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Betting thoughts on Notre Dame, and two ACC games

Boston College at Notre Dame (-24): This game is simple. Boston College, even though they’re 3-7 is still somewhat overvalued in the public’s mind, given how frequently they go to bowl games. Even though they’ve won a lot the past twenty years, it has been mainly because they’ve been able to recruit good quarterbacks (the Hasselbeck brothers, Matt Ryan, Brian St. Pierre).

This will be BC’s Super Bowl, for sure, but this is the new Notre Dame. Brian Kelly comes from the school of thought that you shouldn’t be embarrassed to run the score up on anyone, as we’ve seen. Yes, there will be 20mph winds in South Bend, but I still think the Irish can lay thirty or more on BC. It’s always smart to bet Notre Dame early because most their line come out a bit under, knowing that they will get Notre Dame money from the people who always bet Notre Dame. Get the 24 while you can.

Virginia at Florida State (-17): When I first saw that the spread in this game was 17, I thought I would instantly play Virginia. From a motivation standpoint, the Cavaliers on the surface should have more to play for in this game. They are a young team who is just now seeing how much better they can be. They came out hungry in a nationally televised game at Miami earlier this year. Florida State, while they are riding a five game win streak, had their goals for the season shattered back in late September and early October with consecutive losses to Oklahoma, Clemson, and Wake Forest of all teams. Now they are officially out of the ACC title chase, while Virginia would get into the ACC title game by winning its last two game. The Cavaliers would surely be my bet.

But then I dug deeper into the game. Yes, Virginia has improved significantly from the last three non-bowl teams and is motivated to perform well on a big stage (remember, Florida is a huge recruiting state for a team like Virginia). They have stopped rotating players, and have improved greatly since Mike Rocco has taken the majority of snaps at quarterback. They are run based team though, and run based teams usually struggle once they get behind.

But I found that Florida State doesn’t seem to lack a motivational edge in this game. Yes, they may not have met their biggest goals, but they are still hoping for a 10-win season and a good bowl game. This is the Senior Day for a class that underachieved in their first few years, and they want to go out the right way. The most points Florida State has allowed at home this season is 19, a back door cover by rival Miami last week. The second most points they’ve allowed at home were 16 by Maryland, a team with a passing spread offense. Virginia is a run-reliant team who only averages 26 points per game. Florida State averages 34 points a game, so Virginia would like have to score at least 17 to cover.

This feels like a classic dog or pass situation, but if the line drops to -15.5 I’ll take Florida State.

Clemson (-8) at North Carolina State: Like the previous game, I thought for sure I would bet Clemon when I saw the 7.5 which has now gone up to 8. But of course, books give you that line for a reason. They want you think that getting a top-10 as only a touchdown favorite on the road against a team that has four horrible losses (blown out by Cincinnati, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and lost at woeful Boston College) would be an automatic play on the favorite. But there are some caveats here. First, Clemson has reached most of its goals for the year. They are in the ACC Title game, and next week they have their rivalry game with South Carolina, a game they will have to win big if they hope to make a statement for the BCS Title game or an at-large BCS berth. North Carolina State has to win this game and against Maryland next week to become bowl eligible. (2 of their wins are against FCS schools, so only one counts toward bowl eligibility.) Like Iowa State did last night against Oklahoma State, a team on the brink of bowl competition may throw everything and the kitchen sink at the other team. Get a win here, and everyone might just forget about the Tom O’Brien chasing off Russel Wilson. Clemson has done a good job of covering the spread this year, save its last two games. In many instances, even Clemson fans have expected their team to disappoint them, but Clemson has persevered, outside the road loss at Georgia Tech. I’m going to wait until game time to bet this one, hoping to get a few more points on Clemson.

Betting Thought on Big 12 games

 

Oklahoma (-17) at Baylor: The Bear are still inflated for two reasons: their big win against TCU the first week of the season in a stand alone game and alleged Heisman candidate Robert Griffin. The Bears faded after they beat Texas last year. Unlike all the other teams in the Big 12, Oklahoma can play defense, and should have no problem limiting the Bears. They’re also a team that likes to run it up, even though they’re only 6-4 ATS, they score at will. The Sooners lost wide receiver Ryan Broyles for the year, but they have enough playmakers to survive the loss. This is the Sooners last real hurdle before a showdown with possibly undefeated Oklahoma State. Oklahoma could also bring a substantial fan presence to Baylor. Good bet to swallow the points on.

