NCAAF line watch: Wait for better line before backing South Carolina

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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

Arkansas Razorbacks (-2.5) vs. LSU
Tigers

Arkansas opened as a -1.5 point home favorite over LSU, and
the books have already moved the line up to -2.5 on this
game. I expect this line to go up again and hit the key
number of 3, so shrewd bettors should jump on this game now.

LSU is off a tough, 20-13 home overtime loss to Alabama. The
Tigers went into that game off a bye, and they had the game
won. But they gave up the game-tying field goal as time
expired, and ended up losing in overtime. Arkansas comes into
this game off their bye week, so they are in a much better
scheduling and situational spot. Bettors should play this
game now and take the best of the number.

Spread to wait on

South Carolina Gamecocks (+6.5) at Florida
Gators

This line came out with Florida as a 5-point home favorite
over South Carolina, and early money quickly came in on the
favorite, moving the line up to -6.5. This line should tick
up to the key number of 7 at some point, and bettors should
jump on it when it appears.

Florida is off back-to-back blowout wins as they beat Georgia
38-20 as 11.5-point underdogs and last week they crushed
Vanderbilt 34-10 as 14.5-point favorites. South Carolina has
one of the most efficient offenses in the country, and they
come into this game off their bye. Four of the Gamecocks five
losses this season have come by 7 points or less. Wait and
take South Carolina at a better line, preferably +7 or more.

Total to watch

Missouri Tigers at Texas A&M Aggies

Missouri and Texas A&M are complete opposites. Missouri
has a terrible offense and a pretty good defense. Texas
A&M has a potent offense and a terrible defense. This
total will be an extremely difficult one for the oddsmakers
to set.

The Tigers come into this game off their bye while the Aggies
come in off their huge 41-38 upset win as a +23.5-point road
underdog at Auburn. That scheduling dynamic also creates
another key variable in setting this total. Texas A&M is
only a 5.5-point favorite, so my inclination is that this
total will be shaded more towards Missouri numbers; their
average conference total has closed at 50.5 this season.

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