SabreBetrics: Week 10 Betting Guide – A November to Remember

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As we enter the final month of the college football regular season, there are many questions still to be answered. Will the Cincinnati Bearcats, underdog darlings of the Group of Five, be able to move up into a playoff position despite a mediocre strength of schedule? Can Michigan State and Wake Forest maintain their improbable undefeated seasons? Can anyone in the country score more than 13 points against the historically impressive Georgia defense?

Sometimes college football seasons feel like forgone conclusions at this point in the year. 2021 is decidedly different. With so many intriguing storylines, including Virginia still controlling its own destiny in the ACC Coastal division, we should be treated to an enthralling finish to this season.

Mailbag Question

For the mailbag this week, I wanted to check in on the preseason Season Win Total bets. Remember that for each of these bets, it is based on regular season wins and excludes conference championships or bowl games. Let’s see how these “nest eggs” are developing:

  • LSU over 8.5 wins (-130): You are probably not having a good season when your best win is immediately followed by an announcement that the head coach will not return next year. At 4-4, the Tigers have struggled to run the ball or play consistent defense. With games remaining against Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas A&M, LSU will be fortunate to make a bowl game. Outlook: Lost
  • Minnesota over 7 wins (+105): This bet looked troubled when star running back Mohamed Ibrahim suffered a season-ending leg injury in the opening game against Ohio State. Instead, the Gophers have played inspired football, sitting atop the Big Ten West with a 6-2 record. The easiest remaining path to eight wins involves beating Illinois this week and winning at Indiana on Nov. 20. Outlook: Optimistic
  • San Diego State over 6.5 wins (-105): San Diego State started the season 7-0 thanks to dominant defensive performances. Even with last week’s home loss against Fresno State, the Aztecs have already done their job. Outlook: $$$
  • East Carolina over 4.5 wins (-145): Currently with a 4-4 record, the Pirates have three one-score losses that would have already cashed out this bet. ECU has a chance to hit the over this weekend with a home game against Temple. Games at Memphis and Navy figure to be more difficult but are winnable if the Pirates fall this weekend. Outlook: Optimistic
  • UNLV over 1.5 wins (-110): This was the unluckiest bet on my board. UNLV lost an overtime heartbreaker to Eastern Washington to open the season and led Utah State throughout before losing in the final minutes. At 0-8, UNLV must win against New Mexico this weekend to have a realistic chance at getting to two wins. The Rebels will be significant underdogs in the remaining three games. Trajectory: Pessimistic but possible
  • Alabama under 11.5 wins (-145): Thank you, Texas A&M! The Crimson Tide may not lose again this season, but one loss was enough. You could have made a lot of money betting that UTSA and Wake Forest would be undefeated for longer than Alabama. Outlook: $$$
  • Northwestern under 6.5 wins (-115): At 3-5, the Wildcats need to win out to spoil this bet. With games remaining against Iowa, Wisconsin, Purdue, and Illinois, this task will be incredibly difficult. Outlook: Very optimistic
  • Notre Dame under 9 wins (-140): This bet looked very promising at the beginning of the season as the Fighting Irish struggled to beat Florida State and Toledo. A comeback victory in Blacksburg was a pivotal moment for Notre Dame. Since that game, Brian Kelly’s squad has looked like a serious national contender. Even if Notre Dame trips up against Virginia, it is difficult to imagine another loss to Navy, Georgia Tech, or Stanford. Outlook: Very pessimistic
  • Army under 8 wins (-130): The Black Knights currently sit at 4-3. They are short underdogs this weekend against rival Air Force. A loss in this game would guarantee your money back. Army also has difficult games against Liberty and Navy to close the season. The result this weekend will likely determine whether the bet is a winner or a push. Outlook: Optimistic
  • Penn State under 9 wins (-140): Even if Penn State wins out from this point on, you will get your initial money back. As impressive as the Nittany Lions looked in Columbus on Saturday, it is tough to envision this team winning games against Michigan and Michigan State with an ailing quarterback. Outlook: Very optimistic

Virginia Week 10 Forecast

The Cavaliers’ bye week could not have come at a better time. The defensive performance against BYU was dispiriting as a Virginia fan. This feeling was then magnified by the serious injury to quarterback Brennan Armstrong. Now, the Wahoos must prepare for the most treacherous part of their schedule with uncertainty at the most important position in the game.

In my season preview, I picked “Over 6 wins (-165)” for the Cavaliers. If you made this bet, you would at least get your money back. However, finding a seventh victory will be incredibly difficult. Virginia will be clear underdogs against Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. The Commonwealth Clash may be the only reasonable chance at getting another win if Armstrong cannot return. However, as the last two decades have taught us, that game is never a sure bet. Outlook: Reply hazy. Try again later.

