September 16, 2017
SPS has released 5 College Football Picks today!
#1: Take Baylor +14.5 spread against Duke risking 3% of the bankroll.
My how the mighty have fallen. It was too long ago that the Baylor Bears were one of the premier teams not only in the Big 12, but in the entire nation. Their pace of play and signal calling made them an offensive juggernaut, routinely blowing teams out with relative ease. Over the past 5 seasons the Bears average margin of victory has been by an average of 32 points and yet this season they find themselves in the unfamiliar role of not only underdogs, but as more than a two-touchdown underdog! That is a huge swing in such a short amount of time. Naturally, the dismissal or Art Briles and the changing of the culture in Baylor has played into their fall, along with the fact that they have recently lost back-to-back home games against the like of Liberty and UTSA has certainly cast Baylor in an unfavorable light, however, we believe this is a gross reaction which is happening too early in the season.
Meanwhile, while Baylor has looked like a garbage team, the Duke Blue Devils are playing well about their expected expectations as they are coming off a dominant win over Northwestern. Duke played a near flawless game in that contest, exhibiting balance in both the running and passing game. That being said, we have always felt that Northwestern had been an overrated team coming into the season, especially with the loss of Austin Carr. The fact that Duke easily handled them wasn't much of a surprise to us but perception of this team after that win is clearly putting the Blue Devils in a favorable light with the betting public.
This is also a tough scheduling spot for Duke. They're win over Northwestern was an obvious satisfying win, considering it was a double-revenge match for defeats that they suffered over the past two matchups, however next week the Blue Devils take on their arch rivals, the North Carolina Tar heels in the ACC opener. While at the beginning of the season we wouldn't have expected this to be a sandwich or lookahead spot for Duke, things have certainly changed given how Baylor has looked the first two games of the season and we wouldn't be surprised if the Blue Devils came out a bit flat in this contest.
Head Coach Matt Rhule is making some big changes to his depth chart in hopes that will ignite a fire or spark within his team. We believe that is an incredibly smart move and while we don't believe they will automatically revert back to the offensive powerhouse they have been the last few years, we do expect to see a much better performance from them in this contest. The environment in Waco at the moment is extremely toxic and getting away from home could be the best things for the Bears at this point. There is no question that perception of these two teams after the first two weeks of the season has undoubtedly over-influenced the point spread in this matchup. Baylor is nowhere near as bad as they have looked over the last two games and we don't believe Duke is as good as they had looked in their last contest. Expect a much more inspired effort from the Bears in this contest. They may not win, be they will keep things close.
#2: Take SMU +20 spread against TCU risking 3% of the bankroll.
The TCU Horned Frogs had a down season a year ago and many had already started to write the Horned Frogs off this season as well. Many experts and analysts had projected a regression again this season, but after their convincing victory last week against Arkansas, these same people are already jumping back on the bandwagon and claiming that "The Horned Frogs re back!". It's amazing what a single week and one performance can do to perception and we believe it is the current perception that is going to hurt TCU backers this afternoon.
The SMU Mustangs are a team that has been widely overlooked ever since the "Death Sentence" was imposed numerous years ago. Since then, the Mustangs have been living in obscurity and have been attempting to breathe new life back into their program. We saw glimpses of it over the last couple of seasons, most notably with their victory over a then ranked tom Herman led Houston Cougars team. We believe SMU is a team that is on the rise and they could start to garner a manner of respect after this contest.
While everyone is raving about the TCU defense, the SMU offense should not be overlooked or underestimated. Through their first two contests this season, the Mustang offense has produced 112 total points and has the best receiver’s in the conference with Courtland Sutton leading the way. Sutton is a big receiver at 6'4 and will largely have the advantage over the smaller TCU corners. If SMU can get their passing game working, they could certainly make things interesting against the TCU defense.
This is also an interesting spot for the Horned Frogs. They are coming off an impressive win over an SEC team in Arkansas and next week they travel to Stillwater to take on the highly touted Oklahoma State Cowboys. This matchup with SMU is technically a rivalry game, despite TCU having won 15 of the last 17 meetings. This would be a very easy situation for the Horned Frogs to overlook, expect an easy match or get caught looking ahead to next week. This is the ideal lookahead / letdown spot and laying this many points, if they do come out flat, it could make it tough for TCU to cover. We believe this game will be closer than most expect. TCU likely wins, but SMU should find a way to stay within this generous number.
#3: Take Colorado State +28.5 spread against Alabama risking 3% of the bankroll.
Once again, this season the Alabama Crimson Tide is reloaded and one of the favorites to make the College Football Playoff. Nick Saban is thought by some to be the greatest coach in College football history and his team's defense is the best in the country. There are no secrets there, and the spreads that the oddsmakers place on the Tide reflect that. That being said, the lines on Alabama are often inflated and we believe that is the case once again today.
The Colorado State Rams are a quality team and are much improved from a season ago. Nick Stevens is a solid quarterback and they have a balanced attack on the offensive side of the ball. Their defense is opportunistic and have shown their ability to create their share of turnovers. All of that likely won't matter at the end of the day against the Tide, however, they are built enough to keep things closer than the oddsmakers expect.
