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
Louisville is currently a 26.5-point favorite over Florida
International, and the Cardinals will likely close as 4-TD
favorites. Louisville is coming off a loss, and knowing head
coach Bobby Petrino’s knack for running up scores, bettors
will play this game early in order to get the best of the
Florida International is a bad football team. The Panthers
were up 16-0 on Pittsburgh in the first quarter as 24.5-point
home underdogs on Saturday, and they were subsequently
out-scored 42-9 over the last three quarters. Louisville’s
offense is more explosive than Pittsburgh’s, so bet this game
now before the line goes up.
Spread to wait on
Arizona is currently a 10-point home favorite over California
as the early sharp money pushed the opening number down.
However, the public will likely push this line back up higher
by this weekend once the recreational money gets involved.
Arizona is known as a high-scoring team, and recreational
bettors like taking teams like the Wildcats in games lined at
less than two touchdowns.
California was awful last season, but the team looks
improved, and they come into this game with a 2-0 record. The
public remembers how bad California was last season and this
will bring bets in against the Golden Bears. California only
lost 33-28 to Arizona last season, so wait this out and take
more than 10 points with the road underdog.
Total to watch
On the surface, this game between Florida and Alabama looks
like a classic SEC defensive struggle. Florida and Alabama
have reputations of winning with defense, and if that
thinking is in place, the oddsmakers may set this total too
The Gators have an improved offense this season; they’ve
scored 101 points in their first two games. The Crimson Tide
has scored 126 points in their three games thus far. Alabama
is also playing with a vulnerable defense because of youth
and injuries; they have just one takeaway this season. Keep
an eye on the opening total as it may come out too low based
on last year’s results.