Author: eburling

2018 CFB Picks: Week 12

Gonna keep it real brief this week. The MLs have been helping me personally this year, just haven’t posted them, so I’ll add them this week.

3 Units

Bowling Green (+7) over AKRON
Bowling Green +230 (0.5u)

It would help if Kato Nelson doesn’t play, but it’s not like the Zips offense is any good with him in there anyway. I think BGSU has had a boost since Jinks got fired and they’ve got the offense to make this a game and potentially steal one.

Air Force (+3, -120) over WYOMING
Air Force +115 (1u)

Wyoming has had a nice streak in this series, but the only thing the Cowboys are actually good at is defending the pass and that’s really not an important trait against an option team. The Cowboys are 4-6 and the best team they’ve beat is 118th in the country, according to S&P+.

SMU (+8.5) over Memphis
SMU +295 (0.5u)

I’ll continue to ride the SMU train. They got backdoored last weekend, but it was still a hell of an offensive performance. They can score on Memphis, who’s been pretty poor on the road all year.

SOUTHERN MISS (+3, -120) over Louisiana Tech
Southern Miss +120 (1u)

Not sure why Southern Miss are home dogs in this one. Their starting QB is probably still out, but the backup has been better than the numbers indicate. Keep in mind that his two starts have come against Top 20 defenses nationally, according to S&P+. The Golden Eagles beat Marshall and lost to UAB on the road by three in those two performances. Not sure how you consider the backup – Tate Whatley – a detriment at this point.

2 Units

CAL (+2) over Stanford
Cal +115 (1u)

Cal’s pass defense should be able to slow down the Cardinal, especially with a hobbled, or potentially absent, JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Bears have held their last four opponents to 12.5 PPG and those opponents included Washington, Washington State, and USC. The offense has its struggles, but this Stanford D is not your older brother’s Stanford D.

TCU (+2) over BAYLOR
TCU +115 (1u)

Yeah sure, the Frogs 47-10 loss at West Virginia was ugly last week, but perhaps you caught Baylor’s 58-14 loss to the Mountaineers a couple weeks before. Neither team is a real prize, but I can at least trust TCU’s defense against a non-elite offense. And that’s really the only unit I trust out there. The Frogs are having a down year, but a big part of that is some horrendous turnover luck. That can’t last forever.

UL-Monroe (+8.5) over ARKANSAS STATE
ULM +270 (0.5u)

Both teams have been on fire lately. The winner puts itself in a good position to win the Sun Belt West. Arkansas State was a bit stronger early in the season, but if you based this line off the past month, it’d be a three point spread at the most.

1 Unit

OKLAHOMA (-35, -120) over Kansas
OKLAHOMA/Kansas under 69

I think it’s hard to lose both of these because I just don’t think Kansas can score enough, despite some of Oklahoma’s troubles defensively. The past three games between these two have looked like this in Norman: 56-3, 44-7, 52-7. KU hasn’t scored 20 points in a game against Oklahoma in its last eight meetings. Sooners will score. They always do.

YTD: 53-46 (+3.4u)

 

 

 

Advertisements

2018 CFB Picks: Week 11

4 Units

NC STATE (-16.5) over Wake Forest 

Against teams in the Top 75 of CFB this season, Wake is 0-5, losing by a margin of 26.8 PPG. Four of those games were at home. Now they head out on the road against an NC State team that has been rock steady at home. And they do it without their starting QB, Sam Hartman.

And that’s a shame for the Deacs because one area where you can really take advantage of the Pack is in the passing game. While Hartman wasn’t exactly an elite passer, he at least had been building experience. He’s replaced by Jamie Newman, who is 9-19 for 83 yards, 0 TDs, and 2 INTs for his career. This will be his first start. And he doesn’t even have a full week to prepare. This game is Thursday night in Raleigh. While the pass defense isn’t great as a whole, they do get after the QB and it could be a night full of duress for Newman.

It’s hard to expect the run game to bail Newman out. NC State has an elite run defense, holding five of their last six opponents under 100 rushing yards, only allowing 2.8 YPC in that timeframe.

Defensively, the Deacs just don’t do much well. It’s hard to find a strength. They’ll be up against one of the best QBs in the nation in Ryan Finley and an offense that has put up 88 points the last two weeks against better defenses than Wake’s.

Maryland (+3) over INDIANA  

This feels like a lot of credit for an Indiana team that’s played one decent game since the middle of September. They’ve been sliding since that time. Here’s their Percentile Performance and national ranking over the season, according to S&P+:

Indiana

As you can see, it’s been a steady decline for the Hoosiers since starting Big Ten play after facing a pretty soft non-conference schedule. Maryland on the other hand, has been the most predictable roller coaster in the country.

Maryland

As you can see, the same team doesn’t show up two weeks in a row. The reason for liking the Terps this week isn’t just that they’re coming off a poor performance, it’s that all of those games where they were under 78% came against teams that are currently Top 40ish. Indiana is not that right now.

Maryland has a hard time scoring if they can’t run the ball, but they should be able to do that against IU. The Hoosiers are about average against the run, but they’ve given up over 4.5 YPC in each of the last three games.

