NCAAF Line Watch: Wait for Air Force’s spread to climb


USA Today Sports

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:  Alabama -6.5 (vs. Mississippi)

Back and forth money has come in on this game so far with the line fluctuating between -6.5 to -8, and currently sitting on -6.5 in most locations with a few spots still showing -7.  More money is likely to come in on Alabama later in the week, so laying less than a touchdown now makes sense.

My power ratings make Alabama a 7-point favorite in this game, so the line was correctly bet into place.  However, Alabama is playing with legitimate revenge after losing 23-17 in Mississippi as 4.5-point road favorites last season.  The Crimson Tide also have the scheduling edge in this game as they’ve already played Wisconsin while the Rebels played a pair of inferior opponents in UT Martin and Fresno State.  Take Alabama now before the line goes up above a full touchdown.

Spread to wait on: Air Force +26.5 (at Michigan State)

Air Force lost starting quarterback Nate Romine for the season to a knee injury in their 37-16 win over San Jose State last week.  Romine will be replaced by senior Karson Roberts, but the transition should be smooth and somewhat unnoticeable.  The Falcons run the triple-option offense, and passing the football is an afterthought for Air Force.  The Spartans opened as a 27.5-point home favorite, and the line quickly came down to -26.5, but it will likely creep up once the QB news becomes more known to the general betting public.

Michigan State is in a terrible situational and scheduling spot for this game.  The Spartans come in off their spotlight revenge win over Oregon on Saturday night.  Not only that, but Michigan State is going from defending the up-tempo spread offense of Oregon to the triple-option offense of Air Force.  That’s a dramatic difference, and the Spartans only have a week to prepare.  Wait and grab Air Force with as many points as you can, especially if the line rises back up to +27 or +28.

Total to watch: Texas Tech/Arkansas 67

Texas Tech and Arkansas play completely different styles of football.  The Red Raiders play a wide-open offense while throwing the football on just about every play.  The Razorbacks have a powerful rushing attack that simply wears defenses down as the game goes on.

The total opened at 64.5, but it was quickly bet up to the current price of 67.  The match-up sets up perfectly for a high-scoring game as Arkansas doesn’t see wide-open passing attacks in the SEC while Texas Tech doesn’t face physical running teams in the Big 12.  Both offenses should have a lot of success, so a shootout is expected on Saturday.

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