Month: September 2019

2019 CFB Picks: Week 5

1-2 last week for -3.4 units. Far from the worst betting week of my life in terms of losses, but it was extremely aggravating. I’ve mentioned it before, but I pour hours into a numbers-based algorithm every week in CFB and CBB. Nearly every bet I make comes from the system, but I also typically leave out a good chunk of the bets the system tells me to make after I go through the games and look for key stats, injuries, etc.

It worked out pretty well last year, my first year of utilizing the algorithms, by far my best year of betting. But at times I got in my own way and that’s what I feel like I’m doing now. Because I was exhausted when I “handicapped” last week, I just passed on a lot of games because I didn’t have the energy to get too deep in it. I would’ve gone 12-7, instead of the 1-2 I ended up with.

We’re not doing that anymore. I hit 55% in CBB on 300 games last year, went +18.1 units, and from a behind-the-scenes view it was a mild disappointment from what could’ve been. 55% is basically the gold standard from professional sports bettors.

From now on, we’re letting it rip.  The Twitter ants can say whatever they want, we’ve got 19 games on the slate this week for a unit a pop. Throwing a half unit on all underdog money lines except USA. In full disclosure, I took four games out. Two for QB injuries, two for choosing not to bet against the best football teams in the country that can name their score.

Picks

Wazzu (+6) over UTAH

The Cougs blew a big lead last week after building a 32-point lead in the second half. They lost four fumbles in the second half and gave up a punt return TD. That doesn’t seem repeatable. The Utes getting ripped up in the passing game does. USC’s third-stringer tore them up, what is Anthony Gordon gonna do?

South Alabama (+16) over ULM

The status of Tra Minter feels like a big deal for the Jags, but they do trot a ton of guys out their at RB. Monroe has been sup-par against the running game. Love this game if Minter takes the field.

Hawaii (+2.5) over NEVADA

I don’t think Nevada is very good. Purdue appears to stink and it still took a 5-0 TO advantage for the Pack to beat them at home. They lost by 71 to Oregon. They’ve just been okay to beat some terrible opponents the past couple weeks.

Duke (+2.5) over VT

I liked VT heading into the season, but they just appear to not be very good. Duke’s defense appears to be pretty good. Quentin Harris is a dual-threat guy that I think will rip up a still very vulnerable VT defense.

Buffalo (-2.5) over MIAMI (OH)

Miami has played some stiff competition, but Buffalo’s offense has at least shown flashes and the defense has held up for the most part.

Arizona State (+5) over CAL

They’re pretty much the same team and I like taking the Sun Devils here after Cal had that thrilling win on the road over Ole Miss and has to play Oregon on the road next week. Arizona State has been a yo-yo through the first four weeks and I’d expect a strong effort after a disappointing loss last week.

UCLA (+6.5) over ARIZONA

It’s hard for me to buy in with UCLA, but Arizona has some serious flaws too and the Bruins should have some renewed confidence on offense after a strong fourth quarter last week.

UMASS (+7.5) over Akron

Akron has faced stiffer competition so far, but at the end of the day it’s an 0-4 SU, 0-4 ATS team laying 7.5 at another 0-4 SU, 0-4 ATS team. UMass stinks, but Akron isn’t much better.

USC (+10.5) over WASHINGTON

I’m not sure if third-stringer Matt Fink can keep it going after a strong showing against Utah, but UW might’ve showed their colors when they played Cal at home. Remember how much they were replacing this year. Every other game they’ve had a big talent advantage. USC can play with them.

UAB (-3) over WKU

The line stinks to high heaven, but we’ll take it anyway. UAB lost a lot from last year and a slow start to this season against Alabama State led to some belief that the attrition was taking its toll. But they’ve looked great the last two weeks. I don’t think WKU is awful, but still, I would’ve thought this would be closer to a TD spread.

Iowa State (-3) over BAYLOR

The scores/results of the Cyclones the first two weeks weren’t really indicative of what happened for the most part in terms of game control, efficiencies, etc. That showed last week when they laid waste to Monroe. It’s tough to get a feel for Baylor. They’ve played three awful opponents. They dominated the first two and then eked out a win over Rice last week.

OKLAHOMA STATE (-4) over Kansas State

I’ll be honest, this one scares me, but we’re gonna let it ride. K-State is coming off a bye week and their last game was a road win at Mississippi State. They’ve looked great through three games. But Oklahoma State is also really good and they’ve had to play three of their first four on the road. I like that it’s a night game in Stillwater.