Week 10 Best Selections

  • Record to date: 22-24-2

Though consistency is usually a good quality, it’s less enamoring when you are picking sports bets at precisely a .500 clip for multiple weeks. Unlike my previous resolutions to eat right, exercise daily, and be a more attentive friend, here’s a promise you can write in stone: this is the week I finally get the bets back on track. Probably.

VPISU -3 at Boston College

Did you really think Justin Fuente and the Hokies would go down without a fight? Of Tech’s four losses, three have been very competitive in the fourth quarter. As despondent as your Hokie friends might be, this is a team that could very easily be 7-1. However, Boston College has seen a dramatic drop-off in quality and offensive production. Back-up quarterback Dennis Grosel has not been effective, throwing more interceptions than touchdown passes in five games. Given the trajectory of Boston College’s season and their winless record in the ACC, I am surprised this line is not higher.

Clemson -3.5 at Louisville

Clemson needed an improbable fumble return for a touchdown against Florida State to get its first cover of the season. For weeks, oddsmakers were inflating Clemson’s lines because of its success the last few seasons. Surely, a team with as many talented and highly recruited players would put it all together this week, right? Vegas has finally adjusted to the reality that the Tigers will struggle to win by multiple scores regardless of the opponent. Now with the line at a manageable 3.5 points, it feels like a bargain. Despite offensive ineptitude, Clemson still has an elite defense, ranking fifth nationally in points allowed per game and ninth in yards per play. This front seven is talented enough to keep Malik Cunningham trapped in the pocket.

Notre Dame -20.5 vs. Navy

The Midshipmen have played better in recent weeks since committing to sophomore quarterback Tai Lavatai. However, being competitive in South Bend is an order of magnitude more difficult than edging Toledo. Notre Dame has finally figured out how to effectively block for talented sophomore running back Kyren Williams. In the last three games, Williams has 66 carries for 418 yards and 4 touchdowns. Expect another big day on the ground against an undersized Navy defensive line.

Tennessee +1 at Kentucky

The Wildcats have cooled off considerably after starting the season 6-0. Though Georgia’s defense is talented enough to make anyone look bad, the two-touchdown loss against Mississippi State exposed the limitations of the Kentucky offense. The Cats rank 88th nationally in yards gained per game. Additionally, behind quarterback Will Levis, Kentucky ranks 111th in the percentage of passes that are intercepted. On the other side of the field, Tennessee has an explosive offense that averages 462.3 yards per game and ranks ninth in rushing yards per game. Though Kentucky has a solid defense, they have yet to play an offensive unit as talented as the Volunteers.

Oregon at Washington Under 51

The Huskies have one of the most talented defenses in the PAC-12 and an anemic offense. Washington has only conceded 30 points once this season (to Michigan) but still finds itself with a 4-4 record. The weather is slated to be rainy and windy on Saturday, which should make it difficult for Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown to stretch the Huskies defense.

Specialty Bet of the Week

  • Record to date: 3-5-1

Throughout the UVA-BYU game, I saw several tweets from Virginia fans that all shared a common defeatist sentiment: is it basketball season yet? Why yes, it is! With the college basketball season tipping off in just a few days, I thought I would provide a prediction for Virginia’s opening game against Navy.

Ed DeChellis made the most of his 11th season as the Navy head coach, winning 15 of 17 regular season games before eventually losing to Loyola in the first game of the Patriot League Tournament. This year’s team returns two senior guards in Greg Summers and John Carter, as well as junior forward Daniel Deaver. Navy excelled at generating turnovers last season, ranking 12th in steal percentage per possession. This is an experienced team that will test Virginia’s opening day readiness, especially with the roster turnover that took place during the offseason.

However, I expect Virginia to win this game comfortably. This will be Kihei Clark’s 74th career start in a UVA uniform. He figures to be a calming presence in what looks like a transition year for the Cavaliers. Along with Clark, guards Reece Beekman and Armaan Franklin complete a talented defensive backcourt. In the frontcourt, no one on Navy can match the height of Kadin Shedrick or Francisco Caffaro. This should limit offensive rebounds, an important part of the Mids offense in the 2020-2021 season.
Though a line has yet to be released for this game, I am predicting a 71-50 Virginia victory.

Random Facts to Impress Your Fellow Tailgaters

This section is dedicated to Brennan Armstrong, who has put up video game numbers through eight games this season. Here are some of the statistics Armstrong has put together, courtesy of Danny Neckel (Twitter: @DNeckel19):

  • Leads the nation in passing yards
  • Has thrown a touchdown pass in 15 straight games
  • Leads the nation in touchdown to interception ratio in the red zone (17/0)
  • Has accumulated more total yards (3,828) by himself than any team in the PAC-12
  • Get better soon, Brennan.

    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 and are intended for recreational use only.

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