Week 9 CFB ATS Notes

Thor Nystrom
·18 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

10/29

South Alabama Jaguars

Georgia Southern Eagles

-5.5

-5.2

N/A

N/A

10/29

Colorado State Rams

Fresno State Bulldogs

1.5

4.3

Colorado State Rams

2.8

10/30

Marshall Thundering Herd

Florida International Panthers

23.5

18.7

Florida International Panthers

4.8

10/30

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Maryland Terrapins

19.5

12.5

Maryland Terrapins

7.0

10/30

East Carolina Pirates

Tulsa Golden Hurricane

-18

-12.0

East Carolina Pirates

6

10/30

Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors

Wyoming Cowboys

1.5

-1.0

Wyoming Cowboys

2.5

10/31

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Georgia State Panthers

7

6.6

N/A

N/A

10/31

Memphis Tigers

Cincinnati Bearcats

-7

-6.0

N/A

N/A

10/31

Temple Owls

Tulane Green Wave

-3.5

-2.7

N/A

N/A

10/31

UTSA Roadrunners

Florida Atlantic Owls

-6.5

-3.9

UTSA Roadrunners

-2.6

10/31

Boston College Eagles

Clemson Tigers

-31

-30.4

N/A

N/A

10/31

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Syracuse Orange

11

8.9

Syracuse Orange

2.1

10/31

Iowa State Cyclones

Kansas Jayhawks

28.5

26.8

Kansas Jayhawks

1.7

10/31

Kansas State Wildcats

West Virginia Mountaineers

-3.5

0.3

Kansas State Wildcats

-3.8

10/31

Georgia Bulldogs

Kentucky Wildcats

14.5

14.8

N/A

N/A

10/31

Michigan State Spartans

Michigan Wolverines

-25

-19.1

Michigan State Spartans

-5.9

10/31

Purdue Boilermakers

Illinois Fighting Illini

7

7.1

N/A

N/A

10/31

North Texas Mean Green

UTEP Miners

5.5

9.1

North Texas Mean Green

3.6

10/31

UCF Knights

Houston Cougars

2.5

5.0

UCF Knights

2.5

10/31

Troy Trojans

Arkansas State Red Wolves

-2.5

0.8

Troy Trojans

3.3

10/31

Rice Owls

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles

-3

-7.4

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles

4.4

10/31

Indiana Hoosiers

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

N/A

15.2

N/A

N/A

10/31

LSU Tigers

Auburn Tigers

3

0.2

Auburn Tigers

2.8

10/31

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

20

17.9

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

2.1

10/31

TCU Horned Frogs

Baylor Bears

3

-3.2

Baylor Bears

6.2

10/31

UAB Blazers

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

12

11.9

N/A

N/A

10/31

Wisconsin Badgers

Nebraska Cornhuskers

N/A

15.2

N/A

N/A

10/31

Northwestern Wildcats

Iowa Hawkeyes

-2.5

3.5

Northwestern Wildcats

6

10/31

Appalachian State Mountaineers

UL Monroe Warhawks

32

26.1

UL Monroe Warhawks

5.9

10/31

Virginia Tech Hokies

Louisville Cardinals

3.5

4.3

N/A

N/A

10/31

Texas Longhorns

Oklahoma State Cowboys

-3.5

-2.1

Oklahoma State Cowboys

1.4

10/31

Ole Miss Rebels

Vanderbilt Commodores

17.5

15.4

Vanderbilt Commodores

2.1

10/31

Boise State Broncos

Air Force Falcons

14

10.1

Air Force Falcons

3.9

10/31

Charlotte 49ers

Duke Blue Devils

-10

-7.1

Charlotte 49ers

2.9

10/31

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Alabama Crimson Tide

-31

-26.8

Mississippi State Bulldogs

4.2

10/31

San José State Spartans

New Mexico Lobos

9.5

7.9

New Mexico Lobos

1.6

10/31

Missouri Tigers

Florida Gators

-13.5

-15.6

Florida Gators

2.1

10/31

Ohio State Buckeyes

Penn State Nittany Lions

12

7.6

Penn State Nittany Lions

4.4

10/31

Navy Midshipmen

SMU Mustangs

-14

-11.5

