Wilson: My Favorite Situational Spots to Bet in Week 3
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Peyton Ramsey
- College football expert Collin Wilson is back with his nine favorite college football bets for Week 3.
- This week's slate is littered with situational spots from which bettors can profit.
The CW9 rolls on after a 5-4 week to stay positive on the season. We ran out of steam with our Liberty run, but a nice FCS Sacramento State play helped get the column in the black.
Week 3 started with the Sunday Morning Coffee column that gives a baseline for college football openers and serves as an early look at the spreads offering the most value.
The power ratings did us well on openers, as a Duke -4 line has moved as far as Baylor -6 as of this writing. There currently is no value in the number, but there are plenty of others that are still worth a play before kickoff.
Statistics will start to become a bigger part of the column, as we now have multiple weeks of data for metrics such as yards per play, adjusted sack rate and third down conversions.
We’ll get more stats on success rate and explosive plays as the weeks go on, so always practice good money management until we have the full picture on each team.
Let’s get to the picks!
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Saturday Morning Mimosas
Ball State at Indiana
- Spread: Indiana -14
- Over/Under: 58
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV channel: Big Ten Network
Peyton Ramsey continues to be a reliable quarterback after finishing 2017 with 1,252 yards and a 10/5 TD/INT ratio. Through two games this season, Ramsey has a 73.5% completion rate, leading an Indiana offense that ranks 31st in efficiency.
The offensive line has done a great job keeping a clean pocket, allowing only one sack through two games.
— Stu Jackson (@StuJTH) September 1, 2018
Ball State continues its own magic along the offensive line; the issue for the Cardinals is a lack of playmaking, backed by an early explosiveness ranking of 115th and redzone points per attempt ranking of 103rd (4.56 per attempt).
Ball State was helped in its cover against Notre Dame with three interceptions and great starting field position. Look to back the more efficient team in Indiana, which should protect the ball better than Notre Dame did against the Cardinals.
Play On: Indiana -14
Miami (FL) at Toledo
- Spread: Toledo +10
- Over/Under: 57.5
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN2
Everything was humming for Toledo in the 2017 trip to Hard Rock Stadium, as it took a lead into halftime against the Hurricanes. The second half was more of the turnover chain magic and explosiveness that came to define Miami’s 2017 trip to the Orange Bowl.
Toledo has since added some new faces on offense, and a 66-3 victory over VMI in Week 1 shows that the Rockets are as potent as ever.
There is plenty not to like about the Hurricanes and this spot. Toledo comes in off a bye with two weeks to prepare for Miami. Starting wide receiver Ahmmon Richards will miss his second consecutive week with injury, taking a trusted weapon away for quarterback Malik Rosier, who has issues with accuracy.
This may be the game N’Kosi Perry takes over as starting Miami quarterback.
Toledo ran with two different quarterbacks against VMI, completing passes to 11 different targets. After two games, Miami ranks 93rd in explosiveness, so expect Toledo to take some shots downfield while the Hurricanes’ rush attack continues to work on its efficiency.
Play On: Toledo +10
Tulane at UAB
- Spread: UAB +4
- Over/Under: 57
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: Facebook Live
This spread makes no sense, as The Action Network’s power ratings make this game UAB -3. The Blazers were cruising along against Coastal Carolina’s triple option before the game officials became involved. UAB amassed 15 penalties for 143 yards, which had head coach Bill Clark questioning the decision-making of the officials in multiple postgame interviews.
Looking onward to Week 3, UAB got plenty of experience defending the triple option against Coastal Carolina and will now face another triple option team in Tulane.
While the knock on the Blazers coming into the season centered upon the explosiveness of the offense, UAB has been fantastic at converting third downs early this season (54.17%).
Tulane has been one of the worst at allowing third-down conversions, ranking 121st (52.63%). Look for UAB to extend drives against the Green Wave.
Play On: UAB +4
Saturday Afternoon Power Hour
Eastern Michigan at Buffalo
- Spread: Buffalo -3.5
- Over/Under: 54
- Time: 6 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN+
Most of this week’s CW9 consists of fading teams in adverse situational spots, but not Eastern Michigan, which is coming off an impressive victory over Purdue.
Make no mistake, that was a real victory, as Iowa transfer quarterback Tyler Wiegers went for 312 yards on 20-of-28 passing.
— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) September 8, 2018
Wiegers has led Eastern Michigan to an early ranking of eighth in efficiency in the passing game. With Buffalo ranking 120th on blitz downs, Wiegers should have all day to connect with his receivers.
Eastern Michigan will need to put up a stout performance defensively against two of the most dynamic players in the MAC, quarterback Tyree Jackson and wide receiver Anthony Johnson.
So far this season, Jackson-to-Johnson explosiveness has been contained. Johnson has 10 catches for 133 yards through two games.
Buffalo ranks 97th in yards per play at 5.14, far fewer than Eastern Michigan’s 6.79. We will look to back the EMU offense, and hope that Jackson and Johnson stay mediocre another week.
