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.