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September 10, 2016

Three college football picks were released earlier this week for Saturday!

 

#1: Take Western Kentucky +29 spread against Alabama for 3% of the bankroll.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are ranked number 1 in the country and for good reason. They are the defending National Champions and have arguably the very best coach ever in the College Football era in Nick Saban. Each and every season Alabama is a force due to their ability to continuously re-load talent each and every season. That was on full display last week in their season opener as they completely dominated what was supposed to be a very good USC team this season. The Tide not only completely shut down the USC offense, but their defense was about as locked in as a team could get as they rolled to a 52-6 victory over their opponents.

Their opening season matchup was a chance for the defending champs and also Nick Saban to flex their proverbial muscle. They wanted to come out and make a statement and they certainly did just that. Alabama is undoubtedly one of the betting favorites each and every week and because of their dominance (usually) on both sides of the ball, the betting public will blindly back them no matter what line the oddsmakers favor them at. That being said, there are certain situations where the oddsmakers simply over-value the Tide and we believe this is one of them.

Alabama was no doubt hyped up for their opening game matchup against a Power 5 opponents that carries a heavy name in the College Football world. This week however, they could find themselves in not only a bit of a letdown, but could also fall victim to a classic look-ahead spot which could be very dangerous given their opponents this week. After this contest the Tide will be heading to Oxford to take on a Mississippi Rebels team that handed the Tide their one loss last season. Not only was that the only blemish on their championship season, but the Rebels pretty much dominated the Tide last season in Tuscaloosa. You can bet that Nick Saban and the remaining players from last year's team has had this date circled on their calendar's dating all the way back to last season. They will certainly be looking to exact revenge on the Rebels, which could play a factor in covering this rather large impost in this contest.

The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are not a push-over of a team. Yes, they play in a much smaller conference but they have shown the ability to score and score in bunches. They too had a solid showing in their season opener jumping out to a 30-7 halftime lead over Rice before coming away with a 46-14 victory. Hilltopper QB Mike White had a career outing in that contest going 25 of 31 for 517 yards and 3 touchdowns. White has a bevy of veteran receivers at his disposal including the dynamic Taywan Taylor who caught 5 passes for 165 yards. Opposite of Taylor is Nick Norris who caught 7 balls for 147 yards and 2 scores. These two players have the ability to stretch the defense and find ways to get open downfield.

It's been long known that the way to beat Alabama is with the deep ball. Their secondary is rarely tested and the teams who have downed the Tide have all had the ability to throw the ball downfield. Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Ohio State, all of these teams are the most recent to topple the Tide and they all beat the Tide in high scoring affairs using the deep ball. If the Western Kentucky offensive line can give White the time to look downfield, he should be able to connect on some long balls and give his receivers a chance to make plays downfield.

While we don't believe that Western Kentucky will be capable of pulling off what would only be considered a huge upset, we do believe that this game will be closer than anticipated. With a big game against Ole Miss lurking ahead, the Tide could take a cautious approach to this game against a lesser foe. If they happen to go up on the scoreboards early, we wouldn't be surprised to see Saban call off the dogs and give his starters a rest in order for them to remain healthy for the following week's matchup. For Western Kentucky, this is their College Football playoff and their chance to show that they can hang with the best team in the land. Even if they fall behind early, we expect that they will be able to put points on the board, even if the game is well out of reach. This is a huge impost to lay on Alabama in a game that they may not care very much about which certainly leaves the door wide open for a backdoor cover. Alabama is the all-around better team, but we believe the underdogs are the ones who have value in this contest as they find a way to stay within this number.
 

#2: Take BYU +4 spread (buy half a point) against Utah for 3% of the bankroll.

We liked the BYU Cougars to pull off the outright upset in their Week 1 matchup against the Arizona Wildcats and we were rewarded with an 18-16 victory. We're going to back the Cougars once against this week as they head into what should be a big-time revenge game for them.

These two teams met last season in the LAs Vegas Bowl and it was a first quarter that the Cougars would certainly like to forget. In their first 5 possessions of the game, BYU committed 5 turnovers which led to 5 touchdowns by the Utes in a 35-0 first quarter. While the game was nearly over in the first 15 mins, the Cougars did not give up and nearly pulled off what would have been the biggest comeback in a bowl game as they scored 28 straight points but narrowly fell short 35-28.

Looking at the box score from that matchup, one would think that BYU completely dominated that game as they outgained their opponents by double the yardage (387-198) and save for those 5 turnover, they may well have. That being said, this is their chance at redemption. We believe that the Cougars are a better all-around team this season, while the Utes have taken a slight step back. BYU got back their star QB in Taysom Hill, who looked extremely calm in the pocket in his first game back. Hill has always been known as a running threat, but showed extreme poise and a much more refined delivery on his passes against Arizona. He finished the contest 21 of 29 for 202 yards and a score. He also used his legs when needed to move the chains, coming away with 11 rushes for 37 yards. Hill looks like he has mature as a QB and that could be problematic for the Utes defense in this contest.

