Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:56 AM
Week 10 Upset Alerts
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The Ohio State Buckeyes continue to be the bane of my existence in college football this year as fading them in the spots that I have this year has been the equivalent to burning money. I still firmly believe that eventually the Buckeyes lofty numbers will catch up to them at some point, but when you've got a DE like Chase Young blowing up opposing offenses on every snap, it's hard to pinpoint when that could actually happen. Maybe that “Team Up North” will be the ones to throw a huge monkey wrench in the Buckeyes CFP playoff plans, but a lot can happen in the month of football action until then.
The other plays from last week's card managed to split the board as the concerns about California's lackluster offense proved to be real, as the Golden Bears failed to score a single point in their 35-0 loss @ Utah.
The Miami Hurricanes did show up though, as they won their game outright vs Pittsburgh, and it was nice to get the second outright winner of the year with those small dogs. Admittedly, that number of SU wins should be better in that range, but the ATS record with those small dogs is what's salvaging an otherwise forgettable year with the bigger ones.
And while Ohio State finds themselves on a bye week as to not tempt me into going back to that well that has been so generous to my bankroll, this week's plays do begin with a return to fading a particular team from a week ago. So let's get right to it:
Upset Alert #1: Underdogs in the +1 to +9 range
YTD: 2-7 SU; 6-2-1 ATS
Washington (+3.5) over Utah
Utah may have come away with the easy cover vs California last week, but things should be much tougher for them this week as they visit a well-rested Washington Huskies team. The Huskies are light years ahead of California on offense, and even defensively they are quite comparable. With this game also being a road contest for the Utes – who lost outright on the road @ USC the week after a shutout win vs Idaho State earlier this year – I do believe we see the Huskies come away with the outright victory.
For one, two weeks to prepare for this critical matchup helps the Huskies in numerous regards. The first is the most obvious in that they've had two weeks to scour over the film of this Utes team – and do some live scouting last week while likely watching that win over California. HC Chris Petersen has always been known to be one of the better game-planners in the collegiate game since his time leading Boise State to national prominence and extra time to prepare is always an added plus for him.
Last year in that role the ATS results weren't there in a 42-23 win over Oregon State off of rest as a -32.5 point favorite, and a 28-23 loss to Ohio State in closing at +4.5, but Bowl prep is always a bit of a different element as it is, and beating Oregon State couldn't have been that high on the focus list a year ago. What's critical to note though is the week after that Oregon State game was Washington's trip to Washington State in the annual rivalry game, and the Huskies came out as 28-15 winners after closing at +2.5. It's safe to assume some of that extra time off prior to facing the Beavers was dedicated to planning for Wazzu.
Secondly, the extra time off for Washington this year allows them to better get over the tough loss they had vs Oregon last time out, as Washington had control of that game for basically the first three quarters. Had there been a quick turnaround for Washington, it's much easier to be of the mindset that a poor performance was coming, but after letting that loss seethe for two weeks, that shouldn't be the case. The Huskies have to be itching to get back out there and do what they can to spoil a successful season for Utah so far.
This is a spot I like Washington's chances to step up and provide even more chaos in a Pac-12 conference that's known for being highly competitive and having any program win on any given day. I'm still not sure Utah is as legit of a contender as their 7-1 SU record suggests, and I'm willing to back that opinion this week.
Upset Alert #2: Underdogs in the +10 to +19 range
YTD: 1-8 SU; 2-7 ATS
UAB (+11.5) vs Tennessee
Would you look at that Tennessee fans. Your team has covered the number in three straight games, all as underdogs, and winning two of the three outright. You were never expected to beat Alabama, but double digit home wins over Mississippi State and South Carolina have given this team and fan base a renewed sense of confidence after being ridiculed in college football circles for the past few years. At 3-5 SU there is still a big upward climb to make, but things have to feel like they are going in the right direction, right?
Well, now amid all that recent success SU and ATS, the Volunteers stay at home feeling great about themselves and welcome in a non-conference opponent in UAB. Should be an easy win right? I mean Tennessee was always going to be favored in a game like this against a non-SEC foe, but for it to come right in the middle of their SEC schedule while they are playing well isn't ideal at all. Not to mention there is a big rivalry game vs Kentucky on deck for Tennessee too.
Recent success from Tennessee has likely forced the adjustment to make this line into the range it is, but this should be a single-digit margin of victory for the Volunteers; if they win at all. Having Kentucky on deck gives this game a potential look ahead feel, and not only that, but UAB is a quality football team at 6-1 SU and are coming off a bye week themselves. Yes, a 6-1 SU record in Conference USA doesn't carry near the same weight as it would in the SEC, but UAB does have a +99 point differential on the year and have done that by only allowing 110 total points this season. They are a program that understands how to play defense, and if you are going to be a smaller conference team looking to pull off a road upset, it's always good to have a strong defense because that tends to be the first thing that gets on the plane with you.
So look for this Tennessee program and their new found success to take a bit of a step back here in a non-conference game against an above average foe that couldn't have come at a worse time. Had Tennessee played to their closing lines the past three weeks and lost outright to Mississippi State, Alabama, and South Carolina, we would have likely seen this point spread closer to say a touchdown, as that's probably closer to the true number this game should be at.
Upset Alert #3: Underdogs in the +20 and above range
YTD: 2-7 ATS
Massachusetts (+23.5) over Liberty
Admittedly I'm starting to feel like I'm getting in my own head a bit with these big underdog selections after having so much success with them last year and having next to none of it this season. There were a few more “reputable” teams I considered for this role other then a Massachusetts team that could easily win the debate as being the worst team in the entire county. Yet, I did land on Massachusetts for a couple of reasons.
(For those wondering about the 'others' this week they were Maryland +21.5 and UTEP +23)
The first of those is that if you do view teams like stocks in the market, Massachusetts stock has to be at an all time low and really has nowhere to go but up. When you lose at home by 21 to another very bad team like Connecticut as the Minutemen did last week, there isn't really any lower you can go. Throw in the fact that they've been outscored 169-56 the past three weeks and there aren't many in the betting market that are even considering looking at this game, let alone taking a piece of Massachusetts. Perception like that though does lead to potentially mispriced numbers and I do believe that's what we've got a bit of here.
That's because Liberty isn't exactly all that good of a football team either, as they are coming off a double digit loss to a very bad team (Rutgers) themselves. Liberty closed as more than a TD favorite in that game, and after trading scores with Rutgers for the first half, Liberty gave up an early 3rd quarter TD and never led the game again. And yet here they are on the road for the 2nd straight week and laying more then 20 points? I don't buy it.
Liberty is now 1-2 SU and ATS away from home this year, with the lone win coming by a TD as a -4 favorite. They aren't deserving of laying this kind of chalk against anyone, especially a Massachusetts team that was good enough to beat this same Liberty program in OT just a season ago. The 62-59 win by the Minutemen wasn't a showcase of great football by any stretch of the imagination – especially on defense – but Massachusetts was just a three win team going into that game, and as a one-win team this year you are telling me they are three TD's worse?
I just don't see it, and while Liberty should win this game relatively comfortably from an outright perspective, unless the Minutemen routinely turn the ball over and play bull-fighting defense for the entire game, getting this final score well within this point spread is how this one should play out.