Our finest work has come in betting on the big games this season (19-12-1), which continued with last week‘s sweep. Week 11 features dangerous underdogs looking to strike a blow to their opponents’ national title chances and keep their own conference title hopes alive.
Here’s some fodder for argument. My estimated market ratings for college football’s top 10, based on recent point spreads:
It’s important to note that these estimations – faulty enough to give LSU the type of credit to pull the line down to Alabama -3 last week – aren’t gospel. However, they’re giving Michigan the nod over Georgia (the preseason No. 1) and Ohio State (current CFP No. 1), which means the market is already pretty high on the Wolverines.
Penn State‘s preseason rating was 85/100, so it’s been downgraded after losing to the Buckeyes in yet another high-profile spot that’s become a James Franklin staple (along with running up scores against inferior opponents).
Even with those adjustments – Michigan up, Penn State down – the line would be Wolverines under a field goal in Happy Valley.
Michigan’s schedule hasn’t provided a test, with road games at Minnesota, Nebraska, and Michigan State not qualifying as tough environments or good teams. At least the Nittany Lions have been in the cauldron at Ohio State.
I expect Franklin to probably fall short of winning, but a spread longer than a field goal makes Penn State the prudent play.
Alabama slammed LSU last week in the second half, exposing the Tigers as not worth the rating they were given above. If home-field advantage in the SEC is worth close to five points, the point spread of -3 suggested LSU was better. The Tigers aren’t better than Bama, but it could be because of a string of injuries affecting their already porous defense.
It might be hidden by their loss to Tennessee two weeks ago and an off-the-radar win at Mississippi State last week, but Kentucky‘s been impressive since the bye week gave Devin Leary a chance to get healthier.
The Vols’ standard down success rate is discernibly better than Alabama’s on offense and only slightly worse on defense, yet Tennessee was barely favored by more than a field goal in Lexington. Alabama’s market rating is as high as it’s been all season, but the Crimson Tide are in a tough spot this week against a team that can keep it close.
Having just sung the praises of Tennessee and mentioned a sneaky difficult road win, it won’t come as a surprise that if we think of the Vols as Alabama-adjacent, they can beat Missouri a week after the Tigers fell valiantly short of an upset at Georgia.
This line still reflects a healthy ratings boost from the Tigers building a gaudy record with wins over pre-bye Kentucky, Memphis, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt, plus needing a 61-yard field goal to beat Kansas State.
Regrettably, for those positions, Washington doesn’t have the defense the Ducks have. Utah should be able to move the ball. Scoring won’t come as easy for the Huskies as it did against USC last week, so another close game could be on the menu before Washington finishes the regular season at Oregon State and the Apple Cup.
Georgia’s up to ninth in the country in offensive EPA/play, just ahead of Ole Miss. There’s definitely more of an edge for the Bulldogs, but it’s probably less than you think based on each team’s reputation.
Georgia couldn’t separate from Missouri last week, with a yardage edge of 385-363 and 21 first downs per side. It was a similar boxscore to the Dawgs’ game at Auburn, except those Tigers can’t throw the ball (88 yards passing). The Ole Miss passing game is comparable to Missouri, and while we feared Georgia’s defense last week, the Rebels should also have enough success on the ground to keep them in the game late, with a chance to win.
Pick: Ole Miss (+10.5)
Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.