We are all familiar with the phrase "Home field advantage." It's important in all of sports, particularly college football. For some NCAA teams, it means six or seven points to them just by being at home.
Being at home means you don't have to travel. Your facilities are usually far superior than visiting teams'. You know every nook and cranny of the field and any tough sun or lighting angles.
Obviously when playing within the conference, all the teams are accustomed to the weather. But this time of the year with nonconference matchups, this may even be a factor. Without a doubt, the biggest advantage is playing in front of a friendly crowd chanting your name and noise levels not affecting your offense at the line. Some stadiums have 80,000, 90,000 and even over 100,000 screaming fans shaking the very foundation.
With the current health crisis, some teams will not have any fans in attendance, some will be allowed as few as 1%, and some will have as many as 15,000 to 20,000. This can change from week to week. So you must be aware of which teams will have more friendly faces in the stands, as it will affect the lines and the outcomes.
One thing for sure, I would watch some of these home teams that are still going to receive padded lines by the oddsmakers. Maybe home field advantage isn't worth what it normally is this season.
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):
Charlotte at Appalachian State -17.5: Make no mistake of it, this Sun Belt squad is touted to easily take this year's conference crown, despite having their third new head coach in three seasons in Shawn Clark.
Appalachian State is a very solid team that went 13-1 SU (9-5 ATS) a season ago, finishing up with a Bowl win, their fifth consecutive Bowl appearance since moving up to FBS in 2014.
Reports are that this team is once again loaded with playmakers. Quarterback Zac Thomas (2,576 yards passing, 26/6 TD/INT last year) is at the helm again and has a slew of veteran wide outs and a tandem of quality running backs at his disposal.
Charlotte, which dropped this matchup the last two seasons, getting lit up for 111 points, are notoriously slow starters, going 6-14 ATS the last 20 in the month of September. The 49ers are also 5-14 ATS the last 19 nonconference games and 1-4 ATS the last five road games. APPALACHIAN STATE
Clemson -31 at Wake Forest: The preseason top-ranked Tigers are on a mission this season. After going 13-0 in the regular season a year ago, they ousted Ohio State from the Bowl semifinals, only to lose badly to LSU in the Title game.
This is an ideal matchup to kick off the campaign and make a statement to the rest of college football. They crushed Wake Forest the last two seasons by a combined 115-6.
Don't put too much stock into the whispers that the Tigers lost a lot of talent to the NFL again. This team is stacked higher than the pancakes at your favorite breakfast joint. Their entire defensive line returns and will cut through the Demon Deacons' offensive line like butter, get pressure on the quarterback, and force turnovers.
On the flipside, Trevor Lawrence, who Wake Forest could not slow down in recent meetings, is back with an all-star cast. Look for Lawrence to make a serious push out of the gate, in the Heisman race. Clemson is 19-7-1 ATS the last 27 games in the conference, 10-1 ATS the last 11 games as a road favorite and 20-7 ATS the last 27 games played overall. CLEMSON
UTSA +7 at Texas State: In a very under-the-radar game, the oddsmakers are way off in this matchup. They are giving too much credit to a Texas State side that played SMU tight last week, losing 31-24 as a 24.5-point underdog. It wasn't so much the Bobcats played well, but rather the Mustangs played poorly. This line should be closer to a -1.
UTSA is very experienced, particularly on the offensive side of the ball where they return their top four ball-carriers and six of their seven top receivers. Even on defense, where they lost a few big names, they are replaced by upperclassmen with tons of game experience.
The Roadrunners, which have won the last three in this series SU (2-1 ATS) are 4-0 ATS the last four road games and 5-1 ATS the last six overall. The Bobcats are 2-6-1 ATS the last nine home games and 4-9-1 ATS the last 14 overall. At press, the number here is a solid +7, and I really would like the TD here. UTSA