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Archived: College Football Key Betting Previews


Sep 13, 2022 EST


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Those looking closely enough coming into the season could see the possibility of the Sun Belt surpassing the American Athletic and Mountain West as the best Group of Five “midmajor” conference in college football bubbling. Few could have forecasted it exploding through the surface this soon though.

The Sun Belt has officially arrived on the national radar after a three-pack of big Week 2 upsets — Appalachian State’s 17-14 win at Texas A&M as 17-point underdogs, Marshall’s 26-21 victory at Notre Dame as 20.5-point underdogs and Georgia Southern’s 45-42 triumph at Nebraska as 23.5-point underdogs.

Even if there’s still some dispute whether the Sun Belt has nestled itself in as the sixth-best conference behind the Power Five, there can no longer be any argument that the league’s East division looms as the best Group of Five subset of teams. All three of the aforementioned victors come from the East, where 2020 champion Coastal Carolina and another Power Five slayer in Old Dominion — which beat Virginia Tech in Week 1 — also reside.

And a new addition James Madison ranks fifth in the nation in expected points added per play. The race for the Sun Belt title is now among the most compelling in the nation, and the future odds reflect how close it should be.

Six teams are listed at 10-to-1 or less including Appalachian State at +235 (i.e. risking $100 to win $235), Marshall at 5-to-1 and Coastal Carolina at 6-to-1. The other three at the top of the odds are from the West with defending champion Louisiana at +415, South Alabama at 7-to-1 and Troy at 9-to-1.

PREVIEWS

Georgia -24.5 at South Carolina, over/under: 52. Georgia feels like the new Alabama in at least one respect: A bettor can’t confidently wager against it no matter how inflated the point spread appears. Make no mistake, this point spread appears inflated — especially with a team against South Carolina that excels in hidden areas like special teams.

Oklahoma -11.5 at Nebraska, over/under: 66.5. The so-called “interim coach bump” seems silly but often pays off in college football. Nebraska should have a more focused effort with Mickey Joseph taking over for the fired Scott Frost. And more importantly, Oklahoma is being given too much credit when it still has a lot of unknowns under new coach Brent Venables.

Penn State -3 at Auburn, over/under: 49. The number looks about right when factoring in priors from the preseason, but it’s hard not to be concerned with how Auburn has looked in limited action. Penn State has been more efficient on both sides of the ball despite playing a tougher pair of games, beating and covering against Ohio and Purdue as opposed to Auburn winning but failing to cover against San Jose State and Mercer.

BYU +4 at Oregon, over/under: 57.5. It’s a natural reaction to want to back Oregon with BYU coming off a grinding, physical double-overtime win over Baylor last week but this number is too high. The two teams are evenly matched from a personnel perspective with the Cougars possibly even having the upper hand if receivers Puka Nacua and/or Gunner Romney return.

Mississippi State -2.5 at LSU, over/under: 55. This looks like another ultraclose call, but the situation and roster talent give the Tigers an edge. Mississippi State is playing back-to-back road games after winning at Arizona, while LSU got a glorified bye in a 65-17 win over Southern last week that importantly included frustrated receiver Kayshon Boutte returning to the field

 

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