It’s only human for college football players to look ahead on the schedule.
A member of the BTB Sports Betting Forum started creating threads about teams that might be looking past their current opponents, and we’ve decided to take that idea and run with it.
There were quite a few games to choose from this week, but here’s our top five college football teams that might be peeking ahead.
A quick note: Since we started this feature a few weeks ago, it’s 15-10-1 against the spread, but now that we mentioned that it’ll probably come crashing back down to earth. So proceed carefully. The overall purpose of this now-recurring column is to make sure you’re identifying tough schedule spots as part of your college football handicapping.
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This week: vs. South Alabama (-22)
Next week: vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Why they might get caught peeking ahead: This one is admittedly off the radar (by about a mile), but how dare you discount the Battle on the Bayou! Right now, Louisiana-Monroe is off to a 3-0 start in the Sun Belt, leading the conference by one loss over a handful of teams. The Warhawks face one of the league punching bags, South Alabama, as gigantic home favorites this weekend before squaring off against their biggest rival in Week 10. Lafayette has won four straight in that series, so you know Monroe’s players—particularly some upperclassmen like quarterback Kolton Browning—will be itching to end that skid.
4. SAN DIEGO STATE
This week: vs. UNLV (-18.5)
Next week: at No. 21 Boise State
Why they might get caught peeking ahead: Another game that’s off the map for most bettors this week, but it’s a pretty typical “trap spot” for San Diego State. The Aztecs are coming off a thrilling 39-38 overtime victory at Nevada, a game where their backup quarterback helped them come from 10 points down in the fourth quarter and then win on a gutsy two-point conversion in the first extra period. Next week, San Diego State could have a shot at gaining a share of the Mountain West lead with a marquee matchup at Boise State. But first, they have to get past a 1-7 UNLV team at home.
This week: vs. No. 11 Mississippi State (-23)
Next week: at No. 6 LSU
Why they might get caught peeking ahead: It’s hard for anyone to “look past” a date with the 11th-ranked team in the country, but it’s still slightly possible that top-ranked Alabama does that this weekend. Yes, this is being billed as one of the biggest matchups of the weekend, as it should be. But the Crimson Tide have wiped the field with pretty much every opponent they’ve faced in 2012 (no wins by less than 19 points), and they’re huge favorites in this one despite it being a battle of unbeatens. LSU represents Alabama’s last major hurdle toward a perfect regular season, and some players could already be glancing forward to that national-championship rematch.
This week: at Kansas (-19)
Next week: at No. 14 Texas Tech
Why they might get caught peeking ahead: Much like Kentucky in the SEC, you can pretty much say any Big 12 team facing Kansas the rest of the season might not be fully focused on the Jayhawks. The Longhorns are 2-2 in league play and haven’t covered a spread since September, and now they’re big road favorites at Kansas with a road trip to Texas Tech looming next weekend. Perhaps more than any other school within its own respective state, Texas likes to keep its in-state rivals in their proper place (and let them know about it), so it’s probably safe to say they could get caught looking past the Jayhawks.
This week: Oregon (-47) vs. Colorado; USC (-6.5) at Arizona
Next week: No. 4 Oregon at No. 9 USC
Why they might get caught peeking ahead: You couldn’t draw up a more perfect look-ahead scenario for Oregon, which faces perhaps the worst BCS-level team in the country at home before going on the road for a pivotal matchup with USC. Will it matter with such a ridiculous mismatch against Colorado? It’s hard to tell. The Ducks have done a great job resting starters during the second half of blowouts so far this year, and you can bet Chip Kelly will want to do the same this weekend with the USC game looming. On the other end, the Trojans know they can put themselves back in the national-title discussions by beating Oregon, but first they have to escape a tricky road tilt against an Arizona team that’s capable of putting up points in a hurry.