The VSiN college football analyst and longtime Gold Sheet handicapper looks at some betting angles for three of Saturday’s games.
Clemson at North Carolina State
Getting stonewalled by Georgia’s defense is one thing, but having to huff and puff to merely reach 14 points against Georgia Tech is a sure red flag for Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney’s misfiring offense. With protection problems and receivers having trouble gaining separation, Tom Brady might find it hard to get the Tigers’ offense in gear, much less still-green quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, whose big arm doesn’t look like it will get properly utilized until coordinator Tony Elliott gets the offense back into the garage for a tuneup.
Not sure that will come this week, especially as North Carolina State shook off the cobwebs of its loss to Mississippi State by putting 38 on Furman in the first half Saturday. Quarterback Devin Leary and the offense showed no ill effects of the debacle in Starkville. The Wolfpack did cover five of six as ’dogs for Dave Doeren last year. We’d be skittish about laying 10 points with an obviously laboring offense.
West Virginia at Oklahoma
Oklahoma remains unscathed at 3-0, but the Sooners are not reminding anyone of powerhouses of the past, hanging on for narrow home wins over Tulane and Nebraska and not coming close to a spread cover against either. Those expecting fireworks reminiscent of Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray from QB Spencer Rattler have been disappointed. Rattler piled up five of his seven touchdown passes against outmanned FCS rep Western Carolina and produced two touchdown passes and two picks against the Green Wave and the Cornhuskers. That makes us wonder whether the dominant trend from recent years in this series can recur after six straight Over results, though the teams didn’t play last season due to COVID-19.
The Mountaineers have lost their the last five away outright. But they have been embarrassed only on a visit to Iowa State in December, and they bring in a bit of confidence after beating Virginia Tech on the road as senior RB Leddie Brown gouged the Hokies for 161 rushing yards. We wonder if the offense has enough horsepower behind QB Jarret Doege, who has three TD passes and three interceptions in games against Maryland and Virginia Tech, if forced into catch-up mode.
Southern Mississippi at Alabama
Practices under Nick Saban are never much fun, but we can bet they were even tougher this week after the Crimson Tide almost let Florida come back in the Swamp amid myriad breakdowns after Alabama shot to a 21-3 lead. Saban is reportedly most concerned about a defense that suffered too many mental and physical gaffes in that narrow escape. Southern Mississippi failed to crack double digits against South Alabama and Troy. It has been very tough sledding for first-year coach Will Hall, whose offense appears overly reliant on running back Frank Gore Jr. and has had trouble protecting its quarterbacks. Ty Keyes was swamped for nine sacks by Troy on Saturday after starter Trey Lowe went out with a foot injury the previous week against Grambling.
Tide sophomore QB Bryce Young, who has 10 TD passes and no picks, should have a chance to pad his stats and enhance his Heisman Trophy candidacy. Saban has not delivered positive marks against the spread laying these types of bomber prices (-45 here) against non-league foes in Tuscaloosa, covering just five of the last 17 of these types of games at Bryant-Denny. One of those spread wins, however, came at the Golden Eagles’ expense in 2019, when Alabama rolled 49-7.
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