Updated on 09/18/2011 2:32AM

Timid nod toward Ohio State


There are 49 games on the college football betting board Saturday, but one rises above them all: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Michigan. It will get the vast majority of the pre- and post-game coverage on every sports station.

The betting line has been wavering between Ohio State -6 1/2 and -7 all week. My first inclination would be to take the underdog plus the touchdown, but I do think Ohio State is the clearly better team and the Buckeyes have covered the spread in 16 of their last 18 games. It's hard to jump in front of that big of a trend train.

Besides, I should slap myself for even looking at point spreads as I'm 12-16-1 on sides this college football season while going 18-11 on totals.

In fact, I was really hope to bet the under on this game as I've had a lot of success going under in high-profile games. They tend to be played closer to the vest and along the style seen in NFL games. Unfortunately, the oddsmakers beat me to the punch and opened this total at 41 points. Professional bettors and the public seem to have the same thought-process as it has been bet down to 40 1/2 and even 40 at some books as of noon Thursday, so I will pass.

I might just take a two-team, 6-point teaser (which I generally don't recommend with college football as the scores tend to not land around the betting numbers as much as the NFL) and get Ohio State at pick-em - or -1/2 if you want to get technical, which is virtually the same thing - and go under 47.

But even though that's the marquee game, I feel there are betting opportunites elsewhere on the college board, and I'm going to go with more totals. Hopefully I can have more games like last week's Georgia Tech-North Carolina game in which I had under 47 1/2 and Tech won 7-0.

W. Michigan at Florida St. (o/u 43 1/2)

Florida State has had an up-and-down season and actually needs a win here to become bowl-eligible, especially with a game vs. No. 4 Florida next week. The Seminoles have been capable of routing weaker teams this year - 55-7 over Rice, 51-24 over Duke, 33-0 over Virginia - but Western Michigan has a good enough defense to keep that from happening here. And while that should keep the Broncos in the game, they won't be able to do much against the Florida State defense.

PLAY: Under for 1 unit.

Illinois at Northwestern (o/u 48)

This is nowhere near the rivalry of Ohio State-Michigan, but these teams usually play each other tough even when one is far superior to the other. Both programs are down now and would love to get this game to build on for next year. It should be close throughout and that should keep the scoring down. Note that the last four meetings in the series have gone under the total.

PLAY: Under for 1 unit.

Army at Notre Dame (o/u 54)

Army is clearly overmatched here, but the Cadets obviously have pride and tend to step up and play competitive against better teams, such as Texas A&M and TCU earlier this season, before finally falling. Army won't score enough to be in position to pull an upset here, but it should hold down Notre Dame's high-powered offense enough to keep it under the total, especially considering that the Irish's main goal will be to get out of this game healthy leading into next week's big game vs. USC. They will be more than happy with a win in the range of 35-7.

PLAY: Under for 1 unit.

Oregon St. at Stanford (o/u 42)

I will throw in an over play here. Oregon State should bounce back from its 25-7 loss at UCLA and the Beavers might go over the total all by themselves in taking out their frustrations on a weaker opponent. Stanford actually found a little offense in its 20-3 upset of Washington last week, so the Cardinal could contribute to the total, too.

PLAY: Over for 1 unit.

Virginia Tech (PK) at Wake Forest

I was going to go with all sides, but on Thursday morning this game got bet from Virginia Tech -2 to pick-em, and Iwill go against the steam here and take the Hokies since they just have to win the game. Virginia Tech hasn't allowed more than 10 points in any of its last four games and should be able to contain the Demon Deacons (note: I would lean to the under, but it has been set at a very low 38 points), who are 9-3 despite being outgained in most of their games. I think they're doing it with mirrors - and I've felt that way ever since seeing them nearly lose to Duke in their second game of the season - and I will fade them here.

PLAY: Virginia Tech for 1 unit.

Last week: 3-3 for a net loss of 0.3 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). College season record: 30-27-1, including 1-1 on 2-unit best bets, for a net profit of 0.2 units.