Month: November 2019

2019 CFB Picks: Week 12

Well, it’s been a brutal 36 hours since I posted the plays on Twitter.

UNC forced overtime last night and then predictably lost by 7 in OT. Around the same time, it was announced that La Tech had three major suspensions for their game against Marshall tonight.

Bowl season can’t get here soon enough.

*313 UNC +4.5 – 3u
*313 UNC +165 – 0.5u

It’s probably always a good bet to grab points whenever the gaggle of mediocre ACC teams are playing each other. UNC has played seven ACC teams this year and six of them have been one-score games. Pitt has played five ACC teams and three of them have been one-score games. They both beat GT comfortably and Pitt lost by 16 to Virginia.

That also extends into the history of these two teams. They’ve played eight games this century and they’ve all been one-score games. UNC has won this matchup six straight years and covered five of those games.

UNC has played the tougher schedule this year, I actually think they’ve been playing better than Pitt, and I think they’ve got more motivation in this game. The Heels sit at 4-5 with three games left. Pitt already has their bowl bid wrapped up. While they still have an outside shot to win the Coastal, it’s unlikely and after winning it last year, I’m not sure they have a strong desire to be Clemson’s sacrificial lamb again.

Sam Howell is a big reason I like the Heels. He’s by far the best QB Pitt has faced since the Panthers saw Dillon Gabriel (not a huge fan). Gabriel threw for 338 and two scores. Howell’s really only played one bad game all year. Despite being a true freshman, he’s had some of his best games on the road and led a 16 play, 75-yard TD drive to nearly take down the defending national champs. Kid has stones and I trust him way more than Kenny Pickett on the other side

Pitt has the better D probably, but UNC is no slouch. They’ve only given up more than 25 on three occasions: App State, VT (in 6 OTs), and UVA. Common thread with those offenses: dual-threat QBs. Kenny Pickett is not that.

Not for nothing, it could be a weak crowd tonight with the Steelers playing on TNF.

*315 LT +4.5 – 2u
*315 LT +180 – 0.5u

Would not bet this at all now with this information dropping last night and the line moving as high as 7:

J’Mar Smith is obviously the starting QB and is very important. Redshirt freshman Aaron Allen is his backup and has thrown nine career passes. He was a pretty big recruit for them, but obviously probably won’t be able to fill Smith’s shoes.

Adrian Hardy is their leading receiver. Not as big of a deal because they have a ton of receivers.

James Jackson is their fourth-leading tackler and has forced three fumbles this year.

But I’ll still tell you why I liked La Tech before the news.

I’ve heard people reference Marshall playing a tougher schedule – which is true – but the Herd have had a tough time even pulling away from the weaker teams on their schedule.

A big part of that is Marshall’s inability to finish drives. Their yardage and efficiency numbers are okay, but they rank 83rd in third down conversions and 106th in red zone scoring. La Tech’s D has holes, but they’ve been pretty good at the bend-don’t-break style. They’re 7th in the country only allowing 64% scoring in the red zone.

On the other side, La Tech’s offense has been explosive both running and passing the ball and they’re averaging 52 PPG over their last four games. Marshall’s D has been solid against lesser offense, but has given up 52 to Cinci, 31 to FAU, and 31 to Ohio.

Team Rankings has LT 8.5 points better than Marshall over each of their last five games and would favor them by 5. Marshall’s 0-5 ATS at home this year,

320 K-State -14 – 1u

I thought maybe WVU would have a bowl push in them with some winnable games at the end of the year, but last week was clearly the most winnable with Texas Tech at home and the Mountaineers got their doors blown off. They haven’t scored 20 points in any of their last four games. Now they face a pretty solid defense in K-State that was even able to hold Oklahoma down until desperation time.

You can pick on the Wildcats’ run defense, but WVU is one of the worst rushing teams in the country.

335 Minnesota +3 – 2u
335 Minnesota +140 – 0.5u

I think if you’re looking for a letdown spot for Minnesota, the real opportunity is next week against Northwestern. Not that they’ll lose, but they may come out sluggish. I just don’t see it happening this week. It’s an evening game in Kinnick, it’s a huge game for division/conference/playoff races, and not many can rival PJ Fleck in motivational speeches.

I’m not going to lie, I leaned with Minny last week, but there was a part of me that did wonder if the Gophers could do it against a high-level opponent. Obviously they showed that they can do more than pick off bottom-feeders.

And they showed that they can do it offensively through the air against a Top 10 defense, which is key heading into this week, I think. The Gophers run more than almost anybody else in the country, outside of option teams and a couple of select others. Now Iowa has to account more for the passing game after Tanner Morgan dropped a series of bombs on Penn State’s head to Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson.

I think that big play ability may be the deciding factor in this game. Iowa has lost three close, low-scoring games this year because they couldn’t make those types of plays against Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin. They finally made one on their last play against Wisconsin last week when it was too late. Before that 75-yarder to Tracy, Nate Stanley was averaging 4.9 YPA. The Minny defense ranks 11th in the country, only allowing 6.0 YPA on the year. Brandon Smith might be Iowa’s best WR and he’s likely still out.

