|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|01-07-19||Alabama v. Clemson +6.5||Top||16-44||Win||100||202 h 18 m||Show|
10* Clemson (8:00 ET): This is the 4th year in a row that Alabama and Clemson are meeting in the College Football Playoff and third time in those four years to determine the National Champion. The schools split the two prior Championship Games w/ Bama winning 45-40 in 2016 and then Clemson returning the favor 35-31 one year later. The Tigers covered the spread (as underdogs) both times before the Crimson Tide largely dominated LY's CFP semifinal matchup, winning 24-6 as 3.5-pt chalk. But the starting QB for each team will be different this time around with Tua starting for Alabama and Trevor Lawrence starting for Clemson. To me, Clemson has proven itself to be Alabama's equal over the past several seasons and should be priced as such. I'm taking the points.
Clemson had an even easier time than I anticipated w/ Notre Dame in the semifinals, rolling to a 30-3 win. I felt they deserved to be DD favorites in the game, but it was clear that ND didn't even belong on the same field. They outgained the Fighting Irish 538-248 and consider it was a 23-3 game at halftime, so the final score easily could have been even more lopsided. Clemson ended the game by kneeling inside the red zone and earlier fumbled at the ND 12-yard line. Lawrence completed 27 of 39 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns as the offense has clearly become more dynamic w/ him as the starter. He left his 1st start (vs. Syracuse) due to injury, but has since played every game. Clemson has won those games by 60, 34, 49, 61, 20, 29, 21, 31 & 27 pts! My goodness!
That's an average margin of victory of 36.8 PPG w/ no final score closer than 20 points. And this team is an underdog? It's a role they are rarely in Perhaps most shocking of all from the Notre Dame game is that the defense didn't even skip a beat despite playing w/o All-American Dexter Lawrence. I know everyone is going to want to talk Tua and the Bama offense, which has earned the right to be called the best ever of the Saban era in Tuscaloosa. But Clemson will be the best defense they have seen all year and is the only defense better than their own. Over the last four seasons, Clemson has lost only four times, three of those coming by five points or less. I know that Alabama is responsible for two of those four losses, including the one that was by more than five points, but these teams are basically equals coming into this game. 10* Clemson
|01-01-19||Washington +7 v. Ohio State||Top||23-28||Win||100||25 h 51 m||Show|
8* Washington (5:00 ET): Ohio State is a very popular side in this year's edition of the Rose Bowl, not only based on name recognition, but also due to the fact that this is Urban Meyer's final game on the sidelines. Conventional wisdom says the Buckeyes "will" send Meyer out a winner, but let's not forget that Georgia Tech (admittedly not as strong a team as OSU) failed to do the same for Paul Johnson earlier this week. Washington is a really strong defensive team and it's not like Ohio State didn't underachieve this year (despite losing only one game). I'll take the points here.
The Huskies give up only 15.5 PPG. Like Ohio State, they came into 2018 w/ CFP aspirations, only to fall short. But they still won the Pac 12 Championship, winning at Washington State in the regular season finale and then holding Utah to only three points in the Conference Title Game. Oregon was the only team this year to score more than 24 pts on the Huskies. Granted, Ohio State will be the best offense they have faced this year. But the Huskies' three losses this year have been by a combined 10 points. They have not been blown out and I don't expect them to be here. For those pointing to the Michigan game as a sign Ohio State may put up a ton of points here, note that Washington plays a different style of defense.
The Buckeyes had three wins by five points or less in the regular season and two of those were against Maryland and Nebraska, non-bowl teams. Defensively, this team had issues all season, giving up at least 26 points in all but five games. The Washington offense was far from consistent this year, but they have a senior QB in Jake Browning that will want to go out a winner just as much as Meyer. Browning and the seniors have not won a bowl game since the 2015 Heart of Dallas Bowl against Southern Miss. They are a great value as a contrarian dog here. 8* Washington
|12-31-18||Michigan State +3 v. Oregon||Top||6-7||Win||100||168 h 22 m||Show|
10* Michigan State (3:00 ET): My favorite side of the Bowls is Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl as I think the wrong team is favored here. I'll concede that Sparty's offense isn't always pretty, but I trust their defense and coaching staff to get the job done here against an overrated Oregon team. They may have underperformed in the regular season, but took on a much tougher schedule than did the Ducks. In their past six bowl games, MSU is 5-1 SU and ATS, the only loss coming to Alabama in a CFP semifinal matchup. Mark Dantonio has been involved in seven bowl games where the spread has been less than a touchdown and his teams are 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS in those games, including 5-0 ATS as a dog w/ four outright upsets. They are the better team here.
Oregon has to be relieved that QB Justin Herbert will be returning to school next season. It was thought he would be the 1st QB chosen in the NFL Draft had he chosen to declare. But as good as Herbert was, the Ducks kind of faltered down the stretch, going just 3-3 SU the L6 games w/ two of those wins coming at the expense of the Pac 12's two last place teams, UCLA and Oregon State. They were 0-3 SU outside of Eugene, losing by double digits to Wazzu and Arizona. They also allowed 32 points to a Utah team that was w/o its starting QB AND RB. The Ducks did beat a couple of good defenses this year in Cal and Washington, but Michigan State will be the best they've gone up against in 2018.
Michigan State allows only 4.62 yards per play, which is 12th best in the country. They allow just 81 YPG (#1) on the ground and 2.7 yards per carry. This is a defense that held Ohio State's vaunted offense in relative check. Other than the Buckeyes, no Spartans opponent scored more than 13 points against them the L5 games. CB Justin Layne won't play here (will instead prepare for the NFL Draft), but w/ Dantonio's coaching, I think this unit will be fine. Three of MSU's four losses this year were to Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, all of whom I rate as top 10 teams. As alluded to earlier, the offense does have its issues, but a lot that had to do w/ missing RB L.J. Scott for much of the year. Scott (who is NFL bound) will play here and that makes Sparty's offense a lot more effective. Oregon has lost three straight bowl games and I see Michigan State keeping Herbert and their offense in check. 10* Michigan State
|12-31-18||Pittsburgh +5 v. Stanford||Top||13-14||Win||100||24 h 32 m||Show|
8* Pittsburgh (2:00 ET): I think Pitt is a live dog here in the Sun Bowl. Though the regular season did not end well (B2B losses incl ACC Champ Game), Pat Narduzzi's team was improved this year after a disappointing 5-7 campaign in 2017. They won the ACC Coastal Division, going 6-2 in league play. Four of their losses were to top 10 teams - Penn State, UCF, Notre Dame and Clemson - three of those finished the regular season unbeaten! So even though the ACC was "down" this year (outside of Clemson), the Panthers won't be intimidated here by a middling Pac 12 squad as their non-conference schedule was quite the undertaking. I also imagine Pitt will be pretty motivated here as they've never won a bowl game under HC Narduzzi (last bowl win was 2013). Take the points.
Relative to expectations, Stanford has been disappointing each of last two years. Were they to lose here, that would make it B2B 5-loss seasons. From 2010-16, they won 10+ games six times. Nothing was more emblematic of said disappointment this year than RB Bryce Love, who was hampered by both his own injuries and injuries to his offensive line. Love won't even play here in the Sun Bowl, citing the need to prepare for the NFL Draft. As disappointing as Love's numbers were this year (739 yds, 6 TDs), he'll certainly be missed Monday. In their seven Pac 12 games that weren't against UCLA and Oregon State, the Cardinal were held to 23 pts or less five times.
Even had Love opted to play here, Pitt may very well have had the better rushing attack anyway. For the first time in school history, the Panthers boast TWO 1,000+ yard rushers, Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall. For the year, the offense averages 5.6 yards per rush attempt and 230 YPG. (For comparison, Stanford averaged just 3.7 YPC and 108 YPG w/ Love). Yes, Pitt is in off B2B blowout losses, one to Miami and the other to Clemson in the ACC Champ Game. But I still point to the fact half of their losses this year came to teams that were unbeaten in the regular season. The drought w/o a bowl victory should have them as the more motivated side while this is just a disappointing end to a disappointing season for a Stanford team playing w/o its best player. 8* Pittsburgh
|12-26-18||TCU +1 v. California||Top||10-7||Win||100||75 h 48 m||Show|
10* TCU (9:00 ET): This is the Cheez-It Bowl (formerly the Arizona Bowl), which is being held at Chase Field in Phoenix, home of MLB's Diamondbacks. It has the lowest total of any bowl game this year (or in recent memory) as TCU takes on Cal. TCU had a very disappointing regular season (as is evident by a 3-8-1 ATS record). But they proved they belong here by winning their final two games, over Baylor and Oklahoma State, both in pretty convincing fashion. So the Horned Frogs definitely want to "be here" Wednesday night against a Cal team that's going bowling for the 1st time since 2015 (just 2nd since '11). That'll have the Bears motivated as well, but I question their offense as well as the lasting effect losing to rival Stanford (final reg season game) may have had.
TCU's offense wasn't exactly pretty either. Playing in a league (Big XII) not known for defense, the Horned Frogs still averaged only 24.7 PPG and that number is obviously lower when taking out the non-conference games. But, as per usual, Gary Patterson's team can play some defense. They give up just 24.4 PPG and that's an impressive number after running the Big XII slate. Look at who some of TCU's losses were to (Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, WVU) and you'll gain a better appreciation for this team. They were in every game besides the one vs. Oklahoma. They outgained opponents on a yard per play/game basis and should be improved next year as well. My number indicate they should be about a field goal favorite here.
Cal's "Big Game" vs. Stanford had to be moved to the end of the regular season this year due to wildfires that were ravaging the area at the time. For Cal, it was two additional weeks to think about ending an eight-year losing streak in the rivalry. They ended up losing to the Cardinal, 23-13, and that final score is somewhat misleading in the sense that the Bears scored their only TD w/ 10 seconds to go. Cal, statistically, has a better defense than TCU. But I have tremendous concerns about an offense that averages less than 200 yards passing and was held to 15 pts or fewer in five of its final seven regular season games. The Bears went just 4-5 SU against a mediocre Pac 12 and were 4-2 SU overall in one-score games. I like TCU here. 10* TCU
|12-21-18||BYU v. Western Michigan +13||Top||49-18||Loss||-113||10 h 38 m||Show|
8* Western Michigan (4:00 ET): The big story here is WMU lost its starting QB (Jon Wassnick) late in the regular season. They went 1-2 SU w/ backup Kaleb Eleby (true frosh) as the starter, but that one win came in the regular season finale, as 6.5-pt underdogs, against MAC Champ Northern Illinois. With all the added prep time that comes w/ a bowl game, I'm not worried at all about Eleby coming in as the starter as he's posted solid numbers (917 yds passing, 6 TDs and 64.5 completion percentage). The Broncos should be highly motivated here by being such big underdogs and I think the oddsmakers have overadjusted as BYU is a pretty mediocre team this year. Take the points.
BYU experienced a much different finish to its regular season as it lost to rival Utah in the latest installment of the "Holy War." It was their eighth consecutive loss to the Utes and perhaps the most painful one yet. That's because the Cougars blew a 20-0 halftime lead in Salt Lake City. Despite that game taking place weeks ago, my guess is that BYU still isn't over what happened. So, emotionally, the two teams in this year's Idaho Potato Bowl come in w/ very different mindsets. Western Michigan is off a big upset that gave them plenty of confidence while BYU is off the most deflating loss possible.
BYU also starts a true freshman at QB, so it's not like they enjoy tremendous experience at that position either. I simply can't envision them covering this double digit spread, which seems to be based on name recognition only. The Cougars did have that big win at Wisconsin early in the year, but otherwise did not perform well against bowl teams and finished the regular season just 6-6 SU. I just don't see them being worthy of laying double digits on a neutral field. While it's true they have plenty of experience playing on the blue turf (game is in Boise), none of that experience is good as they're 0-5 SU all-time here. Last year saw a 6-6 Western Michigan team get snubbed from playing in a bowl, so the players should be highly motivated Friday afternoon. 8* Western Michigan
|12-19-18||Ohio -2.5 v. San Diego State||Top||27-0||Win||100||30 h 3 m||Show|
10* Ohio (8:00 ET): San Diego State really hit the skids late in the season, losing four of its last five games and the lone win was a come from behind effort against a bad New Mexico team. This is simply not the same Aztecs team that we're used to seeing under HC Rocky Long. I played against them a couple of times down the stretch, once when they failed to cover at New Mexico (were -12.5) and then again the following week when they lost outright (as 24-pt favorites) at home to UNLV. The Aztecs' biggest problem is they simply don't score. Even when they put 30 on the board in the regular season finale vs. Hawaii, they still lost. For the year, they're averaging just 19.6 PPG away from home! They finished the year 7-5 SU, but 3-9 ATS. To me, they are one of the easiest fades this entire bowl season. I'll be laying the points here.
Ohio was probably the best team in the MAC this year, even though they did not get a chance to play for a Conference Championship. This was also the case last season and the Bobcats went out and crushed UAB 41-6 in the Bahamas Bowl. Now they are in position to win B2B bowls for just the second time in program history, which woud be a nice treat for HC Frank Solich, who is now the oldest active coach in the country after the retirement of Kansas State's Bill Snyder. Unlike SDSU, the Bobcats can score. They average 41.2 PPG (10th in FBS) and are led by QB O'Rourke, who accounted for over 3,000 total yds (passing + rushing) and 35 touchdowns in the regular season.
Ohio finished strong down the stretch. They come in having won five of six, scoring 49 or more pts in all five victories. The one loss, 30-28 at rival Miami, is what cost them the MAC East. Three of their four losses this year were by four points or less. After losing to Miami, the Bobcats then destroyed division champ Buffalo 52-17. Their strength of schedule was very comparable to San Diego State this season, so there's no edge there. I put little stock in the fact the Aztecs are 13-0-1 all-time against the MAC as Long has struggled in bowl games. Ohio is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games where the spread is three points or less (either way) and I like them to roll in the Frisco Bowl. 10* Ohio
|12-15-18||Arizona State v. Fresno State -4.5||Top||20-31||Win||100||236 h 21 m||Show|
10* Fresno State (3:30 ET): Even though Fresno State (#23) is ranked, I think that a lot of people are going to do a double take when they seem them favored here over a Pac 12 team w/ a "name" head coach, Herm Edwards' Arizona State Sun Devils. But the Bulldogs deserve to be favored here and I believe will handle their business. To me, they are the BEST non-P5 team in America. (Yes, I'm including UCF in that discussion). FSU went 11-2 SU in the regular season and plays tremendous defense. They allow just 13.7 points per game, which was tied w/ Clemson for the second fewest in the entire country. Though bowl games aren't typically noted for their defense, I believe this Bulldogs team has enough pride to pack its D for Vegas as it looks to win its 22nd game in the L2 seasons. Lay the short number.
Herm Edwards proved all the critics wrong in his 1st season in Tempe. He led the Sun Devils to a 7-5 SU record and they were never blown out. All five losses were by 7 points or less, four of them coming exactly by a seven-point margin, plus they lost by only two at Oregon. But they also won four games by a field goal or less. Having played so many close games, you might think playing ASU as an underdog would be ideal. After all, they did go 5-2 ATS when taking points in the regular season. But playing this game w/o WR N'keal Harry (skipping it to prepare for the NFL Draft) is not only the harsh reality of College Football, but just plain problematic. Harry had 73 catches for 1,000+ yards and nine touchdowns this year. That's a ton of production that ASU simply won't be able to replace in this game and going against one of the top defenses in the country makes things even tougher.
Fresno State has been one of the top ATS teams in the country the L2 seasons under Jeff Tedford, going 19-6-2 ATS overall. So having to lay such a short number w/ them is pretty nice. Yes, they're facing a Pac 12 school, but the Bulldogs just beat Boise State in the Mt West Champ Game (on the blue turf!) and won't be intimidated. This game is being played at MWC venue, the Sam Boyd Silver Bowl, home of UNLV. So that's another advantage for Fresno State. They won here just last month. Granted, it won't be as easy as 48-3 (destroyed UNLV), but it's still an edge. These teams had one common opponent during the regular season, San Diego State, and while Fresno State dominated the Aztecs (won 24-13), Arizona State lost to them 28-21. 10* Fresno State
|12-08-18||Navy v. Army -7||Top||10-17||Push||0||67 h 29 m||Show|
10* Army (3:00 ET): For the first time since 2001, Army is favored to win this game. They should be. The Knights are 9-2 SU, reigning C-in-C Trophy winners and simply a much better team than Navy this season. Pardon the terrible pun, but the Midshipmen have been somewhat "lost at sea" in 2018. They won't be going to a bowl game this year, the first time that's been the case since 2002, which was the year they started their historic 14-year win streak over Army. That came to an end two years ago in Baltimore. I was on Army that day, as 5.5-pt underdogs, as they won 21-17. Last year was another Army win, this time 14-13 as 2.5 pt dogs. Lay the points as the Knight deserve to be double-digit favorites in this one.
Navy enters this game w/ a 3-9 record, their worst SU mark in any season since ... 2002. That was Paul Johnson's first year in Annapolis and he just retired from the Georgia Tech job. This particular Navy team is very bad defensively. They allow almost 35 points per game while also giving up 6.65 yards per play, the 11th worst mark in the entire country. While any matchup of two service academies (including Air Force) is typically low-scoring, I believe Army will still be able to do plenty of scoring in this one. Since winning a game in a driving rainstorm vs. Memphis in Week 2, only one FBS opponent (Temple) has failed to score more than 29 points against the Midshipmen. Navy has regularly blown out this season w/ six of its nine losses coming by double digits. The Memphis win was fortunate (weather). Since beating FCS Lehigh the following week, the Middies are just 1-8 SU the L9 games w/ that one win coming against a 3-9 Tulsa team, at home.
Army gives up only 18.7 PPG (17th in FBS) and 15.5 first downs per game (6th), giving them a huge edge on the defensive side of the ball. Their only two losses this year were to Oklahoma and Duke, both on the road, and they took the Sooners into overtime! Since that OT loss in Norman, the Black Knights are 7-0 SU, winning five of those games by at least two touchdowns. We know these teams run similar, if not identical, offenses. But Navy has posted its worst rushing season in a decade, averaging just 5.0 yards per carry. Meanwhile, Army can actually turn to the pass as they average 10.5 yards per attempt through the air. Third downs are also key here w/ Army leading the country at a 57% conversion rate. Navy is only 39%. 10* Army
|12-01-18||Georgia +13.5 v. Alabama||Top||28-35||Win||100||120 h 27 m||Show|
10* Georgia (4:00 ET): Alabama is in a bit of a unique position as they go for a 4th SEC Championship Game victory in the last five seasons (remember, they didn't play in LY's game despite going onto win the CFP). They really don't need to win this game to ensure a spot in the top four of the CFP rankings. Now, obviously they'll WANT to win the game (especially after not being involved last year) and Nick Saban doesn't allow for lookaheads, letdowns or anything else of that nature. But Georgia, easily the best team Bama has faced this year, does have to win Saturday to make the CFP. This is obviously a rematch of last year's National Title Game, which was won by Bama 26-23 in overtime. Now UGA will have to face QB Tua Tagovailoa for a full game and not just a half. The Tide are better this year, but I'm not sure they're 13 pts better than Georgia in what should be a very hostile environment (game played in Atlanta). I'll take the points!
Alabama is a perfect 4-0 SU vs. Georgia over the last decade, despite none of those games taking place in Tuscaloosa. Last year's win was obviously the most memorable of the quartet, given what was at stake. The game saw Bama spot UGA a 13-0 halftime led, but then came Tua and the rest is history. This Alabama team is probably Saban's best (which is saying something), but Georgia will also be its toughest opponent. I'm a contrarian by nature, but have stepped in front of this Bama train only once this season. It was w/ Mississippi State, who covered despite not scoring a single point.
Since suffering its only loss of the season (36-16 at LSU), Georgia has won all of its games by at least 17 points. The big story in that LSU loss was them being -4 in turnovers. This Georgia team isn't quite as strong as last year, but that's been accounted for by the oddsmakers. Last year's National Title Game had a 3.5-point spread. A 10-pt adjustment just seems like too much even after factoring in Bama being better and UGA being slightly worse. The key here is - unlike most of Bama's opponents this year - Georgia actually has an offense. The Dawgs average more than 40 PPG and while it's highly unlikely they'll get to that number Saturday afternoon, I believe they are certainly capable of scoring enough to cover this generous spread, which I did NOT expect to be in the double digits. If Bama was able to get up by more than the spread, I could certainly envision a "backdoor" scenario for the underdog. Either way, Georgia covers. 10* Georgia
|12-01-18||Texas v. Oklahoma -7.5||Top||27-39||Win||100||118 h 40 m||Show|
10* Oklahoma (12:00 ET): In the build for this game, you're likely to hear two trends spouted quite a bit. One, Texas has covered six straight times against Oklahoma, including a 48-45 upset as 7-pt underdogs earlier this year. Two, Longhorns HC Tom Herman is 12-1 ATS as a dog in his coaching career (including at Houston) w/ NINE outright upsets. So I expect UT to be quite the popular underdog this week. But it is Oklahoma w/ more to play for here as a win could (and should!) send the Sooners to the College Football Playoff. Then there is the revenge angle as they have a shot at avenging their lone regular season defeat. If they do so, that should impress the committee enough to ensure their place in the top four. I'll take it a step further and say that if OU wins big here (and I obviously think they can), then they deserve to jump Notre Dame for the #3 spot (won't happen though).
There is no doubt that Texas will enter this game w/ plenty of confidence. It is again at a neutral field and the L5 RRR's have all been decided by seven points or less. Instead of the traditional meeting place of the Cotton Bowl in Dallas (1st Saturday of every October), this time the rivals will play in nearby Arlington, in Cowboys Stadium. Given the stakes, a case can be made for this being one of the most important OU-Texas games EVER. It's a spot I'm not sure the Longhorns are ready for. Sure, they almost always play close games (9 of their 12 reg season games decided by less than 7 pts, went 6-3 SU). But this is a team that lost to both Oklahoma State and Maryland. Though they did score a season-high 48 pts in the upset of OU back in October, I'm just not convinced that the Longhorns can must up the type of offensive performance necessary to keep pace here. The fast track of "Jerry World" will definitely favor Oklahoma.
