NCAAF line watch: Keep a close eye on total for ACC Championship


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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

Houston Cougars at Cincinnati Bearcats (-6.5)

Cincinnati opened as a 6.5-point favorite over Houston, and money has yet to come in on this game. But I do expect Cincinnati money to come in and push this line up to -7 or higher. The Bearcats have won and covered the spread in their last six games, so bettors will be inclined to back Cincinnati once again.

Houston doesn’t have the offensive firepower to trade points with Cincinnati. The Cougars are only averaging 5.4 yards per play despite playing opposing defenses that are giving up 5.7 yards per play.  Houston’s defense has good seasonal numbers, but it’s faced an extremely weak slate of opposing offenses. Cincinnati is averaging 35.2 points per game on 6.3 yards per play.  The Bearcats are less than a TD favorites with a high-octane offense, so lay the points now before the line goes up.

Spread to wait on

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (+12.5) at Marshall Thundering Herd

Marshall is currently a 12.5-point home favorite versus Louisiana Tech, and I anticipate this line going higher. The Thundering Herd are 11-1 SU and 8-4 ATS and since they’re laying less than two touchdowns, bettors will be inclined to lay the points in this game.

Louisiana Tech is quietly having a good season as it comes into this game at 8-4 SU and 9-3 ATS. The Bulldogs are catching Marshall at the perfect time, with the Thundering Herd coming off their first loss of the season which likely cost them a New Year’s Day bowl bid. This is a huge letdown spot for Marshall after losing 67-66 versus Western Kentucky in overtime last week. Wait this game out and take Louisiana Tech plus the points later in the week.

Total to watch

Florida State Seminoles at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (60.5)

Florida State has played in four straight low-scoring games with point totals of 43, 37, 56, and 54. All four of those games went Under the number. Off their recent four games, the oddsmakers are going to deflate the total on this game by a couple of points, especially since the Seminoles have gone 4-8 Over/Under this season.

Georgia Tech was featured in this space last week as a slow-paced, methodical offense. The game against Georgia still went Under the total despite going into overtime. The Yellow Jackets have gone Under the total in three of their past four games and that recent low-scoring trend coincides with Florida State’s recent game results. If this total drops to the 50s, there will be value on the Over.


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