USA Today Sports
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
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at Rice Owls (-6.5)
Rice opened as 6-point home favorites over Hawaii, and the
initial money has come in on the Owls pushing this line up to
6.5. I expect this line to go even higher, and I’d be
surprised if this game didn’t close higher than a touchdown,
especially since Hawaii closed as 8.5-point road underdogs in
Colorado last week.
After opening with games against tough opponents like Notre
Dame and Texas A&M, the Rice Owls had a breather last
week in a 41-23 romp at Southern Mississippi. Football is
easier for Rice again this week as Hawaii is just 1-3 SU with
their lone win coming by just three points (27-24) against
FCS Northern Iowa. Bettors should play this game now, and lay
less than a touchdown.
Spread to wait on
Wisconsin Badgers at Northwestern Wildcats
Wisconsin is currently a 9.5-point road favorite at
Northwestern, but this line will close at 10 or higher once
the betting public gets involved. Wisconsin is a known
commodity, and in a matchup against a perceived lesser
opponent, the Badgers will be a popular play this week.
Northwestern is starting to play up to expectations after
opening the season with back-to-back home losses. The
Wildcats are on a two-game winning streak after upsetting
Penn State as 10.5-point road underdogs last Saturday in a
dominating 29-6 win. Wait and take Northwestern closer to
Total to watch
South Carolina Gamecocks at Kentucky
South Carolina’s defense is way down this season, and the
oddsmakers know it. The Gamecocks have played in games with
posted totals of 61, 65, 59, 52, and 61 this season. In
four of those five games, South Carolina or their opponent
scored 33 points or more. The Gamecocks’ defense has allowed
21 points or more in every game this season.
Kentucky comes in off a ho-hum 17-7 win over Vanderbilt. But
insiders say the Wildcats ran vanilla offense in that game
with an eye towards this home game against South Carolina.
Kentucky scored a total of 109 points in their first three
games, and their offense should be on full display against a
poor South Carolina defense. If the oddsmakers open this game
at anything less than 60, there will be value on the Over.