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Outkick Bets: Trap Games

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All odds in this article come from our partner, FanDuel Sportsbook.

Opportunities in college football are littered everywhere to make money and because you are reading this, you’ve already won some. One of the biggest opportunities you can find is something called a “trap” game. Traps are when one team is a favorite but can overlook it’s current opponent because a “bigger, more important” one looms on the horizon. Traps allow us to remember what we are betting on: 20-22 year old young men and not machines and therefore potential prey to the look-ahead.

These traps are are everywhere. Just look at last week. Auburn was -23 vs. Georgia State the week before blood-rival LSU, almost lost. TCU closed at -9.5 against SMU and had their eyes on Texas this coming week and hello defeat/flag-planting. Iowa trailed Colorado State at the half as a 24-point favorite before pulling a win out (not covering by the way) the week before returning to a tricky Big Ten battle Friday night with Maryland. See what I mean?

I have done the work for you already this week and identified TEN games that fit our profile that you’ll want to monitor before placing your final wagers.

FRIDAY, #5 Iowa -3.5 @ Maryland –> ON DECK: #4 Penn State

I absolutely remember literally just typing about Iowa looking ahead to this game, but get this, Iowa is getting Penn State eight days after this game and if you’re interested in massive matchups, that is atop the list. Maryland has a chance to ruin that. No one has been able to consistently move the ball against the Hawkeyes but Taulia Tagovailoa, younger brother of Tua, and Mike Locksley are primed if Iowa’s eyes are too far forward.

Illinois -10.5 @ Charlotte –> ON DECK: Wisconsin

WATCH. THE. HELL. OUT. Illinois has Wisconsin on deck and while it might be tempting to try and slowly melt the clock out against Charlotte this week, think again! Charlotte is 3-1 with their first ever win over a Power 5 (yack) team already under its belts (Duke). Charlotte can score and their QB Chris Reynolds is tied for 16th in passing TDs with guys you may know: Matt Corral (Ole Miss), Jack Coan (Notre Dame) and Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA).

North Carolina -20.5 vs. Duke –> ON DECK: Florida State

Quick timeout to remind you when we speak of these trap games, we aren’t talking about potential losses. We make money on the spread too, friends. That caveat reminded, North Carolina is all over the place this season. They’ve already split the ACC’s Virginia squads. If we add a recent beating by Georgia Tech, it’s a wild scene for a preseason top-10 team. This spread is massive and if we look forward (because how sexy is a Duke game?) the ‘Noles are on tap. Remember last year when Florida State upset #5 North Carolina (-13.5) in Tallahassee because Sam Howell’s receivers dropped 3 consecutive passes on a potential game-winning drive? I bet they do.

Texas -5.5 @ TCU –> ON DECK: #6 Oklahoma

TCU’s Gary Patterson was asked about Texas before the SMU game this last week. He got mad (rightfully so) and unfortunately for them, the Horned Frogs dropped the game (-9.5). Texas has lost five of their last 6 against TCU and I bet very few people even know that right now, maybe even those in Austin aren’t aware. Oklahoma is awaiting in the Cotton Bowl. Since 2015, Texas is 2-4 ATS the week before the Oklahoma game and lost three times outright, twice to TCU.

App State -9.5 @ Georgia State –> ON DECK: Louisiana

Make no mistake, Louisiana looms large for the Mountaineers. App State started strong this season with just one tough road loss at Miami and will open conference play with a Georgia State team reeling after having the Auburn game ripped from their hands. Georgia State’s lone win was over a gritty Charlotte (same one as before mentioned) team and that 1-3 record for the Panthers is deceiving. There’s a chance that next week is a preview of the Sun Belt Championship game, but a scorned Panthers team is getting an awful lot of points.

#6 Oklahoma -10.5 @ Kansas State –> ON DECK: Texas

Oklahoma just isn’t the same offense in 2021 and that’s a worrisome sign for OVER bettors and those loving their massive spreads. This one, the week before Texas, could be a windfall for us. Kansas State is just allowing 330.2 yards per game thus far and Oklahoma, a perennial top 10 (at worst offense) is now garnering the same yardage as UTSA and less than Air Force and Michigan State. Also note the history: the Sooners are 3-3 ATS in the week leading up to the Texas game BUT only one loss (last season to Iowa State). Oh and eldest we forget Kansas State has won the last two meetings and Oklahoma has only covered the spread once in the last four matchups.

South Carolina -7 vs. Troy –> ON DECK: Tennessee

South Carolina cannot afford to look past anyone but these guys are human. They are the big, highly-recruited SEC and it’s little ol’ Sun Belt’s Troy. Tennessee is a massive game that South Carolina might be able to win and completely twist the outlook of the season into a bowl game if the momentum begins to churn. Troy just lost to Terry Bowden’s return project Louisiana-Monroe and they couldn’t be lower. I mean, Monroe had to comeback to beat the Fightin’ Deion Sanders the week before. Troy struggles to score and is fundamentally sound on defense. Good news: South Carolina struggles to score too! When one cannot simply explode past their competition, a good game could be had.

Boise State -6.5 vs. Nevada –> ON DECK: #13 BYU

Boise State is winners of six-in-a-row vs. Nevada. Boise State has won ten-of-eleven too. Boise State sees this as a necessary evil in conference play (for now) and has always eyes bigger things. BYU is a bigger thing. BYU could be a top-10, undefeated team welcoming in Boise next week (if they get past Utah State). Boise State is ONLY 3-7 ATS since 2007 against Nevada.

#15 Texas A&M -7 vs. Mississippi State –> ON DECK: #1 ALABAMA

Let’s start at the beginning, Texas A&M ain’t that good folks. Their offensive line and quarterback play (even before the injury) are suspect at best. They struggle to score against the good and bad teams so why in the world should they be a near double-digit favorite in-conference? It is beyond my comprehension. Mississippi State will throw it 65 times this game, zero doubt about that and they’ve been close (for good and bad) in all of their games (outside the weird NC State one). Don’t ignore Mississippi State. It might be hard, however, seeing as the nation’s top squad is only a week away and Jimbo Fisher has yet to beat his former boss.

#4 Penn State -12.5 vs. Indiana –> ON DECK: #5 IOWA

Conference games are tough ones to look past, but look at what awaits: Iowa. We can respect the Hoosiers for returning to some semblance of relevance but Michael Pennix Jr. struggles mightily against good defenses. Indiana has already lost to Iowa and Cincinnati and it might be easy to ignore the Hoosiers’ relevance in advance of a blockbuster headbuster next week. I will forever think that bettors that see teams that are close defensively (separated by 14 yards per game allowed) and offensively (separated by 1.7 points scored per game) should be wary of big spreads and in this case, it may be more pertinent.

Written by Arky Shea

Arky is a decade plus veteran of sports talk radio and a podcaster since before it was cool (2006). He has also won many, many awards for being good at it. As you read this, he is probably working an angle to win $50 on a game and wondering when the Alabama dynasty actually will end.

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