Week 4 provided an assortment of compelling games with matchups between top 25 teams and some upsets to upend our rankings. Overall, our written plays went 3-4 after a tough opening night on Friday. Picks are now 15-12 on the season with two more plays pending the Friday night slate. Below are my favorite plays based on the Greenline model.
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The Buckeyes nearly sweep the top spot in all of our rankings metrics in the Big 10 except for their second overall defensive ranking. The story for Ohio State, of course, has been the play of Justin Fields. Among FBS quarterbacks with at least 50 dropbacks, Fields has a top-five passing grade, top six ADOT and has the highest percentage of yards coming through the air. The exciting component to this game is that we should be able to see Fields for all four quarters on Saturday. This game is one of the few contests where the highly rated team hasn’t been bet out from the opening line. This speaks heavily to the home dog assessment along with the significant public interest that the Cornhuskers still draw. Greenline, unfortunately, offers no discernible edge based on consensus betting lines. If Ohio State falls behind early, I would be looking to get my money in on them at any spot below two-touchdown favorites.
WHY THE UNDER HITS:
Coming off a big home victory, the Trojans have seen this spread slide away from them. After opening at nine, it has moved out to +10.5. Kedon Slovis has been officially ruled out, which was mostly baked into both the spread and total in this game. Although Matt Fink had a stellar game against Utah throwing an 83.9 passing grade, he is still a third-string quarterback who now has tape on him with a defense focused on stopping him. That Washington defense also ranks second in the country in our defensive Massey rankings. The Huskies have no issues switching their coverage schemes between man or zone and should be able to slow down the Trojans offense better than the Utes showcased last week. Greenline gives the Trojans a 53.3% cover probability at 10.5. The play I like the most, however, is the under 61.5 after having the line move out from 59. Greenline gives this a 53% cover probability, making it the bet I am targeting in this Game of the Week.
WHAT COULD GO WRONG:
Now two weeks in a row, I am backing an under in a game with the air raid offense at USC on display. It didn’t work out last week, as we missed out on staying under by a half-point depending on the line that was bet. USC ripped off explosive scoring plays with 29, 31 and 77-yard touchdown passes. The Utes' secondary struggled to keep pace with the USC wide receivers in one-on-one matchups. We are higher on Washington then we were on Utah, but there is still the potential for USC to rip off big plays from their third-string quarterback. I am just not betting on that.