 

Texas Tech (+18) at Missouri: The fact that this line has not moved in the last few days just signifies how bad the public thinks Texas Tech is. Almost always when there is bad news about a team during the week, the line will go in favor the other team. Last week, several lines moved a point in favor of Nebraska when news of Penn State’s scandal broke (and the subsequent coaching changes). When news came down that some of the suspended Ohio State players wouldn’t return against Nebraska, the line moved in favor of the Huskers (who at the time where 1-4 ATS). Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel gets arrested for DUI, and the line stays at 18. All the public remembers is Texas Tech getting blown out by Iowa State, Texas, and Oklahoma State. The Iowa State (which I bet up) came after an upset at to Oklahoma, but there’s no excuse for the other two.

This couldn’t be a better situational handicap. Texas Tech, having thumped three weeks in a row, goes on the road, where they can have an us against the world mentality. (One of the best bets you can make is to take a team that gets blown out at home and bet them if they go on the road the next week.) Missouri, on the other hand, is coming off their biggest win of the year against Texas, a team itself that was coming off a huge win against Texas Tech. Given how important the state of Texas is to Missouri in recruiting and that it’s the school’s last Big 12 matchup, it’s a huge win. After a slow start, the Tigers have worked their way back into the bowl picture. Both teams have five wins, making this a de facto play-in game for a bowl bid.

This game may come down to who needs it more. Texas Tech plays Baylor next week in Arlington, Missouri plays woeful Kansas in Kansas City. The urgency for Texas Tech is there, while it may be lacking for Missouri, with an easier opponent next week.

The weather will be 20 MPH winds with a small chance of rain. While this doesn’t bode well for Tech’s pass happy offense, it does bode well for a low scoring game. Missouri only scores 33 points a game, and is a run-oriented team. Even on a normal week, I would be taking Texas Tech, but Pinkel’s distraction and subsequent absence, I will definitely be taking Texas Tech.

 

Kansas State (+7) at Texas: Like Texas Tech-Missouri, here is another situational handicap. Kansas State is 8-2 and coming off an quadruple overtime win against Texas A&M. Texas is coming off a road loss at Missouri and the loss of their best running back Fozzy Whitaker. This is a spot where I would naturally favor Kansas State, but there are other variables to consider.

First, there is a revenge factor for the Longhorns. They were 5-7 last year, and four teams had what I would characterize as tear down the goalposts wins against Texas (UCLA, Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma State). In those rematches (Texas hasn’t played Baylor yet) Texas is 2-1 and covered in both wins. The loss was to 10-1 Oklahoma State.

While I don’t think Kansas State’s victory over Texas last year made their season like the other losses did for the other teams involved, it was significant for K-State nonetheless. Kansas State has won the last three against Texas, all in controlling fashion (Texas got a late score for a three point loss in 2006). While I don’t think Texas gets up for most games other than Oklahoma (the only school in the Big 12 they consider close to their level), I do think there will be some extra motivation. As far as motivation for the Wildcats, they’re playing with house money now. Many thought they’d be lucky to get to .500, but they’ve road a wave of momentum to 8-2, not even having a letdown after their first loss of the season to Oklahoma. Now, there are distinct possibilities that the Fiesta would take an 10-2 Kansas State over a 10-2 Oklahoma team, given how anxious Kansas State fans would be to go to a BCS bowl, so they should have the motivation.

Texas has made enough strides on defense, and should be able to limit Colin Klein. Kansas State has been the hardest school for me to figure out (before last week I was 0-6 betting Kansas State), and I almost hate to go against them. I lean slightly to Texas, but if the line gets inflated to Texas -8 or -8.5 I may go Kansas State.

