MAC, Pac-12 finally play

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With the Mid-American and Pac-12 beginning this week, I wanted to give you a breakdown of how I see both conferences.

Just because the MAC isn’t a Power-Five conference doesn’t mean there isn’t money to be made in it. There is a huge disparity between the top and the bottom of this league.

Buffalo is the class of the conference and returns a lot of experience. They will once again have an explosive ground assault and probably the best overall defense in the MAC. You may lay a bit of wood with them, especially in Week 1, but this is a team that covered all three games last year as a double-digit favorite and they will cover those big numbers again this year.

Ohio is highly-touted, but lost an enormous amount of role players and playmakers, including seven all-conference selections. They are good, but for me, a go against in the role of a favorite.

Miami Ohio won the MAC championship game last year and is just about the only team in the conference with the talent to challenge Buffalo in the East. They offer true value when they come in as an underdog for sure. I will wait and see just how good they are before I lay points with them though.

I will be surprised if the bottom four teams in the MAC: Northern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Akron, and Bowling Green combined to win 10 games this season. 

In the Pac-12, Oregon is the best and most explosive team. However, oddsmakers know it too and will inflate their lines. When the Ducks are a small favorite, I will definitely look at them. But when they lay two and three touchdowns, I will switch sides immediately and play their opponent.

I can’t for the life of me figure out why USC is so highly rated. Their defense was a doormat last year again. They will come in big favorites early on and will let their followers down. Until they can stop anyone from scoring on them, I am going against the Trojans.

In my opinion, Washington is a better team on paper than USC and can bring you value. But they have been a nightmare as a ‘dog, covering just once in their last nine in that role. Be careful when you’re getting points with this team.

Arizona State is going to be one of the biggest surprises this season in the Pac-12. They are going to be a covering moneymaker in 2020. Utah is another ATS machine, covering their last five at home and eight of their last nine in Pac-12 play. Once again, follow the Utes all the way to the bank.

Stanford will continue to crush bettors. Whether in conference play, as a ‘dog, on the road, or overall, play against the Cardinal and make some green.

Oregon State is good in the ‘dog role. Washington State is going to make any followers broke again this season. Cal is too erratic. Arizona is one of the worst teams in the conference at covering and should continue to disappoint. And, the jury is still out on UCLA and Colorado. Time will tell.

Here are this week’s Best Bets (Lines are as of Tuesday and can change. If a line is around a Hot Number or moves against us, be smart):

Saturday

Houston at Cincinnati -13.5: We cashed in with the Bearcats last week and we will do it again. Cincinnati is a perfect 5-0 in 2020. For the next month, this team faces four AAC creampuffs until their season-finale against Tulsa, currently the other undefeated conference rep. They must keep their engine revved for both style points and as not to get stale.

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They catch an overrated Houston team here that has stepped up in class three times this season, and as a result went 0-3 both SU and ATS (Navy, BYU, UCF). The Cougars’ defense is getting burned for nearly 35  PPG. In comes Desmond Ridder and the high-flying Bearcats (39.6 PPG). That would be enough. But the Houston offense is going to get stuffed by the nation’s 7th ranked stop unit (12.0 PPG allowed). The Cougars are 1-4 ATS the last five as a ‘dog. CINCINNATI

Rutgers at Ohio State -38: If this were a normal season, I would question the size of this line. But third-ranked Ohio State, if they run up the score here, have a real opportunity to possibly climb in the polls if Clemson (which faces Notre Dame) loses. Laying 28 and 10 points against Nebraska and Penn State and covering both contests tells us how focused Ryan Day has his team.

Rutgers came down to Earth last week failing to cover as a double-digit home ‘dog to Indiana. Look for Justin Fields (594 yards passing, 87.3% completion rate, 6 TDs) to dissect the Scarlet Knights’ secondary with his arsenal of receivers.

If you are worried about the point spread here, FYI, Ohio State has won the last six meetings (5-1 ATS) by an average score of 55-8. Rutgers is 3-8 ATS the last 11 in conference play. OSU is 6-1 ATS the last seven as a home favorite. OHIO STATE

Arizona State +10.5 at USC: The Trojans’ defense was scorched for almost 30 PPG (29.3) throughout last year’s regular and postseason. And as the campaign progressed, things got worse. Until I see some solid proof that they can stop anyone, taking double digits with a game squad like ASU in Week 1, is a gimme.

Look for quarterback Jayden Daniels (2,748 yards passing, 62.3% completion rate, 17 TDs/2 INTs last season)) to keep the USC defense busy, put points on the board and keep this one close. The Sun Devils are 5-2 ATS the last seven at the Trojans and 4-1-1 ATS the last six as an underdog. ARIZONA STATE 

Fresno State -11 at UNLV: As a 30-year resident of Las Vegas, I am always loyal to our home teams. But I have more loyalty to my wallet. Being so close to Thanksgiving, I feel it appropriate to talk turkey. This just might be the worst UNLV squad I have seen in decades. They have already suffered two beatings at the hands of San Diego State and Nevada. They really don’t possess any physicality and are once again going to be manhandled here.

Fresno State, which has won and covered the last two meetings in this series, showed an enormous amount of heart, as they bounced back from an opening-season loss to Hawaii to shellack Colorado State last week. With very little threat of a pass rush and a lax secondary, look for improved Bulldogs QB Jake Haener to have a career day here against the Rebels.

Fresno State is 15-5-1 ATS the last 21 on the road, 23-11-1 ATS the last 35 in conference play, and 33-16-2 the last 51 overall. FRESNO STATE

Last week: 3-1

Season: 15-11

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