#Betting101: Will Suspensions Help or Hurt Florida Bettors?

Jason Lake

Friday, September 1, 2017 12:46 PM UTC

Friday, Sep. 1, 2017 12:46 PM UTC

It’s time to bit the bullet and make some college football picks. Which of these Big Ten teams should we fade this Saturday: the Penn State Nittany Lions or the Michigan Wolverines?

We’ve dug deep. We’ve peeled back the layers. We’ve gotten to know the real story behind what separates the sharps from the not-so-sharps. Now it’s time to put our process to the test here at the ranch. The Penn State Nittany Lions and the Michigan Wolverines are both playing Saturday, and judging by the difference between the polls and the computer projections, it looks like both Big Ten teams are overvalued heading into Week 1. Which one shall we fade for our college football picks?

Let’s do a little more digging first. We need to look at the two opponents in question and catch up on what’s been happening off the field – especially when it comes to Michigan’s opponent. It may have already handed victory over to the Wolverines.

No. 11 Michigan vs. No. 17 Florida (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

On paper, this game looks like a coin flip. ESPN’s Football Power Index-based projection has Michigan winning 50.5 percent of the time, and we were this close to jumping on Florida as a 4.5-point underdog. Then came the news: On Wednesday, head coach Jim McElwain announced that RB Jordan Scarlett, WR Rick Wells and WR James Robinson won’t be allowed to play Saturday’s game. That makes it 10 Gators who’ve been put on suspension, including stud WR Antonio Callaway. Ai ya.

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Gators RB Scarlett and WR Wells also involved in the debit card scam that has seven others suspended for opener vs Michigan

— Mark Long (@APMarkLong) August 30, 2017

I’m beginning to think some of these student-athletes aren’t on the up-and-up. Scarlett and Callaway are the key figures here, and the Gators have moved as high as +6 on the NCAAF odds board in the wake of Wednesday’s announcement. As a rule, bettors tend to overreact when “skill” players are injured or suspended, so maybe this will actually make Florida a better bet. Maybe.

Akron at No. 6 Penn State (noon ET, ABC)

This is more like the cupcake games we’re used to seeing in Week 1. The Zips are the pastry here, with just a 2-percent chance of winning according to the FPI numbers. The SBR Betting Odds Converter says that works out to +4900. That number appears to be too big to turn into a reliable point spread, but you can get Akron on the moneyline at +4500 or +5545, depending on where you shop. Maybe the Zips are correctly priced now at +30.5 after opening at +33.

Given these two options, we’ll have to go with the Gators at +6. Again, RBs and WRs are fungible, especially in college, and Michigan is in something of a rebuilding mode to start the season. Consider waiting until closer to kick-off for a better price; we’ll be back Monday to do the autopsy and start the process rolling again for Week 2.

Free NCAAF Pick: Florida +6 (-115)Best Line Offered: Bovada

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