Thoughts on Pac 12 betting this weekend

Cal (+18) at Stanford: Stanford has been one of the best covering teams who have been in the top 25 this season. Like most west coast teams, Stanford typically feels slighted because their games are latter, and the east coast doesn’t watch them, so the need to run it up. They lost their perfect season last week to Oregon, and usually when a team looses goal for the year, they have let down game, but I don’t see one here.
First of all, Andrew Luck is a good quarterback after a loss (kudos to ESPN blogger Ted Miller for his article). Second, the Cardinal will have to win out if it hopes for a BCS at-large bid (even at 11-1 they may be a long shot, given their poor traveling and that Jim Harbaugh is no longer their to whine them in.) Third, they are not playing the opponent who can challenge them on the road. Over the last two years, the Golden Bears have two wins on the road, by a touchdown at abysmal Washington State last year, and at even more abysmal Colorado in overtime this year. In all their other road games this year, Cal has lost by 8 (Washington), 28 (Oregon), and by 17 at mediocre UCLA. USC also crushed them at their temporary home at Pac Bell park, in what looked like a neutral site game.
Other than the typical rivalry motivation, I don’t see Cal having major motivation this year. Cal missed the postseason last year, so coming into this one their main goal was to get bowl eligible. Now that they have that, I don’t expect them to play that hard. Yes, they may throw caution to the wind and give a good half like they did in the first against Oregon, but ultimately, Stanford has too much physicality. Lay the points.

Washington (-2.5) at Oregon State: I attended the Washington-Nebraska game on September 17th, and walked out feeling very impressed with the Huskies. Other than a terrible turnover at the goal line on special teams and a fourth and two inside the Nebraska twenty Washington didn’t convert, the game easily could have been decided by three points. I walked out of that stadium thinking that they could win nine or ten games this year, and that Keith Price was a special quarterback waiting to happen. He didn’t get rattled when he was pressured and kept his eyes downfield.
Now, Washington is 6-4, but those four loses were all to currently ranked teams (Nebraska, USC, Oregon, Stanford), and all but one was on the road. The Huskies have also a good road win at Utah and have dominated most of the bad teams they’ve played. Keith Price might not play due to injury, but the Huskies will rely mostly on running back Chris Polk against the second worst run defense in the Pac 12, who just lost one of their starting defensive ends who quit the team. Oregon State, while playing at home on Senior Day, is 2-8, might have a coach on the way out. The public doesn’t know how good Washington is because they haven’t played as well against major opponents this year. Take the -2.5 all day.

Arizona at Arizona State (-10.5): There’s a murky middle in the Pac 12; sometimes I just bet against the team that had a bad week the week before. Arizona had the worse week in getting shelled at Colorado, but really, I’d just be throwing money away here. Pass.

Colorado at UCLA (-10.5): Colin Cowherd picked Colorado to cover as his value pick of the week, based on Rodney Stewart finally being healthy for the Buffs and UCLA just being not all that good. Bruins are unbeaten in the Rose Bowl this season in conference play and need a win to become bowl eligible and possibly save Neuheisel’s job. Remember when he was supposedly the best young coach in college football and got the keys to the Colorado program from Bill McCartney? Me neither. Agree with Colin; take Colorado, even though their one of the most reliable dogs to roll over and allow the favorite to cover.

USC at Oregon (-14.5): Pregame.com’s Bryan Leonard picked USC to cover in this one. I mainly agree, even if Robert Woods doesn’t play. USC won at Notre Dame and won’t be intimidated on the road. This is their last chance to make a statement this year. USC covers, although I’m not as firm on that one.

Utah at Washington State (+4): Cougars a huge day from freshmen quarterback Connor Halliday off the bench last week in their upset of Arizona State. Washington State is 4-6 and needs to win this week and next week at Qwest Field against Washington. Such urgency would suggest a good effort from the Cougars in what would already be characterized as an overachieving season for Paul Wulff. Utah is 6-4 and riding a three game winning streak. WSU might get some momentum from the freshmen quarterback; I think this is a dog or pass situation.

