Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:57 PM
Week 5 Upset Alerts
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It officially became Fall this week, but I've already got my mind on finding winter tires with the best traction around, as these weekly underdog plays just can't get going. There are no excuses for last week's ugliness, as all three underdogs on the list got taken behind the woodshed for a thorough beating, and dragged me with them to share in the pain.
Michigan and Tennessee are two programs that have the athletic departments already starting searches for a new head coach, while going against Ohio State proved once again to be a bad decision. At this point, the confidence going into last week's selections is quite fragile, but down days/weeks/seasons happen in this business if you do it for long enough and you've just got to plow through.
That means it's on to this week's underdog selections, as hopefully things turn around soon.
Upset Alert #1: Underdogs in the +1 to + 9 range
YTD: 1-3 SU; 2-2 ATS
Boston College (+6.5) vs Wake Forest
Wake Forest finds themselves ranked in the coaches poll this week (24th) as a 4-0 SU start has many believing this team is for real this year. They just missed out on a Top 25 ranking in the AP poll based on votes, but things are about to get very real for the Demon Deacons. Their 4-0 SU record has been built upon the back of beating up on Rice and Elon laying -20 or more, scratching out a 38-35 win at home vs Utah State in the season opener, and narrowly holding on to a 24-18 win against a retooling North Carolina squad. Not all undefeated records are built the same, and while fraudulent is too strong of a word to use, Wake's undefeated mark isn't likely to last long.
The Deacons have their first tough road game this week @ a very good Boston College team who has been lightly flirting with a Top 25 ranking themselves this season. The blowout home loss to Kansas two weeks ago killed that potential relationship in a hurry, but this Boston College team isn't getting quite the respect they deserve at home for this game. They can still run the ball quite effectively, and sandwiched around that no-show vs Kansas has been two solid games defensively where they allowed just 16 points or less in both.
Given that this is the start of the 'prove it' stretch for Wake Forest, with Louisville, Florida State, NC State, @ Virginia Tech, and @ Clemson until the middle of November, I believe getting ahead of the curve here and going against them when their stock is at it's highest isn't a bad option. There is likely going to be a few losses coming in that stretch for the Demon Deacons, and a 4-0 SU start to the year could easily end up sniffing a 7-6 SU year when all is said and done.
And while the visiting team has gone 5-0 SU (4-1 ATS) in this rivalry the past five years, oddities like that are nothing more then that, as BC, if they are at/near their best, are very live for the outright victory here. Wake is still a team that's got to prove it to me, and with BC on a 12-3-1 ATS run in ACC play, it's time to sell on Wake's stock now while it's at its peak in 2019.
Upset Alert #2: Underdogs in the +10 to +19 range
YTD: 0-4 SU; 0-4 ATS
Nebraska (+17.5) vs Ohio State
Do you believe in the the saying that “the third time's the charm,” or the one that states “everything happens in threes.” I'm going with the former, as despite bad results fading Ohio State the past two weeks, this is a lot of chalk to lay on the road against by far the best team I've backed up against them.
There was no potential letdown last week in the 75-5 beating the Buckeyes handed Miami (Ohio), as a 2nd quarter explosion killed that play in a hurry. Allowing just 15 points in their last 12 quarters of play – two of which came from the offense on a safety – does speak to how good the Buckeyes defense is this year, but it's not hard to make the case that Nebraska is by far the best team the Buckeyes have seen so far this year, and it's never fun to be a visitor at Memorial Stadium.
These are also the type of games Nebraska went out and brought Scott Frost in for, as a win over a team like Ohio State is one that quickly puts this Cornhuskers team on the national stage the rest of the way. QB Adrian Martinez entered the year on the shortlist of Heisman contenders, so it's not like he can't keep this game in touch for Nebraska the entire way, they've just got to make sure things are tight on defense and they can be the first team this year to really contain this Buckeyes offense.
And while there is no looking past a team like Nebraska, Ohio State does have a huge divisional game with Michigan State on deck. Given how easily things have come for them this year, there still has to be an aura of arrogance among those young, gifted football players in Buckeyes uniforms that believes they can go anywhere and smoke anyone. Obviously, I've been wrong on them already this year, but with Big 10 play ramping up for Ohio State now, it's about to get much tougher for them the rest of the way. And similar to believing Wake Forest's stock is at/near it's peak with their spread, Ohio State appears to be in a similar boat.
So, hopefully going against Ohio State for the third week in a row turns out to be the charm, but based on recent results, Buckeyes fans can't mind an Ohio State opponent showing up in this piece for the third straight week. Just don't let all that confidence manifest itself into arrogance, because that's when these big numbers become too hard to cover. Scott Frost's Cornhuskers put a big scare in Ohio State at the Horseshoe a year ago, and I believe they do the same this season.
Upset Alert #3: Underdogs in the +20 and above range
YTD: 0-4 ATS
Arkansas (+23) vs Texas A&M
This is about as ideal a situation as you can get in my view for backing a big dog. It's a neutral site game between the Razorbacks and Aggies, Arkansas is coming off an embarrassing outright home loss as -20 favorites to San Jose State, and Texas A&M effectively had their season finished with last week's home loss to Auburn. That's not to say the Aggies were going to be in the National Championship picture, but with Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, and Georgia (among others) all on their schedule, the opportunities were there and so far they've come up short in the first two. Oh, and by the way, that game against Alabama is up next.
Now there is a bye week for the Aggies to regroup after this contest, but I can't imagine they are too enthused about this week's game after falling short to Auburn last week. QB Kellen Mond continues to get very little (if any) help from a running game, and while one-dimension offenses can work at the collegiate level, against quality foes they do tend to get stymied. Arkansas may not be on the level in terms of talent that the top teams in the country Texas A&M has already faced, but they aren't horrible, and given the potential for this to be a sleepy, deflated type contest for the Aggies knowing what their season likely entails, and how motivated they will be to spend two weeks preparing for trying to knock off Alabama, do you really think the Aggies will be at their best here?
I sure don't, and with the value of Arkansas' stock at an all-time low this year after losing outright as 20-point favorites last week, it's the Razorbacks who are a program that should be bought up in this spot. Beating Texas A&M would still be a huge win for this Razorbacks program and they probably couldn't catch the Aggies in a better spot; sandwiched between Auburn and Alabama, and with two losses already on their resume to eliminate them from their loftiest of big picture goals in 2019.
The past two years this game has been decided by seven points or less, and three of the last five years have needed OT to decide a winner. Arkansas may not end up winning this game outright, but I'd be surprised to see them lose by more then 14 points in this spot.