Oklahoma leads the country w/ 50.3 points and 584 yards per game. They've scored at least 45 pts in every game but two, one of which was Army basically playing "keep away." They've scored more than 50 five of the last six weeks. Both teams had close calls last week w/ OU outlasting WVU 59-56 and Texas only beating Kansas 24-17. In the regular season meeting, note that while the Sooners did fall behind by as many as 21 points, they were -3 in turnovers and still rallied to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. Led by sensational QB Kyler Murray, they are definitely the better team here and actually undervalued. "Boomer Sooner" should pull off a "statement win" for the committee. Lay the points. 10* Oklahoma
|12-01-18||UL-Lafayette v. Appalachian State -17.5||Top||19-30||Loss||-107||117 h 27 m||Show|
8* Appalachian State (12:00 ET): App State is one of the larger favorites on Conference Championship Saturday, but the spread was actually higher when they face Louisiana in the regular season. A lot higher. In fact, the Mountaineers were bet all the way up to -26 against the Ragin Cajuns, a game they only won by 10 points (27-17). This rematch also takes place in Boone w/ the Sun Belt title now on the line. To me, App State has clearly been the class of the SBC all season long, losing only one conference game and it was Thursday night, on the road. I can't help but think that the oddsmakers have overadjusted their line for this Title Game as I don't think Louisiana is eight points better now than they were a month ago nor is App State eight points worse. The spread shouldn't have been near four touchdowns again, but three (meaning a 21-pt spread) certainly would have been appropriate. The value is on the favorite here.
This is the first ever Sun Belt Conference Championship Game as the league split into two divisions for the 1st time this year. Appalachian State was expected to be here and largely handled its business during the regular season. They went 9-2 SU and 8-3 ATS. Besides the Thursday night loss at Georgia Southern, the only other SU loss was an overtime game against Penn State all the way back in the season opener. Louisiana is a bit of a surprise entrant, having won the more wide open West Division w/ a 5-3 SU conference record (went 7-5 SU overall). They clinched their spot here w/ a 31-28 upset of LA Monroe last Saturday. While App State outscored Sun Belt teams by 147 points this year, Louisiana was only +24. In fact, the Ragin Cajuns were actually outscored over the course of their entire 2018 season. They are - pretty easily - the worst team playing in a Conference Title Game this weekend.
Both of these offenses can score and certainly run the ball effectively. App State paces only slightly ahead of Louisiana in both metrics, averaging 37.3 points and 242 rush yds per contest (compared to Louisana's 33.7 and 230). But the key to this game lies on the defensive side of the ball. In eight conference games, ASU surrendered only 108 total points. They've allowed an average of just 15.4 PPG this year and didn't allow more than 17 in any of their nine wins. Louisiana allows 34.0 PPG for the season. When it comes to stopping the run (will be very important in this game!), ASU has allowed only 11 rushing TD's this year compared to 30 for Louisiana. Then there is the homefield advantage. ASU is 5-0 SU in Boone, winning by an average of 31.8 PPG! It should be noted that they led the Ragin Cajuns 27-10 in the regular season meeting before giving up a TD w/ just over a minute to go. This one won't be nearly as close. 8* Appalachian State
|11-30-18||Northern Illinois v. Buffalo -3.5||Top||30-29||Loss||-100||28 h 15 m||Show|
10* Northern Illinois (7:00 ET): Northern Illinois is no stranger to the MAC Title Game. This will be their seventh appearance in the last nine years and they've won three of the previous six times here. It didn't always look like a clear path for the Huskies to arrive again in 2018 and a poor finish to the regular season (upset in each of last two games) undeniably affected their stock heading into this game. But this is a team that took on a challenging non-conference sked w/ games against Utah, Florida State, Iowa and BYU. So that helps explain the difference in overall records with them and MAC East Champ Buffalo. The NIU offense is by no means pretty, but the defense is the MAC's best and allows only 2.6 yards per carry. In what shapes up as a low-scoring Championship Game, taking the points only seems logical.
While Northern Illinois went 7-5 SU and 6-6 ATS in the regular season, Buffalo was 10-2 SU and 9-3 ATS. HC Lance Leipold has engineered a tremendous turnaround here with a team that won only two games two years ago. While improvement was expected here '18, few expected the Bulls to get this far. Most of their games this season were not close affairs w/ only two (both wins) decided by 7 pts or fewer. Both times Buffalo lost this year, they were beaten badly. Once was to Army, 42-13 as a seven-point home favorite. The other was one of my favorite plays of the season - when I took Ohio as a 2-pt dog to beat them and beat them the Bobcats did, 52-17. Buffalo is making just its second MAC Title Game appearance ever, the last one coming in 2008.
Both teams sport outstanding defenses and while UB looks to have a decided edge on offense, I still give the dog an excellent job at pulling off the outright upset. Northern Illinois played - by far - the tougher schedule. Other than Toledo, Buffalo's resume contains little to no "quality" wins. While these teams didn't meet in the regular season, NIU did win at Buffalo last year. When looking at NIU's two game losing streak, be aware that they had nothing to play for in either game, having already sewn up the MAC West. I think Buffalo's two losses were more telling as the offense was contained both games, something I believe NIU can do here. The Huskies allowed 17 pts or fewer in half their games. One final thing to watch out for: no team has had more field goals (7) or punts (3) blocked than Buffalo. Northern Illinois is one of the top teams in the country at blocking kicks. 8* Northern Illinois
|11-24-18||Kansas State +13.5 v. Iowa State||Top||38-42||Win||100||30 h 19 m||Show|
10* Kansas State (7:00 ET): I think it might shock a lot of people to find out that Kansas State has beaten Iowa State 10 straight times. However, during that win streak it's been the Cyclones covering the majority of the games. The team from Ames has covered each of the last four meetings, which have been decided by a total of 13 points. With the setup here being so contradictory to past history, I suspect the result will be too. The most likely result here is an Iowa State win, but failure to cover. Both of these teams are better suited when in the underdog role. For Iowa State, they are in an emotional letdown spot after losing at home to Texas last week. That defeat ended any hope of the Cyclones playing for a Big XII Championship.
Even last season when Iowa State was overachieving to get to 8-5 SU, they lost in Manhattan, 20-19 as a 2-pt dog. Now, they did lose RB Montgomery to an injury and gave up the game-winning TD w/ no time remaining on the clock. Certainly, they'll be out for revenge, but it's tough to like this team as such an overwhelming favorite. They are just 1-2 ATS so far when laying points in Ames and that one cover was a bit of a lucky one as they got a garbage-time TD against Texas Tech. The 26-14 loss to Texas last Saturday night could certainly have put a "damper" on the Cyclones' collective spirits as I think playing for a Big XII Championship was far more important to this group than getting revenge against Kansas State.
Another reason to like the points here is that the game figures to be so low-scoring. Just look at the O/U line. Both teams come in w/ top 25 defenses. Kansas State has been blown out three times this year, but only by top 15 teams (Miss St, WVU, Oklahoma). They are 5-0 ATS as a dog otherwise, including two outright wins, one of them coming last week against Texas Tech. The Wildcats have done a good job getting to the cusp of bowl eligibility and need a win here to get to the postseason. So they won't go down w/o a fight for HC Snyder. The last three games have seen this Wildcats' defense allow an average of just 12.3 PPG. Iowa State is only outscoring its opponents by 4.5 PPG this season. The dog should be the more motivated side and has history on its side, knowing that it has dominated this rivalry. 10* Kansas State
|11-24-18||Pittsburgh v. Miami-FL -5.5||Top||3-24||Win||100||91 h 53 m||Show|
10* Miami FL (3:30 ET): All signs point towards "the U" getting the job done here. Sure, they'd lost four in a row before last week's convincing 38-14 over Virginia Tech. And they were on a 5-game ATS losing streak as well. Opponent Pitt arrives in the Coral Gables finale riding a four-game (SU) win streak and has covered five in a row. But let's look at the situation as opposed to recent form. The situation will call for some major revenge to be exacted as the Canes, ranked #2 in the entire country at the time, were upended 24-14 LY at Heinz Field (at Pittsburgh), ending their own 10-game unbeaten run (it was their 1st loss of the season and the start of a three-game slide to end the year). Just like Pitt here, Miami knew it was already ACC Championship Game bound. They were also severely beat up and down multiple key offensive playmakers. Miami gets its revenge (and them some) Saturday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium.
So Pitt has the disadvantage of coming into this game knowing full well it has a huge date set w/ #2 (and unbeaten) Clemson (sound familiar?) next week in the ACC Championship Game. They clinched that spot by going on the road last Saturday and beating Wake Forest, 34-13 as 5.5-pt chalk. They were down at the half, 10-6, but outscored the Demon Deacons 28-3 after that w/ QB Kenny Pickett throwing three touchdowns and a career-best 316 yards. It was just the second road win of the year for the Panthers as this is still the only FBS team to lose to North Carolina this season. That loss seems like its "eons ago" as Pat Narduzzi's team has "circled the wagons" to win 5 of its last 6 games.
Just to illustrate how no one saw Pitt coming; last week was just the second time they'd been favored since September. They're back to the more customary role of dog here, as they should be. Miami has been favored in every game this season, so they've been a disappointment. But it doesn't mean that the Hurricanes still aren't the better team here. I have them, not Pitt, ranked as the top team in the Coastal and the 2nd best team in the ACC overall. In fact, I don't have Pitt ranked in my top 40 teams in the country! After four straight tough losses, we finally saw what Miami was capable of last week in a 38-14 destruction of Va Tech, in Blacksburg no less. The defense shut the Hokies out completely in the 2nd half and QB Perry was responsible for 3 TDs. Remembering what Pitt did to them in 2017, Miami will be ready this year, particularly their defense which is giving up only 14.8 PPG at home. 10* Miami
|11-24-18||SMU v. Tulsa +3||Top||24-27||Win||100||27 h 49 m||Show|
8* Tulsa (3:30 ET): This line absolutely reeks and it's almost as if the oddsmakers are begging you to lay the points w/ SMU. The Ponies were kind to us a few weeks ago when - as a two touchdown UNDERDOG - they beat Houston by 14 points. At the time, I noted in the analysis that this was a team on the rise and sure enough they followed that win up w/ a 62-point effort against hapless UConn. But things didn't go nearly as well when I packed them last week as they lost at home to Memphis, 28-18. That leaves SMU needing a win here against 2-win Tulsa to become bowl eligible. Laying a field goal or less sounds like an ideal situation, but this has all the makings of a trap game and I'm going to call for the Golden Hurricane to pull the upset! Take the points.
Tulsa's only conference win came against UConn. It's also their only win against a FBS opponent all year. But it's not as if the Golden Hurricane haven't been competitive at times this year. They lost at Texas by only a touchdown. I've played them only once and it was an easy cover on a Friday night vs. USF, a game they led most of the way and probably should have won. Since losing that game, it's been a downhill slide, but believe it or not, Tulsa has actually been outscored by fewer points per game than SMU has this season. Last week against Navy, they had trouble stopping the triple option, but it's a very different type of offense that they'll be going up against this week. At home, Tulsa has been far more competitive this year, having both the edge in scoring and total yardage over the opposition.
I believe the Golden Hurricane will be able to run the ball effectively in this matchup. They already run for over 200 yards per game and as we saw last week, the SMU defense is very shaky against the run. They're giving up over 200 YPG on the ground, which is 102nd in the country. Tulsa's run defense is actually worse, but SMU doesn't like to run the ball that much, so that won't be that big of an issue Saturday afternoon. SMU's defense gives up 36.0 PPG for the year and 42.4 PPG on the road. The home team has won three straight in this conference rivalry and SMU has not covered either time it was a favorite this year. Look for Tulsa to treat this is as "their bowl game" and shock a lot of people. 8* Tulsa
|11-24-18||Wyoming v. New Mexico +7||Top||31-3||Loss||-115||26 h 50 m||Show|
8* New Mexico (2:30 ET): Wyoming pulled off an improbable cover last Saturday, scoring three late touchdowns (all in the final 4:32) to win 35-27 as 2.5-point home favorites. As far as the betting window was concerned, the decisive TD came with 45 seconds left after an Air Forxe turnover. Full disclosure: I had Air Force. So there's obviously an emotional component to me wanting to fade Wyoming a second straight week. But there's also a lot of numbers-based logic as this is still a bad team, one that has problems scoring (19.7 PPG) and they are barely inside my top 100 teams in the country. I realize that they need this game to become bowl eligible, but so do the oddsmakers and as a result we have an inflated number. Take the points w/ New Mexico here.
The Lobos are only playing for pride in this final regular season game. Bob Davie's team comes into Saturday's last home game as losers of six in a row and at 4-7 SU overall. But if you recall, earlier this month, I cashed them plus the points here in Albuquerque against San Diego State. They actually led the Aztecs much of the way before wilting late in the fourth quarter. This is a much weaker foe that they're getting this week and there should be some level of motivation based on it being the final home game for the outgoing Senior Class. Over the L6 games, New Mexico has had to play the top four teams in the Mountain West - Utah State, Fresno State, San Diego State and last week, Boise State. So the losing skid doesn't really bother me. I still believe this line ought to be closer to a pick 'em.
Wyoming was a much better team last year when they beat New Mexico 42-3. That game was also in Laramie and they had Josh Allen at QB. The last time they visited New Mexico, their defense allowed a school-record 568 yards rushing. This is a defense that still doesn't have suspended DT Youhanna Ghaifan and gave up 362 yards rushing to Air Force. The offense's inability to score will catch up with it here. The late flurry against Air Force is not indicative of Wyoming's season. They also lost their starting QB and RB to injury last week! The Cowboys' three-game win streak has come exclusively against teams w/ losing records and while New Mexico fits that same bill, they should be competitive in this spot and cover the spread in a low-scoring affair. 8* New Mexico
|11-23-18||East Carolina v. Cincinnati -19||Top||6-56||Win||100||72 h 2 m||Show|
8* Cincinnati (3:30 ET): Each team here experienced a result last week that they're not very used to. For East Carolina, it was a win and a definitive one at that, 55-21 over sorry UConn (Pirates were -17.5). Consider ECU had been favored only one other time against a FBS foe this season and they didn't cover, beating Old Dominion by just two points. Cincinnati, meanwhile, is off a humbling setback at the hands of unbeaten UCF. Luke Fickell's Bearcats were in the wrong place at the wrong time Saturday night as ESPN College Gameday was in Orlando and it was a raucous atmosphere, leading to a 38-13 defeat. Still, it was just Cincy's second loss of the season and for East Carolina, last week was only their third win of the season. So that's the backdrop heading into this regular season finale.
East Carolina has nothing left to play for as bowl eligibilty is out the window. They did give the Seniors a nice win in the final home game, so I can just assume that this game will carry little priority for the Pirates, who have played better than the record shows, but that's of little consequence as they head to a third straight three-win season under HC Scottie Montgomery. The road has been unkind to the Pirates as they're 0-3 SU away from Greenville, averaging only 12.3 PPG. This looks like a total mismatch facing a Bearcats team that is 5-0 SU at home, winning by an average margin of 26 PPG. Cincy has a very good defense (they allow only 17.0 PPG) and I just don't see how East Carolina is going to score very much in this game.
Though they lost by 25 pts on the scoreboard, I thought Cincinnati played a lot better against UCF than the final score showed. Total yardage was relatively even and while one of the Bearcats two scores came from the defense, it was their own three turnovers that killed any chance of winning. While it might sound tough to recoup from a loss like that, playing for a 10-win season is certainly a big enough deal. The Bearcats also have some payback on the mind after they suffered a humiliating defeat LY in Greenville, 48-20 as three-point favorites. But that was when the Pirates had Gardner Minshew at QB and he's now plying his trade in greener pastures for Wazzu. Minshew threw for 444 yds in LY's meeting, at the time a career-high for him. He's not around anymore to save ECU. 8* Cincinnati
|11-23-18||Nebraska v. Iowa -9.5||Top||28-31||Loss||-110||69 h 33 m||Show|
10* Iowa (12:00 ET): The Scott Frost era obviously got off to a dubious beginning w/ the first ever 0-6 start in Lincoln. Tip your cap for the way Frost has been able to right the Nebraska ship over the last month w/ the Cornhuskers winning four of their last five games, the only loss coming at Ohio State. They are also now on a seven-game ATS win streak. Truthfully, things were never as bad as they looked w/ four of the team's seven losses this year coming by five points or less. Next year, Nebraska will be able to make waves in the Big 10 West. But it's still 2018 and my power rankings aren't quite that impressed with this Cornhuskers team. Meanwhile, they (meaning power rankings) love Iowa, who also happens to be far better than its record shows. I have zero hesitation about laying the points Friday afternoon in Iowa City in what is my favorite spot of the year!
Outside the top 6-7 teams in the country, it's a real "crapshoot" ranking who the best teams are in College Football this year. I think there are a number of 4-loss teams deserving of being called one of the top 15 in the country and I happen to count Iowa among them. Three of the Hawkeyes' four losses have been in one-score games, the exception being a Sat night home game vs. Wisconsin where they actually led going into the 4th quarter and gave up a "meaningless" TD in the final 30 seconds to lose by 11. Last weekend, the Hawkeyes snapped a three-game losing streak in resounding fashion by handing Illinois its worst defeat in program history, 63-0. That was on the road, mind you.
While Iowa was busy winning 63-0, Nebraska squeaked out a very ugly 9-6 win over Michigan State. All three field goals came in the 4th quarter on drives that never exceeded 36 yards or seven plays. Thus, it's pretty difficult to imagine this Cornhuskers' offense doing much of anything against an even stingier Iowa defense. (More on that in a second).
This game is in Iowa City and the home folk should be fired up. The Hawkeyes have beaten the Cornhuskers three straight years, the last two wins both coming by double digits. Nebraska has not won a road game all season, going 0-4 and allowing 41.7 PPG. While Iowa has somehow lost twice this year in Kinnick Stadium, they're giving up an average of just 11.0 points in six games here. Take away that late Wisconsin TD and no visitor has scored more than 21 pts here with five being held to 14 points or less. An impressive win here could land the Hawkeyes in a more marquee bowl game next month. As a favorite this year, Iowa is 7-1 SU and ATS. Plus they have covered six of the last eight times they've been a 3.5 to 10 pt favorite. To me, Iowa is definitely the best team in the Big 10 West this year. 10* Iowa
|11-22-18||Colorado State v. Air Force -14||Top||19-27||Loss||-110||48 h 3 m||Show|
10* Air Force (3:30 ET): The Flyboys fell victim to one of the worst beats of the year Saturday in Laramie. Since I was on them, allow me to recount the tale of woe. Up 27-14 on Wyoming (w/ just under five minutes remaining), the Falcons were getting 2.5 and managed to blow the cover. They allowed three touchdowns to a Wyoming offense that had lost BOTH its starting QB and RB early in the game. The final score (27 yard run) came with less than a minute to go in a situation where a simple tackle would have ended the game (and there should have been holding called on Wyoming anyway). That loss cost the AFA any shot of being bowl eligible, putting them in a pretty tough spot Thanksgiving afternoon. But fortunately for them, the opponent is in just as bad a situation, if not worse.
Colorado State almost pulled off what would have been a shocking upset of #23 Utah State Saturday night. At home, they came from behind and scored what appeared to be the game-winning TD w/ no time left on a 34-yard throw from QB Collin Hill to WR Preston Williams. Unfortuantely, upon further review, the touchdown was negated when it was ruled Williams had stepped out of bounds before catching the ball. For the Rams, playing their final home game, a win would have been the highlight of a lost season. Instead, it just became their fourth straight loss and eighth defeat of this season. This was a team I played against multiple times early in the year as I felt this would be a down year in Ft. Collins. Now I'll look to conclude by fading them in the final regular season game.
To me, this spread needs to be closer to three touchdowns rather than two. Air Force has won the L2 battles for the Ram-Falcon Trophy, including a 45-28 upset (as 10-pt dogs) in Ft. Collins LY. As you can tell from the spread, Colo State is a significantly weaker team in 2018. While the Rams did outgain Utah State LW, 506-310, that was at home. On the road, CSU has been a disaster, giving up 45.6 PPG and I'm just going to assume their defense will want no part of the AFA rushing attack in a meaningless game. Air Force has run for over 800 yds in the L2 games and is +14.2 PPG in Colorado Springs this year. While bowl eligibility is off the table, at least they can send the Seniors out w/ a win in the final home game. 10* Air Force
|11-20-18||Ball State +17.5 v. Miami-OH||Top||21-42||Loss||-110||11 h 54 m||Show|
8* Ball State (7:00 ET): Miami, Ohio has done a nice job working its way not only to the cusp of bowl eligibility, but also into the race for the MAC East. When the RedHawks were 3-6 SU, their postseason hopes looked bleak. But a couple of upsets later, they're now in the discussion for the MAC Championship Game. Granted, it's unlikely they can get to Detroit (would require not only a win Tuesday, but a Buffalo loss to Bowling Green on Friday). But the RedHawks certainly have "everything to play for" this week, namely bowl eligibility. They're at home facing a bad Ball State team, but I think this number is inflated. Take the points.
Ball State pulled an upset of its own last Wednesday, theirs coming over Western Michigan on Senior Night, an emotional game in Muncie that went to overtime. The final score was 42-41 and the Cardinals were a 9.5-point underdog. They won by stopping what would have been a game-winning 2-pt conversion. In addition to it being Senior Night, the Cardinals were also off a bye last week, so the situation was definitely favorable. It's obviously less so here, but I was very impressed w/ the job done by QB Drew Plitt against Western Michigan as he threw three touchdowns and only five incompletions in just his second career start (but sixth appearance this year).
