SabreBetrics: Week 11 Betting Guide – Gaining Momentum

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At this point in the season, we have enough data points to make informed decisions about what most college football teams are likely to do.

Georgia is going to put opposing offenses in a headlock and allow two or fewer touchdowns. Cincinnati is going to play a competitive game against an inferior opponent for three quarters before eventually pulling away. Oklahoma is going to score points in bunches and concede almost as many.

We have known commodities at this point. From a betting perspective, now is the time to use these track records to our advantage and finish the season strong.

Mailbag Question

I am often asked for recommendations on who to follow for college football betting advice. I thought I would provide a few resources that can be helpful in gathering information and making more informed selections. Before I do, I want to provide some ground rules:

  1. Do not treat any individual source as gospel. As I have mentioned a few times this season, professional bettors aim for a win-rate of around 55% over the course of an entire season. They have advanced algorithms to help them achieve this success that are usually not available to the public. So, betting with one individual’s picks on any specific week is likely to result in lost money.
  2. Make sure you understand connections and affiliations. Betting podcasts often invite managers or consultants from Vegas sportsbooks onto their shows. While these people may have useful information on what is transpiring on the ground in casinos, they are also incentivized to motivate public opinion to act in certain ways to maximize profit. I think about this type of advice the same way I would treat a political poll that is released from an individual campaign. The advice might be useful, but it should also be viewed with a skeptical eye.
  3. Look for an established track record. Follow people who are willing to “show their receipts” of their failures and how they are looking to incorporate that information going forward. Twitter is a morass of amateur betting advice that only emphasizes winning information. If you are only hearing about how much winning is taking place each week, you are not being given the truth.

With this advice in place, I recommend checking out some of the following resources to expand your sports betting acumen:

  • People: Phil Steele, Bill Connelly, Chip Patterson, Tom Fornelli
  • Analytical information: Pro Football Focus, Team Rankings
  • Picks Aggregator: Cole’s Gameday Blog
  • Podcasts: The Solid Verbal, Bet the Process, PFF Betting Podcast, Cover 3 Podcast

Virginia Week 11 Forecast

  • Notre Dame -5.5 at Virginia
  • Under 64

The biggest question mark for this game is the uncertain status of Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong. After leaving the BYU game with an apparent rib injury, Armstrong is likely to be a gametime decision. If he cannot play, I do not think Virginia will cover.

Since that is not a very interesting scenario, let’s assume that Armstrong will be cleared to play, but will not be at 100%. So much of the Cavaliers’ offensive success this season is the result of Armstrong’s ability to make secondary defensive reads and wait for his talented group of receivers to find gaps in the coverage. He’s also a threat to tuck the ball and run which forces defenses to spy him in the backfield. A rib injury likely hampers his ability to throw the ball down the field and lessens the likelihood of using designed quarterback runs. This could mean that Virginia will be forced to rely more heavily on a traditional running game. This has not been a strength this season at all; the Cavaliers rank 126th nationally in rushing plays called per game. All of this suggests that UVA’s offense is likely to be below its normal season average, especially when playing against a top 10 team.

On the other side of the ball, Virginia’s defense provides no reason for confidence. After watching BYU running back Tyler Allegeier rush for 266 yards and 5 touchdowns, I am concerned about what Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams is likely to do. Williams has improved with each game this season, scoring 7 touchdowns in his last 5 games. I expect the Irish to establish the running game early, then use the play-action to challenge the beleaguered Virginia secondary.

As much as I hate to admit it, I do not have much reason for enthusiasm when looking at these teams on paper. Though Notre Dame is certainly beatable, I do not think the Cavaliers stack up particularly well at this moment in time. Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Virginia 20

Week 11 Best Selections

  • Record to date: 26-25-2

After a 4-1 week, we are back above .500 for the first time since early in the season. Time to ride the hot hand and keep the momentum going.

NC State +2 at Wake Forest

After outplaying North Carolina for most of the game, Wake Forest crumbled down the stretch en route to its first loss of the season. Even though the Demon Deacons were a longshot for the College Football Playoff, they are in a prime position for an emotional hangover. The Tar Heels exposed Wake’s poor run defense, gaining 330 yards on the ground, and averaging 7 yards per play. The Wolfpack have two capable backs in Zonovan Knight and Ricky Pearson Jr. who should be able to find room to maneuver. State has the better defense, allowing only 17.1 points per game and a 27% conversion rate on third downs. In a game that could decide the fate of the ACC Atlantic division, I am taking the team with the most consistent defense.

