Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM
Friday's Best Bets
Five games line the college football betting board on Friday, and it's the first time in Bowl Season that we get a ranked vs ranked matchup. USC and Iowa (-2) are the two combatants in that one, as the Holiday Bowl is the game with the spread closest to pick'em and should be a great contest overall. But with the Trojans extending Clay Helton, and me not fully understanding how the Trojans will react to that type of news is why the sidelines may be a better place for the bankroll.
However, four other games still gives us plenty of betting options to consider, so let's take a look at one from every spectrum for the day, and see if a winning record is the end result.
North Carolina vs. Temple (ESPN, 12:00 p.m.)
Favorite to Back: North Carolina -4.5
Mack Brown's return to UNC brought a bit of everything with it, but what may end up being the most important are the extra Bowl practice time he's gotten here. The only other thing left for Brown to accomplish in Year 1 would be to finish the year with a winning record. That's what he and the Tar Heels should be able to do.
The thing that will always stand out about UNC this year will be the ultimate scare they put into Clemson back at the end of November. That was them in all their youthful glory and something that did propel the rest of their season to a degree. And quicker results means that bigger goals become more reachable, and a winning season would feel good to a junior class that hasn't experienced many winning moments.
The Clemson loss wasn't the only “good one” on the board for UNC this year, as a three-point home loss to App State doesn't look all that bad now, and there were two OT losses following the Clemson game, along with a seven-point defeat against Virginia. Imagine what could have been for this team this year, and because of it, this team probably doesn't get all of the respect in the markets that they deserve.
Temple is a solid program, but in six games vs programs that ultimately made a Bowl game, the Owls were 2-4 SU and 3-4 ATS. Defensively they tended to have rough days against the juggernauts, and offensively there was just so much consistency at getting to 21-24 points that it just wasn't enough. North Carolina is no offensive juggernaut, but they know how to move the ball, and defensively they'll be able to contain whatever the Owls rather simplistic attack decides to go with.
The ACC may not be the best of the best in the sport, but for a team like the Tar Heels to be a few bounces/mistakes away from a phenomenal 9-3 type season in Year 1 under Mack Brown was much more of a possibility then it sounds like it probably should have been. They are a far, far better team then they were to start the year, as the growth they've shown throughout the season has been tremendous.
The next step a rebuilding program takes after hanging with the big boys as dogs multiple times in a year, is beat down the 'similar' opponents when they are expected to do so. This number suggests that this is one of those spots for UNC, and as long as they protect the football and get one key stop on defense, the Tar Heels should win this game by at least a TD.
Michigan State vs. Wake Forest (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.)
Total to Back: Michigan State/Wake Forest Over 50
Michigan State's defense was a top unit in plenty of statistical categories all year long, and with how good their defense is, and how inept the Spartans offense tends to be, oddsmakers can't go with crazy high totals, but for a Wake Forest game, this number is awfully low.
The Demon Deacons had only four games this year that closed with a total below 60, and while the O/U record in those four contests washed out at 2-2 O/U, the winning team in all four of those games still put up at least 39 points. Unless Michigan State just completely eradicates a very good Wake attack – highly unlikely – the winner here will probably need 30+ points to get the job done. I'll take that risk that the loser hangs around enough to put this one 'over' the number.
For one, Wake is a team that's all offense, and no matter the challenge, they know their defense is going to have a hard time stopping people. Michigan State did have a few higher scoring games against similar opponents in Indiana and Illinois, as those two games closed with totals in the mid-40's and each finished with 70+ on the scoreboard.
Secondly, Michigan State's looking at it like they probably won't be able to completely keep Wake off the scoreboard, so they might as well focus some energy and hopefully some aggression on offense. You watch film of Wake's defense and all you'll see are large holes. Michigan State's still got guys that can make plays when they've got space, and space is something Wake gives up to everyone.
Michigan State, for all their great defensive-minded teams in recent years – are on a 6-2 O/U run in Bowl games, while 10 of Wake's last 14 non-conference games have sailed 'over' the number as well. Those trends are siding with the cause here, as this game has all the ingredients of one of those Bowl games that generally projects out to be a sleepy one, but turns into a classic. Banking on Wake's offense and defense to show up in their usual capacity gives us plenty of wiggle room for this game to go 'over', regardless.
Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M (ESPN, 6:45 p.m.)
Underdog to Back: Oklahoma State +6.5
Nobody had a tougher schedule then Texas A&M this year, dealing with the likes of Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, and LSU. Going 7-5 SU on that slate is a great season regardless, and I'm not sure the Aggies want to fire up the engines again after shutting them down for a month.
You go through a schedule like that, as a football team you've got to be on every detail, every week to find success. Texas A&M appeared to run out of gas at the end when the LSU game got away from them, and from there there hasn't been a need to stay at the mental energy level they tried to every week. They Aggies already got a winning season sewed up, and asking now asking them to be at their best after they've gotten used to rest now is a tricky proposition.
The statistical profile makes sense for the Aggies at this number, but that presumes they'll be at/near their best. Oklahoma State is always a program that's a dangerous underdog, and any win over a SEC school seems to carry some weight for the other Power 5 schools.
Offensively, Oklahoma State will use their running game to set up the pass, as every game the Aggies did lose this year, they were outrushed by their opponent. The Cowboys got a good one in that regard with Chuba Hubbard in the backfield, and if they catch the Aggies far from their best, the outright ML is probably in question too.