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College Football Gambling Primer: New Years Day

Mississippi State (-6.5, O/U 39) vs. Iowa, 12:00 PM: 

A battle of two elite defenses here. When I first saw this matchup, I thought to myself “under city” but with a total of 39, I’m going to stay away.

I do, however, like Mississippi State here. While at Penn State, Joe Moorhead put up 62 points on 2 great Iowa defenses. He’ll bring his knowledge of Ferentz’s scheme to this game and be able to score. Mississippi State’s offense has been disappointing for most of the year, but they turned a corner late in the season. They rank 41st in offensive S&P+ and have the 6th best rushing attack in the nation. Iowa ranks an impressive 23rd against the run, but Moorhead’s RPO will be enough to get them into on the scoreboard enough to cover this game.

On the other side, you have an Iowa team that saw most of their success come through the air this year. Ranking 119th in rushing S&P+, Iowa’s pass offense ranked 40th and led to a decent season for the Hawkeyes. Here’s the thing: Mississippi State has the second-best pass defense in America and Iowa QB Nate Stanley will be without his top target, TE Noah Fant.

Mississippi State closes off their 2018 season with a big win in Nick Fitzgerald’s final game as Bulldog.

Pick: Mississippi State -6.5

LSU (-7, O/U 58) vs. UCF, 1:00 PM:

It stinks that McKenzie Milton will not be playing in this game after his brutal injury against USF. One, it would’ve been a better game. Two, UCF fans will now have an excuse if they lose. Even in a loss, we could hear UCF say they are the National Champions of teams that lost their QB in the last week of the season due to a brutal knee injury.

2017’s Auburn team is probably better than this years LSU squad, but they are in totally different boats. LSU knew they weren’t getting to the playoff since they lost to Alabama in November. Auburn was still thinking about their SEC Championship loss when they took on UCF last year, a big reason why the Knights snuck up on them. That’s not to take away from UCF’s talent last year, which is much greater than the team they will be fielding today. It’s a less talented defense and they will be without McKenzie Milton. On top of all that, don’t think LSU wants to be the latest team to lose to UCF:

Coach O doesn’t strike me as a guy that loves the fun nature of UCF claiming a national championship. Just like you make your gumbo in the kitchen, you win national championships on the field, not on social media. That’s the #FootballGuy way.

LSU will be without a few elite defenders, but thanks to good recruiting, their backups are to the talent of UCF’s starters. Their losses come in the secondary, a place Milton would’ve been able to take advantage of, but his backup (Mack) LSU’s offense is good enough, particularly running the ball, to score enough to secure the cover. UCF has struggled against the run when it comes to efficiency numbers.

LSU isn’t going to roll their helmets out onto the field and simply beat UCF. The Knights are still a very good team, but playing without Milton lowers their ceiling significantly. Coach O wins this one not only for LSU but for the SEC:

Pick: LSU -7

Ohio State (-6.5, O/U 55.5) vs. Washington, 5:00 PM:

Seems like the whole world is on Ohio State. I get it, Urban Meyer’s last game. You have an Ohio State team that ended the season with a Big 10 Championship and dominating victory over Michigan. Reports are coming out that over 80% of the bets are on Ohio State. The public has to be right sometimes, but being on the side of 80% of the public in anything in life rarely works out. Washington is a great team that only got better as the season went on. You are paying a little premium for betting on Ohio State in this game.

I do see value in the under, though. We know Ohio State’s one big weakness is allowing explosive plays. Similar to Michigan, Washington is not a team that produces big plays (Washington is 86th in IsoPPP). Outside of allowing big plays, Ohio State’s defense hasn’t been that bad, ranking 37th overall. Washington doesn’t play fast either, ranking 107th in pace.

On the other side of the ball, we are going to see an Ohio State offense that is going up against a Washington defense that ranks 3rd in the nation. I see Dwayne Haskins struggling a bit with Washington’s elite secondary that have NFL players littered throughout it. When they do stop Ohio State, the Buckeyes will pin Washington deep, thanks to a special team that ranks 35th in the nation.

Under is the play here.

Pick: Under 55.5

Georgia (-12, O/U 59) vs. Texas, 8:45 PM: 

We’ve said it before: Tom Herman is simple. Fade him as a favorite. Bet him as an underdog. Herman is 12-2-1 ATS as an underdog, with nine straight up wins!!!

This Georgia team is better than Texas in a vacuum. I’d say they are the third best team in the country, but we’ve seen a trend with SEC teams in these types of games. Georgia was so close to being in the CFP. Let’s see how teams in a similar boat (2nd best SEC team) did in their NY6/BCS game:

2017: Auburn loses to UCF

2016: Auburn loses to Oklahoma

2015: Ole Miss beats Oklahoma State

2014: Ole Miss & Mississippi State Both Lose

2013: Alabama loses to Oklahoma

Georgia comes in without their best player, DB DeAndre Baker, which is good news for Sam Ehlinger and WR Collin Johnson. Georgia will also have game-time decisions from DT Jordan Davis and LB D’Andre Walker. One of the few aspects of the game Georgia struggles with is allowing opposing rushing attacks to remain efficient throughout the game, a place Texas thrives. With Davis and Walker being out/not 100% you could see Texas taking advantage of it.

I’m also not 100% sure where Georgia’s head is at. During the Notre Dame-Clemson game, we saw a bunch of players take to Twitter to express their displeasure in Notre Dame’s quality:

Texas will limit Georgia’s explosiveness and I’ve always liked Todd Orlando as a DC! This is a bet on motivation, Herman as an underdog, and history. Georgia holds big edges in analytics with this matchup, but this may be a game we throw those out the window. +12 also allows us to see a backdoor cover from Texas late in the game.

Pick: Texas +12

Jack Mac’s Stay In The Black Picks: 

2018: 92-79-4, +4.75 units 

Bowls: 13-14

LSU -7

Miss State -6.5

Ohio State/Washington Under 55.5

Texas +12