Nick Saban may only stand 5 foot 6 but he scares just about everyone. This includes the bookmakers, even when they have every reason to let it go.
They unhesitatingly bet the window last weekend to score 24 points, even though Bama was expected to miss the center start and Heisman Cup winner. The Crimson Tide blocked Texas A&M’s landing in the final play to avoid an outright loss.
Oh how things have changed. No. 3 Alabama (-8.5) visits No. 6 Tennessee with similar QB uncertainty and all of a sudden bettors are no longer afraid of fading out. “People are always betting on what they last saw,” SuperBook CEO John Murray told ESPN. There is currently about 75% consensus on the number of tickets for UT across all sportsbooks. However, they mostly got a bad number, as the streak moved on Friday (-7 to -8) based on increasing speculation. Bryce Young will be back.
It makes sense why Saban is usually supported by the public. Since coming to Alabama, he’s aged 116-90-5 ATS (56%). In addition, facing the top ten competitors, it also takes care of business: 26-21-1 ATS. “It’s too late for you to bet on Saban’s riches, but you certainly won’t get rich betting against it. I’d be careful,” South Point Sports Casino director Chris Andrews told ESPN.
Not only is Alabama a brand name, it’s not the same juggernaut we saw under Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones. Four out of Leung’s six roads were designated with three points or less. That includes a victory on September 10 in Texas with a field goal winning the game in the last seconds.
“There’s something not right with them this year, but this also won’t be the same team that sleepwalked against the Texas,” SuperBook odds maker Ed Salmons told ESPN. “Bama usually thrives when challenged or ignored.”
Personally, this current stretch of road struggles interests me a lot more than Saban’s 15-game winning streak over Tennessee. This is ancient history, where players and coaches compromise. The eras of Brady Hawk and Jeremy Pruitt don’t matter. Josh Heupel has gradually revived the program with elite recruiting and transfers. This is hack season, and the folders are just as legitimate as their undefeated record suggests.
As for disability, choosing a side is difficult. If Young was never hurt and Bama handled Aggies comfortably, this streak would be a double digit. So that would suggest some value to the current streak on Bama, assuming Young plays. But the star quarterback is not injured and may not be 100%. This is a legitimate factor.
I’m playing above 66. UT has the fifth-fastest tempo in the country, and I think Bama will also want to speed up the attack. Both coaches believe in the abilities of superior midfielders and are comfortable in affairs with high goals. And even if the limp Young caused the tides to lean on their running game, they still had plenty of power.
My only caveat is what the professional bookmaker told me on Thursday. He firmly believes that Tide will come after Hendon Hooker in almost every game. I might actually wait a quarter and then make an in-game bet, to determine if I think Hooker can handle the pressure. How much can a QB take? We’re about to find out just how strong he is — and how hard bettors are, as Saban and Bama fade as single-number favorites.
Other taxonomic matches
No. 10 Pennsylvania Nittany Lions at No. 5 Michigan Wolverines
I tend to Michigan (-7). James Franklin is a strong coach but tends to miss these opportunities, having lost nine times in a row to his top 10 opponents. The biggest thing I have with Franklin is situational awareness and game management. The Wolverines are ranked 15th in both offensive and defensive efficiencies, and I felt a lot of Penn State’s drives would end in kicks.
No. 8 Oklahoma Cowboys at No. 13 TCU Horned Frogs
I won’t think much of this undefeated confrontation. These penalties are written all over the place, and the odds makers can’t set an aggregate high enough. I have no problem taking More than 68.5. The TCU is ranked second in the nation, while the Pokes is ranked 24. Now, they both have respectable defenses, but it takes many field goals and off-piste drives to keep that in check.
No. 15 North Carolina Wolfpack at No. 18 Syracuse Orange
Given the uncertain status of QB Devin Leary, playing in the NC State is very challenging. Leary is a potential NFL client and any withdrawal to backup is a big deal. If his exit is confirmed, I must support him Syracuse -3. The orange was shaky but they were still undefeated.
No. 16 Mississippi Bulldog at No. 22 Kentucky Wildcats
Speaking of quarterback uncertainty, Kentucky State (+4) hosts Mississippi State for another game. I grab points, even if Will Levis is not back from injury. I watched the entire UK lose to South Carolina and only a few plays cost them the match. I think Kaiya Sheron will be more polished and the defense is able to contain Mike Leach’s Air Raid attack. I say cats sneak inside the number.
No. 7 USC Trojans in No. 20 Utah Utes
Oh boy. USC has turned out better than expected and is now facing its toughest test. So far, Trojans have responded to every challenge, and I’m not about to face it. However, sharp money returned to Utah -2.5 when that streak was opened. I knew Utes play better at home, but Cam Rising has made some major mistakes this season. I’m on under 65. Utes wants to run the ball and bleed the clock, and USC has injuries up front. QB Caleb Williams is dynamic but the Trojans attack will sometimes struggle in this hostile environment.
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Auburn Tigers at No. 9 Ole Miss Rebels (-15)
At some point, Auburn will fold like a cheap suit and barely show up at the blowout loss. With my luck, it’s this game because I’m finally backing the Tigers. However, I’ve been quite impressed with the tiger leopard lately and am grabbing the points. They had every reason to hold back, given that Brian Harsin spoiled the whole situation. But they almost upset LSU and then trailed No. 2 Georgia 14-3 in the second half in Athens. I love switching the quarterback to Robbie Ashford. The new student always finds a way to play.
Plus, the Rebels travel to Death Valley next week to face LSU, and I think Auburn can catch up with them looking forward to that high profile showdown. I’ll take the points against the undefeated Ole Miss who could be sitting low-fat and happy right now.
Choose: Auburn +15
Iowa tornadoes in Texas Longhorns (-16)
This rationale is similar to Auburn. I think the Cyclones could sneak up on a team with a huge game next weekend. Texas travels to undefeated Oklahoma. But it would practically take a flawless game for Iowa, as it ranks only 78th in offensive efficiency. The Longhorns just got back Quinn Ewers quarterback and they really clicked. However, coming out of the competition and winning over Oklahoma and with Pokes on deck, this can be a classic sandwich spot. I think hurricanes spoil a wonky game and come off the cover.
Choose: Iowa +16
Utah Aggies (-11) at the Colorado Rams
Oddsmakers are forcing bettors to pay tax in order to cash another CSU vanishing money — and I get it. Honestly, rams are horrible. They rank last (131 out of 131) in offensive efficiency and have a quarterback who might actually play worse than this ranking suggests. Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi threw two interceptions and only managed 78 yards last week, attacking only three points. However, the Rams somehow got their first win and covered it up. I think he’s back on the losing path to Utah State, which found some versatility in attack with QB Cooper Legas.
Nebraska in Purdue (-14)
This game won’t find its way to many TVs but that’s why we love grabbing all of these points. In short, this number appears to be very high. Under Jeff Brohm’s leadership, the Boilermakers are a team you just want to support in the role of the underdog. They usually play close together, which is why you never want to put in too many points. Four of their five games against an FBS competitor this season have been decided by four points or less, and the other was with a 10-point win as “dog”. Meanwhile, after Scott Frost was sent off, the Cornhuskers quietly went 2-1 and tied at the top of the Big Ten West. The bowl game is not far off.
Pick: Nebraska (+14)
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