Punt Returner Bryson Smith Does the Unfathomable

In this weekend's Hot Clicks: Houston's consistent punt returner has a brain blunder, Les Miles's impact on the Kansas point spread and more.
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Bryson Smith

Bryson Smith has been one of the more consistent punt returners in college football since arriving at Houston in 2018, but the Cougars’ junior receiver did the unfathomable on Friday:

Refs were generous and awarded Houston the ball at the two-yard-line, which of course led to a 98-yard touchdown drive to extend their lead to 12 points. Houston didn’t score again, though, as BYU turned a 12-point third-quarter deficit into a 17-point win to remain undefeated and drop Dana Holgorsen to 5-9 as head coach of a program that went 112-58 in the 13 years before his arrival.

This play took me down a rabbit hole in search of an end zone fair catch, which I couldn’t find. Tweet at me, @adoughty88, if you’ve seen it before.

Les Miles Factor

On Wednesday afternoon, three days before Alabama was scheduled to host Georgia, Alabama was a 6.5-point favorite in the blockbuster game of the season. After news of Nick Saban’s positive COVID test put his status for the game in doubt, oddsmakers reacted with a two-point drop, putting the Crimson Tide as 4.5-point favorites.

The Nick Saban factor, in this case and at that moment, was worth two points, though that might’ve increased in the hours leading up to Saturday’s kickoff if Saban officially announces he won’t be on the sideline. (Alabama announced on Friday afternoon Saban received two negative tests and was awaiting a third test before announcing a status for Saturday.) The Les Miles factor, meanwhile, is worth 1.5 points…in the other direction.

On Oct. 8, five days after Kansas dropped to 0-3 with a blowout loss to Oklahoma State, Miles announced a positive COVID test, becoming the first Big 12 head coach to test positive. Miles didn’t miss a game (with Kansas on bye in Week 6) and his 10-day quarantine ended on Friday. However, the Jayhawks’ second-year coach won’t travel to West Virginia for Saturday’s game, the school announced on Friday.

Prior to the announcement, West Virginia was a 22.5-point favorite at Westgate Superbook. Hours later, West Virginia is now a 21-point favorite. While there could be other factors at play, bettors’ strong reaction to Miles’s absence forced oddsmakers to move the line 1.5 points in Kansas’ favor.

In other odds notes: Lincoln Riley is the favorite to land the Falcons’ job, followed closely by Eric Bienemy.

Lorena Duran

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