Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:57 PM
Week 1 Upset Alerts
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After these pieces became highly popular last year, we had to bring them back for the 2019 college football season, one that is about 48 hours from really getting going. Not only were these underdog pieces popular, they also ended up turning a profit in the end, going 22-18 ATS, although the bulk of that damage was done thanks to the highly successful run backing 20+ underdogs.
Hopefully we can find a bit more balance in terms of projecting ATS winners in the smaller underdog ranges, as chances are a 11-2 ATS run with the 20+ underdogs won't happen again. The goal is to always improve and keep producing winners, and hopefully that continues as these pieces pop up every week as the college football season goes on.
The first full opening week always brings a plethora of 20+ underdogs as late August-early September is still great for the cupcake business in college football for those teams that prefer to indulge in that practice still. The really good teams are realizing that they need quality non-conference wins on their resume as well, so there is some abandonment of loading up a team's early schedule with FCS and much weaker FBS teams, but non-conference time in college football brings plenty of significant chalk, and bettors better be able to back a few of these hefty underdogs because they do cover spreads.
So let's get right to this year's opening underdogs, as we may be a month or two away from “MACtion” but it is the MAC Conference that gets the bulk of the spotlight out of the gate this year.
Upset Alert #1: Underdogs in the +1 to +9 range
YTD: 0-0 SU; 0-0 ATS
Ole Miss (+5.5) vs Memphis
The Memphis Tigers should be a player again in the AAC when all is said and done, but even against an Ole Miss team that's in a bit of a transitional year with their highly talented WR core moving on and a freshman QB, this is still a step up in class in competition level for Memphis.
That's not to say the Tigers aren't ready for it, but this is a team that couldn't take advantage of beating UCF last year without their starting QB, and defensively there is still a lot to be desired with the Tigers. Mississippi is still an SEC team with eight returning on defense. SEC defenses are known to be stout in non-conference play no matter who the SEC team actually is, and it's that physicality that I'm not sure Memphis will be ready for out of the gates.
The market has already pushed this line down to +5,5 after opening at +6 and currently showing a healthy majority backing the Memphis Tigers as well. That's the first sign that this number might be too high and/or bettors are discrediting a rebuilding Mississippi team too much. As a program, Memphis is on a 1-9-1 ATS run against SEC foes which also suggests that facing any SEC opponent is a step up in class Memphis has struggled with for years now.
If I took away the team names and just told you that the SEC team was catching 5+ points on the road against an AAC team, chances are many would be looking to take the points with the SEC. Obviously it's not as simple as that as the individual teams do matter, but Ole Miss deserves more respect coming out of the gate, and hopefully the end result is as simple as backing the team from the much better conference.
Upset Alert #2: Underdogs in the +10 to +19 range
YTD: 0-0 SU; 0-0 ATS
Toledo +12 vs Kentucky
I touched on a possible reason for fading Kentucky this week given the struggles the school has had in season openers the past few years earlier in the week here, and that's always a nice piece to add to the puzzle of this play as well.
But similar to people potentially sleeping on Ole Miss and how good (or more specifically, won't be as bad) they are, Toledo is a team that should make plenty of noise in the MAC, and Kentucky's got their own transitional period to deal with on the team this year.
Kentucky QB Terry Wilson will be called upon to be a much better passer from the outset this season, as there will be no more heavy reliance on Benny Snell out of the backfield. The Wildcats defense will still be the strength of this team, but that could easily take a step back too, as it's still just Week 1 remember and it's going to take some time for this Kentucky team to develop and reach it's full potential.
Toledo is a team that's loaded with veteran, returning experience basically across the board on offense, as there are 7 returning starters on offense for them – including their QB Mitchell Guadagni returning from injury – and all of them are seniors. That type of experience will serve Toledo well in going into Kentucky on Saturday, and with the market move already on Toledo in a similar fashion to what we've seen on Ole Miss – majority backing Kentucky, spread moved Toledo's way from +13.5 to +12 – this is another underdog move worth following.
Upset Alert #3: Underdogs in the +20 and above range
YTD: 0-0 ATS
Miami (Ohio) +21.5 vs Iowa
The theme basically remains the same here, as I'm not ready to believe in an Iowa team to win by more than 3 TD's out of the gate, as this is a program that doesn't seemingly blowout anyone.
Iowa enters the year ranked in the Top 25, and as part of the highly intriguing Big 10 conference, it will be interesting to see where Iowa's season ultimately shakes out. But I'd venture a guess that they won't end up ranked when all is said and done, even if they do avoid some potential powerhouses in Michigan State and Ohio State on the season.
But this game against Miami (Ohio) is one right before Big 10 play essentially begins for the Hawkeyes with Rutgers coming to town next week. There really is no looking past Miami Ohio in terms of looking ahead to Rutgers, but every conference game is going to be critical in the Big 10 for programs that believe they've got a shot at winning the conference, so there is always the notion that Iowa could build a big lead early here and then put things on cruise control to stay healthy going into next week. Covering through that backdoor is a big part of these 20+ underdogs hitting, and I expect that door to be open through the entirety of this one.