Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 09:56 AM
Week 7 Upset Alerts
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Considering the rough start to the year this piece got off too, after last week's underdog selections went 2-1 against the spread to post that record for the second straight week. The 20+ underdog in Bowling Green got blasted, but thanks to Stanford's SU upset over Washington as an underdog in the teens, I've now got at least one win in each bracket this year. Believe me, I expected that to be the case after say Week 3, but slow starts happen and you've just got to trust your process.
Stanford winning SU and ATS wasn't the only winner, as for the second straight week the Boston College Eagles cashed a ticket as an underdog, nearly knocking off Louisville in the process. That was their second straight loss by a FG or less, but thankfully those defeats were good enough to get to the payout window.
Even some of the other selections I briefly touched on in terms of being the last ones on the chopping block posted a 2-2 ATS record, as California hung around with Oregon long enough, as did Kansas in their game against Oklahoma. Kent State and Utah State weren't so lucky in their blowout losses to Wisconsin and LSU respectively, but sometimes it is what it is when you take those big underdogs, as those teams are catching that many points for a reason.
There is good news on that front as well this week, as Ohio State is off on a bye, so there is no temptation to go against the Buckeyes yet again. With Ohio State on a 5-0 ATS run going into the bye, their point spreads could become ever so slightly shaded their way even more out of the break, as eventually there will be a spot where they slip up. But I don't have to torture my brain with those kinds of questions this week, so let's get right to the selections that same brain came up with for Week 7.
Upset Alert #1: Underdogs in the +1 to + 9 range
YTD: 1-5 SU; 4-2 ATS
Arkansas (+7) vs Kentucky
The Razorbacks are no strangers to this piece this season having been the only winner in the +20 range for me this year. That came back in their last outing against Texas A&M where the Aggies were caught between a rock and a hard place in terms of the situational spot they were in and the Razorbacks too full advantage of their opponent in the flat spot in the 31-27 game.
This week it's a bit different for the Razorbacks, as they are off a bye and playing a true road game against a Kentucky team that's not even a year removed from one of their best seasons in school history. Kentucky's off a week of rest too so there is no potential flat spot to take advantage of for Arkansas, but at worst I do believe the Razorbacks hang tough and here is why:
Kentucky lost a lot of talent from last year's team on both sides of the ball, and while that was a reason behind many being down on their prospects this year, it didn't seem to matter through the first two games of the year where they beat up on two MAC teams with winning margins of at least 14 points. From there things were rolling great in their game against Florida before the 4th quarter rolled around and Gators QB Kyle Trask led Florida to a comeback win.
It was blowing that Florida game that has appeared to rip the hope out of the minds of Kentucky this year, as they felt what it feels like to be at/near the top last year, and the guys that are still there know there won't be any repeat effort now. Blowout road losses @ Mississippi State and @ South Carolina have followed for the Wildcats, and I'm not sure a bye week will fix much of that despair in that locker room right now.
This spread of -7 still feels a little too heavily weighed on Kentucky's body of work the past 14 months, not the past 4 weeks, and even though it was a great spot for them to hang tough against Texas A&M, Arkansas showed me a lot in how they hung around. The Razorbacks relied on the short passing game mixed in with some runs to do what they could to control the tempo and that shouldn't change here. Kentucky's been gashed on the ground the last two weeks, as it looks like that “rebuilding” year many expected for Kentucky this season is starting to come to fruition.
The road team is on a 4-1 ATS run in this rivalry, and with Kentucky on a 2-9 ATS run against a losing team, and just 8-22 ATS when coming off a loss the past few years, give me the points here.
Upset Alert #2: Underdogs in the +10 to +19 range
YTD: 1-5 SU; 1-5 ATS
Florida (+13.5) vs LSU
I'm not always a fan of including the Saturday showcase game in this piece as it's usually a game that attracts plenty of action and has some of the sharper lines out there because of it, but this spread isn't giving the Florida defense as much credit as they deserve, while at the same time buying into Joe Burrow and LSU's offense a little too much.
