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Week 3 College Football Recap – Week 4 Betting Lookahead

College Football Week 4 Preview

College Football Betting Recap For Week 3

Football content contributor Ron Marmalefsky offers his college football Week 3 betting recap as well as his lookahead to Week 4 of college football kicking off on Thursday! What are his takeaways and look aheads from a betting perspective? Read below now!

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College Football Week 3: Betting Recap

Welcome to my Monday recap of last Saturday’s NCAA football action. In the first section I will discuss concepts that I believe are underrated in handicapping circles.

After that, I’ll look forward to one of the best slate of games that I can ever remember, which will take place this coming Saturday, September 23rd.

College Football Week 3: What Did We Learn

A closer look: No one can dispute that Fresno State is a better team as compared to Arizona State, but as I’ve said for years, turnovers matter. Favored by 3, Fresno won 29-0, which to the casual handicapper, makes it look like sheer domination.

The turnover ratio looked like this: ASU had eight turnovers, while Fresno did not commit a turnover. Each turnover is worth 3.75 points in the college game.

That’s 30 points from turnovers, fully explaining the score. Fresno had a trio of very short scoring drives, and Arizona State had no rhythm on offense.

Total yardage was close, and fairly low. My takeaway for Fresno is yes, they are 3-0, but they came from behind in each of the first two games to barely win (Purdue, E Washington), and were gifted this one.

My takeaway for Arizona State is that this defense might be a bit better than people think, but they have a new staff and 50 new players, so the growing pains are evident.

In my season previews, available on this site, I often discuss the value of using line of scrimmage data. Running matters in the NCAA.

I also discuss how I adjust my running numbers, not just using what’s printed after the game. I adjust for sacks, kneel downs (team rushes), and negative yardage due to fake punts, bad snaps, etc. Here are two examples from last week: Florida State ran 34-128, or 3.8 per carry according to the box score.

They held off a pesky Boston College team 31-29, and then ran out the clock with kneel downs. For the game, they lost 17 yards on “team” rushes.

If you take those out of the equation, which you should, the adjusted rush figure is 30 for 145, or over 4.8 yards per carry. Fresno, as noted above, had a great defensive effort last week.

The posted defensive rush numbers showed 30-69, however, Arizona State QB’s showed a stat line of minus 65 yards.

If you leave the carries flat, and just take out the sack yardage the new figure becomes 34-134, or nearly 4.0 per carry allowed on traditional run attempts. Sack yardage in the NCAA comes out of the run figures, unlike the NFL.

Understanding pass rush ability is important, but when just determining if team A can run and stop the run vs. team B, I use adjusted running numbers in my analysis. Yes, read the box score. NOTE: These are modest examples, as I’ve often had to correct data much worse than this.

One of my pet peeves is how otherwise very solid handicappers drop the ball when factoring in special team play. Why is it that this area gets so little attention in various handicapping models?

People tell me it’s not an exact science, much like predicting turnovers, but that’s only partly true. Remember Nebraska over the years?

This storied program went without a special team coordinator for several years, and it showed. In one recent season they lost five or six close games due to blocked kicks, missed field goals, return touchdowns, etc.

There’s no one method for evaluating that unit, but you WILL notice if you read my previews that I pay attention to special team play more than most. Here’s an excerpt from Iowa State’s preview this year.

Their PK was 12-20 last year. That’s unacceptable, especially for a team that plays a style of ball where close games are the norm. This phase of the game has haunted Iowa State for years.

From 2019 through 2022 they ranked #103, #107, #85 and #126 in Phil Steele’s rankings. Other ranking services agreed. Iowa State missed two field goals last week in a 10-7 loss to MAC team Ohio U. Study special team units.

College Football Week 4: Early Betting Observations

Ohio State at Notre Dame: CIRCA OPENER – Ohio State -3. Current line: Ohio State -3/3.5
Neither team has had much of a test so far, with spreads of 20 points or more in six of seven games.

