Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:56 PM
Week 6 Upset Alerts
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Although Ohio State continues to roast me on a skewer this season, last week's underdog selections still managed to come out ahead. Yes, going against the Buckeyes for the third straight week brought a third straight loss, but Boston College and Arkansas managed to stay well within their respective numbers and even put scares in their opponents in terms of the outright decision.
With the way this year has started, a winning week is a winning week, and while there won't be any brash claims about going against Ohio State this week, with Michigan State visiting the Horseshoe, you already know that this will end up being the week that the Buckeyes struggle to cover a number. I've already spent the past two days mentally preparing for it to happen. Even with my ass getting roasted by Ohio State this year, I still believe that going against them this week is a reasonable play to make as well.
But putting an Ohio State fade option in this piece for the 4th straight week directly spits on logic and reason after how the past three weeks have gone. So let's get right to this week's plays and look to build off the first winning week of the year.
Upset Alert #1: Underdogs in the +1 to + 9 range
YTD: 1-4 SU; 3-2 ATS
Boston College (+6.5) vs Louisville
Only about half of the lined games up on the betting board already have a single-digit point spread posted, and while that may not seem like a lot, when you like a lot of the favorites in the majority of those games, the choice gets narrow for a selection like this. It's why I'm going back to the well with Boston College this week, who do have to deal with a few more negatives this time around being on the road and against a Louisville team off a bye week.
Generally speaking, I'm not a huge fan of going back with the same team in the same underdog role a week after they brought home the dough, and having Louisville be the ones off a bye and at home is mildly concerning. However, BC's style of play in terms of using their ground game to dictate the tempo of the game and ultimately give their team a shot, is much better suited for success as a road underdog as it takes the crowd out of the game too when done successfully.
Sure, BC could get the doors blown off early and then this play looks rather egregious, but that blowout home loss as huge favorites to Kansas looks more and more like a supreme outlier for the 2019 BC Eagles, as they won't be going down easy the rest of the way during ACC play.
Louisville off a loss prior to their bye does set up as a nice bounce back spot for the Cardinals, I'm just not sure if they are good enough to take advantage of it. They weren't able to take advantage of a very bad Florida State defense coming into that game – at least statistically bad for FSU – and this Cardinals team has shown in the last 12 months or so that they just don't have the talent on offense to consistently put up strong point totals against above average teams. The 24 points they scored on a statistically suspect FSU defense was the first time Louisville scored 24 or more against a Power 5 opponent since the end of October last season when they hosted Wake Forest. Since then, it's been efforts of 16, 23, 10, 10, 17, and 24 points against “respectable” opponents, and that's just not good enough to win this game by at least a TD.
Upset Alert #2: Underdogs in the +10 to +19 range
YTD: 0-5 SU; 0-5 ATS
Stanford (+16.5) vs Washington
After quickly bypassing the temptation to put another play against Ohio State in this section, I was torn between two Pac-12 games and ended up settling on backing the team that's at home. Looking to take California (+18) at Oregon was the other potential selection, but for as good as that Cal Bears defense is, a bad game from them and I'm not sure they've got the horses on offense to keep up with the Ducks in terms of covering the spread. Stanford on the other hand, on the farm, with an 1-2 (0-3 ATS) record in Pac-12 play, does give me more hope of potentially hanging around against Washington.
I'm still one of those bettors not sold on Jacob Eason or Washington this year, as a 14-point win against a Trojans team starting a 3rd string QB on the road doesn't exactly do it for me. Even still, both Pac-12 games for Washington this year have been decided by 14 or fewer points, and both of those were up in Washington. Now they are heavier chalk then that for their first conference road game? I'm just not buying it.
Stanford is a shell of the program they were earlier in the decade, but they've made their name in college football this century by showing up at home as big underdogs in these rivalry type games. When Jim Harbaugh was there, it was about covering big numbers and even winning a few outright against powerhouse Oregon teams or the like, and David Shaw has continued that tradition for the most part. Washington brings none of those 'legit' threats to the table in my view, especially not in their first conference road game of the year.
Yes, defensively, the Huskies are good as they've not allowed more than 20 points scored on them all year, but again, their two Pac-12 foes, that faced them up in Washington, held the Huskies offense to 28 points or less in those two outings as well. Failing to put up 30 makes it awfully hard to win by 17 or more, and this number is just too big for Washington right now.
Upset Alert #3: Underdogs in the +20 and above range
YTD: 1-4 ATS
Bowling Green (+45.5) vs Notre Dame
Oddly enough, there were about a handful of games I wrestled with for the last 12 hours or so to fit this part of this piece, but in the end, going against those annoying leprechauns from South Bend at this big of a number ended up making the list. So my apologies to Notre Dame fans and alumni, although you'll still end up with a relatively easy SU win when this week is all and said and done.
But with shout outs to Kent State (+36) vs Wisconsin, Utah State (+28) vs LSU, and even Kansas (+31) vs Oklahoma, who were all the last entrants on the chopping block this week, as all three of their respective opponents in potential look-ahead spots, it was going against Notre Dame that I settled on because they've got the most likely flat spot of them all to deal with on Sunday.
Sure, Wisconsin has Michigan State up next, LSU's got Florida, and Oklahoma's got Texas, all big games in their own right, it's who Notre Dame has recently gone through, and who they've got on deck that puts them in this great fade role.
The Irish are coming off two very tough games against ranked foes in Georgia and Virginia. A 1-1 SU (2-0 ATS) record for the Irish in those contests was well earned, and in terms of resume-builders come November, those games should hold up well.
On deck for Notre Dame after this week's cupcake game against Bowling Green, is a home game against USC, followed by a bye week and a trip to Michigan. No matter where those two programs fall in the Top 25 rankings when Notre Dame shares a field with them is irrelevant. Those two contests against USC and Michigan demand attention and respect from the Irish. I don't think Bowling Green will get anywhere near that same level of respect from Notre Dame this week.
Disrespecting your opponent is what gets you in trouble at all levels of sports, but especially in collegiate sports where the point spread can be the great equalizer. With two hard fought games in the rear-view mirror, and two upcoming on the schedule, Notre Dame has got no time or interest in doing anything but looking right through Bowling Green and collecting their W afterwards. There is no need to send a message to anyone by running up the score to risk injury, and who knows if it takes just a 21-28 point lead for the Irish to call off the dogs.
Bowling Green is not a very good team in their own right this year, and they have lost both of their road games by at least 42 points. But neither of those opponents were lined up in such a flat spot like the Irish are here, and a three-game ATS winning streak for Notre Dame has pushed up this number about a score too high for the situation.