Big news out of South Bend today as Notre Dame will have to march towards its first CFP appearance without starting quarterback Ian Book for at least this week's matchup with FSU. Plus, a prop for tonight's ACC showdown between Wake Forest and NC State. We deliver the must read betting notes to help you crack the college football odds in Week 11.
WAKE FOREST'S RED ZONE WOES
Wake Forest has boasted one of the worst red-zone defenses in the nation this season – and that could be a major problem Thursday as the Demon Deacons visit the N.C. State Wolfpack. Wake Forest has allowed points on 26 of their opponents' 27 journeys into the red zone (24 touchdowns, two field goals), the fourth-worst rate in all of Division I. And the Wolfpack haven't needed much red zone help so far this season, having converted 37 of their 43 red-zone trips into points (25 touchdowns, 12 field goals). In addition, their 5.4 red-zone chances per game rank fourth in the country.
With the Wolfpack boasting one of the best offenses in the country and the Demon Deacons unable to stop anyone inside their own 20-yard line, we recommend taking the home team to not only cover at -19, but to surpass their team total of 43.5.
BACK TO WIMBUSH
Brandon Wimbush will be back under center – albeit out of necessity – as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish look to bolster their College Football Playoff resume Saturday against visiting Florida State. Wimbush will return to the starting role in place of Ian Book, who has been ruled out for this weekend's pivotal encounter with the Seminoles after suffering a rib injury in last week's victory over Northwestern. It's a shot at redemption for Wimbush, who has completed less than 51 percent of his collegiate pass attempts and has just one touchdown pass against four interceptions this season.
The downgrade to Wimbush is a boon for Florida State, which ranks fifth in the ACC in sacks (25) and sixth in interceptions (eight) and is a terrific option to cover at +16.5. Notre Dame is also a stretch to reach its team total of 35.5, having averaged just 23.3 points in Wimbush's three starts this season.
COAN OF SILENCE
There isn't much clarity on who will start at quarterback for Wisconsin this weekend at Penn State. No. 1 QB Alex Hornibrook is still recovering from a concussion that forced him out of last week's 31-17 win over Rutgers and is considered questionable for Saturday's encounter with the Nittany Lions. Jack Coan took over in his absence and would get the start if Hornibrook is unable to return to action Saturday. Coan has completed 25-of-38 pass attempts for 222 yards with a pair of touchdowns and zero interceptions in parts of two games with the Badgers this season.
Wisconsin doesn't rely on its QB much – its 63.2-percent run play rate ranks 11th in the nation – and with Coan under center, combined with the Nittany Lions boasting a below-average run defense, bettors should expect the Badgers to run the ball even more than usual. If they're successful, they'll be a strong play at +9 and a solid bet to surpass their 21.5-point team total.
KICKERS STAY HOME
Don't expect to see many field goals at Hofheinz Pavilion this Saturday as the Houston Cougars host the Temple Owls in what should be a wild AAC affair. The Cougars have practically eliminated the three-point play from their arsenal this season, having scored a whopping 59 touchdowns against just five field goals. The Owls boast a similar (though not as ridiculous) ratio, having produced 36 touchdowns and only six field goals. Among the other teams ranked in the top 50 in points per game, only eight have kicked six or fewer field goals on the season.
Deciding who will score first is all bettors should need to make a nice cash in this one – you can go with either a Houston TD (+120) or a Temple touchdown (+170) as the game's first points. Conversely, a field goal for either team as the opening scoring play pays out at +250.