Spread Options: Week 4

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer
E.J. Manuel and the Seminoles get their first real test Saturday. (US Presswire)

Every Monday in Spread Options Eye On College Football Blogger Tom Fornelli will take a look at the betting lines for five of the coming weekend's most important games. By looking at recent trends for both schools involved, along with their head coaches, he'll try to get an early read on what the best bet is for you to make, or if it's a game you should just stay away from.

Well last week was my worst weekend of the season here in Spread Options, as I went 2-3 in the five games I broke down. Because of this, I have taken Ohio State, Michigan State, Stanford and USC (only 35 total points?) off my Christmas list.

The good news, aside from saving money on gifts for those four schools, is that I'm still 8-6 on the season in Spread Options, and if you can win more often than you lose, that's a good thing.

So let's continue that trend with this week's five biggest games.

Game One: Oregon (-23 ½) vs. Arizona, Over/Under 75
Saturday 9/22, 10:30 p.m. (All times Eastern) ESPN

2011+12 Against The Spread
Overall: 8-8-1Overall: 6-9
Home: 3-7-1Road: 2-4
Home Fav: 11-9-2Road Dog: 2-2
vs. Pac-12: 6-3-1vs. Pac-12: 3-6
Over/Under: 10-5Over/Under 9-5
Under Current Head Coaches
Overall: 23-18-2Overall: 2-1
Home: 13-9-2Road: 0-0
Home Fav: 11-9-2Road Dog: 0-0
vs. Pac-12: 17-9-2vs. Pac-12: 0-0
Last Five Meetings
2011: Oregon 56 Arizona 31
2010: Oregon 48 Arizona 29
2009: Oregon 44 Arizona 41 2OT
2008: Oregon 55 Arizona 45
2007: Arizona 34 Oregon 24

I have to admit that the first thought creeping through my mind upon seeing this spread is that 23 1/2 points is a lot of points considering this is the same Arizona team that knocked off Oklahoma State two weeks ago. That being said, Oklahoma State in Tucson isn't the same thing as Oregon in Eugene.

Still, look at the teams Oregon has played: Arkansas State, Fresno State, Tennessee Tech. In those three games Oregon is 0-3 against the spread in 2012, as its defense has had a habit of allowing points, particularly late in games. So even though the Ducks have had a good record versus the number both at home and against Pac-12 foes, I'm not all that comfortable giving up more than three touchdowns with the Ducks right now.

VERDICT: And when the point spread seems designed to scare and confuse, the next logical step is to look at that over/under. These two teams are a combined 19-10 (19 games over, 10 games under) since the beginning of the 2011 season. The last five meetings have featured an average of 81.4 points per game, with the lowest scoring game having 58 points. So when you look at those numbers, it only makes sense to go with the Over 75.

Game Two: South Carolina (-10) vs. Missouri, Over/Under 48 ½
Saturday 9/22, 3:30 p.m. CBS

2011+12 Against The Spread
Overall: 8-7-1Overall: 8-7-1
Home: 6-3Road: 3-2
Home Fave: 6-3Road Dog: 3-1
vs. SEC: 4-4-1vs. SEC: 0-1
Over/Under: 7-8Over/Under 7-7
Under Current Head Coaches*
Overall: 47-39-3Overall: 65-59-2
Home: 26-20-1Road: 23-21-1
Home Fav: 19-13Road Dog: 12-9
vs. SEC: 30-25-3vs. SEC: 0-1

*Pinkel's record since 2002

There isn't much I like when looking at this game and the trends amongst both teams. For every advantage that Spurrier's Gamecocks seem to have against the spread at home, Pinkel's Tigers play just as well against the number on the road. The over/under records don't present a clear picture either.

Then there's just the fact there's no track record of what Missouri is inside the SEC aside from one game against Georgia, and that's just not a lot to base anything on.

VERDICT: My official advice for this game is to STAY AWAY. The trends not only cancel each other out for the most part, but the status of both Connor Shaw and James Franklin is up in the air right now. If you want to make a bet on this game the best advice I can give you is to wait and see what develops, though no matter what happens, that line is sure to move from 10 points.

Game Three: Oklahoma (-13 ½) vs. Kansas State, Over/Under 58 ½
Saturday 9/22, 7:50 p.m. Fox

2011+12 Against The Spread
Overall: 8-7Overall: 11-5
Home: 4-3Road: 5-0
Home Fav: 4-3Road Dog: 4-0
vs. Big 12: 3-6vs. Big 12: 7-2
Over/Under: 7-7Over/Under: 10-4
Under Current Head Coaches*
Overall: 70-61-4Overall: 23-17
Home: 36-24-1Road: 10-5
Home Fav: 36-24-1Road Dog: 8-2
vs. Big 12: 47-39-2vs. Big 12: 18-7
Last Five Meetings
2011: Oklahoma 58 Kansas State 17
2009: Oklahoma 42 Kansas State 30
2008: Oklahoma 58 Kansas State 35
2005: Oklahoma 43 Kansas State 21
2003: Kansas State 35 Oklahoma 7

*Bob Stoops since 2002 and Bill Snyder since 2009

Last season the meeting between these two teams was supposed to be a close game that helped decide who would end up winning the Big 12 title. Instead Oklahoma blew the doors off Kansas State in Manhattan, winning 58-17. It wouldn't matter, though, as Oklahoma would go on to lose two of its final four games and Kansas State would finish second in the conference behind Oklahoma State.

