USC’s Sam Darnold enters season as Heisman Trophy betting favorite

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While being Hollywood-adjacent gives Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold a huge platform for a Heisman Trophy campaign, recent history shows being an early favorite often works against a player’s chance of being voted college football’s most outstanding player.

Darnold, the sophomore quarterback for the USC Trojans, is listed as the +400 favorite on the odds to win the 2017 Heisman Trophy at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The top tier of the board also includes Penn State RB Saquon Barkley (+700), Oklahoma Sooners QB Baker Mayfield (+800), Louisville QB and reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson (+800),  and Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett (+800).

At the outset of the 2016 season, the board was topped by talents such as Christian McCaffrey and Deshaun Watson. Jackson was listed at +1800 early in the season.

Darnold is certainly worthy of 2018 NFL draft hype, but as a pocket passer likely will need numbers in the range of 4,000 yards and 40 TD passes to have a shot. Doing so will require quickly building rapport with a USC receiving corps that lost the sure hands that latched on to 44 per cent of Darnold’s 2016 yardage, so how Darnold gets up to speed with ballyhooed frosh WR Joseph Lewis will be essential.

Similarly, Mayfield has also lost his three best skill-position complements to the NFL. Being a finalist as a sophomore or junior, as Mayfield was, usually doesn’t portend winning; it often just means a player has hit his ceiling with Heisman voters. The debate over how Jackson’s game will translate to the NFL could also give voters pause about picking him again, unless he somehow tops his 2016 total of 51 total touchdowns (passing and rushing).

The last three running backs selected all gained at least 1,650 yards, and if he stays healthy Barkley is capable of exceeding that total in a Penn State spread offense where QB Trace McSorley (+3300) will keep opponents from putting eight defenders in the box. The Big Ten has not had a Heisman winner in the last 10 seasons, its longest drought since a 15-year span a generation ago (1976-90).

Five of the last 10 Heisman winners have hailed from the SEC, which has by far the largest media footprint of any conference in the nation. With some further research, one can zero in on playing a hunch on the Heisman Trophy betting lines between one of the many SEC running backs on the board, including Alabama’s Bo Scarbrough (+1400), Louisiana State’s Derrius Guice (+1200) and Georgia’s Nick Chubb (+2500).

Of those three, Guice, who averaged almost 162 yards across his eight starts in 2016, might be the most likely to get credit for his team’s success. It’s hard to imagine another ‘Bama back winning so soon after the 1,943-yard season Derrick Henry had while winning the Heisman in 2015.

Three of the last six winners, including Jackson, played for teams that heretofore had never had a Heisman winner. That is more of a cluster than a trend, since prior to Baylor’s Robert Griffin III in 2011, the last player to bring his team its first Heisman was in 1994.

Alabama, Georgia highlight college football odds in Week 4

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Getting the cover when they host good teams has bedeviled the Georgia Bulldogs recently, which suggests the line against the Mississippi State Bulldogs might be a bit generous. Georgia is listed as a six-point favorite against Mississippi State with a 48.5 total in their Week 4 matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Georgia is only 2-5 against the spread in its last seven games against teams with winning records, although they are 12-1 straight-up in their last 13 games in September. Mississippi State is coming off a statement win where they won by 30 points against LSU, but these Bulldogs are 0-5 ATS in their last five games after winning as the underdog.

Most of the teams ranked in the Top 10 are on the road in Week 4.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are 18.5-road favorites against the Vanderbilt Commodores, with a 43 total. Alabama is 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS in its last eight conference road games, according to the OddsShark College Football Database. The total has gone under in 15 of Vanderbilt’s last 18 games against its conference.

The Penn State Nittany Lions are 12.5-point road favorites against the Iowa Hawkeyes, with a 52 total. Penn State is 11-0-1 ATS in its last 12 games. Iowa is 2-7 ATS in its last nine conference games at home.

The Clemson Tigers are 34-point favorites against the Boston College Eagles, with a 53 total. The total has gone under in 14 of Boston College’s last 19 games against its conference. Clemson is 5-0 ATS in its last five games.

