By Zack Schlegel

Week 4 of the college football season is in the books, which means we are officially a third of the way through the regular season — how did this happen so quickly?

The NFL season is now a quarter of the way through their schedule, and it seems like half of the league’s starting quarterbacks from Week 1 are nursing injuries. However, as a result of a plethora of starting quarterbacks going down, we have been able to witness the rise of a new generation of young talent coming up in the game.

We have also been encouraged to consider how these NFL teams will adjust to the setbacks they’ve experienced, and who from the college ranks might be able to resurrect their franchises. It’s too early to crown a franchise quarterback in New York, but who would’ve thought the No. 6 pick out of Duke would break out onto the scene as a hot as Daniel Jones did for the Giants in his NFL debut?

Let’s begin our review with Mr. “Danny Dimes” himself…

 

The Daniel Jones era has arrived in NY. 

When the NY Giants drafted Daniel Jones with the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, fans and especially the NY media were very uncertain about the decision. Even ESPN’s Todd McShay suggested that the Giants made a mistake in drafting Jones, as they could have focused on defense or drafting a better quarterback talent in Dwayne Haskins.

Last week, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur decided to make the big move by benching the two time Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning. The decision did not come as a shocker to anyone, as Eli’s play had been declining for some time. The Giants were off to an 0-2 start, and it was the right time to make the switch and give your first round pick a chance to prove himself and get comfortable with the offense.

The young gunslinger from Duke did just that on the road in Tampa Bay last Sunday. The Giants opened up as 7-point underdogs against the Bucs, but a lot of late week action brought that number down to 5 before kickoff. It seemed a lot of people including myself, were expecting the rookie quarterback to bring a new energy to a team that needed something to be excited about.

The Bucs were also coming off of a huge divisional win on the road at Carolina the previous Thursday night, which set them up nicely for a classic let down spot. The extra time to prepare is usually a positive thing for teams coming off of a Thursday night game, but when you are facing a quarterback that you have zero regular season film on, it makes things a little more difficult.

Jones’ first NFL touchdown came on a 7-yard run, which capped off an impressive 12 play, 75 yard drive in the beginning of the second quarter. However, the Giants found themselves trailing 28-10 at the end of the first half — not a position you want you rookie quarterback to be in on the road.

On the first play of the second half, Jones found TE Evan Engram for a 75-yard touchdown pass, and “Danny Dimes” was born. The Giants converted an ensuing 2-point conversion to cut the Bucs lead to 10. Jones’ second touchdown pass was the most impressive, finding Sterling Shephard on 3rd and goal. Shephard was double covered running to the far right side of the end zone, and Jones put the ball right where it needed to be.

The Giants defense seemed to be playing inspired as a result of how well Daniel Jones was playing, keeping the Bucs to just 3 points in the entire second half. With just over a three minutes to play in the game and the Giants down 31-25, Jones led the offense on an 8 play, 75 yard drive.

On 4th down at the Bucs 7 yard line, Jones dropped back to pass but saw nothing but day light ahead of him, as he decided to tuck it and run untouched into the end zone for what would be the game-winning score. Daniel Jones finished with 336 yards passing and 4 total touchdowns (2 passing, 2 rushing). The most intriguing stat of them all — Daniel Jones is now 1-0 when trailing by 18+ points… Eli Manning was 0-44 in those games in his career.

 

Michigan still can’t win a big game, and Harbaugh’s seat is heating up.

The Michigan Wolverines were 3.5-point underdogs on the road at Wisconsin this past Saturday. This was the 7th time that Michigan had been an underdog under Jim Harbaugh. The previous six games were all losses, including four that were by double digits.

Well, let’s make that seven losses in a row now, as Wisconsin absolutely embarrassed the Wolverines by a score of 35-14. The game was actually much worse than the final score suggests. Wisconsin held a 35-0 lead in the third quarter before going into cruise control for the remainder of the game. Badgers RB Jonathan Taylor made that Michigan defense look like a JV team, gashing them for 203 yards and 2 touchdowns (8.8 yards per carry!).

Criticism has never been stronger of Harbaugh’s inability to win the big games, as it is right now in Ann Arbor. Things are so bad that we are now seeing betting props popping up in sports books around the country, offering odds as to who might be the next Michigan head coach in 2020 if it’s not Harbaugh.

Every year we see Michigan highly ranked in the preseason polls, and at least one national expert predicts them to win the Big Ten and even crack the CFB Playoff. They have yet to come close to that, never even appearing once in a Big Ten Championship game since the conference championship game was introduced in 2011. If we’re being honest here, Michigan football hasn’t been relevant since the Lloyd Carr era in the late 90’s early 2000’s.