Louisiana Tech (-8.5) over RICE

Rice has been scrappy the first few weeks, but that’s about it. La Tech should be able to air it out against a Rice Pass D that’s been ripped to shreds.

OLD DOMINION (-3) over East Carolina

You like ODU because they’ve given both Virginia and VT games their past couple of games. You’re nervous about ODU because they might be in a letdown spot here.

Penn State (-6.5) over MARYLAND

Another game that makes me nervous. Maryland’s offense was great at home the first two weeks, although the level of competition isn’t nearly what they’ll face on Friday night. Penn State’s defense appears to be one of the best in the league and may shut down Maryland’s run game. The Nittany Lion offense does make me nervous, though. They have been pretty shaky the past couple games.

Wake Forest (-6.5) over BOSTON COLLEGE

BC’s defense stinks, specifically against the pass and that’ll be a problem against Wake, who’s been one of the most efficient through the air in the country.

AUBURN (-10) over Mississippi State

I was wrong about the MSU game last week when I picked against them, but watching the game, I felt like I was more off on Kentucky than the Bulldogs. Auburn’s shown themselves to be a Top 10 team in the country and they should have a better chance at slowing down Kylin Hill.

OKLAHOMA (-27) over Texas Tech

Big number, but the Sooner offense appears to be just as potent with Jalen Hurts running the show. The Red Raider defense does appear to be at least decent, but this is a different level. Alan Bowman is out at QB for Tech, which means Jett Duffey is likely taking over. Duffey is more of a dual threat, but the Sooners should be used to it. They’ve already faced D’Eriq King and DTR.

TCU (-15) over Kansas

A poor showing from the Frogs last week, but I think this is a good matchup for them to get back on track. This is all about the run game. Kansas has been great running the football, but TCU has given up just 1.9 YPC. QB Carter Stanley has been pretty good the past couple weeks, though. Kansas has been okay against the run, but did give up 151 to AJ Dillon. TCU wants to run it down people’s throats and has done so.

ATS: 10-10-2 (-3.7u)

In The System, But Left Out 

Houston +7.5

I do feel like the line has gotten out of control, but there’s just no telling what Houston is without D’Eriq King.

UNC +27

I’m not betting against Clemson. They’re 12-4 ATS their last 16.

Ole Miss +38

I’m also not betting against Alabama.  Ole Miss has improved their defense, but they might not hit double digits against this defense, even if its not highly regarded for Alabama standards.

Ark State +7

Logan Bonner is out at QB1 for Arkansas State. He’s been strong in the first four games with a 10-1 TD-INT ratio and the backups have rarely played.

 

2019 CFB Picks: Week 4

A 6-1-1 week last week basically got us back to even after a horrific Week 2. As much as I love the slate this week from a viewership standpoint, I hate it is a bettor. There’s not a lot of great spots, but I tried to give a few thoughts on the bigger games of the week.

Picks

STANFORD (+10.5) over Oregon – 2u
Stanford/Oregon under 58 – 1u

I just can’t pass it up. I hate it, but it must be done. Stanford stock might be at an all-time low since 2009 and we’re buying. It’s equally as much of a sell on Oregon as anything. The Ducks are as untrustworthy on the road as anybody. They’re 4-11-1 ATS their last 16 on the road. and 4-12 SU. I’d like to believe in Oregon, but no way can you take them here with how little they’ve proven away from Autzen Stadium. Mario Cristobal seems like a fine guy, but the way he handled the end of that Auburn game is a prime example of  why it’s hard to trust him.

Last week, I discredited David Shaw coming off a loss as part of my justification for taking UCF. That turned out to be correct. What I like here is Stanford as a home dog. They’re 9-0 ATS and 8-1 SU in their last nine games as a home dog. Shaw himself is 4-0 ATS and SU and has covered by an average of 17 PPG.

Kentucky (+6) over MISSISSIPPI STATE – 2u

In short: I don’t think Mississippi State is very good, with or without Tommy Stevens. I’m not sure Kentucky has proven much yet either, but I think they’re fairly even teams and the line is about three points off. And that’s assuming Tommy Stevens will play and at 100%, which seems optimistic at the moment.

I didn’t think it was a huge deal that UK lost Terry Wilson at QB. Sawyer Smith showed some real flashes in his first start last week, but the obvious flaw was 3 INTs. I’d expect him to be better this week, especially against a weaker D than he played last week against Florida.

