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Kyle Pitts
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Odds and Ends

Week 15 CFB ATS Notes

by Thor Nystrom
Updated On: December 10, 2020, 3:32 am ET

In the table below, you'll find the Adjusted Thor Line (ATL), a system I devised for determining line value. ATL does not consider injuries, COVID absences, or situational spots. The lines in the table below are from the perspective of the home team. I consider discrepancies lower than one point to be negligible. 

Check back Thursday for this week’s official plays. All lines courtesy of PointsBet Sportsbook.

Day Away Home PB Line ATL ATL side Line value    
12/10 Florida Atlantic Owls Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles +8.5 +6.3 Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles 2.2    
12/10 Pittsburgh Panthers Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets +6.5 +3.5 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 3.0    
12/11 North Texas Mean Green UTEP Miners +9.5 +7.7 UTEP Miners 1.8    
12/11 Charlotte 49ers Marshall Thundering Herd -20 -17.6 Charlotte 49ers 2.4    
12/11 Arizona State Sun Devils Arizona Wildcats +11 +11.2 N/A N/A    
12/11 Utah Utes Colorado Buffaloes -2 +2.5 Utah Utes 4.5    
12/11 Nevada Wolf Pack San Jose State Spartans -2.5 +0.3 Nevada Wolf Pack 2.8    
12/12 Minnesota Golden Gophers Nebraska Cornhuskers -10.5 -3.4 Minnesota Golden Gophers 7.1    
12/12 Alabama Crimson Tide Arkansas Razorbacks +32.5 +27.2 Arkansas Razorbacks 5.3    
12/12 Georgia Bulldogs Missouri Tigers +13 +14.2 Georgia Bulldogs 1.2    
12/12 Oklahoma Sooners West Virginia Mountaineers +13.5 +12.1 West Virginia Mountaineers 1.4    
12/12 Illinois Fighting Illini Northwestern Wildcats -14.5 -14.1 N/A N/A    
12/12 Miami (OH) RedHawks Bowling Green Falcons +24.5 +20.7 Bowling Green Falcons 3.8    
12/12 Northern Illinois Huskies Eastern Michigan Eagles -6 -6.5 N/A N/A    
12/12 Western Michigan Broncos Ball State Cardinals -2.5 +2.8 Western Michigan Broncos 5.3    
12/12 Rutgers Scarlet Knights Maryland Terrapins -8 -6.2 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 1.8    
12/12 Houston Cougars Memphis Tigers +4 +1.7 Memphis Tigers 2.3    
12/12 Wake Forest Demon Deacons Louisville Cardinals -2 -7.4 Louisville Cardinals 5.4    
12/12 UAB Blazers Rice Owls +7.5 +8.4 N/A N/A    
12/12 Akron Zips Buffalo Bulls -32.5 -31.1 Akron Zips 1.4    
12/12 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers Troy Trojans +13.5 +9.7 Troy Trojans 3.8    
12/12 Central Michigan Chippewas Toledo Rockets -11.5 -2.0 Central Michigan Chippewas 9.5    
12/12 Texas Longhorns Kansas Jayhawks +30 +31.0 Texas Longhorns 1    
12/12 Wisconsin Badgers Iowa Hawkeyes Pk +5.2 Wisconsin Badgers 5.2    
12/12 Navy Midshipmen Army Black Knights -6.5 -10.7 Army Black Knights 4.2    
12/12 Purdue Boilermakers Indiana Hoosiers -10 -8.3 Purdue Boilermakers 1.7    
12/12 Michigan State Spartans Penn State Nittany Lions -15.5 -14.5 Michigan State Spartans 1    
12/12 North Carolina Tar Heels Miami Hurricanes -3.5 -0.5 North Carolina Tar Heels 3    
12/12 Duke Blue Devils Florida State Seminoles -4.5 -3.5 Duke Blue Devils 1    
12/12 Washington Huskies Oregon Ducks -6 -2.1 Washington Huskies 3.9    
12/12 Tennessee Volunteers Vanderbilt Commodores +15 +15 N/A N/A    
12/12 Boise State Broncos Wyoming Cowboys +11.5 +7.4 Wyoming Cowboys 4.1    
12/12 Appalachian State Mountaineers Georgia Southern Eagles +9.5 +11 Appalachian State Mountaineers 1.5    
12/12 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs TCU Horned Frogs -21.5 -17.8 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 3.7    
12/12 LSU Tigers Florida Gators -23.5 -17.2 LSU Tigers 6.3    
12/12 Oklahoma State Cowboys Baylor Bears +5.5 +4.7 N/A N/A    
12/12 USC Trojans UCLA Bruins +3 +4.7 USC Trojans 1.7    
12/12 Auburn Tigers Mississippi State Bulldogs +6.5 +6.2 N/A N/A    
12/12 Virginia Cavaliers Virginia Tech Hokies -2 -4.8 Virginia Tech Hokies 2.8    
12/12 Utah State Aggies Colorado State Rams -13.5 -14.2 N/A N/A    
12/12 San Diego State Aztecs BYU Cougars -16 -18.4 BYU Cougars 2.4    
12/12 Fresno State Bulldogs New Mexico Lobos +11 +8.6 New Mexico Lobos 2.4    
12/12 California Golden Bears Washington State Cougars +2.5 -3.4 Washington State Cougars 5.9    
12/12 Stanford Cardinal Oregon State Beavers +3 -1.0 Oregon State Beavers 4.0    
12/12 UNLV Rebels Hawaii Rainbow Warriors -20 -12.0 UNLV Rebels 8    