Miami might have everything to play for here, but let's see how they perform as a favorite and a large one at that. The RedHawks are 7-1 ATS the L8 games, the lone non-cover coming by a single point against Buffalo. But they've been a favorite only twice during that stretch and never by anywhere close to this many points. Then you have the fact they were a bit of a lucky winner last week, pulling the 13-7 upset at Northern Illinois despite just 201 total yds of offense. The winning score was a pick-six. The RedHawks averaged just 2.3 yards per carry on offense while NIU averaged 5.7. It was a game Miami should feel lucky to have won. In yet another game where points should be at a premium, backing the big underdog seems logical. 8* Ball State
|11-17-18||Arizona State v. Oregon -3.5||Top||29-31||Loss||-100||25 h 38 m||Show|
8* Oregon (10:30 ET): The Ducks are off a bad loss last week as they lost to Utah. It's not like a seven-point loss in Salt Lake City is bad on face value. But when you consider the Utes were w/o their starting QB AND RB, then it's pretty shocking Oregon came up short. It was the third loss in four games for UO, although all three losses took place away from Eugene. This is the final game of the year at Autzen and the home team should be highly motivated. Last year, their 10-game win streak over Arizona State got snapped when the Sun Devils kicked a last second field goal. So that's even more motivation. The Ducks are 11-2 SU at home the L2 years, have a NFL QB and this is a really good price on them. Lay the short number.
No one is laughing at the Herm Edwards hire anymore. He has Arizona State in position to win the Pac 12 South! If the Sun Devils win out, which would require victories here and in the Territorial Cup (at Arizona), they are going to Los Angeles. All four losses this year have come by exactly a touchdown. But three of six wins have also come by a field goal. So that's a lot of close games. Last week, they outlasted UCLA 31-28 as 12.5-pt chalk. It was only the second Pac 12 game where ASU was favored, so clearly they've beaten expectations. But the road has been a bit of a challenge for them. They're 1-3 SU away from Tempe w/ the only win coming by a field goal over USC. They've lost at San Diego State, Washington and Colorado. This may be the toughest trip of the season.
Making this game even more difficult than it needed to be for Arizona State is the fact that Merlin Robertson will miss the 1st half due to an ejection for targeting last week. That makes stopping Justin Herbert and the rest of the Oregon offense even more daunting. I'd also worry about this Sun Devils offense being able to keep pace. Sure, they average 29.9 PPG for the year. But that number comes slightly down on the road and Oregon also averages 43.0 PPG at home. The ASU defense has allowed a 70% completion percentage to four of their last five opponents. Herbert has thrown only one interception his L6 games. One final key trend worth mentioning is that Arizona State is 1-6 ATS when off B2B wins the L3 seasons. They've overachieved already this season, but won't here. 8* Oregon
|11-17-18||Air Force +2.5 v. Wyoming||Top||27-35||Loss||-105||94 h 12 m||Show|
10* Air Force (4:00 ET): I think there are a lot of people (myself included) that think proud Wyoming alum Josh Allen is going to be a bust in the NFL (he was a 1st rd draft choice of the Bills). But don't tell that to the alma mater, who misses its old QB dearly. Coming into the season, I thought Wyoming was as likely to regress (in terms of record) as any team in the entire country. They only went 8-5 SU w/ Allen at the helm last year and that came w/ a +24 turnover margin (easily tops in the country). Points off turnovers accounted for roughly 40% of all Cowboys' scoring last year. The team was actually outgained by 52 YPG in MWC play. So what I'm saying is that it was a minor miracle that team won eight games even w/ Allen. Without him, they have indeed nosedived down to 4-6 SU. I don't think they should be favored here and will fade them instead.
When Wyoming's schedule came out, it was known that five opponents would be looking for revenge against them. They've played three of the five so far and only Colorado State (who has fallen even harder that the Cowboys have) failed to exact that revenge. Both Hawaii and Utah State did and now it's Air Force's turn. The Flyboys lost to the Pokes last year in Colorado Springs, 28-14. despite being three-point home favorites and having a +149 edge in total yards. Now its time for payback. Both of these teams need to win out in order to become bowl eligible, but obviously only one can. I'll side w/ the 4-6 SU team that has both outscored and outgained opponents this season as opposed to the one that's done neither.
Wyoming has won B2B weeks, but those wins were against two of the MWC's weaker teams: Colorado State and San Jose State. The offense in Laramie is downright putrid as it averages only 18.2 PPG. The defense is still missing standout Youhanna Ghaifan, a key cog in the defensive line. His absence is especially problematic when facing an AFA offense that goes for 265 yards rushing per game and just went for a season-high 478 in a 42-24 win over New Mexico last week. The Pokes do have the benefit of being off a bye, but I just don't see their offense being able to score enough to get the job done. Air Force is better than its record as four of its six losses have been by six points or less. I expect them to win a relatively close game Saturday afternoon, but take the points anyway. 10* Air Force
|11-17-18||Bowling Green v. Akron -7||Top||21-6||Loss||-100||94 h 42 m||Show|
10* Akron (3:30 ET): On their way to an eventual MAC Title Game appearance, the Zips ended an eight-game SU/ATS losing streak to Bowling Green last season. They beat them 34-23 as 2-pt road chalk, which was also their 1st win @ BG since '05. Given the current state of the Bowling Green program, you would think that Akron is perhaps about to start their own win streak in this MAC East rivalry. BG is just dreadful, having already fired HC Mike Jinks midseason. They've got zero to play for moving forward as their record is 2-8 SU. I do think it helps Akron that BG won last week (24-13 @ Centgral Michigan), meaning the Falcons now won't go winless in conference play. Avoiding that distinction was the only real thing they had left to play for. I believe this spread should be closer to two touchdowns. Lay the points.
Akron wasn't the best team in the MAC East last year, but won the division anyway thanks to pulling a couple upsets. Neither the MAC Championship nor the Boca Raton Bowl went well for them, but right now the Zips are looking at a situation where they need to win two of their final three games to get back to the postseason. Winning this game is a must as the two final regular season games are at Ohio and South Carolina and they'll be a big dog in each. Last week's game @ Eastern Michigan could not possibly have gone worse as QB Kato Nelson was out w/ an ankle injury. They turned it over four times, including three straight possessions w/ an INT, and gained less than 100 total yds. They should be eager to atone for that performance in this final home game.
Thankfully, BG should more than oblige to Akron's need for victory. The Falcons remain a bottom 10 team in the country as they've been outscored by more than 17 PPG over the course of the season. I was truly shocked to see them win last week as 7.5-pt road dogs as they were down 13-0 at the half to Central Michigan (who ended up gaining only 166 yds for the game). How shocking was that defensive performance by BG? Consider that they still allow 469.2 YPG. Prior to last week, they had not beaten a single FBS team all season w/ the lone win coming at home over Eastern Kentucky where they had to rally late. Remember that this Akron team holds a win over Northwestern, who will be playing in the Big 10 Championship Game! This is - on paper - the Zips' easiest FBS game of the season. I'll keep my fingers crossed that QB Nelson returns, but even if he doesn't, this is still a play w/ the backup Ramart under center. 10* Akron
|11-17-18||Pittsburgh v. Wake Forest +6||Top||34-13||Loss||-108||90 h 12 m||Show|
8* Wake Forest (12:00 ET): The Demon Deacons treated me nicely last week as they rallied back from a 13-3 halftime deficit and beat #14 NC State 27-23 as 17.5-pt road dogs. Perhaps you may recall my analysis for that Thursday night matchup. A lot of it was based on the notion that NC State being called the 14th best team in the country was utter nonsense. But I've always been impressed w/ how Wake "shows up" for HC Dave Clawson. While the Demon Deacons are a little bit "down" this year, bowl eligibility is still on the table for a team that's 5-5 SU overall. This is also the final home game in Winston-Salem and it comes w/ two extra days to prepare. With the regular season finale being at Duke, I think a motivated Demon Deacons squad comes up big here. Take the points.
Pitt also has something to play for, that being the ACC Coastal, a race for which they are in the driver's seat. A win here would send them to Charlotte to face Clemson for the Conference Championship. So the Panthers shouldn't be lacking for motivation themselves. But they are road favorites for just the second time all year. The first time, I played against them and they lost outright to a North Carolina team that hasn't beaten anybody else all season. Overall, the Panthers are just 1-3 SU on the road this season. After a 1-3 overall start to the season, they've kind of come from nowhere to win four of their last five, the only loss coming at Notre Dame. But of note is the fact they've been favored only once in those L5 games, that coming in LW's 52-22 demolition of Va Tech.
Believe it or not, despite being in the same conference, these teams have NEVER met. So Winston-Salem is foreign territory for the favorites. I think the sense of urgency is far greater for the home dog, which is seeking to go bowling for a third straight year, something that has only happened ONE time in the history of the program! Pitt doesn't even need a win here to clinch the division; they can have Virginia lose at Ga Tech as well. Or just beat struggling Miami next week. The big question here surrounds Wake Forest's ability to stop a Pitt run game that has gone for 484+ yds twice in the last three weeks. I think they can as this Demon Deacons' stop unit has improved ever since a midseason change at defensive coordinator. Last week, they allowed only 47 yds rushing to NC State. To me, the biggest mismatch in this game is Wake Forest's receivers going against a Pitt pass defense that is shaky at best. The Panthers' dream of being the 6th difference school to represent the ACC Coastal in the Conf Champ Game may have to be put on hold for another week. 8* Wake Forest
|11-16-18||Memphis v. SMU +7.5||Top||28-18||Loss||-105||27 h 20 m||Show|
8* SMU (9:00 ET) - SMU was a tremendous winner for me two weeks ago. As 14-point underdogs, they WON by two touchdowns, beating a red-hot Houston team 45-31. At the time, the Mustangs were just 3-5 SU overall, but I wrote that they were improving and am not about to back off that assessment. Last Saturday's win wasn't nearly as impressive as they failed to cover against UConn despite scoring 62 points. But then again, it was the 1st time all year that the Ponies were favored to beat a FBS opponent. This week, they're back in their more customary role of underdog and looking to gain a "leg up" in what is currently a three-way tie atop the West Division of the American Conference. I like them plus the points and also give them an excellent shot at pulling another outright upset.
Memphis is 3-3 SU in conference play and thus NOT one of the three teams atop the division (Tulane and Houston are). The Tigers still have a chance to win the West, but a ton of things would have to go their way. Many consider them to be the best team in the division, though I would still give a slight nod to Houston (who Memphis hosts next Friday). The Tigers should have probably beaten undefeated UCF earlier in the year, but instead ended up blowing a double-digit lead in the Liberty Bowl. It's one of two 1-pt losses they've taken this year. Memphis did win the division LY (lost to UCF in 2 OT's in the Conf Champ Game) and comes into this week having scored 100 pts the L2 wks. But SMU has done the same, making this too many points to lay for the Tigers.
I think homefield matters a lot here. Memphis is just 1-3 SU on the road w/ the lone victory coming two weeks ago against East Carolina (who has zero conference wins), but that was a close game until the very end. Earlier in the year, the Tigers dropped a game (as two-touchdown chalk) at Tulane. I think the biggest reason for this large spread is that Memphis has beaten SMU four straight times, by an average of 41 PPG! But this SMU team is a lot better than years' past. Not only are they playing for a division crown here, but they still need one more win for bowl eligibility. Their offense is averaging 38.5 PPG since junior QB Ben Hicks became the permanent starter. That makes this number extremely attractive at home. 8* SMU
|11-15-18||Florida Atlantic v. North Texas -3||Top||38-41||Push||0||77 h 46 m||Show|
10* North Texas (9:30 ET): Last year, these two teams played in the C-USA Title Game w/ a red-hot FAU prevailing at home 41-17 as 11-pt chalk. Getting the Title Game at home, the Owls jumped out to a 34-0 lead after 33 minutes and cruised from there. It was actually their second victory of the year over the Mean Green as they'd won 69-31 in the regular season, also in Boca Raton. This year, North Texas gets the game in Denton w/ some good old fashioned double revenge on its mind. Neither team will be making it to this year's C-USA Title Game, so the double revenge angle is pretty key in handicapping this matchup. So too is the homefield advantage as UNT is 4-1 SU in Apogee Stadium, outscoring teams by 22 PPG. I'm laying the short number here.
Florida Atlantic was one of the darlings of College Football last season as Lane Kiffin came in and let a tremendous turnaround. His predecessor (Charlie Partridge) had delivered three seasons of just three wins each, but left Kiffin w/ the most experienced team in the country. Kiffin took full advantage, leading the Owls to an 11-win season, including a 50-3 rout of Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl. The Owls swept the C-USA schedule, winning all nine games by a total of 201 points. Still, there were obvious signs that this season would not go as well and those were confirmed early on as FAU lost its first game 63-14 to Oklahoma. After going 10-3-1 ATS last season, the Owls are just 3-7 at the betting window so far this season. Some of the regression boils down to being a less experienced team (not having QB Jason Driskell hurt), the rest was probably just inevitable.
The Owls are just 3-3 in C-USA this year and playing on the road has been a major problem for them both in and out of league play. They are 1-4 SU/ATS outside of Boca Raton w/ three of those losses coming by at least 20 points. The defense is allowing 37.8 PPG on the road and the number would look even worse were it not for winning the "Shula Bowl" against rival FIU two weeks ago, 49-14. Perhaps North Texas got caught looking ahead to this game as they were upset Saturday by Old Dominion, blowing a 28-point lead (were favored by 15.5). The Mean Green were looking quite good this year before losing two of the last three games. Their three losses have been by a total of 13 points. All 10 UNT games have stayed Under this year, thanks to a defense that allows only 20.3 PPG (18.4 at home). Superior defense, homefield advantage and a case of double revenge have me on the home fave here. 10* North Texas
|11-14-18||Buffalo v. Ohio -1.5||Top||17-52||Win||100||50 h 22 m||Show|
10* Ohio (7:00 ET): This is a big revenge game for Ohio, who lost last year in Buffalo as six-point favorites, 31-24. It was an absolutely horrendous spot for Frank Solich's Bobcats as they'd just been upset the week prior, at Akron, basically costing them a shot at the MAC Title Game. The situation is alarmingly similar Wednesday w/ Ohio having been upset by rival Miami last week, a result that severely hurt their chances of getting to this year's MAC Title Game. Had they won in Oxford, then this game basically would have been a de facto MAC East Championship. As it stands now, Ohio is now two games back in the division and would need to win out plus have Buffalo lose next week at Bowling Green (which is highly unlikely to happen).
Still, there are some notable differences between this matchup and the one that took place last year. For starters, the game will be played in Athens where OU is 4-0 SU and averaging a whopping 49.2 points per game. Their average margin of victory in those four contests is 23.7 points. The home team has won eight straight times in this MAC East rivalry. The Bobcats are probably better than their overall record as three of their four losses this year have been by 4 points or less (9 pts total). While I would have loved to get them as a dog here, the bottom line is that this team is 47-13 SU its L60 home games and laying the shortest of numbers.
With the division now all but wrapped up, I believe that it's UB that's more likely to overlook this week's matchup. When these teams met last year, Ohio was in the dumps and Buffalo was looking to become bowl eligible (it was the regular season finale). The two teams came out and played like you'd think, based on the respective emotions, with the Bulls taking an early 24-7 lead before holding on for the seven-point victory. The job that Lance Leipold has done here at UB is quite remarkable and I give his Bulls an excellent shot at beating Northern Illinois next month in Detroit (MAC Champ Game). But Wednesday should belong to a revenge-minded Ohio team fighting to keep its own dreams alive. Remember, I played AGAINST Ohio last week in Miami, another game where they fell into a huge early hole (down 28-7) before fighting back and ultimately coming up short. Ohio is still the (slightly) better team here though and at home. 10* Ohio
|11-10-18||UNLV +23 v. San Diego State||Top||27-24||Win||100||29 h 1 m||Show|
8* UNLV (10:30 ET): Second week in a row I'm playing against San Diego State in the late Saturday timeslot. Last week was a pretty easy win w/ New Mexico getting double digits at home. The Lobos scored a defensive touchdown early and led almost the whole way. Eventually, the Aztecs pulled out the win - and they should have, given a massive 401-142 edge in total yards - but it took three late scores to do so. Despite this, and all the team's deficiencies we discussed last week, we again find SDSU laying a big number, only this time at home. And again, I'll grab the points.
UNLV comes into this game off a 48-3 loss at home (to Fresno State) and w/ an uncertain QB situation. The team desperately is hoping for Armani Rogers to be healthy enough to play here, but he probably won't start. Out since September 22nd, Rogers' absence has played a significant role in the Rebels' disappointing season. They haven't won since the injury, losing six straight, many of the blowout variety. No longer do the Rebels have a shot at being bowl eligible, but knocking off a team like San Diego State could be a season highlight. Now an outright win here would surprise me, but I do think the Rebels can certainly keep it close, especially with Rogers back.
If Rogers were to play, it would create a situation where San Diego State would have to prepare for two very different QB's, the more mobile Rogers and the traditional passer Max Gilliam. Last week was not indicative of where this UNLV program is really at right now. They were up against the best team in the Mountain West and were w/o their best offensive player (Rogers). With Rogers back, the Rebels become a much more effective offense when it comes to running the ball. As discussed last week, San Diego State has not been able to blow teams out this year. This is due to a combination of committing too many penalties and an offense that averages only 22.2 PPG (less than the spread here!). Last week was actually the Aztecs' highest scoring effort of the year! They're 0-6 ATS as favorites in 2018 and have not won a game by more than eight points. Their six wins over FBS schools have come by a total of 31 points. 8* UNLV
|11-10-18||Mississippi State +26 v. Alabama||Top||0-24||Win||100||94 h 25 m||Show|
8* Mississippi State (3:30 ET): Yep. I'm willing to step in front of the Alabama train here. This may very well go down as Nick Saban's best team EVER in Tuscaloosa (think about that for a second), but the situation this week is hardly favorable. The Crimson Tide are coming off the quintessential "statement" game, having shutout rival LSU 29-0 last week. This would be the proverbial letdown spot. Not that I expect Bama to lose mind you, but look for the game to be closer than the experts think. As is the case for most Bama opponents, Mississippi State will treat this as their biggest regular season game. The Bulldogs are starting to gain traction offensively (scored 45 pts last week) and have gone 6-3 ATS this year despite being an underdog only twice. Take the points.
Here's a "dirty little secret." Mississippi State is actually giving up fewer points per game than Alabama this season. The Bulldogs allow just 12.3 PPG (2nd nationally) while Bama is allowing 14.1 (7th). MSU has not given up more than 19 pts in any game since a 28-7 loss at Kentucky back on September 22nd. Now they have been held to 7 pts or less in all three losses. But I don't expect that to be the case here.This will be the first time this year that Alabama is facing a defense allowing fewer points per game than they do. I expect a little bit of a good old fashioned SEC "slugfest" here. Mississippi State has lost 10 straight to Alabama, but it was a 7-point game LY in Starkville, also the week after the Crimson Tide faced LSU.
A big key (at least to me) in handicapping this game is that while Alabama was busy facing LSU last week, Mississippi State enjoyed a virtual "bye" in a 45-3 thrashing of Louisiana Tech. Don't forget that Alabama still has the Iron Bowl left (after they face The Citadel next week). Mississippi State is 8-5 ATS as an underdog the L3 seasons w/ five outright wins. Again, I'm not expecting an outright win here, I just think the situation lends itself to taking a big number and I'd also like to point out that I have MSU ranked in the top 10 of my own personal power rankings. Look for them to keep this game within three touchdowns. 8* Mississippi State
|11-10-18||Troy v. Georgia Southern||Top||35-21||Loss||-110||92 h 56 m||Show|
10* Georgia Southern (1:00 ET): Though my own personal numbers indicated they should have been a much bigger favorite, I stayed away from Georgia Southern last Saturday, feeling that it was an absolutely horrible spot for them to lay points, on the road no less, coming off the huge win over Appalachian State. Turns out that feeling was correct as the Eagles went down at the hands of LA Monroe, 44-25, in what was easily their worst performance of the season. They found themselves down 27-3 before halftime and were outgained 573-216 for the game. But you have to keep in mind that the only other team to beat Ga Southern this year was #2 Clemson. In what shapes up as their most important game of the year, I'll call for the Eagles to bounce back in Statesboro.
Troy is the only team w/o a conference loss in the Sun Belt. They are 5-0 SU, meaning they're up by one game over both Ga Southern and Appalachian State. Earlier in the year, the Trojans treated me to a nice upset over Nebraska, although we didn't know just how bad the Cornhuskers were yet and the Troy was actually held to only 243 total yards in that game. Still, the Trojans are 7-2 SU at this point in the season (same as Ga Southern) w/ their only losses coming to Boise State and Liberty. They have not yet faced Appalachian State as that game is the regular season finale, in Boone. Troy has hardly faced the most challenging schedule so far in conference play and wasn't all that impressive in a 26-16 win over Louisiana last week as seven-point home favorites.
If Ga Southern were to win here, then they control their own destiny in the Sun Belt East Division and would have the tiebreaker over both Troy and Appalachian State. So you can see just how important this game truly is. A loss and the division likely goes to the winner of Troy-App State at the end of the year. The good news is this game being in Statesboro where the Eagles are a perfect 5-0 SU this year and outscoring opponents by nearly 23 PPG. They'd also beaten Troy six straight times prior to LY's 38-16 loss. But Ga Southern was not a good team last year (went just 2-10 SU). This year, they're back up to 7th in the country in rushing offense. They steamrolled a very good App State team on this field two weeks ago. They are the better team and should be favored here. 10* Georgia Southern
|11-10-18||North Carolina v. Duke -10.5||Top||35-42||Loss||-108||91 h 16 m||Show|
8* Duke (12:20 ET): Every season, for certain teams, there comes a time when one must reconcile expectations w/ reality. For North Carolina, that time has long since passed. Coming off a 3-9 SU season, the Tar Heels were widely expected to be a lock to improve in 2018. That simply has not happened. It was a bit of an auspicious offseason w/ HC Larry Fedora having questionable takes on CTE. There was the early season disruption of Hurricane Florence. But the bottom line is that this team simply hasn't been any good this year. I did take them back in Game 3, against Pitt, when they were off an unexpected bye due to the Hurricane (and, for UNC's sake, thank goodness that game vs. UCF was cancelled!). They won that game, but that's their ONLY win this year. With nothing left to play for, I expect these last couple weeks to go very poorly for the Tar Heels.
