Week 10 CFB ATS Notes

Thor Nystrom
·20 min read



In the table below, you'll find the Adjusted Thor Line (ATL), a system I devised for determining line value. 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

11/4

Eastern Michigan Eagles

Kent State Golden Flashes

-6

-5.1

N/A

N/A

11/4

Western Michigan Broncos

Akron Zips

+18

+11.2

Akron Zips

6.8

11/4

Ball State Cardinals

Miami (OH) RedHawks

-2

+2.1

Ball State Cardinals

4.1

11/4

Buffalo Bulls

Northern Illinois Huskies

+12

+9.6

Northern Illinois Huskies

2.4

11/4

Ohio Bobcats

Central Michigan Chippewas

+1

-2.1

Central Michigan Chippewas

3.1

11/4

Bowling Green Falcons

Toledo Rockets

-22

-19.3

Bowling Green Falcons

2.7

11/5

Utah State Aggies

Nevada Wolf Pack

-16

-11.5

Utah State Aggies

4.5

11/5

Wyoming Cowboys

Colorado State Rams

+3.5

+4.8

Wyoming Cowboys

1.3

11/6

Miami Hurricanes

NC State Wolfpack

+10

+11.7

Miami Hurricanes

1.7

11/5

San Jose State Spartans

San Diego State Aztecs

-9

-9.1

N/A

N/A

11/6

BYU Cougars

Boise State Broncos

+3

+2.2

N/A

N/A

11/7

Air Force Falcons

Army Black Knights

-5.5

-4.0

Air Force Falcons

1.5

11/7

SMU Mustangs

Temple Owls

+17.5

+9.5

Temple Owls

8.0

11/7

Michigan State Spartans

Iowa Hawkeyes

-6.5

-4.2

Michigan State Spartans

2.3

11/7

Michigan Wolverines

Indiana Hoosiers

+3

-0.4

Indiana Hoosiers

3.4

11/7

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Northwestern Wildcats

-3.5

-6.1

Northwestern Wildcats

2.6

11/7

West Virginia Mountaineers

Texas Longhorns

-6.5

-7.6

Texas Longhorns

1.1

11/7

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

-14

-13.3

N/A

N/A

11/7

Tulane Green Wave

East Carolina Pirates

+5

+8.1

Tulane Green Wave

3.1

11/7

Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Navy Midshipmen

+10.5

+10.6

N/A

N/A

11/7

UL Monroe Warhawks

Georgia State Panthers

-18

-11.0

UL Monroe Warhawks

7

11/7

South Florida Bulls

Memphis Tigers

-18

-16.6

South Florida Bulls

1.4

11/7

Liberty Flames

Virginia Tech Hokies

-14.5

-14.1

N/A

N/A

11/7

North Carolina Tar Heels

Duke Blue Devils

+10.5

+14.5

North Carolina Tar Heels

4

11/7

Arizona State Sun Devils

USC Trojans

-10.5

-16.4

USC Trojans

5.9

11/7

Troy Trojans

Georgia Southern Eagles

+3

-0.4

Georgia Southern Eagles

3.4

11/7

Boston College Eagles

Syracuse Orange

+14

+13.2

N/A

N/A

11/7

UMass Minutemen

Marshall Thundering Herd

-44.5

-42.0

UMass Minutemen

2.5

11/7

Appalachian State Mountaineers

Texas State Bobcats

+17.5

+21.7

Appalachian State Mountaineers

4.2

11/7

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Illinois Fighting Illini

+7

+5.3

Illinois Fighting Illini

1.7

11/7

Purdue Boilermakers

Wisconsin Badgers

-7

-15.8

Wisconsin Badgers

8.8

11/7

Maryland Terrapins

Penn State Nittany Lions

-25

-27.1

Penn State Nittany Lions

2.1

11/7

Florida Gators

Georgia Bulldogs

-3.5

-3.4

N/A

N/A

11/7

Fresno State Bulldogs

UNLV Rebels

+11

+8.7

UNLV Rebels

2.3

11/7

Houston Cougars

Cincinnati Bearcats

-13.5

-12.2

Houston Cougars

1.3

11/7

Texas Tech Red Raiders

TCU Horned Frogs

-9.5

-13.0

TCU Horned Frogs

3.5

11/7

UTSA Roadrunners

Rice Owls

-4.5

-2.8

UTSA Roadrunners

1.7

11/7

Charlotte 49ers

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

+4.5

+4.5

N/A

N/A

11/7

Kansas Jayhawks

Oklahoma Sooners

-38

-39.6

Oklahoma Sooners

1.6

11/7

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Kansas State Wildcats

+12.5

+11.5

Kansas State Wildcats

1.0

11/7

Florida International Panthers

UTEP Miners

-2.5

+4.2

Florida International Panthers

6.7

11/7

Pittsburgh Panthers

Florida State Seminoles

-2.5

+2.3

Pittsburgh Panthers

-4.8

11/7

Vanderbilt Commodores

Mississippi State Bulldogs

-19.5

-19.8

N/A

N/A

11/7

Arizona Wildcats

Utah Utes

-14

-18.0

Utah Utes

4.0

11/7

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Florida Atlantic Owls