The Crimson Tide have shown their struggles on the offensive side of the ball again this season. Jalen Hurts is still growing as a quarterback, but the offense has sputtered at times this season. Last week against Fresno State, the Tide rolled, as they normally do, in a 31-point victory, however they managed to fall short of covering the high spread. We believe that will be the case again in this contest. Colorado State is a much better all-around team that the Bulldogs and we wouldn't be surprised if they were able to find the end zone on a couple of occasions in this contest.
The Tide defense will certainly be smothering, but this is a team that thrives on turnovers and non-offensive scores. If Colorado State can protect the football and not allow those non-offensive scores to pile up, they should be able to keep this game low scoring enough that it gives the Tide trouble winning by the 5-touchdown mark. We are not saying that Colorado State has a chance to pull off the upset, in fact they have very little chance of knocking off Alabama in Tuscaloosa, however we do believe they have the ability to stay within this extremely high number. This game may not be pretty to watch and the Tide will likely gain a big lead in this contest, however, in the latter parts of the game, we expect the Rams to find pay dirt and with a score or two, slide their way into covering this spread.
#4: Take Wyoming +14 against Oregon risking 3% of the bankroll.
This matchup between the Oregon Ducks and Wyoming Cowboys likely isn't one that sticks out to the casual sports fan, however, for the experts, this could turn into one of the most entertaining matchups on the entire card. The Oregon Ducks are undoubtedly the bigger named program in this matchup, however, it will be the Cowboys who have the best player on the field.
Many may not have heard of Wyoming QB Josh Allen ahead of this matchup, but we believe a lot of people will be talking about him by game's end. Allen is arguably the best QB in the country and likely the #1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. What makes Allen so dangerous, besides his instinct and his arm, is the fact that he was unrecruited after high school. He spent a year in JUCO and reached out to numerous Power 5 programs to take a chance and recruit him, however he didn't receive any responses. Wyoming was the only program to take a chance on Allen and that motivated him through his first year under center. With another year under his belt, Allen is perhaps the most NFL ready QB in the country and plays the game with a huge chip on his shoulder. In an interview, he stated that it is his goal, each time he steps out on the field, is to embarrass the other team for passing up on him. As good as Allen is mechanically, you can't teach heart and Allen has a ton of it.
The Oregon Ducks are a fast paced, high octane offense; however, their defense has been susceptible over the years and we expect that when given the time, Allen should be able to shred the secondary. The Ducks are a team who gives up a lot of yards and a lot of points so their one true way to beat other teams is to simply outscore them. The issue with that in this contest is that Wyoming has shown a much-improved defense this season. They were stout against Iowa in the first game of the season and we expect that while they won't be able completely shut down the Oregon offense, they should at least be able to slow it down.
Let’s not forget that this is Oregon's first true road game of the season and their high paced offenses is tasked with playing in 7200 ft. elevation. If Oregon continues to play fast, we expect fatigue to set in in the second half and that is where Wyoming will have a huge advantage. Oregon will likely find a way to win this game, but Allen and company will make things difficult for the Ducks as the Cowboys find a way to cover the spread.
#5: Take San Diego State +9 spread (buy the half point) against Stanford risking 3% of the bankroll.
The Stanford Cardinal could be in trouble tonight. Following their 42-24 loss at USC in last week, head coach David Shaw said his defensive line was not accustomed to giving up the kind of big rushing total the Trojans reeled off. Both Ronald Jones II and Stephen Carr went off for more than 100 yards. It was an uncharacteristically poor showing from an otherwise stout Stanford defense. How easy USC made it look however, could prove to be problematic tonight against a SDSU team that boasts the nation’s leading rusher in Rashaad Penny.
Penny put up more than 1,000 yards as the Aztecs' No. 2 running back in 2016, supplementing the attack behind record-setting ball-carrier Donnel Pumphrey. With the reins firmly in his control, Penny has not disappointed thus far. He has 413 yards and three rushing touchdowns through two games, most recently gashing Pac-12 member Arizona State for 216 yards. Penny is averaging an absurd 10.6 yards per carry. If Stanford has not shored up all of their holes on the defensive line, SDSU could have success where the Trojans left off.
Both teams employ a similar game plan; however, we believe SDSU is a bit underrated and not getting quite the respect that they deserve. SDSU’s head coach Rocky Long is known for having an aggressive defensive play calling style. Long will send the blitz frequently from all parts of the field. and these blitz schemes can really confuse opposing quarterbacks. The Aztecs also have one of the best secondaries in the country, with ball-hawking defensive backs that have proven to be some of the most opportunistic in the country. FI the Aztec defense can find some success up front, it should force Stanford QB Keller Chryst into making some mistakes.
Even though it is only Week 3, the Stanford Cardinal could be a bit road weary already. They opened the season in Sydney Australia in Week 1, went to USC last week and are now in San Diego this week. Could all this travel potentially affect the play of Stanford on the field; absolutely! This is going to be an old-school matchup between power football teams that like to beat up their opponents in the trenches. If fatigue starts to set in, the SDSU run game should start to see great success in the second half. Both teams are evenly built and employ similar game plans. Stanford is the bigger named program, but overlooking the Aztecs would be a mistake. We wouldn't be completely surprised if the Aztecs managed to win this game outright, so getting more than a touchdown shows a tremendous amount of value.
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