Play On: Eastern Michigan +3.5
Northern Iowa at Iowa
- Spread: Iowa -20
- Over/Under: N/A
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV channel: Big Ten Network
Here’s a sandwich spot to target. Iowa played a grinder of a game against rival Iowa State to take home the Cy-Hawk trophy. The Hawkeyes get one week to recover and prepare for the biggest game on their schedule, Wisconsin in Kinnick.
Northern Iowa traded punches with Montana, an FCS powerhouse, with the Panthers coming up just short on the road in Week 1.
Northern Iowa is coming off a bye, and this series is always close, from a 17-16 contest in 2009, to an 11-point Hawkeyes victory in 2012, to an eight-point Iowa win in 2014.
I bet UNI at +21 (follow me in The Action Network app to get alerts on all of my bets), and the number has ticked down to +20 at 5Dimes at the time of writing (it’s off the board at several other books).
Make sure to shop for the best number when investing in this rested FCS powerhouse in a great situation spot.
Play On: Northern Iowa +20
ULM at Texas A&M
- Spread: Texas A&M -27
- Over/Under: 68.5
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV channel: SEC Network
This is one of the best situational spots of the week. ULM is sandwiched between Clemson and Alabama on Texas A&M’s schedule.
Hangover, overlook and non-conference sandwich alerts all apply when the Warhawks come to Kyle Field.
There’s nothing mathematically that says ULM has a chance of keeping this game close. The Action Network power ratings make this a 26-point contest, so taking 27 has much more to do with the spot Texas A&M finds itself in than ULM’s early metrics (defense ranks 99th in efficiency and 73rd in explosiveness; special teams ranks 120th).
Play On: ULM +27
Saturday Night Blackout Chaser
Ohio State vs. TCU
- Spread: TCU +12.5
- Over/Under: 59
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ABC
When a 14 popped at several “square” shops, I couldn’t resist backing the Horned Frogs.
While I think Ohio State is as talented as any team in the country, and the power ratings make this a 15-point game, I just can’t get over that Oregon State went to Columbus and put up 31 points.
Look a little closer and you’ll see all of the Beavers’ points came in the first three quarters. Three of the touchdowns came on long explosive plays — a 49-yard pass, an 80-yard run and a 78-yard run.
Ohio State ranks 102nd in the nation defending explosiveness. Is it an early sign or just a blip on the radar? We may find out against a TCU team that has played vanilla the first two weeks and has found its way to cover because of special teams and defensive touchdowns.
— TCU Football (@TCUFootball) September 8, 2018
TCU has been more efficient than explosive through its first two games with Shawn Robinson behind a revamped offensive line.
Gary Patterson has had a very simple offensive playbook through the first two games, so there should be some Horned Frogs magic come Saturday.
If Ohio State continues to get exposed in the explosiveness department, this could be an outright upset.
Play On: TCU +12.5
USC at Texas
- Spread: Texas -3
- Over/Under: 47
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV channel: Fox
In a battle of the uglies, Texas hosts USC in a revenge game from 2017. Tom Herman’s Longhorns already have a loss on the season to Maryland, which was playing with an interim head coach.
USC has yet to cover a game, with QB JT Daniels getting banged up at Stanford last week. The loser of this game will have a head coach squarely on the hot seat.
There is not much to like about either team looking at the advanced stats. Texas ranks 114th in third-down conversion offense, 78th in total defense and has recorded just one sack on the season.
It isn’t much better for USC, which ranks 106th in pass-completion percentage, 124th in opponent’s rushing yards per attempt at 6.49 and 113th in red-zone points per attempt.
I know it’s only a two-game sample size, but these numbers could foretell the remainder of the season.
We are backing Texas based upon the advantage the Longhorns have in the ground game.
The Longhorns rank 37th in rushing efficiency and are playing a USC front seven that was torn up by UNLV and Stanford.
Bevo will be joined by all the Longhorn greats from the past down in Austin, and emotions will be riding high for the home team.
Play On: Texas -3
Arizona State at San Diego State
- Spread: San Diego State +5.5
- Over/Under: 48
- Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
- TV channel: CBS Sports Network
This is the first of two straight road games for the Sun Devils, who open Pac-12 play next week at Washington.
Similar to ULM, San Diego State finds itself as a hangover, nonconference sandwich, overlook spot. All week, Herm Edwards has been preaching to his student-athletes about moving on from the Michigan State upset, but plenty of attention has come the Sun Devils’ way with a ranking inside the AP Top 25.
WHAT. A. GAME. 😈 pic.twitter.com/TLEb3Rn9sj
— Arizona State Sun Devils (@TheSunDevils) September 10, 2018
One of the bigger keys to the game is the departure of Danny Gonzales as San Diego State’s defensive coordinator to Arizona State in the same role.
Up until this offseason, Gonzales had apart of Rocky Long’s staff going all the way back to 1998.
These two coaches know one another quite well, and Long should be able to predict anything the Arizona State 3-3-5 coverage is going to show to the Aztecs.
Specifically, the Sun Devils have been great against explosiveness. Any scores in this game should come as a result of long drives, which puts a premium on the dog points.
Play On: San Diego State +5.5