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Spread Options: Week 6

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer
Would beating LSU finally be enough for Florida to get some respect? (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 week'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.

I finally got back to winning last week, even though 3-2 isn't exactly the goal around here. Still, a positive week is always better than a negative week, so I won't complain about it. All right, maybe I will for a second.

You finally get all your starters back on defense and you forget how to play it, Georgia? Against a Tennessee team that had been 1-8 against the spread in conference games the last two seasons to boot. Thanks a lot.

Anyway, I'm still 12-11 on the season now and about to improve that mark with this week's games, so let's get to it.

Game One: Washington at Oregon (-24), Over/Under 65
Saturday 10/6 10:30pm (all times Eastern) ESPN

2011+12 Against The Spread
Overall: 9-9-1Overall: 9-8
Home: 4-7-1Road: 2-4
Home Fav: 4-7-1Road Dog: 2-3
vs. Pac-12: 7-4-1vs. Pac-12: 6-4
Over/Under: 11-6Over/Under: 6-8-1
Under Current Head Coaches
Overall: 24-19-2Overall: 22-20
Home: 14-9-2Road: 7-10
Home Fav: 12-9-2Road Dog: 6-9
vs. Pac-12: 18-10-2vs. Pac-12: 15-13
Last Five Meetings
2011: Oregon 34 Washington 17
2010: Oregon 53 Washington 16
2009: Oregon 43 Washington 19
2008: Oregon 44 Washington 10
2007: Oregon 55 Washington 34

Honestly, my first reaction to seeing this spread is that it's a bit large. This is a Washington team that did just knock off Stanford last week, so to be a 24-point underdog seems extreme, even if it is against Oregon. Of course when you look at the recent history between these two schools, it starts making a lot more sense as the Ducks have won the last five by an average of 26.6 points per game.

VERDICT: I'd like to stay away from the spread all together in this matchup. First of all, I'm leaning toward Oregon, but the Ducks are 1-4 against the spread this season, and 1-3 at Autzen Stadium. Then I see that over/under and the 65 looks low. Of Oregon's five games this season, only one had a point total lower than that, the 49-0 win against Arizona. I'm rather confident these two teams will be able to surpass that, so take the Over 65.

Game Two: Nebraska at Ohio State (-3 ½), Over/Under 55
Saturday 10/6 8pm ABC

2011 Against The Spread
Overall: 8-10Overall: 7-10-1
Home: 4-7Road: 2-3-1
Home Fav: 3-7Road Dog: 0-2
vs. Big 10: 5-4vs. Big 10: 3-5-1
Over/Under: 8-9Over/Under: 8-8
Under Current Head Coaches
Overall: 2-3Overall: 30-28-1
Home: 1-3Road: 11-8-1
Home Fav: 1-3Road Dog: 2-3
vs. Big 10: 1-0vs. Big 10: 3-5-1

This game is not easy to figure out, as the Big Ten is not only one of the worst conferences in college football this season, but it's also one that's incredibly hard to predict. Through the first five weeks of Spread Options I've featured seven games that have had at least one Big Ten team in them. In those seven games I have a record of 2-5, with one of those wins being smart enough to know Alabama would crush Michigan.

VERDICT: My advice is to stay away. I'm not just doing this because of my record in Big Ten games. I'm doing it because there is no clear cut trend that sticks out between these two teams. Ohio State is 1-3 at home against the spread this season, but Nebraska isn't any better when it's on the road. As for the over/under, I have no idea what to expect. The defenses on these two teams go back and forth from strong to terrible numerous times in any game. This could be a game that ends 35-31 or it could end 13-10. I just don't know.

