In week 3 my Free Analysis sides were 22-21-1 overall but just 2-6 on games with a difference or 4+ points from the spread. Totals were 28-14, including 4-0 on differences of 6 points or more from the line, which are historically profitable (37-29 last season).

 

For the season, the Free Analysis sides are now 57-57-2, and 12-11 on games with a difference or 4+ points from the spread. Totals are now just 57-59-2 and 6-5 on differences of 6 points or more.

 

The record on all Free Analysis sides is now 1683-1488-64 ATS since 2013, which is very good picking nearly every game over 6-plus years. The Free Analysis sides in which my predicted margin was 4 points or more away from the line are now 581-484-22 (99-81-2 last season). Totals on the Free pages are now 1404-1353-18 in the 5-plus seasons I’ve been tracking them .

 

The spreads posted are the consensus lines at the time I posted each analysis.

I ended the 2018 College Football season at 52-35-2 on my Best Bets (75-49-3 on a Star Basis) and 22-18 on my Strong Opinions.

 

This season, I’m 5-1 on my College Best Bets and 6-5 on the Strong Opinions.

 

I’ve posted this week’s Best Bets and Strong Opinion on the Free Pages this week:

 

Click on the link for each game to view the analysis.

 

Friday Strong Opinion: Washington State (-9) Strong Opinion at -10 or less.

 

Best Bets:

(152) *Under (57.5) Memphis at South Alabama, 1-Star Under 57 or higher. Strong Opinion down to 56 points.

 

(155) **Over (61) Colorado State at Arkansas, 2-Stars Over 61 or less, 1-Star up to 63 points (Strong Opinion up to 64 points).

College Football Rotation

North Carolina @
Wake Forest

Fri, Sep 13 3:00 PM PT

Rotation: 103, Odds: Wake Forest -3, Total: 66

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North Carolina (+3)  35   WAKE FOREST  34

North Carolina has opened the second Mack Brown era with upset wins over South Carolina and Miami-Florida thanks to the arm of freshman quarterback Sam Howell, who has averaged 8.6 yards per pass play against a couple of good defensive teams. Howell is unlikely to continue to average 16.7 yards per completion but he still looks like a significant upgrade at the most important position on the field. Wake Forest has also found a quarterback in Jamie Newman, who ignited the offense late last season (7.0 yards per pass play in his 4 starts) and has been even better so far this year with 74% completions and 9.0 yards per pass play (against teams that would allow 7.2 yppp to an average quarterback).

Both offenses are looking good but North Carolina has been much better defensively so far, allowing 5.6 yards per play to two good teams while Wake has yielded 5.9 yppl to Utah State (better than average) and Rice (horrible), who combine to rate worse than average offensively. I’ll side with the Tarheels to make it three straight upsets to open the season.

Kansas @
Boston College

Fri, Sep 13 4:30 PM PT

Rotation: 105, Odds: Boston College -20.5, Total: 51

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BOSTON COLLEGE (-20.5)  36   Kansas  19

Boston College has looked surprisingly great offensively so far this season, averaging 40 points and 7.1 yards per play. However, quarterback Anthony Brown’s 19.0 yards per completion will certainly come down (13.4 ypc last season) and AJ Dillon has struggled running the ball (4.2 ypr) despite facing a mediocre Virginia Tech run defense and a horrible Richmond defense. I still rate BC’s attack at 0.4 yards per play better than average, which is much better than last season (-0.3 yppl), but I don’t think the Eagles are going to be able to run up the score against a decent Kansas defense that was barely worse than average on a national scale last season (0.2 yppl worse than average) and rates about the same this season (they’ve only give up 14.5 points per game and 4.9 yppl, but against two bad offensive team).

The trouble with Les Miles’ team is an offense that has been even worse than expected in averaging just 5.6 yppl despite facing Indiana State and Coastal Carolina defensive units that would combine to allow 6.9 yppl to an average attack. I do think the Jayhawks are better than they’ve shown on offense, and BC is just 0.2 yppl better than average on defense, and my ratings call for a closer than expected outcome.

