College Football Futures for Week 11: Betting Value on Oklahoma & Texas A&M?
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Mike Calabrese: The mid-November portion of the college football season was once characterized as a free-for-all during the BCS era. Teams suffering heartbreaking letdowns left and right and drama unfolding nearly every week.
The College Football Playoff era arrived with similar results in Year 1, but ever since, there has been an overarching feeling of inevitability.
Narrow, if not nonexistent, paths for first-time would-be participants and do-overs being widely available for blue bloods like Alabama and Ohio State have become the norm. That can make it seem like a fool’s errand to even contemplate any team outside of the top five as of today.
But if the 2021 season has taught us anything through 10 weeks, it’s that no one is safe. And, by extension, underdogs and longshots hold real value.
So, here we break down teams on the outside looking in that may be able to strike gold with a few breaks going their way down the stretch.
National Championship Picture
Mike Calabrese: It’s interesting that both the public and CFP committee seem to have their minds made up on Oklahoma already. Early-season stumbles against Tulane, Nebraska, West Virginia and Kansas State made it easy for fans and gamblers alike to jump off the Sooner bandwagon.
But from an evaluation standpoint, I don’t consider any game that Caleb Williams didn’t start as useful data. This offense literally went from a dysfunctional, turnover-prone mess to a well-oiled machine in the same game (Texas).
Since the Sooners’ comeback in the Red River Showdown they’ve played three games, blowing out two opponents (TCU, Texas Tech) while sleepwalking past a third (Kansas).
The Kansas game really boiled down to a slow first half. OU spotted the Jayhawks a 10-point lead at the break, and then turned on the afterburners to score 35 second-half points (scoring TDs on every drive).
Is that a bad win? Absolutely. Should it harm its reputation more than an outright loss like the ones suffered by Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State? That’s the debate right now.
Regardless of which side of the OU debate you’re on, the fact that it controls its own destiny is a major development. Facing three ranked opponents in the next month gives it a platform to impress the committee, which makes its 14-1 odds very enticing.
I also like the fact that the Sooners’ run defense continues to improve down the stretch. They’ve allowed the 21st-lowest yards per carry figure to opponents (3.43 YPC) and check in 17th nationally in rushing defense (111 YPG).
This is going to play a big role in how they finish the season with three run-heavy teams on their schedule (Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma State). Both Baylor and Oklahoma State run more than 60% of the time, top-20 nationally.
Under Williams, OU has the nation’s highest points per play average (.803). For that reason, I’m not willing to sell on the Sooners figuring things out on defense, particularly at 14-1.
Alex Hinton: When this season began, Texas A&M had high expectations that 2021 would be its year in the SEC. After a loss to Mississippi State dropped the Aggies to 3-2 with No. 1 Alabama coming to College Station, hope began to fade.
However, the Aggies upset the Crimson Tide, 41-38, and are unbeaten since. With its 20-3 win No. 13 Auburn over the weekend, A&M remains alive in the SEC West race, although it needs a little help.
Alabama still has its lone defeat to Texas A&M on its ledger. However, it looked a tad bit vulnerable in a 20-14 win over LSU last week. It particularly struggled to protect quarterback Bryce Young.
With remaining SEC games vs. Arkansas and at rival Auburn, another Alabama loss would open the door for Texas A&M in the SEC West.
The Aggies have their own business to take care of with remaining conference road games at Ole Miss and LSU. However, both of those are winnable.
If Texas A&M wins out and Alabama loses one of its remaining games, the Aggies will win the SEC West.
If they win the West, No. 1 Georgia will be waiting in the SEC Championship. Georgia is the best team in the country, but it would not be the first time that the No. 1 team lost its conference title game.
If Georgia and Texas A&M match up, it would be a game that likely leans toward the under. Like Georgia, Texas A&M has an elite defense. The Aggies are 16th in total defense and second in scoring defense.
It’s not out of the question that Texas A&M’s defense could get the best of Georgia’s that day and the Aggies win a rock fight similar to their win over Auburn.
At 80-1, Texas A&M is worth the flier at this stage of the season. It’s also a great value price, as the Aggies are 35-1 to win the SEC on DraftKings.
You may already have conference future tickets on Alabama and/or Georgia. Adding Texas A&M to your futures portfolio would guarantee profit regardless of who wins the SEC.
What to Watch in Conference Races
Alex Hinton: NC State travels to Wake Forest this week in what will be a huge game in the ACC Atlantic Division.
The Wolfpack are 7-2 and 4-1 in ACC play. Wake Forest suffered its first loss last weekend to fall to 8-1, however, because of a scheduling quirk, its loss to North Carolina does not count as a conference loss.
That means NC State must win this weekend to keep its hopes of winning the division alive. Despite being a 2.5-point underdog this week, I like the Wolfpack to win outright.
NC State and Wake Forest have elite quarterbacks — Devin Leary (NC State) and Sam Hartman (Wake Forest) — playing at high levels, but NC State has a more complete team.
The Pack are seventh in the FBS in scoring defense and 18th in total defense. Wake Forest is 77th in scoring defense and 105th in total defense. WF has allowed 30 points in four of its last five games, including 56 to Army and 58 to UNC last week.
NC State has allowed 30 points just once this season — 31 in its lone ACC loss to Miami. Wake Forest may get there this week, but the Wolfpack are capable of winning a shootout.
Additionally, NC State is 23rd in SP+, while Wake Forest is 34th, which suggests the wrong team may be favored this week.
NC State’s job will not be finished if it beats Wake Forest, though it is a key first step. The Wolfpack would still have remaining games vs. Syracuse and rival UNC.
Wake Forest has remaining road games at Clemson and Boston College, which suddenly looks more formidable with quarterback Phil Jurkovec back.
At this point, NC State would likely face Pitt in the ACC Championship if it wins the Atlantic.
I recommended Pitt to win the ACC a few weeks back at +400. If you grabbed Pitt then, taking NC State now will set up to cash a +400 or +550 ticket regardless of who wins the ACC.
If you did not, now would be the best time to take NC State to win the ACC, as the line against Pitt would likely be around a pick’em.
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