Picks were posted on Monday night, but thought I’d add a little here.
OLE MISS (pick) over South Carolina
This is the battle of the supremely average SEC teams, but I’m of the opinion Ole Miss is slightly less average (better) than South Carolina, they’re at home, and they’re coming off a bye.
I’m counting on the Ole Miss offense to put up a bunch of points. They’re among the best in the country – going for 70+ on two occasions this year – and the only times they’ve been held under 37 points have come against Top 20 defenses. USC ranks 54th, according to S&P+. They gave up 490 yards to Missouri and 458 to Texas A&M.
The secondary for the Gamecocks has several guys with injuries and they’re going against one of the best WR corps in the nation. Maybe the best feature of USC’s entire team is that they haven’t given up big plays in the pass game. With a weakened secondary going against an explosive Ole Miss team, it could be a recipe for more deep balls for the Rebels.
On the other side of the ball, South Carolina has been pretty blah since the first few weeks of the season. They haven’t put up 400 yards of offense in a game since Week 4.
They haven’t shown a propensity for the big plays like Ole Miss. If they get themselves in a shootout with the Rebels, I don’t think they can string together a bunch of long drives to keep pace without making mistakes. The Cocks are 104th in turnover margin this year, while Ole Miss is 21st.
And I grant you that the Ole Miss is a terrible defensive team, but Tennessee is nearly as bad and USC was only able to put up 27 points last week at home, coming off of a bye.
Air Force (+7) over ARMY
Everyone knows I’m an Army guy, but I think it’s Air Force here who’s better equipped to win the battle of the option (or at least more equipped to cover the spread).
The Air Force defense is 18th against the run, while Army comes in at 93rd, according to S&P+. And the Falcons have been much more battle tested. Every offense they’ve played so far this year is in the Top 75 in rushing efficiency, with the exception of FCS Stony Brook. Army, on the other hand, has faced just one opponent in the Top 75 all year.
The only offenses to have a decent amount of success against Air Force this year have done it through the air. Army has thrown it 68 times all year.
Of course there’s a lot of familiarity between the two and that should help out the Army run defense, but familiarity has favored the Falcons in this matchup. They’ve won 18 of the last 21 against Army and covered 16 of them.
OREGON STATE (+14) over USC
Unfortunately for me, but good for you, you can get the Beavs at +16.5 right now thanks to JT Daniels’ injury status being upgraded.
This is mostly a fade against USC. Their average performance away from home the past two years is that of, well…an average FBS team. When they’re at the Coliseum, they play like a Top 25-30 team. I thought they had turned a corner a couple weeks ago and took them at Utah, but there doors were blown off by much more than the 41-28 score indicated and Daniels was bad in the game.
It helps that a young Oregon State team under first year coach Jonathan Smith was able to break through with their first Pac-12 victory in a dramatic comeback at Colorado. Three of the last four times USC has made the trip up to Corvallis, the Beavs have walked away with outright victories. Twice they were more than two touchdown dogs.
NORTHWESTERN (+9.5) over Notre Dame
I don’t know the exact figure, but I’m sure you’ve heard it/can find it if you try hard enough, but ND’s record ATS after Navy is bad.
They’re also coming back from a long road trip out to San Diego and now have to go on the road again. Evanston doesn’t provide the most intimidating of environments typically, but I’m sure Ryan Field will be alive with a night kick and the Irish in the stadium. Here’s hoping the majority of the crowd is wearing purple.
And it helps that it’s also November. Northwestern is an annual “grower”, frequently peaking as the season comes to an end. They’re 12-4 ATS in their last 16 November games.
I don’t know how much the Wildcats can score, but I do think they can slow down the Ian Book show. NW has only given up 300+ on one occasion this year and it took 51 attempts to get those 329 yards.
BAYLOR (+8) over Oklahoma State
Letdown spot for the Pokes and Baylor should be at their best after a drubbing to West Virginia last Thursday and the need for two more wins to reach bowl eligibility, a goal I imagine is pretty important for them after last year.
VIRGINIA TECH (+2) over Boston College
Bounceback week for the Hokies after last week’s debacle. On the other side, BC is coming off a big win in the Red Bandana game and they’ve been underwhelming on the road this year.
Ohio (pick) over WESTERN MICHIGAN
The Broncos have been giving up big plays all year and Ohio might be the most explosive offense in the league. It’s Solich time.
LOUISIANA MONROE (+7.5) over Georgia Southern
Monroe had a disappointing start, but they should be in prime form after two wins and a bye week to prepare for the GSU option attack.
Southern is coming off the biggest win the program has had in a few years and next week they’ve got a matchup with their other big Sun Belt East foe in Troy. Dangerous spot for the Eagles.
SMU (+13) over Houston
Houston’s terrifying, but SMU is getting better as the season progresses under Sonny Dykes. They’ve had some really good defensive performances the past month. The run game has hit the skids for the Mustangs, but Ben Hicks has been prolific lately and pass defense is where you can hurt the Cougs. Just have a feeling SMU keeps it close with a bowl within reach and a night home game against one of the best teams in the league.