Expect Duke to have no sympathy for their rival this weekend in Durham. The Blue Devils are coming off their first road win over Miami FL since 1976. They were outgained 411-290, yet still pulled the 20-12 upset as nine-point dogs. Though its unlikely that they'll win the ACC Coastal, I expect Duke to play well down the stretch. They'd dropped B2B games before beating Miami. Here, they'll be looking for their first home win since Sept 22. They'll also be looking for a fifth win in seven years over UNC. Though that's the case, they've won only 5 of the past 28 meetings. So there's still a sense of "payback" for the program.
Expect the Duke offense to have little difficulty scoring on a UNC defense that is allowing 34.7 PPG. In five of its last six games, the Tar Heels have allowed at least 31 points. The Blue Devils are just two weeks removed from a 45-point, 600+ yard performance against Pitt. Last week, they were forced to play in the slop at Miami. Conditions should be a lot more conducive to a big offensive day here and that includes facing this porous UNC defense. The Tar Heels have been outscored by nearly 16 PPG on the road. My power rankings indicate a similar, if not slightly larger, margin of victory for the favorite here. 8* Duke
|11-09-18||Fresno State v. Boise State +3||Top||17-24||Win||100||59 h 59 m||Show|
10* Boise State (10:15 ET): A home underdog on the blue turf? That's virtually unheard of. In fact, it has not happened in more than a decade! The last time they were a home dog to a conference opponent was 1999. So enter Fresno State, ranked #23 in the country and an incredible 18-3-2 ATS in 23 games under HC Jeff Tedford. This is a rubber match of sorts with the teams splitting a pair of meetings last season, each winning at home. Boise State's win turned out to be more important as it came in the Mt West Champ Game. They were also nine-point favorites in the 17-14 win. While FSU is - without question - improved this year, I do not believe they deserve to be the favorite here. Boise State is still outscoring its visitors by almost three touchdowns per game this year.
Fresno State has been blowing out the competition. They are 5-0 SU/ATS in conference games w/ an average margin of victory of almost 30 PPG. In four of the five games, they've given up seven points or less! But it's been "competition" in name only as the Bulldogs haven't exactly been taking on the best that the Mountain West has to offer. They're coming off games against Nevada, Hawaii, Wyoming, New Mexico and UNLV. They also play San Jose State (at home) in the season finale. I don't have any of those teams rated higher than 86th in my power rankings. Remember that Fresno State lost to Minnesota earlier this year. The next two weeks, this game and San Diego State, will be the true referendum on their season.
It won't be easy for Boise State to move the ball against this Fresno State defense, however, QB Brett Rypien will be the best that FSU has seen all season. Rypien has a 24-6 TD-INT ratio and the Broncos are 20th in FBS in total offense. Fresno State has lost nine straight trips here and I just can't get over Boise State as a home dog. They are 2-0 ATS as dogs in this, their 5th year under HC Bryan Harsin. Both times came last year and one resulted in an outright upset of San Diego State. The Broncos have a pretty good defense as well, having allowed 20 pts or fewer five times. As impressive as Fresno State has been so far, it's come at the expense of a pretty weak schedule. This is - easily - their toughest test to date. 10* Boise State
|11-08-18||Wake Forest +17 v. NC State||Top||27-23||Win||100||32 h 4 m||Show|
8* Wake Forest (7:30 ET): I don't believe for a second that North Carolina State is the 14th best team in the country entering this weekend. In fact, I don't even count the Wolfpack among my top 40 teams in the country! That rationale is the basis for this Thursday night ACC play as Wake Forest comes calling to Raleigh. Now I'm not particularly high on the Demon Deacons either. But this is a generous pointspread for a team that generally competes hard for HC Dave Clawson. NC State is likely still reveling in last week's 47-28 beatdown of Florida State, which isn't all that impressive (the Seminoles are BAD), but still meant a lot to the program. Wake is only 1-5 ATS as a dog TY, but had previously gone 11-2 in that role. They also beat NC State last year, 30-24 in Winston-Salem.
I have to say that I'm a bit surprised to see NC State at 6-2 on the year. Granted, the West Virginia game getting cancelled (Hurricane Florence) probably helped considering that would have been a likely loss to the Mountaineers. My regulars will recall the Wolfpack were an easy fade (for me) when they squared off against #2 Clemson in a battle of unbeatens. The market "tipped its hand" by installing NC State as large underdogs in that one (closed +18.5), but it still wasn't enough in an embarrassing 41-7 loss. Now, this isn't Clemson that they're facing this week. But be aware that last week was the team's first win by more than 17 points since beating a terrible Georgia State team 41-7 back in Week 2. This will be their 1st time as DD chalk since that game.
NC State came in ranked (#25) for LY's meeting w/ Wake as well. The upset marked the third straight year the Demon Deacons beat a ranked team. They're 0-3 SU in such situations in 2018 and this is probably their last time facing a Top 25 team. They also need to win two of the final three games in order to be bowl eligible. Clawson is faced w/ a QB dilemma here as starter Sam Hartman is out for the rest of the regular season w/ a leg injury. So it will either be Kendall Hinton (who has previous starting experience) or redshirt soph Jamie Newman under center for this game. Maybe that doesn't sound ideal, but recall that the Demon Deacons were w/o their best offensive player (WR Greg Dortsch) when they upset the Wolfpack. I just don't like the idea of laying so many points w/ NC State. 8* Wake Forest
|11-07-18||Toledo +3 v. Northern Illinois||Top||15-38||Loss||-100||27 h 56 m||Show|
8* Toledo (8:00 ET): Last week, I was on Toledo while also playing against Northern Illinois, so I suppose I have a bit of a built-in "predilection" towards the Rockets here. But this play is certainly based on more than just the results of one week. Toledo appears to be peaking at the right time as they ended October w/ B2B blowout wins over Western Michigan and Ball State coming by a combined 59 points. As per usual, this matchup w/ NIU is likely to determine the MAC West Champion. The Huskies lead the division as they are the only MAC team - besides Buffalo - w/o a conference loss. But they've been living dangerously much of this season, winning close and not scoring a ton of points. I believe Toledo is set to come into DeKalb and pull the upset.
The Toledo offense definitely seems to be back on track. They've scored 96 points and gone over 1,000 total yards the L2 games and run for at least 200 yards in four of the last five contests. Despite five turnovers LW (also had five takeaways), they had little difficulty vs. Ball State, jumping out to a 21-0 halftime lead. As mentioned in last week's analysis, 2018 is the 1st time in eight years that the Rockets suffered four losses in their first eight games. They've produced a winning ATS record seven of the last eight years, but currently stand at just 4-5 vs. the number. The QB carousel has not mattered as this offense is now averaging over 40 PPG and 6.0 yards per play. Eli Peters will get the start at QB Wednesday, his 3rd of '18. He has thrown for nearly 1,000 yds on the season.
Northern Illinois does not have an offense that can compare to Toledo's. In fact, the Huskies had not topped 26 pts in a game prior to LW's 36-26 win at Akron. Note that was a three-point game until NIU had a key "pick-six" in the 4Q. The offense is averaging less than 20 PPG, so laying points w/ them is less than ideal. The Huskies have actually been held to seven points or less in three of their nine games! All but one win this year (last week!) has been by one score w/ three coming by a FG or less. In the win over Ohio three weeks ago, the Huskies were able to rally from a double digit deficit. Then came the ugliest of victories, 7-6 over BYU, where they barely gained 200 yards total offense. I believe Toledo is the better team here and thus I'll take the points. 8* Toledo
|11-07-18||Ohio v. Miami-OH +3.5||Top||28-30||Win||100||26 h 56 m||Show|
10* Miami OH (7:00 ET): This is a rivalry game. "The Battle of the Bricks" takes place every year between Ohio and Miami, two schools separated by 189 miles (on opposite sides of Columbus). This is the 95th all-time meeting and Ohio has had the edge under HC Frank Solich, going 11-2 SU w/ five consecutive victories. There have been some real "lean" years for Miami during that time, but there's no reason this year's team shouldn't compete, if not finally break the losing skid. The RedHawks are also in a situation where they must win out to become bowl eligible. The last two years have been relatively disappointing in Oxford, but a win over their rival would go a long way in changing that. This spread seems too heavily influenced by last week's results. Take the points.
In 2016, Miami became the 1st team in NCAA history to open 0-6 and then win its final six regular season games. After that, there was some real optimism surrounding the program after it had made just one postseason appearance (2010) since the Ben Roethlisberger era. But the last two years have been disappointing. They finished just 5-7 SU a year ago and enter this game 3-6 SU after a loss to MAC East leader Buffalo last week. However, two of the RedHawks' last three losses have been by one point and LW's game was back & forth, tied 42-42 entering the 4Q. My view is that this team is better than its record. They have a very capable QB in Gus Ragland, who threw for 313 yards last week on 20 of 35 passing.
Ohio controls its own destiny in the MAC East w/ a potentially huge first place showdown looming next week against Buffalo. Though this is a rivalry game, I can see the Bobcats looking past it. There is no doubt in my mind that this game would have been closer to a pick 'em if not for Ohio absolutely destroying Western Michigan last week (in Kalamazoo!) 59-14. That game saw the Bobcats take an astonishing 45-0 halftime lead. Note that they were +6 in turnover differential, had three scoring drives of less than 20 yards plus a blocked punt returned for touchdown. I know Ohio has covered four straight and averaged 53.3 PPG in the last three. But they were just 1-3 SU away from Athens prior to last week and their rival will be more than ready, having had two extra days to prepare. 10* Miami OH
|11-03-18||San Diego State v. New Mexico +10.5||Top||31-23||Win||100||57 h 32 m||Show|
8* New Mexico (10:15 ET): Needless to say, HC Rocky Long has enjoyed an unparalleled amount of success in the long standing rivalry between San Diego State and New Mexico. When Long was the HC at New Mexico, his Lobos won eight straight over the Aztecs from 2001-08. Now as the HC at San Diego State, it's the Aztecs that currently enjoy a six-game win streak in this Mt West rivalry! So I realize it's risky to try and fade Long in this matchup late Saturday night, especially considering San Diego State is 12-0 SU against teams w/ losing records the L3 seasons. But this is a pretty big number to lay in Albuquerque for an Aztecs team that only averages 21.1 points per game.
San Diego State lost as favorites last week on the road, falling to Nevada 28-24. They were just a two-point choice there. Despite outgaining the Wolf Pack 456-297 (24-14 in first downs), the Aztecs were shutout in the second half. This has simply not been a good ATS team in 2018 as their only win by more than a touchdown came against FCS school, Sacramento State. Their other five wins have been by a total of 23 points. So I don't see how they can be asked to lay this number on the road. They only beat a terrible San Jose State team by three at home and have not scored more than 24 points in any conference game. They are 0-5 ATS when favored this season.
Now New Mexico is off a 61-19 drubbing at the hands of Utah State last week and a 38-7 loss to Fresno State the game before. But those just might be the two best teams in the MWC this year. Having never beaten Long, UNM HC Bob Davie is going to be particularly motivated here, especially w/ his Lobos needing to win three of the final four games to be bowl eligible. Not that it would have changed the final outcome, but five turnovers killed this team last week. Davie's future is very much up in the air, so he badly needs a big win and to get the Lobos to the postseason. Davie has made another change at QB for this game as it will Colton Gerhart taking snaps, bringing a run-pass mix option to the table. The change makes the underdog a little tougher to prepare for and I think they keep it close. 8* New Mexico
|11-03-18||Houston v. SMU +14.5||Top||31-45||Win||100||53 h 17 m||Show|
8* SMU (7:00 ET): Houston treated me very well last week as my top American Conference Game of the Year. They routed USF 57-36, gaining nearly 700 total yards of offense in the process. Not surprisingly then, the Cougars are the quintessential "public side" this week at SMU, a team w/ a losing record. Houston has scored at least 41 points in every game this season and outside of still unbeaten UCF, should be viewed as the top team in this conference. But this shapes up to be the proverbial letdown game, a situation where they're off the biggest win of the year and have another big home game on deck, vs. Temple, next week. Meanwhile, this could be viewed as SMU's biggest home game of the year outside of TCU. The Mustangs have played a fairly challenging schedule to this point and generally been competitive. I'll take the points.
Earlier this year, I took SMU as a home dog and came out w/ a winning ticket. It was against Navy, a game they won outright 31-30. It was at a time when the team was coming off B2B losses to TCU and Michigan. Last week was another OT game, only this time the Ponies lost on a pick-six to Cincinnati. There was only overtime because Cincinnati drove for a game-tying FG at the end of regulation. Still, SMU covered as 8.5-pt dogs, so they're 4-1 ATS the last five times they have taken points. The only ATS loss during that time came at unbeaten UCF. Note that the Mustangs were within two scores of Michigan in the Big House in the 4th quarter earlier in the year. They also upset Tulane on the road two weeks ago.
Houston was only a six-point favorite at home when it beat SMU 35-22 last season. They certainly haven't forgotten their last trip here to Gerald J. Ford Stadium either as two years ago saw SMU record its first win over a ranked opponent at home in five years w/ a resounding 38-16 triumph. A key here w/ UH laying so many points is that they have a defense that gives up 480 yards per game and who knows if DE Ed Oliver will be held out again. Look for the Mustangs to score enough to hang around and stay inside the number. 8* SMU
|11-03-18||Tulane +7.5 v. South Florida||Top||41-15||Win||100||50 h 52 m||Show|
10* Tulane (3:30 ET): I will continue to play against South Florida as they may have the most misleading record in the entire country right now. I've been saying it for weeks (months?) now and it finally came to fruition last week as the Bulls were blown out at Houston, losing 57-36. It was USF's first loss of the year, but by no means their first shaky - or even poor - performance. In my analysis last week, I noted that I didn't even have USF ranked among my top 80 teams in the country! So the fact they were Top 25 was quite laughable to me. Despite taking the loss, this is still a team overvalued in the marketplace because of its record. This will be the fourth consecutive game I play against the Bulls - and fifth time overall this season. I expect to be 5-0 ATS by the time Saturday night rolls around.
The first time I played against USF this year was when they hosted East Carolina on Sept 24th. They were on the heels of two narrow, come from behind victories over Georgia Tech and Illinois the previous two weeks. Somehow - despite ECU having a 24-9 edge in first downs - USF was able to sneak by the Pirates, 20-13. But they did not cover as 22-pt chalk. Nor did they cover the second time I faded them, a weeknight game at Tulsa, which required another late comeback. Tulsa and Illinois are a combined 4-12 SU, yet USF trailed both by two scores in the 4th quarter. The next week, I took a big number w/ UConn (+33) and USF never even came close to covering that, winning only 38-30 against one of the worst teams in the entire country. Then came last week's loss to Houston where the defense surrendered 57 pts and nearly 700 total yards. It was the 3rd game this year that USF has been outgained by at least 150 total yards. They've been down at the end of the 1st quarter in six of their eight games.
Tulane comes in at 3-5 SU overall and will need to win three of its final four games to be bowl eligible. Considering a road date w/ Houston looms, the Green Wave probably need to win this game. They've won 4 and 5 games in two years under HC Willie Fritz, last year getting denied a sixth win in the final regular season game when they were stopped at the goal line on the final play. The key here for them is a change at QB where LSU transfer Justin McMillan has replaced senior Jonathan Banks. McMillan averaged nearly 10.0 yards per carry last week in a 24-17 win at Tulsa where the offense gained 312 yards on the ground. They also gained 300+ yards rushing earlier in the year in an upset of Memphis. Over the L3 wks, USF's defense has allowed 220, 322 (to UConn!) and 263 yds rushing. 10* Tulane
|11-03-18||Kansas State v. TCU -8||Top||13-14||Loss||-106||50 h 47 m||Show|
10* TCU (3:30 ET): The Horned Frogs are off one of the more embarrassing defeats of the Gary Patterson era as they fell to Kansas last week, 27-26 as 13.5-pt favorites. They "should have" won; note a near +200 edge in total yards and the fact they fumbled on the KU six-yard line in the final minute. But still, that's no excuse to lose to a team that had dropped its previous 38 October games! Shockingly, TCU has won just one of its last six games, but two of the last three losses coming by a field goal or less. They've also had to take on both Ohio State and Oklahoma this year and they played the former very tough in what was a neutral site game. Last week "should have" been the Horned Frogs' easiest game of the year, instead it was their most embarrassing. I'll now call for their "best" performance to date as they're back home to face Kansas State. Lay the points.
Kansas State did pull an upset a few weeks ago over Oklahoma State, but did so at home. This is simply not one of Bill Snyder's better teams. Coming off the upset of OSU and a bye, the Wildcats were trounced last week down in Oklahoma, 51-14. Certainly, no one gave them a real shot of beating the Sooners, but they were completely dominated. OU outgained them 702-245 for the game and led 48-7 heading into the fourth quarter. Kansas State is 0-3 on the road this season w/ two of the losses coming by at least 29 points. Next week, they host rival Kansas, which may be what the coaching staff is more focused on right now. TCU has been upset three times already this year, so their coaching staff isn't looking past anybody at this point.
Facing a backup QB last year, the TCU defense held Kansas State to a season-low 216 yards and won 26-6. Now neither team is as good as they were in 2017, but I think it's instructive to note the Horned Frogs were six-point chalk LY in Manhattan and now barely more than that here in Ft. Worth. The Frogs have performed shockingly poor at home ATS the L3 seasons (just 2-15!), but this line is a bargain. Despite the three-game losing skid, TCU is still 38-15 SU off a loss under HC Patterson and has NEVER dropped four in a row during his tenure. Last week saw them average 7.0 yards per play while allowing only 4.6. Had they not lost that game to Kansas, we're probably looking at a double digit line here. Good value. QB Michael Collins, only starting because of an injury to Shawn Robinson, threw for 351 yards last week and Kansas State's secondary is suspect to say the least. 10* TCU
|11-02-18||Colorado +3.5 v. Arizona||Top||34-42||Loss||-115||31 h 46 m||Show|
8* Colorado (10:30 ET): When "unpacking" this College Football season, you may not find a more shocking result than what happened last week between Colorado and Oregon State. It's not that the Buffs lost per se, although losing to team that was 0-22 its previous 22 road games is pretty embarrassing. It's HOW they lost. They actually led 31-3 midway through the third quarter, which is when the wheels began to come off. Oregon State put together a 24-point fourth quarter to send the game into OT and won 41-38 as 26-pt underdogs. Colorado had more total yards, but failed to put the game away by missing field goals and turning it over on downs. Needless to say, a Buffaloes team that was once 5-0 SU (now 5-3) should be plenty motivated in the desert Friday night.
Meanwhile, Arizona is off its biggest win of the season. I'm proud to say that I was on it as the Wildcats treated me to a 44-15 upset of #19 Oregon late last Saturday night. Key was not just the return of QB Khalil Tate, but also three Oregon turnovers. I have to say that, even as someone who was holding a ticket on the Wildcats, it was pretty shocking how easily dominated the Ducks. After all, this is a team that had been blown out twice this year (at Houston, at Utah) and also had lost twice at home (BYU, USC). They entered that Oregon game off B2B losses, having even dropped a one-point game to lowly 2-6 UCLA. I think it's important we don't overreact too much to one great performance from the Wildcats.
This game is very important for both teams' bowl eligibility. Being bowl eligible once seemed like a formality for Colorado, but not anymore as they've dropped three straight. Make no mistake about it; they "should have" won last week. Arizona has won five of the previous six meetings, including 45-42 LY in Boulder, which is when Tate came onto the scene and set a FBS rushing record for QB's w/ 327 (!) yards. The road team has won three straight in this Pac 12 rivalry and I can't help but think Colorado is the value play here coming off a loss while Arizona simply is not as good as it looked last week. 8* Colorado
|11-02-18||Pittsburgh +7.5 v. Virginia||Top||23-13||Win||100||7 h 53 m||Show|
8* Pittsburgh (7:30 ET): So I decided to take a "second look" at this game this morning and have come to the conclusion that I can't see Virginia winning by more than one score. We have two hot ACC teams here, both on three-game ATS win streaks. Pitt did lose once SU during that span, but that was by only five points at Notre Dame. It feels like the Panthers are still being unfairly weighed down by a bit of a rough start to the season. Similarly, it feels as if Virginia is being overvalued on the heels of a three-game win streak. I'm taking the points here in what feels like an even matchup.
The biggest concern I have w/ Pitt here is they are 0-3 on the road. Their offense simply hasn't performed as well as it has at home, but let's be fair and note two of their road games came against teams that are still unbeaten, UCF and Notre Dame. The other was a three-point loss (to North Carolina) where they scored 35 points. Last week saw them roll up a season-high 634 yards (484 on the ground) and 54 points in a win over a very good Duke team. Note the final score of 54-45 is a little misleading as the Panthers scored the go-ahead TD and a safety in the final five seconds. Still, it's going to be very difficult for Virginia to outscore this team, especially by the margin the oddsmakers are calling for here.
UVA has lost only two games this year, both on the road (Indiana, NC State). They're a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS here in Charlottesville, but that record has clearly inflated this line. It's interesting to see Pitt basically getting the same number as UNC did last week. Yes, UNC beat Pitt, but the Panthers were still favored to win that game in Chapel Hill. Virginia is now ranked, another influence on the line. I don't think for one second that the Cavaliers are one of the top 25 teams in the country. They've lost to Pitt three straight times, including 31-14 last year. Whomever wins this game will be in first place in the ACC Coastal, so it's not like Pitt won't be highly motivated. The Panthers are 4-2 ATS as underdogs this year, winning three of those games outright. 8* Pittsburgh
|11-01-18||Northern Illinois v. Akron +6.5||Top||36-26||Loss||-125||29 h 38 m||Show|
10* Akron (7:00 ET): Northern Illinois enters the week at 5-3 overall. They are the only MAC West team w/o a loss (4-0) in conference play and they've won four in a row overall. So they are your current leaders in the division and on pace to play in the Conference Title Game. However, looks can be deceiving. This is not the normal dominant team out of DeKalb; in fact they've been outgained and outscored on the year despite the winning record. Last week was an all-time ugly 7-6 win over BYU where they gained only 204 total yds and 11 first downs. They had just 84 total yds in the second half, 65 of those coming on their one TD drive that saw them convert three third downs, one via penalty. I'll get more into it later, but I want no part of laying pts w/ this Huskies team on the road.
