There is no shortage of events to bet on Friday.
October is the best sports month of the year. Especially for bettors. College football and the NFL are rolling along, the MLB playoffs have started, and the NBA and NHL seasons are about to begin. Plus there are PGA Tour events, NASCAR races and Formula 1, and all the major European soccer leagues are well underway.
Friday is a perfect early October sports day. Let’s start with football, because we all like betting on football.
No. 5 Cincinnati is a 29.5-point favorite at BetMGM against Temple. That’s a really big number for the Bearcats to cover. Cincy has shown that it has a legitimate case for the College Football Playoff so far and should win this game with no problem. But Temple is coming off an upset of Memphis on Saturday. The Owls are now 3-2 after losing to Rutgers 61-14 in week 1. They’re clearly not as bad as that final score indicated and I’m not sure they’re as bad as 29.5 points indicates either. If anything, I lean slightly to the under in this game. The total is 54, and I can see Cincinnati comfortably winning 34-13.
If you’re a college football obsessive, you’re probably wanting some advice on Charlotte’s game at Florida International. Charlotte is clearly the better team here as FIU hasn’t beaten an FBS team yet this season and lost by 37 to Florida Atlantic a week ago. A win for Charlotte gets the 49ers two wins away from bowl eligibility. Take Charlotte -3.5 points.
The nightcap is Stanford’s trip to Arizona State. The Sun Devils are favored by 13 points and are emerging as a potential favorite in the Pac-12 South. Stanford beat Oregon on Saturday and is another team that has looked a lot better than its Week 1 result. Stanford is an intriguing pick here getting so many points and, as my colleague Sam Cooper picked earlier in the week, this game should go over 51.5 points.
4 MLB playoff games
Friday could be the only day with four MLB playoff games in 2021. Savor it.
The White Sox and Astros kick off the day with the Astros up 1-0 in their ALDS after winning 6-1 on Thursday. The White Sox with 1.5 runs are +165, but if you take Houston and the runs it’s -200. The White Sox are +100 on the moneyline and Houston is -120.
We like over four runs in the first five innings (-105) as Chicago’s offense shouldn’t be stagnant at the start of the game like it was on Thursday.
The Milwaukee Brewers with 1.5 runs are +140 and -150 to beat Atlanta straight up. If you want the Braves and 1.5 runs, you’re going to get them at -165 while the total on this game is 7. Milwaukee wins this game and it goes under. The Brewers’ pitching has been phenomenal this year, and the lineup does just enough to win.
The Rays are favored again after dispatching the Red Sox 5-0 in Game 1 on Thursday night. You can get Tampa -1.5 runs at +150. The Red Sox offense struggled on Thursday night, and Nick Pivetta came through with 4.2 innings to save the bullpen from being overtaxed early in the series.
The best potential division series ends the night when the Dodgers visit the Giants. Los Angeles is the betting favorite to win the World Series at BetMGM and enter Game 1 as 1.5-run favorites at +145. The Dodgers are -120 to win straight up — the Giants are +100 — and the total is 7. Both pitching staffs are some of the best in baseball and each lineup can strike at any time. The under feels like the right play here.
World Cup qualifiers
Domestic leagues are on a break for World Cup qualifiers. While there’s no league soccer to bet on in Europe, there are plenty of qualifiers. You can go upset-hunting with long shots — good luck — or you can pick and choose with some teams with positive odds.
Ireland travels to Azerbaijan on Saturday and is +125 to win. That’s decent value. Same goes for Greece (+125) at Georgia. Pick and choose your spots. Betting England to beat Andorra (-10000) is less value than buying a stock and holding onto it for a week or so.
Other things to bet this weekend
NASCAR is at the Charlotte Roval — a race that promises to be wacky even if Chase Elliott is the obvious favorite. Formula 1 is in Turkey, and Lewis Hamilton is taking a 10-place grid penalty because of a new internal combustion unit in his engine. That means Max Verstappen is the clear favorite for the race, but Hamilton was a half-second faster than anyone else in Friday morning's first practice.
The Shriner's Children's Open is also in Las Vegas with a stacked field. Sungjae Im is the betting favorite after round one (+800). He was 8-under par in the first round and is two shots off the lead. Last week's winner, Sam Burns, is at +1600 after a blistering back nine.
Who cashed tickets Thursday?
The Astros and Rays had no issues covering in their ALDS games. It's a pretty good recipe for success when you can hold your opponent to one or fewer runs. The four losing teams in playoff games have scored a combined four runs so far.
Rams bettors had a night as Geno Smith relieved Russell WIlson in the second half after Wilson dislocated his right middle finger. Smith threw an interception late to seal a Rams win and cover, and the game easily hit the under at 23-17. It was an odd game that made it clear in the first half that the over wasn't going to happen.
Coastal Carolina (+20) bettors also didn't have to sweat much late in the No. 15 Chanticleers' 52-20 win over Arkansas State. Houston scored a TD with under 90 seconds left as it was trying to run out the clock to seal a cover over Tulane and flip the total to the over.