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
Oklahoma State Cowboys (-20) at Kansas
Oklahoma State is currently a 20-point road favorite over
Kansas, but I anticipate this line closing at 3 touchdowns or
more. The Cowboys have a tendency to blow out bad teams as
head coach Mike Gundy is never shy about running up the
Kansas is one of the worst teams in the country, and the
Jayhawks are a dysfunctional mess after firing head coach
Charlie Weis before last week’s game. Kansas showed
nothing last week as they had just nine first downs and 176
yards of total offense in a 33-14 loss to West Virginia.
Bettors should play this game now, and lay less than the
expected 21-point spread.
Spread to wait on
Washington Huskies (+2.5) at California Golden
Washington actually briefly opened as a road favorite at a
few sportsbooks on Sunday afternoon, with other books opening
California as a 1-point home favorite. The money quickly came
in on California and by Monday afternoon the line had already
risen to 2.5. With California’s recent results, this
line might hit the key number of ‘3’ as the week goes on.
California is off three straight last-minute wins, and they
are getting publicity because of it.
Washington is flying under the radar under new head coach
Chris Peterson. The Huskies are 4-1 SU with their lone loss
coming by seven points (20-13) to Stanford in their last
game. Washington comes into this game off a bye, so they will
be the much fresher team. Wait and take the Huskies at a
better line closer to kick off.
Total to watch
Louisville Cardinals at Clemson Tigers
Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino has a reputation of
running high-scoring offensive teams. However, this version
of the Cardinals is exactly the opposite as they are one of
the best defensive teams in the country. Louisville is also
playing with a true freshman at quarterback, so Petrino’s
offense has been unable to get going this season. WR DeVante
Parker is also battling a foot injury.
Clemson is known for their offensive success, but after
losing their most productive players from last year’s team,
including QB Tajh Boyd and WR Sammy Watkins, the Tigers have
relied on their defense this season. Clemson did score 91
points in their past two games, but those points came against
two of the worst defenses in the country. The oddsmakers will
inflate this total on perception, so there will be value on
the Under, especially if the total is posted in the high