Akron has won B2B games, keeping its hopes of bowl eligibility alive. The Zips did win the MAC East a year ago, though they were pretty clearly NOT the division's best team. However, the key was beating both Buffalo and Ohio here at Infocision Stadium. The Zips are 7-2 SU overall at home the L2 years, one of those losses coming this year in a game where they turned it over five times. The other was to an Iowa State team that won 8 games LY. On Saturday, they beat Central Michigan here, 17-10 as four-point chalk. They did so despite losing the turnover battle by three (led 17-0 at halftime). Assuming they can take better care of the football here, Akron is more than capable of pulling the outright upset. This will be the 1st time they've been a home dog in 2018. This is a team that won at Northwestern earlier in the year and also covered against Iowa State in Ames.
All three Northern Illinois losses this year have come by double digits. All five wins have been by eight points or less, including three by three points or less. So that plays a significant role in me wanting to fade them in the role of road favorite. The Huskies have not had to make the trip to Akron since 2012. Akron's last win over NIU was 2005 so they'll be motivated. The Northern Illinois offense is averaging just 17.1 PPG and 4.0 yards per play. They have yet to score more than 26 pts in any game. In what is projected to be a very low scoring game (check that total!), I'll gladly take the points w/ the home team in this Thursday night matchup. 10* Akron
|10-31-18||Ball State v. Toledo -17||Top||13-45||Win||100||51 h 53 m||Show|
10* Toledo (7:30 ET): It looks as if I may have been a week early on the Toledo resurgence. Two weeks ago, I took the Rockets (as they were a rare home dog) and unfortunately, they came up short for me in a 31-17 loss to Buffalo (who has been the MAC's best team this year). But last week finally saw the Rockets blast off w/ a dominant 51-24 win at Western Michigan. They totaled over 500 yards of offense in the contest and did not commit a single turnover, a far cry from four giveaways they had vs. Buffalo. This is the first time in eight years that Toledo has four losses in its first eight games and lost two out of its first four conference games. An ATS resurgence should also be on the way as they've produced a winning record for bettors seven of the last eight years as well. Back at the Glass Bowl, I expect them to win big Wednesday night.
Ball State is not a very good team. Let's use that statement as our starting point. The Cardinals are just 3-6 SU w/ one win coming against a FCS school and another by one point at Central Michigan. Last week saw their defense get run over to the tune of 411 yards rushing by Ohio in a 52-14 beatdown. It was a 52-7 game heading into the fourth quarter w/ BSU giving up all those points in just two quarters of play! As you might expect, the Cardinals' defensive numbers are pretty horrific overall as they've allowed 94 pts total the L2 games. They're not too much better on offense where they are averaging just 16.0 PPG on the road. Even worse is that they're now going to be w/o starting QB Riley Neal after he suffered a knee injury in the loss to Ohio.
Toledo is also dealing with an injury at the QB position as starter Mitchell Guadagni is questionable to play after exiting the Western Michigan game w/ a shoulder injury. But there are two reasons as to why the Rockets are far better equipped to deal w/ their QB injury than is Ball State. One is that backup Eli Peters has already started two games this season and he also threw three second half TD passes last week. The other is no matter who the QB is, they can rely on a run game that has gone for 225+ yards three of the last four games. Toledo should move the ball at ease in this game (again, regardless of who is playing QB) and, by the way, Ball State will probably be w/o its leading tackler (Jacob White, who was also injured in the Ohio game) and leading rusher James Gilbert is questionable as well. 10* Toledo
|10-30-18||Kent State +1 v. Bowling Green||Top||35-28||Win||100||27 h 23 m||Show|
8* Kent State (8:00 ET): Bluntly speaking, there are many matchups of terrible teams on this week's CFB slate (UTEP-Rice definitely taking the cake). This one is definitely the first. Kent State and Bowling Green are both 0-4 in MAC play and 1-7 overall. Both can also be counted among my bottom 10 teams in the entire country. That said, Kent State is obviously the better team here, a fact that should be obvious by the fact Bowling Green isn't even laying the standard three points here at home. Further illustrating the Falcons' futility is the fact that they have been outscored by 22.1 points per game this season. Kent State is by no means a "good team," but they are only -12.0 PPG. This is easily the best chance for both teams to pick up a conference win this year and I think the Golden Flashes get it.
Kent State has actually had a couple of close losses in the L3 wks, both times outgaining their opponent. One came 10 days ago, their last game, against rival Akron. It was a very minor edge they had in total yards (371-362) and the game went into overtime. In OT, the Golden Flashes elected to go for two and the win after scoring a touchdown. They obviously failed. Two weeks prior, they led Ohio virtually the entire way (by as many as 14 pts), but gave up the lead with just under 90 seconds remaining. So they've at least come close to winning a couple of MAC games. They also played Illinois tough in the season opener, losing by just a touchdown on the road. I had them in a cover at Ole Miss earlier in the year as well.
Like Kent State, BG's only win came against a FCS team. Kent State beat Howard while Bowling Green beat Eastern Kentucky. But let's now focus on the clear differences. Kent State blew out their FCS opponent, 54-14. Bowling Green barely beat theirs, only winning by a touchdown. They were even down by two touchdowns early and outgained for the game! Another difference is the Falcons have never come close to beating a MAC opponent. The closest they came was a touchdown. The other three losses have all been by 15+ or more. They have already fired their coach (Mike Jinks), making this a "lost season." Neither team has a very good defense, but the Golden Flashes have been slightly better on that side of the ball, particularly in the red zone. That's pretty much the story of these two teams as Kent State is simply slightly better in all facets. They also have revenge for five straight losses in the series. 8* Kent State
|10-27-18||Oregon v. Arizona +9.5||Top||15-44||Win||100||72 h 8 m||Show|
8* Arizona (10:30 ET): Oregon has played a pretty tough slate of Pac 12 opponents thus far and I can see them overlooking this game "after dark." We all recall the Ducks letting one slip away vs. Stanford last month, a game they pretty clearly should have won. But then they got a little lucky the next two games. Sure, winning at Cal 42-24 looks pretty convincing. But that had as much to do w/ being +5 in turnover margin as anything. Then came the big upset over Washington, 30-27 in Eugene. That game saw the Ducks outgained despite winning in overtime. Last week, "Lady Luck" caught up w/ them in what was a terrible spot up at Washington State. With ESPN in Pullman for the very 1st time, Oregon found themselves down 27-0 at the half. Playing a second straight road game does the Ducks no favors here and I'll take the points w/ Arizona.
Year one of the Kevin Sumlin era in Tucson got off to quite the rocky start. Back to back losses to BYU and Houston opened the season, but ever since the Wildcats are a respectable 3-3 SU w/ two of those losses coming by four points or less. In fact, the team has three losses by five pts or less already this year. So save for Houston and Utah, both of which were road games, Sumlin's team has been competitive this year. I expect that to be the case again this week as they're not getting nearly enough respect as a home dog Saturday night. The big question mark will be QB as Khalil Tate is banged up and may not start. But Rhett Rodriguez (yes, the son of RichRod) seemed more than serviceable last week vs. UCLA as the offense gained 520 total yards.
A real key to this game is who can win at the line of scrimmage. Arizona averages almost 200 yards rushing per game, but the Oregon defense is only giving up 3.23 yards per carry, which is top 20 in the country. Last year's meeting in Eugene did not go well for the Wildcats, but consider it was late in the season and they were playing for a lame duck HC (RichRod!). So the fact they lost by 20 doesn't really affect my handicapping of this game, one way or another. Arizona doesn't often get this many points here in Tucson and Oregon is just 3-10 SU and 3-9-1 ATS in road games the L3 seasons. As a road favorite, they are just 2-4 ATS w/ four outright defeats. 8* Arizona
|10-27-18||Hawaii v. Fresno State -24||Top||20-50||Win||100||72 h 3 m||Show|
8* Fresno State (10:30 ET): I believe Hawaii is a team whose unexpected early season success has begun to work against it. This was a 3-win team LY that was not projected to do well in 2018. Nevertheless, figuring there had to be "some" improvement, I took them plus a big number (+17) in the season opener at Colorado State. They shockingly won that game outright, 43-34. Little did we know at the time just how bad Colorado State would turn out to be. Even more shocking is that Hawaii would go on to win six of its first seven games overall, doubling last season's win total by the first weekend of October. Almost all of those wins came against really bad teams though and they also were fortunate to get Navy at home. Over the last two weeks, a bit of reality has set in w/ the Warriors dropping B2B games to BYU and Nevada by a combined 44 points.
Fresno State may be one of the most underrated teams in the country. HC Jeff Tedford did one of the best jobs in America last season taking a team that had gone 1-11 SU the previous year and taking them to a 10-4 SU record w/ an appearance in the Mountain West Championship Game. Anyone expecting a dropoff in year 2 under Tedford seems to have been mistaken as the Bulldogs are now 6-1 SU themselves with every win coming in blowout fashion. They are outscoring opponents by more than 25 PPG and are also 6-1 ATS. That puts them at 16-3-2 ATS overall under Tedford, which has to be the best ATS record in the country over the last two years. The last three weeks have seen them outscore Nevada, Wyoming and New Mexico by a combined score of 86-13!
While FSU is blowing everyone out (save for an early season loss at Minnesota), Hawaii's point differential is only +2.0 PPG w/ a very minor edge in yardage as well. So you can see why they're such a huge dog this week. I played against them late last Saturday when they were upset at home by Nevada, a team FSU beat 21-3 on the road. Hawaii is far less dangerous off the Island as you probably know. When I played against them earlier in the year at San Jose State (my *10* Game of the Month for September), I noted that they were only 6-32 SU in road games dating back to 2012. Well, they won that game, but never came close to covering as it was a 5OT affair. The Warriors are now 7-33 SU their L40 road games after getting blown out at BYU two weeks ago. This one has blowout written all over it as well. 8* Fresno State
|10-27-18||Washington State v. Stanford -3||Top||41-38||Loss||-103||104 h 16 m||Show|
10* Stanford (7:00 ET): Washington State remains the nation's lone remaining unbeaten team against the spread. They are 7-0 ATS and coming off their biggest win of the year, 34-20 over Oregon LW in Pullman. But in many ways, that was the most ideal setup for Wazzu. They were off a bye and had the added emotion of ESPN's College GameDay coming to their campus for the very first time. This week shapes up as a pretty clear letdown spot to me as it will be their toughest road game to date. I know Stanford has been somewhat of a disappointment thus far and was pretty fortunate to beat Arizona State last week. But even if they don't have RB Bryce Love at 100%, they've had two extra days to prepare for this game and it's a short number to lay at home.
Stanford was outgained last week in Tempe, 437-358, but was +3 in turnovers. One of those three TO's turned the game and it came at the end of the first half w/ the game tied 3-3. Arizona State was driving, but attempted a trick play that was intercepted. Stanford drove down to kick a FG and never trailed again. In fact, they were up 20-6 heading into the 4th quarter. This despite Love, clearly bothered an injured ankle, gaining only 21 yards on 11 carries. He didn't even play in the second half. Love being healthy would be a nice added bonus this week, but not a prerequisite to victory. Even w/ his worst game of the season LY coming against the Cougars, the Cardinal still only lost by three up in Pullman. They actually have double revenge coming into this game after winning the eight previous matchups.
While this will be Washington State's fourth road game of the season, they lost one to USC and the other two were against Wyoming and Oregon State, two bad teams. I concede that the defense has gotten a lot better under Mike Leach, something I never thought I would say, but they did give up 37 to Oregon State and 39 to USC. The numbers say Stanford's defense is pretty susceptible to the pass, but at home they are giving up just 15.7 PPG and they've allowed only seven passing touchdowns all season. If you ask me, Wazzu is due to not cover a game and coming off one of the most emotional victories in program history seems like an opportune time for that to happen. 10* Stanford
|10-27-18||South Florida v. Houston -7||Top||36-57||Win||100||65 h 4 m||Show|
10* Houston (3:30 ET): This isn't the first time I've targeted South Florida and even if they were to lose here, it may not be the last. Easily the weakest of the six remaining unbeatens in College Football, USF is living on "borrowed time." Let's start w/ the fact they have trailed at the end of the first quarter in five of their seven games so far. They trailed in the fourth quarter against both Illinois and Tulsa - two teams w/ a combined 4-10 SU record - by two scores each. Georgia Tech and East Carolina both outgained the Bulls by 150+ yards. USF was able to beat Ga Tech w/ two kick returns for touchdowns. They were somehow able to beat East Carolina despite a 24-9 first down deficit. Then came last week's "blah" 38-30 win over UConn, who was a 33-pt underdog.
Believe it or not, but this will be just the second time USF has been an underdog this season. (The other was vs. Ga Tech). It will be the first time they've had to face an opponent w/ a winning record! I've noted this previously, but it's a borderline joke that USF is even ranked in the top 25. For the sake of reference, I don't even have them in my top 80! To put things in further perspective, this is the first time EVER that an unbeaten team that's 7-0 SU or better is more than a field goal underdog to an unranked opponent. Furthermore, Houston has had USF's number the last couple years, including a 28-24 win in Tampa LY as 10-pt dogs. USF came into that game ranked (#17) and 7-0 SU as well and you saw what happened. This year's team is nowhere near as strong.
Houston likely won't have DL Ed Oliver, a top NFL prospect, for this game. But they will have QB D'Eriq King, who has a 23-3 TD-INT ratio. Last week, King directed an offense that gained 570 yards and scored 49 points despite just 17:27 TOP in a win over Navy, in Annapolis. Ironically, King reminds many of USF's former QB, Quinton Flowers. Unfortunately for the Bulls, Flowers' replacement (Blake Barnett) has throw just 10 TD passes and has seven interceptions. Note Houston is outscoring teams by 32.7 PPG here at home this season. They've lost just once, at Texas Tech, and have scored 41 or more points in every game. USF's unbeaten run comes to an emphatic end here. 10* Houston
|10-27-18||Texas Tech +3.5 v. Iowa State||Top||31-40||Loss||-112||62 h 35 m||Show|
8* Texas Tech (12:00 ET): I love the Red Raiders as an underdog in this spot as the line doesn't add up. Yes, Iowa State is at home and off a bye. And I had the Cyclones in their 30-14 upset over WVU two weeks ago, which was even more lopsided than the final score indicates. ISU has actually pulled B2B upsets as the week before WVU, they went to Stillwater and upset Oklahoma State 48-42 as 10-pt underdogs. I'm not surprised that the Cyclones are only 1-3 SU entering this game as I had them regressing before the season even started after they pulled four outright upsets LY en route to an 8-5 SU record. To me, this is a pick 'em type game and it should be mentioned the Red Raiders beat the same TCU team that beat ISU. They also beat another team off a bye last week, albeit it was Kansas.
There are multiple factors that have me on the dog here. One is that for the 1st time in the history of the rivalry, Iowa State has beaten Texas Tech two years in row. Now, neither game was close and the last meeting here in Ames (2016) saw the Red Raiders handed their worst defeat in five years, 66-10 (and they were four-point favorites in that game!). Last year in Lubbock, ISU came in and pulled another upset, this time winning 31-13 as seven-point road dogs. I think it's important to mention here that the Cyclones are not often favored in conference play. The last time they were favored against someone other than Baylor or Kansas was 2014 against ... Texas Tech. They lost that game outright here at home.
There is no denying that Iowa State has been a much better team since the change to Brock Purdy at QB. I noted as such in my analysis two weeks ago for the game vs. WVU. But last week saw Alan Bowman return to the field as Texas Tech's QB and the result was a 400+ yard passing day in a 48-16 blowout. I was very impressed w/ the way the Red Raiders were able to upset TCU w/o Bowman and a big reason for they did was a defense that is MUCH better than past years. In three Big 12 wins, the defense (returned 10 starters from LY) has allowed 17, 14 and 16 points. It's not too often we've been able to say this through the years, but do not be surprised if it is the Red Raiders' DEFENSE that leads them to pulling the upset this week. 8* Texas Tech
|10-26-18||Indiana v. Minnesota +2.5||Top||31-38||Win||100||50 h 4 m||Show|
10* Minnesota (8:00 ET): Despite both being long-time members of the Big 10, Indiana and Minnesota don't play each other very regularly. In fact, Friday will mark just the second meeting since 2008! The last one came back in '13 and saw the Golden Gophers go to Bloomington and pull off a 42-39 upset of the Hoosiers, as 7.5-pt underdogs. That of course means very little for handicapping this year's installment. What we do know though is that conference play has not treated either of these teams well in 2018. They've gone a combined 1-7 straight up w/ the only win being IU's over Rutgers and even that was only by a touchdown. Coming off close loss to a top ranked team (like Indiana is) can be a worse situation than is coming off a blowout loss to a bad team (like Minnesota is). I like the home dog in this one.
Minnesota is all too familiar w/ the situation their opponent is in this week. Two weeks ago, the Gophers had given it their all in a home loss to Ohio State that was a lot closer than the 30-14 final score indicates. So going on the road to face a winless Nebraska team should have been a nice bounce back spot. But it wasn't. They were instead humiliated in a 53-28 defeat w/ the defense giving up over 600 yards. PJ Fleck's defense is really struggling right now having allowed over 1100 yards the last two weeks. But I'm predicting this to be a bounce back spot at home. They opened this season by going 3-0 at home, allowing just 9 PPG. That was before a 48-31 loss to Iowa here at TCF Bank Stadium. I think Fleck and the coaching staff are going to treat this as the most important game of the season.
So here we find Indiana off a tough 33-28 home loss to Penn State where they had a 554-417 edge in total yardage. Note they lost one of their two QB's in that game, freshman Michael Penix, to a season-ending ACL injury. So it will have to be Peyton Ramsey exclusively the rest of the way. Minnesota also has a potential injury at QB w/ Zack Annexstad. But the difference is they have an advantage in the sense that the Indiana defense doesn't know who to prepare for, Annexstad or redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan, who completed 11 of 16 attempts last week for 214 yards in the second half. I don't think Indiana deserves to be a road favorite, a role they are just 2-5 ATS in the L3 seasons. Minnesota is 5-2 SU/ATS the L7 games w/ a line of three points or less. 10* Minnesota
|10-25-18||Georgia Tech v. Virginia Tech -3||Top||49-28||Loss||-100||26 h 34 m||Show|
8* Virginia Tech (7:30 ET): This is almost always an important game in the ACC Coastal. This year will be no different as Virginia Tech comes in as the only team in the division still w/o a loss. Georgia Tech, on the other hand, is quickly bordering on being irrelevant. They're 1-3 SU in the ACC after losing two weeks ago at home to Duke, a game where I played against them. You'd think that record would have the Yellow Jackets as the more motivated side this week, but that may very well not be the case considering the Hokies are at home and will be looking to exact a case of double revenge (lost L2 yrs to Ga Tech). The Yellow Jackets have actually won each of their last two trips into Blacksburg, as a 7 and 14-pt underdog no less, but this is a Thursday night game at Lane Stadium. Rumors about HC Paul Johnson's future in Atlanta does his team no favors here.
Virginia Tech's bye probably came at a good time. They'd lost here at home to Notre Dame three weeks ago and were probably lucky to win at North Carolina in their most recent game. They were outgained 522-375 in Chapel Hill, yet were still able to rally from a 13-pt second half deficit to win 22-19. The game-winning TD came w/ just 19 seconds left. Of course, the Hokies may never be able to live down their loss at Old Dominion earlier in the season, but I will point out they handily beat the same Duke team that beat Ga Tech, 31-14 on the road, and were basically dead even in total yardage w/ Notre Dame. Remember the Hokies are playing w/o QB Josh Jackson, so the bye was also handy in that regard as it allowed for backup Ryan Willis to get more practice time.
Another reason the bye is handy is that it gives the Hokies' defense extra time to prepare for Georgia Tech's vaunted triple option. When I played on Duke against Georgia Tech two weeks ago, I noted that the Blue Devils (who were also off bye) had a decided edge. Sure enough, they held the Yellow Jackets to only 3.75 yards per rush. I think we can all agree that the best move Va Tech HC Justin Fuente ever did was to retain the longtime defensive coordinator of his predecessor, Frank Beamer. That would be Bud Foster, who has presided over a number of top defenses during his time in Blacksburg. This particular Hokies' defense has held four of its six opponents under 20 pts. Georgia Tech has just one win over a Power 5 team this year. It was Louisville, who has pretty much quit on the season, on a short week. Lay the short number. 8* Virginia Tech
|10-21-18||Nevada +3 v. Hawaii||Top||40-22||Win||100||55 h 36 m||Show|
8* Nevada (12:00 AM ET): We're going really late night for this LAST CHANCE POWER-DRIVE as went head out to the Island. Both these teams went just 3-9 SU last season and have already matched or exceeded that win total here in '18. Nevada was the one supposed to improve, but ironically they're only 3-4 SU while Hawaii is a rather stunning 6-2 SU. The Warriors immediately turned heads in their first game of the season when they upset Colorado State, 43-34, as 17-pt road underdogs. Even though I took the points w/ them in that game, I was stunned at the ease in which they won outright. (Of course, we also didn't know how bad Colorado St was yet). More upsets have followed, but this week the Warriors are favored for the very first time against a team that isn't either from the FCS or in my bottom 10 in of my FBS rankings. I'll take the points.
Nevada is off B2B home losses, but they had to play the two teams that were in LY's Mt. West Championship Game, Boise State and Fresno State. They were double digit dogs to both, so you can't really fault them for losing. In fact, last week saw them go down to the wire against Boise State in an eventual 31-27 loss. The Wolf Pack have only been favored twice all year, so I'm not really faulting them for a 3-4 SU record to this point. Hawaii is a tough place to play if you're the visitor, but Nevada won't be intimidated as they've already played at Vanderbilt, Toledo and Air Force. They turned in a pretty remarkable effort in upsetting the AFA, holding them to just 250 total yards, including just 154 rushing on 51 carries.
