Appropriately, this Veterans Day weekend, we’re ready for a scenario coined by inimitable Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, a Navy man and Purple Heart recipient: It’s like déjà vu again.
The unbeaten No. 4 TCU Horned Frogs travels to Austin as a formidable underdog with 7.5 points to take on the No. 18 Texas Longhorns. The betting public is overwhelmingly supportive of the Horned Frogs (about 70% consensus), bringing back memories of last weekend when the then top-ranked Tennessee visited Georgia. The Bulldogs mounted a wave of sharp action on Saturday, steaming the line higher and easily covering the 10 points.
“I think this is the Tennessee-Georgia game,” Ed Salmons, SuperBook’s chief football odds maker, told ESPN. However, the sharp money arrived at Texas a day early. The point spread stayed at seven points all week but started to rise on Friday morning, leading to another standoff between professional and recreational bettors. “(Pros) have consistently bet on Texas since (quarterback Quinn Ewers) returned from injury, and they’re fading weekly in TCU.”
At the current 7.5-point spread, this is the biggest underdog an AP top-five team has played against a school outside the top-15 since the FBS/FCS split in 1978. In such scenarios, the higher ranked underdog is only 4-8-1 ATS.
“I don’t necessarily like braving the hot money. At the same time, I’m not afraid of it,” professional bettor and Texas resident Paul Stone told ESPN, sharing that he hit the five-point line and bet on TCU. “Texas struggled to protect leads in the second half. The back door is always open. I’ll ride the hot hand.”
TCU is 7-1-1 against the spread this season. The Frogs remain in doubt due to some late comebacks and an unlikely cover as a 7.5-point favorite in West Virginia on Oct. 29, thanks to a 29-yard touchdown pass in fourth place with 20 seconds left for the 10- win point.
“I’ve bet against TCU at least three times this year, including the West Virginia debacle. i like texas “Also, as a 7-point hound, TCU can play the disrespect card with the No. 4 team in the country. Sonny Dykes will certainly take advantage of that.”
Perhaps the key to TCU’s immaculate mark is the schedule. The Horned Frogs were able to house their toughest opponents most of the time and caught some luck in their away games. But that’s changing with the Longhorns, who Stone calls “probably the best three-loss team in all of college football.”
Late money is usually real money. I have to respect it, but I like this TCU squad and feel like they and the conference are being unfairly dismissed. I’ll probably get the points closer to kickoff as that line seems to be going higher. But the wisest step sure feels like a pass, embracing a different yogi-ism: when you come to a fork in the road, take it.
No. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide (-12, 65) at No. 11 Ole Miss Rebels
For the first time since 2010, Alabama has suffered two losses in the regular season. How the tide will react is a vast unknown. After all, this team committed penalties and other sloppy plays. Also, they have a knack for downplaying their opponent on the street. Meanwhile, Lane Kiffin is desperate to beat Nick Saban and the Rebels say goodbye. By no means would I be shocked if the tide rolled in double digits, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they lost double digits either. Given the tremendous amount of variance this unique situation brings, I would look for alternative lines.
Choice: Ole Miss +12
No. 12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-17, 40.5) at Navy Midshipmen
The handicap is simple. The Irish show their best performance handling Clemson. How much do you have left in the tank for Navy and the Offensive unique option? This is still a Notre Dame team that lost to Marshall and Stanford at home. Navy is actually a decent squad so I’m happy to grab all those points and definitely feel like they can catch the Irish flat.
Choice: Navy +17
Boston College Eagles on No. 16 NC State Wolfpack (-18.5, 41)
Bottom line, that total just feels too low. I realize Boston College’s offense was clumsy and the Wolf Pack has a strong defense. However, Eagles rookie QB Emmett Morehead is expected to make his second straight start after throwing for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. Now there’s a good chance Duke’s defense contributed to those impressive numbers. But even if he fights, that should create turnovers and short fields for NC State. The Wolfpack have also been relegated to a backup quarterback for freshmen, but MJ Morris should be able to do a few things against BC. I see a bottom line of 34-13.
Choice: Over 41
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Texas A&M Aggies at Auburn Tigers (-1.5, 48)
In this battle of 3-6 teams, there is only one team that still seems to care. The Tigers bounced back last week, nearly beating Mississippi State. They played inspired football behind caretaker manager Cadillac Williams and fed on his energy. Meanwhile, Jimbo Fisher’s club has been a huge disappointment all season, suffering a crushing home loss to Florida. This has serious potential for embarrassment from the Aggies. They’re more talented on paper, but I don’t trust them.
Selection: Maroon -1.5