The Kentucky defense has been fairly solid so far. Stevens won’t be at full strength for the Bulldogs if he plays. I think MSU will need to rely on the run game and that’s where the Cats should succeed on defense. They gave up 2.4 YPC last week until a last minute end-around gave the Gators a 76 yard touchdown.

Cats are 5-2 ATS and 5-2 SU in their last seven as a road dog of a TD or less with a +11.4 average ATS margin.

ATS: 9-8-2 (-0.3u)

Leans / Thoughts On Other Games

USC (+3.5) over Utah

This is always a tricky one. Utah should win, but USC still has the talent on the perimeter if Slovis can get the ball out to his weapons.

Cal (+2.5) over OLE MISS

Just a couple of years ago, the total on this game probably would’ve been in the 70s. Now, it’s 41.5. That’s wild. I feel like Cal has grown much more accustomed to this style of play, but this game kicks off at 9 AM local time for them.

Michigan (+3.5) over WISCONSIN

I hope I’m wrong about this one. But, compared to the preseason line, the spread on this game has swung so much based on how they’ve played against mediocre-to-bad teams. The Badgers have gone 110-0 against their opponents, but USF is on an epic slide and CMU is one of the worst teams in CFB. Michigan was just okay against MTSU and went to double OT against Army.

Army’s a tricky opponent and I don’t think you can make a big difference in evaluation on the Wolverines just because they struggled against a unique opponent.

The Badgers clearly have looked better so far, but it feels like the market has overreacted to games that are fairly meaningless.

NORTHWESTERN (+9) over Michigan State

This is the biggest rat line I’ve seen in a while. NW doesn’t deserve to be this big of a dog based on recent history, but the offense has looked horrendous. MSU has at least shown flashes on offense this year.

Washington (-6.5) over BYU

If you’re just comparing lines, the USC -4 line in the same situation compared to the Huskies only being favored by 6.5 at BYU is sketchy. That essentially suggests that UW would only be favored by 2.5 over USC on a neutral and I’d take the Huskies for 5 units in that situation. But on the flip side, it feels like Vegas is starting to adjust to the Cougars and UW really hasn’t proven much so far.

Louisville (+6.5) over FLORIDA STATE

I think the teams have been pretty comparable so far, if not favoring the Cards as a better team. However, this feels like a game where FSU exercises some demons for me and Louisville hasn’t had a road game yet.

Auburn (+3.5) over TEXAS A&M

Have you heard it’s Bo Nix’s first true road game as a true freshman QB? It’s a factor, but an uncappable one. A&M is on their backup RB. This game has been unpredictable the last few years.

PITT (+11) over UCF

I can’t trust Pat Narduzzi as far as I can throw him, but the Pitt D has had a good showing so far. I’m not actually about to bet against Taylor Gabriel and this UCF O though.

Illinois (+13.5) over NEBRASKA

My gut instinct was to take the Illini and my numbers supported it, but it’s hard to trust that defense against an offense that could be very explosive.

GEORGIA (-14.5) over Notre Dame

I’m a supporter of the Irish long-term this season against their schedule, but this is setting up against them. Their D is relatively weak up the middle and they have to go against one of the best running games in the country and it’s a rare night game in Athens.

Louisiana (+3.5) over OHIO

I think the Cajuns have been better through three weeks and I think they can run all over the Bobcats. They’ve also been great as a road dog of less than a touchdown. However, I can’t fully commit with their recent performances against mobile QBs. Nathan Rourke might be able to put Ohio on his back here.

RUTGERS (+8) over Boston College

This probably would’ve been a play, but is now a complete stay-away with McLane Carter out at QB for Rutgers. BC just got rocked at home by Kansas, but Arthur Sitkowski is one of the worst Power 5 QBs I’ve ever seen and he’ll get the start for the Scarlet Knights.

SMU (+9.5) over TCU

I really wanted to take the Stangs here, but their history against TCU scared me off. They’ve actually covered the spread their last two trips to Fort Worth, but they’ve been much bigger spreads. TCU is just 2-14 ATS their last 16 ATS as home favorites and I think the Frogs have an inflated status after crushing a damaged Purdue team, but the talent disparity is big here.