Both defenses are ahead of the offenses. Notre Dame is always solid as a home dog and stacks up nicely here except for close game kicking. They are just 3-6 in field goal attempts.

Iowa at Penn State: CIRCA OPENER – Penn State -14. Current line: Penn State -14/14.5
Iowa just might be the most boring team in college football, but overlooked is the fact that they are fantastic defensively, and are always among the leaders in defensive takeaways.

Penn State has yet to turn the ball over. That might be the game in a nutshell, as I do not think Iowa can win here without a positive turnover ratio outcome. Might we see a defensive score in this game for one of the teams?

Colorado at Oregon: CIRCA OPENER – Oregon -21. Current line: Oregon -20.5
The buzz around Colorado has been amazing, but we could see the wheels fall off fairly soon in a loaded PAC 12.

Colorado allowed 42 points to the one offensively minded team they faced (TCU), and now plays in a conference loaded with star QB’s.

Losing two-way player Hunter is a double blow. Oregon allowed 30 points vs. the solid offense of Texas Tech, but 30 points won’t be nearly enough to upset the Ducks in this one. Both teams are +6 in turnover ratio.

UCLA at Utah: CIRCA OPENER – Utah -7. Current line: Utah -5
I’ve said this for years: Chip Kelly is an offensive mastermind. He needed a bit of time to recruit to his specifications, but even losing his top QB and RB to the NFL hasn’t slowed them down.

The competition has been weaker, but even taking out the over ten yards per carry rushing the ball last week, UCLA was 67-419, or over six yards per carry in weeks 1-2. On the other side of the ball is Utah, with one of the top seven or so TOP coaches in the NCAA.

They’ve ran an adjusted 125-580 thus far vs. tougher competition, while allowing 68-234 on the ground. Two things stand out initially to me. 1st, Utah’s ability to stop the run is critical.

Their fundamentally sound defense will do the rest, but stopping UCLA’s run will be a tall task. 2nd, will Utah’s usual starting QB return for this game?

If not, or if he is rusty, I think we’ll see hits and misses from Utah’s offense. Based on my Power Numbers, the opening number of +7 was a bit high.

Mississippi at Alabama: CIRCA OPENER – Alabama -6. Current line: Alabama -6.5/7
Lane Kiffin’s life would be complete if they could just beat Nick Saban and Alabama. The Rebels lost 30-24 last year (at home) in a game they should have won.

They have not played well at Alabama, but this is their best shot. You may be surprised to note that electric RB Judkins is not running well thus far (44-145).

Alabama appears to be having a rare QB problem so far. The rest of their stat sheet is pretty much as I expected.

Oregon State at Washington State: CIRCA OPENER – Oregon State -2. Current line: Oregon State -2.5
The “forgotten two” square off in a good one in Pullman, where WSU has been dominant of late.

As someone who knows the Oregon State program very well, I can be critical of them at times. Instead, this extremely well-coached team has made just one strategic error in three games!

On paper, stopping WSU’s run will not be an issue. WSU allowed just 29-90 on the ground to Wisconsin. Oregon State’s QB is well known, but WSU’s Ward is very underrated. He’s 77-107 for 990 yards with a 9-0 ratio thus far. Pass defense may decide this great game.

BONUS GAME: Florida State at AP #26 Clemson: CIRCA OPENER – Pick-Em. Current line: Florida State -2.5

It was not a surprise to me that Florida State was looking ahead a bit to this matchup. They took their foot off the gas last week at Boston College and it showed.

The stat sheet is AHEAD of schedule based on the decent opponents they have played. For the first time in a long time there may be a kicking issue in Clemson.

Clemson is a perfect 6-0 as a home favorite of late in the series (5-1 vs. the spread), and as a dog, they are 50% straight-up vs. the number, so Florida State hasn’t had it easy in this series.

This one could be up to Clemson’s new QB, who has met most expectations this far, but his yards-per-completion figure is below par.

Follow me on twitter @ronacesports to be alerted of future articles, and my weekly podcasts with @lasvegascris.

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