In the table below, you'll find the Adjusted Thor Line (ATL), a system I devised for determining line value. Check back Thursday for this week's official plays. We're off to a scorching 9-2 ATS start to the season.
All lines courtesy of PointsBet Sportsbook.
Biggest early-week ATL line values
Virginia Tech Hokies (-6.5) vs. NC State Wolfpack
ATL: VT -18.4
A 12-point discrepancy between ATL and the spread is almost unheard of. In this case, it can be explained.
This game is in jeopardy of postponement due to Virginia Tech's current COVID issues.
On Monday, Virginia Tech HC Justin Fuente said: "We will not have a full roster. I hope we're able to play." When he spoke those words, Virginia Tech was a 10-point favorite. The line subsequently plummeted to VT -6.5.
The Hokies, who haven't yet played a game, have already rescheduled two games due to COVID -- including this very game (originally scheduled for Sept. 12). That time, the complication was NC State's COVID issues.
Last week, the Hokies canceled practices for four days and postponed last Saturday's scheduled game against Virginia until Dec. 12. Meanwhile, the Hokies defense has been adjusting to life under a new defensive coordinator under trying circumstances.
NC State opened its season last week by beating Wake Forest 45-42 as small home underdogs.
In a vacuum, we'd be all over the Hokies -- but numerous off-field factors are working heavily against them.
Baylor Bears (-16.5) vs. Kansas Jayhawks
ATL: Baylor -26.8
Baylor is on a 10-game winning streak against Kansas, averaging 576.7 yards of offense in those games. These schools also opened conference play in 2018, with Baylor winning 28-7 while holding KU to 271 yards of offense.
Baylor has never lost to Kansas in Waco. The Jayhawks aren't likely to make history this weekend, but they do have a few things going for them.
Baylor had to cancel last week's game against Houston after an unspecified Bears position group suffered a rash of COVID infections. HC Dave Aranda said earlier this week that the Bears expect five players back at "the position that was affected" along with five or six players at other positions.
Aranda expressed optimism that this game will be played. If so, it will mark Aranda's head coaching debut, along with the Baylor debuts of new OC Larry Fedora and DC Ron Roberts. Teams playing under new head coaches, or with new coordinators, have struggled against-the-spread in the early goings of the season.
It doesn't help that Baylor will be making its season debut against a team that's already played. And that Baylor is one of the Big 12's least experienced teams after losing a bundle of talent to graduation.
Kansas looked horrific in their 38-23 season-opening loss to Coastal Carolina, outclassed on their home field in almost every facet of the game. But they do have a few factors going for them that could potentially keep this game -- if it's played -- closer that expected.
LSU Tigers (-16.5) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
ATL: LSU -24.3
LSU has dealt with its fair share of COVID issues, but HC Ed Orgeron said this week that his team's infections are "very low" right now.
Orgeron lost a metric ton of talent to the NFL, and also passing game architect Joe Brady and DC Dave Aranda. But the Tigers got some good news when DL Neil Farrell opted back in. And, of course, plenty of talent returns.
Mississippi State hit the reset button by sacking the Joe Moorhead regime and hiring Mike Leach. The easiest way to slow a Leach offense is by getting pressure without blitzing. The Tigers' active defensive front makes this the opposite of an ideal opening SEC assignment for the mad scientist.
Going Opposite Directions
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-7.5) at Syracuse Orange
ATL: GT -10.5
On first glance, I did a double-take at this line.
Georgia Tech, coming off a 3-9 season and a home blowout loss to UCF, hasn't been favored by this many points on the road since 2017. And it seems like yesterday -- 2018, actually -- when Syracuse went 10-3.
But the Orange are circling the drain after lethargic losses to UNC and Pitt. They lost practice time to COVID, and it's shown. More troublingly, the program's talent level has fallen off.
QB Tommy DeVito, a celebrated Elite 11 participant, hasn't been the answer. And now he's injured, which may open the door for a Rex Culpepper start.
Georgia Tech let me down last week against UCF, but the Yellow Jackets are clearly vastly improved on both offense and defense.
Syracuse is strongest in the secondary. Georgia Tech, which has an extremely exciting true freshman dual-threat QB in Jeff Sims and a star-in-the-making true freshman RB in Jahmyr Gibbs, will look to attack the Orange's front-seven.
Whether a less-than-100% DeVito or Culpepper are behind center, Syracuse will likely have issues moving the ball against a GT defense that returned 10 starters.
Believe in BC?
Boston College Eagles (-17.5) vs. Texas State Bobcats
ATL: BC -21.3
Boston College lost program-face RB AJ Dillon and fired long-time HC Steve Addazio, but if the first game is any indication, they've rebounded quickly.
BC spanked Duke 26-6 last week. It appeared clear early-on that the Eagles are better behind center than they've been in years with Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec.
Jurkovec, a former top-5 quarterback recruit, threw for 300 yards against the Blue Devils on almost 13 yards per attempt. WR Zay Flowers looks like a gamebreaker, and TE Hunter Long looks like a future starting NFL tight end. Flowers' emergence lightened the blow of Kobay White's absence -- the senior likely won't be back this week.
Texas State has shown signs of life early in the season, sticking with SMU in a tight opening-season loss and beating UL-Monroe by three touchdowns last week. In between, TSU gagged away a potential win to UTSA in a 51-48 OT loss.
Will the Bobcats be able to move the ball on a stout BC defense that returned nine starters? If Jurkovec gets cooking again -- which seems likely against a poor TSU defense -- will the Bobcats return enough fire to stay within the number?
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-16) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons
ATL: ND -21.3
On Tuesday, Notre Dame announced it was postponing this game due to seven players testing positive for coronavirus. In all, 13 Irish players are now in isolation, 10 of them in quarantine.
Wake Forest AD John Currie subsequently released a statement indicating the schools hope to reschedule the game for October 3, a shared bye week.
2020: 9-2 (81.8%) ATS
Lifetime (2014-Present): 549-471-16 (53.8%) ATS