There is always a certain bittersweetness to weekends such as what we had last Saturday. On one hand, many of us have probably never seen a single week quite like that — over 60% of visiting teams won, many of them rent-a-wins; the Sun Belt went 3-0 against Power 5 conferences; and among the Top 50, an insane 36 did not cover the spread and/or were outright upset.
I went to my data sets all the way back to 2011 to see if we’ve had a single week that was quite so chaotic. We have not. It was special; a once-in-a-decade dysfunction. It makes for great drama, particularly if you like to watch the world burn. Unfortunately, chaos is not what you want when money is on the line.
Whom the gods we destroy, they first make mad.
And did the football gods try their damnedest to make us all a little crazier. Hopefully week Three will look a lot more like Week 1: teams playing according to their talent level...and covering the spread.
Our thanks to DraftKings ponsoring Roll ‘Bama Roll again. For more degenerate gambling, fantasy, and sportsbook posts, you can check all of those out at the SBNation DraftKings Supergroup hub. And for current odds, check those out here.
Half a dozen games to go through today: One we like, one we love, an underdog to consider, one to steer clear of, a ginormous spread worth your time, and a mortal lock.
Not With A 10’ Pole and Stolen Money
FSU -3 at Luhvl — Analytics rank these two No. 38 and 39 overall. They are so evenly matched, and largely defined by their complementary deficits. For instance: FSU is 18th in rush efficiency, while UL is 84th in rush eff. defense. Meanwhile, UL is 19th in offensive pass efficiency, while FSU is 79th in pass eff. defense. One can’t throw; one can’t run; There’s a reason this game generates a dead even 0.00. Absolutely no favorite...and you’d be a fool to trust either one. Nah. We’re also going to shuck some others that were near-tossups in the data department (WKU +6.5 at Indiana comes to mind)
One We Like
Texas Tech +10 at NC State — If TTU’s OL doesn’t show up again, and if they continue their trend of 2.2 TOs, and 8.9 penalties per game, this one could get out of hand. The air raid is going to stress the NCSU corners at times, but the State pass rush and NCSU offense should feast. And the ‘Pack are just sooooo good at Carter Finley ATS — especially when they only have to key on one man: and make no mistake, the Raiders are (like Liberty) are basically a one-man team. Tahj will get his carries. But this offense runs off Donovan’s legs as much as his arm. We’ll say the superior, NFL-calibre ‘State front four do the damage here against a bad, bad TTU OL (3.0 sacks allowed per game, 15.0 TFL allowed). Too many deficiencies for the Red Raiders; too many self-inflicted wounds. NC State -13.56
One We Love
SDSU +20 at Utah — You expect SDSU to have a bad passing game and deliberative approach; and they do. Next to last in efficient passing and dead last in explosive plays generated. But you don’t expect the Aztecs to have a bad defense. And, they are surprisingly not good — just 86th overall. The algorithm loves the Utes, who for large stretches outplayed Gata on the road but just got plain out-athleted at the end of the day. To beat the Utes, you must throw. SDSU cannot do so. Worse, their secondary has also taken a step back, as the solid but not great De Laura had a field day against them on the road. Cam Rising should have a big game as well. And sea-level to 5800 feet is a helluva adjustment to make. Roll with the Utes -23.16
Ginormous Spread Worth Your Time
Minnesota -27.5 vs Colorado — Bad CU run defense (126th in the nation) vs. very good running team (4th in the nation). Bad CU offense (115th) vs. very solid defense (28th)...and Fleck covers like a MoFo at home too. Good win over a name brand with a godawful actual team. Dorrell can’t stay all year, can he? I’m not sure Colorado has a winning record in CUSA; they certainly wouldn’t in the AAC or MWC.
Buffs are gonna get ran out of the building. Minnesota -30.61
Underdog With Bite
We almost went with BGSU (+17) at home vs. a hungover Marshall here. Instead, we’re going with Troy +13 at App. State — Anyone else smell a hangover game coming a mile away? Not like it matters, the numbers like a stingy Trojan defense to force a conservative slog in Boone. App. State wins, but may not be by DD, much less two full scores. And esp. not with ASU’s bad home record ATS as a faves. ASU -10.67, I’m taking Troy.
Georgia -24 at South Carolina — This was a game a lot of people had pointed to at the beginning of the season as one that could give the Dawgs trouble...subject to many provisos: provided that Spencer Rattler could rehab his game successfully, provided that UGA had lost a step with new starters, provided that new USCe pieces could gel and make the Gamecocks more competitive and be impactful players.
Through two weeks, none of those have been true. Kirby is especially good at covering road games (better than at home), Georgia has listened to smack talk about them slipping, and USC looked every bit the roadkill they appeared last week against a quality team.
In three of the last four meetings, UGA has beaten USC by 28, 27, and 24 points. Look for something near there, given Rattler’s inability to move the ball consistently and penchant for turnovers. On defense, the ‘Cocks are replacing 75% of their front seven, which is a bad setup since Sakerlina has allowed at or near 6.0 YPC in three of the last four meetings.
I have no problem trusting the numbers here. UGA -27.76 to 29.33. Bulldogs comfortably.
Alabama -49 vs. ULM
This poll is closed
La-Monroe is awful on both sides of the ball. Alabama can play a meh game and cover that by accident.
Only a fool would bet half-a-hundy on BoB, and Alabama is likely hungover or beat up from last week, as well.
Want some more of these? I crank the data for just about every single game over at my companion site: (Almost) Giving Away Money. Check it out, and prosper
...except for last week, when everyone on earth outside of Las Vegas lost their ass.