Injury updates

Virginia Cavaliers (+2) at Virginia Tech Hokies

ATL: VT -4.8

Last weekend, the Hokies started out the first half going toe-to-toe with boogeyman Clemson. Virginia Tech held a 7-3 lead early, and were tied 10-10 with two minutes left until halftime. But in part due to a pair of quarterback injuries and in part due to shoddy play out of the position, the Hokies folded up shop from there in a 45-10 loss.

Virginia Tech starting QB Hendon Hooker was the first to leave, exiting on the very first drive after getting clocked by a Clemson defender, causing a fumble, and, it turns out, an undisclosed injury. Quarterback fumbles and injuries would be a theme. QB2 Braxton Burmeister set up Clemson’s first second half TD with a fumble deep in his own territory. 

Then Burmeister himself was knocked from the game with a leg injury. That forced Hooker back into the game. Hooker immediately fumbled, recovered by Clemson and returned 66 yards for a touchdown, turning a 10-10 game into a 31-10 game. Whether injury or performance-based, Hooker was banished to the locker room at that point and HC Justin Fuente went to QB3 Knox Kadum, who made his collegiate debut.

On the positive side, Burmeister and Hooker were both able to practice Sunday. And Fuente said on Monday that he believes both will be healthy and active for the game this Saturday against the Cavaliers. 

On paper, this is an interesting matchup. The Hokies are a one-dimensional team that is very, very good running the ball. The Cavaliers have a one-dimensional defense that is very, very good at stopping the run. Whoever gets the best of that matchup wins this game.

 

North Carolina Tar Heels (+3.5) at Miami Hurricanes

ATL: Miami -0.5

North Carolina officially shut down WR Beau Corrales with the lower-body injury that has had him on the shelf since the Oct. 17 loss at Florida State outside of a brief, stat-free cameo in the Nov. 27 loss to Notre Dame.

Corrales has pledged to return to Chapel Hill next season. 

 

Michigan State Spartans (+15.5) at Penn State Nittany Lions

ATL: PSU -14.5

Michigan State QB Rocky Lombardi was ineffective (5-for-11 passing for 33 yards and a pick-six) in last Saturday’s lopsided loss to Ohio State before he got lit up on a sack by OSU’s Tyreke Smith with 4:29 before halftime. 

Lombardi’s head bounced off the turf and he appeared cloudy as he was guided to the locker room. Freshman QB Payton Thorne came on in relief and finished out the game (16-for-25 passing for 147 yards with 42 yards rushing).

Sparty HC Mel Tucker indicated that he'll address Lombardi's status on Wednesday. Even if Lombardi is healthy, some are wondering if now’s the time to get an extended look at the youngster Thorne. Stay tuned.

 

Western Michigan Broncos (+2.5) at Ball State Cardinals

ATL: WMU -2.8

Western Michigan RB Sean Tyler has been upgraded to probable for Saturday with his ankle injury.

Tyler went down while rushing for 94 yards and a touchdown against Central Michigan on November 18. With Tyler out last week against EMU, RB La'Darus Jefferson turned 21 carries into 130 yards and two TD and veteran rotation back Jaxson Kincaide had 10 carries for 77 yards. 

