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The Triple Option: College football Week 4 best picks and predictions

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There is no tougher sport to handicap on a week-to-week basis than college football.

Example. Last week I picked Florida to cover 8-points at Kentucky mostly due to the edge at quarterback and a swarming defense, and a tiny bit due to the revenge factor. Well, the quarterback I liked (Feleipe Franks) didn’t look great early, then suffered a season ending ankle injury.

The Wildcats proceeded build a 21-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Then, a funny thing happened. Backup Kyle Trask got in a groove. He went 9-13 for 126 yards in leading two touchdown drives to give the Gators a 22-21 lead.

But after Kentucky missed a potential go-ahead field goal with less than a minute to go, it seemed that our bet was sunk. Then thanks to some Kentucky timeouts, Josh Hammond busted lose for 76 yards, as I busted off my couch, screaming at my television for the Gators back to take it to the house. All for a push.

College football, man. It’s hard to cap.

So, a losing week every now and then shouldn’t be a surprise. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it. So, we try to get back on track this week starting with an old favorite – the UCF Knights.

Hey everyone! If you haven’t heard, UCF is a legit college football power, not just a Group of 5 one. The Knights have outscored their opponents 155-41 on their way to a 3-0 SU/ATS record and looked super impressive in their beatdown of Stanford last week as they head into this weekend’s matchup at Pitt.

Oh, and the Hawaiian pipeline to UCF is a real thing. Dillon Gabriel has thrown for 716 yards and nine touchdowns with no picks. He goes up against a Pitt defense, that while ranks well, hasn’t faced an attacking UCF offense like this.

What always been overlooked aspect of this UCF squad, has been its defense. The Knights rank 13th in total defense and 12th in opponent yards per play at just 4.0. They face a struggling Pitt offense that hasn’t put up more than 20 points in a game since last November.

Simply put, UCF hasn’t scored less than 30 points since the 2016 Cure Bowl. And they’re looking for a second victory over a Power 5 team to boost their resume. If the Knights can get up early, the Panthers, who are in a bit of a letdown spot after a close loss to rival Penn State, won’t be able to keep up.

Pick: UCF -11

COLORADO BUFFALOES AT ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (-8.5, 49)

It’s a trap!

But as I cram two movie references into two sentences, my boy Tony Stark would say, “Yeah, I don’t much care.” That’s right cause we’re taking down Thanos, I mean, this spread no matter what!

Sometimes you just look at a line and wonder what the books know that you don’t. Yes, the Sun Devils come into this matchup undefeated and off a big win at Michigan State as 15.5 underdogs. However, they scored just 10 points in that game and are averaging just 19.7 per contest this season. The Buffs have struggled on defense so far this year, but it’s been good enough to keep them in games. And this Sun Devils’ offense is not the toughest they’ve faced.

And yes, the Arizona State defense is good. But they’ve played Kent State, which ranks 125th in total offense, an offensively challenged Sparty team, and FCS Sacramento.

While Colorado is coming off its first loss of the season against a scrappy and well coached Air Force team, getting 8.5-points here seems like a bit of an overreaction. The Buffs still had a chance to win that game and are that close to being undefeated themselves.

If Colorado can give Steven Montez time in the pocket, he should be able to make some plays in the air, particularly to star wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. Kind of like they did last year, in the Buffs 28-21 win over the Sun Devils in Boulder. Montez threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns with no picks while Shenault hauled in 13 receptions for 127 yards and a score in that one.

Admittedly, the Sun Devils defense has improved since then, but I think it’s asking a lot of a team that has this much trouble scoring to cover a number this large. Especially considering that Colorado has a chance to win this outright.

Pick: Colorado +8.5

CAL GOLDEN BEARS AT OLE MISS REBELS (-2.5, 41.5)

Cal legitimately has one of the premier defenses in the country and is more than capable of handling the Ole Miss offense. While some might say the Rebels’ offense has found its grove, the last time they ran up against a defense close to this calibre, it was in Week 1 in Memphis when the Tigers held them to just 10 points.

While that game was on the road, the Golden Bears defense is on another level. They are allowing just 4.4 yards per play and have already snagged six turnovers, one year removed from ranking sixth in the country in takeaways.

Cal’s front seven will be able to shut down Jerrion Ealy and Scottie Phillips in the run game and will force Matt Corral into some bad decisions against what is arguably the nation’s best secondary. Corral only has one interception this season, but Memphis limited him to 9-19 passing and dropped a few catchable picks.

The early start time for a west coast team traveling east is always concerning, but if Chase Garbers can take care of the ball and Christopher Brown Jr. can do just enough damage on the ground, then Cal can lean on its defense to not only cover this spread, but win outright.

Pick: Cal +2.5

Last week’s picks: 0-2-1
Season to date: 4-4-2

Canucks vs Golden Knights picks and predictions for Game 1

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Perhaps no team has been more fun to follow during the NHL playoffs than the Vancouver Canucks, and hockey bettors can still get the Canucks at +1,300 to hoist Lord Stanley’s cup. Vancouver is coming off a thrilling series win against the defending champion St. Louis Blues, but now a much more difficult challenge awaits. The Vegas Golden Knights are +350 favorites to win it all, and they’ve certainly looked the part while dropping only one playoff contest.

Game 1 of this series gets underway Sunday, so we’re here to bring you our NHL picks and predictions in this Western Conference semifinal showdown.

