A happy return to you, my fellow degenerate. Welcome back to Edge Sorting, the weekly gambling column here at HERO Sports that focuses on college football games that don't have the full attention of bookmakers.
Well, it finally happened. I had a losing week. We all suspected this was coming eventually; ever since J Cole wrote the song "Nobody's Perfect" about me, we've known that this day would arrive.
I went 2-6 last week, cashing on a short Kentucky line and our FCS Game of the Week. (I'm pretty much always good to cash on these FCS lines.) There's always a point in the season where Vegas closes the gap on you and makes some of its money back, so I'm not sweating one bad week. But I am a little miffed at myself for taking the conservative approach on some of my picks. I wanted to take Syracuse last week. I wanted to take the Washington State moneyline. I really like Oregon. Instead of taking any of those, I went with what I felt were safer picks, opting to sit on my mountain of cash and take as little risk as possible.
Let that be a lesson to everyone. Handicapping has plenty of parallels to the sports we all watch, and one of them is this: if you play not to lose, instead of just playing to win, you're probably going to end up losing.
On to the Week 6 Picks!
Notre Dame (-7) at Virginia Tech
Saturday, 8 p.m.
Okay, so this game isn't exactly off the beaten path. But so what? Every game sim I've seen loves one facet of this game, and that is… the under.
Historical trends make it pretty clear that taking the Under at Lane Stadium is a smart play. But we don't even need history here. Just use common sense. A back-up quarterback is making his first home start against a team ranked inside the top 10 in primetime. The game plan will be to control time of possession and rely on Bud Foster's defense. The total is 56.5! I'm not sure this gets to 50. Let your friends squabble over whether or not Tech can cover at home.
Pick: Notre Dame/Virginia Tech Under 56.5
Saturday, 7:00 p.m.
If you're listening to The Hot Route every week — and you definitely should be — you know I'm not on the Kentucky hype train. Still, this line seems fishy to me, and fishy lines are always something you should pay attention to. You might think A&M is the public play here because the Aggies are the favorite and the bigger brand, but think again — Kentucky's hot start finally has the public catching up to them, and nearly 60% of betters are backing Big Blue.
This is a classic public fade. The public believes the wrong team is favored here, and Vegas rarely makes that sort of mistake. With everyone expecting Kentucky to cover, give me the 5.5-point favorite that nobody thinks can win. Bookmakers have clearly positioned this line so that they're on the side of the favorite, so that's where I want to be, too.
Pick: Texas A&M -5.5
Boston College (+5) at NC State
Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
NC State has not been properly handicapped at any point this year. Until sportsbooks can get the number right, we'll keep dragging them.
Pick: NC State -5
North Texas (-27) at UTEP
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EDT
From the numbers I've seen, more than 60% of the betting public is laying the points with the Mean Green here. UNT is a public team in 2018! What a time to be alive.
This is a bit of a square play, but I am going to go ahead and ride with North Texas. The Mean Green are clearly the better team — UTEP might be the absolute worst team in FBS college football this season — and I expect them to be angry and focused on the heels of a home loss to Louisiana Tech.
Before last week, UNT won at Liberty by 40 and at Arkansas by 27. It also had a 42-point home win over Incarnate Word and a 23-point home win against a decent Southern Methodist team.
My point here is that UNT has a steady track record of large winning margins. That gives me the confidence to take a pretty square bet like this. Mean Green, 48-17.
Pick: North Texas -27
FCS GAME OF THE WEEK
Missouri State (+4) at South Dakota
Saturday, 3 p.m. EDT
Easy call here. Missouri State isn't a brand name; in fact, the Bears have been in the bottom of the Missouri Valley for quite some time. But they look pretty darn good this year, with a top-10 win over Illinois State last week, so it's time to start taking them seriously. Bookmakers are slow to catch on here, because it's FCS Football, and have the Bears as an underdog on the road at South Dakota. Through one month of the season, the Coyotes appear to be a bottom-half conference team whose best resume line might be keeping a close loss to Kansas State.
Back the better team that's getting points. An outright win is distinctly possible.
Pick: Missouri State +4
WEEKDAYS ARE FOR GAMBLING
Thursday, 8 p.m. EDT
Yuck! What an ugly number. But if you're an Edge Sorting veteran, you know I'm not really all that interested in weeknight point spreads…
Gimme that under! This number is way too high for a garbage Thursday game.
Pick: Tulsa/Houston Under 70
THE MASSIVE FAVORITE
Saturday, 12:00 p.m.
This is probably the most square pick I've ever given out in this column, but I still feel pretty good doing it. Outside of Alabama's 22-point win over Texas A&M, the Tide have beaten four bad teams by margins of 42, 55, 50, and 37. They're 3-1 ATS in those games. Bama doesn't just beat bad teams — it kills bad teams, and a lot of that is because the back-up quarterback is Jalen Hurts.
How square is this pick? According to Covers, 71% of tickets are on Alabama.
Yeah… I don't care. Alabama should win this game by about six touchdowns, according to my numbers, which means you're getting a full touchdown of value here.
Arkansas lost to North Texas by four touchdowns. What will Saban & Co. do?
Pick: Alabama -35
THE PRO GAME
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT
I'm siding with Bill Simmons on this one. Until Vegas starts hanging lines that deter me from picking the Rams — a team that is 4-0 straight up and 3-0-1 ATS — I'm going to keep betting on the Rams. Sunday's game in particular is a great spot to bet LA, because Seattle's offensive line will be completely overmatched by the Rams' defensive front.
Oh, and Earl Thomas is out.
Oh, and the Rams' average margin of victory is 18 points.
Pick: Rams -7
WEEK 5 REVISITED: "'Everybody has bad days. Everybody makes mistakes.' -Hannah Montana" -Chase Kiddy
2018 PICKS RECORD SO FAR: 24-16
- Florida Atlantic ML
- NC State ML
- Missouri/South Carolina Under 65
- Virginia Tech +6
- North Texas -25.5
- Michigan State ML
- Texas A&M -5.5
- Central Connecticut State ML
- Samford ML
- Harvard ML
- Kennesaw State -36
- Illinois State ML
- Missouri State +7.5
- Eastern Washington -20
14-leg parlay, $5 to win $2,676.30
And with that.. we're out of here 'til next week. Lots of chalk this week. Lots of strong under candidates tonight and on Friday, too, so you know what I'll be doing!
If you're planning on betting Thursday Night Football in the NFL, note that TNF double-digit underdogs coming off standard rest are 6-14 ATS since 1992.
Good luck in Week 6, and don't forget — fortune favors the bold!
MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: What the Hell is Happening On the Big 12 Media Call?