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
Stanford Cardinal at Arizona State Sun Devils (-3)
The current pointspread sits on the key number of 3, but early indications hint that the Sun Devils will be moving up to -3.5 shortly.
This is a revenge game for Arizona State, as the Sun Devils got blown out 42-28 at Stanford in Week 3. The Cardinal laid 6.5 points in that game but Arizona State is a completely different team at home. The Sun Devils are a perfect 7-0 SU and 5-2 ATS.
Bettors like those angles so they will be eager to bet the Sun Devils in this game, especially since they are only laying a field goal. Stanford’s two losses have come on the road, which will also entice bettors to take Arizona State.
Public bettors also like to take the high-scoring offensive teams, especially when they are matched up with the low-scoring, defensive teams. That’s the case here, so we expect the money to come in on Arizona State, ultimately moving this number higher than three.
Spread to wait on
Ohio State Buckeyes (-5.5) vs. Michigan State Spartans
The media and bettors alike are quite skeptical of Ohio State and its undefeated 12-0 record. The Buckeyes’ close 42-41 win at Michigan last weekend only enhanced their negative perception. Ohio State is on a 0-3 ATS slide and is just 2-4 ATS its last six ballgames.
Early money has already come in on Michigan State, with the game opening at MSU +6.5 and quickly getting bet down to the current 5.5-point spread. The public will also back the Spartans, especially since they are 4-1 ATS over their last five games and their only loss this season came by just four points.
If you like Ohio State – wait. A better number will be available as the week goes on.
Total to watch
Oklahoma Sooners at Oklahoma State Cowboys (58)
The Bedlam Series has a history of alternating results in recent years. The Sooners and Cowboys played a high-scoring 99-point game last season after a 54-point game the year before. There were 88 points in 2010 and only 27 points in 2009.
Oklahoma State has the reputation as a high-powered offense under head coach Mike Gundy. But the Cowboys’ strength this season has been their defense. They’ve held six opponents to 13 points or less and they’ve limited opponents to just 4.8 yards per play and 6.2 yards per pass attempt.
Oklahoma’s defense only allows 4.9 yards per play and 6.3 yards per pass attempt. The Sooners’ offense has also had inconsistent quarterback play, resulting in some lower-scoring games.
The total came out at a surprising low 58, so it seems that the oddsmakers have finally caught on to Oklahoma State’s profile.