Kurt Cobain once uttered the lyrics “all apologies.” And those same words are the ones I repeat to all of our loyal “Beating Vegas” faithful. Last week’s mishaps will not happen again. Let’s get it.
USC -3.5 at Washington State
Hmmmm. . . An undefeated, ranked home dog going up against a team that the public loves, that may be a “little” bit over-rated. Interesting. The number ten ranked Washington State Cougars are sixth in the nation in passing yards per game, airing it out at 432.5 yards per contest. They are 4-0 so far this year and have been an offensive juggernaut thanks to their pass attack. Quarterback Luke Falk is throwing at a 77% completion rate and has 14 touchdown passes to one interception. All of this sounds great until you see who they have played this year: Montana State, Oregon State, Nevada and Boise State – who they only beat by three points. They are starting their Pac-12 conference play against a team that the masses either love to hate or hate to see underachieve: The USC Trojans. The Trojans are ranked sixth nationally and have accumulated a 4-0 record as well but against better competition, and that’s not even up for debate (Western Michigan, Stanford, Cal and Texas). While the whole world is in love with quarterback Sam Darnold, the two running backs of Southern Cal, Ronald Jones, and Stephen Carr are who defenses should be wary of. Jones is averaging 5.5 yards a carry, with Carr averaging 6.3. The Cougars run defense has “held” opponents to 3.5 yards a carry – but once again – look at who they’ve played. A “number stat” to pay attention to is this: Washington State is just 1-8 SU and 3-6 ATS in its last nine games as a home underdog (according to OddsShark). The half point is something I’d buy an entire point with, but that’s just me.
The Pick: USC -3.5
Northwestern +14.5 at Wisconsin
Wisconsin has made short work of their early season competition as expected, even destroying BYU last week 40-6. Wisconsin is a team that many expect little to no slip-ups during the season, which should get them to the Big 10 Championship game, but now, they start conference play. The Northwestern Wildcats are 2-1 including a beat-down they received courtesy of Duke and pulling out 14 points in the fourth to beat the lowly Nevada Wolfpack. The Wisconsin Badgers have always been able to run the ball, and that doesn’t change this year with running back Jonathan Taylor averaging 8.3 yards a carry, but a steady leadership from quarterback Alex Hornibrook has been an unexpected surprise. Hornibrook has completed 70% of his passes and is averaging 10 yards a pass. Northwestern’s defense is already allowing over 400 yards a game and on the ground, they are allowing 4.1 yards a carry. When using the Beating Vegas “Clash Average” – Wisconsin has an advantage at getting 4.85 yards per carry against Northwestern, which should give Hornibrook more than enough to work with. When looking at the numbers Northwestern is a passing attack yielding very few results (102 pass attempts, 5 touchdown passes). Wisconsin may start out slow, but by the second half, the Badgers assert their authority.
The Pick: Wisconsin -14.5
Oklahoma State -9.5 at Texas Tech
This is a rivalry that goes back to 1935, and they have consistently played each other every season since 1996. Who’s been fairing the best you ask? Well, in their last eight meetings, the Oklahoma State Cowboys have found themselves getting the better of the Texas Tech Red Raiders by an average score of 49 to 28 (the spread is 9.5 so I’m sure you can guess where I’m leaning. . .). The over/under for this game is set at 81 total points and the average over the last eight games has been 77.75 points. This is going to be a long game with a lot of big plays, but it’s all about who will make the defensive stops when needed. The answer to that question is almost never Texas Tech. Quarterback Nic Shimonek has filled in well at the quarterback spot for the Red Raiders, but he is still no Pat Mahomes. The Cowboys, on the other hand, have Mason Rudolf who is not only trying to get his team into the Big 12 title game, but he is also building himself up quite the draft profile when it’s his time to go pro. The big difference here lies in the pass defense, where the Cowboys hold opposing quarterbacks to a completion percentage of 58.5% while the Red Raiders allow a completion percentage of 63.6%. That may seem like splitting hairs, but that’s the difference of extending a drive, getting the extra yard for a first and keeping your defense rested. The Cowboys goals of winning the Big 12 and making the college football playoff are still alive and well. After losing last week to TCU, expect this Cowboys team to cover this spread but keep you on your toes while they achieve that.
The Pick: Oklahoma State -9.5
Four-Game Teaser of the Week: NC State PK, Wisconsin -2.5; SMU-5 and Oregon -1.5
Good Luck and Wager Wisely!