Navy Midshipmen

2.5

10/31

Arkansas Razorbacks

Texas A&M Aggies

-12

-11.4

N/A

N/A

10/31

Oklahoma Sooners

Texas Tech Red Raiders

14

16.3

Oklahoma Sooners

2.3

10/31

North Carolina Tar Heels

Virginia Cavaliers

6.5

9.9

North Carolina Tar Heels

3.4

10/31

Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

Texas State Bobcats

16.5

17.2

N/A

N/A

10/31

San Diego State Aztecs

Utah State Aggies

7.5

10.6

San Diego State Aztecs

3.1

10/31

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

BYU Cougars

-29.5

-23.9

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

5.6

10/31

Nevada Wolf Pack

UNLV Rebels

14

11.2

UNLV Rebels

2.8

Wrong team favored?

Baylor Bears (+3) vs. TCU Horned Frogs

ATL: Baylor -3.2

We were on Baylor last week against Texas and came up just short of a cover – because Baylor’s offense didn’t get going until the fourth quarter. Will things be different on Saturday? Because if Baylor gives four quarters of effort against hated rival TCU, we stand a decent chance of covering with the strong amount of line value we’re being afforded here.

There were rumors flying around Sunday night that Baylor RBs Trestan Ebner and John Lovett would opt-out of the remainder of this season. Those rumors were shut down in Monday's media session – both will be active against TCU.

That’s good news for HC Dave Aranda, because QB Charlie Brewer has played benchable football for long stretches this season. Aranda and OC Larry Fedora have shown confidence in the veteran despite having the “Arkansas Flamethrower” Gerry Bohanon waiting in the wings.

Can Aranda and Fedora figure out a way to build an effective offense around Brewer, a heady quarterback physically unable to throw with zip beyond 20 yards? Or is it time for a change?

I think the jury is going to come back with a verdict one way or the other after this game.

West Virginia Mountaineers (-3.5) vs. Kansas State Wildcats

ATL: KSU -0.3

Very trick sandwich spot for the Wildcats in Morgantown, a tough place to play as is. Kansas State beat rival Kansas last week, and has a huge class-of-the-Big-12 matchup against Oklahoma State next week.

Outside of getting upset in the opener against Arkansas State, this young Kansas State team has overachieved this season. Between the offense and the special teams, KSU is the most explosive team in the nation. Can the Cats keep it up in a brutal situational spot?

COVID corner

Florida Gators (-13.5) vs. Missouri Tigers

ATL: UF -15.6

Gators HC Dan Mullen announced Monday that Florida will indeed meet the SEC's requirement of 53 healthy scholarship players for Saturday's game. Florida, which had its game against LSU canceled last week due to a COVID outbreak, hasn’t played since losing to Texas A&M on Oct. 10.

Things appear to be moving in the right direction for the Gators, but Mullen was scant with details, though he did offer that a new Florida player had tested positive for COVID on Friday. Mullen himself is coming off a positive diagnosis and a period of quarantine.

Wisconsin Badgers (N/A) at Nebraska Cornhuskers

ATL: Wisko -15.2

Last Friday, Wisconsin redshirt freshman QB Graham Mertz had one of the most impressive Big 10 debuts we’ve ever seen for a quarterback. A few days later, he was diagnosed positive for COVID.

That positive test has now been confirmed. Mertz faces a 21-day quarantine by Big Ten rule that knocks him out of upcoming games against Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan.

