College football's biggest betting mismatches: Week 3

Sep 12, 2017 |
College football's biggest betting mismatches: Week 3
The Volunteers' starting defensive linemen could have a field day against a Florida offensive line that was a major letdown in all areas in its opening-week showdown with Michigan.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports
The Volunteers' starting defensive linemen could have a field day against a Florida offensive line that was a major letdown in all areas in its opening-week showdown with Michigan.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Surveying the weekly NCAAF schedule can be a daunting task for even seasoned bettors. So each week, Monty Andrews breaks down some of the underlying betting mismatches on the college football slate, giving you an inside edge when handicapping the schedule.

Tennessee Volunteers at Florida Gators (-5.5, 49.5)

Tennessee's improved D line vs. Florida's beleaguered O-line

The 2-0 Volunteers look to improve their standing in the competitive SEC East race as they face a Gators team that was thoroughly handled by Michigan before seeing last week’s game against Colorado State washed out due to Hurricane Irma. If this game gets played, Florida will need to find a way to improve upon a dreadful offensive showing versus the Wolverines - and that won't be easy against a Tennessee defense that enjoyed a much-needed bounceback following a gruelling season opener.

The Volunteers opened their campaign with a 42-41 double-overtime triumph over Georgia Tech - a game that resulted in 96 snaps played by the defense, with the starters absorbing most of the action. Last week's 42-7 rout of Indiana State provided some welcome relief, as head coach Butch Jones was able to rotate in the majority of his second-unit linemen and give the starters some rest. The Volunteers held the Sycamores to 3.2 YPC after surrendering a school-record 515 rushing yards in the opener.

Those starting linemen could have a field day against a Florida offensive line that was a major letdown in all areas in its opening-week showdown with Michigan. Stacking the box with regularity and throwing a variety of different secondary looks at Florida, the Wolverines limited the Gators to 11 rushing yards while racking up 11 tackles for loss, six sacks and five QB hurries. It's nothing new for Florida, which surrendered a whopping 73 sacks in 2015-16 - easily the most of any team in the conference.

Clemson Tigers at Louisville Cardinals (+3, 56)

Clemson's vaunted rush attack vs. Louisville's leaky D

All eyes will be on Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has already combined for more than 1,000 passing and rushing yards with eight touchdowns through his first two games of the season. But there's a decent two-way quarterback on the other side of the field in Clemson junior Kelly Bryant - and if the Cardinals can't find a way to slow him and the rest of the Clemson offense down, it might not matter what Jackson does against the Tigers' defense on Saturday.

Bryant has led an impressive Clemson run game that has laid waste to the Tigers' first two opponents, racking up a whopping 452 yards on just 79 carries - a 5.7 YPC that's good for third in the ACC behind Miami (9.5) and Louisville (5.9). Bryant leads the team in rushing yards (136) and touchdowns (three), and has also completed better than 68 percent of his passes through two games. The Tigers were held to 284 yards against Auburn, but had a whopping 665 the week before against Kent State.

As impressive as Jackson and the Louisville offense has been, the defense has left much to be desired. The Cardinals allowed 63 points and nearly 750 total yards to Purdue and North Carolina, two programs hardly considered Division I powers. New defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon has his work cut out for him after the Boilermakers and Tar Heels combined to complete more than 65 percent of their passes - a troubling trend that could negate Jackson's sensational skill set this weekend.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Boston College Eagles (+13.5, 49.5)

Notre Dame's late-down stinginess vs. Boston College's third-down woes

Both Notre Dame and Boston College are coming off disappointing performances, with the Fighting Irish blowing a late lead in a 20-19 loss to Georgia and the Eagles getting thumped 34-10 at Wake Forest. But with both teams looking to bounce back, look for the Fighting Irish to have the upper hand in several areas - including their ability to force teams into punting downs, something the Eagles have struggled with so far this season.

A Notre Dame team with Top 25 aspirations did what it had to do in its opener against Temple, limiting the Owls to a 5-for-17 success rate on third-down conversions en route to a 49-16 home drubbing. And while No. 15 Georgia escaped with a narrow victory last week, the Fighting Irish held the Bulldogs to a 4-of-18 conversion rate on third downs. Notre Dame's 25.7-percent third-down conversion rate allowed ranks in the top 25 nationally, and is well ahead of last year's 39-percent mark.

The Eagles, by comparison, have been subpar at extending drives on third down - and they've had an awful lot of chances to do so through two games. Boston College made good on just 9-of-24 chances in a narrow road win over Northern Illinois in its season opener, then went 6-of-17 in the loss to the Demon Deacons. The 36.6-percent success rate through two games ranks outside the top 60 in Division I, and might shrink even lower against a tough weekend opponent.

Texas Longhorns at USC Trojans (-15, 67)

Longhorns' vaunted ground attack vs. Trojans' run D issues

Expect a parade to the end zone this weekend as the high-powered Longhorns travel to L.A. Memorial Coliseum for a date with the powerhouse Trojans. Both teams are capable of hanging 40-plus points on the scoreboard but, while USC is a heavy favorite in this one, the Longhorns have a decided edge on the ground - and if the Trojans don't find a way to slow down the Texas ground attack, this game could be a lot closer than expected.

Texas atoned for an embarrassing 51-41 loss to Maryland in its opener, taking out all of its frustrations in a 56-0 whitewash of San Jose State. The Longhorns rank just outside the top 20 nationally in rushing yards per game (252), with seven of their 10 offensive touchdowns coming via the ground. Chris Warren III has been the lifeblood of the offense to date, rushing for 197 yards and two TDs on just 22 carries. The Longhorns average 5.6 YPC as a team, and its 504 total yards lead the Big 12.

It's hard to pick on a team that has racked up 91 points through its first two games, including a stunning rout of rival Stanford last week. But USC knew going in that it would face a steady diet of solid run offenses in the early going - and while it hasn't failed the test, it's hard to give the Trojans a grade higher than a C-. USC has surrendered more than 216 rushing yards per game - fourth-most in the Pac-12 - and its 5.9 YPC against is the second-highest mark in the conference.


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