Welcome to HERO Sports' brand new football betting column, Edge Sorting.
Full of helpful tips and amusing quips, Edge Sorting is like a lot of other gambling columns on the internet, but with one major difference — I'm paying special attention to FCS/Group of 5 lines and leveraging games that don't have as much scrutiny on them. I won't just give you the same six Power 5 leans that everyone else is talking about; I'm willing to dive deep into the Division I rabbit hole to give you the best games to bet, instead of just the sexiest.
Here's what Edge Sorting will look like. Every week, I'll start you out with four standard bets to consider, before moving into a phase I like to think of as "categorical betting." Are you looking for that special Thursday night game in which you can burn $50 and four hours of your life?
Perhaps you're a sucker for betting Unders on Big 12 games with preposterously high totals? I don't judge. I'm just here to give you the goods; you can get your rocks off however you like.
And speaking of the goods…
Syracuse (-6) at Western Michigan
Friday, 7 p.m.
Syracuse hasn't posted a winning record since 2013 and has a pretty shoddy track record in these G5 September games. In 2015, Central Michigan took the Orange to OT before losing 30-27. One year later, they scraped together a 31-24 win at UConn and lost to South Florida by 25. Last year, they lost to Middle Tennessee at home, 30-23. WMU might not be the same team without P.J. Fleck, but the Broncos still have some athletes than can pull out a cover against a bad ACC school. Back the home dog with a chance for an outright win, and do it fast — sharp money is coming in on Western and pushing the line down.
Pick: Western Michigan +6
Stony Brook (+11) at Air Force
Saturday, 2 p.m.
This game could be extremely boring, so it might be best to just fire on the books and forget about it. Air Force rolled past VMI 62-0 in its 2017 FCS game, but Stony Brook is a much stronger team with a really good defense. I like Air Force to score somewhere between 24 and 42 points in this game. Stony Brook's offense should take a step back, with lots of turnover at runningback and the offensive line. I like the Under here.
Pick: Under 58
West Virginia (-10) vs Tennessee
Saturday, 3:30p.m. in Charlotte, NC
Look, full disclosure here, I'm a West Virginia native who has rooted for the Mountaineers since my dad took me to a Blue Lot tailgate and told me to stay of the Adult Soda Cooler in 1998. I usually stay away from betting teams I like, but this one is hard to pass up — Will Grier looks like a Heisman candidate and is playing a perennially overhyped SEC team that hasn't done anything in a decade.
When Tennessee released its depth chart earlier this week and announced the Vols were starting two true freshman at corner for this game, I knew I couldn't sit on my hands any longer.
West Virginia wins by 2+ touchdowns. NC State should prove a bigger, if unsexy, challenge for WVU. That game is in two weeks.
Pick: West Virginia -10
Washington (+1.5) vs Auburn
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. in Atlanta, GA
Talk of the Pac-12 being out of the playoff if U-Dub loses this game is pretty silly, but I do think Auburn is the better team here. It's a glorified home game for Tigers fans, and I trust both their offense and their defense more than I do Washington. Take the better team and the small line.
Pick: Auburn -1.5
PONY UP: Wild Prop Bets for Week 1
FCS GAME OF THE WEEK
Kennesaw State (-1.5) at Georgia State
Thursday, 7 p.m.
That's right, folks, we've got the rarest of Week 1 unicorns — the dreaded FBS-Team-Is-An-Underdog-To-An-FCS-Team game!
For those who don't follow FCS Football as closely as us, Kennesaw State is No. 3 in our preseason Top 25 poll. Georgia State, meanwhile, lost to a .500 FCS team last season and is expected to be pretty awful once again. Psychologically, this might be hard to get past, but in gambling terms, it's pretty simple. The better team is a 1.5-point favorite, so I'm betting on the better team to win and cover a small spread. In this case, it just so happens that the better team plays in a lower subdivision.
Pick: Kennesaw State -1.5
WEEKDAYS ARE FOR GAMBLING
Monmouth (+16.5) at Eastern Michigan
Friday, 6:30 p.m.
This is a tricky one, because it's a G5 school that was under .500 in 2017 hosting an FCS playoff team. Often times, numbers like 6.5 or 16.5 can be trap lines, enticing you to take the favorite when Vegas clearly wants to back the dog. So this game is juicy, but it's also dangerous.
Still, I'm going to go ahead and bite on it. Yes, Monmouth earned an at-large big to the FCS playoffs in 2017, but the Hawks were a paper tiger with a pumped-up record, playing in a bad conference. When they got to the playoffs, they were embarrassed by a Tier-2 Northern Iowa team. Even though Monmouth brings back a lot of starters, they could be overvalued here, even as 16-point underdogs. I don't love backing an uninspiring EMU team, but their 17-point win over Charlotte last season is all the affirmation I need to pull the trigger here.
Pick: Eastern Michigan -16.5
HOLD ON FOR DEAR LIFE
Southern Methodist (+4.5) at North Texas
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
SMU had a greatly improved offense last year, and though Chad Morris is gone, new head coach Sonny Dykes should keep the points flowing. Still, this is a Week 1 game. A total over 70 is certainly possible, but the smart side to be on is the Under. I'm expecting some busted coverage, but I don't think either team will be in mid-season form just yet.
Pick: SMU/UNT Under 71
THE MASSIVE FAVORITE
Saturday, 12 p.m.
Years ago, most sharps would have told you to never bet a favorite this big. But as noted gambler Bob Dylan once opined about college football, "The times, they are a'changin'."
Week 1 blowouts are pretty commonplace, so it's safe to pull the trigger on a few big lines if you're feeling particularly confident in the talent disparity. Enter Houston, which has one of the best NFL prospects playing on its defensive line in Ed Oliver. The Cougs have more talent at pretty much every position group on the field and should dominate Rice.
How do I know this? Well, for one thing, Rice just needed a walk-off field goal at the gun to beat Prairie View A&M last week. Prairie View is a pretty bad FCS team. For this week, that's really all the data I need.
I'll end Edge Sorting with a game I invented a few years ago called the 2K Parlay. Every week during the football season, I engineer a $5 parlay that pays out over $2000. I follow a sort of formula when I put these together, so I'm not just throwing random games in there. These are very specific selections.
I highly encourage you to play the #2KParlay for yourself, but please remember — this is a lottery ticket. The odds of winning are basically zero. For this particular option, the goal is not so much to win, but to be entertained by how far the parlay makes it before folding.
- Central Florida ML
- Colorado ML
- Houston -25
- Arizona State ML
- Southern Cal ML
- Auburn -1.5
- West Virginia -10
- Cal ML
- Miami (Fl) ML
- UL Monroe -15.5
- Utah ML
- Eastern Michigan -16.5
- Stony Brook/Air Force U58
- New Hampshire ML
- Norfolk State ML
- Eastern Washington -14
16-leg parlay, $5 to win $2,656.20
And with that.. we're out of here 'til next week. Week 1 starts tonight. Good luck, and don't forget — fortune favors the bold!
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