Game Three: West Virginia at Texas (-6 ½), Over/Under 76
Saturday 10/6 7pm Fox

2011 Against The Spread
Overall: 10-7Overall: 7-8-1
Home: 4-4Road: 3-2-2
Home Fav: 4-3Road Dog: 2-0
vs. Big 12: 5-5vs. Big 12: 0-1
Over/Under: 7-8-1Over/Under: 10-5
Under Current Head Coaches*
Overall: 68-62-2Overall: 7-8-1
Home: 31-32Road: 3-2-2
Home Fav: 31-29Road Dog: 2-0
vs. Big 12: 41-41-2vs. Big 12: 0-1

*Mack Brown since 2002

West Virginia didn't take very long to fit into the Big 12 did it? Last week's shootout with Baylor was epic, and a hell of a lot of fun to watch, but there's a large difference between the Baylor defense and the Texas defense. Or is there?

VERDICT: I've developed a bit of a philosophy this season, and that philosophy says that whenever a line opens in a West Virginia game, take the over before it gets any higher. I'm sticking with it this week, take the Over 76. The Texas defense has allowed 67 points in the last two weeks to Ole Miss and Oklahoma State while scoring 107 points of its own on offense. This is a Longhorns team that's averaging nearly 50 points a game, and it's going against a porous West Virginia defense. I don't think this is the same kind of tennis match that West Virginia and Baylor was, but it's going to reach the over.

Game Four: LSU (-2 ½) at Florida, Over/Under 44 ½
Saturday 10/6 3:30pm CBS

2011 Against The Spread
Overall: 8-9Overall: 12-5
Home: 4-5Road: 5-1
Home Dog: 0-2Road Fav: 4-1
vs. SEC: 5-6vs. SEC: 8-3
Over/Under: 7-9Over/Under: 9-7-1
Under Current Head Coaches
Overall: 8-9Overall: 43-49-4
Home: 4-5Road: 17-14-2
Home Dog: 0-2Road Fav: 12-8-2
vs. SEC: 5-6vs. SEC: 23-34-4
Last Five Meetings
2011: LSU 41 Florida 11
2010: LSU 33 Florida 29
2009: Florida 13 LSU 3
2008: Florida 51 LSU 21
2007: LSU 28 Florida 24

If you look at the tables above then this one seems a obvious. However, it's not. Those numbers are skewed. The numbers you should look closer at is Les Miles' career record against the spread at LSU. Yes, LSU is 12-5 against the number the last two seasons, but this year it's 2-3.

VERDICT: I'm taking Florida +2 ½ here. Just something about a home underdog in a rivalry game that I just have a hard time ignoring. There's also the fact that the Gators are 3-0 against the spread when playing SEC opponents already this season. When combined with LSU's lackluster performances against both Auburn and Towson the last two weeks this decision only becomes easier.

Game Five: Georgia at South Carolina (-2 ½), Over/Under 57
Saturday 10/6 7pm ESPN

2011 Against The Spread
Overall: 10-7-1Overall: 10-8-1
Home: 7-3Road: 4-1
Home Fav: 7-3Road Dog: 0-0
vs. SEC: 6-4-1vs. SEC: 7-4-1
Over/Under: 8-9Over/Under: 11-7
Under Current Head Coaches*
Overall: 49-39-3Overall: 65-62-4
Home: 27-20-1Road: 24-19-1
Home Fav: 20-13Road Dog: 6-7
vs. SEC: 32-25-3vs. SEC: 42-42-3
Last Five Meetings
2011: South Carolina 45 Georgia 42
2010: South Carolina 17 Georgia 6
2009: Georgia 41 South Carolina 37
2008: Georgia 14 South Carolina 7
2007: South Carolina 16-12

*Mark Richt since 2002

So let's see, should I take the team that's proven to be strong against the number at home, or the team that's been strong against the number on the road? How about that over/under? It's not like the point total between these two teams fluctuates every season or anything.

VERDICT: This one is tough for the reasons I listed above, and a couple others. First of all, these are two very good teams, and odds are this game is going to come down to a mistake or two. In the end, though, I have to go with South Carolina -2 ½. The reasons for this are simple. First of all, with a spread this small in a game this hard to call, I tend to lean toward the home team naturally. Second of all, while Georgia's been good on the road, historically it hasn't performed well as a road underdog under Richt. Finally, South Carolina is 4-1 against the spread this season while Georgia is 2-3. So I'm just playing the odds here.

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