Navy (+2.5) over Virginia
I made the pick before Army-Navy, which was obviously a bit of a gamble in terms of injuries. Luckily nothing major came in that department.
Despite losing that game, this one’s now a pick ’em. Maybe people realized Navy’s actually better than Virginia AND it’s a home game for the Midshipmen.
Both teams stumbled a bit to the finish with UVA going 1-5 and Navy going 1-6. However, Navy only had two of those games at home: their one win in that stretch over a solid SMU and a 10-point loss to undefeated UCF. All of their other five losses were to bowl teams, on a road or neutral site, and they were all one-score games, except for a 10-point loss at Houston.
UVA also played some good competition over the second half, but the margin of their losses doesn’t inspire confidence. Here’s their last six games:
- 31-point home loss to BC
- 17-point road loss to Pitt
- 4-point win over GT at home
- 17-point loss at Louisville
- 16-point loss at Miami after leading by 14 in the 3Q
- shutout loss at home to VT
The Cavs just don’t do much well offensively. They’re among the 10 worst teams in the country in yards per carry. This is probably why only five teams throw at a higher rate than them, but it’s a lot of dink-and-dunk. The biggest cause for concern as a Navy backer is limiting big plays from UVA’s one real homerun hitter, Andre Levrone.
UVA held up fairly well against GT when they faced their option (Yellow Jackets did score 36), but they’re not the best against the run. The pass defense is by far the best part of the Cav team, but they won’t have much opportunity to showcase it.
All-in-all, if you just look at the performances of each team over the year, Navy’s been a much more consistent team and you can find quite a few games where they played well for 60 minutes. I think you can only say that about three of UVA’s games and two of them were in the first third of the season.
Purdue (+3.5) over Arizona
This makes me very uncomfortable, so I’m going to try and keep it brief. The obvious key for slowing down Arizona is slowing down Khalil Tate. The only teams that limited Lamar Jackson’s rushing attack this year (in non-Louisville blowouts) better than Purdue: Clemson and NC State. Tate’s ability to run is very comparable to Jackson, except he’s not nearly as good of a passer.
I’m not saying Purdue is going to shut him down, but they’ve been very good on that side of the ball, they’ve dealt with a better version of Tate before, and their strength is their front seven.
On the other side, I’d be lying if I said Purdue was a well-oiled machine. However, you’re giving Jeff Brohm a month to gameplan and draw up as many trick plays as his heart desires against a weak defense.
Michigan State (+3) over Washington State
Wazzu might have negative rushing yards in this game. As always, they’re going to rely heavily on Luke Falk and their short passing plays to generate offense against a very stingy Spartan defense. I just don’t see how that works at all. It’s going to be a low scoring game no matter how you slice it, but at least you can go in knowing that MSU will be able to move the ball on the ground.
Ohio State (-6.5) over USC
Two blue bloods of college football. Both were thought to be in contention for the fourth playoff spot. A lot of NFL talent on both sides.
With that said, OSU is in a different league from the Trojans. The Buckeyes don’t really have a weakness. They’re one of the best teams in the country by almost every statistical measure. USC is not. They’re “pretty good” offensively and decidedly “average” on defense.
Giving less than a touchdown is a gift.
Penn State (-2.5) over Washington
UW played one Top 25 team (analytically, that is) all year. They lost. They’re a very good team and they’ve got some really talented players, but as good as they’ve been the last couple years they haven’t once delivered in the primetime moments.
Notre Dame (+3) over LSU
Some have suggested that some of the upperclassmen for LSU won’t be motivated because they’ve already mentally moved on to the NFL.
That’s not why I like Notre Dame. I have no idea what LSU’s motivation is and I think it’s a pretty naive/dumb idea to assume the mental state of a group of 18-22 year olds. That can get you in a lot of trouble.
The Irish have been a much more dependable team all year outside of one debacle in Miami. Bowl games tend to favor the more schematic coaches and that’s not exactly Ed Orgeron’s forte.
Oklahoma (+105 ML) over Georgia
It’s a clash of styles and I’m not totally sure that the Dawgs aren’t going to have a field day against the Sooner front seven, but it’s in essence a toss-up and at that point it often comes down to the most important position on the field.
I have no idea what the history of Heisman winners are in bowl games and I don’t care. Baker has been on a mission from the jump.
UCLA (+2.5) over Kansas State
Usually a coaching change is reason for a little doubt with a team, but Jim Mora is a perennial underachiever and UCLA will be fine.
Iowa State (+3) over Memphis
Sure it’s a road game for the Cyclones, but they’re 10-2 ATS and they won at Oklahoma, so I’m not concerned.
New Mexico State (+3.5) over Utah State
It’s what my numbers tell me.
Fresno State (+2.5) over Houston
Back to that whole “coaching is important in bowl games” point, both these teams have new coaches this year.
One team is DOWN roughly thirty (30) spots from a year ago, nationally.
The other is UP about sixty (60) S-I-X-T-Y spots.
One is 5-3 in bowl games, the other has a 7-5 career head coaching record.
Northwestern (-7) over Kentucky
Kentucky is below average offensively, defensively, overall from a national perspective. They went 4-4 in the mighty SEC. Northwestern is kind of shitty in both the run and pass game offensively and UK still doesn’t have an edge in this game.