(20) Washington St. @
Houston

Fri, Sep 13 6:15 PM PT

Rotation: 107, Odds: Houston -9.5, Total: 73.5

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Note: This game was released to my subscribers as a Strong Opinion when the line was -9. I still rate the Cougars as a Strong Opinion at -10 or less.

Strong Opinion – Washington State (-9) 44   Houston  29

I had assumed Washington State’s offense would be even better this season, as this year’s graduate transfer quarterback Gage Gubrud has better credentials (65% completions in 3 years as a starter and two time FCS All-American at Eastern Washington) than last season’s breakout star Gardner Minshaw, who actually was worse than average/terrible at East Carolina before coming to Pullman. I was surprised when I found out that Gubrud lost out to senior Anthony Gordon for the Cougars’ starting quarterback position but then I thought that Gordon must be even better because Mike Leach has a long history of choosing the right quarterback to lead his Air Raid attack. So far, Gordon has not only been better than I thought Gubrud would be but he’s been as good or better than any quarterback that Leach has had a Wazzou. Gordon has completed 81% of his passes for 884 yards and 9 touchdowns against 1 interception while averaging a ridiculous 11.7 yards per pass play. Those numbers were posted against bad defensive teams New Mexico State and Northern Colorado, who would combine to allow 8.2 yppp to an average quarterback, but Houston’s pass defense isn’t good either, as the Cougars were 1.2 yppp worse than average against the pass last season and have been 1.7 yppp worse than average so far this season and allowed Jalen Hurts to complete 20 of 23 passes against them for 332 yards. I don’t think Washington State’s offense is as good as Oklahoma’s offense but Gordon should continue to complete a very high percentage of his passes in this game.

Houston has the offensive talent to score a good number of points too, as D’Eriq King was considered a dark horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy this season after leading the Cougars to 44 points per game and 6.6 yards per play last season (although against teams that would allow 6.0 yppl to an average attack). However, King hasn’t looked good throwing the ball in new coach Dana Holgorsen’s system, as he’s completed just 54.7% of his passes for just 4.6 yards per pass play in the first two games. Averaging only 5.2 yppp against Oklahoma rated as worse than average and managing just 3.7 yppp last week against a horrible Prairie View A&M defense is downright disgraceful. I still rate Houston’s pass attack as better than average and the rushing attack is very good thanks to King’s scrambling ability and some talented running backs, but it’s going to be tough to keep up with a Washington State team that is dialed in offensively and is better defensively than Houston as well.

Last year’s stats would have projected Washington State to win this game by 17 points and the Cougars are at least as good while Houston isn’t any better even if their offense doesn’t start living up to last year’s standards. I get Washington State by 15.3 points using half a home field edge for Houston for this game not being played in their home stadium (by 14 if I considered it a true home game). The fact that WSU has started off with two dominating victories (wins of 51 points and 42 points) is certainly not a bad thing, as teams that won their first two games by 35 points or more each are 50-25-2 ATS in game #3 as long as their opponent is not off a bye. I’ll consider Washington State a Strong Opinion at -10 points or less.

(6) Ohio St. @
Indiana

Sat, Sep 14 9:00 AM PT

Rotation: 109, Odds: Indiana +18, Total: 59.5

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Ohio State (-18)  37   INDIANA  21

Ohio State’s defense is back to their normal elite standards after a down season in 2018 (yielding just 3.2 yards per play) and new quarterback Justin Fields has been extremely efficient (76% completions) leading a potent attack that averaged 7.2 yards per play last week against a good Cincinnati defense. However, Indiana’s new offense looks great (7.1 yppl and 0.7 yppl better than average after adjusting for opposing defenses faced) and the Hoosiers’ defense looks even better so far – even considering that they’ve faced Ball State and Eastern Illinois. Indy quarterback Michael Penix is questionable to play but backup Peyton Ramsey has 16 career starts and has completed 13 of 14 passes in the new attack for 16.1 yards per pass play. My ratings favor Ohio State by 19.5 points but Indiana applies to 49-9 ATS big home underdog momentum situation.

