs as 21-point road favorites, which has given the program five double-digit wins to start the season.
Colorado State dropped a 38-31 contest to the San Jose State Spartans as 3.5-point home favorites two weeks ago, which is one of the worst losses for the program in recent memory.
Oddsmakers are going to look at last year's betting odds for the Rams to establish this line, as they were sent out as 32.5-point home underdogs versus the TCU Horned Frogs.
The home team remarkably covered that contest without scoring a single point, going down 27-0.
Boise State can name the score.
Line will be inflated with the BCS standings coming out next week.
Handicapper Line: Boise State Broncos (-28.5)
Las Vegas Line: Boise State Broncos (-32)
Pick: Colorado State Rams (+32)
Virginia Tech Hokies at Wake Forest Demon Deacons
The Virginia Tech Hokies have been the most over-valued team in college football this year, displayed in their 0-5 ATS mark versus lined opponents.
After starting the season against four over-matched opponents, Virginia Tech has been out-gained in two consecutive weeks by Miami and Clemson.
Luckily for Frank Beamer, the Hokies were able to hold onto a 38-35 win over the Hurricanes last week.
Wake Forest is making a run as one of the more undervalued teams of the season, covering four consecutive games, missing an opportunity at being perfect against the spread, dropping a 36-29 contest in overtime as six-point underdogs to Syracuse.
This will be one of the more eagerly anticipated lines of the week because of what I've written above.
Handicapper Line: Virginia Tech Hokies (-4.5)
Las Vegas Line: Virginia Tech Hokies (-7)
Pick: Wake Forest Demon Deacons (+7)
Clemson Tigers at Maryland Terrapins
The Clemson Tigers have a great chance of being 9-0 when they travel to take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Oct. 29.
It's important to note that Dabo Swinney's team has out-gained all six of its opponents this year, including a 243-yard edge in last week's 36-14 win over Boston College as 21-point road favorites.
All eyes squarely placed on quarterback Tajh Boyd's condition, as he left the game with a hip injury.
Maryland has literally fallen off the wagon after picking up a 32-24 season-opening win over the Miami Hurricanes as four-point home favorites.
Terrapins first-year head coach Randy Edsall made a bold move when his team was trailing early last week, replacing Danny O'Brien with C.J. Brown at quarterback.
It almost worked, as the team picked up a spread victory, dropping a 21-16 contest as 16-point road underdogs.
The home team has won the last two meetings, while Maryland has been a double-digit underdog in four of the last five.
Handicapper Line (Boyd healthy): Clemson Tigers (-7.5)
Las Vegas Line: Clemson Tigers (-8.5)
Florida Gators at Auburn Tigers
This will be an intriguing line due to Auburn covering the last four meetings as underdogs, which will likely not be the case Saturday.
Florida has been favored in at least the last 10 meetings in this series, covering at least the previous six instances before the Tigers recent run against the spread.
With that being said, neither head coach for either side has participated in this rivalry, as the last meeting came in Auburn's 20-17 win as 17-point road underdogs in 2007.
Very tough line to generate at this time due to injuries on both sides, especially for Saturday's visitor.
Handicapper Line (Brantley healthy): Auburn Tigers (PK)
Las Vegas Line: Auburn Tigers (PK)
Kansas State Wildcats at Texas Tech Red Raiders
Let's just say this right off the bat, sharp bettors are going to love Texas Tech in this contest.
Kansas State has covered the number in four consecutive games, including straight-up wins the past three weeks against Miami, Baylor and Missouri.
The Wildcats will also be the only ranked team in this matchup, which also adds to their appeal in the public's eye.
Texas Tech finally played somebody last week and dropped a 45-40 decision to Texas A&M, but actually won the statistical battle as 8.5-point home underdogs.
The Red Raiders have won the last five meetings by double-digit margins, which could make them a huge smart money play if placed a home underdog.
Handicapper Line: Texas Tech Red Raiders (-3.5)
Las Vegas Line: Texas Tech Red Raiders (-4)
Stanford Cardinal at Washington State Cougars
Sports bettors should actually be rejoicing that Washington State failed to finish off the UCLA Bruins, dropping a 28-25 contest as four-point road underdogs.
The Cougars have played a very interesting schedule, including three consecutive road games that ended Saturday night.
Stanford has destroyed the linesmaker by covering all five of its game in rather easy fashion.
Just remember—the oddsmakers know that sharp money is going to be watchful of this line due to last week's results with teams ranked in the top 10 slots of the AP poll.
One more important item of note—Washington State was out-gained by just 53 yards as a 37-point road underdog in last year's 38-28 loss in this series.
No real excuse for that effort by the Cardinal due to coming off a bye week in that game, while quarterback Andrew Luck threw for just 190 yards.
Handicapper Line: Stanford Cardinal (-16.5)
Las Vegas Line: Stanford Cardinal (-20)
Pick: Washington State Cougars (+20)
Oklahoma Sooners at Kansas Jayhawks
Let's just say that this line is going to be very high due to last week's differing results for each side.
Let's move one.
Handicapper Line: Oklahoma Sooners (-33.5)
Las Vegas Line: Oklahoma Sooners (-31.5)
Pick: Oklahoma Sooners (-31.5)
Arizona State Sun Devils at Oregon Ducks
It's unfortunate that injuries have popped up on both rosters in this matchup, especially with Oregon Ducks running back LaMichael James being listed as doubtful with an elbow injury suffered in last week's 43-15 win over California as 23.5-point home favorites.
Arizona State has been ravaged by injuries, but will travel on the road with a 5-1 record, including a 35-14 win over Utah as 3.5-point road favorites.
Bettors need to examine last year's boxscore and find that the Sun Devils out-gained the Ducks by 111 yards in last year's meeting, but dropped a 42-31 contest due to turning the ball over seven times.
Handicapper Line: Oregon Ducks (-6.5)
Las Vegas Line: Oregon Ducks (-15)
Pick: Arizona State Sun Devils (+15)