Each week during the college football season, Covers Expert Steve Merril looks at the NCAAF odds and tells you which spread to bet now, which one to bet later, and which total to watch as the week plays out.
Spread to bet now
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (+15.5) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The spread sits on a dead number, but we’d expect this line to go down closer to the key number of 14 before it would go up to the key number of 17.
Notre Dame is going from playing in the National Championship game against Alabama last season to playing a 6-6 SU Rutgers team in the Pinstripe Bowl on December 28th.
Not only that, but this game will also be played in the Bronx giving Rutgers the proximity edge as well.
This game will be the proverbial “square vs. sharp” play where the public bettors will lay the points while the professional bettors will take the points. Take the big points now before big money knocks this line down.
Spread to wait on
Duke Blue Devils (+12) vs Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies beat Oklahoma 41-13 in the Cotton Bowl last season.
“Johnny Football” was the talk of college football and big things were expected this season. But after a mediocre 8-4 season, Texas A&M finds themselves in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve night against a Duke team that just lost 45-7 in the ACC Championship game.
Everybody saw Duke play a non-competitive game, and with Texas A&M a known commodity with a high-scoring offense, bettors will lay the points in this game.
The Aggies’ defense has been atrocious all season. They give up 31.2 points and 466.7 yards of offense per game. They allow 6.0 yards per play, 5.3 yards per rush, and 7.2 yards per pass attempt. Those are some terrible defensive numbers for a double digit favorite.
Early money has already come in on Texas A&M as this game opened at 11.5 with sportsbooks now dealing 12 and even 12.5 at some shops. Duke will be super motivated for this game - their second consecutive bowl appearance after an 18-year drought. The public will back Texas A&M in this game, so if you like Duke it’s probably best to wait for a better number closer to kickoff.
Total to watch
Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
The Holiday Bowl has a history of high-scoring games with down to the wire finishes.
These two teams have potent passing offenses and defenses that leave a lot to be desired. Texas Tech averages 56.9 pass attempts per game (No. 2 in the country) while Arizona State throws the ball 35.8 times per game, good for No.30 in the country.
Neither team is good at defending the pass. Texas Tech’s defensive numbers are skewed by early season results against very bad teams. The Red Raiders have given up 48.6 points per game over their last five games. The Sun Devils allow 7.3 yards per pass attempt, a major reason they’ve allowed 92 total points in their last three games.
The first posted total for this game by an offshore sportsbook was 72 total points and it appeared on Monday night. I expect this line to rise higher once more sportsbooks begin releasing an Over/Under line on what should be a high-scoring game.