-7

-3.4

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

3.6

11/7

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

North Texas Mean Green

-2

+2.3

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

4.3

11/7

Baylor Bears

Iowa State Cyclones

-14

-9.3

Baylor Bears

4.7

11/7

UCLA Bruins

Colorado Buffaloes

+6.5

+6.8

N/A

N/A

11/7

Texas A&M Aggies

South Carolina Gamecocks

+10

+5.9

South Carolina Gamecocks

4.1

11/7

Stanford Cardinal

Oregon Ducks

-10

-14.9

Oregon Ducks

4.9

11/7

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Ohio State Buckeyes

N/A

-35.9

N/A

N/A

11/7

Tennessee Volunteers

Arkansas Razorbacks

+1.5

+2.7

Arkansas Razorbacks

1.2

11/7

Clemson Tigers

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

+5.5

Pk

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

5.5

11/7

South Alabama Jaguars

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

-18

-14.9

South Alabama Jaguars

3.1

11/7

Louisville Cardinals

Virginia Cavaliers

-2.5

+1.8

Louisville Cardinals

4.3

11/7

Washington State Cougars

Oregon State Beavers

-1.5

+3.6

Washington State Cougars

5.1

11/7

Washington Huskies

California Golden Bears

-1.5

+2.2

Washington Huskies

3.7

11/7

New Mexico Lobos

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

-15.5

-5.5

New Mexico Lobos

10.0

Wrong team favored?

Miami (OH) RedHawks (-2) vs. Ball State Cardinals

ATL: BSU -2.1

The MAC is back with a six-game card on Wednesday night!

This is a fascinating opening-week matchup.

Ball State returns 14 starters, including its QB, RB, three-of-its top-four WRs, and three offensive lineman on offense, and 15 of its top-18 tacklers on defense.

The Cardinals haven’t had a winning season since 2013. I think BSU has a decent shot of getting there this fall.

But the RedHawks return even more experience -- 17 starters in all. Miami went 6-6 in 2018 and 8-6 in 2019 after seven-straight losing seasons. The Fightin’ Chuck Martins are hoping to take the next step in 2020.

Oregon State Beavers (-1.5) vs. Washington State Cougars

ATL: WSU -3.6

California Golden Bears (-1.5) vs. Washington Huskies

ATL: UW -2.2

The Pac-12 kicks off Saturday, the last college football conference to get going in 2020.

Oregon State returns only five starters on offense, but the most important one is back (Jermar Jefferson), and the defense, which returns nine starters, should be one of the best Oregon State has fielded in the last decade (EDGE Hamilcar Rashed and LB Avery Roberts are the stars).

That defense’s opening assignment: Welcoming the Run ‘n Shoot offense to the Pac-12. Nick Rolovich, the former Hawaii coach, announced earlier this week that true freshman QB Jayden de Laura will start. Rolo knows de Laura, a Honolulu native, quite well.

Cal is an experienced team that gets back 17 starters. They catch Washington at a good time. This will be HC Jimmy Lake’s first game as boss after he took over the reigns from the retired Chris Petersen. Lake gets eight starters back on the defense he oversaw for four years.

If the Huskies start out bumpy, it’ll be because of the offense. That unit returns only four starters. The opening-week depth chart released by Lake had a few surprises -- most notably, four different quarterbacks listed atop the depth chart.

UTEP Miners (-2.5) vs. Florida International Panthers

ATL: FIU -4.2

Both of these teams had games postponed last week due to COVID-19. It’s been a strange season for both squads. COVID issues resulted in two postponements for each program over the last three weeks.

Because of all that, UTEP hasn’t played in El Paso for seven weeks -- a program record for longest stretch between home games in a season.

We knew FIU was going to miss QB James Morgan. During the team’s 0-3 start, we’ve found out just how much. Last time out, FIU lost to FCS Jacksonville State 19-10. FIU’s three-QB platoon combined to go 7-for-19 passing for 84 yards.