Kansas St. @
Mississippi St.

Sat, Sep 14 9:00 AM PT

Rotation: 111, Odds: Mississippi St. -7.5, Total: 51.5

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MISSISSIPPI STATE (-7.5/-7)  25   Kansas State  22

Kansas State players have reportedly really embraced new head coach Chris Klieman after the retirement of Hall Of Fame coach Bill Snyder. Klieman might find himself in the HOF one day if he comes close to the success that he had in leading North Dakota State to four FCS championships in five seasons as their head coach. The early returns for Klieman’s Kansas State team have been good, as the offense looks much improved (50.5 points per game and 7.3 yards per play against teams that would allow 6.7 yppl to an average offense) while the defense has allowed just 14 total points in two games.

Mississippi State, meanwhile, lost more defensive talent than any team in the nation from last year’s team, including 3 1st-Round NFL draft picks, and the Bulldogs have been struggling on that side of the ball so far – allowing 6.2 yards per play to Louisiana-Lafayette and Southern Miss. I still rate that defense as solidly better than average based on talent grades but so far they’ve been much worse than expected.

My updated ratings favor Miss State by just 5.7 points and Kansas State applies to a 66-22-2 ATS early season momentum situation and I’ll side with the Wildcats plus the points.

No Carolina St. @
West Virginia

Sat, Sep 14 9:00 AM PT

Rotation: 113, Odds: West Virginia +7, Total: 46

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NC State (-7)  26   WEST VIRGINIA  16

West Virginia looks really bad offensively so far under new head coach Neal Brown, as the Mountaineers have averaged just 3.8 yards per play in games against James Madison and Missouri. NC State, meanwhile, has been great defensively in yielding just 6 points and 3.2 yppl to ECU in their opening and then shutting out Western Carolina on 2.6 yppl (with starters in the game).

On the plus side, the Mounties’ defense has been better than expected (just 5.0 yppl allowed) but NC State is a better than average offensive team and new Wolfpack quarterback Matthew McKay has been solid in his first two games with 66% completions and no interceptions thrown or sacks taken. I’d prefer NC State here but I’m passing.

(21) Maryland @
Temple

Sat, Sep 14 9:00 AM PT

Rotation: 115, Odds: Temple +7, Total: 66.5

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Maryland (-7)  35   TEMPLE  29

My Maryland over 4 wins season win total Best Bet is looking good far and last week’s 63-20 win over Syracuse was expected (my ratings favor Maryland by over a touchdown). My ratings favor the Terrapins by 8.6 points in this game but Maryland applies to a negative 49-142-5 early season road letdown situation. Temple has had a week off since their easy win over Bucknell in week 1 and that bye between games 1 and 2 can be very beneficial. In fact, teams playing their second game of the season off a win and a bye are 114-77-7 ATS (if not facing a team in the same situation). While the ratings favor the Terps the situation favoring Temple is strong enough to have me leaning slightly with the Owls.

Miami Ohio @
Cincinnati

Sat, Sep 14 9:00 AM PT

Rotation: 117, Odds: Cincinnati -17.5, Total: 49.5

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CINCINNATI (-17.5)  31   Miami Ohio  14

Pittsburgh @
(13) Penn St.

Sat, Sep 14 9:00 AM PT

Rotation: 119, Odds: Penn St. -17.5, Total: 53

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PENN STATE (-17.5)  33   Pittsburgh  19

Eastern Mich @
Illinois

Sat, Sep 14 9:00 AM PT

Rotation: 121, Odds: Illinois -7, Total: 55

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ILLINOIS (-7.5)  31   Eastern Michigan  24

It look like Illinois running back Reggie Corbin, who ran for over 1000 yards at 8.5 yards per rush last season, will be playing today after having had just 6 runs before getting injured in week 1. Eastern Michigan is 18-3-1 ATS in their last 22 games as an underdog or pick.