Each week we’ll be providing our top college football picks. Season Record: 17-13.
This week we have six plays, including Fresno State laying a short number on the road in Boise and fading Duke as a big favorite.
Also check out our NFL Week 10 “Lookahead Lines” story, finding value (or not) by comparing earlier lines, and identifying recency bias. Back to the college game:
Week 11 College Football Picks: Fresno State Bulldogs -2.5 at Boise State, Fading Duke, And More Miami Dominance Over Georgia Tech
Fresno State -2.5 over Boise State (Friday)
This is a huge game in the Mountain West Conference. Fresno State is 8-1 and Boise State 7-2. It might be surprising to see the Broncos as the home dog here but there’s a reason for it. Fresno State is just a much better team.
The Bulldogs are 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings and won last year in Boise 28-17. Boise State has already lost at home to San Diego State and its offense struggles against better defenses. Fresno State is holding conference opponents to 93 yards below their season average, while quarterbacks hit just 48 percent of their passes against the Bulldogs.
A Las Vegas oddsmaker recently stated he would make Fresno State around a field goal favorite over UCF on a neutral field. The Bulldogs are the best non-Power 5 team this season. There’s value taking the Bulldogs under a field goal. They should win rather easily on the road in a showcase game.
Washington State -6 over Colorado
Washington State won a tight game at home over a tough Cal team last week, 19-13. The close call was the Cougars first loss against the spread in their last nine games.
This isn’t a great spot to go against Washington State. Colorado is dealing with multiple key injuries and have lost four straight games. The Buffs gave up 83 points in their last two losses to Oregon State and Arizona. Colorado is 1-3 ATS in its last four games and just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games.
Normally this would be a good spot to take Colorado as a home dog but the Buffaloes are free-falling since opening the season 5-0. Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew should pick apart an injury-riddled Colorado secondary. I’ll lay the short number on the road here.
Miami +3.5 over Georgia Tech
I have a pretty good read on options teams. I’m 3-0 in Georgia Tech games and 5-1 overall in games involving option teams this year. It’s pretty simple; some defenses can stop the option and some can’t. If you can identify those situations, betting for or against option teams can be profitable.
A couple of weeks ago I took Duke as an underdog over Georgia Tech, citing that David Cutcliffe was one the top coaches at defending the option and his record proved it. Mark Richt is also in that category. Richt’s teams have eaten up Georgia Tech’s option offense dating back to his days at Georgia. Richt is 15-2 SU and 11-5-1 ATS versus Georgia Tech overall in his career.
Miami leads the nation in tackles for losses and gives up just 123 yards per game on the ground. Georgia Tech’s defense ranks 78th against the pass, which should allow the inconsistent Miami offense to score some points in this game.
I’ll take Richt and Miami to continue their dominance over Georgia Tech as more than a field goal underdog (Update: Most books now have Miami at +3, -105).
North Carolina +10 over Duke
Speaking of teams that are easy to figure out, Duke is one of them. The Blue Devils are 4-0 ATS as an underdog and 1-4 ATS as a favorite with the one win coming against option team Army. Duke is a 10-point favorite on Saturday.
North Carolina is 1-7 on the season but 3-4-1 ATS. The Tar Heels aren’t quite as bad as their record. North Carolina has played pretty well in their last three games against Syracuse, Virginia and Georgia Tech but has come up short each time.
This number feels a little off to me. I thought it would be closer to a touchdown. There have been four outright upsets in the last six meetings between these two schools. I won’t be surprised if there’s another one and UNC pulls the upset.
UCLA +13.5 over Arizona State
This number is higher than I expected. I had Oregon last week against UCLA. It was a bad spot for the Bruins and while they lost 42-21, UCLA actually played better than the final score suggests. Oregon covered and was laying 10 points. Now Arizona State is laying 13.5? Something doesn’t seem right.
These two teams are going in opposite directions. Arizona State has won and covered two straight, while UCLA has been outscored 83-21 in two losses to Oregon and Utah. So, on paper, you have to be crazy to bet UCLA, right?
Here’s the thing: Arizona State beat Utah last week. The Sun Devils own that series and Utah’s starting quarterback Tyler Huntley was injured in the third quarter, so ASU’s 38-20 win is overvaluing this line.
I had the number for the game around 10, so I’m hopping on UCLA here. There have been four outright upsets in the last seven meetings. I don’t know if UCLA wins but I’ll gladly take the 13.5 points with the Bruins.