FIU is only completing 43.3% of its passes, and is averaging less than 100 passing yards per game despite playing a breezy schedule (Liberty, MTSU and JSU).

In addition to FIU and UTEP, the following teams had games canceled or postponed last week due to COVID-19: Nebraska, Marshall and North Texas.

COVID corner

Minnesota Golden Gophers (-7) at Illinois Fighting Illini

ATL: Minnesota -5.3

Illinois managed to keep it close in a 31-24 loss to Purdue last Saturday despite fielding a roster ravaged by COVID-19. The Fighting Illini were missing starting QB Brandon Peters, TE Griffin Moore, C Dan Kramer, DB Christian Boback and DL Keith Randolph Jr., among others.

The Big 10’s 21-day COVID protocol is going to put Illinois in jeopardy of a game cancelation if any new positive tests come in.

The Gophers are on extra rest this week. They badly need a win after starting the season 0-2. Last Friday, Minnesota gagged away a game it had won late in a one-point loss at Maryland.

Situational opportunities

Boston College Eagles (-14) at Syracuse Orange

ATL: BC -13.2

The Eagles couldn’t complete their upset bid of Clemson last week, but boy were they impressive. Boston College scored a 71% post-game win expectancy for the performance, losing control during a 21-0 Clemson second half that included a fumble recovery, interception and safety.

We were on Wake Forest last week laying a similar-ish number (-12) at Syracuse. The Demon Deacons won 38-14 and led 38-7 until a garbage Syracuse TD with three minutes remaining. A large part of our reasoning on that play: The Orange’s roster is shot, waylaid by opt-outs and injuries.

Things were so bleak at running back last week against Wake that converted receiver Cooper Lutz was the lead back. RB Sean Tucker is questionable to return from his leg injury this week, so Lutz may get a platoon partner. Unfortunately, reinforcements aren’t coming at quarterback or on defense.

Virginia Cavaliers (-2.5) vs. Louisville Cardinals

ATL: Louisville -1.8

On last week’s card, the UNC-Virginia line was one of the fishiest on the board. The Tar Heels were only favored by seven. After a little digging into the advanced statistical profiles of each team, I started to understand.

It was a classic Achilles heal matchup. UNC’s run defense entered that game No. 77 in success rate, No. 79 in opportunity rate and No. 85 in stuff rate. Virginia’s rushing offense ranked No. 31, No. 10 and No. 11 in those categories, respectively. The Cavs upset UNC 44-41.

Louisville’s run defense ranks No. 64 epa/RUSH. UNC’s now ranks No. 76. The Cavs are going to target Louisville's front-seven all game long.

We're awaiting a status update on Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong. He hurt his ankle near the end of last week's win over UNC. HC Bronco Mendenhall told reporters after the game that he didn't have any updates. Armstrong has frequently been banged-up this season. He's also shown a willingness to play through pain.

North Carolina Tar Heels (-10.5) at Duke Blue Devils

ATL: UNC -14.5

Returning to the theme from above: You’ll want to play against UNC when they’re playing teams that run the ball well. Duke, which ranks No. 83 in epa/RUSH, does not qualify.

Unfortunately for North Carolina, they will be without WR Beau Corrales and CB Storm Duck (lower body injuries) for the second-consecutive game.

Oklahoma State Cowboys (-12.5) at Kansas State Wildcats

ATL: OSU -11.5

The Cowboys dominated Texas in every area except the scoreboard in last week’s overtime loss. Oklahoma State had a 100% postgame win expectancy, finishing with a 49-29% success rate advantage, 243 more offensive yards, and 2.0 more YPP. Okie State also had two more drives beyond Texas’ 40-yard line.

But the Pokes shot themselves in the foot time and time again, losing three fumbles and throwing an interception.

On the other side of this matchup, advanced numbers suggested KSU’s 4-1 start was fluky. Sure enough, the young Wildcats got ambushed in a 37-10 loss at West Virginia last week. True frosh QB Will Howard threw three interceptions, and the running game couldn’t get going.

Against Oklahoma State’s tough defense, KSU can’t afford for its true freshmen standouts, Howard and RB Deuce Vaughn, to struggle again.

Injury updates

BYU Cougars (-3) at Boise State Broncos (Friday)

ATL: BYU -2.2

What a Friday night game this is!

BYU will have WR Gunnar Romney at 100% health for the first time in weeks. Romney was withheld from the second half of last Saturday’s blowout win over WKU as a mere precaution with this game on deck.

