09/21/2006 12:00AM

Good 'under' plays becoming scarce


Betting the unders in college football has been very lucrative for me this season - and thank goodness, as I would really be in a hole considering how poorly my NFL picks have done.

But even though unders went 28-13 last weekend in college football, it's still not advisable to blindly bet the unders across the board. For one thing, oddsmakers are adjusting and making it tougher as we go. There weren't as many games that jumped out at me as solid under plays this week as there were last week, or the week before, or the week before that.

The key is finding the right matchups in relation to the number. The Alabama-Arkansas game is a good example. This has all the makings of a low-scoring game with two solid defenses and less-than-spectacular offenses, but the oddsmakers have put up a 37 and I will have to pass on that one, especially since the worst fear of an under bettor is when the defenses dominate so much that they start scoring touchdowns or setting up short fields for the offense. That's much more dangerous when trying to stay under a low total like that. There were other plays like that this week that I leaned toward, but the lines have been shaded downward and I think we're going to see more games fall right around the number - resulting in coin-flip decisions - than we've seen this season.

I still found five plays for Saturday where I think there's ample wiggle room to stay more than a touchdown under, though I certainly don't expect to continue at the 10-1 (91 percent) clip I've had so far. Sixty percent, or 3-2, would be just fine.

I almost went with some point-spread wagers this week (for the record and for anyone interested, the games I've bet myself are Boston College -6 1/2 vs. North Carolina State, Iowa State +25 vs. Texas, Arizona State +8 vs. California, and Army +11 vs. Baylor), but decided to go with what people might consider to be an area of expertise as my record on sides is 1-3. Let's see how those do and I probably will look to play more sides next week as the opportunities on totals should be expected to dwindle further.

Kentucky at Florida (o/u 55)

Florida has dominated this series with 19 straight wins, and the last time Kentucky won in Gainesville was 1979, before any of these players were born. It should be noted, however, that Kentucky has covered the past four years and - except for getting blown out by Louisville in the opener - the Wildcats are playing a little better defense this year. That being said, Florida should roll to victory, but I don't see it being a 49-28 shootout like last year. Florida has much more important games coming up vs. Alabama, LSU, Auburn, and Georgia, so I think the Gators will get a comfortable lead and coast.

PLAY: Under 55 points for 1 unit.

Tulsa at Navy (o/u 54)

Navy is off to a 3-0 start with the No. 2 rushing offense in the country at 346 yards per game, but Tulsa is strong against the run (allowing 120 yards per game on the ground), so Navy will not be breaking as many long runs and that will help keep the clock moving. With Tulsa at 2-1, both teams have eyes on bowl bids down the line and more conservative play-calling could result.

PLAY: Under 54 points for 1 unit.

Air Force at Wyoming (o/u 50)

There's something about those service academies and the ground attack, even the flying one. Air Force is No. 3 in the nation in running the football, at 281 yards per game, but the Falcons face an even tougher defense this week as they travel to Wyoming, which allows just 194 yards per game overall. Both defenses should step up in this game and I don't see it getting within 10 points of this number.

PLAY: Under 50 points for 1 unit.

Hawaii at Boise St. (o/u 62)

These two schools have had two of the most prolific offenses in recent years and have combined to score more than 70 points in each of their last four meetings, but this year's squads don't look nearly as explosive as recent teams and I'm looking for a drop-off, especially from the Hawaii side. Also, this is a key WAC game and whoever gets out to the lead (probably Boise, though I'm not laying the 14 1/ 2 points) will be more likely to milk the clock with the new timing rules, making it that much harder to reach this total.

PLAY: Under 62 points for 1 unit.

Notre Dame at Michigan St. (o/u 60)

This is another marquee game that just seems too high. Notre Dame found out last week vs. Michigan that just letting Brady Quinn air it out isn't going to get the job done (the Irish had just four yards rushing in the loss) and we should see more running this week. Michigan State can move the ball on the ground and through the air, but it will probably take more sustained drives to get in the end zone vs. a motivated Notre Dame defense fighting for its BCS life. Turnovers by the offense put the Irish defense in bad spots last week, so a scaled-back attack will help both units - and the under.

PLAY: Under 60 points for 1 unit.

Last week: 5-1 for a net profit of 3.9 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). College season record: 11-4, including 10-1 on totals and 1-3 on sides, for a net profit of 6.6 units.

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