Arizona State -5.5 at Washington

The Huskies were able to hang around with Oregon last week because of their stout defense. The offense remains a disaster. Washington ranks 104th nationally in yards gained per game. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils have an explosive offense, averaging 6.7 yards per play (6th nationally). These facts might be enough for you to bet on Arizona State. However, Washington is also navigating the suspension of head coach Jimmy Lake after pushing and hitting a player on the sideline. Still not convinced? The Huskies are also dealing with a quarterback controversy, as reports suggest that freshman Sam Huard is sharing first-team reps with established starter Dylan Morris. With so much calamity swirling in Seattle, taking Arizona State is a no-brainer.

New Mexico State +52 at Alabama

Betting against Alabama after a lackluster performance is always a dicey proposition. Nick Saban is a masterful motivator, and you know that practice this week was miserable for the Crimson Tide. Still, I’ll take the Aggies and the points here in a system play. In the last 22 years, there have been 17 games between two FBS teams with a point spread of more than 50 points. Favorites are 3-14 against the large number. Similarly, Saban is 0-2 ATS when favored by 50 or more points. Alabama will jump out to a big lead, then play its reserve players to minimize the chance of injury.

San Diego State -2.5 vs. Nevada

Just for the record, picking this game is not just an excuse to watch Matt Araiza’s amazing punting ability (though it certainly is a perk). The Wolfpack were fortunate to beat San Jose State last week. Nevada was outgained and needed a last second field goal to clip the Spartans at home. That kind of effort will not be enough to beat Brady Hoke’s squad on the road. San Diego State has an elite defense, allowing only 16 points and 309 yards per game. The Aztecs also lean heavily on the rushing attack, running the ball 64% of the time. This creates a mismatch for Nevada with a run defense that ranks 81st in yards allowed per rushing attempt.

Oklahoma at Baylor Over 62

Since making the switch to Caleb Williams at quarterback, Oklahoma has regained its footing as an offensive juggernaut. The Sooners have 139 points in the last 3 games, with Williams passing for 875 yards and 12 touchdowns. Oklahoma’s defense has not been nearly as impressive during that stretch, averaging 25 points per game to unranked TCU, Kansas, and Texas Tech. If Baylor can meet its average of 32.6 points per game, that should be more than enough to meet the points total.

Specialty Bet of the Week

  • Record to date: 3-6-1

Virginia’s opening basketball game certainly did not go as predicted. I have a suspicion that “giving Navy its first victory over a Top 25 team in 35 years” will not be mentioned in the Bennett family Christmas card. After exploring the various novelty bets the gambling world has to offer, this week I am returning to my comfort spot: teasers. The goal is to pick two favorites and provide extra cushion (6.5 points to be exact) for their victories against the spread.

Coastal Carolina (-10.5 –> -4) vs. Georgia State

The Chanticleers have the more talented team at every position but will be without starting quarterback Grayson McCall. Back-up Bryce Carpenter has plenty of experience and played competently against Georgia Southern last week. The extra points provide a safety net in case the Panthers keep it close into the fourth quarter.

Oklahoma State (-13 –> -6.5) vs. TCU

Oklahoma State has covered seven consecutive games and has one of the best defenses in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs managed to pull off an upset victory at home against Baylor in the wake of Gary Patterson’s dismissal. After an emotional two weeks, you have to wonder how much TCU will have left in the tank against the Cowboys.

Random Facts to Impress Your Fellow Tailgaters

Purdue has been this year’s primary agent of chaos, ending the perfect seasons of two top 5 teams: Iowa in Week 7 and Michigan State last week. The Boilermakers thrive in the underdog role. Jeff Brohm has been an underdog 25 times during his tenure at Purdue; his record against the spread is 18-7 with 10 outright wins. Can the Boilermakers slay another giant this week in Columbus? It seems doubtful, but I know enough to not pick against this plucky squad from West Lafayette.

The SabreBetrics column is written by a Virginia graduate and long-time fan of The Sabre. The opinions expressed in this article are not directly associated with TheSabre.com and are intended for recreational use only.

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2 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. College Football NEWS guy is a great resource. Posts his picks every Friday and has a great winning percentage. Check him out!!

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