Each week during the college football season, renowned Las Vegas wiseguy and Covers Expert Bruce Marshall 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
Auburn Tigers (-7.5) at Tennessee Volunteers
Never mind the tick over a key number, because by the end of the week, we suspect that Auburn backers might have to be worrying about the next pivot number up the ladder at 10.
There has already been some appetite in the marketplace for the Tigers, who opened a solid 7 at most outlets for this SEC clash at Knoxville.
With six-straight wins and spread covers, and improving by the week, Gus Malzahn’s team is starting to attract lots of attention, and the public can be expected to keep betting up the new “it” team on the college football map.
Outscored 76-13 the past two weeks by Bama and Mizzou, Tennessee is not going to get a lot of support from the sports book patrons.
Grab the 7.5 now with Auburn before the price challenges the next key number resistance point at 10 later in the week.
Spread to wait on
USC Trojans at Cal Golden Bears (+17)
Though Cal has quietly covered two games on the trot after dropping 12 straight on the board from mid 2012 to mid-October 2013, Golden Bear support headed to the Sierras long ago.
Enduring the worst season in Berkeley since Tom Holmoe’s last campaign in 2001, Cal is hardly a public team these days. And the sharps stopped paying attention to Cal (unless as a go-against) long before HC Sonny Dykes arrived on the scene.
USC, however, can quickly rally its legion of followers with efforts such as last Friday’s 31-14 romp past Oregon State, which has revived hope that the Trojans can salvage a decent bowl bid out of what has already been a disrupted season featuring HC Lane Kiffin’s dismissal.
Further, it has been one-way traffic in this series over most of the last decade, with SC winning the last nine meetings outright, and covering 7 of the last 8, mostly by significant margins. The Golden Bears are also 1-8 vs. the line in their last nine in Strawberry Canyon.
We suspect Cal backers can get a few more points, perhaps close to the next key numbers up the scale at 20 or even 21, by waiting until later in the week. The Bears’ recent spread-covering efforts at least suggests they are still playing hard, and Cal might offer decent value at the higher price.
Total to watch
BYU Cougars at Wisconsin Badgers
We are very curious to note where the oddsmakers will place the total in this fascinating November intersectional at Madison.
Both BYU and Wisconsin are 5-3 to the Under this campaign, and perceptions of the two teams might suggest a suppressed total at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Cougars, however, have accelerated their offensive pace in recent games behind emerging soph QB Taysom Hill, and have scored 31 or more in five straight outings.
The extra angle is the coaching matchup between BYU’s Bronco Mendenhall and Wiscy’s Gary Andersen, both defensive experts by trade.
Last season, when Andersen coached at Utah State, the Cougs and Utags played one of the best defensive wars of 2012, with BYU prevailing 6-3, one of the easiest Unders of last season.
We will be curious to see if the oddsmakers respect the reputations of these coaches and recent defense-oriented nature of the respective programs, or bend to the current reality of potent offenses each way and post this total well into the 50s.