Mertz was starting for veteran Jack Cohn, who may miss the season with an injury. It goes without saying that Wisconsin is hurting bad behind center at the moment. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that Wisconsin HC Paul Chryst believes this game will be played despite the COVID-19 concerns. It’s unclear at present if Mertz is the only player on the Wisconsin roster with a positive diagnosis. Either way, this game is on as scheduled barring an unforeseen change.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane (-18) vs. East Carolina Pirates

ATL: Tulsa -12.0

It looks like East Carolina will get junior QB Holton Ahlers back for this one. Ahlers took part in Saturday's practice after he missed the October 17 game against Navy due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. It would appear that Ahlers will be able to return against the Hurricane.

Ditto for RBs Demetrius Mauney and Darius Pinnix, LB Damir Faison and S Tank Robinson, all four of whom were similarly held out against Navy due to contact tracing protocols.

Nevada Wolf Pack (-14) at UNLV Rebels

ATL: Nevada -11.2

Nevada junior RB Toa Taua reportedly missed last Saturday's game against Wyoming due to COVID-19. Wolf Pack HC Jay Norvell said "we hope to have [Taua] back" for UNLV, which tells us exactly nothing.

Taua, the longtime Wolf Pack starter, has put up 1,679 yards and 12 TD on 4.5 YPC over the past two seasons.

Situational opportunities

Oklahoma State Cowboys (-3.5) vs. Texas Longhorns

ATL: OSU -2.1

We fade Tom Herman as a favorite as often as we can. Conversely, we back him as an underdog as much as possible. Herman is 15-5 ATS with 11 outright upsets as an underdog over his career.

Oklahoma State had its most impressive showing of the season in beating No. 17 Iowa State 24-21 last week. Okie State’s rushing defense got absolutely shredded by RB Breece Hall, but the Pokes absolutely shut down star QB Brock Purdy (162 yards, 1/1 TD/INT, 55.9% completions).

The Cowboys’ entered this season with an enormous amount of hype around its offensive troika of Spencer Sanders, Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace. But it’s the defense that’s been the story so far: OSU allows only 12 PPG.

Virginia Tech Hokies (-3.5) at Louisville Cardinals

ATL: VT -4.3

We misfired on Virginia Tech against Wake Forest last week. But the Hokies outgained the Demon Deacons by over 100 yards, gained more yards per play, held a 45-35% success rate advantage, and simply outplayed WF – outside of three QB Hendon Hooker interceptions and getting held scoreless in four red zone trips (VT only scored 16 points in eight total trips past Wake’s 40).

Hooker was withheld earlier this season with an undisclosed medical ailment discovered during COVID screening. He's not as far along as he otherwise would be. But once the Hooker of old arrives, Virginia Tech is going to be very difficult to beat, with an awesome offensive line, a bruising running game and a tough defense.

San José State Spartans (-9.5) at New Mexico Lobos

ATL: SJSU -7.9

Colorado State Rams (-1.5) at Fresno State Bulldogs

ATL: CSU -4.3

New Mexico and Colorado State are opening their seasons on Saturday. Both will take on teams that opened last week. Why is that important? So far this season, teams opening their season against teams that have already played are 22-9-2 ATS (70.9%) this season.

I need to dig more into San Jose-New Mexico. But I can tell you right now that I have an early lean on CSU-Fresno that conforms to the above system.

Fresno State’s front-seven looked atrocious last week against Hawaii, giving up 323 rushing yards. It goes without saying that the Rainbow Warriors aren't typically a team known for shredding teams on the ground.

Now Fresno’s run defense has to turn around and play a Steve Addazio offense. Addazio, who came over from Boston College, predominantly runs a power rushing offense out of 12 personnel. He must be licking his chops right now.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-20) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

ATL: ND -17.9

The Fighting Irish’s season is on the line next week against Clemson. They’ll go vanilla and get out of Atlanta as quickly as they can. This line seems inflated.

Injury updates

Alabama Crimson Tide (-31) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs

ATL: Bama -26.8

The Crimson Tide clocked Tennessee last week but suffered a devastating blow early in the game when stud WR/KR/PR Jaylen Waddle fractured his ankle. He will miss the remainder of the season.

