Virginia vs Syracuse
For the second straight week, an all-ACC affair takes the spotlight on Friday night. This week, the undefeated Syracuse Orange plays host to the Virginia Cavaliers. This is only the second meeting between the teams since Syracuse joined the ACC. However, there is plenty of familiarity between the teams as Syracuse offensive coordinator Robert Anae and quarterbacks coach Jason Beck were both on the Virginia staff last year. They will try to help their current team win and cover a nine-point spread against their former employer.
The Orange has been a pleasant surprise this year, already knocking off Louisville and Purdue on the way to being 3-0. Despite a sluggish effort last week, Sean Tucker is one of the best running backs in the country after rushing for nearly 1,500 yards last season. Meanwhile, quarterback Garrett Shrader has improved throwing the ball immensely from last season, connecting on 66% of his passes with eight touchdowns and no interceptions through three games. He’s also the team’s second-leading rusher and has three rushing touchdowns. Defensively, the Orange gave up some chunk yards last week through the air against Purdue. But they’ve been otherwise solid this season, especially against the run.
However, the Orange could be in for a close game this week against Virginia, which survived a close game with Old Dominion last week. The Cavaliers are conceding fewer than 19 points per game on their way to being 2-1. Keep in mind that Syracuse was held to just 10 points in three quarters last week before finding some big plays in the fourth quarter, so the Virginia defense might be able to keep the Orange under wraps. The catch is that the Virginia offense looks nothing like the high-powered, pass-happy offense we saw last season. Brennan Armstrong is back at quarterback but has just two touchdown passes and a 53% completion percentage through three games. The Cavs are trying to create more balance with their running game, although that has not taken off just yet. That leaves the Virginia defense largely responsible for trying to keep the Cavs competitive in this game.
UMass vs Temple
For the third time in less than a decade, a pair of northeast programs will cross paths as the UMass Minutemen visit the Temple Owls this weekend. Temple has one each of the first two meetings with the Owls favored by 9.5 points at home in Saturday’s game.
The Owls hope that they can get back to .500 this week after a 16-14 loss to Rutgers last week. Temple wasn’t exactly competitive in a 30-0 loss to Duke in the team’s season opener. But after a close call against a Big Ten team, the Owls will be optimistic about their chances. Of course, they are still relying on a true freshman at quarterback in E.J. Warner, the son of Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. The younger Warner had a decent showing in the loss to Rutgers last week, completing 19 of his 32 passes for 215 yards. But Temple’s running game was non-existent in that game and has been all season with the Owls averaging just 2.6 yards per carry. They’re going to need to give Warner a little more help than that moving forward, although the Temple defense has been in good form, giving up 16 points or less in back-to-back games.
Meanwhile, UMass is hoping that the return of Don Brown, who also coached the Minutemen from 2004 to 2008, to get the program back on track after 1-11 seasons in 2019 and 2021. A 20-3 win over Stony Brook last week will ensure the Minutemen don’t go winless in 2022. However, UMass also lost to Tulane and Toledo by a combined score of 97-20 to open the season. Both Gino Campiotti and Brady Olson have played quarterback, although both have completed 50% or less of their passes. The running game has been a little better with Campiotti’s mobility, but not enough to move the ball consistently. TMinutemen may not have the firepower to keep pace with Temple if the Owls can take advantage of a porous UMass defense.
Arizona vs California
Both teams will feel that they need to start the Pac-12 season with a win this week when the Arizona Wildcats visit the Cal Golden Bears. Both teams have started the season 1-2, although neither is expected to make much noise in their respective division. For Cal, the game carries even more importance, as the Golden Bears have lost six straight games against Arizona, including a 10-3 defeat last year. Cal hasn’t beaten Arizona since 2009, although the Bears are three-point home favorites this week.
The Golden Bears are still licking some of their wounds from last week’s loss to Notre Dame. Granted, Cal nearly pulled off a last-second Hail Mary to send the game to overtime. But the Bears will feel disappointed at the loss and will need to refocus quickly. While Cal beat UC-Davis and UNLV to open the season 2-0, neither game was all that convincingly. Defensively, the Bears have a chance to once again be one of the best teams in the Pac-12, as it was that side of the ball that kept them in the game against Notre Dame. But the Cal offense still leaves much to be desired with Purdue transfer Jack Plummer taking the reins at quarterback. Plummer averaged just five yards per pass last week against Notre Dame and isn’t getting much help from a rushing attack that’s gaining just 3.6 yards per carry, resulting in just 37 total points in Cal’s two games against FBS opponents.
On the other hand, Arizona is in the midst of a massive rebuilding project. The Wildcats made a great first impression in 2022 by beating a strong San Diego State team. But it’s gone downhill since then with a 39-17 home loss to Mississippi State and a close 31-28 win against North Dakota State. Washington State transfer Jayden de Laura has helped immensely, but he can only do so much. He also had a rough game against Mississippi State, completing just 23 of his 45 passes and throwing three interceptions. The Cal defense could create a similar challenge for de Laura and the Arizona offense. Since the Wildcats may not be able to count on their rebuilding defense after the last couple of weeks, the Arizona offense may not be able to score enough points to continue their winning streak against Cal or even beat the spread.