West Virginia (-4) over KANSAS

I’m still of the belief that Kansas pretty much sucks and that game last week was more of an indictment of Boston College. I think WVU is still much more talented, despite the amount of replacements they had to make this year.

Baylor (-26.5) over RICE

I like Baylor a lot this week, but it’s just not in my nature to lay 26.5 on the road.

2019 CFB Picks: Week 3

Last week was brutal. I could sit here and make excuses or complain about the teams I backed, but it’s all on me. It sucks to start the year in a hole, but I suppose you can’t win all the time.

PICKS

TEMPLE (+7) over Maryland – 2u
Temple/Maryland under 67 – 1u

Could be walking in to the lion’s den here, but I can’t help it. The Terps have looked awesome so far, but this wouldn’t be the first time they’ve looked good in the first two weeks and not been able to sustain success.

In 2016, they opened with a 39 point win and followed it up with a 41-14 Week 2 victory at FIU as 10 point favorites. Week 3 they needed 2 OTs to win and didn’t cover the -10 against an eventual 6-6 UCF team.

In 2017, they won 51-41 at Texas as 17.5 point dogs. Week 2 they beat Towson by 46 as 25.5 point favorites. Week 3 they lost by 28 at home to UCF as 4.5 point favorites.

Last year, they beat Texas as 13.5 point dogs and then won by 31 the next week at Bowling Green as 15 point favorites. Week 3 they lost to this Temple team by 21 as 15.5 point favorites.

Now, this is a new regime with Mike Locksley and the Terps have looked especially good, covering by 48 and 42 points the first two weeks. Josh Jackson has been a big upgrade at QB. There are shades of 2016 Louisville with their start.

But again, Temple beat the hell out of Maryland in College Park last year, only allowing 195 yards of total offense and limiting the running game. As big of an upgrade as Jackson has been, the Terps running wild on Syracuse last week was the bigger reason for their 63 points.

If you look at Maryland last year, the rush offense dictated almost everything. Six times they had over 6.0 yards per carry in a game and in the other six games they averaged less than 4.5. When they had over 6.0 they averaged 44.5 PPG and in the other six games they averaged 12.5 PPG.

Temple had a pretty good run defense last year and held the Terps to 4.3 YPC in their win. They’re only expected to be better this year with most of their front seven back and one of the best LB groups at the Group of 5 level. They also brought in NIU’s defensive coordinator, where they gave up less than 3.0 YPC the last two years. Bucknell’s terrible, but I guess it’s worth noting that the Owls only gave up 0.8 YPC against Bucknell in the opening week with a long run of 7.

If you like ATS trends, Temple is 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games as a home underdog with six straight up victories. Their average scoring margin ATS in those 14 games is +10.2. Rod Carey is the new HC here, but even he is 10-4 ATS in his last 14 games as an underdog regardless of venue.

Maryland is just 4-12 ATS in their last 16 road games.

For whatever it’s worth this early in the season, Temple is coming off a bye.

Air Force (+4) over COLORADO – 2u

I’m guessing the handicap for many that are on Air Force start with the letdown, look-ahead sandwich that the Buffs find themselves in. They’re coming off that dramatic win in a big game over Nebraska last week and they start Pac-12 play next week with a road game at Arizona State.

It’s certainly a factor for me, especially when first-time head coach Mel Tucker is the one who has to get his team ready. Tucker is an impressive guy, but it’s still his first time going through this.

But I like this one more for who the Buffs have to play. Air Force – like the other service academies – are a tough team to prepare for regardless of the situation.

Colorado has been decent defending the run and they were good last year, but the triple option is a different animal. Tucker’s defenses at Georgia did well in their annual game against Tech’s option, but obviously Colorado doesn’t have near the athletes that he had in his time at Georgia.

Heading in to this one, I wanted to look at a pretty specific trend: Air Force as a road dog in August/September. The reason for September is that it’s the only time they don’t play a league team or a fellow academy.

The Falcons are 19-5 ATS in that situation in their last 20. Four of those losses are to conference foes or another academy. Congrats to 2009 Minnesota for bucking the trend.

Navy and Army have also been on similar trends, pointing to the fact that teams unfamiliar with the option tend to struggle.

Like Temple, Air Force is also on a bye. Their ATS trend on the road after a bye: 11-2 in their last 13. Several of those have been in September and again, the only people who covered against them were a conference foe and a fellow service academy.