Alabama HC Nick Saban said Monday that Waddle's ankle surgery was "very, very successful." Waddle should be back by the start of next season, whether that be for the Crimson Tide or an NFL team. "The long term prognosis for his surgery is very good," Saban said.

BYU Cougars (-29.5) vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

ATL: BYU -23.9

BYU WR Gunner Romney missed last week’s win over Texas State with a lingering hamstring injury. He’s currently considered questionable for this weekend.

BYU has an enormous Friday night game at Boise State next week. If they race out to a lead, BYU figures to deflate the ball to get ready for its short week.

Tulane Green Wave (-3.5) vs. Temple Owls

ATL: Tulane -2.7

Temple QB Anthony Russo will undergo a shoulder MRI this week after getting banged up in last Saturday’s 41-29 loss to Memphis. Russo threw for 387 yards and four touchdowns on 63 passes, but also was picked off three times on the day. We assume he plays Saturday but more will be known later this week.

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (-3) vs. Rice Owls

ATL: USM -7.4

Golden Eagles QB Jack Abraham missed last week’s win over UTSA with an unspecified issue. We’ll have to wait until later this week on his status.

Georgia Bulldogs (-14.5) at Kentucky Wildcats

ATL: UGA -14.8

Kentucky QB Terry Wilson, coming off a brutal appearance in which he completed only three passes in a 20-10 loss to Missouri, is dealing with a minor undisclosed injury and has been splitting practice reps with QB Joey Gatewood.

Gatewood, an Auburn transfer, was recently cleared by the NCAA to compete this season. He’s the far, far superior passer to Wilson. Expect to see him in some capacity against the Bulldogs this weekend.

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (-7) at Georgia State Panthers

ATL: CC -6.6

Coastal Carolina didn’t need starting QB Grayson McCall to beat Georgia Southern 28-14 last week. McCall missed the game with an unspecified injury. His status is currently unclear for Saturday against the Panthers.

LSU Tigers (-3) at Auburn Tigers

ATL: LSU -0.8

LSU QB Myles Brennan missed last week’s 52-24 win over South Carolina with an oblique injury. HC Ed Orgeron’s previous comments about Brennan made it seem like he could be facing an extended absence. But without an update, his status is unclear for Auburn.

True fros TJ Finley went 17-for-21 for 265 yards and a 2/1 TD/INT rate against the Gamecocks. The 6’6/242 youngster will start again against Auburn if Brennan can’t go.

Meanwhile, Coach O reaffirmed that starting T Dare Rosenthal remains suspended indefinitely for violating a team rule. Rosenthal was withheld from last Saturday’s win against South Carolina. Backup Cam Wire will continue to fill-in while Rosenthal serves his punishment.

North Texas Mean Green (-5.5) at UTEP Miners

ATL: UNT -9.1

UTEP announced that RB Quardraiz Wadley will miss the rest of the season with a toe injury. Nothing to see here. Wadley only had three carries this season. Deion Hankins and Josh Fields will continue to divvy the workload.

Clemson Tigers (-31) vs. Boston College Eagles

ATL: Clemson -30.4

Clemson’s defense took another shot when HC Dabo Swinney announced LB James Skalski will miss several games with groin surgery. Skalski missed the win over Syracuse but was expected back this week. Instead, a subsequent MRI revealed more damage than initially feared. Skalski will be replaced by Jake Venables, the son of Clemson DC Brent Venables.

Clemson’s defense is already down DE Justin Foster (out all year) and DT Tyler Davis (unlikely to play vs BC but could be back in the weeks after). DE Xavier Thomas returned from injury a few weeks ago but has been limited. Swinney says CB Derion Kendrick is still sore, but think thinks Kendrick will return from his knee injury this week. LB Mike Jones is day-to-day with soreness.

Ohio State Buckeyes (-12) at Penn State Nittany Lions

ATL: OSU -7.6

Penn State, already without RB Journey Brown, who may miss the whole season, saw RB Noah Cain get knocked out of last week’s OT loss to Indiana early with a lower-body injury. Devyn Ford, elevated to the top of the depth chart, was thoroughly mediocre with the extra usage.

