Last week was the classic better's trap. We were tooting our horn after a 3-0 week, only to go 1-2. However, not all is lost as we're 6-6 on the season. If you're staying with it, you're even.
This is going to be a tough week in Vegas. Having searched the lines for the past few days, there aren't many locks. No matter how you slice it this week is about hunches and data. Play it safe and you should come out ahead.
The best game of the week was the East Carolina vs Temple line that was played last night. However, seeing as that is off the books we had to move onto the second best line for pick of the week.
3 Utah at USC -3.5
3 Utah: 6-0 (4-2 ATS)
USC: 3-3 (3-3 ATS)
Key Stat: Utah ranks 4th in the nation with only 27 penalties for 227 yards.
It's the cardinal rule of betting: if it's too good to be true, it probably is. Utah enters this matchup unblemished and ranked 3rd in the nation. Even with Oregon slipping, the Utes have looked impressive all season. USC, on the other hand, has been a train wreck by their standards. Once a national title contender they are now left without their coach and without much of a chance at the division title. This game seems too good to be true. But is it?
USC has as much talent as anyone in the nation. We have written about it week after week after week in Between the Lines. The bottom line is this though: they aren't as good as we think. We are enamored with the USC brand and it causes us to look at the bright spots without paying attention to the weaknesses. Cody Kessler is inconsistent. Their defense struggles to get off the field. Their offensive line hasn't played up to par and while they have a ton of good running backs, there doesn't seem to be a great one.
So again, if the public is going to jump on one side of the line, the Vegas Sharps will beat the other side. But it doesn't matter here. Utah is the obvious play and the right one. Take ‘em.
Verdict: Utah +3.5
3 Utah at USC +/- 60
3 Utah: 3-3
Key Stat: After starting with 2 unders, USC has been over 3 of their past 4 games
If there is one area where we have struggled in Between the Lines, it is the USC over/under. With a 1-3 record here, this has been the weak link. But it's a new week and a fresh start. Utah's defense has been fantastic, but their offense has been great as well. They have scored over 30 points in each of the past 4 games and appear to be picking up steam. Their average of 36.5 points ranks them 27th in the nation, while USC's offense ranks 18th with an average point total of 38.3.
This is a tough line to get a read on, but in modern college football when you need some help, always lean on the side of the over. USC and Utah should put up enough points in some capacity to get over the 60 point threshold.
Verdict: Over 60
PICK OF THE WEEK: 15 Texas A&M at 25 Ole Miss -5.0
15 Texas A&M: 5-1 (4-2 ATS)
25 Ole Miss: 5-2 (4-3 ATS)
Key Stat: Ole Miss has a negative turnover margin and ranks 89th in the nation with average -0.29/game
Texas A&M is always a scary play come SEC season given their defense has faltered time and time again over the past few seasons. But in this case Ole Miss looks like a team on the fall. Propped up by the national media's (debated) SEC bias, Ole Miss has looked terrible since jumping 14 spots in the AP after their win over then Top 5 ranked Alabama. Ole Miss was throttled by Florida from start to finish and had a 13 point loss last week to the Memphis Tigers.
We don't know if Texas A&M's defense will be solid. They looked bad against Alabama. But Ole Miss has been terrible and A&M hasn't had their mid-year fall yet. Could this be the start of that descent? Maybe. But we're not betting on it.
Verdict: Texas A&M +5.0