UCF (-8) over Stanford – 2u

We’ve already lost some value here, but it just feels like this is UCF’s Super Bowl of sorts. They’ve been bitching, moaning, and complaining for more Power 5 teams to come play them in Orlando and now they have another opportunity. Pittsburgh did last year and the Knights beat them by 31. With a 3:30 EST kick on ESPN, I expect a big performance from UCF.

So far, UCF has looked about the same that they have the past couple of years when they’ve gone 25-1. With Darriel Mack back in the mix, the offense should be even more explosive.

Stanford feels like they’re going in the opposite direction. They won an extremely sloppy, close game at home against Northwestern and then got eviscerated by USC’s backup QB in LA. KJ Costello was also out, but the 45 allowed to USC’s unheralded backup doesn’t speak well to their hopes against UCF’s explosive offense.

Costello is back this week, but he’s now without his two starting OTs. His LT – Walker Little – was considered one of the best in college football.

UCF has been very good at home. Against their fellow FBS teams, they’ve been 8-2 ATS at home since this reign of dominance started a couple years ago. They’re 10-0 SU and they’ve won every game by at least a TD.

Stanford has been a mess on the road early in the season lately. They’re just 1-5 ATS and 1-5 SU in their last six. They’ve been off by an average of  a -15.8 ATS margin. They’re now playing their second straight road game and it’s about as far from Palo Alto as you can get in the Continental 48.

David Shaw has a reputation as a coach that gets his team to bounce back from losses, but some of those numbers were built up early in his tenure. They’ve lost 12 games the last three years and 10 of those have been part of back-to-back losses.

Louisville (-10) over Western Kentucky – 2u

No big trends or specific matchups with this one, I just think Louisville is trending up and they should be able to handle this one comfortably. WKU had a bounce back last week after the loss to Central Arkansas, but I’m afraid to say that my FIU Panthers might just suck.

I thought maybe the reaction was overblown after Louisville hung with Notre Dame for a while, but I thought it was more of an overreaction to Notre Dame than Louisville. The Cardinals did look to be very improved and they quietly kept that going last week.

The Cards were hanging tough with the Irish on opening night until three straight fumbles on possessions kind of derailed the whole thing.

Last week, they beat Eastern Kentucky 42-0. I know what you’re thinking, but EKU is a solid FCS team that competed on the road with both Marshall and Bowling Green last year. And don’t forget, last year at this time Louisville was having a hell of a time with Indiana State a week before struggling with this WKU team.

Against EKU, the Cards were dominant defensively, never allowing the Colonels inside the red zone. The offense had its ups and downs in the first half, but scored touchdowns on all four of their second half possessions and the defense forced punts on every possession. For a team that just needs to keep building confidence, that should help them this week.

Buffalo/Liberty under 55.5 – 2u
Buffalo (-5.5) over LIBERTY – 1u

The Bulls might’ve played the closest 45-13 game in the history of football last week with Penn State. As someone who has some investments in the Nittany Lions, that game was not comfortable, nor very encouraging. Buffalo outgained PSU by more than 70 yards and controlled the clock. And it wasn’t just Buffalo piling on a bunch of meaningless yards at the end of the game. They went for several long drives in the first half.

Turnovers, special teams, and a couple of costly penalties were the key. Buffalo had a fumble in the first half that gave Penn State a short field and a quick touchdown. It was the only points the supposedly high-octane Nittany Lions would have in the first half. A pick-six in the second half started the “rout” for PSU.

Here’s why I like Buffalo this week: Liberty isn’t Penn State.

The most noteworthy report from the Flames so far this season has been tracking which type of medical furniture Hugh Freeze is going to use to draw attention to himself on a week-to-week basis. Freeze is back to practice this week on a golf cart.

I had high hopes for the Flames this year – specifically the offense – but they’ve been lifeless so far. They got shutout by Syracuse a week before Syracuse gave up a 63 spot to Maryland. They could only muster 14 against a Lafayette team that is known for shootouts.

Now Liberty will be matched up with this Buffalo team that is playing a bit of a different style this year on offense after all their pass-game power left last year. The Bulls have preferred the running game and ball control, throwing the ball less than 30% of the time.

Liberty is much more prone to throw, but it hasn’t gotten them very far. They’re only averaging 5.6 YPA through the air and even when they do complete, it hasn’t been for many big plays.

VIRGINIA (-7 (-120)) over Florida State – 2u

Florida State has gotten off to a couple of decent starts, but holy hell have they not been able to maintain. You can see glimpses of greatness, but it hasn’t lasted for a full 60 minutes.

