So far, ’Dogs are having their day

Underdogs were barking this past weekend in college football, continuing what has been a very strong betting trend early in the season.

Underdogs went 23-7 ATS overall on Saturday. We saw multiple TD or more underdogs win outright just on Saturday night alone including Tulsa, Arkansas and Iowa State. Underdogs have cashed in at a 62% ATS clip (67-41) this season. Favorites and in particular home favorites have had a losing ATS record so far.

The question is, why is this happening?

I think there are some very obvious causes. Home teams are favored more than road teams during the course of the season and there is little-to-no home field edge across the college football landscape this season.

Home teams often use the crowd noise to rally the troops if they start to have the momentum of the game turn against them. That isn’t happening this season and even in the home stadiums with limited capacity of fans which some teams are allowing, it isn’t enough to generate that strong edge for the home team that it would in the past.

The massive talent edge and gap between favored teams and underdog teams this season has been lessened in my opinion because of COVID-19. Some teams have had more players opting out of the season than others and in certain cases that is with some of the better teams and programs in college football.

With a limited practice schedule prior to the season, more injuries are being incurred during game action and when those cluster injuries occur with the better team, it closes the gap between them and the underdog opponent.

Those two factors have combined to provide a better ability for underdogs to compete with the superior teams they are facing.

Keep an eye on this underdog trend in the weeks ahead. I do believe there will be a leveling off period at some point with underdogs, much like we are seeing with the strong trend of Overs early in the NFL season. I would bet the under 62% ATS record for underdogs for the entire season. It’s a question of when exactly the tide turns.

Here my picks for this week…

Thursday

Tulane +6.5 at Houston: Teams playing with extended layoffs have not done well this season. We saw Arkansas State and Memphis lose SU and ATS in this same situation on Saturday that Houston is in here.

The Cougars have yet to play a game this season, having multiple games canceled due to the coronavirus. This will be their season opener. Tulane switched starting QB’s in their most recent game against Southern Miss and it paid off for them in a blowout win. The Green Wave are 2-1 and enter this game off a bye week giving a great head coach in Willie Fritz extra time to prepare.

Houston had a bad run defense last season which Tulane can exploit here. TULANE

Saturday

Florida at Texas A&M, Total 57.5: I cashed a winning recommendation with Florida over the total last week against South Carolina. Florida has scored 89 points in their first two games combined against Ole Miss and South Carolina. Texas A&M got ripped apart on defense for 52 points by Alabama last week. Florida probably has the second-best offense in the SEC behind Alabama so I expect struggles for the A&M defense here.

On the flip side, Kellen Mond and the Texas A&M offense will be the best QB and offense that the Gators' defense has faced this season and Florida has not been a shutdown defense so far in their first two games. Florida has some cluster injuries on defense as well. Expect another shootout. OVER

Texas +2 vs. Oklahoma: Oklahoma enters this game following consecutive regular season losses for the first time this century. The Sooners lost outright as favorites to Kansas State and Iowa State in back-to-back weeks.

The defense continues to struggle as teams are running the football down Oklahoma’s throat and they are also giving up big plays in the passing game as well.

Texas made tons of mistakes and costly turnovers which led to them losing their first game of the season last week at home against TCU. QB Sam Ehlinger had his worst game of the season in the loss but the Longhorns QB has consistently played well against the Sooners.

Texas is 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings against Oklahoma and here we have Longhorns head coach Tom Herman once again in his preferred role as an underdog where he has been strong in his coaching career. TEXAS

NC State at Virginia, Total 63.5: Very quietly, the Cavaliers are on a remarkable 8-0 Over the total streak in their last eight games dating back to last season. The offense has had an uptick in pace and tempo during that time and their QB play under Bryce Perkins last season and new starting QB Brennan Armstrong this season has been able to move the football with a balanced run and pass attack.

The defense though has struggled for Virginia and will find it tough against an NC State offense led by QB Devin Leary which moved the ball with great success against a very good Pitt defense last week in a 30-29 win.

NC State has a very weak defense allowing 42, 45 and 29 points in their first three games. Look for plenty of points here. OVER

Last week: 2-2

Season: 7-5-1