Mike McNamara: We have learned a lot during the five weeks of the college football season.
Alabama and Georgia are again in the top flight. Penn State and Michigan are bouncing back in big ways from poor 2020 campaigns. The Pac-12 and ACC have seen their playoff chances take big hits after appalling starts.
As far as we have learned, there are still so many unanswered questions.
If Cincinnati leads the table, will they be the first team in the Group of Five to get the green light for the college football playoffs? Can teams like Oklahoma State or Texas finally knock the Sooners out of the mantle in the Big 12? Who will emerge in the Big Ten, where four teams remain undefeated?
The beauty of college football is that every week more and more pieces of the puzzle start to come together.
Penn State travels to Iowa City on Saturday afternoon for a top-five showdown. Oklahoma and Texas meet in Dallas for the annual Red River Showdown game. Both of these clashes will go far in the Big Ten and Big 12 conference races.
Before these games take place… let’s see where we find value in the futures market, both at the national championship and at the conference level.
Wednesday afternoon quotes and via WynnBET
National championship photo
Arizona State to Win National Championship (+50,000)
Mike McNamara: The last time I wrote a future college football champion to add was after Week 1, when I explained why it was a good idea to add the Iowa Hawkeyes at 100-1 before the game against Iowa State.
Iowa currently sits between 35-1 and 50-1 in the markets, and those numbers will drop sharply if the Hawkeyes can make it against Penn State on Saturday.
This time around I come back with an even bigger longshot – in fact, much bigger – with the Arizona State Sun Devils, currently +50,000 at WynnBET.
When I look at the futures to add at this point in the season, for me it’s about finding teams with big numbers that have a realistic path to making the playoffs.
With Alabama and Georgia appearing to be a cut above the rest of the field, the higher the numbers means more opportunities to cover themselves in the semi-finals or national championships.
I think Arizona State is playing the best football of any Pac-12 team right now. Third-year starting quarterback Jayden Daniels is an extremely dynamic playmaker and completes over 71% of his passes.
There really isn’t any weakness in the Sun Devils roster, and this is a team that should continue to improve as the year goes on.
When you look at the remaining schedule, ASU has probably already passed its toughest road test with victory last week at UCLA. The Sun Devils don’t face Oregon in the regular season, and the game in Utah looks a lot less difficult after the Utes’ early struggles.
It’s tough to qualify for the playoffs with a “bad loss” on the resume, but given BYU’s 5-0 start, Arizona State shouldn’t have to worry about that. Four turnovers at Provo led to a 27-17 loss to the Cougars, but it’s always better to lose early in the year versus the alternative.
I predict Arizona State will be a favorite in all remaining games of their regular season schedule. This is a team that absolutely has the talent to run the table and then beat Oregon or whoever outside of Pac-12 North in the league game.
At 12-1 and with a Pac-12 title, Arizona State would be firmly in the mix for one of four playoff spots.
A loss to Cincinnati and BYU would certainly help matters, but with the ACC’s playoff chances looking almost dead (Sorry Wake), I feel pretty good about the Sun Devils’ chances in this scenario.
I’m locking my +50000 ticket to WynnBET this week ahead of Friday night’s game against Stanford and will be hopping on the Sun Devil train the rest of the way.
Photo of the conference
Wake Forest to win ACC (+750)
Kody malstrom: This season is a better time than ever to start throwing darts, and no conference is more wild than the ACC.
At the start of the season, it was widely believed that Clemson would stick to his schedule and beat either North Carolina or Miami in the Championship game. For now, I don’t think any of these three will get away with it.
Clemson stinks. You read correctly. It stinks outright. This isn’t the Clemson we’ve seen in the past. He has glaring problems everywhere.
In the other division, Miami and UNC were also detected.
Miami can’t stop a nosebleed and is torn apart on the defensive end. UNC still have a chance, but they have to perform in away games as they are polar opposites on the road versus at home. This is not a recipe for long term success.
So who does this lead me to believe can win the ACC crown? None other than the deacons of Wake Forest Demon, who are leading the conference.
Wake Forest currently sits at the top of the ACC at 3-0 in conference and 5-0 overall. He currently holds victories over the State of Florida, Virginia and Louisville.
With Syracuse on the bridge and a few more easy ones after, now is the time to grab a piece of Wake Forest.
The key to Wake Forest’s success is simple. It generates Havocs and limits opposing Havocs. Before the Louisville game last week, Wake Forest was in the top 20 on both sides of the Havoc table.
He will have to continue to force opposing offenses to make mistakes, as the ACC schedule becomes stricter when UNC, NC State and Clemson come into town. It will also be necessary to limit the turnovers to stay in the game.
Quarterback Sam Hartman was good at limiting turnovers, throwing just two picks on his 11 touchdowns. He led the charge under cross with the help of an excellent pass blocking unit. While the hasty attack on Wake Forest was fragile, the passing attack was lethal.
Another key metric that Wake Forest is excellent at is the finish of the discs. Ranking 15th in def. When finishing practices, opposing offenses find it difficult to put points on the board when they cross 40. This keeps Wake Forest in games, as it relies on small chunks at a time to move the chains without fear of dying. ‘need an explosive game to get into it.
While they have a few cupcakes in a row right now, the schedule gets brutal later.
Deacons will have to continue to rely on their ability to disrupt their defense when more talented attacks arrive in town.
If they can continue to limit scores beyond 40 and quarterback Sam Hartman can continue to limit turnovers, then Wake Forest should be able to handle what’s to come.
I’ll take the number now before it adds a few more wins with the home stretch over the bridge.
What to watch during week 6 and beyond
Virginia to win ACC (+5000)
Kody malstrom: Staying in the ACC, Virginia is another dart I’m tempted to throw on the board. He currently sits in the Coastal at 1-2 in conference and 3-2 in aggregate.
Last week, he escaped with a road victory in Miami as the Miami kicker missed the field goal on the buzzer.
With preseason odds leaders UNC and Miami struggling, the Coastal is now wide open for taking – a perfect opportunity to watch the long shots.
Virginia’s 50-1 got me hooked right away,
This is a situation game. Virginia enters Louisville this week in what should be tight, as it currently sits at +2.5.
If the Cavaliers can take the win, the odds will continue to drop before they get a few winnable games with Duke and Georgia Tech on deck.
They have the offense of competing with the best. Quarterback Brennan Armstrong is a possessed man this season, throwing for 1,973 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions.
His favorite goal, Dontayvion Wicks, had 24 receptions for 535 yards and five touchdowns. They are the deadliest duos this season.
The passing game is the best in the nation. Ranking in the top 10 in passing success and above average in pass blocking, Armstrong had plenty of opportunities to connect to the big game.
They will find themselves relying more on the offensive as the competition gets tougher.
While the defense is horrible, there is still time for Virginia to take advantage of the opportunity of a weakened ACC. With so many to win the ACC, that would give us a lot of protection on the road.
If it slams the win this weekend, I’ll look to play against Virginia to win it all by numbers.