Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Quarterback Tom Flacco during his time at Western Michigan
- Second-half NCAA football betting value can be found by looking ahead to the following week's schedule.
- I explain why certain favorites may take their foot off the gas in the second half a little earlier than normal.
- If you would like to follow along, just know you'll be betting on Flacco (Tom) at quarterback today.
We’re back for Week 2 after a 2-1 first weekend of second-half fades — thanks to UTSA’s tackling clinic against Arizona State.
N’Keal Harry is a stud, but yikes.
For those of you who missed the first week, let me explain my logic. For those of you that know the drill, scroll on down.
My colleague Dan McGuire previously wrote a trend piece on how you should look for blowouts when betting NCAA football second-half lines. While I’m not the biggest trend player, I do pay attention when there is a satisfactory explanation as to why a particular trend is meaningful and not just noise (correlation does not imply causation).
Even when you identify a profitable trend, remember that oddsmakers could catch on and price it into future lines, thus rendering it obsolete.
Identifying those situations is not always an easy task, but I do feel as if the FCS-FBS matchups will continue to have value mainly because sportsbooks don’t offer high limits on these.
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One approach with which I’ve had success is taking McGuire’s second-half underdog angle one step further: Every week, I circle a few large favorites that I think will take their foot off the pedal (sooner than usual) if they get a big second-half lead.
Why would a team do this?
- Injury risk. A team that is reliant on a superstar or lacks depth at key positions may pull its starters abnormally early in certain situations.
- Schedule / time of year. A team that has an important game the following week wants to limit injury risk. It also wants to avoid tipping its hand, which provides an incentive to either pull their starters or use a vanilla game plan.
This isn’t an exact science. I consider other factors in coming up with the final list, as well, such as the fact that some teams have little drop-off between their first- and second-string quarterbacks.
Once I have my final list, this is my general rule of thumb:
If the circled favorite I want to fade covers the first-half line, then I will consider placing a bet on the underdog for the second half.
Any first-half observations I have made will factor into my final decision.
What’s my point, you ask?
For the next few weeks, I will share a few teams on my final list and a few of my accompanying notes to see if any pique your interest.
It’s difficult to share second-half thoughts in real time because second-half lines can move rapidly. As always, getting the best number is the most important thing you can do.
Here are the spots I have circled for today.
Opponent: vs. Southeastern Louisiana (+41.5)
Time: 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
On Deck: at Auburn
You could argue that LSU was the big winner of Week 1 after its impressive romp over Miami on Sunday night. However, the Tigers lost a few key starters to injuries, including linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson for the season. That’s a huge loss and something LSU will be extra cautious about tonight against SELA.
LSU also had a number of guys play injured for that Miami game so I assume some (or all) may sit to rest up with an enormous conference opener at Auburn on deck. That is especially true considering the Tigers are playing today on a rare college football short week.
Who exactly is SELA? Well, as you can probably infer, the school is in southern Louisiana and less than 50 miles from LSU’s campus. This is actually only the second meeting ever between the two — and first in 69 years.
I’m sure the SELA kids will be fired up to play big brother — similar to how they played in their opener against another in-state FBS school, Louisiana Monroe. SELA (+20.5) actually led that game with less than a minute to go before a late touchdown gave ULM the win.
SELA’s opener was actually played last Thursday so the Lions have significantly more rest and prep time. (Plus, I doubt LSU coach Ed Orgeron & Co. spent much of this week preparing for the SELA Lions.)
LSU just wants to get out of this game with bodies while also giving some playing time to some underclassmen — one of which complained on social media about lack of action in the Miami game.
I already bet SELA +41.5 for 0.5 unit and will look to add if the Lions trail by 28-plus at the half.
Opponent: vs. Alabama State (+50)
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET on SECN
On Deck: LSU
See above logic. Auburn is coming off a big win over Washington with LSU on deck and an in-state FCS school in between.
I think head coach Gus Malzahn not only wants to go very vanilla to limit the tape LSU can get, but I think he wants to work on Auburn’s running game. The Tigers will likely gash Alabama State for chunks at a time, but they will keep the clock moving.
By the way, the moneyline on Alabama State is +102500 — a $100 pays over $100K if you’ve completely lost your mind.
I don’t know much about the Hornets of Alabama State other than they allowed almost 500 yards of offense to Tuskegee last week. I can’t stomach taking the +50, but I will potentially look at ASU for the second half depending on the line/how the first half plays out.
Opponent: vs. Towson (+28.5)
Time: Noon ET on ACCN
On Deck: Boston College
Wake Forest will try to survive the first three games of the season without starting quarterback Kendall Hinton (suspension). Currently, the Demon Deacons are starting a walk-on true freshman who began camp at fifth string. The Deacons’ toughest task will come next week in their conference opener against an improved Boston College squad.
I don’t expect much from Wake Forest — although wide receiver Greg Dortch could have 300 yards if he wants. The other angle to keep in mind here is health. Not only does Wake want to ensure quarterback health, but it has been absolutely ravaged by injuries.
The Demon Deacons actually lost two starters for the season in their Week 1 victory at Tulane, including all-ACC left tackle Justin Herron. The injury report for Wake is jam-packed and I expect anybody on the fringe will sit.
What should you know about Towson? Well, a Flacco is the quarterback. No, not that Flacco. It’s Joe’s younger brother Tom, who actually played at Western Michigan and then spent some time at Rutgers. Tom, unlike his brother, actually has some wheels. Check out this elite run:
In all seriousness, I think you don’t see much from Wake after halftime. Towson is scrappy, but it is severely disadvantaged from a talent perspective.
However, don’t forget about the impact of the brand new “four-game” rule, which states that a player can retain a year of eligibility if they play in four or fewer games. Expect to see a lot more freshmen in meaningless blowouts as a result.
I played Towson +28.5 for 0.5 unit and will add another half if Wake leads by at least 21 points at the half.
Other Potential 2H Fades
- I also have a half unit invested in UConn (+31.5). Boise looks overvalued — as it usually is on its home blue turf — and the Broncos have a trip to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State next. I doubt Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin pulls out many tricks, especially if Boise builds a big lead. I’ll add another half if the deficit is 24-plus after two quarters
- I played Arkansas State (+36) for a full unit, as Nick Saban will play this very slow and vanilla with a trip to Mississippi on deck. The Red Wolves also have a very solid passing attack that could hit some plays downfield early — or at least get in a backdoor late. Saban is 0-4-1 ATS in this spot (nonconference large favorite before the conference opener) the past five years.
- Speaking of the Rebels, as I said, they have Alabama coming to The Grove next weekend. And coming off an impressive opening-week win against Texas Tech, they now have to get up for Southern Illinois (+30). The Salukis aren’t a great FCS team, but they do have an excellent FCS-level running back in D.J. Davis. The Rebels’ minds might start wandering off to the ‘Bama game at the half if they lead by 21 or more (which they might with those receivers). If so, I’ll likely get involved with SIU.
“Sometimes, you play to win the game next week.”