Tyler will front the three-headed monster on Saturday, assuming he’s indeed cleared to return. And not for nothing: ATL believes WMU, not Ball State, should be favored.

 

Oklahoma State Cowboys (-5.5) at Baylor Bears

ATL: OSU -4.7

Baylor’s defense is rounding into form down the stretch, but its offense continues to be unwatchable, and that unit didn’t get good news earlier this week. Veteran lead back Trestan Ebner is doubtful to play Saturday with an ankle injury.

Ebner had nine touches in last Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma before he was forced out of the game. Baylor is not in a good place with their running back depth. John Lovett is out with an injury and HC Dave Aranda said this week he isn’t likely to return this week. Craig “Sqwirl” Williams, perhaps the team’s most dynamic back, is out for the year. Big back Qualan Jones is questionable for Saturday with an undisclosed injury. Of the four, Aranda told reporters that Jones has the best shot of playing against Oklahoma State this week.

Jonah White, originally buried on the depth chart, came off the bench to replace Ebner last week. Aranda and OC Larry Fedora are praying that at least Jones is able to give it a go this week in order to give the raw White a platoon partner against the Pokes.

On the Oklahoma State side, I can’t tell you much about the status of Chuba Hubbard. News about him sort of vanished after he was scratched from the Texas Tech two weeks ago, and then Mike Gundy admitted after the TCU last Saturday that Hubbard didn’t practice with the Pokes last week. Hubbard has played far below his 2019 level when on the field this year and may have already turned the page to the 2021 NFL Draft. If there’s a positive, it’s that RB Dezmon Jackson has run for 100-plus yards in consecutive weeks filling in for Hubbard and RB2 LD Brown.

OSU star WR Tylan Wallace suffered a knee injury late in the third quarter against TCU and is considered questionable. With QB Spencer Sanders proving to be just a guy (JAG) at the collegiate level, and the Pokes’ running game way down, Wallace is the straw that stirs the offensive drink. When Wallace got hurt against TCU, the offense went into the tank. His status for the Baylor game is key.

Cowboys LB Amen Ogbongbemiga set a school record with three fumbles forced against TCU as Okie State forced five turnovers. But incredibly, the Pokes cashed those five turnovers into just seven points. Something is deeply, deeply wrong with this offense. Bizarre, considering the expectations that unit entered the season with.

 

Stanford Cardinal (-3) at Oregon State Beavers

ATL: Oregon State -1.0

Oregon State played without starting QB Tristan Gebbia in last week’s tight 30-24 loss to Utah after Gebia hurt his hamstring late in the Beavers’ upset win the previous weekend against Oregon. And now we’ve learned that OSU will be without Gebbia for the remainder of the season as he’s scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery.

Chance Nolan went 20-for-38 for 202 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his start against the Utes last week. Nolan'll be back under center against Stanford.

It was promising to see Oregon State play well without Gebbia, because the Beavs have clearly taken a step forward this year. OSU is 2-3 SU and 4-1 ATS, including four-straight covers. This week, ATL believes Oregon State, and not Stanford, should be favored.

As for the Cardinal, they are expected to be without WRs Michael Wilson and Connor Wedington for the rest of the season due to undisclosed injuries. Each were injured in last week's upset win over Washington. That was a nice win for Stanford, but it was also their first cover of the season in four tries.

 

Boise State Broncos (-11.5) at Wyoming Cowboys

ATL: BSU -7.4

Wyoming will get back starting RB Xazavian Valladay for this game after he missed last week’s 17-16 upset loss to New Mexico with a leg injury. RB2 Tre Smith, who ran 24 times for 154 yards and a touchdown against the Lobos, will slot back into a complimentary role against BSU. 

 

Arizona State Sun Devils (-11) at Arizona Wildcats (Friday)

ATL: ASU -11.2

Arizona starting QB Grant Gunnell is doubtful to play in the Territorial Cup rivalry game due to a shouder injury he suffered on the first play against UCLA when a missed blocked allowed a Bruin defender a free path to clock him.

HC Kevin Sumlin said he’s going to need to see Gunnell return to practice in the next few days to be comfortable starting him on the short week for a Friday game. We should know more later this week.

 

Washington Huskies (+6) at Oregon Ducks

ATL: Oregon -2.1

Oregon WR Devon Williams is expected to return on Saturday after he was a late scratch for the Cal game last Saturday. Oregon missed the rangy 6-foot-5 Williams, who had posted consecutive 100-yard games heading in, with the Ducks’ passing game managing only 231 passing yards against the Bears after averaging over 300 per game coming in. 

