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We're coming off a nice 2-1 week so let's keep it rolling as we head into Week 11 of the college football season.
When handicapping college football, analyzing a team's situational spot is one of the best ways to gain an edge in the market. Here are three team situational spots that I focus on most when handicapping a weekend's collegiate slate:
- Teams coming off an emotional win and traveling the next week.
- Teams coming off an embarrassing/tough loss the week before.
- The classic look ahead game where a team is playing a lesser opponent but the next week, they have a big-time opponent on their schedule.
The one game that stood out to me, based on these situational spots, is the Notre Dame/Navy matchup and here's why:
Here’s a game where you have a Notre Dame team that just played their game of the year last week, with a huge win over the Clemson Tigers, having to go on the road against Navy. The Irish completely dominated the Tigers from start to finish, winning 35-14. However, of their 35 points scored,14 were on an interception return and a blocked punt touchdown. I really don’t know what to make of this Notre Dame team this season, as they are so hot and cold. I view this spread as an overvalue of Notre Dame after a big win.
Notre Dame’s offense does not move the football well. Their success has come mostly on the ground, and they run the ball 62% of the time. On the other side of the ball, you have Navy who's defense ranks top 25 in the following categories: Stuff Rate, Yards Per Rush and Line Yards. Navy should be able to slow down the Irish’ strength on the offensive side of the ball. Meanwhile, Navy on the offensive side of the football rushes at an 82% clip and will no doubt try to run this clock and keep the football away from the Notre Dame offense.
The combination of a Notre Dame team riding high off a big win at home and coming on the road against a Navy team that will be giving them their best shot, a low total of 41.5, and a Navy team that loves to run the football screams too many points. Give me Navy +17 at home against the Irish.
Here are some other plays that I like for Week 11...
Wake Forest –3.5
North Carolina and Wake Forest make for a good matchup on Saturday night. Both teams have highly rated offenses that can get up and down the field quickly. This is a huge buy low spot for me on Wake Forest. North Carolina has not played anyone of significance all year as their toughest game was against Notre Dame and they lost that game handily. Wake Forest while coming in off two losses has been tested by teams ranked in the top 35 of my power rankings (Clemson, NC State, Louisville and Florida State). The big discrepancy in this game for me is on the defensive side of the ball. While both offenses have good QB’s and can put up big points Wake Forest’s defense can be the defense that can make stops. Wake Forest boasts the 2nd ranked pass rush in the nation (PFF), rank 7th in overall defense (PFF), rank 11th in run defense and 35th in coverage. This game is going to be won on which defense can make the most stops. North Carolina on the defensive side of the ball ranks 105th in coverage, 110th in run defense and 106th in overall defense. When the ball is inside the 40 these two offenses rank 2nd (North Carolina) and 16th (Wake Forest) in finishing drives offensively. On the defensive side North Carolina ranks 117th in points per opportunity inside the 40 while Wake Forest ranks 33rd in that category. This game to me is going to come down to stops and Wake Forest has the much better defense in this one to make those stops. Give me Wake Forest –3.5. Should be a cheap buy down to 3 if it makes you more comfortable but I think they still cover the 3.5.
Tennessee Under 57
This was partly a situational play for me as well. Here you’ve got Tennessee coming home after an emotionally draining week down in Georgia. They were through a battle against that Georgia defense and were dominated throughout the game. This could be a situation where Tennessee overlooks a tough Missouri defense if they’re not motivated enough. While Tennessee ranks high in offensive categories, Missouri ranks high on the defensive side of the ball. Missouri ranks 17th in overall defense (PFF), 9th in defensive success rate (CFD), 21st in coverage (PFF), 20th in pass rush (PFF) and 22nd in defensive points per opportunity (CFD). The numbers in this matchup are strength against strength for me and I believe Tennessee cruises to victory late after starting the game a little sluggish. Missouri is in the bottom of most offensive categories and tops in most defensive categories while Tennessee is tops in most offensive categories and towards the bottom on defense. This should slow this game down enough to come in under the total. Tennessee wins this game with ease but give me under 57 in this one.
Liberty Under 46.5
Let’s be honest, you’ll be lucky to find this one on television, but value is value. Liberty traveling to Connecticut after upsetting an SEC team on the road. This play for me is just about bad offenses. These two teams rank towards the bottom in total offense and specifically rank 112th and 114th in passing offense. I believe Liberty should not have a ton of motivation for this game and will just want to get out with a victory. Both teams run their offenses slowly as they rank 125th and 65th in seconds per play. UConn is usually methodical, and they will want to keep the Liberty offense on the sideline. Uconn runs the ball at a 65% clip while Liberty runs the ball at a 57% clip. Between the pace these two teams play, the lack of success throwing the football, and the amount both teams like to run the football, give me under 46.5 here.
Utah Team Total Over 38
Stanford traveling to Utah for another beatdown. Utah is a totally different team at home it seems. Their offense in their last three home games has scored over 43 points per game. Overall, at home they have lit up the scoreboard. Now they have a team in the Stanford Cardinal that come in with one of the worst defenses in the FBS. Stanford ranks 126th in total defense (PFF), 103rd in coverage (PFF), 108th in defense success rate, 81st in tackling (PFF), and 89th in defensive points per opportunity (CFD). To top that all off Stanford ranks 37th in seconds per play so their offense moves quickly which bodes well for Utah’s offense to get the ball in their hands more. On Utah’s side of the ball, they rank 18th in overall
offense, 18th in passing offense, 11th in rushing and 7th in offensive success rate. Utah should have ample opportunities all day on offense. Give me Utah’s team total of over 38.
By Brandon Kenyon
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