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Weekly Picks

Thor's Week 3 ATS Notes

by Thor Nystrom
Updated On: September 16, 2020, 4:26 pm ET

ATL (Adjusted Thor Line) creates alternate point spreads for games in order to sniff out line value. While the numbers at sports books have largely been shaped by the betting public -- books encouraging 50/50 handle on games by adjusting lines -- ATL spreads are created in a vacuum. 

The early-week ATL lines you’ll see posted here on Tuesdays are based on team quality -- what my system believes lines should be. As the week goes on, the ATL spread can be modified up to five points one way or the other depending on the triggering of certain market indicators that hint at sharp action. 

ATL lines change throughout the week -- the lines we publish Thursday will be slightly different than the lines put out on Tuesday. The more data ATL has, the better it typically does.

We’ll continue to run my top college football ATS picks for the weekend on Thursdays. But this season, every Tuesday, we’ll also publish my early-week ATL spreads with some notes and thoughts, so you can get a jump on weekend wagering if you desire and perhaps secure more line value.

Lines below courtesy of PointsBet.com.


Day Away Home PB Line ATL ATL side Line value
9/19 Liberty Flames Western Kentucky Hilltoppers -14 -13.2 --- ---
9/19 Boston College Eagles Duke Blue Devils -5.5 -0.8 Boston College Eagles 4.5
9/19 Syracuse Orange Pittsburgh Panthers -21.5 -19.7

Syracuse Orange

9/19 Navy Midshipmen Tulane Green Wave -7.5 -2.2 Navy Midshipmen 5.5
9/19 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Georgia State Panthers 17 13.1 Georgia State Panthers 4
9/19 Tulsa Golden Hurricane Oklahoma State Cowboys -22.5 -18.0 Tulsa Golden Hurricane 4.5
9/19 Houston Cougars Baylor Bears -4.5 -7.7 Baylor Bears 3
9/19 Appalachian State Mountaineers Marshall Thundering Herd 4 0.2 Marshall Thundering Herd 4
9/19 South Florida Bulls Notre Dame Fighting Irish -26 -25.3 --- ---
9/19 UCF Knights Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 7.5 6.5 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 1
9/19 Charlotte 49ers North Carolina Tar Heels -27.5 -24.0 Charlotte 49ers 3.5
9/19 Florida Atlantic Owls Georgia Southern Eagles 5.5 1.0 Georgia Southern Eagles 4.5
9/19 Troy Trojans Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 3.5 8.6 Troy Trojans 5
9/19 SMU Mustangs North Texas Mean Green 14 11.3 North Texas Mean Green 2.5
9/19 Texas State Bobcats UL Monroe Warhawks 5 2.1 ULM Warhawks 3
9/19 Miami Hurricanes Louisville Cardinals -2.5 -1.1 Miami Hurricanes 1.5
9/19 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles -5 -2.3 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 2.5
9/19 Wake Forest Demon Deacons NC State Wolfpack -2.5 -3.8 NC State Wolfpack 1.5

Miami Hurricanes (+2.5) at Louisville Cardinals

ATL: Louisville -1

The Cardinals were actually introduced to the market as small underdogs, but money from early bettors quickly flipped the line. This game was an add-on by ACC schedule-makers following the pandemic. Originally, the Hurricanes were supposed to play UAB on Thursday and the Cardinals were to have played Murray State on Saturday. 

Miami showed offensive improvement last week in a 31-14 win (and cover) over UAB, running 13 more plays than they averaged last year while rushing for 337 yards, the second-highest total the Hurricanes have posted against an FBS opponent since 2014. 

Louisville also covered in last week’s 35-21 win over Western Kentucky. The Cardinals would have won by a more lopsided score had the bungling punt unit not made two mistakes (botched snap, block) that directly led to two of WKU’s three TDs. UL QB Micale Cunningham threw for a career-high 343 yards, courtesy of several explosive passing plays.