Two Boise State starters didn’t travel with the team to last Saturday’s win over Air Force with undisclosed illnesses -- QB Hank Bachmeier and S JL Skinner. We should know more on their statuses later this week.

With Bachmeier out against the Falcons, USC transfer Jack Sears earned his first start and looked good, completing 17-of-20 passes (85.0%) for 280 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Sears will get the call again if Bachmeier can’t go. Sears is a talented kid -- that shouldn’t be considered a big downgrade.

Through two games, Boise State is top-two in the nation at finishing drives and No. 1 in offensive success rate.

Clemson Tigers (-5.5) at Notre Dame Fighting Irish

ATL: Pick 'em

Immediately after Clemson’s comeback win over Boston College last Saturday, HC Dabo Swinney announced that Trevor Lawrence would be held out against the Irish. That means freshman QB DJ Uiagalelei will make his second-career start in an enormous spot. Lawrence will reportedly be on the sidelines in street clothes.

Uiagalelei completed 30-of-41 passes for 342 yards against Boston College. He also flashed mobility at an enormous 6’4/240. A gushing Jesse Palmer after the BC win comped Uiagalelei to a young Daunte Culpepper.

Uiagalelei looked really good. But he also looked like the freshman he is at times. While Clemson moved the ball well in general, the Tigers’ offense could clench up when it mattered. Clemson averaged only 3.3 points in its eight drives beyond BC’s 40.

On the Notre Dame side, HC Brian Kelly moved redshirt junior RB Jafar Armstrong back to wide receiver this week. Armstrong was recruited as a running back but has bounced between the positions during his Notre Dame career.

With Kyren Williams taking off, and Chris Tyree and C'Bo Flemister both strong backups, Armstrong’s services were no longer needed in the backfield. Notre Dame’s receiving corps has at times been light this year due to injuries and a lack of depth, so this wasn’t a surprising move.

Cincinnati Bearcats (-13.5) vs. Houston Cougars

ATL: Cincy -12.2

Houston star WR Marquez Stevenson was knocked out of last Saturday’s loss to Central Florida game with an ankle injury in the second quarter. He returned to the field in a walking boot. The Houston Chronicle reported on Tuesday that he's unlikely to play against the Bearcats.

Houston’s air attack really struggled without Stevenson against UCF. The Cougars offense may be in deep trouble without their premier playmaker against Cincy, which boasts the G5’s nastiest defense.

Army Black Knights (-5.5) vs. Air Force Falcons

ATL: Army -4.0

Starting Air Force QB Haaziq Daniels exited last week’s loss to Boise State with an undisclosed injury. If there’s tentatively good news, it’s that he returned to the sidelines with his helmet against BSU, despite never re-entering. We should find out later this week if he can give it a go.

If he can’t, Warren Bryan will draw the start for the Falcons.

SMU Mustangs (-17.5) at Temple Owls

ATL: SMU -9.5

Temple has already ruled out starting QB Anthony Russo for Saturday's game with a shoulder injury. Russo missed last weekend’s 38-3 loss to Tulane. QB3 Thad Beatty got most of the snaps because backup Re-al Mitchell was also limited with an undisclosed injury. Mitchell’s status for SMU is currently unknown.

Georgia Bulldogs (-3.5) vs. Florida Gators

ATL: UGA -3.4

Georgia DB Richard LeCounte was hospitalized after suffering a concussion in a traffic accident on Saturday evening. LeCounte is the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week after he recorded a career-high 13 tackles with a fumble recovery and three breakups against Kentucky. Lecounte is likely out for Saturday’s game.

With Georgia’s injury list already teeming, this was especially unfortunate news. HC Kirby Smart said DL Julian Rochester (knee) is out for Saturday, while DL Jordan Davis (elbow) is currently considered day-to-day. We’re awaiting status updates on several others.

Starting LB Quay Walker, starting RG Ben Cleveland, starting FS Lewis Cine and reserve STAR Tyrique Stevenson all left the Kentucky game early with injuries. Star WR George Pickens (upper-body) didn’t even travel with the team to Lexington, same with reserve RB Kenny McIntosh and WR Matt Landers.

Wyoming Cowboys (-3.5) at Colorado State Rams (Thursday)

ATL: Wyoming -4.8

Wyoming QB Sean Chambers is officially out for the season following surgery to repair a fractured left fibula. Sophomore Levi Williams went 9-for-18 for 112 yards while rushing for 29 yards in last Friday’s 31-7 win over Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors had an odd week leading in, staying in Denver and having practices snowed out.