At the end of the day, it’s still only a two unit bet because it’s tough to trust Northwestern too much. Pat Fitzgerald’s 2-5 bowl record doesn’t help.
Wisconsin (-6.5) over Miami (FL)
I like to be honest with everybody, so here’s some real honesty. I went through all the games looking for teams that were playing at home so that I could make the proper spread adjustments. I acknowledged Navy, Memphis, and FAU. I 100% missed Miami before I made this bet.
The Badgers are still better and more consistent on both sides of the ball, but………………….I really wish they weren’t playing at Miami.
San Diego State (-4.5) over Army
Two teams I’ve loved this year and really for a few years now. It kills me to bet against Army, especially in the Armed Forces Bowl, but they are not at all prepared to stop Rashaad Penny.
Leans On Every Other Game
I’m tired so this is all gut reaction, zero research or facts involved.
Troy (-7) over North Texas
I like what Littrell has done at NT, but Troy seems to have turned a corner lately.
Georgia State (+6.5) over Western Kentucky
I said I wasn’t gonna go do research, but just look up power rankings for WKU last year and this year and then look up rankings for Purdue last year and this year and then it’s very easy for me to tell you why I worship at the Church of Jeff Brohm. And why Mike Sanford stinks.
Oregon (-7) over Boise State
It SUCKS that Rolls Royce isn’t playing, but Herbert is the engine to the ship and always has been.
Marshall (+5.5) over Colorado State
Take the overachieving dog over the underachieving favorite every day of the week.
Arkansas State (-3.5) over MTSU
It’s hard to believe in a Richie James-less Blue Raider team.
Akron (+22.5) over FAU
Wouldn’t think about betting it for a second, but if you force me to make a pick on a game like this, I’m taking the 3+ touchdowns 100% of the time.
SMU (-5) over Louisiana Tech
Louisiana Tech stinks. To be honest, C-USA stinks.
Temple (-7) over FIU
Temple’s been a different team since the QB change.
Ohio (-7.5) over UAB
UAB is a nice story, but they really aren’t very good.
Central Michigan (pick) over Wyoming
Josh Allen probably won’t play which means the Cowboy offense is downgraded from “bad” to “diarrhea”
Texas Tech (+2.5) over South Florida
The ultimate toss-up game. If you bet it, you’re a psycho, no offense.
Toledo (-7) over App State
Utah (-6.5) over West Virginia
Kyle Whittingham is a bowl game winning machine and he deserves your respect. It also helps that WVU’s entire offense (Will Grier) is out.
Northern Illinois (+5.5) over Duke
Always take the MACtion team in Detroit. It’s a rule.
Southern Miss (+15.5) over Florida State
Grab the points. Don’t necessarily hate the money line.
Iowa (-3) over BC
IOWA TRAVELS, FOLKS!
Texas (+3) over Missouri
It’s in Texas?
Virginia Tech (+4.5) over Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State is just good enough at times to make you think they’re really good, but they’re not.
TCU (-2.5) over Stanford
One last chance to take the Frogs.
Wake Forest (-3) over Texas A&M
NC State (-6.5) over Arizona State
I wanted to like the Herm Edwards hire, but so far it’s looking terrible and I’ve got no choice but to believe this is going to quickly wreck the whole program.
Mississippi State (+6.5) over Louisville
Louisville is basically Lamar and sometimes that’s just not enough.
UCF (+9.5) over Auburn
I love the Knights, but don’t love the matchup.
Clemson (+2.5) over Alabama
Clemson being an underdog as the #1 team against a team they beat in the championship a year ago is basically giving Dabo a stacked deck. Also, 2017 Alabama hasn’t proven much of anything against top competition.
41. Florida Atlantic (over Akron)
40. Ohio State (over USC)
39. Northwestern (over Kentucky)
38. Michigan (over South Carolina)
37. Florida State (over Southern Miss)
36. Ohio (over UAB)
35. Toledo (over Appalachian State)
34. San Diego State (over Army)
33. Temple (over FIU)
32. Penn State (over Washington)
31. Navy (over Virginia)
30. Wisconsin (over Miami FL)
29. NC State (over Arizona State)
28. Wake Forest (over Texas A&M)
27. SMU (over Louisiana Tech)
26. Auburn (over UCF)
25. Oklahoma State (over Virginia Tech)
24. TCU (over Stanford)
23. Arkansas State (over Middle Tennessee)
22. Central Michigan (over Wyoming)
21. Duke (over Northern Illinois)
20. Texas (over Missouri)
19. Western Kentucky (over Georgia State)
18. Oregon (over Boise State)
17. Colorado State (over Marshall)
16. Notre Dame (over LSU)
15. Troy (over North Texas)
14. Clemson (over Alabama)
13. Iowa (over Boston College)
12. Louisville (over Mississippi State)
11. Oklahoma (over Georgia)
10. Purdue (over Arizona)
9. UCLA (over Kansas State)
8. Utah (over West Virginia)
7. Iowa State (over Memphis)
6. New Mexico State (over Utah State)
5. Michigan State (over Washington State)
4. Fresno State (over Houston)
3. South Florida (over Texas Tech)
2. North Carolina A&T (over Grambling State)
1. Clemson/Alabama Winner (over Oklahoma/Georgia Winner)