Wednesday, September 7, 2016

College Football: A look at "blowout" lines for Week 2

Where College football week one was a master class in excitement, competitive games and sheer entertainment, week two is looking like it's going to be a snoozer in comparison.  There are a LOT of double digit lines out there where huge favorites play against teams that are overmatched on paper in games that don't appear to offer much in entertainment (unless you are a fan of the favorite) or betting action.

Except in rare cases, (when I feel the favorite team is overrated by the public) I HATE big lines. And I hate betting large favorites to cover.  The reason for this is two fold.  First, you need a lot of things to go right to get to the numbers. Second, you need nothing to go wrong.  As we saw in week one, both are problematic.

With that in mind however it would be remiss to admit that there is value to be had when looking at "big" lines. Especially if you're trying to decide whether the underdog can cover.  I'm going to try and take a look at that here.

Central Michigan @ Oklahoma State (-20.5) Cover potential: 20% 

OSU beat Southeastern Louisiana 61-7 while Central Michigan beat Presbyterian 49-3. In prior years I would have said that the Chippewas are the favorite to cover, but the team has a LOT of questions this year and a win over bad FCS opposition doesn't tell us anything. Of course, neither does OSU's big win over a middling FCS opponent. That said, I think OSU has too much speed and talent for this MAC team that I view as a middle-of-the-pack type of opponent to handle.

UCF @ Michigan (-35.5) Cover potential: 10%

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is using these early games as tune-ups to get his team ready for conference play.  As a result, he's letting the starters go deeper than he normally would after running up the score. UCF is a shambles as they try to dig out of the talent hole left by O'Leary. UCF covers if Michigan has been reading their own good press.

Wyoming @ Nebraska (-24.5) Cover potential: 33 1/3%

Nebraska had a comfortable win last week over a bad Fresno State team, and it was emotional as they said their proper goodbyes to Sam Foltz. Wyoming beat NIU at 3:35AM Central time on an outstanding play that you probably weren't awake to see. Both of these things are emotionally draining for different reasons. That said, I think this Nebraska team is going to be pretty solid.

Troy @ Clemson (-36) Cover Potential: 50%

The question you have to ask yourself here is whether or not you think Clemson's offense struggled against Auburn because of Auburn's defense, or if it's because they have issues. If you think the former then you bet them to cover, if the latter, then you bet Troy. To be honest, absent some more data, this one is a coin flip at this point.

Tulsa @ Ohio State (-28.5) Cover Potential: 55%

Let me make one thing clear: A high cover potential does not mean that I think Tulsa has more than the slimmest of chances to pull the upset. But I do think they can keep it within 4 TD's.  The reason for this is because Ohio State is coming off a 73-10 shellacking of Bowling Green and, oh yeah, Oklahoma is next week.

Akron @ Wisconsin (-24) Cover Potential: 40%

Wisconsin is coming off of a huge, emotional win over LSU, in Lambeau Field. Back in the comfortable confines of Camp Randall, I could see a down week coming. Akron struggled somewhat with VMI. That's not good for the Zips but I think they're in with a chance to cover.

Nevada @ Notre Dame (-28.5) Cover Potential: 25%

Call this the "Brian Kelly" uncertainty principle. IF Kelly goes full time with Kizer at QB I think ND runs up the score and hides sometime in the 1st half.  But, and this is possible, if he continues to try and shoe-horn Zaire in at QB the offense is way less efficient and the Wolfpack could sneak in under the line.

Western Kentucky @ Alabama (-28) Cover Potential: 1%

Do I really need to say anything other than it's Bama, at home, against a directional school? There won't be the personal vendetta that existed last week against USC but WKU is going to find itself way overmatched here.  If they do cover, it would be late and of the backdoor variety.

SMU @ Baylor (-32) Cover Potential: 10%

I still have questions about Baylor, and they are one QB injury away from total disaster. To be fair though you can say that about a lot of teams.  Still, Baylor is a team that I'm probably going to lay off of for the first half of the year until I see the long-term viability of this team.

Idaho @ Washington (-37) Cover Potential: 30%

The only reason I rate this as high as I am is because 37 is a HUGE number. That said, I still think the Huskies (though overrated) have a better than average chance of getting there against one of the worst teams in the FBS.  A team so bad the Sun Belt conference told them "thanks, but no thanks."

Louisiana Monroe @ Oklahoma (-46) Cover Potential: 15%

Here's the thing, I do think that OU is a pretty good team. Who just got beat by a better team in Houston. I also think they're going to be angry. And history has taught us that an angry OU, coming off a loss, under Bob Stoops is typically a run-up-the-score OU.  Sorry ULaMo.

UTEP @ Texas (-28) Cover Potential: 60%

A young Texas team coming off of an emotional-as-heck victory over Notre Dame? A UTEP team who has circled this game? I can see UT-Austin coming out flat and UTEP playing over their heads for at least a half. Then talent should kick in but it might not be enough for the cover.

Eastern Michigan @ Missouri (-25) Cover Potential: 75%

Given, Eastern Michigan is now, and has always been, terrible at tackle football.  But I'm not sure that Missouri has the offense needed to score 25+ points against air.

Lamar @ Houston (-35.5) Cover Potential: 80%

Houston has everything working against them this game. First, they are coming off an emotional win on National TV. Second, they have Cincinnati next week (one of there tough games this year) on a Thursday. Finally, quarterback and catalyst Greg Ward Jr. is suffering from soreness in his throwing shoulder and might sit out the game. I expect a workmanlike performance from the Cougars and a grind-it-out type of victory.

UNLV @ UCLA (-26) Cover Potential: 70%

UNLV is on the upswing and UCLA just got punched solidly in the mouth. The Bruins are a team desperately searching for an identity. I think UNLV has one and should be in with a good chance to come inside the spread.

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