Utah lost a ton of talent in the offseason which includes not only their veteran QB Travis Wilson, but also their star RB Devontae Booker. Troy Williams has now taken over the helm in Utah and while he was impressive in his debut, he did show some flaws against a lesser rated Southern Utah defense. He is still young and will make continue to make mistakes in this role until he becomes more comfortable on the field, however this BYU defense is much different that Southern Utah and will likely pose problems for the young QB.

The BYU defense is arguably one of the best in the country that no one is talking about, but we can tell you that they are certainly the real deal. Arizona is primarily a running team and they were able to shut down the run fairly effectively. Stopping the run is a critical piece of the defense as it forces opposing QBs into predictable passing situations. That is where the Cougars thrived as they put constant pressure on Anu Solomon, sacking him 4 times, forcing 2 turnovers and holding him to -20 yards rushing! The Utah running game wasn't very impressive in their season opener and if the Cougars can continue to stop the run, that should allow their defense to get after the QB and force him into some questionable decisions.

We believe that Taysom Hill will be on a mission this season in his final year at the collegiate level. His team will also be looking to atone for their poor showing in the first quarter of their bowl game last season. BYU is the better team in our opinion and feel that this game should have been closer to a pick'em. Even though we feel that BYU will once again pull off the outright victory, getting more than a FG if they happen to fall short has a ton of value.
 

#3: Take Tulsa +28 spread against Ohio State for 3% of the bankroll.

The Ohio State Buckeyes made a statement in Week 1 as they managed to drop 77 points on the Bowling Green Falcons behind JT Barrett's 7 total touchdowns. It was certainly an impressive performance to kick off the season however, it is not one that we expect them to repeat heading into this matchup in Week 2.

There is no question that a majority of the betting public love the Buckeyes. They are the first ever College Football playoff champions, they have had two perfect seasons under head coach Urban Meyer and rarely lose during the regular season. They are a strong and popular bet each and every week, however there are some weeks where a situation presents itself where the value is simply on the other team. This is one of those situations.

While many believe that the Buckeyes will once again tear through their opponents in this contest, this is actually an extremely vulnerable spot for the Buckeyes. Not only will they be playing a team that we believe is severely underrated this season, but the following week they have a big matchup on the road in Norman against the Oklahoma Sooners. There is no question that the Buckeyes will be looking forward to that heavyweight matchup and that leaves them vulnerable against an opponent that can score in bunches.

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane picked up right where they left off last season offensively, coming away with a 45-10 victory against San Jose State in Week 1. Tulsa was ranked 11th in the country in overall offense, racking up over 500 yards per game over the course of the season while also leading the country in passing plays of more than 20 yards. As impressive as they were on offense last season, they are poised to be even better this season with a majority of their playmakers back on offense. Their defense is also much improved from a season ago as they finally have some continuity in defensive coaches and bring back players who now have game experience. This is a team that could be a dark horse this season and while we don't believe they will beat Ohio State, we wouldn't be surprised to see them hang tough and put a scare into them.

This is a classic letdown / look ahead spot for the Buckeyes and while we do expect them to defend their home turf in this contest, one has to wonder exactly how much effort they will put into the full 4 quarters. Urban Meyer knows how important the matchup next week against the Sooners is going to be. Oklahoma already suffered a loss this season and certainly can’t afford a second one if they still hope to contend for a potential playoff spot. They are going to give Ohio State everything that they can handle and the Buckeyes will need to bring their “A” game with them to Norman. Ohio State made their statement in the opening contest against Bowling Green, but we expect this matchup to play out much differently. Urban Meyer likely isn’t going to care about style points in this contest. His main goal is to win the game and come out with his players healthy and unscathed. If he has a chance to rest his starters for next week’s contest, we expect him to do just that; that is where we believe Tulsa will be much more dangerous.

Tulsa is a school that plays in a much smaller conference, however this is essentially their National Championship game against a team whose name carries a lot of weight around the country. A solid showing or at least competitive showing by this team could go a long way in school recognition and recruiting in the future. They will want to show that they can contend with a team from a Power 5 conference and have the talent at both QB and WR to do just that. If the Ohio State defense is not completely on point each and every play, they could see themselves on the other end of a score. It likely will not take Tulsa many touchdowns to cover this rather large impost and even if a couple of them come in garbage time when they game is already out of reach, that leaves the door wide open for a backdoor cover. This is simply too many points to lay in a rather unfavorable spot for the Buckeyes.




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