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

Arkansas St. @
(3) Georgia

Sat, Sep 14 9:00 AM PT

Rotation: 123, Odds: Georgia -32.5, Total: 58

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GEORGIA (-32.5)  45   Arkansas State  13

Air Force @
Colorado

Sat, Sep 14 10:00 AM PT

Rotation: 125, Odds: Colorado -4, Total: 59

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COLORADO (-4)  30   Air Force  27

San Diego St. @
New Mexico St.

Sat, Sep 14 5:00 PM PT

Rotation: 127, Odds: New Mexico St. +16, Total: 51

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San Diego State (-16)  31   New Mexico State  17

My ratings favor San Diego State by 17 points but the Aztecs are 0-10 ATS in their last 10 games as a favorite.

Florida Atl. @
Ball St.

Sat, Sep 14 11:00 AM PT

Rotation: 129, Odds: Ball St. +2.5, Total: 64.5

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BALL STATE (+2.5)  33   Florida Atlantic  31

FAU should be better stepping down in class after getting destroyed by Ohio State and UCF by an average margin of 29 points. However, Ball State has been better than expected so far and the Cardinals apply to a 142-49-5 ATS non-conference home underdog situation.

New Mexico @
(7) Notre Dame

Sat, Sep 14 11:30 AM PT

Rotation: 131, Odds: Notre Dame -35, Total: 64

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NOTRE DAME (-35)  49   New Mexico  14

Akron @
Central Mich

Sat, Sep 14 12:00 PM PT

Rotation: 133, Odds: Central Mich -1.5, Total: 45

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Akron (+1.5)  24   CENTRAL MICHIGAN  23

Former Tennessee starter, and now Central Michigan starting quarterback, Quinten Dormady is out with a knee injury but my ratings still favor the Chippewas by 2 points, which is line with the market. However, Central Michigan applies to a 59-140 ATS first conference home game situation which will have me leaning with the visiting Zips.

Stanford @
(17) UCF

Sat, Sep 14 12:30 PM PT

Rotation: 135, Odds: UCF -9, Total: 59

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UCF (-9)  31   Stanford  24

Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello returns to action this week after sitting out the USC game with a concussion. The bigger issue for the Cardinal in that game was a defense that gave up 45 points and 8.3 yards per play to USC and their freshman quarterback making his first career start. USC’s offense is underrated but that is still a reason for concern. UCF, however, doesn’t have accurate quarterbacks to pick apart the Cardinal (Wimbush has a career 50.6% completion rate on 405 passes and Gabriel is right at 50%). UCF’s pass attack is putting up big numbers because of big plays (averaging 19.9 yards per completion), but that positive ypc variance isn’t likely to continue and Stanford can keep the Knights in check if their safeties can limit the big plays. Stanford has never allowed more than 12.2 ypc in a season under coach Shaw so they’re likely to clean up the mistakes they made last week (and, they only allowed 3.2 yards per pass play to Northwestern is week 1).

UCF’s defense has been really good so far, as holding Florida Atlantic to just 3.7 yards per play is impressive even with FAU’s attack down this season. But, I think Costello is good enough to lead his team to enough points to cover the inflated number and the Cardinal are 9-2 ATS as a dog of more than 11 points under Shaw.

(2) Alabama @
South Carolina

Sat, Sep 14 12:30 PM PT

Rotation: 137, Odds: South Carolina +25.5, Total: 61.5

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Alabama (-25.5)  45   SOUTH CAROLINA  17

The 24 of 30 passing for 282 yards by South Carolina freshman Ryan Hilinski in his first college action last week against Charleston Southern graded as a good performance even when accounting for the opposition faced but Nick Saban’s Alabama defense is likely to fluster the inexperienced quarterback.

East Carolina @
Navy

Sat, Sep 14 12:30 PM PT

Rotation: 139, Odds: Navy -7.5, Total: 53.5

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NAVY (-7.5)  29   East Carolina  21

Army @
UTSA

Sat, Sep 14 12:30 PM PT

Rotation: 141, Odds: UTSA +17, Total: 44.5

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Army (-17)  26   UTSA  13

The triple-option offense is designed to minimize the talent gap, which is why Army and other option teams tend to perform relatively better against better teams and relatively worse against less talented teams. Army has been good as an underdog in recent years and they’ve been able to use their option offense to control the clock and shorten the game against Oklahoma last year and Michigan last week, taking each of those elite teams to overtime. However, Army is just 9-30 ATS in their last 39 games when favored by 9 points or more (4-22 ATS against other FBS teams) and shortening the game by running the ball 90% of the time will make it harder to increase the margin.

Before last week’s impressive loss at Michigan the Black Knights managed to score just 14 points in their win over a Rice team with a bad defense and I don’t think they’ll be able to score enough points in this game justify the big spread. UTSA did allow 370 rushing yards at 9.7 yards per rushing play to Baylor last week but that could very well be an aberration given that the defensive line is traditionally the strength of the team. UTSA has had a better than average run defense every season aside from their first season as a program in 2011. Since then, the Roadrunners average run defense rating has been 0.3 yards per rushing play better than an average on a national scale. Last they were 0.1 yprp better than average (4.8 yprp allowed to teams that would average 4.9 yprp against an average FBS defense) and three of last season’s four starting defensive lineman return. I actually rate their run defense as 0.5 yprp worse than average this season due to 3 inexperienced linebackers but Army was 0.3 yprp worse than average on a per run basis last season and they’ve averaged only 4.2 yprp against Rice before averaging 3.6 yprp against Michigan last week. The worst facet of UTSA’s defense, by far, is the pass defense but that major weakness won’t be exploited by an Army team that has only averaged 6.5 pass plays per game. It’s similar to the Rice team that has one of the worst pass defenses in the nation every season but was able to limit Army to just 14 points in week 1. UTSA’s defense isn’t nearly as bad as normal when facing a team that won’t throw against them, so there is match-up value favoring the Roadrunners assuming that their run defense isn’t nearly as bad as it was last week (which is likely the case). Army and UTSA both run their offense at a slow pace so Army isn’t going to have many possession to get the 30 points or so that they’ll likely need to cover the spread in this game.

The question is if UTSA can score the 10 to 14 points it will probably take to stay within the number. The Roadrunners’ offense ranked dead last among FBS teams last season in compensated yards per play and while they should be better this season, they are still bad. Scoring 35 points in their opener against Incarnate Word was actually a bad effort given that their 6.0 yards per play is 1.5 yppl worse than the 7.5 yppl that I would project IW to allow on the road to an average FBS team, and the 3.6 yppl against Baylor’s starters last week was even worse (2.0 yppl worse than the 5.6 yppl that Baylor’s defense would allow at home against an average team). The market expects 13.5 points from UTSA in this game (based on the spread and total), which is what my ratings project (13.0 points) but I don’t think Army will score enough to cover the big number on the limited number of possessions expected in this game (only 116 total plays are projected) and my ratings like UTSA and the under but the value in both of those comes from my projection that Army will score far fewer than the 30.5 or 31 points projected by the market in their Team Total. If your book has 31 points for Army’s Team Total then playing that Under 31 is a Strong Opinion. The consensus line is 30.5 so this is not officially a Strong Opinion but some books do have 31.