Submitted by Wayne Root on Monday, November 6, 2017 at 3:00 PM
If you were paying even casual attention to college football this past Saturday, you surely noticed that UNDERDOGS were covering the games involving the highest ranked teams. That was a key part of my 80% performance in THE ROOT TRUST that day. The public continues to overestimate the blowout potential for teams fighting to get a Final Four berth in the National Championship race.
A quick run-through from the top 7 in the playoff rankings…
#1 Georgia (-23) barely even scored the pointspread in a 24-10 win over South Carolina. This was a very tough sandwich spot for the Bulldogs, after their rivalry game with Florida and their huge matchup with Auburn next week.
#2 Alabama (-20) was in the same boat vs. LSU, barely scoring the spread in another 24-10 victory. Alabama had been running up the score earlier in the season (and may do so again). But, here they ran into a hated rival with a good defense, and found it impossible to play to inflated expectations.
#3 Notre Dame (-16.5) beat Wake Forest 48-37. The defense really relaxed this week, as the whole team was in a big look-ahead spot to Miami. This was also a sandwich game after the Irish played highly regarded NC State last week. Wake snuck through the back door to make many bettors happy.
#4 Clemson (-9) beat NC State 38-31. The Wolfpack were getting +7.5 or more all day before kickoff…and stayed within striking distance the whole way. Clemson isn’t looking nearly as dominant now on defense as they did earlier this season. NC State gained almost 500 yards.
#5 Oklahoma (+2) beat Oklahoma State 62-52. So, we have a rare example of an underdog covering a high-profile game where it was actually the ranked team that was the underdog. Powers don’t suffer from overconfidence when they’re an underdog. I have to say that Okie State disappointed me here. They had every reason in the world to play well, and couldn’t figure out a way to get a stop with multi-year revenge against a hated rival.
#6 Ohio State (-21) lost to Iowa 55-24. Wow…even a dog lover like WAYNE ALLYN ROOT was a bit taken aback by the size of this blowout. Iowa covered by 52 points! And, it was a clean win. The Hawkeyes were the better team all day. No better example of what happens when an overrated team also gets overconfident after a big TV win.
#7 Penn State (-10) lost to Michigan State 27-24. Yes, the weather delay probably hurt the road team more than the host. But, this was a crazy line to begin with. None of Ohio State, Penn State, nor Michigan were as good at the start of the season as the media and the betting markets were leading you to believe. All of them can bully soft non-conference opponents. Put them on the field against a tough opponent, and they’re the ones that start blinking.
That’s a perfect 7-0 record for underdogs in games involving the top seven teams in the Playoff poll. Favorites just off the “Final Four” radar at #8 and below were covering pointspreads because they couldn’t afford a bad showing. That was #8 TCU, #9 Wisconsin, and #10 Miami all cashing tickets.
Keep that in mind as you handicap going forward.
*You want to FADE favorites who might be feeling the pressure…might be suffering from overconfidence…might be trapped by a letdown or lookahead situation…and might run into an opposing underdog dying to earn a headline-grabbing upset.
*You DON’T want to fade favorites who are just off the “top four” radar who aren’t dealing with letdowns, lookaheads, and the like. TCU was vulnerable when they lost to Iowa State…fell back to where they had to bring 100% focus…but now might rise back up into a danger zone again given losses by Ohio State and Penn State. Wisconsin will have to battle the tendency to relax after seeing other Big 10 powers lose so often.
The strong November schedule is going to continue this coming weekend. It will provide plenty of great opportunities for upset calls, value dogs, and “the time is now” favorites that THE KING OF LAS VEGAS is ready to exploit.
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