Bob Stoll of Dr. Bob Sports is one of the most seasoned, successful sports handicappers around. He was one of the first to use advanced analytics in sports handicapping after studying statistics and finance at U.C. Berkeley. You can find his historical college football performance here, and you can subscribe to his service here. He has agreed to share some of his lengthy, from-every-angle game previews here.
Strong Opinion – Army (-13 ½) 38 BUFFALO 19
Army has been very impressive through 3 games with a 28-13 win as a 14 ½ point dog at Temple, a 31-14 win over Rice (favored by 8 ½) and a 66-14 win as a 3 ½ point road favorite at UTEP last week.
Last week as the first time since 1996 that Army had covered the spread as a road favorite, as the Cadets has previously been 0-13 ATS and 1-12 straight up laying points on the road since 1997. Now that that streak has ended I’ll call for another road favorite cover against a bad Buffalo team that followed up a home loss to Albany (as a 21 point favorite) with a 14-38 loss at Nevada last week (they had a bye in week 2).
I rate Buffalo at 0.7 yards per rushing play worse than average defending the run so Army’s efficient triple-option attack (373 rushing yards per game and 6.1 yards per play) should work well against the Bulls. Buffalo is capable of scoring some points with elusive freshman quarterback Tyree Jackson running out of the pocket (18 runs for 147 yards in 1 ½ games behind center), as Army’s defense is still not very good. That’s not obvious looking at the points allowed and yards allowed numbers (13.7 points and 264 yards) but Army has yielded 5.4 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 4.9 yppl against an average team.
The total yards and points are low because Army simply doesn’t give up control of the ball, which is indicated by their incredible play differential of +26 plays per game (74.3 plays on offense and just 48.7 plays per game for their opponents).
That’s a pretty extreme number that’s not going to continue to be that high, but Army will no doubt have a significant advantage in plays from scrimmage in addition to being projected with a 6.5 yards per play to 5.8 yppl advantage. The line on this game is about right as my ratings favor Army by 14 points (I get 20 ½ using this year’s games only) but I like the Cadets based on a 170-73-4 ATS momentum situation and a 24-1 ATS game 4 angle. I’ll consider Army a Strong Opinion at -14 points or less.