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.
Small-sample-size trend of the week
The Action Network’s Brandon Justice brings us this literally little nugget from the Big Ten: Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh has covered all three of his Big Ten openers while at his alma mater, covering double-digit spreads in each game. The Wolverines were a 13.5-point favorite over Maryland in 2015 and won by 28; a 15.5-point favorite over Penn State in 2016 and won by 39; and a 12-point favorite at Purdue last season, winning by 18.
The Wolverines currently are 17-point home favorites in Saturday’s Big Ten opener against Nebraska, which has stumbled to an 0-2 record (both straight-up and against the spread) in the debut season of Scott Frost, its own alumnus coach.
Not only have Harbaugh’s Michigan teams covered the spread in their Big Ten openers, but they’ve also gone 5-2-1 ATS in conference games in the first half of the season.
Harbaugh also fared well in conference openers during his four seasons at Stanford, going 3-1 both straight-up and against the spread.
2007: 45-17 loss to UCLA as 16.5-point underdog.
2008: 36-28 win vs. Oregon State as 2.5-point underdog.
2009: 39-13 win at Washington State as 17-point favorite.
2010: 35-0 win at UCLA as 5.5-point favorite.
Big win, then fade?
More from the Action Network, this time John Ewing: Ranked teams coming off a win over a top 10 opponent have gone just 98-129-2 ATS in their next game since 2005, covering only 43 percent of the time. If those teams are at least 14-point favorites the next week, they have gone just 39-69-2 ATS, a 36 percent covering rate. If they are at least 21-points favorites, they have gone just 22-42-1 ATS, covering 34 percent of the time.
No. 6 LSU, coming off its road win over then-No. 7 Auburn last weekend, is a 20.5-point home favorite over Louisiana Tech. The 2-0 Bulldogs were picked to finish second in the Conference USA West Division and are well rested, having not played since a 54-17 win over FCS Southern on Sept. 8. Plus, we only have to travel back to Week 2 to see how the Tigers have done in such a spot: Coming off a dominant 20-point win over Miami as a three-point underdog in its season opener, LSU routed FCS Southeastern Louisiana, 31-0, but didn’t cover the 40-point spread.
Plus, the Tigers are 0-4 ATS in their last four games as favorites of at least 20 points and 2-7 ATS in their last nine under such circumstances.
One possible caveat: Louisiana Tech is 6-7 ATS as a double-digit underdog under Coach Skip Holtz.
No. 25 BYU also beat a ranked team last weekend, upsetting then-No. 6 Wisconsin, but the Cougars host FCS McNeese State on Saturday and thus have yet to generate a point spread.
Georgia Tech not a good option vs. Clemson?
As noted this week by ESPN’s Will Harris, there was a time when Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson had Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney’s number. The two became head coaches of their respective programs in 2008, and the Tigers initially were flummoxed by the Yellow Jackets' run-crazy ways: Georgia Tech won four of the first five Johnson-Swinney matchups, one of them in the 2009 ACC championship game.
But then Swinney hired Brent Venables to be his defensive coordinator in 2012 and suddenly the Tigers became the Yellow Jackets' kryptonite. Clemson has won five of six in the series, covering the spread as a favorite in all five victories, which have come by an average of 18.2 points. Harris compiled Georgia Tech’s total yardage in those games, starting with the 2012 contest: 483, 440, 353, 230, 124, 230. In the 39 games the Yellow Jackets have played since the start of the 2015 season, they have been held to 230 yards or less four times. Three of those times, the opponent was Clemson.
On Saturday, No. 3 Clemson is a 16.5-point road favorite against the Yellow Jackets, the biggest number vs. Georgia Tech in the Swinney-Venables era. The Yellow Jackets have lost both of their games against FBS opposition this season, failing to cover the spread as a favorite against South Florida and Pittsburgh. Senior offensive linemen Will Bryan and Andrew Marshall, who have a combined 37 career starts, both are battling lower-body injuries (Bryan didn’t play against the Panthers and Marshall left the game with his injury), which is horrible news considering that Clemson’s defensive line is absolutely terrifying. It’s not a good spot to back the Jackets here.
More from The Post: