Thanks to the eminently reasonable minds on the U.S. Supreme Court, sports gambling is now allowed in any state that wants to pursue it, and so far New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia and Mississippi have joined Nevada in offering the enterprise in full. More people will be rushing to the windows as college football season gets into full swing, and we’re here to help — hopefully! — with a few things to keep in mind.
For starters, consider that trends should not be considered predictive, especially considering college football’s constant turnover, and anyone who blindly places a bet solely because of them is unlikely to come out ahead. Think of them merely as something to consider as you go about making your picks.
The point spreads you’ll see below were taken Thursday from the consensus lines at VegasInsider.com. Historical point spreads provided by Covers.com. All times Eastern.
LSU vs. Auburn = Trend vs. Trend
One of the bigger games this weekend is a key SEC battle between LSU and host Auburn, with the winner keeping pace in the SEC West and the loser probably not making plans for the conference championship game (remember, both teams still have to play Alabama). Auburn currently is listed as a 10-point home favorite, which hasn’t exactly been the best situation for those particular Tigers over the last few years under Coach Gus Malzahn. Here’s how they’ve done against the spread while giving points at home:
An 8-13-2 ATS record as a home favorite over the past four-plus seasons isn’t all that swell. But then you look at LSU’s recent ATS performance as an underdog of at least seven points, and maybe it’s not so bad:
These are pretty small sample sizes, obviously, so we have to dig deeper and perhaps consider the total, which sits at 44.5. LSU ranks eighth nationally in defensive S&P+ rating, a measure of overall efficiency, while Auburn ranks 20th. This could come down to quarterback play, and this is where LSU might run into trouble: It compiled just 78 yards of total offense in the second half against FCS Southeastern Louisiana last weekend, and quarterback Joe Burrow hasn’t exactly been lights out. The graduate transfer from Ohio State has completed less than 50 percent of his passes this season and will be making his first-ever road start in a decidedly hostile environment. The under could be tempting.
Fade the Trojans?
Over at the Action Network, John Ewing gives us a trend that perhaps doesn’t bode well for No. 22 USC, a 3.5-point road underdog on Saturday night against Texas: Since 2005, Power 5 teams coming off a loss are just 204-246-11 against the spread the next week (covering at a 45 percent clip). And when that loss was by at least 14 points, Power 5 teams are just 65-97-2 ATS the next week, covering only 40 percent of the time.
USC lost to Stanford, 17-3, last weekend and did not look particularly worthy of its continued presence in the top 25.
Plus, here’s how the Trojans have fared in the game following a meeting against the always rough-and-tumble Cardinal over the past few years:
2017: Beat Texas, 27-24, but didn’t cover as 17-point favorites.
2016: Lost at Utah, 31-27, and didn’t cover as 2.5-point underdogs.
2015: Won at Arizona State, 42-14, and covered as four-point favorites.
2014: Lost at Boston College, 37-31, and didn’t cover as 17-point favorites.
2013: Won at Colorado, 47-29, but didn’t cover as 21-point favorites.
Sure, it’s a small sample size, but USC is 1-4 ATS in the game following their matchup with Stanford over the past five seasons. Trojans quarterback J.T. Daniels completed just 16 of 34 passes for 215 yards and two interceptions last weekend against the Cardinal, also losing a fumble and suffering a bruise on his throwing hand when he hit it on another player’s helmet.
Oh, there’s also the fact that the Trojans are 1-9 ATS in their last 10 games as an underdog under Coach Clay Helton. It’s not an ideal situation.
Watching the weather
We told you last week about how games played in higher winds (10 mph and up) tend to favor the under. There are a few again this week that could see some breezy conditions:
Old Dominion at Charlotte, 4 p.m. Thursday (45.5 total)
Boston College at Wake Forest, 5:30 p.m. Thursday (55.5)
Georgia Southern at Clemson, noon Saturday (47.5)
Troy at Nebraska, noon Saturday (57.5)
Miami (Ohio) at Minnesota, 3:30 p.m. Saturday (46.5)
Washington at Utah, 10 p.m. Saturday (47.5, and the forecast calls for 15-25 mph winds at kickoff)
The list of games affected by Hurricane Florence can be found here.
Read more from The Post