It’s foolish to think we know better than oddsmakers when it comes to setting college football lines. But that doesn’t stop us from doing it, does it?
Every week there are a handful of lines that seem off. And, with shocking regularity, it turns out we were wrong, and the sportsbooks were right.
We combed through Michigan online sportsbooks to find the college football lines that fit that bill in Week 7, tried to figure out why, and ranked the top 5.
This isn’t advice, and we’re not saying to jump on these lines. It’s more a warning to watch out for potential traps.
5. Kentucky +7 vs. Mississippi State
This line feels like a hedge right now, but could wind up being weird either way.
If Kentucky quarterback Will Levis doesn’t play, one might argue this line is attractive to Mississippi State bettors. But if the potential top 10 pick does suit up for the Wildcats, folks probably feel pretty good about getting a touchdown at home.
Levis practiced on Monday, and if he’s cleared we may see a shift.
Mississippi State is on a bit of a tear right now, and Kentucky has lost two straight. Of course, the most recent loss against South Carolina came without Levis, and the other was a three-point road loss at Ole Miss, which is ranked in the top 10.
4. USC +3.5 at Utah
This is USC’s first major test, and perhaps oddsmakers believe the Trojans’ turnover luck is about to run out. Rice-Eccles Stadium can also be a tough place to play.
But if you look at its season so far, what has Utah done to really impress or backup its high preseason ranking?
The Utes have played two games against good opponents — at Florida and at UCLA — and lost both. Both were close, sure, but USC is supposed to be better than both of those teams, right?
3. Clemson -3.5 at Florida State
Night game at Doak has to be the thinking here, right? Otherwise, I don’t see it with Florida State.
Sure, Clemson is capable of being stagnant on offense, and the pass defense has some cracks. But Florida State seems to be living off that bizarre Labor Day Weekend win against LSU.
Since that night, the Seminoles have squeaked out a win against a bad Louisville team, crushed a very bad Boston College, and lost at home to Wake Forest and on the road to NC State, which lost its starting quarterback in the third quarter.
That doesn’t feel like the résumé of a team that will stay within 4 points of a top five opponent.
2. Kansas +8 at Oklahoma
This line is definitely injury related, but still: Oklahoma is Capital B Bad right now.
Last week’s mauling at the hands of Texas seemed to signal the Sooners have checked out. They’ve lost three straight, and the last two haven’t been competitive. It’s become crystal clear that Lincoln Riley’s exit, and the exodus of transfers that followed, has left this team a shell of its former self. And there’s a decent chance computer models haven’t factored that in fully, at least not yet.
Now, Kansas is still probably more media darling than legit Big 12 contender. Plus, star quarterback Jalon Daniels is not likely to play. But backup Jason Bean went off in a relief effort against TCU, and Oklahoma’s defense has provided zero resistance as of late.
The return of quarterback Dillon Gabriel will certainly help the Oklahoma offense, so you have to believe that oddsmakers are combining that with Daniels’ absence to get to this line.
1. Illinois +6.5 vs. Minnesota
I think you can blame Michigan State and some Illini injuries for this one
Minnesota is coming off a bye, so there’s that. But prior to the bye, they lost 20-10 at home against Purdue. No shame in that, as the Boilermakers are probably underrated at this point. That was Minnesota’s first game against a team with a pulse, though, and I think it’s still getting credit for the throttling of the Spartans in East Lansing.
Illinois has been very good since a weird opening week loss against Indiana, specifically on defense. Yes, the win against Iowa last week was gross, but all games against Iowa are gross.
Four starters are likely out for Illinois, including quarterback Tommy DeVito. His backup, Artur Sitkowski, has quite a bit of experience, though, and it’s not like the Illini are an air raid offense.
Does the Michigan vs. Penn State line pass the smell test?
Michigan opened as a touchdown favorite against Penn State, and has remained there early in the week. That feels about right in this one.
It’s the first game against a ranked opponent for both teams, and each has had moments of vulnerability sprinkled into mostly comfortable wins. Penn State’s vulnerabilities look bigger, though, and the game is at the Big House.
Does the Michigan State vs. Wisconsin line pass the smell test?
Wisconsin is favored by 7 or 7.5, depending on the sportsbook, and honestly, I have no clue if that’s right or not.
The Badgers are struggling this season, but they have a quarterback in Graham Mertz who is capable of receiving a snap and throwing the ball to his receivers, which automatically creates a problem for Michigan State.
The Spartans can’t stop anyone at the moment, and their offense isn’t exactly helping.
Both teams are terribly flawed, so oddsmakers could set this line at Wisconsin -1 or -21 and I’m not sure I’d disagree with either.