Nevada has to win three of its last five games to become bowl eligible. They'll be favored to win two and will be dogs in two others, so this probably represents the "swing game." The road team has actually been favored in the last two Nevada-Hawaii matchups, only to lose outright both times. Last season, the Wolf Pack won 35-21 as three-point dogs in Reno. They rolled up 566 total yds of offense in that game, led by QB Ty Gangi, who missed the Fresno State game but is now back and ready to produce. Hawaii's defense isn't much better than it was last year as they've already given up 40+ pts three times including 49 last week to BYU, not to mention nearly 500 total yards. I look for a minor "upset" late Saturday night. 8* Nevada
|10-20-18||Connecticut +34 v. South Florida||Top||30-38||Win||100||84 h 19 m||Show|
8* Connecticut (7:00 ET): I know. I know. This is really going to test my reputation as an "underdog bettor." UConn has not been good by any stretch of the imagination. This is a bottom five team in the country, in fact, as the Huskies are 1-5 SU w/ the lone win coming in a game against a FCS school (Rhode Island) where they still gave up 550 total yards. In the five games vs. FBS foes, they have been outscored by 39, 55, 30, 42 and 41 points. That's an average loss of 41.4 PPG! This week finds them playing a team that they've lost to six straight times and is still unbeaten this season. Certainly, this one gets out of hand in a hurry, right? Not so fast! I'm actually taking the points!
Even after last Saturday's myriad of upsets, there are still eight teams without a loss in College Football. Surprising is that three of them hail from the American Conference, including - pretty clearly - the weakest one, that being USF. The Bulls are UConn's opponent this week and pretty fortunate to still be unbeaten after LW's near failure at Tulsa. I faded USF in that one, calling them the weakest of the unbeatens then too, and they trailed for most of the game. Despite ending up w/ a 487-299 edge in total yardage, the Bulls trailed by two touchdowns entering the fourth quarter. They were still down eight w/ just over two minutes to go, but a TD (missed 2-pt try) and field goal in the closing seconds got them the one-point win they needed to remain unbeaten.
Last week wasn't the first time it looked like USF might lose this season. Both East Carolina and Georgia Tech outgained them by more than 150 yards. Wins over ECU and Illinois came by a total of just 13 points. Four of the Bulls' six wins this year have been by 11 pts or less and the 49-38 win over Ga Tech actually saw them down 10 in the 4Q. I understand that the pollsters are gonna have this team ranked because of the "0" in the loss column, but not only is USF not counted among my Top 25, they barely crack my top 70! I know the home team has typically dominated this conference rivalry (two very different climates!), but this is a huge number to lay when USF only won 37-20 LY in Storrs as 23-pt chalk. UConn is off a bye here and USF has trailed at the end of the 1st quarter in four of its six games. One of the two they did not was a 7-0 lead over FCS Elon. Hold your nose and take the points! 8* Connecticut
|10-20-18||NC State v. Clemson -16||Top||7-41||Win||100||123 h 25 m||Show|
10* Clemson (3:30 ET): Both of these teams enter in this Week 8 ACC showdown off a bye. Both are also undefeated. However, that's where the similarities end. I've been pretty clear in the past that "not all undefeated records are created equal" and that is most definitely the case here. Clemson, having participated in the College Football Playoff each of the last three years (and winning it all two years ago, is a top three team in the country right now. NC State is only ranked because of the "0" in the loss column as "that's what the pollsters do." I don't even have the Wolfpack ranked in my top 40! Most will see this line as inflated, but I don't think it's nearly high enough. I expect Clemson to absolutely roll Saturday afternoon. Lay the points.
Something else to consider is that Clemson will absolutely be taking NC State seriously. That's because they've failed to cover the spread against them each of the last two years. In 2016, they needed OT to win 24-17 as 19-pt home favorites. Last year, they trailed at the half in Raleigh (despite a special teams TD) and needed an interception in the end zone on the final play to seal a 38-31 victory. This year, the Wolfpack won't be sneaking up on the Tigers. Dabo Swinney's team seemingly hit its stride right before the bye week as they obliterated Wake Forest 63-3 on the road. Clemson is 16-1 SU hosting ACC teams the past five seasons w/ the only loss coming by a single point. I expect a highly motivated favorite Saturday afternoon in Death Valley.
NC State is a team I actually though would take a step BACK in '18, so I'm surprised to see that they're still undefeated. Then again, they have been favored in all five games so far. A game where they would NOT have been favored (Week 3 vs. West Virginia) was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence. Not playing that game really hurts their preparation for this, their 1st real test of the season, in my estimation. The Wolfpack do have a NFL QB in Ryan Finley, but little else, and Finley is going to feel the heat all afternoon long from a Clemson defensive front filled w/ NFL caliber talent. Look for the Clemson defense to make NC State one-dimensional on offense and Finley can't come close to beating the Tigers by himself. 10* Clemson
|10-20-18||Florida Atlantic v. Marshall +3||Top||7-31||Win||100||45 h 7 m||Show|
8* Marshall (2:30 ET): Last year, Lane Kiffin's FAU Owls were the darlings of the College Football universe. They ended the year on a 10-game win streak and absolutely plowed through the Conference USA portion of the schedule, winning all eight games by an average of 22.1 PPG. They didn't even trail for a single minute in the last 5 1/2 games! However, under the weight of expectation, the 2018 edition has crumbled some. One of the big reasons why is their dropoff in play away from Boca Raton. The Owls are 0-3 SU/ATS away from home this year, including an outright loss to Middle Tennessee two weeks ago. The other two saw them completely unable to stop either Oklahoma or UCF, giving up over 100 points and 100 total yards.
With FAU struggling some, the door to the C-USA East title is a lot more wide open now than it was a season ago. Marshall figured to be one of the top challengers anyway and getting FAU in Huntington is a big advantage in getting to the division summit. The Thundering Herd's last win came against Old Dominion, who happens to also be the last team FAU played. The Owls are the ones coming off the bye here, but the Herd posted a slightly better margin of victory (22 pts) over ODU than FAU (19 pts) did. Marshall is a surprising 1-2 SU so far at home, so they'll be looking to make a statement here. Under HC Doc Holiday, the Thundering Herd have gone 37-15 straight up. We've already gone over FAU's struggles on the road this season.
Neither team has been impressive against the pointspread thus far w/ Marshall 2-4 ATS and FAU just 1-5. That's a big change for Kiffin, whose team was one of the top teams in the country against the number last year. In addition to homefield advantage, another edge for Marshall lies on the defensive side of the football where they are giving up just 3.0 yards per carry compared to 4.7 for FAU. That difference is potentially huge when considering the two star running backs in this game, Tyler King for Marshall and Devin Singletary for FAU. Singletary had more hype coming into the year, but King is averaging 1.3 more yards per carry. In my estimation, the better team is getting points here and Marshall has revenge here for a five-point loss last year in Boca Raton where they were -4 in turnovers. 8* Marshall
|10-20-18||Buffalo v. Toledo +1.5||Top||31-17||Loss||-113||43 h 39 m||Show|
10* Toledo (12:00 ET): Before the start of the season, I think that few (if anyone!) woud have expected Buffalo to go into the Glass Bowl and pick up a win, let alone be FAVORED over Toledo. But here we are in October and HC Lance Leipold (who made the jump from D-III power Wisc-Whitewater) has this Bulls team playing awfully well. They're 6-1 and unbeaten in MAC play, holding wins over Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan and Akron. Not to mention, they've also gone on the road and beaten both Temple and Rutgers. It's looking like there's a very good chance that this UB team ends up w/ more wins than either the '08 or '13 editions (8 each) that represent the only two times the program has ever been to a bowl game.
Toledo, who has been the team to beat in the MAC West the last few seasons, feels like a disappointment right now. The Rockets enter this game 3-3 and are off a disappointing 28-26 loss LW at Eastern Michigan, a team Buffalo beat by a TD (at home, though). That loss saw Toledo battle back from a 28-3 halftime deficit, only to have the potential game-tying two-point conversion denied in the final minute. The Rockets' other two losses were to Miami FL and at Fresno State, games where they came in as double digit underdogs. So while the 2018 season may feel like a disappointment thus far, last week was the only time that the Rockets lost in a situation where they were expected to win. I think that returning to the Glass Bowl is huge as they've scored 63 and 52 pts the L2x here.
I just can't get over the fact Buffalo is now favored here. It's largely been public money that caused this number to "jump the fence" and that has me jumping in on the other side. Buffalo has never won here at the Glass Bowl where Toledo has lost only twice in three years under HC Jason Candle and one of the losses to Miami FL. Plus, the Bulls have hardly faced the strongest slate of opponents in compiling their 6-1 SU record. They do have the upset over Temple, but that was back in Week 2 when the Owls weren't playing nearly as well as they are now. And they were humbled by the best team they've faced, Army, 42-13. This will be UB's eight straight week playing w/o a bye. Toledo has not been a home dog to a MAC opponent since 2013 vs. a Northern Illinois team that was nationally ranked and had won 22 of its previous 23 games. 10* Toledo
|10-13-18||Middle Tennessee State v. Florida International -2.5||Top||21-24||Win||100||54 h 18 m||Show|
|10-13-18||West Virginia v. Iowa State +7||Top||14-30||Win||100||54 h 49 m||Show|
8* Iowa State (7:00 ET): There are still 11 unbeaten teams left in College Football. Some - like NC State and Colorado - are clear "pretenders" while you also have three teams (UCF, USF and Cincinnati) hailing from the American. Five of the 11 have clearly separated themselves as National Title contenders, those being Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson and Notre Dame. Then you have West Virginia, who feels like an island unto itself. The Mountaineers really haven't beaten anyone of note, save for Texas Tech a couple weeks ago in what was their only "true" road game to this point. This week looks to be WVU's toughest test to date as they play an Iowa State team fresh off a 48-42 upset of Oklahoma State in Stillwater. I'm taking the points w/ the home dog yet again.
This will actually be the third consecutive week I'm playing against West Virginia as I don't view them as a true national title contender. That's not the only reason I'm looking to fade them again, mind you. It's also the fact that they're unbeaten status pretty clearly has them overrated by the pollsters and the oddsmakers. They did get me two weeks ago in Lubbock, beating Texas Tech 42-34, but that was a pretty even game where the Mountaineers clearly benefited from not only a +3 turnover margin, but also the Red Raiders losing their QB due to injury. Last week, I got some revenge by taking a big number w/ Kansas. At no point in the game was WVU covering as they turned in over four times and won only 38-22 as a four touchdown choice.
Iowa State is only 2-3 SU, but they've played a pretty difficult schedule. Already they've taken on Iowa, Oklahoma, TCU and Oklahoma State. So their Big 12 schedule has been very much the reverse of WVU's in that it's frontloaded. (WVU plays its toughest games in November). Led by freshman QB Brock Purdy (making his 1st start!), the Cyclones put up season-highs in both yards and points LW vs. Oklahoma State. Purdy is a dual-threat and accounted for 402 total yds w/ 318 passing and 84 rushing and RB David Montgomery could be back for this game. Even if he's not, ISU is 9-2 ATS the L11 times it has been a dog w/ five outright upsets. This is a triple revenge spot as well following a four-point loss LY in Morgantown. Iowa State is a great value here. 8* Iowa State
|10-13-18||Michigan State v. Penn State -13.5||Top||21-17||Loss||-106||50 h 30 m||Show|
8* Penn State (3:30 ET): I think most people look at this number and think about Mark Dantonio's 13-3 ATS record as an underdog of a TD or more in Big 10 play. But the fact is that Michigan State simply is not that good in 2018 while Penn State is rested off a bye and angry off a loss. Sparty lost last Saturday, in East Lansing, to Northwestern by a score of 29-19. That was a game they were favored to win by double digits. Truthfully, I haven't been impressed in any game w/ MSU this year, save for a 35-21 win at Indiana, but even then they turned the ball over four times. The season started w/ them barely escaping at home against Utah State. The following week, I played against them out in Tempe when they lost outright to Arizona State. They also only beat a bad Central Michigan team by 11.
Not only does Michigan State look to be outclassed here, but Penn State is rested and playing w/ revenge. Nevermind the fact that they should also be highly motivated from letting one slip away against Ohio State two weeks ago here in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions at least still covered that game and are now a money-making 23-9 ATS overall the L3 seasons. One of the games they failed to cover was LY's visit to East Lansing where they lost 27-24 as nine-point favorites. Just like this year, they were coming off a narrow loss (1 point) to Ohio State. But the difference this year is the bye. Last year, they immediately had to play Sparty in an obvious letdown spot. This time, there has been time to "get over" the loss to the Buckeyes and get prepared to exact some revenge.
Last year's game was decided on a last second FG in terrible weather. The game was actually delayed for 3.5 hours w/ Penn State up 14-7. Weather is not expected to be a factor Saturday in Happy Valley. The last time Michigan State visited here, they were soundly beaten, 45-12. Both teams may have started their respective season w/ a closer than expected call (MSU vs. Utah State, PSU vs. App State), but that's where the comparisons end. Penn State handily defeated its next three opponents (even w/ underwhelming 1st halves) and probably should have beaten Ohio State as well. Look for Nittany Lions QB Trace McSorley to have a big game here, similar to Northwestern's Clayton Thorson last week against this Michigan State defense, which is giving up over 300 YPG through the air. 8* Penn State
|10-13-18||Western Kentucky v. Charlotte +7.5||Top||14-40||Win||100||50 h 21 m||Show|
8* Charlotte (3:30 ET): We're going all home dogs in this package, starting w/ a matchup you're probably pretty unfamiliar with. But it looks like I'm not the only one who sees some significant value on a Charlotte here as the 49ers have actually been bet down a few points from the opening number. Still, I love the situation as they are off a bye. It was not a great first month of the season by any means as Charlotte's two wins saw them beat a FCS school (Fordham) and an Old Dominion team that had to deal w/ a schedule change due to Hurricane Florence (to be fair, Charlotte also had to deal w/ the change, but they were at home). But both wins did come here at home and I'm not sure Western Kentucky is a team that should be laying this many points on the road, even if they have covered three in a row and are off a bye themselves. Take the points.
Looking on the bright side, Charlotte already has more wins than they did all of last year (went 1-11 SU). That's not a surprise to me as the figured to be improved bringing back 18 starters. I think the last two games definitely deserve to be described as disappointing being that they actually outgained UMass in a 49-31 loss and could then muster only seven points against UAB. But both those games took place on the road and UAB was coming off its own bye. This will actually be the 49ers' 1st Saturday home game since Opening Weekend and I expect them to come out highly motivated. I thought the defense actually played remarkably well against UAB, given the circumstance. The Blazers came in ranked #8 in the country, averaging 280 YPG rushing. But the 49ers held them to a season-low 116 yds on the ground.
Western Kentucky might be 4-1 ATS, but they have just one SU win to show for it and that came against Ball State. The Hilltoppers have three losses by a field goal each, one of them to an FCS school, Maine. Granted, they've played well enough to win some of these games, whether it be Louisville (blew a double-digit lead) or Marshall (fumbled at the 10-yd line late). But they haven't been able to finish due to the offense converting on only 69% of its chances in the red zone and the kicking game missing half of its field goal attempts. My "gut" tells me this ends up being a close game where taking the points is the way to go. Charlotte QB Chris Reynolds and RB Benny Lemay can make enough plays that an outright upset isn't out of the realm of possibility. 8* Charlotte
|10-13-18||Temple v. Navy +7||Top||24-17||Push||0||50 h 20 m||Show|
8* Navy (3:30 ET): What is going on w/ Navy? The Midshipmen's season appears to be sinking fast w/ a 2-3 SU record that includes B2B outright losses to SMU and Air Force. If you recall, I faded the Middies at SMU, a game they lost in overtime. The team is actually now 0-3 ATS w/ three outright losses in the road favorite role this season after the horrible performance LW at Air Force, made all the more shocking by the fact they were off a bye. But this week finds them back in the more comfortable role of home underdog, which has treated them unbelievably well through the years. Navy's record as a home dog under HC Ken Niumatalolo is 6-1 SU and ATS w/ an outright win over Memphis earlier this season. I'll gladly take the points here against a Temple team that seems overvalued coming off a 49-6 win over East Carolina last week.
Temple's season did not appear to be destined for anything special when they opened w/ B2B home losses to Villanova (FCS school) and Buffalo. But they turned things around w/ a shocking performance at Maryland the following week, winning 35-14 as 16-pt dogs, and are 3-0 ATS since w/ the only loss coming at Boston College. This week will be the 1st time that the Owls are favored on the road, however, and that change can be a big deal. I'm not so sure this team is as good as it looked last week against East Carolina, who simply isn't a very good team. That game got out of hand very quickly w/ Temple jumping out to a 28-0 lead early in the 2Q following a 59-yard punt return for a touchdownn. QB Anthony Russo had a career day, completing 21 of 25 passes w/ four touchdowns. But he had a 0-4 TD-INT ratio the two weeks prior.
Last week's effort against Air Force may have been the worst I have ever seen from Navy under Niumatalolo. They were held to only 178 total yards, easily a season low. Despite the defense allowing only 17 first downs for the game, Air Force still gained almost 400 total yards (399) as two of their five TD drives took less than a minute. I expect a huge bounce back effort from the service academy Saturday as they are 2-0 in Annapolis this season. Last year, the Owls had the benefit of facing Navy off a bye and facing Army the week prior.They pulled off a 34-26 upset as seven-point home dogs. What a swing in the line for this year. Temple has NEVER beaten Navy three straight times. 8* Navy
|10-13-18||Duke +3 v. Georgia Tech||Top||28-14||Win||100||47 h 8 m||Show|
10* Duke (12:20 ET): Whether you're playing Georgia Tech or one of the service academies, successfully defending the triple option really seems to hinge on adequate preparation. Louisville is a poorly coached team going south in a hurry, but the Cardinals were also certainly ill-prepared for the Georgia Tech offense last Thursday in a 66-31 whitewashing. That game found L'ville not only playing on a short week, but also off a heartbreaking loss to Florida State the previous Saturday. They wanted no part of the Yellow Jackets, who ran for an astounding 532 yards. However, this week, the situation could not be more different for Ga Tech's opponent. Duke is off a bye and has already faced the triple option this year - when they beat Army 34-14. I'm taking the points here.
Duke actually faces the triple option fairly regularly. Not only is Ga Tech a regular ACC opponent (both play in the Coastal Division), but they have faced Army three straight years as well. This is the second time this year they go up against the triple option in the most ideal spot possible. Army opened this year's schedule, so they had plenty of time to prepare and it showed in a 34-14 win where they allowed only 168 yards on 47 carries (only 3.57 YPC). Keep in mind that when they beat Army LY, the Blue Devils allowed only 4.0 YPC, which was an Army season low. Now they're off the bye getting ready to face Georgia Tech, who they've beaten three of the past four seasons. Last year, they won 43-20 as a seven-point home dog, the week after facing Army.
Duke is a better team this year as they started 4-0 before a loss to Virginia Tech two weeks ago. That loss saw the return of QB Daniel Jones to the field and though the team lost, Jones should play a lot better here with two weeks to prepare. HC David Cutcliffe is an incredible 14-2 ATS w/ 12 outright upsets as an underdog of four points or less. He's also 7-1 ATS against option teams, including a perfect 4-0 ATS w/ three outright upsets the L4 seasons. Georgia Tech may come in off B2B 60+ pt efforts, but those came against two absolutely terrible teams in Bowling Green and Louisville. Defensively, Duke has the edge as they are holding opponents to 89 YPG less than what they average for the season. Georgia Tech is giving up 34 PPG and over 470 YPG to FBS teams this year. The better team is getting points here. 10* Duke
|10-12-18||South Florida v. Tulsa +7.5||Top||25-24||Win||100||49 h 6 m||Show|
10* Tulsa (7:00 ET): South Florida enters the weekend as 1 of 11 teams still w/o a loss this season. But of the 11, they just may be the weakest. The fact that the Bulls actually find themselves ranked in the top 25 this week is instructive as to just how pointless those rankings are. For the sake of reference, I have USF rated just outside the top SIXTY teams in the country. That "0" in the loss column may go a long way w/ the pollsters, but not w/ me. While the Bulls did just hang 58 points and 574 total yards on UMass last Saturday (also benefited from five turnovers), they won their previous two games - over Eastern Carolina & Illinois - by only a combined 13 points. East Carolina and Georgia Tech both outgained USF by more than 150 total yards.
Tulsa is just 1-4 SU w/ four straight losses. But they have a bit of an edge right off the bat w/ two extra days to prepare. While USF was on the road last Saturday at UMass, the Golden Hurricane last played on Thursday. So this isn't even a short week for them. And that 41-26 loss at Houston last week was a little misleading in the sense that Tulsa led 26-17 early in the fourth quarter despite starting a backup freshman quarterback. They held the ball for 11 more minutes than Houston and gained 426 yards despite said backup QB and also being without one of their top two running backs. RB Shamari Brooks has 375 rushing yards on the year and is expected back on the field Friday. The Golden Hurricane are averaging more than 200 rush yards per game.
USF, specifically RB Jordan Cronkite, can also run the ball as was evident last week vs. UMass when Cronkite topped 300 yds by his lonesome. But I'm still not sold on Charlie Strong's team. The schedule has certainly been pretty weak to this point w/ four wins over teams that are below a .333 win percentage vs. FBS foes dating back to last year and FCS Elon. The Bulls also commit a lot of penalties, which could bite them in this road favorite role. They have lost three of their previous four Friday night road games. These teams played last year, with USF winning only 27-20 as 22-pt home favorites. This isn't a typical trip for the Bulls with their only prior visit coming in 2014. I'm taking the points this week. 10* Tulsa
|10-11-18||Georgia Southern v. Texas State +17.5||Top||15-13||Win||100||26 h 36 m||Show|
8* Texas State (7:30 ET): Georgia Southern is one of four teams that remains unbeaten against the spread. One of the other three also happens to hail from the Sun Belt, that being Appalachian State, who we made the mistake of fading Tuesday. Georgia Southern happens to play in the same division (SBC East) as App State and it figures to be a dogfight moving forward between the two teams at Troy. Last Saturday saw GSU make it a perfect 5-0 against the number w/ a commanding 48-13 win over South Alabama. The only team to defeat the Eagles this year was Clemson and that happens to be their only road game played so far. Thursday night finds them laying a big number at Texas State and while it looks like a mismatch, I think the underdog finds a way to compete here.