Vancouver Canucks vs Vegas Golden Knights betting preview

Starting Goalies

Canucks: Jacob Markstrom – playoffs – 7-3, 2.44 GAA, .929 SV% (season – 23-16, 2.75 GAA, .918 SV%)

Golden Knights: Robin Lehner – playoffs – 5-1, 2.44 GAA, .904 SV% (season – 19-10, 2.89, .920 SV%)

If this game was actually played in Las Vegas, then Markstrom could easily spend a few hours performing with Cirque du Soleil. The 30-year-old dazzled against Blues with an eye-opening array of acrobatic saves and an impressive 7-3 record. He’ll need to provide more of the same against a dangerous Vegas squad.

The Knights will likely roll with Robin Lehner, who has taken over the spot as Vegas’s starter in the crease—and rightfully so. Still, the Knights have the luxury of having Marc-Andre Fleury as their “backup.” The five-time All-Star matched an NHL record this season with his 14th consecutive playoff appearance.

Injuries

Vancouver: Tyler Myers D (out), Tyler Toffoli RW (out), Micheal Ferland LW (out), Josh Leivo LW (out)

Vegas: Tomas Nosek LW (out)

Betting Trend to Know

Canucks are 0-6 in their last six Sunday games. Find the latest NHL betting trends for Canucks vs. Golden Knights.

MONEYLINE PICK

The Canucks have been a force with the extra man during the postseason, converting 26.2% of their power plays. While the Knights are known for their offensive firepower, it’s their stingy defense that allows them to suffocate opponents—as evidenced by an 86.4% penalty kill during their playoff run. Vancouver is the only team in the league to never beat Vegas in regulation, going 0-11 all time. That’s something I just can’t ignore.

PREDICTION: Vegas ML (-175)

OVER/UNDER PICK

Each team is filled with loads of offensive talent. Vancouver’s Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller have combined for 11 goals thus far. Elias Pettersson has racked up 13 points, tied with Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon for the playoff lead.

The Knights can match Vancouver’s scorers, but they’re more balanced—Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch and Mark Stone have each lit the lamp four times during the postseason. The difference is on defense, where Vancouver has allowed the most high-danger chances of all remaining playoff teams.

PREDICTION: Over 5.5 (-110)

PROP PICK

Though I like Vegas to win, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canucks kept it close and continued their offensive success. I’ll take a flyer on Vancouver scoring at least three goals.

PREDICTION: Canucks total goals Over 2.5 (-100)

Canucks vs Golden Knights Betting Card

  • Vegas ML (-175)
  • Over 5.5 (-110)
  • Canucks total goals Over 2.5 (-100)
NHL Parlays

Did you know that if you parlayed today’s NHL Canucks vs Golden Knights picks, you could win $104.93 on a $10 bet?

Use our NHL parlay calculator to create your own parlays and see their potential payouts.

Verlander injury shuffles Astros’ MLB futures odds

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MLB betting got a shake-up Sunday afternoon, specifically on World Series odds and AL pennant odds, with news that Astros star pitcher Justin Verlander could miss the rest of the season – or at least a significant chunk of it – with an arm injury.

Initial reports suggested Verlander had an elbow ailment, but both he and manager Dusty Baker quickly denied that. Baker called it a forearm strain and said that Verlander would be re-evaluated in “a couple of weeks.” The reigning AL Cy Young winner pitched a solid six innings in an 8-2 Opening Day rout of the Seattle Mariners on Friday.

Verlander’s injury led oddsmakers to shuffle futures book odds on the defending AL champions. Covers checked in on the MLB odds moves with a couple of Las Vegas sportsbooks.

How does Verlander’s injury affect Astros’ World Series odds?

At CG Technology books, risk analyst Rich Zanco said the Astros quickly moved from +1,200 to +1,800 in World Series futures. The SuperBook at Westgate also had Houston pegged +1,200 prior to Sunday’s news and initially went to +1,600, then dialed it a little further to +1,800.

However, there were apparently buyers on the Astros at that point, prompting the SuperBook to reel the price in to +1,400.

How does Verlander’s injury affect Astros’ American League odds?

In AL pennant futures, the Astros initially moved from +600 to +800 at The SuperBook, then ticked back to +700.

World Series odds

Team Odds to win
Los Angeles Dodgers +350
New York Yankees +350
Houston Astros +600
Atlanta Braves +1,600
Minnesota Twins +1,600
Tampa Bay Rays +1,800
Washington Nationals +2,000
Cleveland Indians +2,000
New York Mets +2,000
Chicago Cubs +2,000
Oakland Athletics +2,000
St. Louis Cardinals +2,500
Cincinnati Reds +2,500
San Diego Padres +2,500
Philadelphia Phillies +3,000
Chicago White Sox +3,000
Los Angeles Angels +3,000
Milwaukee Brewers +4,000
Boston Red Sox +5,000
Arizona Diamondbacks +6,000
Colorado Rockies +8,000
Toronto Blue Jays +10,000
Texas Rangers +10,000
Pittsburgh Pirates +20,000
Detroit Tigers +20,000
San Francisco Giants +30,000
Seattle Mariners +30,000
Miami Marlins +30,000
Baltimore Orioles +30,000
Kansas City Royals +30,000

Odds courtesy The SuperBook