Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Oregon St -15 over San Jose St
3:30 PM EST. This is the middle game of today’s college football triple-header and it will be available nationally on CBS - San Jose State’s first regular-season game on the prestigious network in four decades. Let that sink in for a moment because it matters and it figures to cause nothing but a lot of distractions for a team that is not used to being in the spotlight.
This game also comes a week after San Jose State went into #6 USC and gave the Trojans a lot more than they bargained for in a 56-28 loss. That game was in prime-time last Saturday night so the masses watched it and bet on it. San Jose was a 31-point underdog and easily covered. In fact, San Jose State had just one less first down than the Trojans and trailed at halftime by just 7. SJSU also racked up 391 yards and it looks pretty sweet on paper for a team that looked that good last week against a top-10 program to be taking back a massive 16 points this week at home, no less.
There are so many reasons not to get behind the Spartans here. First, it’s a week too late. If you bet against the Spartans last week, it is very easy to get influenced into backing them this week against a team that is ranked #16 or worse than USC. In other words, it creates a zig-zag. Secondly, the line from last week to this week is a difference of 15 points. San Jose State was +31 last week and this week against a “just as good” opponent, they are taking back just 16. Home field is not worth 15 points. Finally, there are expectations and perhaps a bit too much excitement on the Spartans side because it is nationally televised. They are “heros” on campus for a week, as the CBS crew sets up and shines the spotlight on them.
Now to the meat on this bone. The Spartans are playing a very different team than the high-powered offense that they faced at USC. Oregon State prides itself on strong offensive line play and winning the possession battle. The Beavers had the highest run-blocking grade and the third-highest overall grade among offensive lines in college football last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Oregon State rushed for 196.5 yards per game last season. Sophomore running back Damien Martinez returns for the Beavers after rushing for 982 yards and seven touchdowns last season. The Beavers will wear you down and they also have a massive advantage of having film on San Jose State from last week.
Speaking of last week, SJSU gave up 160 rushing yards and three touchdowns to a USC team with an average offensive line and not nearly the same bruising type of running backs that Oregon State possesses. The Spartans defense was torched for over 500 yards of total offense and offered little resistance to USC’s attack. The running pitch count is already high for San Jose’s defense.
Oregon State is absolutely loaded on both sides of the ball. The Beavers return 13 starters including eight on offense and the Beavers bring in former Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei. San Jose cannot stop the marching band and now they have to plan for more than they can handle a week after an exhilarating game at USC.
Oregon State has nothing on deck next week that will take its focus off this one, as they will host UC Davis and will be a 50-point favorite, that’s if there is even a line on that game. Readers of this space will note that spotting 16 road points with a ranked team, on the road no less, is very rarely in our wheelhouse but in this business, nothing is in stone. We’ll make an exception here because it’s very warranted and because the market was so heavily influenced by San Jose State’s performance last week. In terms of value, how can USC be 31 over San Jose and a week later, Oregon State, who might be better than USC is only 16? The value on the favorite here is tremendous.
Oregon St -15 -107 (Risking 2.14 units - To Win: 2.00)