Texas State HC Everett Withers has struggled to build a winner in San Marcos. His first two teams each went 2-10 SU. I thought this year's team would be better, but it's been tough sledding w/ the only win coming against an FCS school, Texas Southern. They were blown out at Rutgers to start the year, which they followed w/ the win over Texas Southern. They've since dropped three in a row, but none by more than 15 points. Against South Alabama, they led by 2 TDs on the road, but were outscored 18-0 in the fourth quarter. Each of the last two weeks, bad starts have doomed them. But they've been able to put some points on the board late. That will be critical here as there should at least be a chance to "backdoor" given the size of the pointspread.
I'd honestly be shocked if Texas State won this game. Truthfully, the season is not looking good with most of their hardest conference games still to come. But this is a rare TV game at home and I at least expect a strong effort from the Bobcats. Georgia Southern may very well be overlooking this game w/ just five days to prepare. While the Eagles are certainly used to being favored, laying this many points on the road is still relatively new for a school that made the jump to FBS only four years ago. That first season at the FBS level saw them barely escape w/ a win here in San Marcos. They haven't faced Texas State in either of the past two seasons and this spread may very well end up as the most points they've ever had to lay on the road. Look for this game to be closer than expected. 8* Texas State
|10-09-18||Appalachian State v. Arkansas State +9.5||Top||35-9||Loss||-101||21 h 26 m||Show|
10* Arkansas State (8:00 ET): To those who follow the Sun Belt, seeing Arkansas State as an underdog - in Jonesboro no less - is quite stunning. Especially of this magnitude. The Red Wolves have won this conference five times since 2010. They've only been a dog seven times, just three of those coming under current HC Blake Anderson. Their ATS record is a perfect 7-0 w/ SIX outright wins. They're getting almost double digits Tuesday and that's virtually unprecedented. The only time under Anderson that the Red Wolves have gotten this many points at home was when Missouri visited in 2015. This year's team is 3-2 SU w/ one of the two losses coming to Alabama. The other was two Saturdays ago to Georgia Southern, a spot they were favored on the road. I'll take the points here.
Appalachian State is unbeaten against the spread (4-0) and nearly won at Penn State. They took the Nittany Lions to overtime in the season opener and since then it's been three straight wins over cupcakes. They also had a game vs. Southern Miss cancelled due to Florence. As impressive as sticking w/ Penn State in Happy Valley was, we've learned little about the Mountaineers since then. Charlotte, Gardner-Webb nor South Alabama were no match, so you can basically "throw out" the respective final scores of 45-9, 72-7 and 52-7. This is not a place App State is used to visiting (last time here was '14) nor is Arkansas State an opponent they are all that familiar with. They have not even played the last two years.
Because they are 4-0 ATS w/ three blowout wins, this number is inflated. Three blowout wins have inflated their power rating. Take the fact that the Mountaineers rank 8th nationally in total defense w/ a grain of salt. I'm actually a little shocked that Arkansas State has not topped 30 pts since its opener vs. FCS SE Missouri State. They were the only SBC power to return its starting QB, that being senior Justice Hansen. He's underperformed to this point in the season, but that can change in a hurry. He threw for 376 yds in the loss to Ga Southern, a game that was not decided until the final seconds. Ark State outgained GSU in the 28-21 loss and had nearly twice as many first downs. 10* Arkansas State
|10-06-18||Colorado State v. San Jose State +3||Top||42-30||Loss||-109||126 h 36 m||Show|
8* San Jose State (10:30 ET): You have to feel for San Jose State, who remains winless after a 5 OT loss here at home to Hawaii last weekend. But the Spartans were still a winner for me in that thrilling game as they easily covered the number. In fact, they led outright most of the way, which is what made the final result so disheartening for them. At no point were they "out of the money" as double digit dogs. While that kind of result can have a negative effect on a team, in this instance I think it will be galvanizing. This is a team that feels they should have won last week and remains desperate for that elusive first victory. I think they have an excellent shot at getting it this week against a Colorado State team that is much worse than you think. I'll take the points w/ SJSU again.
SJSU led Hawaii by as much as two touchdowns in the 1st half and was still up 31-24 late in the 4th quarter. They gave up a 12-play, 75-yard drive to send the game into OT, but by that point the cover was already assured. Still, I wanted the outright win. They answered Hawaii's touchdown in the 1st OT w/ one of their own and then the 2nd and 3rd OTs both saw each team miss a field goal. After missing their chance to win in the 3rd OT, the Spartans took the lead in the 4th OT by actually making a field goal. But Hawaii answered w/ one of their own, then made another in OT #5. Appropriately perhaps, the game ended on a missed FG by San Jose State. A brutal loss for sure, but after coming so close, the Spartans will be ready to go this week. They've already played both Washington State and Oregon, so this game is a significant drop in class for them.
Colorado State has gone 7-6 SU each of the last three seasons and has been to a bowl each of the last five years. But this year's squad has had its issues right off the bat. HC Mike Bobo was dealing with health issues and the roster is the least experienced in the entire country. This is a bottom 10 team in the country, in my opinion, and they should not be favored on the road here. In retrospect, it was an insane that they opened the season as 17-point favorites at Hawaii, a game they lost 43-34. (I had Hawaii). After getting blown out by in-state rival Colorado (45-13), many thought the Rams had turned the corner when they upset Arkansas (at home), but we didn't know how bad the Hogs were at that time. The Rams' next SEC opponent (Florida) wasn't as kind as the final was 48-10 in Gainesville, but the following week was far more embarrassing w/ CSU losing outright at home to FCS Illinois State, 35-19. Yes, they've had a week off to recoup, but the situation isn't enough to overlook a clearly inflated line this week. The Rams offense has been held under 20 pts in three of five games so far. San Jose State has revenge for a 42-14 loss in Ft. Collins last year. 8* San Jose State
|10-06-18||Auburn v. Mississippi State +3.5||Top||9-23||Win||100||123 h 41 m||Show|
8* Mississippi State (7:30 ET): What was looking like a promising season in Starkville is now close to going off the rails w/ a disappointing 0-2 start in SEC play. Three weeks ago, I had no qualms about laying a massive number w/ the Bulldogs (nearly five touchdowns) against Louisiana and was rewarded w/ a 56-10 win. That result had them at 3-0 straight up and against the spread w/ an avg MOV of 41.3 PPG. I thought a case could be made this was team on track to be Top 10 in the country, but they've unfathomably been held to just 13 points in two weeks and less than 200 YPG. Now they have to take a visit from an Auburn team that is in fact top 10 in the country. But I happen to think MSU is a tremendous value as a home dog, a role they almost certainly would NOT have been in this spot were this game played just two weeks ago. Take the points.
Auburn has already played two Top 10 opponents and split the pair. They opened the season w/ a 21-16 "neutral site" game vs. Washington (had significant crowd support edge in Atlanta), but were actually a little lucky to win that game thanks to two costly UW turnovers. Two weeks later, they lost at the gun to LSU, 22-21 as 10-pt home favorites. That one shocked many. Despite two subsequent double digit victories - over Arkansas and Southern Miss - I really haven't been impressed w/ Auburn in either game. Even though they beat Arkansas 34-3, they were actually outgained 290-225! Scoring 34 points on 225 total yards is not easy to do and that win was almost exclusively owed to the special teams. Last week vs. Southern Miss saw a long weather delay and was still a one-score game late into the 4Q.
I came into the year thinking Auburn was due to regress. That might sound crazy considering they actually lost four games last year despite also holding wins over both Alabama and Georgia (two teams that played for Nat'l Title). Mississippi State is a team I had improving and that certainly looked smart after three games. I'm not sure what has gone wrong the last two weeks, but it's hard for me to see this team losing B2B weeks in Starkville. This is also double revenge spot as they've been humbled each of the last two years by Auburn. For Auburn, this is their first "true" road game. While 15-1 SU their L16 games at Jordan-Hare (7-0 LY), the Tigers have gone 6-7 SU away from home since the start of 2016. I still believe in Nick Fitzgerald and Mississippi State. 8* Mississippi State
|10-06-18||Arizona State +3 v. Colorado||Top||21-28||Loss||-120||119 h 6 m||Show|
8* Arizona State (4:00 ET): The Herm Edwards hire at Arizona State was critically panned initially, but then quickly required a reassessment when the Sun Devils upset Michigan State back in Week 2. I was on ASU in that spot and came away impressed w/ just how well this outfit was coached. Some of the enthusiasm has since waned as the team went on to drop B2B games at San Diego State and Washington. But those were two quality foes, both on the road. Things got back in track LW in Tempe w/ a dominant 52-24 win over perennial Pac 12 doormat Oregon State. One thing is for sure and that's Coach Herm is beating the oddsmakers' expectations w/ the team now 4-1 ATS. I love them as a dog this week at unbeaten Colorado, who is due to drop a game. Take the points.
Colorado is one of 14 teams still w/o a blemish in the loss column. They are the only Pac 12 team still unbeaten, which I don't think anyone expected. Remember that two years ago Mike MacIntyre (a fine head coach) led this team to a 10-4 SU record and Pac 12 South title. They predictably dropped last year, but a 5-7 record was definitely worse than what the faithful in Boulder were looking for. But just as predictable as LY's decline is this year's improvement. They are 4-0 w/ one outright upset at Nebraska where they clearly benefited from an injury to the opposing QB. We also had no idea how bad the Cornhuskers were at the time. Still, the Buffs needed two TDs in the final minute to win 33-28 in Lincoln, a game they were outgained 565-395, but also lucky to be +3 in turnovers.
Colorado has yet to beat a team currently ranked inside my top 90! Their two Power 5 wins - Nebraska and UCLA - are two of the weakest you can have. Their other wins are against Colorado State (bottom 10 FBS team this year) and New Hampshire, a FCS school. Last Friday against UCLA saw them blow up what was a close game going into the 2nd half w/ four straight TDs. That won't be happening here against a Sun Devils' defense giving up less than 20 PPG. ASU has won 8 of the 9 matchups as Pac 12 rivals, including 41-30 LY in Tempe as they outscored CU 24-3 in the 4th quarter. Yes, the Buffs are a better team in 2018, but so are the Sun Devils. Last week saw RB Eno Benjamin become the 1st player to top 300 yds rushing in a game this season at the FBS level, 185 of them coming by halftime. The last FBS team to give up 300 yds rushing to an individual was Colorado last year, against Arizona. 8* Arizona State
|10-06-18||Florida State v. Miami-FL -12.5||Top||27-28||Loss||-104||119 h 47 m||Show|
10* Miami FL (3:30 ET): Each of Miami's last two games have been pretty misleading finals. They've won both handily, but the one that was a blowout was probably closer than the score indicates while it was vice versa with the other. Two weeks ago against Florida International was a truly dominant performance. At one point, total yardage was 397-10 in the Canes' favor and they led 31-0 late into the 4Q. But then FIU decided to go on a late scoring frenzy w/ 17 unanswered points against Miami's backups. In the end, it was still a 488-187 edge in total yardage. Off that performance, I laid the big number w/ "The U" last Thursday against North Carolina. Forcing six turnovers was huge in a game where total yardage was basically even and Miami had only 14 first downs. The defense scored THREE touchdowns and it was an easy win and cover (47-10 final score).
Florida State squeaked out win last Saturday at Louisville, but this team remains a mess. They are now 3-2 SU in Willie Taggert's first year here, but probably should be 1-4! They had to rally late to beat FCS Samford 36-26 and that win probably doesn't happen if not for forcing five turnovers. Last week, they escaped L'ville w/ a win only because Bobby Petrino failed to run the clock out properly. The Cardinals had a three-point lead and were on the FSU 21-yard line w/ less than two minutes to go. Incredibly, Petrino called a pass play and the Seminoles intercepted, leading to the GW TD. For me, it didn't matter as I still cashed Louisville plus the points. But it should have been an outright win. FSU's other two ACC games - vs. Va Tech and Syracuse - have seen them get outscored 54-10. They are now 0-10-1 ATS in conference play since the start of last season.
Looking back through this heated rivalry, I'm not sure the last time Miami has has such a "golden" opportunity to "lay the wood" to FSU as they do here. Last year, they won in Tallahassee, ending a seven-game series losing streak. This game is in Coral Gables where they've won their last 12 regular season games. The majority of these FSU-Miami games have been close (14 of the last 16 decided by 7 pts or less). But this spread isn't nearly high enough considering how good Miami has looked since the loss to LSU. That loss looked bad at the time, but note they actually held the Tigers under 300 total yds! Florida State has looked really "iffy" under Taggert and the books have been slow to react as to just how mediocre this program is right now. This is their second straight week playing on the road, off a lucky, down to the wire win. This is Miami's third straight home game and they've had two extra days to prepare. 10* Miami FL
|10-06-18||LSU v. Florida +3||Top||19-27||Win||100||119 h 36 m||Show|
8* Florida (3:30 ET): Back on 9.8, when Florida lost at home to Kentucky, there was still a lot we didn't know. For starters, who had any idea that UK would rise up to the top 15 of the rankings? It also appears as if it was largely a mistake to write off the Gators. They've subsequently won three straight games, two by double digits and then an upset of Mississippi State last week. That upset caught many off-guard seeing as it was HC Dan Mullen's first venture back to Starkville since leaving that school high and dry. The Gators' fine defense held the Bulldogs to just 202 total yards in 13-6 win as seven-point road underdogs. The SEC gauntlet has undefeated LSU coming to Gainesville this week and I believe Mullen's Gators are poised to possibly hand them their 1st loss.
LSU HC Ed Orgeron entered 2018 on the hot seat. I'll admit that I thought LSU was heading for a "down year" in the SEC West. Instead, it's been anything but. The 5-0 start began w/ an upset of Miami, 33-17, where I was on the wrong side. The Bayou Bengals have also gone to Auburn and pulled a 22-21 upset as 10-pt underdogs. Few teams in the country can claim to own two wins that impressive. But the offense was held to less than 300 yds by a Miami defense that isn't as strong as the one they'll go up against here. The Auburn game saw them down double digits in the 2nd half. Let's also not forget that it was a three-point game at home vs. LA Tech in the fourth quarter (total yds even despite 38-21 final). Last week was an impressive win over Ole Miss and I suspect that has inflated this number.
Most of the recent LSU-Florida games have been close affairs. LSU has won 6 of 8, including 3 of the last 4 w/ all four decided by a TD or less. In a scheduling quirk, this will be the second straight year having to go to Gainesville. (In 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused the game to be moved to Baton Rouge). Florida lost LY by a single point, 17-16, as a one-point favorite. LSU came into that game unranked and off an embarrassing loss the week prior to Troy. It's a much different situation this year and the Gators are a much better (and more experienced) team. It's not often the home team is a dog in The Swamp and LSU is 0-2 ATS the L2 times it has been a road fave of a field goal or less. Take the points. 8* Florida
|10-06-18||Kansas +28.5 v. West Virginia||Top||22-38||Win||100||115 h 7 m||Show|
10* Kansas (12:00 ET): West Virginia, now ranked in the top 10 nationally, is probably deserving of being called the second best team in the Big 12 (behind only Oklahoma). But though they're 4-0 SU/ATS, I'm still not sure that we know that much about the Mountaineers. Their first three victories of the season - over Tennessee, Youngstown State and Kansas State - all came against bad teams. They did go to Texas Tech last week and pick up a big 42-34 win, but the final was a bit misleading and I'm not just saying that because I had the other side. WVU did jump out to an early 28-10 lead in Lubbock, but were also +3 in turnovers against a Red Raiders team down to its THIRD QB of the season. Total yardage was basically even as the WVU offense was shutout in the 2H.
Kansas is obviously recognized as the worst team in the Big XII. But the Jayhawks have already exceeded LY's win total! This season did not get off to a great start w/ a home loss to FCS Nicholls State. But HC David Beatty rallied the troops for rare B2B wins, beating Central Michigan and Rutgers by a combined 65 points. They've since gone 0-2 in conference play, losing to Baylor and Oklahoma State by 19.5 PPG. For most teams, that would be very disappointing. But for the Jayhawks, it actually represents progress! Last year's team was outgained by 193 YPG and outscored by 32 PPG. The improvement the 2018 team has shown thus far really shouldn't be that surprising. After all, this team entered this year as the most experienced in the entire country!
I wouldn't go so far to say Kansas has given WVU "trouble" the last two years. But they have been able to at least hang around and make things interesting from an ATS perspective. Here in Morgantown, two years ago, they covered as 34-point dogs (final score: 48-21). Last year was a 56-34 game that fell right on the number. However, it was actually 42-34 before WVU scored two TD's in the final five minutes. There is no doubt in my mind that the Jayhawks are much improved in 2018. Meanwhile, maybe it's fair to call WVU the 2nd best team in the conference, but I believe they're currently overvalued from a national perspective. As an underdog of 21.5 to 31 points, KU is a solid 5-2 ATS the L3 seasons. They were only down 13 late in the 4Q vs. OK State last week. 10* Kansas
|10-05-18||Utah State +3 v. BYU||Top||45-20||Win||100||49 h 36 m||Show|
10* Utah State (9:00 ET): Utah State is quietly having itself a solid season. Their only loss came in the season opener, at Michigan State, and they probably should have won that game. They led Sparty going into the final two minutes before giving up a GW TD. Since then, it's been all double digit wins for the Aggies as they've rolled New Mexico State, Tennessee Tech and Air Force. I had them against Air Force two weeks ago and though they pushed for me (was an ATS win for some), it was still an impressive win in Logan. They were up 21 in the second half before allowing the Falcons in through the backdoor (there was a defensive TD involved). Now USU is off a bye as they take on BYU in the annual battle for the "Old Wagon Wheel." I love the underdog in this year's installment.
No one is going to confuse Utah State's schedule w/ BYU's, but the Cougars' status as an independent may be starting to take a toll. Everyone remembers the memorable upset of Wisconsin three weeks ago, but they looked gassed LW in a 35-7 loss at Washington. The offense was shutout in that game until the closing minutes and held to only 194 total yards and seven first downs. Now, Utah State is nowhere near as good as Washington is defensively. But what the Aggies can do is put points on the board (they average 51.5 per game). I don't think BYU is going to be able to trade scores in this Friday night matchup. Also, this is the sixth straight game w/o a bye, not a huge deal (many teams in same spot this week) until you consider they've had to alternate home & road every week.
Utah State beat BYU by 16 last season, a rare win in this rivalry. Yes, that game was at home and BYU wasn't very good. But USU also looks to be much improved for 2018, if not moreso than BYU. Coming off the bye is huge for the Aggies, especially considering BYU is on a short week after a tough loss in primetime. It's rare for Utah State to have a legit shot at winning this rivalry game in B2B years. I think they enter more focused as BYU has already played three Pac 12 teams and Wisconsin. Take the points. 10* Utah State
|09-29-18||Oregon v. California +3||Top||42-24||Loss||-120||79 h 15 m||Show|
8* California (10:30 ET): What an absolutely horrendous spot this is for Oregon as they are laying points on the road (against a rested foe), one week removed from literally giving the game away against Stanford. As you've probably seen by now, the Ducks blew a 10-point lead in the closing minutes last week and lost in overtime. They were up by a touchdown, with the ball and just 50 seconds to go, when RB CJ Verdell fumbled in a situation the Ducks should have just been kneeling. Stanford then drove for a game-tying FG before winning in OT. Now here comes Cal, waiting in the wings, off its bye. The Bears certainly won't be lacking for motivation Saturday night as they are eager to overturn a 1-8 SU run in this Pac 12 rivalry. Cal has already beaten BYU on the road. Take the points.
If you can believe it, Oregon's loss to Stanford gets even worse with further inspection. They led 24-7 in the third quarter and appeared on the verge of making it 31-7 when a TD was overturned (incorrectly). After the TD was overturned, they fumbled and it was returned for a Stanford TD in a dramatic 14-pt swing. That was clearly the turning point in the game. The Ducks would score only one TD the rest of the game and even though they still finished w/ a 524-398 edge in total yds, it did not matter because of a -3 turnover differential. It is going to be extraordinarily difficult for the Ducks to get off the mat after that kind of setback, especially now having to lay points on the road.
Oregon's only wins this year came against Bowling Green, Portland State and San Jose State. This is their 1st road game. They didn't come close to matching the expectations against San Jose State where they were massive 42.5-pt favorites (won 35-22). Cal has already beaten North Carolina and BYU. Like I've stated twice before, they are rested coming into this game and that's a big time advantage. Bears HC Justin Wilcox used to be an assistant under both Chris Petersen and Steve Sarkisian, both of whom had outstanding ATS records w/ an extra week of prep. Last year, Cal had one bye and it led to a cover against rival Stanford. This year's Cal squad is far better w/ 18 starters back, 10 on offense, and I believe they're set for the biggest win yet under HC Wilcox. Take the points. 8* California
|09-29-18||Hawaii v. San Jose State +11.5||Top||44-41||Win||100||76 h 35 m||Show|
10* San Jose State (7:00 ET): This is as good a spot as I've seen all month. Hawaii will be laying points on the mainland for just the fifth time in the last eight seasons. So far, they have gone 0-4 ATS w/ a pair of outright losses. Now this time they'll be against San Jose State, who is probably one of the weakest teams in FBS, but nearly two scores is way too much. Throw in the fact that San Jose State is off a bye and you have a great potential ambush spot. My numbers indicate that this number should be closer to a field goal than two touchdowns. That's a lot of value for a SJSU squad still hungry for its first win of the season. Note that Hawaii is just 1-8 ATS when favored the L3 seasons, including an 0-2 mark here in 2018. I'll be taking the points and an outright upset is not out of the realm of possibility!
Now you have to tip your cap to Hawaii for the way it has started its season. They come into this game w/ a 4-1 record, including two monster upsets of their own. The first two games of the season saw them pull upsets against Colorado State and Navy, both coming as double digit underdogs. I took the Warriors in that Colorado State game and was stunned at just how easy they made it look. The win over Navy came in Honolulu and since then the team has been well traveled. The pointspread caught up w/ them in a 43-27 home win over Rice where they were 17-pt favorites. Then they had to fly all the way out to the opposite coast for a Noon ET kickoff against Army. They played better than expected there, but still lost 28-21. It was back to the island LW for a 42-21 win over FCS Duquesne where they actually trailed early, 14-0. This week isn't a long trip by Hawaii standards, but the fact remains the team is still only 6-32 SU in road games sincr 2012.
