Best Bets For NCAAF Unbeatens
In this week’s college football best bets, we delve into the stats of the Unbeatens with wagering advice on Washington, NC State, and the total of the Illinois-Wisconsin game.
If two unbeaten Pac-12 teams play a Friday night game at the Rose Bowl and barely anyone comes to see it, does it really matter?
Given the UCLA Bruins’ “difficulties” getting anyone to the Rose Bowl on a Saturday, you may see more people at several of the top Southern California high schools than you will at the Rose Bowl for the Bruins’ game against the Washington Huskies. Even the iconic Rose Bowl, one of America’s greatest sporting venues, is a depressing place when it’s a quarter-full.
They won’t have that problem at Camp Randall in Madison, WI. But the Wisconsin Badgers and Illinois Fighting Illini will have a problem finding the same offensive fireworks the Bruins and Huskies promise. The usually drunk Camp Randall faithful will need to find other ways to amuse themselves as the Badgers and Illini engage in the football version of trench warfare.
The Goldilocks version of our three games takes us to Clemson, S.C., where both points and fans should be plentiful for a game featuring the ACC’s wobbly king tangling with an underrated, under-the-radar team that beat them in double-overtime last year.
Onward to Week 5’s best bets in terms of value and opportunity.
Battle of Pac-12 Unbeatens
To give you an idea how seriously UCLA coach Chip Kelly is taking the high-powered Huskies, he sent the Bruins out for practice on a Sunday morning.
Can you blame him? Even if the Bruins come in sporting the same 4-0 record as the visiting Huskies, Kelly is mindful of a Washington offense averaging 44 points and nearly 531 yards of offense a game. To give you an idea how lethal the Huskies are offensively, quarterback Michael Penix Jr. threw for 309 yards in their 40-22 beating of the Stanford Cardinal—and it was his lowest output of the season.
Kelly’s Bruins counter with Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who paces UCLA to nearly 42 points a game. His defense answers with Laiatu Latu’s five sacks, No. 3 among FBS rushers.
And here is where the deeper dive is warranted. Washington’s resume is vastly more imposing, with a victory over then-No. 11 Michigan State Spartans and the aforementioned beating of Stanford on the resume. And we haven’t mentioned the Huskies’ 4-0 record both straight up and against the spread yet.
This is the time to point out UCLA’s 4-0 record came against Bowling Green, Alabama State, South Alabama and the Pac-12’s doormat: Colorado. Oh, and that South Alabama win? The Bruins were lucky to escape with a 32-31 victory after being 16-point favorites.
They won’t be nearly as lucky Friday, taking solace in the fact not a lot of people will notice.
Prediction: Washington -3.5 (-109 at Unibet)
TV: Friday 10:30 p.m. ET ESPN, Fubo TV
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Fasten Your Seat Belts
The NC State Wolfpack and the Clemson Tigers took us on a runaway roller-coaster last year, courtesy of NC State’s double-overtime victory, brought to them by quarterback Devin Leary’s four touchdown passes.
Did someone mention “double OT?” Step right up, Clemson—if you have anything left after your 51-44 double-OT victory over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons last week. The Tigers trailed most of the second half, before tying it with four minutes left, then prevailing in the second OT.
And yet, the 4-0 Tigers didn’t cover as 7.5-point favorites, the third time in their four games they missed the ATS plot. To anyone watching sophomore QB D.J. Uiagalelei over his Clemson career, you watched his best collegiate game against Wake Forest. But can he duplicate that against Leary and a seriously underrated NC State team lying in wait for this game.
The Wolfpack are 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings with Clemson and 5-2 ATS against teams with winning records. Meanwhile, Clemson is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 home games and 2-8 ATS following an ATS loss. Sharp money has already come in on the Wolfpack, knocking this from seven to 6.5.
Prediction: NC State +6.5 (-110 at Caesars)
TV: Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET ABC, Fubo TV
The Dust Bowl
Do not adjust your eyes. Put your clicker down. The Wayback Machine brings you this game between Illinois Fighting Illini and the Wisconsin Badgers straight out of the 1960s.
The Wayback Machine did not reincarnate Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler. But it did spit out an Illinois Fighting Illini defense allowing an average of only eight points through their four games. That’s the same defensive neighborhood occupied by the No. 1 team in the country: the Georgia Bulldogs. Along with that high-rent defensive district, Illinois allows teams less than three yards a carry, with only one runner scoring a ground touchdown.
As for the Badgers, they’ve surrendered 76 points in their four games, a total skewed by the 52 the Ohio State Buckeyes dropped on them in last week’s 52-21 victory. They’ve allowed only four ground TDs this year
Who’s creating the three yards (or less) and a cloud of dust? Two of the top five runners in the country: Illinois’ Chase Brown, who’s 604 yards leads the FBS, and Wisconsin’s Braelen Allen (497/fifth).
With Illinois 5-1 to the Under in its last six road games, 7-21 in its last 10 conference games and 11-3 in its last 14 games, and with Wisconsin 8-3 to the Under in its last 11 October games, the Wayback Machine gives us a wonderful Under opportunity applicable in any era.
Prediction: Under 44 (-110 at BetMGM)
TV: Saturday Noon ET, Big Ten Network, Fubo TV
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