The Huskies come in 1-3 ATS and off a 31-26 loss to Stanford as 12-point favorites. ATL says there's line value to be had on Washington -- but do you trust UW enough to take it?

 

San Diego State Aztecs (+16) at BYU Cougars

ATL: BYU -18.4

BYU WR Gunner Romney is listed as questionable to play after he suffered a head injury in the waning minutes of last Saturday’s loss to Coastal Carolina. But reading between the tea leaves, it would be a surprise if we saw him take the field against the Aztecs. Two quotes for you to consider.

First, from his coach, HC Kalani Sitake: "I'm not sure if he's gonna be ready to play this week ... the key is to make sure that he's going to be at 100%." The next, from SI’s CougsDaily: “Gunner Romney is listed as a starter this week, but I would be surprised to see Romney against San Diego State. Romney left the game in the fourth quarter against Coastal Carolina with what appeared to be a concussion.”

Romney has assumed a complimentary role to Dax Milne in the receiving pecking order for Zach Wilson in the latter stages of the regular season. We may not see him on Saturday, but that’s in the name of ensuring his health for bowl season.

 

Utah State Aggies (+13.5) at Colorado State Rams

ATL: CSU -14.2

Utah State WR/KR Savon Scarver is expected to return from his one-game absence. Scarver, one of the G5’s most dangerous return men at 31.4 yards per return, got nicked up in the Nov. 26 win over New Mexico and missed last Thursday's loss to Air Force.

 

Fresno State Bulldogs (-11) at New Mexico Lobos

ATL: FSU -8.6

New Mexico is perilously thin at quarterback for the regular season finale against Fresno State after freshman QB Connor Genal broke his left (non-throwing) wrist in last weekend's win over Wyoming. 

QB1 Tevaka Tuioti remains out with the concussion he suffered on Nov. 7, and QB2 Trae Hall should be considered very questionable again with his ribs injury. Preseason QB3 Brandt Hughes was lost for the season in camp to an injury. 

Those around the Lobos expect preseason QB5 Isaiah Chavez, a true freshman, to draw his first start.

 

USC Trojans (-3) at UCLA Bruins

ATL: USC -4.7

The Trojans got some bad news on the injury front this week.

Starting nickel Greg Johnson will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury, and promising young four-star TE USC redshirt freshman TE Jude Wolfe is also done for the year with a foot injury.

Both suffered the injuries in last week’s win over Washington State, and each are currently scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery. Johnson’s loss hurts more than Wolfe’s in the short-term, though Johnson had divvied some reps with redshirt freshman Max Williams, and the hope is that Williams will be able to produce at a higher snap total.


COVID corner

Minnesota Golden Gophers (+10.5) at Nebraska Cornhuskers

ATL: Nebraska -3.4

This game is still tentatively on. But if it’s played, Minnesota, which has seen its last two games canceled due to COVID-19, is going to be severely compromised. It was reported earlier this week that the Gophers are expected to be down over 20 players for COVID reasons against Nebraska. If the game is played, the 2-3 Gophers will be playing for a .500 regular season. The 2-4 Cornhuskers will be playing for pride -- though they’re not limping to the finish line, going 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS over their last four.


Opt-outs

LSU Tigers (+23.5) at Florida Gators

ATL: UF -17.2

LSU HC Ed Orgeron confirmed to a local radio station on Tuesday that freshman TE Arik Gilbert missed practice on Monday and is considering opting out for the remainder of the season. Coach O did not address a report from The Athletic on Monday that Gilbert was considering transferring. 

Gilbert was the top TE and the No. 5 overall recruit in the 247Sports Consensus this past cycle. His list of schools included Alabama, Clemson, Auburn, Texas A&M and Georgia before he signed with the Tigers. Tabbed by 247’s Barton Simmons as the “best tight end prospect we've seen since OJ Howard,” Gilbert posted a 35-368-2 line in eight games as a true freshman.

If LSU has one thing going for it on Saturday, it’s this: Florida has already wrapped up its ticket to the SEC title the follow Saturday, and it could start looking ahead to Alabama early. With that in mind, this line, which ATL believe is inflated by nearly a touchdown, feels rich.

