College football’s traditional Rivalry Week isn’t until the last weekend of November. But Saturday’s slate of games serves up two classic rivalries in Texas-Oklahoma and Notre Dame-Southern California.
The Sooners are consensus 10½-point favorites over the Longhorns in the Red River Showdown after the line was as high as 11½.
Handicapper Kenny White is leaning to Texas and under 75½. The Longhorns beat Oklahoma 48-45 as 7-point underdogs in the regular season last year before losing to the Sooners 39-27 in the Big 12 title game.
“When Texas coach Tom Herman gets seven or more points, he’s 9-1 against the spread, and in those 10 games, he went under in seven of them,” said White (Kennywhitesports.com).
White recommends playing a correlated parlay of Texas and under.
“It’s such a big total, and if the Longhorns are going to stay close, they’re going to have to slow Oklahoma down,” he said. “Oklahoma is 9-3 to the under in its last 12 neutral site games, and the 9 a.m. kickoff is better for defenses.”
Four of the last five meetings have been decided by seven points or less, and the underdog has covered 15 of the last 25 meetings.
“History says you take the points in this game,” said Ed Salmons, Westgate sportsbook vice president of risk management. “The Texas defense scares me because it can’t stop much. But it’s a rivalry game. If I had to bet it, I’d lean Texas. I certainly wouldn’t lay points.”
NOTRE DAME (-10½) over Southern Cal
The Fighting Irish were 11½-point favorites over the Trojans before sharp money on USC caused the number to drop to 10½.
White leans to Notre Dame.
“I thought this number should be 14,” he said. “USC is a decent team, but Notre Dame is the better defensive team and it’s the better offensive team as well.
“It’s a coaching mismatch. Clay Helton is 2-9 ATS in his last 11 road games, and USC is 7-18-1 ATS in its last 26 road games. Brian Kelly is 10-5 ATS in his last 15 at home.”
The Irish have won the last two meetings, beating USC 24-17 last season on the road and 49-14 in 2017 in South Bend, Indiana.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide will face their first test of the season at Texas A&M. Alabama is a consensus 17-point favorite after the line opened as high as 18 and sharp money drove the number to 16½.
“Alabama is going to start stepping up in class,” Salmons said. “It will be really good to see what they’re about because they’ve played such an easy schedule so far. Not that Texas A&M is a great team, but (College Station, Texas) can be a tough place to go.”
Penn State was a 4½-point road favorite over Iowa, but the line has dipped to 3½.
“When you first look at the line, you kind of think it’s high with Penn State laying that many points on the road,” Salmons said. “But all the numbers behind Penn State are warranted. I would lean Penn State. If I can bet 3, I would bet it.”
The total opened at 46½ at Circa Sports and was bet to 40½ before creeping up to 42.
“They expect a real grinder in that game,” Circa oddsmaker Matt Lindeman said.
A William Hill bettor placed $165,000 in straight bets on Indiana — $55,000 each at -27, -27½ and -28 — over Rutgers. And an MGM Resorts bettor placed $165,000 in straight bets on the Hoosiers — $55,000 each at -26½, -27½ and -28½ — and a $50,000 parlay that pays $130,000 on Indiana (-28) and Michigan (-21½).
The line opened at 25 at Circa Sports and climbed as high as 29.
“Indiana has struggled against more talented competition, but if it gets the opportunity to lay the hammer on a helpless team like Rutgers, it’s going to do it,” Lindeman said.
Rutgers won its opener over lowly Massachusetts, but has lost its last four games by a combined score of 160-23 to Iowa, Boston College, Michigan and Maryland.
UNR (-2½) over San Jose State
Two weeks removed from a 54-3 home loss to Hawaii, the Wolf Pack are White’s best bet.
“It’s a good spot for Reno coming off a loss,” he said. “There’s a little bit of the embarrassment factor. They were blown out by Hawaii and have had an extra week to prepare for this. San Jose has been one of the most fortunate teams in the country. They’re plus 11 in turnovers in their last three games. That’s not going to hold up.”
The Westgate reported sharp plays on South Carolina, Alabama-Birmingham and Toledo. CG Technology reported sharp plays on Miami, Fla., Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Washington State, Kent State and Cincinnati.