Saturday brings us an exciting college football schedule with several games impacting the CFB Playoff, led by the LSU-Alabama battle. But when it comes down to actually trying to predict the outcomes for betting purposes, I’ve got a shiny new silver dollar for you to flip.
For the VSiN Top Play, we’re seeking a game with a better chance to cash, even if it’s one few will care to watch. So I give you Illinois (5-4) at Michigan State (4-4), two Big Ten teams no one will confuse with Ohio State (No. 1 in the CFP rankings), Penn State (No. 4) or Minnesota (No. 17).
The Spartans happen to be 141/2-point home favorites and I can’t for the life me of figure out why they’re laying this many points, especially as they’re 2-6 against the spread this season. Heck, they’re averaging only 21.8 points a game with lackluster QB Brian Lewerke, and haven’t scored more than 10 points in any of their past three games. Granted, those were against Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State, but if you love looking at results versus common opponents as much as I do, remember that Illinois beat Wisconsin 24-23 three weeks ago before the Badgers blanked this same MSU team, 38-0.
These “A beat B and B beat C, so A will beat C” comparisons don’t always pan out, but it certainly tells me the Spartans aren’t more than two touchdowns better.
Illinois’ Lovie Smith has resembled a department-store Santa more than a football coach in recent seasons, but he made the point after the Wisconsin upset that his team was finally healthy. The Illini then pulled off another upset as 10-point ‘dogs at Purdue the following week before routing Rutgers, 38-10.
Maybe the Illini will come back to earth and maybe Michigan State will bounce back against a lower-level Big Ten team like it did in wins over Northwestern and Indiana, but I love the two-TD head start.
The play: Illinois +141/2.
Now, two bonus plays:
Western Kentucky (+11/2) at Arkansas: A lot of people are probably seeing this as an SEC team having an easy out-of-conference game, but I see it as the wrong team being favored. Yes, Arkansas has faced a much tougher schedule, but the Razorbacks have also been run over too many times to expect them to just roll in the favorite’s role.
Iowa (+9) at Wisconsin: Wisconsin was exposed in the upset by Illinois. I took the +10 but still feel it’s a strong play at 81/2 or higher as this should be a close, low-scoring game (O/U is only 38) in which the points should come into play, unless Iowa pulls the outright upset (worth a flier at +280 or better).