Last Updated: 2019-09-16
A good number of FBS teams are finishing up non-conference play this week. Others are already knee-deep in the conference play schedule. There are a lot of situational betting considerations this week, especially with multiple weeknight games and a whole lot of teams stepping up in class.
These situational betting spots may add a point or two at most to a line. Sometimes you may get a really awful spot that does create a need for a bigger adjustment, but people oftentimes overvalue what these things really mean. As mentioned in previous articles, schedule analysis is part of the handicap, but rarely is it a strong enough angle for full justification on a pick.
It’s something to consider. Food for thought, if you will. There is a lot of it this week, so hopefully you have an appetite.
Here are the college football situational betting tips for Week 4:
Houston at Tulane – The market has spoken on what this week’s spot looks like for the Houston Cougars. It is bad. Not only have the Cougars been a bit of a disappointment offensively, but they go from preparing for Mike Leach’s Air Raid to Willie Fritz’s spread option. And they do it on a short week with travel. This is one of those spots worth quite a bit and the betting odds movement reflects that.
Utah at USC – There are a lot of scenarios this week in which one team is coming off of a dog fight and the other is coming off of a leisurely stroll with a senior dog. Utah played Idaho State last week. USC lost in overtime to BYU. One team played a glorified scrimmage. The other suffered a very tough loss. Of course, in looking at the Utah side, they’ve played two straight overwhelmed teams, while USC hasn’t had a gimme game yet. Maybe the Trojans are better equipped for the speed of this one?
Air Force at Boise State – Air Force beat Colorado in overtime last weekend. Boise State beat in-state rival Portland State. So, the Broncos had it easy and Air Force did not, though the Falcons made it look easy at times. This is a short week for both teams, though Boise State is well-versed in the Air Force option, so it isn’t as bad of a spot as it could be. Still, with a freshman quarterback, Boise State is asked to cover a sizable number here with a guy still learning the position and a limited number of possessions.
Louisiana-Monroe at Iowa State – How does Matt Campbell’s team bounce back? That was a devastating loss to Iowa last week, as the Cyclones lost the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the fourth straight year. Now Louisiana-Monroe from the Sun Belt comes to town. Matt Viator’s team would love to knock off a Power Five team and can move the football. Can the Cyclones put last week’s disappointment in the past and focus on this game? The conference opener against Baylor is on deck.
UCF at Pitt – To me, this spot is bad both ways. UCF does have UConn on deck, so at least it isn’t Cincinnati, like it will be the first week of October. But, the Knights did just pummel Stanford in a game that is getting a lot more credit than it should. Dillon Gabriel looked great and the Knights have been terrific so far, but Stanford had Oregon on deck and cluster injuries on the offensive line. They weren’t going to Orlando to give a full effort. Pitt, on the other hand, is coming off of the heartbreaking loss to Penn State. Pat Narduzzi opted to go 84 yards for a touchdown instead of try one more time at the one-yard-line, otherwise things could have gone differently. They didn’t and he quadrupled down on his dumb decision on Monday. Anyway, it’s not ideal for either team on Saturday.
Central Michigan at Miami (FL) – Normally, I wouldn’t give this game as second thought. However, former CMU head coach Dan Enos is now the offensive coordinator at Miami. He voluntarily left Mount Pleasant to be the offensive coordinator at Arkansas. Will Enos look to make a statement here? It makes sense, as the progression of redshirt freshman Jarren Williams is the most important part of the 2019 season after the loss to North Carolina took Miami from playoff contention. Miami is off next week following last week’s bye against Bethune-Cookman, so staying sharp would make sense.
Old Dominion at Virginia – It wasn’t pretty, but Virginia beat Florida State for just the fourth time in 18 meetings last weekend. It was also the first time UVA had been favored over FSU, to give you an idea of where those programs are heading. Virginia Tech was beaten by Old Dominion last year and the Monarchs covered comfortably in Week 2 against the Hokies. Let’s see if the Cavaliers can avoid overlooking ODU and cover the 30.5-point spread. It sure is a big number, especially when you consider that Virginia plays Notre Dame next week.
Boston College at Rutgers – Getting embarrassed isn’t any fun. Just ask Boston College, the butt of a lot of college football jokes after losing at home to Kansas last Friday. Will a highly focused BC team blow out Rutgers as a road favorite? The Eagles go back into conference play against Wake Forest next week, but after a loss of that magnitude to Kansas, you would have to think Steve Addazio’s team comes ready to play.
Michigan at Wisconsin – An 11 a.m. kickoff in Madison seems like kind of a bummer, as there won’t be a whole lot of tailgating before this enormous Big Ten game. This could very well be a playoff eliminator for these two teams. A 12-1 Michigan team that beats Ohio State and probably Wisconsin twice would make the College Football Playoff in all likelihood, but the Wolverines have a lot of season left to get through. This is the stiffest test by far for Wisconsin and surely for Michigan as well.
Toledo at Colorado State – Here’s a bit of a weird spot. Toledo goes out to Fort Collins, Colorado to play in the altitude against Colorado State. Toledo did play Nevada in Reno back in 2017, so at least the program and the now upperclassmen have some idea of what it’s like. Of course, Fort Collins is higher in elevation, but this is a pretty hefty number for Toledo to cover with that long trip.
New Mexico State at New Mexico – In the all-time Rio Grande Rivalry, New Mexico leads 71-33-5. In the 10 most recent meetings between the teams on I-25, the series is split 5-5. New Mexico State hasn’t had a lot of wins in that span, but this is a game in which they are always competitive. This installment is in Albuquerque, but that hasn’t really mattered.
Washington at BYU – You would think that Washington would be well-versed in playing in the thin air of Utah and Colorado, but the Huskies are not. They haven’t played in Boulder since 2014 and have played at Utah twice in the last five years. They won outright in all three games and covered two of them. Provo will be a change of scenery for the Huskies, who haven’t played there since 2010. On the BYU side, after losing to Utah, beating Tennessee on the road, and outlasting USC in overtime, how much gas is left in the tank? BYU has to go to Toledo next week, so we’ll see them again in this article. As far as this week, though, it looks like an uphill climb.
Appalachian State at North Carolina – As impressive as Appalachian State has been since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2014, the Mountaineers have never beaten a Power Five Conference team. This is as good of a chance as they’ve gotten, as they hit the road for Chapel Hill. You know former NC State offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz wants a piece of this UNC team now that he has his own squad. This could be a spot where UNC, after playing South Carolina, Miami, and Wake Forest, has a hard time matching App State’s intensity.
West Virginia at Kansas – Kansas had the more surprising result between these two teams last week, but not many people were talking about Neal Brown’s WVU Mountaineers before their upset over NC State. Maybe there aren’t many people talking about them now, but it was a huge step forward for quarterback Austin Kendall and the boys from Morgantown. They’re a long way from home in Lawrence, but all of the sudden this becomes an interesting game of two teams trying to sustain some unexpected, newfound prosperity.
SMU at TCU – This is a rivalry game. It’s a one-sided one, but a rivalry nonetheless. SMU is in Dallas and TCU is in Fort Worth, so these two schools are very close together. These schools are about 40 miles apart. TCU has won seven in a row, 11 of 12, and 17 of 19. Many of them have not been close. Except for 2006, these teams have played every year since 1989 and have played 98 times overall. This is an underappreciated Little Brother vs. Big Brother game given the TCU dominance, but SMU is sure to bring it all here.
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