*353 Wyoming +6 – 3u
*353 Wyoming +200 – 0.5u

Sean Chambers is still out at QB for Wyoming, but I think that might be a little overvalued in the marketplace. Tyler Vander Waal doesn’t have the running element that Chambers has, but is a comparable passer and started ten games last year. I’m not saying QB isn’t an important position for them, but they run it nearly 70% of the time. They’ve got four RBs that average at least 5.0 YPC.

The Utah State run defense is okay, but they do give up nearly 200 YPG on the ground and the pass defense is enough of a nightmare that even Vander Waal should be able to have a decent game.

Jordan Love is going to have to carry the Utah State offense. The Cowboy run defense is just too good, allowing less than 100 YPG on the ground and only 2.9 YPC. Love has had a good couple of weeks, but the passing game hasn’t been nearly as reliable as it was a year ago.

Wyoming has been battle-tested on the road. They won at Texas State in Week 2 and while 0-3 in trips to Boise, San Diego State, and Tulsa, they lost by a combined 10 points.

372 Auburn +3 – 2u
372 Auburn +130 – 0.5u

Maybe I’m the sucker here, but this line just smacked me in the face when I saw it. I don’t think there’s much separation between these two teams, if any.

The numbers slightly favor Georgia on each side of the ball, but Auburn’s by far played the more difficult schedule. Georgia has played two Top 30 teams all year: Florida on a neutral site and Notre Dame at home. Auburn has played four in the Top 30 and three of them were on the road, with the fourth being the neutral site game against Oregon.

Also the numbers are a little skewed for Georgia defensively. They shutout both Kentucky and Missouri (both at home), but Kentucky was starting a WR at QB in a monsoon and Missouri didn’t have Kelly Bryant at QB, instead giving Taylor Powell his first start of his career.

Georgia just hasn’t played a really good offense all year, while Auburn’s defense has had to prove much more and did so by holding the LSU juggernaut offense to 23 points.

Auburn also gets leading tackler Jeremiah Dinson back and stud defensive end Marlon Davidson, as well.

It’s hard to pound the table too much for either offense being better than the other. It’s probably a slight edge to Georgia, but again it’s come against an easier schedule. They’ve played two road games all year and it was against Vandy and Tennessee before the Vols kind of got the ship righted.

Last thing: pointing out that Bo Nix is a freshman isn’t really all that relevant anymore when it’s mid-November and he’s already played road games at LSU, Florida, Texas A&M, and played Oregon. He’s got plenty of experience now.

P.S. Auburn was also a FG underdog two years ago when they won 40-17. Not saying, just saying.

P.S.S. Auburn is 11-1-1 ATS and 8-5 SU their last 13 as a single-digit home dog.

*376 OK State -17 – 1u

I don’t totally trust the Pokes defense to play well enough, but I’ll still make the small play here.

I think if there’s one guarantee in this game it’s that Chuba Hubbard is going to have a field day. He’s the best RB in the country and he’s going up against one of the worst run defenses in the country.

Kansas is hard to predict, but it feels like a good situation for OSU. They had a string of difficult games, are coming off a bye week, and don’t have anything major to look forward to next week.

382 Baylor +10 – 1u
382 Baylor +310 – 0.5u

This is a principle play more than anything. The fact that it’s only one unit is a show of respect for the Sooners, but this is about seven points more than it should be if you’ve been watching OU lately.

The defense was hoping to get better under Alex Grinch. It looked like they might be early in the season, but it’s hard to see with their last two performances. They’ve given up 89 points combined to Kansas State and Iowa State, a couple of decent offenses, but certainly neither performance is acceptable if you want to be an elite team.

*388 Michigan -13.5 – 2u

I understand the recent history of this game, but MSU is trending really poorly as a program right now. They’ve got guys leaving the program mid-season left and right, the injury report is a mile long, they’re blowing 25 point home leads to Illinois, and the aging head coach is as defiant about the program’s flaws as ever.

I’d expect MSU to still play hard despite everything going on, but I just don’t know that they have the horses to make this a game. I referenced all the injuries and player transfers they have, but they also have lost leading tackler, second-leading sacker, and team captain Joe Bachie from the defense due to a PED suspension.

MSU has played a bit tougher of a Big Ten schedule so far, but consider that they’re 2-4 in the league with a -56 point differential. The Wolverines are 4-2 with a +79 differential. That’s a per game difference of 22.5 PPG between the two teams.

Even admitting MSU has played a tougher Big Ten schedule, look at the difference in performances in common opponents: UM 17 points better against Wisconsin, UM 20 points better against PSU (adjusting for home field), and UM 26 points better against Illinois (adjusting for home field).

Again I’ll reference Team Rankings power ratings for each team’s last five games, where they would have Michigan favored by 27.5 in this game, a full two touchdowns more than the current spread.

ATS: 57-49-1 (+1.4u)

ML: 17-27 (-1.9u)