Colorado State face-planted in its opener last week, losing 38-17 to Fresno State. The week before, the same Fresno team got beaten up at home by Hawaii. Colorado State’s quarterback play is lacking, and its coaching staff heavily skews run-heavy. The Rams are going to have problems playing from behind all year.

Fortunately, CSU will get WR Dante Wright back on Friday. With Warren Jackson gone, Wright is easily the most skilled outside playmaker on the Rams' roster. He posted a 57-805-4 receiving line last tear.

Iowa State Cyclones (-14) vs. Baylor Bears

ATL: ISU -9.3

Baylor’s offense is terrible. Toss out the opener against bumbling Kansas. In the first half of the other three games -- against West Virginia, Texas and TCU -- Baylor scored a combined 17 points, less than a field goal per quarter.

In the final 18 minutes of quasi-blowouts against UT and TCU, Baylor’s offense put up 29 points. That’s how a 27-3 Texas lead in the fourth quarter became a 27-16 Texas win, how a 33-7 TCU lead late in the third quarter became a 33-23 TCU win. Of Baylor’s 21 points against West Virginia, seven came in OT.

In last week’s ATS picks column, I spotlighted Charlie Brewer’s rapidly-diminishing arm strength and talked about the deleterious effect having a quarterback who can’t throw the ball 20 yards with zip is having on this offense.

Baylor’s attack has more issues than just Brewer, of course. Right now, it's dealing with the injury bug. RB John Lovett and WR Tyquan Thornton are each questionable for Iowa State due to undisclosed injuries suffered in the TCU game.

Baylor can divvy Lovett’s touches to Trestan Ebner and Craig Williams and not lose a ton. Thornton would be doing more damage with a team that had better quarterback play. As is, he has only eight receptions on the year.

Miami Hurricanes (-10) at NC State Wolfpack

ATL: Miami -11.7

Miami will finally get junior TE Brevin Jordan back. Jordan has not played since suffering a shoulder injury during the October 10 loss at Clemson. When Jordan’s in the lineup, Miami can do a lot of fun things out of 12-personnel with its outstanding TE duo that also features Will Mallory.

Opt-outs

Florida State Seminoles (-2.5) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

ATL: Pitt -3.3

Pitt took a big hit this week when star redshirt junior S Paris Ford opted out of the remainder of the 2020 season. Ford, one of the nation’s top safeties, posted 45 total tackles, 3.5 TFL, three interceptions, one quarterback hurry and three pass breakups over the first seven games.

His absence isn't going to help the reeling Panthers. Pitt opened the season 3-0 but has lost four consecutive games. Not only has Ford exited stage left, but Pitt senior QB Kenny Pickett (ankle) remains limited in practice. He’s been out since the October 10 loss to Boston College. Redshirt freshman Joey Yellen will start again on Saturday against Florida State if Pickett can’t go.

Meanwhile, stud Florida State WR Tamorrion Terry appears set to return from his knee surgery this week. Terry was listed as a starter on the team's updated depth chart this week. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in mid-October. Terry posted a 21-275-1 line in four games earlier this season.

My numbers suggest Pitt should be favored. But ancillary factors have moved this line the other way.

Cancelations

Wisconsin Badgers (N/A) vs. Purdue Boilermakers

ATL: Wisconsin -17.8

This game was canceled on Tuesday. Wisconsin's program currently has 27 active COVID-19 cases, 15 players and 12 staffers. There have been three new cases among players since Saturday morning. The outbreak also forced a cancelation of last week’s Wisconsin-Nebraska game.

QB Graham Mertz is the biggest name that has tested positive. Mertz and the other 14 Badgers with positive tests are all subject to the Big 10’s COVID protocol, which calls for a 21-day absence. That entire group will ostensibly also miss next week’s game at Michigan before ostensibly being cleared to return -- which means Michigan-Wisko seems unlikely to be played.

Wisconsin hasn’t practiced since last Wednesday, when it announced it was pausing football activities for one week. HC Paul Chryst, one of the staffers who tested positive, can return to coaching on Thursday if he is no longer symptomatic.

If there's good news for the opponent, Purdue, it's that this will give redshirt sophomore superstar WR Rondale Moore one more week to get healthy. Moore hasn't yet played this season while dealing with an undisclosed health issue. HC Jeff Brohm told the media on Monday he’s not sure when Moore will be able to return.

2020: 33-26-1 (55.9%) ATS

Lifetime (2014-Present): 573-495-17 (53.6%) ATS

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