Week 1: Official Plays

Rather than creating a new post for each bet, I am just going to pin this post for the week and go in and add information and plays as they come in. As always, follow me on twitter @MikeyLoBets to be notified as soon as I make any official plays.

Last Week Recap

Last Week: 1-1, -0.80 Units
YTD: 12-7 (63.2%), +9.39 Units

The game I bet pregame, Eastern Illinois +13.5, went about exactly to script. EIU covered easily and probably should’ve won the game but a fumble inside the ten and unlucky pick 6 when they were marching again was too much to overcome. All we cared about was the +13.5 though and that was no problem.

I hopped on Nebraska -5.5 live when Illinois scored in the 2nd quarter to make the game 9-9. I leaned Nebraska -6.5 pregame and Illinois had lost their starting QB Brandon Peters to an injury at this point so I was pretty happy with the bet. I thought it would take the Illini defense time to learn the new scheme under Brett Bielema and find the right personnel but I forgot to account for just how bad Adrian Martinez is. Illini backup QB Artur Sitkowski also played better than I expected him to be. Oh well.

1-1, -0.80 Units is perfectly fine after the big Spring we had. On to Week 1….

Week 1 Official Play Write-Ups

Southern Mississippi (-120) @ South Alabama (Fan Duel)

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Rather than lay the -1.5 I’m going to pay the extra ten cents and just go moneyline. I know some of you won’t like this approach but you’re more than welcome to play this one however you like =). For me personally, I just think that too many college games end with 1-point victories that I’m just more comfortable taking this approach. You can do what you want with your money.

The more I dig into Southern Mississippi the more I think they are in store for a pretty nice bounce back season. Like Utah State (who I have a pretty large futures bet on), this was a team that seemed to endure a whatever can go wrong will go wrong start to the season. They had 8 players opt-out right before the season opener against South Alabama. They ended up losing this game 32-21 as a 13 point home-favorite. After this loss their HC Hopson resigned from his position (not a great sign about where the overall culture of the team was at). They started the year 1-5 and their interim head coach jumped ship for a job at Austin Peay after they got crushed by Rice. Their starting QB Jack Abraham (now at Mississippi State) opted out in the middle of the season. Despite all this, they showed them resolve by finishing the season stronger under their 3rd head coach of the season. They went 2-2 in their last 4 games, but only lost by 3 to a strong UTSA team and ended their season against FAU putting up 45 points and 514 yards of total offense (305 on the ground!). This was an impressive performance considering that FAU defense only allowed 17 ppg and 342 yards per game last season. They didn’t allow more than 20 points in any other regular season game last year.

There is a little enthusiasm for Southern Miss now as they have brought in former Tulane OC Will Hall. I saw this video on him on Twitter and was ready to run through a wall for him. I have no doubt he will have the team excited and ready to get revenge on South Alabama in their opener. Hall will also call the plays for Southern Mississippi and you would have to imagine he will run a fast paced rushing offense like he did at Tulane. He has the tools to do it with stud RB Frank Gore Jr. and QB Trey Lowe. Lowe didn’t play until the end of the season in 2020 but had his coming out party in the season finale against FAU where he put up 13-for-19, 209 passing yards, and 2 TD in the air and 70 yards on 16 rushes with a TD on the ground. Frank Gore rushed for 5.9 yards per carry as a true freshman in 2020 including a 9-111 performance against FAU in the finale. As a freshman his usage was low throughout the season (only topping 15 carries in a game one time) but I think they will be leaning much heavier on him this season. He will be running behind the #5 O-Line in the conference according to Phil Steele. South Alabama is a defense that allowed 4.7 yards per carry last season and 174 rushing yards/game. With 17 returning starters and some added transfers I think Southern Miss will be a bounce back team this year.

South Alabama is another team with a new HC in Kane Womack (former DC from Indiana). They brought in a transfer QB in Jake Bentley (Utah) and have a stud WR coming back in Jalen Tolbert. I wonder if it may take a little bit for them to click with a new QB, new RB, and new HC (who is defensive minded). They have the second worst O-Line in the conference according to Phil Steele and some sacks/holding penalties can be a killer in what looks like a close matchup.

This one won’t be easy but I think Southern Mississippi ends up starting the season with a road victory. There is enthusiasm in the program and they have the edge at offensive line. I think they will be able to run the ball with Gore and Lowe and it will take the South Alabama offense a little longer to get going. Give me the Golden Eagles.

Miami (OH) @ Cincinnati (-22.5) (Fan Duel)

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I was excited to be able to get this one under the key football number of 23. Get this one now if you like it, because there aren’t many -22.5’s available out there. Draft Kings, Bookmaker, and Bet Online are all sitting at -23 as I type this.

