Vanderbilt (+10.5) at Wake Forest | 57.5 Total
This line has fluctuated wildly, opening at -13.5 before quickly getting bet down to 10.5 within an hour. It hung at -10.5 before spiking back to -12.5 in early-hours Monday trading, before now settling back in at -10.5 at most books. The total plummeted a full touchdown from a high of 63.5 early Sunday to it’s current position at 57.5.
Last year these two teams faced off in Nashville with the Demon Deacons outgaining Vandy 451-to-294 en route to a comfortable 45-24 victory.
Fast forwarding to 2023, Vanderbilt is 2-0 and holding opponents to 87.5 rushing yards per game thus far, which is in line with their 2022 unit that ranked 3rd in goal line success rate, 32nd in stuff rate and third in power success rate. However their 131st ranked secondary got diced up by the Rainbow Warriors’ Run n’ Shoot attack, giving up 351 passing yards and 10 yards per attempt. Vandy was lucky to get two timely interceptions and escape with a victory, as their 18% post game win expectancy indicates. They’ve shown little improvement in pass defense since allowing 291 YPG through the air last year.
Wake Forest had the luxury of rolling over Elon 37-17, getting out to a 24-0 halftime lead behind 329 passing yards from Mitch Griffis, Jahmal Banks and the rest of the Wake slow-mesh offense. QB Mitch Griffis and WR Jahmal Banks picked up right where program-icon Sam Hartman left off, as WF has averaged over 300 passing yards and 36 points per game over the last three seasons.
Vanderbilt games went over the total by 4.7 points per game last season, while Wake’s contests averaged 66 PPG. Neither defense was particularly stout and don’t project to be particularly fearsome again this season. I think the total has come too far down and recommend playing it at Over 57.5 points, with a sprinkle on Vandy money line.
Nebraska (+3) at Colorado | 58.5 Total
Coach Prime set the CFB world ablaze with Colorado’s 45-42 21-point underdog upset of TCU last Saturday. Shedeur’s passing prop opened at 227.5, which I immediately lit up to the Over. However a day later Draft Kings had the audacity to post Sanders at 183.5 passing yards, eventually settling at 220.5 at gametime. It was the biggest prop discrepancy on the Week 1 props board IMO.
This game’s look-ahead line had settled in at Nebraska (-8.5) heading into this weekend, and now has swung all the way back to Nebraska (+3). Also of note, the game’s total actually dropped from 60.5 to 58.5 despite the 87 point bombardment Colorado was accomplice to on Saturday. Clearly the market is putting stock into Nebraska’s 13-10 slog against Minnesota last week where both teams combined for 546 total yards, which is 19 yards less than Colorado put up on their own against TCU.
Nebraska ran just 56 plays (CU ran 81 vs. TCU) with 19 passes and four turnovers against Minnesota. Colorado is going to force the pace in this game and Nebraska is going to have to match that energy on offense or they are going to get left behind. Jeff Sims has to be better in the pocket, as the Cornhuskers cannot afford for CU to pick off three passes with their steamroller offense like the Gophers did.
I’m going against the line movement here and gobbling up Over 58.5 tickets along with some Colorado at -2.5 if I can get it.
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Iowa vs. Iowa State (+4) | 38.5 Total
This line opened back in June at Iowa State (-1.5) with an aggressively low 38.5 total. However after the gambling investigation resulted in multiple impact suspensions, this line came crashing down to ISU (+4) and brought the total down to 36.5 points along with it.
Unfortunately, Iowa could not clear the Ferentz Line of 25 points as they managed to get by Utah State 24-14 without much fanfare. The Hawkeyes managed just 88 yards on 2.4 YPC against an Aggies defensive front that got beat for 194 rushing YPG and 4.8 YPC by Mountain West opponents last year and lost arguably their three best defensive players to the portal after spring.
Iowa State outlasted Northern Iowa 30-9 despite accruing just 250 total yards while playing at an offensively slow pace that resulted in just 45 total plays with a 60% run rate. First time starter QB Rocco Becht handled snaps under center and went a conservative 10-13 for 113 yards and two passing touchdowns. The inexperienced Cyclones also converted just 2-of-11 third down opportunities, a ratio that must improve if they want to beat their cross state rivals this Saturday.
Iowa plays at an extremely methodical pace, ranking 101st in plays per second, while ISU ranks 59th. With both defenses ranking top-15 in team defense last year. Despite the low total I think we get another close contest in the same vein as their 10-7 snoozer in 2022, so i’m backing the Under 36.5 and taking Iowa small.
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Notre Dame (-7.5) vs. NC State | 51 Total
A ND -6.5/48.5 opening held for a day, but a steady march up to -7.5 and it’s current total of 51. For their part, NC State had a listless 24-14 Thursday Night victory over a surprisingly bowl-eligible and plucky UConn. It wasn’t the thunderous start Wolfpack fans were hoping for after importing OC Robert Anae and QB Brennan Armstrong from ACC foe UVA, with Armstrong going 17-26 for 155 yards and a neutral 0-0 ratio, though he also gained 96 rushing yards and two TDs on the ground.
NC State won’t be able to afford another slow start against a Notre Dame program that has annihilated both of their 2023 opponents (Nav/Tennessee State) by a combined score of 98-6. Sam Hartman looks incredible and has the Irish faithful mounting early Heisman hype for Wake Forest’s all-time leading passer. He is averaging 10.1 yards per attempt while the run game cleared the way for 6.0 YPC with 191 rushing yards against Navy. The Irish have committed just five penalties in two games and field a Joe Moore caliber offensive line led by LT Joe Alt.
Fighting Irish starting QB Sam Hartman defeated the Wolfpack 30-21 last year while torching their secondary for a season-high 397 passing yards when he was at Wake Forest. I think this Notre Dame team is top-10 caliber while the Anae/Armstrong combo should put up a fight. This game is a comfortable Over 51 points with these 2 capable offenses with a ND lean.