Week 2 Upset Alerts

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It was a mixed bag of results last week with the three underdog plays, as I was aided by playing one game early (Ole Miss), but hurt by playing another at the same time (Miami, Ohio) based on the lines.

Getting +5.5 with Mississippi managed to pay out even with the Memphis safety late, as that game was a great example of why it never hurts to be ahead of line moves. That game closed at -3, so those that waited to jump on the Rebels will not forget about that late safety Ole Miss gave up to lose by five.

At the same time, the Miami (Ohio) line closed at +25 most places, and the 24-point loss by the Redhawks managed to get their at the closer, just not at the +21.5 I had earlier in the week. That means there won't be any crazy run out of the gates on 20+ point underdogs like last year's 9-0 ATS run, but it also goes to show you that trying to time the market and predict where it could go up until kickoff is something to be considered as well.

A 1-2 ATS record to start the year is not great by any means, but there is still a very long way to go in the 2019 college football campaign, and hopefully Week 2 ends up on a better note. Let's get to this week's plays:

Upset Alert #1: Underdogs in the +1 to +9 range

YTD: 0-1 SU; 1-0 ATS

Texas (+6.5) vs LSU

Tom Herman's ATS record as an underdog (13-2-1 ATS) is something that will be thrown out there a lot as this week goes on, as it's something that many love to hang their hat on. Since coming to Texas he's 8-2-1 ATS in that role, and while that's all well and good to have as support, it's not the main reason behind backing the Longhorns this week.

One, this line move up to almost a TD is far too much for a game of this magnitude, as yes, LSU looked great in beating up on Georgia Southern last week, but it's not like Texas didn't do what was asked of them in a win over Louisiana Tech as well. Furthermore, I doubt we see such a flawless performance from LSU QB Joe Burrow – 23-for-27 last week for 5 TD's – against this Longhorns defense that's at home, especially when LSU does have a bit of a reputation for botching things late in tight games against quality foes. Sure, the Tigers may come away with the outright win here, but it won't be until late, and it won't be by a TD or more.

I say that because laying points on the road in September has not been kind to LSU in recent years and this this game will be no exception. Since the start of the 2012 campaign, LSU has been favored five times on the road in September and their ATS record ins a perfect 0-5 ATS in those games. Heck, the Tigers are just 3-2 SU in those games with two of those wins coming by exactly two points, and the third coming by just 10 when they were laying -23.5 up at Syracuse in 2015. This is a scenario where fading the Tigers has paid off in the past, and when you do have a team like Texas on the other side, the severe climb on this number is just too much.

Herman's record as an underdog is just icing on the cake for this play, as hopefully the Longhorns can be the next team to be added to the list of LSU's chalky woes in September.

Upset Alert #2: Underdogs in the +10 to +19 range

YTD: 0-1 SU; 0-1 ATS

Florida Atlantic (+10) vs UCF

Lane Kiffin always has his detractors in the betting world, and while I'm not the biggest fan of his, I am a big fan of backing him in this spot as a home underdog this week. It's those Kiffin detractors that have come out early this week in betting the UCF Knights up from a -9 opener to -10 currently, and while the Knights are still very talented with Brandon Wimbush playing QB this year, this is a program is still riding their recent resume too much in this marketplace.

It's going to be tough for UCF not to take a step back after two very good years the past two seasons, but I'm of the belief that step backwards will be bigger than most believe. Wimbush was a guy that struggled to protect the ball during his time at Notre Dame, and road favorites have a tough enough time as it is covering the number if they are protecting the ball. All it takes is a turnover or two for FAU to play with the lead for a significant chunk of this game and that is how I see it playing out.

At the same time, we've got to remember that this FAU team was only down by a 21-17 score at halftime in their trip to UCF last year, and that was with Mackenzie Milton and a healthy Knights squad. The wheels came off in the 3rd quarter for FAU in the 56-36 defeat, one that they haven't forgotten about this week thanks to people always using UCF as a reference point in terms of where this FAU program wants to get to. It was three INT's by Chris Robison that really hurt the Owls in that game a year ago, but another year wiser, and in more friendly territory this year, Robison should be much better in this spot.

Finally, while FAU is squarely focused on this game, UCF could be looking past them a bit and ahead to their home game next week against a ranked Stanford squad who could be ranked even higher if they knock off USC this week (that game was a late cut for the +1 to +9 range in this piece). It's been a few seasons now where UCF spoke out about the fact that nobody significant wanted to play them and it's why their undefeated season wasn't valued as high as it should of been, and now next week they get that opportunity. That's a big step forward for them, and even with this being an in-state rivalry game, chances are the allure of that Stanford game in Week 3 has at least some of UCF's attention this week.

So look for this game to be a back-and-forth grind, similar to what the 1st half was between these two a year ago. FAU is more equipped (and UCF is less equipped) to sustain that level of play for the full 60 minutes just 12 months later, as this game ends up being a one-score game either way.

Upset Alert #3: Underdogs in the +20 and above range

YTD: 0-1 ATS

UTEP (+34.5) vs Texas Tech

The general theme of this piece has been more about fading these favorites then specifically backing the underdog, and this play really is no different. UTEP is a program that should be improved this year, but when you were 1-11 SU a year ago, it's tough to go anywhere but up. The fact that they struggled to even beat Houston Baptist last week testifies to it likely being another year of sub-4 wins for the Miners, but we just need them to hang around with a Texas Tech team that probably shouldn't be laying quite this much.

A 35-point win over Middle Tennessee last week has helped push this spread into that exact range, but with a trip out west on deck to face Arizona, before starting their Big 12 schedule with the two Oklahoma schools afterwards, it should be all about survive and move on for the Red Raiders this week.

All it can take is a couple of scores for UTEP offensively to stay within this number, and even though it was a far weaker opponent, the fact that the Miners put up 36 points last week was a big positive. They run the ball enough to help bleed the clock away in a scenario like this where the Red Raiders may run out of time before being able to surpass this spread, and against a Tech defense that's likely to get gashed plenty come Big 12 play, the Miners should find reasonable success in moving the ball to keep that clock moving.