I went through this last year with the Seminoles as I clang to any shred of evidence that they were eventually going to be good and maybe make a run at the season total over. They were never good and they still aren’t.

Sure, they played a good half against Boise, but Boise was also playing with a true freshman QB in his first start. On the other side of the country and dealing with a last-minute venue and time change, no less. After settling down, Hank Bachmeier lit them up in the second half. The Broncos could only muster 14 against Marshall at home the next week.

Last week, UL Monroe gave the Noles 44 in Tallahassee, with 37 of that coming after halftime. The same ULM team who only scored 31 against Grambling State and could only combine for 31 last year in road games at Texas A&M and Ole Miss.

Virginia isn’t an elite offense, but they’ve got plenty to put up some points against a defense that has fallen apart in two straight second halves.

The FSU offense looks improved, but they’ve been pretty reliant on big plays to generate points. We’ll see if they can take the offense on the road with them to Charlottesville. The Noles have only averaged 20 PPG in their ten road games the past couple years.

The Virginia defense has looked steady as a rock, although Pitt and William & Mary aren’t exactly elite offenses. Still, the Cavs held Pitt to just 3.7 yards per play at Pitt. They allowed just 71 yards of total offense in the first three quarters against W&M.

YTD: 3-7 (-10.2u)

LEANS

K-State +8

Penn State -17

BYU +4

Purdue +2.5

EMU +7.5

SMU -17.5

WMU -8.5

Ball State +2.5

Army -17

Marshall -5.5 and the under 49.5

 

 

 

2019 CFB Picks: Week 2

PICKS

All picks are for two units.

YTD: 3-2-1 (+0.8u)

Western Michigan (+16.5) over MICHIGAN STATE

We could have shades of Utah State/MSU again this year. Remember Jordan Love and the Aggies took the Spartans down to the very last drive in last year’s season opener.

There are pretty high expectations for WMU this year and they could be the best team in the MAC. QB Jon Wassink leads the way. It was only Monmouth, but Wassink went 20-25, 368 yards, 5 TDs, and 0 INTs last week. The Broncos scored on every possession they didn’t take a knee in the game. Obviously, the MSU defense is a much bigger test, but this is an offense that put up 42 points last year against a pretty good Syracuse defense.

WMU has ten starters back on defense and they should be able to keep the Broncos in the game if the offense struggles. Michigan State’s offense last year was horrendous and things didn’t look much better last week against Tulsa. The Spartans only managed 303 yards and 19 points by the offense.

GEORGIA TECH (-6) over South Florida

I – like many others – was expecting a pretty rough season for Georgia Tech as they try to transition away from the Paul Johnson era. And I still am, but holy hell is the ship sinking fast in South Florida.

After starting 7-0 last year, they are now on a seven game losing streak and they’ve lost those games by an average of 23.4 PPG. After waiting eight months to get the bad taste out of their mouth from last season they had Wisconsin coming to their place, in the humidity, for a home night game and they got steamrolled to the tune of a 49-0 beatdown. They couldn’t run. They couldn’t pass. And they certainly couldn’t stop the run.

Wisconsin’s a good team, but I think I’d much prefer a home game with the Badgers over an opening night road game at the defending national champs. Sure, the Jackets lost by 38, but they nearly doubled USF’s opening week yardage. The run defense was problematic to say the least, but on the flip side they made Heisman favorite Trevor Lawrence look downright average.

UNLV (pick) over Arkansas State

The two matched up at ASU last year, a 27-20 win for the Red Wolves largely due to an unspeakably bad passing day for Armani Rogers. But the Rebels did run wild during the game. After that loss, Rogers was out for months and the season fell apart for UNLV.

Rogers is back again this year and ran wild again in Week 1 with the rest of the backfield. They rattled off 7.4 YPC and 7 TDs against Southern Utah before folding up shop in the fourth quarter.

A good run game is typically the way to beat the Red Wolves. They gave up a lot of big plays against the run last year and were towards the bottom of the country in rushing efficiency.

Arkansas State lost a close one at home to SMU last week, but it wasn’t really as close as it appeared. SMU outgained them by 100 yards and had five of their drives inside the redzone result in a total of nine points. If the Mustangs converted better when close, it could’ve been a blowout.

