Trusting the process is knowing there’s more to winning than knowing the right side; timing matters, too
Originally found on CBS Sports:
Last week, we learned a valuable lesson about getting the right line. In this column, our Lock of the Week was the Under 62.5 between Oregon and Washington State. If you took the 62.5 when the column came out, you won.
If you waited until Saturday, though, you lost. The total had dropped to 60.5 by then. The final score? Oregon won 38-24. That’s 62 points. It’s a friendly reminder that there’s a lot more to winning at betting on college football than knowing the right side. It’s getting in at the right time, too.
That game was the only real close call we had last week. Alabama got off to a slow start in the first half but cruised to an easy cover. Neither of our under plays in Ohio State-Penn State and Air Force-Navy were under threat. Even the losses were cut and dried: Clemson lost outright and Oklahoma never threatened to cover the 18.5. Here’s to another sweat-free week, but let’s hope they’re all winners this time.
Odds via SportsLine consensus
Games of the Week
No. 1 Georgia vs. Florida (Jacksonville): It’s one of the biggest games in the SEC every season, and that doesn’t change this year just because Florida isn’t ranked. If you look at the SEC East standings, Florida is one of only two teams that poses a threat to Georgia’s dominance (the other is Missouri). Can the Gators pull off the upset here? It’d be their first win in the series since 2020 if they do; Georgia has won five of the last six meetings.
What’s more important to our interests than the winner, though, is the point total. While they aren’t shootouts, this has been a high-scoring affair recently. Over the last six years, the game has averaged 53 points. Georgia’s defense also isn’t the same unit we’ve seen recently, particularly in the front seven. I think the Gators will be able to move the ball, but I expect Georgia will move the ball on Florida, too. And guess what? These are two of the worst red-zone defenses in the country. If you get into scoring position against either one, you score more often than not. Put it all together, and that total looks a little low. Pick: Over 47 (-110)
No. 8 Oregon at No. 13 Utah: This is a terrifying play, but I can’t help but believe it’s the correct one. Trust me, I don’t want to bet against Utah at home (the Utes are 25-13-1 ATS at home since 2017). I really don’t want to bet against the Utes as home dogs, especially by almost a touchdown, but I don’t see any other choice.
Yes, Utah beat USC last week and its offense had its best performance of the season. The problem is best offensive performance of the season was a low bar to clear. Otherwise, Utah’s offense has otherwise been a mess. Being at home is a boost, but this Oregon defense is light years better than USC’s.
On the other side, Utah’s defense has not been great against the run and is a bit soft in the middle — where Oregon’s run game thrives. It’s truly a testament to Kyle Whittingham and his coaching staff that they’ve been able to get this team to 6-1 with nothing but rubber bands and duct tape, but the Utes don’t have the firepower to keep up with the Ducks. Pick: Oregon -6.5 (-108)
Lock of the Week
No. 11 Oregon State at Arizona: Arizona might be the most underrated team in the country when it comes to the betting market. The Wildcats are not only 6-1 ATS on the season, but they’re covering by an average of 10.9 points per game. The numbers are even more pronounced when the Wildcats are underdogs: They’ve covered in all four games by an average of 19.8 points with an outright win last time out against Washington State.
The spread in this game suggests that oddsmakers still haven’t caught on. I don’t mean this as disrespect to the Beavers, who are a good football team, but I don’t think they’d be favored if they weren’t ranked. The Beavers have won two of three on the road, but the wins came against San Jose State and a bad Cal team. They lost to the same Washington State team Arizona cruised past, and Oregon State’s offensive strength (running the dang ball) plays into Arizona’s defensive strength (fifth nationally in EPA per run). Pick: Arizona +3.5 (-110)
B1G Rock Fight of the Week
No. 3 Ohio State at Wisconsin: Speaking of things the market hasn’t entirely caught onto yet, this is not the same Ohio State team we’ve seen in recent years. Instead of high-powered offenses led by future first-round picks at quarterback, the Buckeyes are a defensive-led team with a one-man offense. Ohio State struggles to move the ball when anybody not named Marvin Harrison has it in his hands. It’s been banged up at running back and can’t run the ball even when healthy. It also struggles to finish drives, ranking No. 83 nationally in points per red-zone possession.
This helps explain why the under is 6-1 in Ohio State’s seven games this season. To drive the point home further, the average Ohio State game is finishing 13.2 points below the posted total. That’s nearly two touchdowns! Now, it seems the total for this game is starting to catch on, but it still isn’t low enough. Wisconsin will have a tough time putting up points in this one, but Ohio State will struggle, too. This game won’t look too different from last week’s Penn State game. If it goes over, it’ll be because of a touchdown on defense or special teams. Pick: Under 44.5 (-110)
Road Favorite of the Week
Iowa State at Baylor: Are you ready for some hard-hitting analysis? All right, here it goes: Baylor stinks. That’s it. That’s where this pick is coming from. When Baylor won as an underdog against Big 12 newcomers UCF and Cincinnati, but it won by a combined four points. Against longtime Big 12 members Texas and Texas Tech, the Bears lost by a combined 57 points.
I don’t think Iowa State wins this game by 28, but the Cyclones win this game far more often than not. You might not have noticed, but Iowa State is 3-1 in the Big 12 and recovered from ugly early-season losses to Iowa and Ohio. A team dealing with a bunch of suspensions has started to figure things out and is playing much better football. The ‘Clones are certainly playing better football than the Bears. Pick: Iowa State -2.5 (-105)
Ohio Rivalry of the Week
Miami (OH) at Ohio: Speaking of the Ohio team that beat Iowa State earlier this season, we’ve got the Bobcats in a MAC showdown against in-state rival Miami. These two are tied atop the division (alongside Buffalo) at 3-1, and they’ve been the two best teams in the MAC East all year.
They’ve both been phenomenal defensively, and I expect that’ll be what wins out here more than anything. Miami allows only 1.05 points per possession in MAC play and Ohio’s right behind at 1.39. These are also two of the slower-tempo teams in the country. Ohio averages only 123.5 snaps per game in MAC play while Miami averages 126.3. The national average is 135.3. So, two good defenses and two teams that aren’t in a hurry. That’s long been a reliable formula for an under-cashing. Pick: Under 40 (-110)
Games of the Week
Lock of the Week
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