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
SMU Mustangs (+10) at Houston Cougars
The current pointspread sits on the key number of 10, but we expect this line to come down soon. These two teams are heading in opposite directions. SMU has won four of their last five games with their lone loss coming by just three points at Cincinnati. The Mustangs are 5-5 on the season and a win in this game makes them bowl eligible. They host a very good Central Florida team next week so they need to win this game.
The wheels are coming off for Houston. The Cougars have lost three consecutive games and they are just 2-4 over their six games. Houston has been an underdog in four of those games, including a double-digit dog in three of those outings. Now it is laying 10 points with a struggling offense that has scored a total of 44 points in the last three games.
SMU crushed Houston by 30 points last year (72-42). This game won’t last at +10 so grab the Mustangs now before the line crashes down.
Spread to wait on
Minnesota Golden Gophers (+14.5) at Michigan State Spartans
This is a terrible scheduling spot for Michigan State. Heavy money poured in against the Spartans last week, but they still waxed Northwestern 30-6.
That win gave Michigan State the Legends division championship. The Spartans are in the Big Ten title game, so this game against Minnesota means absolutely nothing.
Minnesota has flown under the radar this season. The Gophers are 8-3 SU and ATS, covering in five straight games. Minnesota will take this game more seriously than Michigan State as the Gophers are looking to improve their bowl destination.
While we’re already getting over the key number of 14, every point helps so we’ll wait and hopefully grab the Gophers at +16 or more.
Total to watch
Oregon State Beavers at Oregon Ducks (67.5)
What happened to Oregon’s offense last week? The Ducks scored just 16 points against a bad Arizona defense. That was just the fourth time they’ve scored less than 34 points over their last 38 games. The Ducks still rolled up 506 yards of offense against Arizona but three turnovers did them in.
Neither Oregon State nor its defense has fared well in the Civil War. The Beavers have lost seven of the last 10 meetings while allowing Oregon to score 31 points or more in eight of those 10 games. The Ducks scored 48 and 49 points over the last two years.
The Beavers have a potent passing offense led by QB Sean Mannion. He has 4,089 passing yards with a 34-to-13 TD/INT ratio. Oregon State will score as the Ducks’ defense has fallen apart in recent weeks.
Any total posted less than 70 may be too low for this rivalry game barring bad weather.