Yes, LSU has looked phenomenal offensively this year in scoring at least 42 points per game and posting a 4-1 ATS record as a result. But outside of the Texas game – which the Tigers only won by 7 points – who has LSU really played? There is Utah State, Vanderbilt, Northwestern State, and Georgia Southern on their resume. Not exactly a who's who in the college football world.
And yes, the win over Texas was very impressive in LSU's lone game against a quality foe, but the Longhorns aren't exactly known for their defense, and two poor quarters by that unit really put Texas in a tough spot in that game, always playing uphill. Let's not forget too, that Texas is probably the only legitimate offense that LSU has faced too and they put up nearly 40 points on the Tigers defense.
You can only beat who's on your schedule though, and in terms of many of the offensive stats LSU has put up this year, you can understand why the spread had to be put in this range. Statistically it makes more sense that way, but again, everything requires context, and to me, the depth of that context for LSU just isn't there yet.
Florida's defense is going to be tougher than anything Burrow and LSU has faced this year, and that unit alone should do enough to keep this a single-digit affair at worst. I understand that Florida is still relying on a backup QB to get the job done, and going up against LSU's defense is no cup of tea, but Texas seemingly scored at will in the 2nd half against LSU after making adjustments, and I do expect the Gators to take a lot from that film this week.
Whether or not that's enough to pull off the outright upset is yet to be determined, but with each of the past seven meetings between these two being decided by 11 points or less – including the last five being decided by a single score – I don't see this year's game being any different.
Upset Alert #3: Underdogs in the +20 and above range
YTD: 1-5 ATS
Bowling Green (+26.5) vs Toledo
If you've consumed these pieces all season long, you'll have a sense that it takes a lot for me to learn lessons at time – ie fading Ohio State – and coming back with the Falcons a week after they couldn't even score a point when they were backed in this section can seem a little hard headed. After all, as a friend of mine likes to remind me at times, “you bet on dog crap teams, you'd better be prepared for dog crap results.”
Thee is no question that Bowling Green is not a very good football team, as they've allowed 52 or more in three of their last four games overall, and were shutout in two of them. But like last week, the Falcons make this piece based on the line of thought that their opponent is in a tough spot to be at their best. It also probably doesn't hurt Bowling Green that they are at home this time, they are against a foe they know much more about as a conference rival, and Toledo just isn't the overall caliber of a team that Notre Dame is. But like I said, this play is again more about fading the favorite laying all these points.
Toledo is coming off two very tough games that were essentially toss ups with the line closing at 1.5 both times. The Rockets managed to win both of them in beating BYU and following that up with a win over a Western Michigan team that's expected to be their main competition to win the West division in the MAC. Oh, and the other projected steepest competition for Toledo in that division is Ball State and a trip there is what the Rockets have on deck.
Toledo, Ball State, and Western Michigan are the only three teams in that division that come into this week having scored more points then they've allowed this year, so it's safe to assume that eyes have probably been shifting to next week for the Rockets during prep this week. Bowling Green isn't a threat to them at all, as they've beaten the Falcons in nine straight meetings, the last two coming by 16 and 29 points respectively.
Yet, that 29-point margin was the only one of Toledo's wins during that nine-game span that would have successfully covered a number like this, and the average margin of defeat for Bowling Green over those nine games is just 12.9 points. That's quite a history to have a spread that's more than double that number this year, and while none of those past meetings don't directly have anything to do with this year's game, it's still a big ask in my opinion.
Obviously, Bowling Green's offense is going to have to likely put at least a few points up on the board to get this done, but I would say that Toledo's defensive performances on the road this year have been their worst two in terms of points allowed (38 and 35), so it's not that big of an ask. Toledo will end up winning this game, but hopefully this Falcons team can put together the best 60 minutes of football they've played this year and stay in line with history in keeping this game well within this number.