The Oklahoma Sooners are 27.5-point road favorites against the Baylor Bears, with a 62.5 total. Oklahoma is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games on the road. The total has gone over in 16 of Baylor’s last 22 games at home against teams with winning records.

The USC Trojans are 16.5-point road favorites against the California Golden Bears, with a 64 total. The total has gone under in 10 of Southern Cal’s last 13 games on the road against teams with winning records. California, which defeated Mississippi in Week 3, is 1-4 ATS in its last five games after winning as an underdog.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are four-point road favorites against the Michigan State Spartans, with a 54 total. Notre Dame is 2-9 SU in its last 11 games on the road against teams with winning records. Michigan State is 10-1 SU in its last 11 games in September

The Oklahoma State Cowboys are 14-point favorites against the TCU Horned Frogs, with a 71 total. TCU is 2-7 ATS in its last nine games against its conference. Oklahoma State, which is 3-0 SU so far this season, is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games after consecutive wins.

The Washington Huskies are 10.5-point road favorites against the Colorado Buffaloes, with a 50 total. Washington is 1-4 ATS in its last five road games in September. Colorado is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games in Week 4.

The Stanford Cardinal are 7.5-point favorites against the UCLA Bruins, with a 57 total. UCLA is 0-9 SU and 1-8 ATS in its last nine games against Stanford. Stanford, which is coming off of a loss against San Diego State, is 6-0 ATS in its last six games after losing as a favorite.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Clemson’s road winning streak on the line as betting favorite at Louisville

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Defending national champion Clemson’s road winning streak, built with a quarterback who’s now in the NFL, could be on shaky ground against the Louisville Cardinals, who are a tough out on home turf.

Clemson, now with Kelly Bryant at quarterback, is listed as a three-point road favorite against Louisville with a 56 total in their Week 3 matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Clemson is 10-0 straight-up and 4-6 against the spread over its last 10 home games, with the over hitting in seven of those contests. Louisville, led by reigning Heisman Trophy-winning QB Lamar Jackson, is 9-1 SU in its last 10 home games as well as 7-1 ATS in its last eight Week 3 matchups.

The Florida Gators are 5.5-point favorites against the Tennessee Volunteers on the Week 3 college football odds with a 49 total. Tennessee is 1-11 SU and 4-6-2 ATS in its last 12 games against Florida. The total has gone over in seven of Florida’s last 10 games at home against teams with winning records.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 13.5-point road favorites against the Boston College Eagles, with a 51 total. The total has gone under in Notre Dame’s last seven games against Boston College. Boston College is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games at home.

The USC Trojans are 16.5-point favorites against the Texas Longhorns, with a 67 total. Southern Cal is 11-0 SU in its last 11 games. Texas is 5-2 ATS in its last seven games against the Pac-12 conference.

The LSU Tigers are seven-point road favorites against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, with a 51.5 total. LSU is 14-6 ATS in its last 20 games against Mississippi State. The total has gone under in seven of Mississippi State’s last 10 games at home.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are 28.5-point favorites against the Colorado State Rams, with a 53.5 total. Colorado State is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games. The total has gone under in seven of Alabama’s last eight home games according to the OddsShark College Football Database.

The Ohio State Buckeyes are 30-point favorites against the Army Black Knights, with a 53 total. Army is 7-2 ATS in its last nine games in September. The total has gone under in five of Ohio State’s last seven games in September.

The Wisconsin Badgers are 17-point road favorites against the BYU Cougars, with a 41 total. Wisconsin is 8-0 SU and 4-4 ATS in its last eight road games as a favorite of 14 or more points. Brigham Young is 2-8 SU and 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games as the underdog.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys are 14-point road favorites against the Pittsburgh Panthers, with a 64.5 total. Oklahoma State is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games as a road favorite. Pittsburgh is 3-11 ATS in its last 14 games at home.

And the UCLA Bruins are three-point road favorites against the Memphis Tigers, with a 70.5 total. UCLA is 8-2 SU and 4-6 ATS in its last 10 games as a road favorite. Memphis is 4-6 ATS in its last 10 home games.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.