Betting key Big 10 games this weekend

Minnesota at Northwestern (-15.5): Northwestern has had me fooled two of the last three week. After they lost to Penn State, they went to 1-3 against spread versus Big Ten teams (only cover against overrated Illinois). So I looked them up, and going back to last year, found that of their nine wins, only three had been by more than a touchdown. Including in those six TD or less are wins against woeful Central Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, and Boston College this year. I came to the conclusion that, since Northwestern had played it close against the tough teams like Michigan and Iowa, they didn’t have anything left for the lesser teams. But the public, who mostly bets the Michigans and Notre Dames, only accounts for Northwestern’s good games against their teams. Going into their game at Indiana, I figured Indiana at +9 had some value, given that the last four games between the teams had been close, so I took the Hoosier.
Needless, to say, I was disastrously wrong, as Northwestern blasted Indiana 59-38. This past week, I factored in the same in Northwestern’s game against Rice, figuring there would also be a hangover factor from Northwestern’s win over Nebraska. Again, I was wrong. This week, I am tempted to say that enough’s enough, throw up my hands and throw in the towel. But I may not.
Granted, Northwestern likely will play with some urgency because they need this win for bowl eligibility. (They play Michigan State next week, who may need to win to get into the Big 10 title game.) But they’ve had three high powered weeks in a row. The blowout at Indiana, the upset at Nebraska, the crushing of Rice. Vegas always sees trends coming and gets in front of them, especially when a team consistently covers.
Now the question remains, is -15.5 too many for Minnesota to cover. Right now, the Golden Gophers are just playing for pride, but they have a first year coach whose message is probably fresh. Teams with first year coaches often do elevate late in the year, as they are looking to the long term. Minnesota played well in their last road game at Michigan State, and they may play up now that they’re not facing such a daunting opponent; however, they did get shredded by Purdue’s spread attack.
This line has gone down from -17.5; leaning softly toward Minnesota, but I am going to wait until kickoff to decide.

Iowa (-1.5)at Purdue: This is a game where situation dictates how I will bet it. Iowa is going on the road, where they are 0-3 this season (remember, they started out as one of the youngest teams in college football this year). Last week, they got embarrassed at home by a Michigan State team that had been terrible on the road up until their win in Iowa City. Since the loss at Minnesota, the Iowa media has once again criticized Kirk Ferentz for not earning his paycheck. Now, Ferentz can take his team on the road, where they can relish the underdog role.
Purdue, on the other hand, made their season the week before beating Ohio State. Yes, they still need a win to become bowl eligible, but they have just as good a chance getting it next week at feeble Indiana. They have won their last two meetings with Iowa, in ’07 and ’08, Joe Tiller’s final two years.
The play here is simple: Iowa has gotten more experience, and Purdue is hung over and can get the win they need next week. Iowa has more to gain, given that this is their most winnable game left. Iowa is a bargain, whether you get them at -1.5 or even -3.

Penn State at Ohio State(-7.5): This the game were Penn State’s distractions start to affect the team. Last week, there really wasn’t an appreciable drop off in Penn State’s play; the energy from playing at home and the pregame activities probably helped the Nittany Lions play harder, and have a chance to win at the end of the game. But now reality sets in: Penn State has lost their head coach, and they have lost arguable one of their top offensive assistants who made adjustments on the sidelines and talked to the players directly when they came out of the game. At home, they may have been okay, but on the road, they’re going to be challenged. In addition to that, Penn State probably is an overrated team who wasn’t even covering against the bad teams of the Big 10, winning with defense, and who didn’t have confidence in their quarterback. A road game at Ohio State should exploit all those problems.
In addition, Ohio State is in a perfect position to pounce on Penn State. Ohio State is returning home from a bad road loss at Purdue, and young teams often play much better at home (witness-Ohio State’s last second upset of Wisconsin, an opponent they dominated for three and a half quarters). It is Senior Day in Columbus, and probably the last home game for interim head coach and Buckeye lifer Luke Fickell. Also, wide receiver Devier Posey is finally returning from suspension. Yes, the Buckeyes are ultra conservative, but their edge playmakers are better than Penn State’s by a mile. I bet this at -7, but even at -7.5, the Buckeyes are a good bet.

Nebraska at Michigan (-3.5): Full disclosure, I’m a Nebraska-native, die-hard Cornhusker fan. I don’t bet my team often, but I pick my spots (I am 5-0 betting Nebraska games this year). I don’t have really strong lean in this game, but if I were betting it, I would probably go with Michigan.
For the record, Michigan is the pick of Vegas Runner, Marco DeAnglo, and Steven Nover of Pregame.com. Here are my thoughts.
Before the season, I thought Nebraska would go either 8-4 or 7-5 in the Big 10; they’re 8-2 now, so any win they get from here on out is gravy for me. The major reason I thought they’d slip would be that they’d have a hard time adjusting to the physicality of the Big 10, a run straight ahead conference. They had primarily built their team to be undersized to deal with the Big 12’s wide open spreads. Sure enough, they’ve had a plethora of injuries at both defensive tackle and at offensive line Only two guards traveled with the team to Penn State last week, and star defensive tackle Jared Crick is out for the year. The Huskers are going to rely on two or three defensive tackles to play most of the snaps. They had to go on a long road trip to Penn State last week, and now have to do it again. Their offense consists mostly of running quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead, who at times has looked exhausted from overuse. With Michigan’s improved defense, they could slow down Nebraska’s options.
Michigan, on the other hand, is peaking. They are team that is embracing coaching and stepping up in spots. Much like Nebraska, they are team that is very reliant on Dennard Robinson, and the Husker coaches have shown in the past that they are capable of slowing down big play reliant offenses.
A key stat that came to me via Jon Nyatawa on twitter: Dennard Robinson has thrown an interception once every sixteen passes. Nebraska’s defensive backs have been jumped the ball pretty consistently the second half of the season and Nebraska typically drops seven into coverage on third and long. Could provide opportunities for Nebraska.
Motivation wise, both teams should have max motivation as this could be a de facto play-in game for an at large BCS bid, and Nebraska is still alive for the Big 10 title game. Yes, I think Nebraska, who is 3-7 against the spread, could put up a fight. But I like Michigan’s direction, and if you’re going to bet this, follow the sharps and take Michigan.

