September 26, 2015 (Posted at 11:00 AM ET)
1) Take BYU at +7 spread against Michigan for 3% of the bankroll.
The BYU Cougars still fail to get the respect of the oddsmakers and it's somewhat puzzling. Through 3 games this season the Cougars are 2-1 with wins over Nebraska (on the road), Boise State and fell by just a single point against #10 ranked UCLA. This Cougars team has already exceeded expectations this season and even with the fact that Taysom Hill is out for the season, Tanner Mangum has proven to be a suitable replacement. Bronco Mendenhall is an underrated coach and always seems to have his teams prepared to go into battle. His teams are 17-5 ATS as underdogs the last few seasons including going an impressive 8-0 ATS when listed as a dog in the first 5 games of the season! The Cougars pride themselves on their defensive play and we expect them to make things difficult in the Big House this afternoon.
There was a lot of media hype surrounding the Wolverines this season with the addition of Jim Harbaugh being named the head coach. Harbaugh's tough coaching style was supposed to bring Big Blue back into prominence and while that will likely certainly be the case, expectations may be just a bit overhyped at this point, especially in the early part of the season. Jake Rudock is suitable under center; however he is not an elite quarterback. He has thrown at least 1 interception in 4 of his last 5 games and has shown his struggles under center at times. BYU has faced better competition under center already in Tommy Armstrong and Josh Rosen so they should have success containing Rudock.
At this point in the season, the Cougars are the more mentally tough team on both ends of the ball. Even though they will be looking for their third straight win, Michigan has had a much easier road to get here, dispatching of Oregon State (at home) and a lower-tiered UNLV team. Harbaugh is looking to implement more of a power football style at Michigan which consists of running the football. BYU will no doubt focus on stopping the run and force the ball into the shaky hands of Rudock. Meanwhile, The Cougars have the size and length at receiver to make things difficult for the Wolverine defenders. With Mangum getting more experience under center, he will continue to improve and develop chemistry with his numerous targets.
The Cougars' impressive showing against the #10 ranked team in the country will likely give them confidence to know that they can hang with the best teams in the country. BYU is a team that has a ton of heart and we don't expect them to lay down and allow Michigan to completely have their way with them. This is a scrappy team that has shown their ability to win when no one believe they can. The Wolverines may have the home field advantage, but they haven't had much success against non-conference opponents as they are just 2-7 ATS as a favorite of 7 or less in those games. Heading into this contest, we believe the Cougars are the better overall and more well prepared team. They will challenge for the outright win and even if they don't happen to get it, they should keep this game close enough to cover the spread.
2) Take Auburn at -2.5 spread against Mississippi State for 3% of the bankroll.
There are few teams in the country who have looked as poor as the Auburn Tigers over the last couple of weeks. After narrowly escaping a nail biter against FCS Jacksonville State and getting completely throttle by the LSU Tigers in Death Valley, the stock of the Auburn Tigers is currently at an all-time low. Many will be looking at this matchup and looking to grab the points with Mississippi State and Dak Prescott, but we believe that would be a mistake.
There is no doubt the Tigers have looked almost hapless the last couple of weeks, but let's not forget that this was a team who came into the season highly ranked. They were ranked that high because of the talent that is surrounding this team. They were "supposed" to be a much better passing team this season to go along with their potent ground game, but Jeremy Johnson has proved to be incapable under center. There has been a lot of criticism thrown Auburn's way the last couple of weeks and Malzahn has listened. Johnson has been benched and in his place Sean White will be making his first start of his college career.
For those who don't know much about White, he is a pure passer. He has cannon of an arm and has even drawn comparisons to that of a young Drew Brees. White is a wildcard in this contest. We have seen freshman quarterbacks make an immediate splash in the league (Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, Josh Rozen) so this could be White's chance to shine and he will certainly have the weapons around him to do so. A big part of Auburn's struggles has been due to the play of Johnson. He currently leads the country in interceptions. With a change a QB, that should allow the Tigers to right the ship.
Auburn has basically been embarrassed the last couple of weeks and this is a make or break game for them. Not only do they need this win to silence the critics and arguably save their season, but this is also a chance for them to take out their recent frustrations and get some revenge on the Bulldogs from last season's meeting. The Tigers are a perfect 7-0 ATS when seeking conference revenge. The oddsmakers know what they are doing and they are labelling the Tigers as favorites for a reason. The Bulldogs have played two straight home games and now have to take to the road to play an Auburn team who is in desperation mode. This will likely be a close game, but Auburn should come away with the much needed win at home.
3) Take Arkansas at +7.5 spread against Texas A&M for 3% of the bankroll.
This is a matchup that shows just how much public perception has an influence on the average sports bettor. The Arkansas Razorbacks have suffered back to back setbacks against Toledo and Texas Tech and at this point, the betting public has jumped off the bandwagon and is automatically looking to fade the Hogs. Meanwhile the Texas AM Aggies have looked impressive the last couple of weeks with Kyle Allen at the helm along with a re-tooled defense, they are now the "sexy" pick, no matter where they play or the number they are laying. It's that type of perception that we will use to our advantage here.
Despite being just 1-2 on the season, this is arguably a great spot for the Razorbacks. Bret Bielema's squad is no doubt hungry to turn around their recent misfortunes. During the offseason the Hogs were ranked #18 in the preseason poll and during the first week, they appeared to live up to that billing. In Week 2 they fell to Toledo despite completely dominating that game on the stat sheet. Against Texas Tech, they simply could not keep up with one of the most explosive offenses in the country, but were able to move the ball with relative ease. Don't be mistaken, Arkansas is still an incredibly tough team who will come out and give it their all in this game. The Hogs have managed to cover the spread in 5 of the last 6 meetings in this series and when they are in revenge mode, they are a perfect 5-0 ATS in their last 5 when seeking conference revenge.
Meanwhile as impressive as Texas AM has looked thus far this season, this is an incredibly difficult spot for them to be in. They have defeated the Hogs in 3 straight meetings and given the perception that the AM players likely have of Arkansas at the moment, could have them slightly looking past this matchup. The Aggies also have a big slate of revenge games themselves coming up, with matchups against Mississippi State, Alabama and Ole Miss on deck, so they could find themselves slightly looking ahead to those matchups rather than have their entire focus against a motivated Razorback team. Arkansas is 21-5 ATS when coming off back to back straight up and ATS losses so this could spell trouble for the Aggies is they get caught sleepwalking through this game.
This game means much more to the Hogs than it does the Aggies which means they will do everything that they can in order to avoid dropping to 1-3 on the season. Even if they happen to fall short of their goal, they should make this a respectable contest and keep the score within a touchdown. A&M may get the win, but the Hogs are the ones who cash the tickets.
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