FIU (-7.5) over Western Kentucky

Listen, Central Arkansas isn’t a horrible FCS team. They were projected to finish second in a fairly decent Southland conference. But that’s still a pretty bad home loss to start the Tyson Helton era, who I’ve spoken my doubts about on a number of occasions. Now they have to go on the road against a really experienced FIU team.

FIU didn’t fare much better last week on the road against a Tulane squad that could be a dark horse of sorts in the American this year. But after a shaky first game, I’m expecting a big bounceback for QB James Morgan against a WKU pass defense that gave up 404 yards on just 29 attempts (13.9 YPA) against CAU.

HAWAII (-6.5) over Oregon State

I still haven’t found a real reason to believe in the Beavs. Some seemed encouraged by their effort against Okie State last week, but at the end of the day they didn’t even cover a double-digit spread at home. They were never within the number the entire second half against a bad defense and a freshman QB in his first live action.

The defense doesn’t appear to have improved much and the Warriors aren’t exactly the team to get things sorted out against. Remember the tear that Hawaii was on at the beginning of last season until Cole McDonald hurt his foot midway through the season and the schedule got much more difficult. Hawaii put up 45 against Arizona despite six turnovers, which I’m fairly confident won’t happen again. The Beavs still haven’t held an opponent under 34 since Week 2 of last year when they held mighty Southern Utah to 25.

Offensively, Oregon State was much better last week, but Oklahoma State’s defense was terrible last year and had massive question marks coming into the season. It was a tough trip for the Pokes up to Corvallis for a night game on the road to open the season. I’m not here to argue the merits of the Hawaii defense, but I think it’s still a tougher situation for the Beaver offense to have to travel to the islands than a night home game.

I don’t think the bye week is a big advantage for Hawaii this early in the season, but the extra week of prep can’t hurt.

Leans / Thoughts on Other Games

TEXAS (+6.5) over LSU

I’m much more of a pro-LSU guy than a pro-Texas guy, but Tom Herman’s record as an underdog speaks for itself. With a week of lead-up and everyone taking about this game, picking LSU, it only gives the Longhorns motivation. The atmosphere in Austin has greatly improved the last few years and it should be rocking at night with Gameday in town.

MICHIGAN (-22) over Army

I haven’t bet on any team more than Army the past few years, but I hate the spot here. I’m not sure they can move the ball much at all on the Wolverines.

COLORADO (+4) over Nebraska

This may end up being the best game of the weekend as it turns into a shootout. Nebraska looked bad last weekend on offense, but I doubt that lasts for long. Not sure how much of a home atmosphere this is going to be for the Buffs with Husker nation expected to show up in droves.

Texas A&M (+17) over CLEMSON

Jimbo always plays Dabo tough, as the Aggies did last year. 17 seems like a hell of a lot, but every time it seems that way with Clemson, they seem to cover. A&M never seems to be the same on the road.

Nevada (+24) over OREGON

I’d typically like the Pack here, but you have the confluence of them maybe still riding a high after that dramatic comeback win over Purdue and Oregon looking to take their frustration out on somebody after giving away the Auburn game.

PENN STATE (-30.5) over Buffalo

Death, taxes, Penn State laying waste to inferior opponents at Beaver Stadium.

RICE (+19) over Wake Forest

Rice/Army is one of those games where you can’t quite tell which team the game says more about. Is Army a lot worse that we thought or is Rice looking to make a big jump in Year 2 under Mike Bloomgren? I don’t know, but this is one to keep an eye on Friday night.

West Virginia (+14) over MISSOURI

Seems like a lot of points, but Missouri will be looking to take some frustration out and WVU’s offense is still quite a work in progress.

NORTH CAROLINA (+5) over Miami (FL)

There was nothing fluky about the Heels’ victory over USC last week. I really want to take them this week, but I’m nervous about that Miami front seven getting after Sam Howell.

Tulane (+17.5) over AUBURN

I wanted to love it, but then I thought the Auburn front might just totally shut down the Green Wave running game.

UCF (-10.5) over FAU

Honestly should probably be a pick, but I just can’t shake pulling for the Lane Train.

Wyoming (-7) over TEXAS STATE

I think the Cowboys are like three touchdowns better than Texas State. I’m a little worried about the hangover effect from the game with Missouri, but much more worried about the Wyoming offense still not being able to throw the ball. I just can’t lay a touchdown with an offense that has shown its plenty willing to let their defense do all the work and win 17-14.