Each week TheLines previews what will likely be the most wagered-on events in sports. This will be another busy seven day stretch, with the World Series beginning and Big Ten football kicking off.
World Series: Rays vs. Dodgers
After a short but wild baseball season, we’re finally down to the final two teams. They’re familiar cities, too, as the Rays represent Tampa Bay (Lightning won the Stanley Cup) and the Dodgers represent Los Angeles (Lakers won the NBA title). The Dodgers just completed a 3-1 comeback and the Rays staved off the Astros after nearly blowing a 3-0 series lead. The Dodgers led MLB in team ERA this season (3.08), while the Rays ranked third (3.53). Expect a serious pitching duel in this one. The Dodgers (-200 at DraftKings Sportsbook) are the favorites heading into the Fall Classic.
Big Ten Football kickoff
The Big Ten was the highest-earning conference in college football in 2018 and 2019, and now their season is on. Illinois and Wisconsin get things rolling on Friday night, but the bulk of the Big Ten kicks off Saturday. College GameDay is visiting Minneapolis for No. 18 Michigan at No. 21 Minnesota. Notable contenders who get started Saturday include No. 5 Ohio State (+300 to win National Championship at DraftKings) and No. 8 Penn State (+3300).
No. 17 Iowa State at No. 6 Oklahoma State (Saturday, Oct. 24)
It was a tough start to the year for the Cyclones, who were many people’s pick to be a serious national contender. They dropped their opening game by getting blown out by ranked Louisiana-Lafayette but have since battled back with big wins over TCU and Oklahoma. Oklahoma State had a scare to start their season but managed to edge Tulsa 16-7. The Cowboys have benefitted from a light schedule (vs. West Virginia, at Kansas) and now face their first real test of the year. The Pokes opened as 3.5-point favorites.
Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 (Sunday, Oct. 25)
There’s just three races left in the 2020 season. Kevin Harvick (4115 points) leads the Cup Standings over Denny Hamlin (4094), Brad Keselowski (4082), and a host more of other drivers falling within 50 points. Joey Logano (4064) ranks first in playoff standings and fifth in Cup standings. Harvick leads NASCAR with nine wins, followed by Hamlin with seven, and no one else has more than four (Keselowski). It’s a sprint to the final lap at Texas Motor Speedway.
Steelers at Titans (Sunday, Oct. 25)
Just three NFL teams remain unbeaten (Steelers, Titans, Seahawks), and one of them is guaranteed to fall off that list come Sunday. This is an example of an unstoppable force (Derrick Henry) finding an immovable object (the Steelers’ run defense). Pittsburgh is allowing just 3.3 yards per rush this season despite facing the likes of Miles Sanders, Melvin Gordon, and the Cleveland Browns’ rushing attack. One big issue for the Titans is that starting LT Taylor Lewan is now done for the season with a torn ACL. T.J. Watt might have his way with a hobbled Tennessee offensive line.