So what will this year bring? Well, given the recent track record, you'd have to assume Oklahoma is going to dominate, as Kansas State hasn't actually beaten the Sooners since 2003. However, one should not look past the Bill Snyder Magic! The man is like a leprechaun if leprechauns were 72-year old man who coach football teams in Manhattan, Kansas rather than tiny little Irishmen found at the end of a rainbow.

VERDICT: My instinct is telling me to take Oklahoma and give up the 13 1/2 points, but then I just keep looking at Kansas State's mark on the road last season. The Wildcats were 5-0 against the spread outside Manhattan, including a 4-0 mark as road underdogs. They were also 7-2 against Big 12 rivals, and these are trends that have stayed consistent since Snyder's return. I just can't ignore those numbers, I'm taking Kansas State +13 1/2.

Game Four: Notre Dame (-6) vs. Michigan, Over/Under 51
Saturday, 9/22 7:30 p.m. NBC

2011+12 Against The Spread
Overall: 7-9Overall: 8-6-1
Home: 3-4Road: 2-2
Home Fav: 3-4Road Dog: 1-1
vs. BCS: 4-9vs. NonCon: 3-3-1
Over/Under: 5-9-1Over/Under 7-8
Under Current Head Coaches
Overall: 14-13-1Overall: 8-6-1
Home: 5-7-2Road: 2-2
Home Fave: 4-6-2Road Dog: 1-1
vs. BCS: 9-11-1vs. NonCon: 3-3-1
Last Five Meetings
2011: Michigan 35 Notre Dame 31
2010: Michigan 28 Notre Dame 24
2009: Michigan 38 Notre Dame 34
2008: Notre Dame 35 Michigan 17
2007: Michigan 38 Notre Dame 0

This is a series that has been dominated by Michigan of late. Even when nothing was going right for the Wolverines and Rich Rodriguez, Rich could always count on a win against the Irish to buy him another week of goodwill. Things didn't change under Brady Hoke last season, either, as the Wolverines staged a furious fourth quarter comeback to knock off the Irish.

Now, after defeating Notre Dame three straight times and in four of the last five, the Wolverines come to South Bend as a 6-point underdog. Does this make sense to you?

VERDICT: In the last five years Michigan is 4-1 against the spread when playing the Irish. Denard Robinson has used the Notre Dame defense as his own personal playground during his games against them as well, and I'm not sure I see that ending this season. Yes, Notre Dame's defense has looked very strong these first three weeks, but the Irish are yet to face a quarterback with half the ability Robinson has. You should feel extremely confident putting your money down on Michigan +6. Hurry, before common sense ruins that line.

Game Five: Florida State (-14) vs. Clemson, Over/Under 57 ½
Saturday 9/22, 8 p.m. ABC

2011+12 Against The Spread
Overall: 9-6Overall: 9-8
Home: 5-4Road: 2-3
Home Fav: 5-3Road Dog: 1-1
vs. ACC: 5-4vs. ACC: 6-3
Over/Under: 5-9Over/Under: 7-8
Under Current Head Coaches
Overall: 17-12Overall: 22-21
Home: 9-7Road: 8-7
Home Fav: 5-3Road Dog: 5-2
vs. ACC: 9-9vs. ACC: 16-10
Last Five Meetings
2011: Clemson 35 Florida State 30
2010: Florida State 16 Clemson 13
2009: Clemson 40 Florida State 24
2008: Florida State 41 Clemson 27
2007: Clemson 24 Florida State 18

It's only September but this could easily be the game that decides who goes on to win the ACC this season, and because of that, this 14-point spread seems a bit big to me. But is it?

Florida State has dominated through three weeks, but a lot of teams could dominate Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest at home. Clemson beat Auburn to start the season, but that win looks less impressive each week, and two games against Ball State and Furman don't exactly tell us a whole lot.

VERDICT: While there's not a lot in the trends against the spread for us to pick up on -- other than Florida State seems to beat the number more often on the road than at home -- there isn't anything that truly stands out. At least, not enough to make me lean in one direction. What is in Florida State's favor is that the home team has won every meeting between these teams since 2007. However, Florida State is also 1-4 versus the spread in those meetings. When you combine that with Dabo Swinney's 16-10 mark against the ACC along with the fact the Seminoles just haven't played anybody, well, I'm going to have to take Clemson +14 here.

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