And Ford arguably handed the game to Indiana at the end of regulation when he went into the end zone to put Penn State up by eight instead of giving himself up before the goal line. Had he, PSU could have bled out the clock against Indiana, which didn’t have a timeout left.

College Football Data actually gave Penn State a postgame win expectancy of 100%. Penn State had three more drives past their opponent’s 40-yard line, but Indiana managed to score six more points on its trips, which is one way you overcome a 49-33% success rate disadvantage.

Ohio State is also dealing with injuries. Star WR Chris Olave was knocked out of last week’s win over Nebraska with a head injury. It’s unclear if he’ll be able to play against Penn State at this time.

Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors (-1.5) at Wyoming Cowboys

ATL: Wyoming -1.0

Wyoming QB Sean Chambers fractured his left fibula last Saturday against Nevada and was carted off the field. He’s going to be out this weekend for sure, and may be done for the year.

Another rough turn of events for Chambers, whose 2019 season ironically also ended against Nevada when he suffered a season-ending knee injury last Oct. 26. Sophomore QB Levi Williams will take over behind center for the Cowboys in Chambers’ absence.

Interesting to see Hawaii favored in a back-to-back conference road proposition so early in the season. Speaks to the excitement around Todd Graham and his young staff after the Rainbow Warriors beat up Fresno State last week.

Purdue Boilermakers (-7) at Illinois Fighting Illini

ATL: Purdue -7.1

Purdue WR Rondale Moore was ruled out of last week’s win over Iowa the day before the game for unspecified reasons. Moore previously opted out of the season but opted back in. It’s unclear if he’ll be back for the Illini. HC Jeff Brohm was extremely evasive about his status on Monday, saying only: "We're always hopeful ... whenever he's ready to play, he'll play.”

Boilermakers RB King Doerue also missed the win over the Hawkeyes, as did S Tyler Coyle. Doerue is questionable to play Saturday with a balky hamstring. Zander Horvath dropped 129 yards on 21 carries on Iowa in a spot start last week.

Speaking of that, Purdue HC Jeff Brohm missed the Iowa game with a positive COVID diagnosis. His brother Brian acted as head coach in that game. Jeff Brohm should be back on the sidelines against Illinois. He ought to hand Brian a gift basket of some kind: Purdue beat Iowa with a 15% win expectancy, overcoming a lower success rate, more than one yard less per play and more than 75 less yards.

Georgia Southern Eagles (-5.5) vs. South Alabama Jaguars

ATL: GSU -5.2

Georgia Southern QB Shai Werts was knocked out of last week’s loss to Coastal Carolina early with a knee injury. It’s currently unknown if he’ll be able to take the field against South Alabama.

Opt-outs

Texas A&M Aggies (-12) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

ATL: A&M -11.4

The Razorbacks lost starting redshirt senior CB Jerry Jacobs to opt-out earlier this week. Jacobs was a grad transfer from Arkansas State. Arkansas will turn to freshman Khari Johnson to replace him in the lineup. Arkansas’ pass defense has been exceptional so far this season.

Duke Blue Devils (-10) vs. Charlotte 49ers

ATL: Duke -7.1

The long, winding collegiate career of CB Mark Gilbert ended Monday when he announced he would opt out of the remainder of the 2020 season. Gilbert has a long injury rap sheet which includes a problematic dislocated hip that wreaked havoc on his 2018-2019 seasons and foot surgery that sidelined him earlier this year.

That’s not the only headache Duke is dealing with. C Will Taylor is out indefinitely after undergoing knee surgery on Tuesday. Duke will now be down to their third-string center because Taylor was only playing because normal starting center Jack Wohlabaugh underwent knee surgery in the preseason.

2020: 28-21-1 (57.1%) ATS

Lifetime (2014-Present): 568-490-17 (53.7%) ATS

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