College football lines that make you go hmmm...
1 Replies | 767 ViewsOn 08/31/2011 08:50 AM in NCAA Football
For the past few years, Covers.com has brought you the weekly feature, “Lines That Make You Go Hmmm …” during football season, a column that attempts to exploit this dynamic, see if maybe we’re onto something and pay homage to the 90s hip-hop group C+C Music Factory.
We’ll identify a few lines that make us do a double-take, then run our take past an oddsmaker or Covers Expert to get their input. With the kickoff to the college football season just a few days away, we’ll get in on the action with a college-only “Lines That Make You Go Hmmm …”
After stepping up to the board and choosing a few games, we consulted Jeff Stoneback, race and sportsbook manager at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, for his feedback.
TCU at Baylor (+6.5)
It’s about time TCU coach Gary Patterson is mentioned in the same breath as the Nick Sabans and Urban Meyers of the world. He has built a mid-major dynasty of sorts in Fort Worth, Texas, and fading the Frogs can be hazardous to your bankroll.
The same can’t be said for Baylor coach Art Briles, the former prep-school coaching icon who has made some progress with the Bears but has yet to turn the corner. Baylor regressed after an impressive start last year, losing four straight to end the season, including a blowout loss to Illinois in the Texas Bowl.
Patterson’s TCU club is coming off a season in which it posted one of the best defenses in the history of college football and a Top 5 offense for good measure. TCU also crushed Baylor 45-10 last year.
Although they return just eight total starters, TCU has emerged as the type of program that reloads instead of rebuilds. At under a touchdown, we see value in the Frogs.
“We actually anticipate that the spread will go to 7, since it’s an isolated game before the weekend and TCU is a public team,” Stoneback said. “I’d see some value with Baylor and a touchdown, but the jury is still out with a team like that.”
Northwestern at Boston College (-3)
Boston College has been prone to slow starts of late. Last year, the Eagles started 2-5 before winning five straight to become bowl-eligible.
They return 14 starters, including ACC rushing leader Montel Harris. But quarterback remains a question, and BC had one of the nation’s worst offenses last year (18.5 points, No. 109 in the country).
Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa was one of the nation’s most underrated talents last year before he suffered a late season-ending injury. In his absence, the Wildcats stumbled to three straight losses to end the season.
Persa and 15 other starters return for a Northwestern club that should be potent on offense but needs to shore up a leaky defense that yielded 70 points to Wisconsin last season. Even so, we think the Wildcats have too many weapons for BC to handle.
“I agree with you,” Stoneback said. “The ACC has been such a weak conference, and Boston College hasn’t done well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Northwestern beat them.”
Boise State at Georgia (+3)
This year’s annual Week 1 Boise State Bowl is shaping up a lot like the last one. Last year, the Broncos opened at -3 for their visit to Washington, D.C., to face Virginia Tech, only to find themselves a 1-point dog by kickoff.
Returning quarterback Kellen Moore, a Heisman Trophy candidate, led them on a late touchdown drive for a 33-30 win that gave most Boise backers the cash and paved the way for a 12-1 season in which a loss to Nevada prevented another BCS Bowl bid.
Boise ranked No. 2 nationally last year in both total offense and defense. Georgia was beset by injuries and off-field issues. The perennial SEC contender was solid on defense but suffered from inexperience and inconsistency on offense.
A bowl loss to Central Florida gave Georgia its first losing season under Mark Richt in his nine years at the school. But to hear the critics, you’d think the guy was the second coming of Ron Zook.
With sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray returning alongside a solid nucleus, we like the value on Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta. For whatever it’s worth, the Bulldogs beat Boise State 48-13 in their 2005 meeting.
“I don’t’ know where the line is going to go on this game,” Stoneback said. “It’s tough. I really have no opinion; I think I’ll just sit back and enjoy it.”
Josh Nagel covers football, poker and sports betting news for Covers.com and the Reno Gazette Journal.