Wisconsin (-14.5) at Illinois: I don’t really have a huge feel for this game. Wisconsin, like many teams in the top 10, has consistently covered the spread this year, except in two places you’d almost automatically fade them, at Michigan State and at Ohio State. This game is on the road, and yes, Illinois is starting to turn into same old underachieving Illinois with four straight looses and Ron Zook’s job is in question. Wisconsin needs this one if it’s going to stay in the conference race, and if I were going to bet, likely I’d take the Badgers. But there are better games out there.

Indiana at Michigan State(-27.5): Like the previous game, I don’t have a good feel for this one. Michigan State is a naturally conservative offense, and they don’t always put up as many points on lesser opponents as they should. This could be a good spot to fade the Spartans, as they are coming off a huge road win at Iowa, dispelling some of the critics who say they can’t play on the road. The Hoosiers are 3-3 ATS, and even Illinois cover against them. Personally, I think Wisconsin to cover versus Illinois is a better bet then Michigan State cover against Indiana.

Betting thoughts on Oklahoma State-Iowa State and Kansas-Texas A&M

Iowa State (+28.5 vs Oklahoma State) is a program that I follow with some closeness (given that I have to go to Ames for work frequently, I end up reading their papers and listening to their crappy sports radio). Typically, under Head Coach Paul Rhoads, they are team that can get up in spots, against Nebraska in 2009 and last year, last year at Texas (before the Horns went into a complete tailspin) and this year against Iowa and on the road at Uconn and Texas Tech. Once again, he’s got a team that has five wins and needs one more to go to a bowl game. The Cyclones strength is their run, lead by running back James White (4.8 ypc) and quarterback Jarret Barnett (5.2 ypc) who could spell Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, who had a lot of success against Oklahoma State. Iowa State has had two weeks, to prepare and comes off two wins, boosting their confidence. (Coming into their road upset of Nebraska in 2009, they had won or been in contention late in their last four games.) This will be a game night, and I have been to a night game at Jack Trice Stadium against Nebraska in 2006. If the crowd gets going, it will be an intimidating atmosphere; those fans know how to be loud, and this will be a crowd of at least 50,000. And unlike Oklahoma State, his will be one of the few games that Iowa State has been in the spotlight this year. The Cyclones should get up for this one.
But let’s look more closely at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are going on the road on a short week, with what could be the biggest game in school history on deck in two weeks against Oklahoma, with a chance to go to the BCS Title Game on the line. Both those factors would be reason enough to fade the Cowboys, but let’s look a little deeper. OSU’s three lowest point totals of the season are 30 at Texas A&M (on grass), 37 against Arizona (short week), and 38 against Texas (grass). (Texas and Texas A&M are Oklahoma State’s only two games on grass this season.) Now they have to play on a short week on grass. In addition, the forecast for Ames calls for twenty mile an hour winds on Friday, with temperatures around 45 degrees. While it may not be frosty, it may be a challenge to get the ball down field, forcing an explosive offense to be patient.
The line opened at Oklahoma State -26 and quickly jumped to -29 where I bet Iowa State. Yesterday, it went back down to -27 but has returned to -28.5. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get -29 before kickoff, as the public money should be on the Cowboys. (As Bryan Leonard of pregame.com says, the public loves to beat teams who score a lot.)
So all in all, I feel Iowa State is a particularly solid play here. While the Cowboys have been one of the top teams in College Football against the spread this year, their in a situation where they could have a let down and it’s not their ideal circumstances. I’d call for 38-17 Oklahoma State win, and would not be surprised if Iowa State was even closer in the second half.

