The VSiN college football expert dives into some betting angles for two games on Saturday’s slate.
Florida State at Clemson
Slowly but surely, Florida State seems to be working its way back. The Seminoles have rattled off three wins in a row after losing four straight to open the season, including an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Jacksonville State. It hasn’t gotten any run, but the Seminoles are suddenly + 1.02 yards per play on the season.
Clemson, even with a top-five defense, is only +0.38 YPP. The Georgia game to open the season is something of an outlier because of just how poorly the Tigers’ offense played, but they have had a bad offense all year long. Even if the Clemson defense absolutely suffocates the Seminoles, can the Tigers score enough points to put some margin in this game?
In three wins over ACC opponents, Clemson has won by a combined 15 points. Florida State is far from a great team, but there are a lot of seemingly interchangeable teams in the middle of the ACC this season and the Seminoles certainly aren’t any worse than Syracuse or Boston College, teams Clemson beat 19-13 and 17-14, respectively.
While Clemson was busy losing to Pittsburgh last week, the Seminoles had in effect a second straight bye week with a 59-3 win over Massachusetts. Say what you will about a win like that or Florida State’s offensive body of work, but the Seminoles do appear to be improving, while Clemson is going in reverse.
If nothing else, we’ve got a 9.5-point spread with a total of 47.5. Clemson doesn’t seem capable of winning by that margin right now and a low-scoring game, such as the ones the Tigers have played, will make that an even tougher task.
Pick: Florida State +9.5.
Purdue at Nebraska
Are we sure Nebraska should be laying more than a touchdown against any Big Ten team? The Cornhuskers have lost four of five games in conference play this season, and the one win was a 56-7 throttling of Northwestern. The four losses were to Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan and Minnesota by a combined total of just 21 points.
This has simply been what Nebraska has done under Scott Frost and with Adrian Martinez at quarterback. They dangle carrots in front of bettors because they play tough and lose close games, but giving this team the benefit of the doubt in any close game seems like a good way to lose money.
Purdue followed up the huge road win over Iowa with a complete dud against Wisconsin, which was something a lot of bettors expected. The Boilermakers still rank 21st in yards per play allowed on defense. Nebraska is solid as well at 42nd, but Purdue has allowed 0.3 fewer YPP in conference games. The two teams are close to even in third-down success rate on offense, but Nebraska has gained about a full yard per play more than Purdue and 1.5 more YPP against Big Ten opponents.
Purdue ranks 19th in third-down defense and Nebraska is 50th. While the Cornhuskers’ offense is clearly better than the Boilermakers’ offense, Purdue brings a good defense and a team that is solid on third down. Nebraska’s biggest issue under Frost has been paying attention to the details. Ugly turnovers, stupid mistakes and an inability to finish off close games are all things that could show up in this game.
With that in mind, I’ll take Purdue getting the hook in a game that should be fairly low scoring.
Pick: Purdue +7.5.