Western Michigan vs San Jose State
There’s an interesting non-conference matchup on the West Coast this week to help close out the Saturday schedule with the San Jose State Spartans hosting the Western Michigan Broncos. The Spartans traveled to Kalamazoo last year with the Broncos winning 23-3. But San Jose State is hoping to return the favor this season as a 6.5-point home favorite.
San Jose State is just one season removed from winning the Mountain West title in 2020. But after a 5-7 record last year, the Spartans are rebuilding once again. San Jose State did stay close in a 24-16 loss to auburn a couple of weeks ago, but the Spartans were also a little fortunate to survive a 21-17 win over Portland State in their season opener. The good news is that the San Jose State defense brings back most of its starters from last year and has looked good early in the season, even keeping Auburn contained a couple of weeks ago. However, the San Jose State offense is still a work in progress. Even against an FCS opponent in their season opener, the Spartans were out-gained in total yards by a substantial margin and have done nothing on the ground, making it hard to believe that they are favored in this game.
Meanwhile, the jury is still out on Western Michigan. The Broncos have lost two games already, although those losses have come against Michigan State and Pitt, so Tim Lester’s team has faced tough competition thus far. In between those losses, the Broncos were able to get a win over Ball State, opening MAC play with a victory. But even in that game, the Western Michigan defense allowed 30 points, so the Broncos have plenty of questions to answer on that side of the ball. Offensively, WMU has some playmakers, although they are relying on freshman quarterback Jack Salopek. He had a nightmare of a game last week, completing just six of his 18 passes while throwing three interceptions. Salopek also had ups and downs during the win over Ball State, so the San Jose State defense could be a challenge for him. However, the Western Michigan defense, which is a veteran group, should face its easiest game of the season to date. That should help take some of the pressure off Salopek, helping the Broncos stay within a touchdown of San Jose State and potentially get a road win
The most popular way to bet on college football is against the spread, which is the number of points the favorite has to win by, and the number of points the underdog can lose by. Before we explain how college football point spreads work it is important to understand why there are point spreads in the first place.
A point spread is a way to make a game more fair. Everyone has a good idea on who will win a given football game, but the sportsbook number one goal is to have even bets on both sides of the game. If Alabama is playing against Montana State then everyone will immediately bet Alabama to win and the sportsbooks don't stand to gain much. To even the playing field they have added in the point spread. The easiest way to understand college football point spreads is to think about them as imaginary points you either add or subtract to the final score depending on which side of the game you bet.
When you look at a sportsbook you will see a number next to a team's name, one of these numbers will be positive and the other will be the same number but negative. The team that is more likely to win the game has the negative number and is called the favorite. For example if we go back to our Alabama vs Montana State example, Alabama may have a (-42) next to their team name, this means they are the favorite and they have to win the game by more than 42 points for you to win your bet. Montana State would have a (+42) next to their team name which means they are the underdog, and they can lose by 41 points and you would win your bet
The easiest way to figure out if you have won your bet against the point spread is to take the final score of the game and subtract the spread from your team's score if you bet the favorite, or add the spread to your team's final score if you bet the underdog. If your team wins the game with the spread added or subtracted that means your bet won!
If you are still confused read an in depth example of betting college football with the point spread below:
College Football Point Spreads Example: Clemson -7 (Clemson Must Win By More Than 7 Points) vs. Notre Dame +7 (ND Can’t Lose By More Than 7 Points)
When betting on the point spread, the favorite will always be indicated with a minus (-) sign in front of their number. In this scenario from a highly-anticipated game from last season, the Clemson Tigers were -7 on the spread line. This simply means that the Tigers must win by at least 8 points for you to win your bet if you bet on them. If the number lands on 7 exactly, your bet will push, and you will simply be refunded your bet back. The underdog will always be identified with a plus (+) sign in front of their number. If you wanted to bet on Notre Dame here at +7, that means that Notre Dame cannot lose the game by more than 7 points. Luckily for people who bet the underdog, if the games ends up being decided by exactly that number, they still win the bet.
In this game, Notre Dame was the underdog by 7 points against the favored Clemson Tigers. In one of the best matchups of the year last season, Clemson came into Notre Dame as the No. 1 team in the country, but missing their star QB Trevor Lawrence. Notre Dame was the No. 4 team in college football, so this was a heavily bet on and anticipated match. Despite not having Lawrence, Clemson was still favored by quite a bit, which is indicated in their -7 spread line odds. Bettors who laid the points were disappointed and went home empty-handed, as the Fighting Irish prevailed in an OT classic to take down the No. 1 team. Clemson had their chance at the end of the game to come through for their backers and potentially tie the game, but failed on a fourth and long attempt. It was clear how much Clemson missed Lawrence, as the Irish focused on stopping star RB Travis Etienne instead, holding him to just 28 yards total in the game on 20 carries. They couldn’t get anything going on the ground, which forced their freshman QB D.J. Uiagalelei to pass all game.
Those who bet the Irish to win were rewarded with a nice payday, as they took home winnings on whatever they bet. Since they won outright, they clearly covered the +7 points. If a team that is plus the points wins, you automatically win that bet because they obviously didn’t lose by more than the number. Meanwhile, Clemson backers were sent home packing nothing after their bet failed to cover the -7 point spread. Since Clemson didn’t win by 8 points, or even push at 7, they lost the bet.
Lines are very easy to figure out. When someone says “What’s the line?”, they are basically just asking you what the spread is. In the examples from above, you’d just say that the line is seven with Clemson favored, and the odds are -110 both ways.
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