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.
Ugly dogs. Fading favorites. Betting against public perception. It's something that we can never talk about enough when it comes to college football handicapping, and it's something I'm emphasizing again this week. Every team I've included in the column this week is in here for one of these reasons. Maybe it's a winless team catching too many points; perhaps it's a team whose quarterback is hurt, and the public finds them suddenly mortal.
Whatever the reason, I promise you that all of these are fading public perception in one way or another. This card woke up feeling dangerous.
On to the Week 9 picks!
[divider]MORE FBS: 1 in 8 FBS College Football Players are from This One State
SUBSCRIBE: High Motor Podcast[divider]
North Dakota State (-4.5) at South Dakota State
Saturday, 3 p.m. EDT
If Brookings, South Dakota is good enough for College GameDay, it's certainly good enough for my column. Even strict FBS fans are surely aware that North Dakota State is an FCS powerhouse, so I doubt too many are surprised to discover that No. 1 North Dakota State is a 4.5-point favorite in front of ESPN's flagship Saturday programming. What casual FCS fans may not be aware of is that No. 3 South Dakota State has actually been Bison kryptonite over the course of the last few years. North Dakota State is an incredible 48-3 since the beginning of the 2016 season, and two of those three losses have been to South Dakota State during the regular season. (The third loss was James Madison in the 2016 playoffs.)
South Dakota State could strike again here and pull off another upset. Perhaps more likely is a tight rivalry game that future Jerry Rice Award Winner Trey Lance finds a way to win. Give me the home dog to cover, with an outright win firmly in play.
Pick: South Dakota State +4.5
[divider]MORE SDSU: How the Jackrabbits went from a Top-20 Team to a Top-5 Team
MORE NDSU: Should North Dakota State Join the Mountain West?
MORE GAMEDAY: ESPN is Going to… South Dakota?
MORE GAMEDAY: Is the Winner of this Game the Automatic No. 1 Seed?[divider]
New Mexico State (+14.5) at Georgia Southern
Saturday, 6 p.m. EDT
South Dakota State isn't an ugly dog, so much as it's standing on the tracks in front of a freight train, hoping that it stops on time.
New Mexico State, on the other hand, is an ugly dog. The Aggies are 0-7 this year and haven't done anything particularly well.
Professional bettors have a saying, though: Joes bet the team; Pros bet the number. In the case of this game, 14.5 is far too heavy a number to lay for a team like Georgia Southern, which has collected three wins on the season, with none coming against established FBS programs. The Eagles are coming off back-to-back overtime wins over South Alabama and Coastal Carolina. Their only other win of the season was a one-possession win over FCS Maine.
Georgia Southern is likely to win this game, but I don't trust them to cover 14 and the hook. Hold your nose and bet the Aggies off a bye to cover a number that's just too high.
Pick: New Mexico State +14.5
Saturday, 7 p.m. EDT
Is Tua's ankle okay? I have no idea. Either way, he doesn't play defense, and I expect Saban's trademark unit to be locked all the way in for a home game with the Razorbacks. If Arkansas scores six points in this game, I will be mildly surprised. The fact that the Tide might need to lean on a backup quarterback is just a bonus. Give me the under, with a lean on Bama minus the points, too. With or without Tua, Alabama is going to kill this Arkansas team.
Pick: Alabama/Arkansas Under 56
Notre Dame (-1) at Michigan
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EDT
On this week's episode of High Motor, Andrew Doughty and I talked about how strange it was that Michigan opened as a favorite over Notre Dame. The early number we saw was 7.5, but even conservative books had the Wolverines in the 4.5-point range. Given Jim Harbaugh's record against Top-10 teams, that was a shocking point spread.
We recorded that segment on Sunday. Since then, Notre Dame has been all the way down to favorite status. So while I've regularly written about how quickly you can lose major value on line movement in college football (as opposed to, say, NBA totals movement), I'm still going to roll with Notre Dame here. Honestly, this pick is less about following the steam and more about reacting to Michigan's strong play at Penn State last week. I like the idea of betting against Michigan when their stock is arguably at its highest point of the season.
Pick: Notre Dame -1
FCS GAME OF THE WEEK
Sacramento State (-14.5) at Cal Poly
Saturday, 8 p.m. EDT
Ohhhh baby, we've got a gem here. The FCS Pick of the Week is a sparkling 6-1-1 on the season, and we're about to make it 7-1-1. Sac State rolls up to intra-state rival Cal Poly as one of the most popular topics of the FCS world. Unranked to start the season, the Hornets have posted back-to-back-to-back wins over premiere Big Sky programs: Eastern Washington, Montana State, and Montana, respectively. Sacramento State, a perennial also-ran in the Big Sky, is suddenly a top 10 team with an inside track to a playoff seed and a first-round bye. Next week, they travel to Weber State for what is essentially a de facto conference title game.
Smashed in the middle of all those massive games is a sleepy Saturday evening contest with Cal Poly, a tough, contrarian Big Sky program more interested in fullback dives than it is 60-yard touchdown passes. With Sac State playing as the toast of the FCS world, it's no longer a great value play — the Hornets laying 14 plus the hook on here on the road.
This is an immaculate spot to counter public perception. Sac State is legitimately good and is likely to get out of San Luis Obispo with a win, but I think the Mustangs can give 'em a little bit of a scare. This is a classic home dog spot if ever there was one.
Pick: Cal Poly +14.5
[divider]MORE FCS: Brian & Sam Cover Another FCS College GameDay[divider]
Weeknights are for Gambling
Friday, 9 p.m. EDT
Again, this is a case of betting the number, not the team. USC is down to its third-string quarterback; the tailback position is so depleted that I'm pretty sure Clay Helton just pulled someone off the Santa Monica pier to run between the tackles. The Trojans are completely beat to hell, but have to go on the road, on a short week, to play Colorado at altitude. This is a nightmare scenario for USC, and bettors absolutely cannot lay nearly two full touchdowns with this team on the road. There are a million reasons why Colorado is the right side here.
Pick: Colorado +13.5
[divider] Week 8 Rewind: Cashing Big on Smart Unders
Last Week's Record: 4-2
2019 Official Picks Record: 27-30-1[divider]
We've got just about a month left to try to connect on one of our 2K Parlay lottery tickets.
- Army ML
- Temple +10.5
- Indiana +2.5
- Florida State ML
- Fresno State ML
- Florida Atlantic ML
- Arkansas/Alabama Under 56
- Oklahoma/Kansas State Under 57.5
- Ohio State ML
- Auburn +10.5
- Notre Dame ML
- Dartmouth ML
- Holy Cross ML
- Youngstown State ML
- James Madison ML
- Incarnate Word ML
- Detroit Lions ML
- Los Angeles Rams ML
- New Orleans Saints ML
19-leg parlay, $5 to win $2,500.64
And with that.. we're out of here 'til next week. Tune in for tonight's Kirk Cousins Revenge Bowl, but don't you dare bet on it, you filthy degenerate.
Good luck in Week 9, and don't forget… fortune favors the bold!