Penn State, Notre Dame among Week 8 betting favorites

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Trace McSorley, Saquon Barkley and Penn State opened as a nearly two-touchdown favorite before bettors remembered what happened in their last game against Michigan.

Playing at home with one of the most potent offenses in the nation, the Penn State Nittany Lions are 9.5-point betting favorites against the Big Ten rival Michigan Wolverines with a 45-point total for their Week 8 college football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Penn State, which opened laying 12.5 points, is 0-3 straight-up and against the spread in its last three games against Michigan. However, since their 2016 defeat against Michigan, Penn State is 14-1 SU and 13-1-1 ATS in its 15 most recent games according to the OddsShark College Football Database.

Michigan, which will try to stop all-purpose RB Barkley and dual-thread QB McSorley with the country’s No. 1-ranked defense, is 1-6-1 ATS in its last eight games in October.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 3.5-point favorites against the USC Trojans, with a 66 total. Southern Cal is 0-5 ATS in its last five games. Notre Dame is 12-4 ATS in its last 16 games in October.

The Auburn Tigers are 15.5-point road favorites against the Arkansas Razorbacks, with a 53.5 total. Auburn is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games on the road against teams with losing records. Arkansas is 1-7 ATS in its last eight games.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are 34.5-point favorites against the Tennessee Volunteers, with a 50.5 total. Tennessee is 3-9 ATS in its last 12 games on the road after consecutive home games. The total has gone under in Alabama’s last six games at home in October.

The TCU Horned Frogs are 39-point favorites against the Kansas Jayhawks, with a 59.5 total. Kansas is 0-5 SU and 5-0 ATS in its last five games against TCU, which is 1-9 ATS in its last 10 games at home.

The Wisconsin Badgers are 24-point favorites against the Maryland Terrapins, with a 50.5 total. Maryland, is on a two-game losing streak but is 12-5 ATS in its last 17 games after consecutive losses. The total has gone over in six of Wisconsin’s last seven games against its conference.

The Oklahoma Sooners are 13.5-point road favorites against the Kansas State Wildcats, with a 56 total. The visiting team is 7-1 ATS in its last eight games in this matchup. Kansas State is 8-1 ATS in its last nine games in Week 8. The total has gone over in seven of Oklahoma’s last nine games against Kansas State.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys are 7-point road favorites against the Texas Longhorns, with a 65.5 total. Oklahoma State is 7-1 ATS in its last eight games in October. Texas is 5-0 ATS in its last five games, but overall is 6-16 ATS in its last 22 games after consecutive ATS wins.

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.

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.