“On any given Sunday, (or in this case Saturday) any team can beat any other team.”
It’s a cliché as old as time and one that continues to echo through the football world on a weekly basis. We’ve seen some incredible upsets already through four weeks of College Football action, as well as two weeks of NFL games and we keep tuning in because we want to see chaos ensue.
On this Saturday, there are four college football games that I’ve circled that have sports fans torn between sound logic and misconception.
We have two ranked teams entering games as underdogs to non-ranked or lower-ranked sides, and two ranked road teams laying less than a touchdown to teams, that sports fans aren’t quite sure what to make of.
In the betting world, we call these games “trap games” and if you are not careful, your perception of which team is better will collide head on with which teams the sportsbooks trust more in these particular spots.
If you are not careful, bankrolls can be burned, and expectations can be crushed.
Below are the four games you must be weary of this weekend.
No.17 Baylor at Iowa State (-2.5)
To kick off the list we have the No.17 Baylor Bears heading into Ames as a betting underdog against a 3-0 Iowa State team. On the surface, you may ask yourself how one of the best teams in the country can be disrespected this much. Baylor has been nothing short of solid outside of a Week 2 loss to a good BYU team. The numbers stack up well on both sides of the football but the status of two key offensive weapons is uncertain.
On the flip side, Iowa State has had an impressive start to their season as they sit 3-0 and are giving up an average of nine points per game. Now, they’ve played absolutely nobody (SE Missouri State, Iowa, and Ohio), but the defense just looks fast and passes the eye test in every aspect.
Will this be the week the defense takes a step back? Oddsmakers suggest it’s not and if I’ve taught you anything over the first four weeks of the College Football season, DO NOT underestimate the power of unranked opponents.
No.22 Texas at Texas Tech (+7)
Speaking of unranked opponents, Texas Tech may be in a great position to spring the upset against Texas. The Red Raiders boast an offense that’s 32nd in total yards (505/g) and the seventh best passing attack (374/g). The defense is no slouch either, ranking inside the top 65, giving up just 309 yards per contest and limiting opponent to a 30% third down conversion rate. If there was ever a time for this Red Raiders team to step up and end the four-game losing streak to their in-state rivals, it would be now as they are catching Texas at the right time.
The Longhorns showed some promise in their hard-fought loss to Alabama in Week 2. They came out sluggish last week but pulled away from UTSA in the second half. What’s concerning is that the Longhorns are simply terrible in this spot as they’ve covered the spread in just one of their last seven conference games, and in just one of their last five road games. This is not a trap if you are thinking about betting the Red Raiders.
No.10 Arkansas at No.23 Texas A&M (-2.5)
This is going to be the best game of the Saturday slate and if we look at this game from a metrics standpoint, Arkansas should likely be the favorite in this spot. They own the better offense by a mile and the last time I checked, you must score more points than your opponents to win football games.
The respect given to the Aggies is slowly picking back up after limiting a good Miami team to just nine total points last week. However, the Aggies offense does not move the needle at all and if you think getting plus-money on Arkansas on the road is a trap, you would be wrong. The trap would be to take the Aggies and hope their offense finds a way to score more than 17 points, which it hasn’t done against FBS teams this season.
No.7 USC at Oregon State (+5.5)
It doesn’t get any more “trappy” than this.
In one corner, you have the No.7 ranked USC Trojans who have a massive public following laying less than a touchdown on the road against a middling Pac-12 opponent. The Trojans and their new weapons have made quick work of the opposition so far, averaging 50.7 points per game (7th) and have an average margin of victory of 31 points. The problem with the Trojans is that their defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed. They give up 408 yards per game and when you look at who they’ve played (Rice, Stanford, and Fresno State), that’s borderline atrocious.
Now they must face an Oregon State Beavers squad that is 3-0 as well and have the 13th best scoring offensive in the country, averaging 45.7 points per game on 473.7 yards. You could make an incredibly good case that Oregon State has played the more difficult of the two schedules, beating Boise State and Fresno, before walloping Montana State.
The issue with the Beavers, like the Trojans, is that the dam is on the verge of breaking. The Beavers give up a ton of yardage and are allowing teams to score 26 points per game. Is home field advantage really going to stop USC from hitting the half-century mark in this contest? Only time will tell, but if you think this game is a trap line – getting USC at less than a touchdown on the road – you are probably getting trapped into taking the Beavers and I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.
Sports gambling – where you can fool yourselves into picking the team you don’t really want to pick.