Just as the Wolverines did on Saturday, they usually disappoint and underwhelm us. Kyle Rowland who covers the rival Ohio State Buckeyes, summed it up best in this tweet:

So, what’s next for Michigan? Will Jim Harbaugh be able to bounce back from this? Currently, Michigan has five ranked teams left on their schedule (#14 Iowa, #12 Penn St, #10 Notre Dame, #25 Michigan St, and #5 Ohio St). On paper, Michigan still has a chance to win the Big Ten East and possible set up a rematch in the Big Ten title with Wisconsin. Of course, that’s a stretch given the fact that it would be their first conference title appearance ever.

I can almost guarantee you this — If Harbaugh does not find a way to defeat the Buckeyes in their season finale, his time at Michigan will be over. Harbaugh is 0-4 against their bitter rival, and with the departure of Urban Meyer at Ohio St, this is a must win situation for Michigan.

 

A third of the way through the CFB regular season, here are the teams dominating the number.

It’s always a challenge to handicap college football teams during the first few weeks of the season due to the amount of changes that occur within a program year after year. There’s a lot of off season homework that goes into finding an edge early in the season, when we don’t necessarily know what we are going to get out of these 18-22 year old college athletes.

After a few weeks play out and the dust begins to settle, it becomes a little more clear as to which teams are out playing their expectations, and which teams are falling short of those expectations. Winning games is the ultimate goal week after week, but consistently covering the spread is a sign of a football team that is for the most part dominating their competition and exceeding expectations.

I say “for the most part” because in the case of Auburn covering against Oregon in Week 1, we can’t exactly say that Auburn dominated the football game. However, Auburn is one of seven FBS teams that are undefeated against the spread after playing a minimum of three games this season. Let’s take a look at those teams:

Auburn 4-0 (4-0 ATS)

  • Week 1: Auburn -4 vs Oregon… Result: Won 27-21
  • Week 2: Auburn -15 vs Tulane… Result: Won 24-6
  • Week 3: Auburn -36 vs Kent St… Result: Won 55-16
  • Week 4: Auburn +4 at Texas A&M… Result: Won 28-20

Kansas St 3-0 (3-0 ATS)

  • Week 1: Kansas St -22.5 vs Nicholls St… Result: Won 49-14
  • Week 2: Kansas St -25 vs Bowling Green… Result: Won 52-0
  • Week 3: Kansas St +7 at Miss St… Result: Won 31-24
  • Week 4: BYE

UL Lafayette 3-1 (4-0 ATS)

  • Week 1: ULL +19 vs Miss St… Result: Lost 38-28
  • Week 2: ULL -14 vs Liberty… Result: Won 35-14
  • Week 3: ULL -47 vs Texas Southern… Result: Won 77-6
  • Week 4: ULL +3 at Ohio… Result: Won 45-25

Oklahoma St 3-1 (4-0 ATS)

  • Week 1: Ok St -13.5 at Oregon St… Result: Won 52-36
  • Week 2: Ok St -41.5 vs McNeese St… Result: Won 56-14
  • Week 3: Ok St -14 at Tulsa… Result: Won 40-21
  • Week 4: Ok St +7 at Texas… Result: Lost 30-36

Southern Methodist 4-0 (4-0 ATS)

  • Week 1: SMU +1.5 at Arkansas St… Result: Won 37-30
  • Week 2: SMU -3.5 vs North Texas… Result: Won 49-27
  • Week 3: SMU -17.5 vs Texas St… Result: Won 47-17
  • Week 4: SMU +7.5 at TCU… Result: Won 41-38

Utah St 2-1 (3-0 ATS)

  • Week 1: Utah St +5 at Wake Forest… Result: Lost 38-35
  • Week 2: Utah St -31.5 vs Stony Brook… Result: Won 62-7
  • Week 3: BYE
  • Week 4: Utah St -4 at SDSU… Result: Won 23-17

Wisconsin 3-0 (3-0 ATS)

  • Week 1: Wisconsin -10 at USF… Result: Won 49-0
  • Week 2: Wisconsin -34 vs Central Michigan… Result: Won 61-0
  • Week 3: BYE
  • Week 4: Wisconsin -3.5 vs Michigan… Result: Won 35-14

We know that regression to the mean usually occurs when we see teams get out to hot starts like the teams just mentioned. Odds makers will adjust their power rankings and take into account these teams that have been exceeding expectations.

However, every year there are a few teams that continue to cover the number at a ridiculously high rate all season long. For example, Washington St finished the 2018 season with an 11-2 record ATS. They also had the magic mustache man, Gardner Minshew, who is now becoming a celebrity icon for the Jaguars in the NFL.

Check back in for more Bet The Game content coming your way every week. Judah and I will be previewing Oregon and Oregon St match-ups all season long, as well as a weekly Pac-12 conference betting preview, and our NFL best bets.

 

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