College Football Pick
No one has given much respect to West Virginia over the last couple weeks and that’s seen in their spreads. But the Mountaineers don’t care about that and have easily won their last two. They get another Game against one of the preseason darlings, Oklahoma State, and still aren’t getting much respect. The Mountaineers opened as a -3 point road favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
West Virginia still has the inside route to the Big 12 title with Baylor and Oklahoma both having to travel to Morgantown. But there’s still a long way to go before anyone starts trusting Dana Holgorsen and company. However, at this point, it may be hard not to with the Mountaineers winning by 31 at Texas Tech two Games ago and then holding down TCU 34-10 last weekend.
Oklahoma State is on a winning streak of its own, but beating Texas, Iowa State and Kansas isn’t the same thing. The Cowboys still have the same flaws that saw them lose to Central Michigan and get in a shootout with Pittsburgh. Their defense is lacking and that was obvious after allowing 31 points to the Cyclones a couple weeks ago.
And that could be the difference with how balanced the WVU attack looks. They remain a run-first team, but quarterback Skyler Howard stepped up against the Horned Frogs last Game, tossing Four touchdowns without an interception. While not being asked to do as much, Howard has looked much better this season as he’s completing close to 12 percent more of his passes than a year ago (66.5%). To go with that, Rushel Shell and Justin Crawford have remained consistent in the running Game. Crawford has taken a step back the last two Games, but Shell ran for 100 in each of those.
Maybe the Mountaineers don’t have the best offense around, but they should be good enough to put points on the Cowboys. The other side may be just as difficult for OK State.
West Virginia probably should’ve won this Game a year ago, but lost a tough overtime Game at home. If it weren’t for multiple costly turnovers by Howard and the offense, they would’ve won. But this season, without those turnovers, OK State will need to find a way to move the ball.
Mason Rudolph struggled mightily against this defense in that Game, completing 50% of his passes with no touchdowns and three interceptions. The running Game had a similar challenge, reaching just 3.5 yards per carry.
The Cowboys have gotten great play out of running back Justice Hill in the last Four weeks, rushing for Four touchdowns and 100 yards in three of those Games. However, when faced with a defense that can actually stop teams, will Hill be able to do the same thing? If not, it could be a similar result as to recent West Virginia Games when they dominated defensively and moved the ball effectively on offense to get out to big leads.
Even with the Cowboys at home, it’ll be hard to trust this team led by an inconsistent Mason Rudolph against a defense that just clamped down on TCU.
The Mountaineers are 5-2 ATS in their last seven Big 12 Games, but 2-7 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The Cowboys haven’t covered in their last Four following an ATS win and are 2-5 ATS in their last seven Conference Games.
Our Pick – You can’t bet Games for the sake of betting Games. You have to be aware of not only what the current line is NOW, but also what the line WAS.
The line on this Game has been all over the place. It was once West Virginia -1 and now stands at -4.5. We agree with the line move. We mentioned in another write up how Auburn had the #1 ranked defense when using yards per point to rank. Guess who’s #2? Yep, West Virginia.
Our model also agrees, picking West Virginia to win by more than the current posted line of -4.5. But when we could have bet WVA at -1, -1.5, -2, -2.5 and -3, we cannt advise players to bet the Game at -4 or worse. It’s simply not a successful, or smart, long term strategy.
What ends up happening more times than not is, the Game lands 3, with the shaprs who took -2.5 or better winning and the squares who bet -4 or worse losing.
So for now, we’ll call this a lean on West Virginia. At -3 or better, we’d consider it a play. West Virginia -3 or better.