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Each week during the college football season, Covers Expert Steve Merril looks at the NCAAF odds and tells you which spread to bet now, which one to bet later and which total to watch as the week plays out.
Spread to bet now
Pittsburgh Panthers (-6.5) at Syracuse Orange
This is a tale of two teams heading in opposite directions. Pittsburgh is quietly 5-1 SU on the season with their lone loss coming by just three points on the road at Iowa, which is 7-0 SU on the year. Syracuse has lost three consecutive games after opening the season at 3-0 SU. Their loss last week came in triple-overtime at Virginia after blowing a double-digit lead in the second half, so Syracuse should be hungover from that game.
Pittsburgh is currently a 6.5-point favorite at the majority of sportsbooks. But according to my power ratings, the line is short. I made the game Pittsburgh -10, so I certainly expect this line to go higher throughout the week. Lay the -6.5 now before the line hits the key number of seven.
Spread to wait on
Clemson Tigers at Miami Hurricanes (+6.5)
Clemson was featured in this space last week, and those who took my advice of waiting to back Boston College survived with a push when Clemson won by 17 points. The same thought process applies to this game. Clemson played much better than expected last week off back-to-back big wins, but that only sets the Tigers up to regress even more, especially with this game being on the road.
Miami is 4-2 SU on the season, including a perfect 3-0 at home. The Hurricanes have only been a home underdog five times over the last four seasons; they went 4-1 ATS in those games. My power ratings make Clemson a 5-point favorite in this game, so there will be value on the Hurricanes when the line hits +7. Wait this game out, and grab Miami +7 as soon as that key number pops up.
Total to watch
Washington State Cougars at Arizona Wildcats (72)
Washington State and Arizona match up extremely well for a high-scoring game. The Cougars’ offensive strength is throwing the football. Washington State averages 399 passing yards per game on 7.2 yards per pass attempt. Arizona’s defense allows 7.4 yards per pass attempt, so Washington State holds the edge.
Arizona’s offensive strength is running the football. The Wildcats average 299 rushing yards per game on a whopping 6.6 yards per rush. Washington State’s defense gives up 209 yards on the ground per game on five yards per rush, so Arizona will run the ball at will on the Cougars. The total is 72 right now, and there’s a very good chance this game lands in the 80’s