Dr. Bob’s Week 3 College Plays

I only have one Best Bet for week 3 before opening things up next week when my math model starts to take shape. I also have 3 Strong Opinion that I’m posting in the College Free Analysis section, where I have predictions for all games.

Note: I was just 1-3 on these 4 games but my math model kicks in this next week and that’s when I start to release more Best Bets. I’m 62% on week 4 Best Bets and 63% on week 5 Best Bets the last 10 seasons so the best time of the season is coming up. I’ve been conservative to start the season (just 3 Best Bets in 3 weeks) on purpose, knowing that the real profit comes when my math model kicks in. It should be a fun week of analysis for me.

While I have had very few College Best Bets the first few weeks, we hit the ground running in the NFL. The NFL Best Bets are now 13-2, going 8-2 in week 2 after starting the season 5-0. It’s the best start to a season in 29 years in any sport.

Here is the analysis of my lone Best Bet and 3 Strong Opinions for week 3

Note: the odds posted were the odds at the time I released each play to my subscribers earlier in the week.

*UNDER (61 ½) – OKLAHOMA STATE (-4 ½)  27   Pittsburgh  24

Oklahoma State has a reputation as being a high scoring offense, which has certainly been the case for most of coach Mike Gundy’s tenure. However, the Cowboys have averaged only 5.3 yards per play in games against SE Louisiana and Central Michigan while their defense has yielded only 4.8 yppl (not including the Hail Mary pass by CMU last week that shouldn’t have counted and which I consider non-predictive). The high number of points scored in their 61-7 opening week win over SE Louisiana was extremely misleading (just 401 yards at 5.6 yppl, which is about average) and last week’s game totaled just 51 total points before the Hail Mary tacked on 7 at the end of the game.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has averaged a modest 350 yards at 5.3 yards per play against Villanova and Penn State while allowing 291 yards per game at 4.5 yppl. I had Pittsburgh rated as a mediocre offensive team with a good defense heading into the season and I’ve seen nothing to change my mind. Perhaps last week’s 42-39 win over Penn State has shifted the perception of Pitt to a high scoring team with a bad defense, but that is simply not the case.

My ratings project only 51 points in this game and I’ll go Under 60 points or higher in a 1-Star Best Bet. The line has dropped a little since I released this game to my subscribers but it’s still a Best Bet at 60 or more and would be a Strong Opinion down to 58 points.


Strong Opinion – East Carolina (+3)  28   SOUTH CAROLINA  26

South Carolina fans are probably missing Steve Spurrier after watching the Gamecocks’ offense the last two weeks. The end of Spurrier’s tenure in Columbia wasn’t pretty but at least his last two teams could play some offense despite pretty mediocre talent on that side of the ball. Now the genius of Spurrier’s offensive mind is coming to the forefront after two horrible offensive performances under new head coach Will Muschamp. What? Bad offense on a Will Muschamp team?

Muschamp’s Florida teams were horrible offensively by SEC standards, averaging a rating of 0.2 yards per play worse than average on a national scale. Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper was also the OC for Muschamp in his final season at Florida (2014), in which the Gators were 0.3 yppl worse than average. Roper was the OC at Duke for 6 years (’08-’13) and he had just one better than average offense in those 6 seasons. Do you see a pattern?

I rated South Carolina’s offense as average on a national scale heading into this season but it’s obvious that Roper still can’t coach, as the Gamecocks have averaged just 4.3 yppl in road games against Vanderbilt and Mississippi State – teams that would combine to allow 5.0 yppl at home to an average offensive team. Quarterback Perry Orth was 1.1 yards per pass play better than average in Spurrier’s system last season (6.6 yppp against teams that would allow 5.5 yppp to an average team) but he’s averaged only 5.7 yppp under the tutelage of Roper. Freshman Brandon McIlwain has played in both games off the bench and he’s been even worse throwing the ball, averaging just 4.1 yards on his 35 pass plays. McIlwain is tabbed as a good runner but so far he’s averaged just 3.9 yards on his 17 runs. This week’s quarterback is undecided but I don’t think it matters much, as both have struggled in the new offensive system.

East Carolina, meanwhile, has been impressive offensively under new head coach Scottie Montgomery and quarterback Phillip Nelson has transformed himself from an erratic passer in his days at Minnesota (50% completions) to the nation’s most accurate passer so far this season (61 of 75 for 81.3% completions). Nelson is much better suited for the short pass attack that he is in now than he was in the offense at Minnesota, which required more passes down the field. Nelson completed 33 of 43 passes in leading the Pirates to a 33-30 upset win over NC State and my ratings project 432 total yards at 6.1 yards per play for ECU in this game against a mediocre South Carolina defense.

Defense is where ECU has struggled so far this season, as the Pirates have yielded 6.4 yppl in two home games to Western Carolina and NC State attacks that would combine to average 5.6 yppl against an average defensive team. I’m expecting South Carolina to be better offensively than they’ve been so far and I project 390 yards at 5.9 yppl for the Gamecocks in this game.

South Carolina does have an advantage in special teams but my ratings make this game a pick and I’d get ECU by 6 ½ points using this season’s games only. The Pirates also apply to a 45-8-1 ATS early season indicator and I’ll consider East Carolina a Strong Opinion at +3 points or more.


Strong Opinion – LOUISVILLE (+1)  34   Florida State  30

1-Star Best Bet at +3 or more

My preseason ratings ranked Florida State 3rd and Louisville 8th and so far these two teams have lived up to their high billing. Florida State has a great defense and new quarterback Deondre Francois has completed 69% of his passes while averaging 7.3 yards per pass play against teams that would combine to allow 5.7 yppp to an average quarterback. The Seminoles also still have star running back Dalvin Cook, making them one of the most well rounded teams in the nation – excelling in both phases of offense, both phases of defense, and in special teams.

Louisville, meanwhile, has the new front runner for the Heisman Trophy at quarterback in sophomore Lamar Jackson, who has run for 334 yards (at 10.8 yards per run) and averaged 11.0 yards per pass play while accounting for 13 touchdowns in two games – 6 on the ground and 7 via the air. The Cardinals also have a sturdy defense that held a pretty good Syracuse attack to just 4.7 yards per play last week.

My preseason rating would have favored Louisville by 1 point in this game and my updated ratings favor the Cardinals by 1 ½ points, so I see value with the small home dog. I also see this as a very good situation for Louisville, who apply to an 81-28-2 ATS home momentum situation while FSU applies to a 26-74-1 ATS situation that is based on their two impressive wins. I’ll consider Louisville a Strong Opinion at +1 or more and I’d upgrade the Cardinals to a 1-Star Best Bet at +3 or more.


Strong Opinion – Boston College (+6)  19   VIRGINIA TECH  20

Boston College has a new defensive coordinator but the Eagles look just as strong defensively as they did last season when they yielded just 15.3 points and 4.1 yards per play. Thus far BC has given up just 12.0 points and 186 yards per game at 3.1 yards per play to Georgia Tech and U Mass. Virginia Tech is improved offensively this season with Jerod Evans at quarterback (a decent 6.3 yards per pass play) and running back Travon McMillian has averaged 6.1 ypr in two games. The Hokies still rate as an average offensive team overall and the Boston College defense has the clear advantage in that match up.

The defense also has an edge when Boston College has the football but the Eagles are much better offensively this season with former Kentucky starter Patrick Towles at quarterback and former QB Jeff Smith now cast as a big play receiver. Smith leads the Eagles with 8 catches for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns and Towles has averaged 8.8 yards per pass play through two games (against teams that would allow 6.7 yppp to an average quarterback). Towles is not going to continue to be that effective but I do rate the Eagles’ aerial attack at 0.4 yppp better than average this season after being one of the worst passing offenses in college football in 2015. Virginia Tech’s defense, however, is 0.8 yards per play better than average and my ratings project just 4.4 yards per play for BC in this game.

Boston College is also projected to average 4.4 yppl and overall my ratings favor Virginia Tech by just 4 points. That’s not a ton of line value but the Hokies apply to a very negative 50-125 ATS 1stconference game home favorite situation and conference road underdogs are historically good bets when the over/under total is low. I’ll consider Boston College a Strong Opinion at +5 or more and I’d play the Eagles in a 1-Star Best Bet at +7 or more.

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