Houston Cougars (+4.5) at Baylor Bears

ATL: Baylor -7.5

This matchup only came together last week, with Houston having a schedule opening following COVID cases on Memphis and Baylor having one of their own due to an outbreak on the Louisiana Tech roster. 

It’s the first time the schools have played since they were members of the Southwest Conference in 1995, and it will mark the season-opener for both teams.

Houston opened around the market at around +10, but was quickly bet down to a sub-touchdown underdog. ATL likes the Bears a little more than the betting market, and set the line at Baylor -7.5. This game will mark the head coaching debut of Baylor HC Dave Aranda, who replaced Matt Rhule.

Troy Trojans (-3.5) at Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

ATL: Troy -8.5

Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns (-17) at Georgia State Panthers

ATL: Louisiana -13

Navy Midshipmen (+7.5) at Tulane Green Wave

ATL: Tulane -2

ATL sees early-week value in Troy, Georgia State and Navy, with each showing 4.5-points of value or more on the spread. 

As with Baylor, ATL is opposing early money here. The Ragin’ Cajuns opened in the -13 neighborhood before getting bet up and the Blue Raiders opened at +6.5 before bets on the underdog coaxed the spread closer to a field goal. ATL believes the opening numbers were closer to reality.

Middle Tennessee has an advantage over Troy in that they’ve already opened their season. They didn’t inspire confidence in the showing, however, getting pummeled by Army 42-0.

Meanwhile, Louisiana is no doubt drawing so much interest at the window after spanking double-digit favorite Iowa State 31-14 in Ames last weekend. Georgia State, on the other hand, will be opening their season. 

Those betting on Navy will get a few free points on the line after the Midshipmen got embarrassed 55-3 by BYU in their opener last week. Tulane comes in 1-0, but needed to score the game's final three touchdowns to overcome a 24-6 deficit to South Alabama in the middle of the third quarter to win 27-24 as double-digit favorites.

ATL believes bettors are overreacting to Louisiana’s opening-week success and Navy's dud against BYU, while perhaps not panicking enough about MTSU’s dreadful showing.

Appalachian State Mountaineers (-4) at Marshall Thundering Herd

ATL: Pick 'em

Florida Atlantic Owls (-5.5) at Georgia Southern Eagles


If you’re scouring the ticket for opportunities to bet underdogs on the moneyline (or toss them into parlays!), here’s a few options ATL likes this week. Marshall and Georgia Southern are both home underdogs of over a field goal, but ATL believes the spread of each of their games should be closer to a pick ‘em.

Buyer beware on Georgia Southern. Last week, the Eagles had 33 inactive players in a 27-26 win over FCS Campbell, including seven starters. We didn't get a player-by-player explanation for the absences, but a spokesman said COVID cases were included. It's impossible to tell at this point exactly how GSU's roster will look this week.

FAU, meanwhile, will be making its debut under HC Willie Taggart. Taggart booted starting QB Chris Robison (3,701 passing yards and 28 TD last season) from the team last month. Former Indiana QB Nick Tronti, Robison's backup last year, was named starter. Tronti was used by HC Lane Kiffin as a Wildcat quarterback last year.

Between the downgrade in offensive brainpower from Kiffin to Taggart, and in passing ability from Robison to Tronti, you can expect the Owls' offense to be considerably less explosive this fall. They're a bet-against team for me... but can we risk money by backing GSU, a team that had seven of its 22 starters on the bench last week and a severely depleted bench?

We'll be looking to answer that question on more on Thursday in this week’s best bets column. We started the week 4-0 ATS last week, with all three underdogs winning outright. Let’s keep the momentum going!

Thor Nystrom

Thor Nystrom is Rotoworld’s lead CFB writer. The 2018 FSWA College Sports Writer of the Year, Nystrom’s writing has also been honored by Rolling Stone magazine and The Best American Essays series. Say hi to him on Twitter @thorku!