Already off to a 2-0 start in the conference, the Miami Hurricanes head to Blacksburg this Saturday for a critical contest with Tyrod Taylor and the Virginia Tech Hokies.
There’s no question we live in a 24/7 world. But even in the Golden Age of Internet, a lot of us are still working 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.
You can tell by looking at the college football consensus reports. Let’s take you back in time to Friday morning. The world was so different back then; schoolchildren weren’t being attacked by wasps in Rhode Island, nor were they having sex changes in England. And if you read my previous column that day, you learned that 96 percent of the betting public was on the Under for the following day’s matchup between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Ah, those salad days. By the time kickoff rolled around, that number had dropped from 96 percent to 56 percent. Should we have expected anything less? Squares make their football bets after their workweek ends on Friday. Squares also prefer the Over, because they like to bet on the outcomes they want to see, and they want to see touchdowns. Lots of them.
Well, they didn’t get much of what they wanted. The Hokies needed a last-minute TD pass from Tyrod Taylor to Dyrell Roberts to beat the ‘Huskers 16-15, easily slipping under the 51-point total. Nebraska cashed in as a 5-point road dog, so if you took the under-underdog parlay, you get a gold star for value betting. But you didn’t need to be an inveterate public fader to get that one right. These are two worthy defenses, after all.
This brings us to next Saturday’s matchup between the Hokies and the visiting Miami Hurricanes (3:30 p.m. Eastern, ABC). The consensus reports as we went to press had yet to track any betting numbers on the total – just the 88 percent of bettors who were on Miami as a road favorite of either 2.5 or the full three points, depending on where they were shopping. The early total up on the board was 47 points and was only available at a small handful of books.
The Hurricanes are the toast of the town after opening the season at 2-0 SU and ATS, dusting off Florida State (-6 at home) and Georgia Tech (+4 on the road) and vaulting to No. 9 in the AP rankings, two spots ahead of Virginia Tech. The ‘Canes are getting excellent pass protection from their offensive line and from FB Patrick Hill. QB Jacory Harris has stepped up to the next level as a sophomore with a 69.5-percent completion rate, without the benefit of cupcake non-conference opposition. And first-year offensive co-ordinator Mark Whipple is getting plenty of credit for being the mastermind behind it all.
Meanwhile, the love seems to have run out for Virginia Tech (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) and Lane Stadium, aka the Terrordome. As we mentioned last week, the Hokies are 1-5 ATS in their last six games at home versus opponents with winning road records. Taylor needed to work some of his scrambling magic to get the win at home over Nebraska, but he still finished with minus-22 yards rushing on the day. He now has a total of 10 yards on 0.4 yards per carry; last year, Taylor rushed for 738 yards on 5.0 yards per carry.
Granted, Taylor and the Hokies have played two games against very good run defenses: Nebraska and Alabama, who won the season opener 34-24 as 6-point faves at the Georgia Dome. But as impressive as the ‘Canes have been on offense, they’ve also done some very good work on the defensive line – especially with the return of DE Eric Moncur after an extended layoff due to groin and abdominal issues. When healthy, Moncur has enough speed at 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds to make life difficult for mobile quarterbacks like Taylor.
The value bettor in me isn’t impressed with Miami’s special teams, kicker Matt Bosher (1-for-3 on field goals vs. Georgia Tech) in particular. But that makes the Under a little tastier for a matchup where points will already be hard to come by. Let’s see if the sharps feel the same way about the betting odds before Friday afternoon rolls around.