Upset Alerts! Two Early Underdog Picks Worth Taking

Syracuse Orange

Rainman M.

Friday, November 10, 2017 3:54 PM GMT

Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 3:54 PM GMT

Every week we get a couple of sweet upsets. Diversify your betting card on Saturday with two early underdog picks that will turn out to be very profitable. 

Georgia Tech (4-4) vs #17 Virginia Tech (7-2) at 12:20 PM ET

The Hokies are favored by a field goal.

Georgia Tech might be the best 4-4 team. They lost by one point to Tennessee in double overtime and in the last second to Miami and Virginia. Freakish turnovers and special teams events allowed the Vols to sneak away with a comeback win.  Rain, which is critically detrimental to Georgia Tech's option attack, and injuries prevented Georgia Tech from beating Miami and Virginia. 

The Jackets are 3 plays away from being a 7-1 team and yet they are dogged by 3 points at home to an overrated Hokies squad that has one ranked win, at home in Week 1 against West Virginia, and has lost decisively to their other two ranked opponents.

Virginia Tech is in a difficult situation, coming off a physically exhausting and emotionally crushing defeat at Miami, which cost them a chance at the ACC Coastal Division. With a bowl game already in their pocket, the Hokies must be psychologically deflated. 

Besides the emotional distraction, the Hokies lost a day of preparation for the Jackets' option attack because of traveling issues. Preparation is crucial for containing the Jackets' unique offensive style. As is being rested enough to be physical in dealing with Georgia Tech's aggressive blocking.

Conversely, expect a more concentrated effort from a GT team who is 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 games as underdogs on the college football odds board.

Virginia Tech is a run-first team whose running backs offer them little firepower, especially against better competition. Two teams against which leading runner Travon McMillian averaged more than 5 yards per carry rank outside the top 100 in YPC allowed, the other team was former FCS Old Dominion. The Hokies managed 27 points in two games against higher-ranked defenses, Miami and Clemson, but 14 of those were garbage points against Clemson.

The Jackets' run defense ranks in the top 50. They don't make many plays in the backfield, but they are sound. The defense benefits from the return of fourth leading-tackler, safety AJ Gray. Former leading tackler Brant Mitchell has been replaced by four-star recruit Bruce Jordan-Swilling, the freshman who has already amassed 30 tackles. Mitchell is listed as 'questionable.'

The inability to run against better run defenses has cost Virginia Tech in a betting sense: the Hokies are 5-0 ATS when running for more than 110 yards, but 0-3 ATS when running for fewer.

Free College Football Pick: Georgia Tech +3Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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Syracuse (4-5) hosts Wake Forest (5-4) at 3 PM ET

The Demon Deacons are favored by 1 point.

Wake is in a difficult spot after their physical battle against Notre Dame.  Dating back to last season, they are 0-3 ATS and SU the following week after playing a ranked opponent. Two of those losses came as favorites. 

The Deacons prefer to be a run-first team, but the injury of running backs Cade Carney, who will miss this game, and Akeem Byrd, who is listed as 'questionable,' may continue to make quarterback John Wolford play a larger role in the offense. Wolford had never obtained a 130 passer rating in a season before star wide receiver, currently injured, Greg Dorch arrived this season.

Despite two abysmal performances against Florida State's Cam Akers and NC State's Nyheim Hines, Syracuse's rush defense ranks 58th in yards allowed per carry. Wake's backs, unlike Akers and Hines, are unproven elements who have yet to perform against FBS-quality defenses. 

Halting Wake's running game will be key in order to create third-and-long situations. Wake is 1-3 SU when converting less than 38% of their third downs. The one win came by a point against FCS App State. Syracuse is 2nd in allowing a 24% third-down conversion rate. Returning experience, depth allowing for fresh substitutions, and enhanced pressure from the defensive line allowing for more complicated schemes from the back 7 contribute to the improvement in this category from last season.

The strength of Wake's defense is the pressure which it regularly applies to opposing backfields. Syracuse's up-tempo offense contains the antidote to Wake's aggression. The fast tempo wears down the opposing defense and prevents it from substituting. The short passing game allows the ball to quickly leave the quarterbacks hands, catching a more aggressive defense off guard by something like a simple screen.

Quarterback Eric Dungey is the star of Syracuse's offense with his play-making skill set. He can run for consistent and large gains and throw accurately when scrambling outside the pocket. Dungey returned from injury to finish last week's game at Florida State with almost a heroic comeback effort. With him, Cuse is 4-0 at home. His touchdown to interception ratio in ACC home games is 5:0.

The key injury for Wake Forest's top playmaker on defense is Jessie Bates, who leads the team in tackles and interceptions. Without him, Notre Dame's subpar quarterbacks produced 330 passing yards.  Bates' freshman replacement often missed open-field tackles and even more often was far away from the play because he lacks the intelligence and vision of the more experienced Bates.

Steve Ishmael, who leads the team with 986 receiving yards, is Dungey's top target. Ishmael excels at route-running and has reliable hands. His mix of speed and strength and physicality help him make difficult catches and break tackles after the catch. He will challenge Bates' replacement in the air and in open space.

Free College Football Pick: Syracuse +1
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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