San Jose State's season opened w/ a loss to FCS team, Cal Davis. Not trying to sugarcoat that one, but Cal Davis did play Stanford tough two weeks ago. Then came two predictable losses (both on the road) to Pac 12 schools, Washington State and Oregon. The Spartans were actually massive 42.5-pt dogs against Oregon and easily covered in a 35-22 loss. So it seems as if the lack of respect this squad is getting can really work to our benefit. If they can stay within two scores of Oregon on the road, then they certainly can do the same against road weary Hawaii. The bye week is key for SJSU, who were "only" 17-pt dogs when they traveled to Hawaii LY and lost 37-26. They actually have double revenge as they lost 34-17 here at home two years ago. Hawaii is getting way too much respect here and this line is too high. 10* San Jose State
|09-29-18||Florida State v. Louisville +7||Top||28-24||Win||100||72 h 6 m||Show|
8* Louisville (3:30 ET): It has not been a great start to 2018 for Bobby Petrino and Louisville. Getting humbled by Alabama (lost 50-7) set an ominous tone. The Cardinals did pick up a win in Week 2, but that came against a FCS school, Indiana State. They barely escaped Western Kentucky at home, 20-17, a game they had zero business winning. Last week on the road was another bad loss as they were blown out by Virginia, 27-3. Their ATS record now stands at 0-4 as they are set to welcome in what is undoubtedly a highly motivated Florida State squad. The Seminoles have had their own unexpected struggles to start the year and come in w/ double revenge after losing to the Cardinals each of the last two seasons. The 'Noles are off their most impressive game to date, a 37-19 win over Northern Illinois, but that's only helped to artificially inflate this line. I'm taking the points.
Florida State, like Louisville, is just 2-2 w/ one of their wins coming against a FCS school. And just like L'ville against Western Kentucky, Florida State had no business beating Samford. They needed five turnovers in that one to help overcome a fourth quarter deficit. They didn't even take the lead until less than five minutes were left in the game and were still outgained 525-424. Both ACC games have gone very poorly for Willie Taggart's team as they've been blown out by Va Tech and Syracuse by a combined score of 54-10. Remember that Va Tech just lost to Old Dominion last week, so that opening week loss (which came at home!) to the Hokies now looks even worse for FSU. This is Taggart's first year in Talahassee mind you, so he has a honeymoon period. But he's still figuring out what he has and so far it hasn't been very good.
The last two meetings have seen Louisville cover the spread by 63 points. The last time hosting FSU was a day to remember as Lamar Jackson announced his presence to the nation in a 63-20 annihilation. Last year saw the Cardinals go to Doak Walker and pull a 31-18 upset as six-point dogs. With the former Heisman winner Jackson departed, QB play has been an issue for Louisville, but no more so than turnovers have been for FSU. Takeaway that Samford game and the Noles would be -10 in TO's. Deondre Francois has not looked like the same QB he was before LY's injury and those thinking FSU is just going to be able to "show up" and exact revenge here are in for a rude awakening. 8* Louisville
|09-29-18||West Virginia v. Texas Tech +4||Top||42-34||Loss||-115||69 h 36 m||Show|
10* Texas Tech (12:00 ET): Fresh off a bye, West Virginia wasted little time in taking care of Kansas State last Saturday, winning easily in Morgantown 35-6. But that wasn't the only impressive win by a Big XII team last week, nor was it the most impressive. That distinction belongs to Texas Tech going to Stillwater and beating Oklahoma State 41-17 as two-touchdown underdogs. While I'm a little concerned w/ the Red Raiders' record off a conference win the L2 seasons (0-5 SU/1-4 ATS), one thing I'm no longer concerned about in Lubbock in the QB situation. Remember that 47-27 loss to Ole Miss? That's now a distant memory as is McLane Carter, who lost the starting gig to injury. At the time, that injury was thought to derail the Red Raiders' season. But Alan Bowman has stepped in and played far better than Carter probably ever would have.
In his 1st start, Bowman completed 22 of 25 passes for 282 yards in a 77-0 win. Granted, it was against FCS Lamar. But little did we know it would be a harbinger of things to come. The following week saw Bowman & the Red Raiders hang 63 points on Houston. Bowman threw for 605 yards and five touchdowns in that one! Last week, he almost threw for another 400 (397) in the win over OK State. Bowman is now #2 in all of FBS w/ 1,557 passing yards. Don't be surprised if he is the difference maker again this week. WVU has not faced a QB anywhere close to his caliber and thus the backend of the defense will be tested like never before. Texas Tech is #1 in all of FBS in total offense w/ 623.5 YPG. It's a big difference between them and Kansas State, who WVU played last week. Kansas State is second from the bottom in the Big 12 in points per game.
This game carries special meaning to Texas Tech HC Kliff Kingsbury and the rest of his coaching staff. They've lost four years in a row to West Virginia, coached by Kingsbury's good friend Dana Holgorsen, all as underdogs. Last year, the Red Raiders led 35-17 midway through the 3Q in Morgantown. But they gave up 29 unanswered and didn't even cover the spread (were FG underdogs). The final five drives resulted in a missed field goal, three punts and an INT. Saturday is all about payback and w/ Bowman at the helm, the Red Raiders may finally have the QB to get the job done. I'm taking the points. 10* Texas Tech
|09-27-18||North Carolina v. Miami-FL -17.5||Top||10-47||Win||100||29 h 37 m||Show|
10* Miami FL (8:00 ET): North Carolina was a nice winner for me last Saturday, picking up their first win of the season by upsetting Pitt, 38-35. They were desperate and coming off an unexpected bye due to Hurricane Florence. That was enough to get my endorsement for one week, but it would take a lot more than what the oddsmakers are offering here to get me to take the Tar Heels on the road against Miami. "The U" had its own rough start to the season, getting embarrassed by LSU on national television. But they've since responded w/ three convincing wins, including one last week over Florida International that was a lot more lopsided than the final score of 31-17 indicates. Consider Miami was listed as a 20-pt favorite LY in Chapel Hill. There's actually some real value in laying the points here.
Last week against FIU, the Hurricanes led 31-0 late in the 4th quarter. All of a sudden, FIU decided to explode in garbage time. They scored 17 points over the final seven minutes, thanks to recovering a fumble and an onside kick. The fumble came from blitzing Miami's third string QB. But the bottom line was that Miami's D held FIU to just seven first downs for the game. At one point, total yardage was 397-10 in favor of the Hurricanes. The discrepancy ended up being 488-187 when all was said and done. I mentioned Miami's third string QB fumbling late (which led to a FIU field goal), but it was actually the backup that made headlines. Freshman N'Kosi Perry came off the bench for the team's third possession of the game, immediately led two TD drives and ended up w/ 3 TD in just over two quarters of play. I expect Perry to be the starter moving forward even though Malik Rosier has won plenty of games for HC Mark Richt.
North Carolina now has its own QB issue to deal with as sophomore Chazz Surratt is now eligible to return from suspension (as are several other players). But it's still likely to be junior Nathan Elliott under center given the offense scored 38 pts and gained 486 yards last week. But recall UNC's first two games of the season, both on the road and both losses, where they scored just 36 points total. Miami has a huge defensive edge in this contest having allowed more than 300 yds in just 1 of 4 games while UNC has allowed 41 and 35 pts its last two games to East Carolina and Pitt. Miami has also traditionally been very strong in these Thursday night home games. 10* Miami FL
|09-22-18||Air Force v. Utah State -10.5||Top||32-42||Loss||-102||101 h 52 m||Show|
8* Utah State (10:15 ET): I've been really impressed w/ Utah State this season. After taking Michigan State to the wire in the season opener, but coming up just short, they easily could have folded. Instead, it's been quite the opposite. The last two weeks have seen the Aggies win by scores of 60-13 and 73-12. Now the opponents were New Mexico State and Tennessee Tech, one of the worst FBS teams and a FCS team, respectively. But the Michigan State game (38-31 loss as 23.5-pt dogs) showed this team can compete w/ anybody. They certainly won't be lacking for motivation this week as they open Mountain West play against Air Force. The Flyboys have beaten USU three straight years, all of the games decided by seven points or less. This year, it's the Aggies turn. Lay it.
Air Force pulled out a miraculous cover in its last game, a 33-27 loss at Florida Atlantic. I had them. A blocked punt in the final minute, which was returned for a touchdown, is what got the Falcons the cover as 9.5-pt dogs. They trailed the entire game, much of it by double digits. The defense allowed 525 yards, much of it through the air as FAU QB Chris Robison (a freshman) completed 33 of 40 pass attempts for a school record 471 yards. Keep in mind that was an Owls team that had just been humiliated the prior week at Oklahoma. I was disappointed w/ the AFA offense even though they still ran for 200+ yards. The team is off a bye, but Utah State has also had extra time to prepare as the game vs. Tennessee Tech took place last Thursday.
Other than the two wins over the Aggies, Air Force is just 2-12 ATS in conference play the last two seasons. Last year, these teams met in the regular season finale out in Colorado Springs. Utah State blew a double-digit lead, giving up the game-winning TD w/ just over 90 seconds to go. Despite losing 38-35, the Aggies held a 521-440 edge in total yds. This year's team is even better as evidenced by the last two weeks when they put up 60+ pts in B2B games for the 1st time in school history. Last week saw them run for seven touchdowns. Logan should be rocking Saturday night and I expect the Aggies to assert themselves early and often in this one. 8* Utah State
|09-22-18||East Carolina +21 v. South Florida||Top||13-20||Win||100||46 h 22 m||Show|
10* East Carolina (8:00 ET): East Carolina has had two fascinating results so far. They lost to a FCS school, North Carolina A&T, 28-23. The following week saw them bounce back w/ a stunning 41-19 win over North Carolina where they were 15-pt home dogs. Last week, they had an unexpected bye due to Hurricane Florence as the scheduled game vs. Virginia Tech was cancelled. This has not been a good ATS team under Scottie Montgomery, particularly on the road, but this week finds them taking a generous number. This is certainly Montgomery's best team in his three years here. Do I think we'll be seeing another huge upset from them? No. But I do think the Pirats cover comfortably. Take the points.
South Florida is 3-0, but has had to come from behind to win each of the last two games. A 49-38 home win over Georgia Tech might seem "comfortable," but USF was down with five minutes left in the game. Their defense also gave up 600+ yards. Last week saw the Bulls score the game's final 18 pts (all in the 4Q) in a 25-19 win. This time, it was they who gained 600+ total yards, but they didn't go ahead until the final two minutes. Outside of the 34-14 win over Elon in the season opener, it's hardly been a dominant 3-0 for USF.
ECU has to run the ball the way they did vs. North Carolina when they ran for 220 yards. South Florida's run defense has been very leaky, giving up 274 YPG. Yes, that has a lot to do w/ playing Georgia Tech, but they also allowed 200+ last week. The Pirates have not fared well in this AAC rivalry, losing the last three meetings. They are actually 0-6 ATS vs. USF dating back to '04. But the last time here was an all-time bad beat w/ two late USF touchdowns after ECU actually pulled within two late (and had a chance at a two-point conversion). This is a big spread and at worst the backdoor will be open for the Pirates. 10* East Carolina
|09-22-18||TCU v. Texas +4||Top||16-31||Win||100||44 h 42 m||Show|
10* Texas (4:30 ET): Maybe things are going to be alright in Austin for Tom Herman. The season started w/ a bad 34-29 loss to Maryland (a revenge game for the Longhorns) and then a ho-hum 28-21 win over Tulsa. They did lead Tulsa 21-0 early, but the end result had plenty of whispers and doubt about the team moving forward. Then came a statement win over USC last Saturday night. The 37-14 win is definitely a little misleading when you consider the 'Horns trailed 14-3 after the first quarter. Things took a dramatic swing in the third when, up 23-14, Texas returned a blocked field goal for a TD. Nevertheless, it goes down in the record books as a top 25 win for a program that desperately needed it. This week, I'll take the points.
TCU is off a hard-fought loss to Ohio State. The Horned Frogs looked every bit the equal of the Buckeyes for four quarters last week as total yardage was basically even (526-511 OSU), but the key was three TCU turnovers. Two of those were directly converted into touchdowns, one a fumble recovery in the end zone, the other a pick-six. Hence the 40-28 finale, but TCU still did manage to just sneak inside the number. The week prior saw them fall behind SMU early, only to rally back for a comfortable win of their own thanks to multiple non-offensive scores. So as you can see, turnovers work both ways. I think it's going to be incredibly tough here for TCU to "get back up" following a high-profile loss where they feel they should have been a lot closer or even won outright.
Texas has gone just 1-5 SU vs. TCU as Big 12 rivals, including four consecutive losses. None of those four have been even close. We're talking losses by 38, 43, 22 and 17 points. That's an average margin of 30 PPG. As bad as the matchup has been for the Longhorns, the situation was just as bad last season. They were traveling for the third time in four weeks (and held to a season-low in total yards). This year, it's a third consecutive home game. Technically, TCU is playing for a third consecutive week away from home. (Last week's game was in Arlington). Herman has been a HC for four years (two here, two in Houston) and while he is 5-13-1 ATS as a home favorite, he's a perfect 3-0 ATS as a dog. The Lognhorns defense held USC to -5 rushing yards last week and will be ready to deliver Herman another big win. 10* Texas
|09-22-18||Virginia Tech -27.5 v. Old Dominion||Top||35-49||Loss||-109||94 h 7 m||Show|
8* Va Tech (3:30 ET): The Hokies opened their season w/ a 24-3 win at Florida State (I was on them). That win might not seem as impressive now (FSU stinks), but it was a conference road win nonetheless. Week 2 was even easier for Justin Fuente's team as they blew out FCS William & Mary, 62-17. They were supposed to play last week East Carolina in Blacksburg last Saturday, but that was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence. Florence also reaked havoc on this week's opponent, Old Dominion, whose game vs. Charlotte was moved to Thursday. The Monarchs lost 28-25 to a team that won just one game LY. ODU has been one of the biggest ATS underachievers so far as they are 0-3 SU/ATS, missing the spread by a cummulative 56.5 points. It's a big number here, but like Mississippi State last week, I'm willing to lay it.
The spread for every ODU game this year has five points or less and they've been favored twice. Yet, they are 0-3. Their biggest miss when it came to the pointspread was clearly the season opener at Liberty. Even though they were facing an opponent making its FBS debut, the Monarchs went down 52-10 and were outgained 591-301 in the process! They may never live that one down. This will be by far their toughest opponent to date and probably all year. Given losses to Liberty, FIU and Charlotte, that doesn't bode well. They faced the Hokies LY and lost 38-0 in Blacksburg. The spread here is actually larger, but that's justifiable considering Va Tech looks better while ODU looks worse.
Virginia Tech coming in off a bye does ODU no favors here. Playing with a week or more of rest, the Hokies have gone 3-1 ATS the previous two seasons. This being such a short road trip, expect the Hokies to have plenty of fan support Saturday and this will "feel" like a home game. Even having to replace eight starters from last year, Bud Foster's defense appears as if it will just fine. They've allowed just 128 rushing yds in two games. Were it not for three big plays, they'd have allowed far fewer total yds as well. This week they'll be facing a young QB who's completing just 51.2 percent of his pass attempts. Virginia Tech's offense seems revitalized w/ new contributors at the skill positions. RB Deshawn McClease is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. QB Josh Jackson is in his second year as a starter and looks a lot more comfortable. This one won't be close. 8* Va Tech
|09-22-18||Pittsburgh v. North Carolina +3.5||Top||35-38||Win||100||41 h 7 m||Show|
8* North Carolina (12:20 ET): To say the Tar Heels are a desperate team entering their third game of the season would be putting it mildly. Larry Fedora's team is 0-2 SU and off a bye. You have to remember that it was not the best offseason in Chapel Hill. Fedora has some questionable commenatary on CTE. Then 13 players were suspended for selling Nike gear. The latter has certainly has had more impact than the former, but there's no denying that something is awry w/ this program right now. Was losing the opener at Cal acceptable? Sure, they were seven-point underdogs and that was the final margin (24-17). But a 41-19 loss at East Carolina (as 15-pt chalk!) was a clear step in the WRONG direction. Last week's game vs. UCF had to be cancelled due to Hurricane Florence, so I expect the Tar Heels to come out HIGHLY motivated as a home dog this week. Take the points.
Pitt was a home dog itself last week and pulled the outright upset over Georgia Tech. It was a much needed bounce back for Pat Narduzzi's team after getting walloped by Penn State, 51-6, the week prior. This will be the Panthers' first road game of the year and they were just 1-4 SU away from Heinz Field last season. They were slightly outgained by Ga Tech last week, but did lead comfortably (as in 24-6) heading into the 4th quarter. But again, that was at home. It was a yeoman's effort defensively LW holding Ga Tech to five plays or less on six of the first seven drives. But they also got a big break early, thanks to some questionable decision making by Yellow Jackets' HC Paul Johnson, who elected to run a fake punt from his own 28-yard line. It was stuffed and Pitt responded w/ its second TD of the game, thanks to the short field. The game was basically "in the bag" at that point.
Since joining the ACC, Pitt has never beaten North Carolina. They are 0-5 SU, though all five losses have been by a TD or less. I do think the bye is huge for North Carolina. Yes, they are still dealing with suspensions plus the issues as a result of Florence. But I suspect Fedora is going to have his players ready for Saturday in an emotional spot. Pitt really delivered w/ its own "back against the wall" last week, but it will be very challenging to duplicate that kind of performance on the road. Consider that the Panthers are just 3-8 ATS when favored the L3 seasons. 8* North Carolina
|09-22-18||Kent State +29 v. Ole Miss||Top||17-38||Win||100||41 h 47 m||Show|
8* Kent State (12:00 ET): Both of these teams gave up 60+ points to top 10 teams last week. One is now being asked to lay four touchdowns. Obviously, there's a massive talent gap that exists between Kent State and Ole Miss, but consider the former actually hung w/ Penn State for about a half before the inevitable took place. It was actually the second time this year the Golden Flashes have had to play a Big 10 team on the road. They covered the first, at Illinois. While 0-5 SU/1-4 ATS vs. SEC schools, Kent State is catching Ole Miss at the right time. The Rebels were flat out embarrassed last week, here at home, losing to Alabama 62-7. Make no mistake about it; the Rebels' pysche was severely wounded by that result and they won't be "up" for this game, which comes right in between Bama & LSU. Take the points.
Kent State was tied w/ Penn State early on last Saturday, 7-7, midway through the first quarter. It was only 21-10 late in the second when the Nittany Lions tacked on another TD right before halftime. That drive started w/ a long kick return after a Kent State field goal. The second half was all Penn State. Still, this offense is much improved from LY when it averaged just 12.8 PPG, which was second fewest in the country. That's owed to 1st year HC Sean Lewis, who was the former OC at Syracuse at Dino Babers, and that means the offense is going to play "fast." Consider the Ole Miss' defense is giving up 43.3 points and 544 yards per game. Before you go thinking that's heavily skewed by Alabama, consider the Rebels gave up more yards to Southern Illinois (629!) the week prior, not to mention 41 points.
Remember that Ole Miss still is facing a bowl ban from the disgraced Huge Freeze era. So motivation is going to be a big question all year w/ this team. I thought HC Matt Luke did an admirable job in guiding this team to a 6-6 record last year (his 1st on the job), but the 2018 version of the Rebels is going to struggle as they figure to be a dog in every SEC game. They still have LA Monroe on the schedule, so this probably won't be their last victory. But it'll be closer than the "experts" think. Consider Ole Miss was down 49-7 at the half (at home) last week. Those thinking it will be an easy bounce back are likely to be disappointed. 8* Kent State
|09-22-18||Navy v. SMU +7||Top||30-31||Win||100||41 h 47 m||Show|
8* SMU (12:00 ET): SMU has had to play two very good teams the last two weeks, TCU and Michigan (both ranked in the top 20). For at least a half, the Ponies played both tough. After a long weather delay, they jumped out to a 9-0 lead on TCU. They only trailed 14-12 at the half, but from there it was all Horned Frogs, who scored the game's final 28 points. Keep in mind though that TCU scored three non-offensive TD's in the contest, somewhat robbing SMU of the cover as 23.5-pt dogs. The Mustangs did cover last week, at Michigan, as they were getting 36.5 from the oddsmakers. It was only a 15-pt game early in the 4Q, but still SMU found a way to lose a third straight game by 20 or more. Back as a home dog this week, I like them to cover. Take the points.
Navy's last venture as a road favorite did not go well at all as they lost outright to Hawaii, 59-41. They were 13.5-pt chalk in that contest. They've since bounced back w/ a pair of wins over Memphis and Lehigh, but neither was very impressive. The win over Memphis was a come from behind effort that saw the Middies rally from down 21-9 to pick up an outright win as a 6.5-pt home dog. They scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the game-winning one coming w/ just 2:37 left on the clock. Navy was outgained in the contest, but clearly benefited from a +3 TO margin and massive edge in time of possession. There was also a driving rain during the game that played to their strength (running the ball!) on offense. Last week's win came against FCS Lehigh, who turned it over five times.
Looking at this week's forecast, it appears as if rain is all but assured. But don't think that means Navy will be able to take advantage again. Yes, SMU has lost to Navy eight straight times, including a 75-31 debacle the last time here in Dallas (two years ago). But last year was a lot closer (SMU lost 43-40 in Annapolis) as the Ponies rallied back from a 34-11 deficit, only to come up just short. One thing to keep an eye on here is the SMU defense, which ranks top 25 nationally in tackles for loss. That's key when facing the triple option. SMU comes in 0-3 SU, so they're a desperate home dog here and when desperate is often the best time to take a home dog. They've actually played three good teams (North Texas too) and a pretty easy case can be made that Navy is the weakest opponent they have faced so far. 8* SMU