 

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (+2) at Louisville Cardinals

ATL: Louisville -7.4

Each one of these teams suffered an opt out of an offensive starter this week.

Wake Forest sophomore RB Kenneth Walker III, who had not appeared in a game since November 14, rushed for 579 yards and 13 TD in seven games this season. Interestingly, he ran for exactly 579 yards as a freshman in 2019 as well. Good news for Wake is that he’s coming back in 2021, hoping to more than double-up on the 579. As for Saturday, Christian Beal-Smith draws another start.

On the Louisville side, WR Tutu Atwell has finally pulled the plug on his season to begin preparations for the 2021 NFL Draft. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound speed merchant posted a 46-625-7 receiving line in nine games this fall. As a sophomore in 2019, he led the ACC in receiving yards (1,276) and touchdowns (12). Atwell has the look of a Round 2 offensive and special teams weapon. Following RB Javian Hawkins’ opt-out earlier this fall, Louisville has lost a load of offensive firepower to opt-outs this fall. 

My number above is based on previous game results and does not take these losses into account, as the market has in setting the spread closer.

 

Tennessee Volunteers (-15) at Vanderbilt Commodores

ATL: Tennessee -15.0

Winless 0-8 Vanderbilt, which just fired HC Derek Mason, has also now lost star edge rusher Dayo Odeyingbo to opt-out. Odeyingbo announced that he will begin preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft. 

The 6-foot-6, 280-pounder, who recorded 3.5 sacks this season as one of Vandy’s only standout players, will be at the Reese's Senior Bowl next month. Pro Football Network draft analyst Tony Pauline grades Odeyingbo as a second-rounder.


Cancelations/postponements

Michigan Wolverines (N/A) at Ohio State Buckeyes

ATL: OSU -26.3

News that Michigan had been cleared to practice Monday provided brief optimism that was fully crushed on Tuesday when the Big 10 announced the game was canceled. At 2-4, Michigan’s season is ostensibly over.

The intrigue for Ohio State is just getting started. This being their third cancelation of the season, by conference rule the Buckeyes should be disqualified from participating in next week’s Big 10 title game, a development that should have the Indiana Hoosiers celebrating right now. But the Big 10 is reportedly meeting on Wednesday to discuss whether they want to rewrite that rule in such a way that would allow the 5-0 Buckeyes to usurp the six-game played rule.

 

Ole Miss Rebels (N/A) at Texas A&M Aggies

ATL: A&M -13.9

The SEC postponed this game on Monday night due to a combination of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the Ole Miss program. Postponed, but on a technicality. 

See, next week is the last week that SEC teams can get their games in. And Texas A&M already had a rescheduled game with Tennessee planned for that day, and Ole Miss’ calendar was already booked with a rescheduled game against LSU.

Ole Miss will only play Texas A&M next Saturday if both games in the previous paragraph need to be canceled due to COVID. If not, there will be no open calendar dates for Ole Miss-A&M, and it will thus be nixed from the 2020 calendar. Either way, we now know that the Aggies, still holding onto playoff hopes, will conclude the regular season with nine games played, not 10.

 

Cincinnati Bearcats (N/A) at Tulsa Golden Hurricane

ATL: Cincy -10.8

The COVID-19 situation at Cincinnati led to the cancelation of this game on Tuesday. But these teams will hook up next week in the AAC title game, hosted by Cincinnati by virtue of the Bearcats' higher CFB playoff ranking, the AAC's tiebreaker for homefield advantage in lieu of a regular season head-to-head winner. Cincy is ranked No. 7 and Tulsa No. 18 in this week's CFB playoff rankings.

 

Ohio Bobcats (N/A) at Kent State Golden Flashes

ATL: Ohio -1.1

The MAC canceled this game on Tuesday and ruled it a no-contest due to COVID issues within the KSU program. This is the second-straight cancelation for both teams. Ohio’s game with Buffalo was nixed last week due to COVID issues on the Bobcats roster, while KSU’s game with Miami (OH) was canceled when Kent State’s roster first started battling its current COVID problems.


2020: 48-47-1 (50.5%) ATS 

Lifetime (2014-Present): 588-516-17 (53.2%) ATS


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Thor Nystrom

Thor Nystrom is Rotoworld’s lead CFB writer. The 2018 FSWA College Sports Writer of the Year, Nystrom’s writing has also been honored by Rolling Stone magazine and The Best American Essays series. Say hi to him on Twitter @thorku!