Cincinnati is coming into this season as the #1 Group of 5 team. They are coming off a very impressive 2020 season that saw them go undefeated in the regular season and only losing 24-21 to Georgia in the Peach Bowl. I think their schedule is strong enough this year with road non-conference games against Notre Dame and Indiana (in addition to playing in a strong AAC conference) that if they go undefeated they will probably be able to sneak into the playoffs. They bring a ton of guys back from that team including their stud QB Desmond Ridder. They have a very strong defense. Phil Steele has ranked their DL, LB, and Secondary all as the strongest units in the AAC.

Miami (OH) only played 3 games in 2020, including a 32-point loss to Buffalo. Like just about every team this year, they also bring lots of players back. To me they look like a middle tier MAC team. The AAC is miles stronger than the MAC this year. I think Cincinnati opens this season on a mission with the goal of reaching the college football playoffs. For a team like Cincinnati style points matter… and they know it. I don’t think they will take the foot off the gas until late in the 4th quarter on this one. I think Miami will really struggle to put up points on the Cincinnati defense, while the Bearcats offense (which averaged 38 points per game in 2020) should be able to get things. Give me Cincinnati.

Incarnate Word (+8.5) (-115) @ Youngstown State (BetOnline) – THURSDAY

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Those of you that rode with me during the Spring FCS season know that Incarnate Word was a team that I followed closely. The good news about them? They averaged 42 points per game on offense. The bad news about them? They averaged 42 points allowed per game on defense.

UIW returns just about everyone on offense including Jerry Rice award winner Cameron Ward at QB (183-for-303, 2260 yards, 24-4 TD-INT in the Spring season) and RB Kevin Brown (74-775-10.5 in the Spring season). There is no reason to think the offense will slow down much in the Fall 2021 season.

The defense returns its top 19 tacklers from the Spring season. You have to hope this was a point of emphasis in the offseason and we see some improvement. If they can just cut down to about 30 ppg allowed (possible in the Southland conference) they will probably be the team to beat in their conference.

Youngstown State looks to be a bottom tier MVC team. On offense they only averaged 15 ppg and 267 ypg in the Spring season. It sounds like they will be starting a freshman at QB and moving last year’s starting QB to the wildcat position. I’m thinking the freshman QB will make a couple mistakes in his first ever game and a couple stops might be all UIW needs to cover the spread. I see this as a tossup game so I feel good about getting more than a TD here.

Miami (FL)/Alabama Under 61.5 (-110) (Fan Duel)

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Full disclosure: This was not a bet I initially had on my radar until I saw that Josh Pate was playing it. Then I dug into it and decided to pull the trigger on it as well.

Alabama’s defense should be much improved in 2021. While they only gave up 19 points per game in 2020 they had some tough moments like giving up 48 points to Ole Miss and 46 points to Florida. I think the defense will be much more dominant this year. With the addition of Henry To’o To’o from Tennessee I think they have the best linebacking corps in the whole nation. While I do like Miami this year, this is just a brutal spot for D’Eriq King and the Hurricane offense to open up with. This will be King’s first game back since ripping his knee up in the bowl game last year. While the reports are that he is looking good, I still think it may take a little bit of time to feel comfortable and this is not an opponent he will be able to ease into things against. I think points will be hard to come by for the Miami offense.

As good as Alabama will be on offense, I think it’s fair to wonder if they will start a little slower before eventually finding their groove this season. Not only are they breaking in a freshman QB in Bryce Young but they are also breaking in a new offensive coordinator in Bill O’Brien (replacing Steve Sarkisian who left to take the HC job at Texas). They will also be replacing huge offensive production from RB Najee Harris, WR Devonta Smith, and WR Jaylen Waddle. Alabama doesn’t rebuild, they reload…. But it may take a little bit of time for everyone to get comfortable and settle into their roles. As good as Alabama’s offensives have been in past years this has been the case in opening games as the last two years have gone under this number:

2020: Alabama 38 Missouri 19
2019: Alabama 42 Duke 3

Under bets are never fun to watch, but fortunately we also have that Cincinnati game to watch at the same time. I like this game to go under the total of 61.5 with Miami really struggling to score and Alabama taking a little time to find their offensive rhythm as well. It might be hairy at times but I believe it will eventually come in under the number.