Kansas(+31) at Texas A&M

This is a betting situation where you get value on a dog against a favorite who is a letdown spot. Texas A&M is 5-5 and 2-8 against the spread. Last week, the Aggies played four overtimes at Kansas State before loosing to the Wildcats. It may have been the last straw in a particularly disappointing year for the Aggies, based on their preseason expectations. Texas A&M is a program that typically underperforms and can’t deal with expectations.
Kansas, while they are 2-8, have played well the past two weeks, missing a field goal that would have sent the game to overtime, and missing an overtime two point conversion that would have won the game against Baylor. Their self-esteem is up, and now they get an opponent who might overlook them. Turner Gill is in his second year at Kansas, and is starting to feel they heat having won only 5 games so far and only one in the Big 12, so they will likely try hard to score even if the game is out of hand. They have one of the best running games in the Big 12, and this should be able to shorten the game.
While I think Texas A&M will beat Kansas, I think that the Jayhawks will stay in the game and still be playing hard even after the game maybe over. Texas A&M wins but Kansas covers 41-17. I haven’t bet this yet, and will wait up until game (12 ET) hoping to get some more points on the Aggies.

Betting thoughts on North Carolina-Virginia Tech

Quick thoughts on North Carolina(+10 at last check)-Virginia Tech: I don’t have a strong pull on this game. The argument for Virginia Tech covering is that this a revenge game from the last time UNC came into Lane Stadium and upset the VATech two years ago. Virginia Tech should have high motivation, given that a win could clinch the a birth for them in the ACC Title Game with a loss by rival Virginia on Saturday. It is senior night and Virginia Tech relishes in playing in the spotlight.
But here’s why Virginia Tech won’t cover. Virginia Tech is 3-7 against the spread, one of those against an FCS team, one against Wake Forest after the Demon Deacon were coming off a huge win against Florida State, and another was in a pick’em game at Georgia Tech, with extra time to prepare, everyone either beats or covers against Georgia Tech. The four worst teams in the AQ conference at covering the spread are Virginia Tech, Penn State, Nebraska, and Texas A&M. A&M can never handle expectation, and the three other programs all have the same common denominator: influence from an older head coach who is run-oriented and doesn’t believe in running up the score in an age where everyone does. (Athletic director Tom Osborne in Nebraska’s case.) Virginia Tech is built around their running the ball, both with running back David Wilson and quarterback Logan Thomas (428 running plays compared to 275 pass plays). But Thomas leaves much to be desired as a passer, which why Virginia Tech doesn’t cover often.
So let’s look at North Carolina. Going into their game against North Carolina State, I thought that the Tar Heels were a good bet at -4. I went this way because UNC hadn’t been blown out in any of their games this year, except the Clemson game were two of their turnovers lead directly to points and North Carolina State had been blown out three times. The line had gone down, and I figured there was value on UNC. I was wrong, and NCSU won 13-0. Now, UNC has had time to prepare and should be motivated given that this is their first and only shot on the national stage this year (and they disappointed in their last opportunity on a national stage in last season’s opener against LSU in the Georgia Dome.) UNC isn’t a size mismatch against Virginia Tech, and still has the NFL bodies which Butch Davis recruited. UNC quarterback Bryn Renner grew up in a Hokie family, so he will be max motivated. It would seem to be a reasonable play to follow the trend and take a Virginia Tech opponent to cover.
But there are some reservations about North Carolina. First Interim Head Coach Everett Withers probably has no chance now to get the job on a permanent basis and with his team already achieving bowl eligibility, likely they won’t be giving maximum effort. Everyone know a new hand is coming in and they could be playing for themselves. Outside of Duke, UNC has been 5-8 in November the past four year and this years (the Davis years), possibly because because basketball is back and football again is taking a back seat. If UNC mails it in, it won’t matter how Virginia Tech plays.
The line opened around -13 but is now down to -10. While logic dictates that the Virginia Tech opponent would be an automatic play, I do think there are some concerns about UNC’s motivation. Personally, I would wait up until game time and see if the line dropped any further. If it ended up around 9 or 9.5, I would consider playing Virginia Tech, but I have no problem passing on it. There will be better games this weekend.

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