Notre Dame (-6.5) (-115) @ Florida State (Draft Kings)

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To me this one just boils down to the battle in the trenches. I think Notre Dame has a clear edge on the line of scrimmage both offensively and defensively. They are breaking in some new offensive linemen but the reports out of camp seem to be favorable. I think the physicality of the Irish will be the difference in this one. Last year Notre Dame ran the ball 42 times for 353 yards (8.4 yards per carry) against Florida State. The Florida State defense gave up an average of 199 rushing yards/game in 2020. I understand and acknowledge that this is a new season but I think the blueprint is still there for Notre Dame. They will be able to dominate the line of scrimmage to get the running game going. If this forces Florida State to stack the box that will create some easy throws for Jack Coan to keep the chains moving.

Defensively I love the ND defensive line against the FSU offensive line. I think Mike Norvell will play both Jordan Travis and McKenzie Milton at QB but whoever it is – they will struggle if they end up facing lots of 3rd and longs against this ND pass rush. That seems likely if FSU is unable to get the running game going.

With the hot temperatures expected I give an extra edge to the more physical team. I expect the big uglies from ND to wear Florida State down as the game goes on and eventually pull away to a double digit victory.

Hunter Johnson (Northwestern) Under 1.5 TD Passes (-135) vs Michigan State (Bet Online)

The last time we saw Hunter Johnson was in 2019 when he started the year at QB for Northwestern before eventually being benched. It did not go well. He played significant snaps in 5 games and during that time completed less than 50% of his passes and only thew 1 TD pass on the season.

I have no doubt that he has improved since then (if he hadn’t Pat Fitzgerald wouldn’t have named in the starter over South Carolina transfer Ryan Hillinksi). That being said, I just don’t think he will have many opportunities for TD passes in this game. This figures to be a low scoring, smash mouth Big Ten football game. I think points will be at a premium as evident by the low game and team totals that the books are putting out there. The strength of Northwestern is their offensive line. Even with the injury to Cam Porter I expect the Mike Bajakian and the NU offense to run the ball early and often and try to put Hunter in lots of 3rd and manageable situations. I think Hunter got the nod over Hillinski because he is more mobile and thus fits in better with what they want to do this year – incorporating more read option in a run heavy offense. With a team total of 24 the books are only expecting 3 NU TD’s. I think it’s much more likely that they have more rushing TD than passing TD in this game.

As a point of comparison, last season when Northwestern had Peyton Ramsey at QB in a season where they won the Big 10 West division and only lost 1 regular season game, they still only had over 1.5 passing TD in 3 of 8 Big Ten games. I think Ramsey was a better passing QB than where Johnson is now so I think under 1.5 is a pretty solid bet

Week 1 Leans

Leans are plays that I like but am not quite ready to pull the trigger on and make an official play. Leans could be upgraded to official plays at any point during the week (I’ll send a tweet out if this happens and update this thread) or they could be games I keep an eye on and potentially play a live bet if I get a better line.

UTSA (+5.5) @ Illinois (BetOnline)

I would like to be able to get this one at a line greater than +7 live. I think we will see Illinois come down to earth this week. Starting QB Brandon Peters will still be out and I think the back-up, Art Sitkowski, played over his head against Nebraska going 12-for-15 for 124 yards and 2 TD. This was a game where Nebraska repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with dumb penalties, dumb decisions, and bad QB play. The box score of that game was pretty even (Nebraska actually outgained Illinois by 66 yards) but the dumb mistakes did them in.

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost stated in his press conference this week that they had to throw half their game plan out the window when they saw how Illinois lined up on defense. While Frost’s inability to adjust is alarming, there should be no secrets for UTSA now that there is an Illini game on tape from last week.

UTSA is a very good Conference USA team. In 2020 they averaged over 200 rushing yards/game and stayed within 7 points against two very good teams in BYU and Louisiana. They bring back their stud RB Sincere McCormick (249-1467-5.9-11 TD in 2020) and are a team with a lot of buzz heading into this season. I think this game screams let down for Illinois after their big conference underdog win in Week 0 and the Roadrunners are not a team to be taken lightly. I like UTSA to keep it within a TD – hopefully we can get that line live.

Official Plays – Week 1

Southern Mississippi (-120) @ South Alabama (Fan Duel)
Risking 3.60 Units to win 3.00 Units

Miami (OH) @ Cincinnati (-22.5) (-112) (Fan Duel)
Risking 3.36 Units to win 3.00 Units

Incarnate Word (+8.5) (-115) @ Youngstown State (Bet Online)
Risking 3.45 Units to win 3.00 Units

Miami (FL)/Alabama Under 61.5 (-110) (Fan Duel)
Risking 3.30 Units to win 3.00 Units

Notre Dame (-6.5) (-115) @ Florida State (Draft Kings)
Risking 3.45 Units to win 3.00 Units

Hunter Johnson (Northwestern) Under 1.5 Passing TD vs. Michigan State (-135) (Bet Online)
Risking 2.70 Units to win 2.00 Units

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