On the other side, Indiana has lacked any type of big plays on offense. Explosive plays may be a big factor in this game. Indiana ranks 123rd on offense and 87th on defense, while Maryland ranks 5th on offense and 16th on defense. In what figures to be a game played in the 20’s, those big chunk plays could be the difference.

Also what has to worry you if you’re Indiana, despite throwing a lot of shorter routes, Peyton Ramsey has been prone to interceptions. He’s thrown ten for the season and five of those have come in the last three games. The Terps have intercepted more passes than anybody else this season. Again, the potential for game-changing plays.

3 Units

MINNESOTA (+12.5) over Purdue 

Purdue’s in a similar situation it was two weeks ago. They were coming off a big home win over Ohio State and headed out on the road to Michigan State and looked awful. Now they’re coming off another big home win over Iowa.

It’s possible that Purdue learned its lesson after the MSU game and beating Iowa didn’t cause the same week-long party that Ohio State did, but there are some matchups that will also help Minnesota in this game.

Purdue has an explosive offense, but they’re a pass-heavy oriented team. They’re not incapable of running, but they just kinda choose not to most of the time. That negates some of what’s Minnesota’s biggest flaw: stopping the run. The Gophers have had some atrocious defensive games, but the worst have come against run-heavy teams with a dual-threat QB: Illinois, Nebraska, and Maryland. They gave up 48 points to Iowa, but that was largely a function of four offensive turnovers. The Hawkeyes only averaged 5.3 yards per play, which is below average.

On the other side, Minnesota has become a more explosive passing team with Tanner Morgan under center. Turnovers have been a concern with him, but Purdue tends to play pretty soft coverage with a young secondary. The Gophers shouldn’t have trouble gaining yards. The test will be if they can convert scoring opportunities into touchdowns.

WEST VIRGINIA (-13.5) over TCU 

TCU’s offense stinks out loud at this point. They haven’t had a good game since Week 3 against Ohio State, which as we’ve seen more of the OSU defense, is less impressive than we thought at the time. They haven’t scored over 30 since Week 2 and they play in the freaking Big 12.

The Frog defense is a lot better, but they’ve had problems slowing down elite offenses. Oklahoma put up 52. OSU put up 40 in Dwayne Haskins’ first big game start. They were able to limit Texas Tech to 17 points, but it was third-string QB Jett Duffey’s first start and the Red Raiders were content playing a slower pace in that game and still beat the Frogs in Fort Worth.

SMU (-18) over UCONN 

UConn has kept it within 18 in only three games all season: FCS Rhode Island, UMass, and USF somehow. They have absolutely nothing to play for, they might be the worst team in the country, and they face a surging SMU team that has turned it on since the bye week.

Letdown potential for the Mustangs as they come off of games with Cincinnati and Houston and look forward to Memphis next week. However, they’ve looked like a determined team and a bowl game is in their sights and they probably need this one to make it. They faced a similar situation when they beat Navy – when it wasn’t clear they sucked – for their first win of the year, had Houston Baptist the next week with the UCF game following. They beat HBU by 36 in that sandwich spot.

SYRACUSE (-21) over Louisville 

Well, it appears Louisville is ready to quit with Petrino’s firing almost inevitable at this point, their defense is pathetic, and Syracuse has put a ton of points on everybody not named Clemson. There’s a potential for a letdown with the Orange as they face Notre Dame next week, but I’m not sure it’s possible to be less focused than Louisville right now.

2 Units

TEXAS TECH (+1) over Texas 

It’d be a bigger play if not for the constant juggling act at QB for Texas Tech. Texas has been overvalued all year and Texas Tech has been undervalued. Something to watch for here is the opportunistic Tech secondary. Sam Ehlinger’s done a good job taking care of the ball all year, but Adrian Frye, Vaughnte Dorsey, and Damarcus Fields all get their hands on a lot of balls.

Oregon (+3.5) over UTAH 

Oregon’s tough to predict, but I feel like you have to take them with Tyler Huntley out at QB for Utah. Huntley had a ton of experience and was a steady hand for the offense. He now gives way to redshirt freshman Jason Shelley, who went 4-11 for 59 yards in relief at Arizona State last week.

Temple (+4) over HOUSTON 

Anthony Russo should be able to keep it going from last week against a weak pass defense. The Owls have a capable run game as well and Ed Oliver’s injured knee is a big blow to the Cougars usually good run defense.

D’Eriq King showed that he was human last week against SMU and now he faces a Temple defense that’s one of the best in the country defending the pass. It was a rough game defensively for Temple against UCF last week, but that performance was much more the exception than the rule.

North Texas (-14, (-120)) over OLD DOMINION 

North Texas should be able to rack up a ton of points against a terrible defense, but the Mean Green’s last couple of road performances are limiting the play a bit here.

UCF (-25.5) over NAVY

Everything about this game suggests UCF is going to roll big. Navy’s been rag-dolled by everybody the past month. Their defense is terrible in both phases. They were in San Diego two weeks ago, Cincinnati last week, and now Orlando. All while juggling the ridiculous schedule of a service academy student. UCF is a machine. But Navy does have a tendency to make some games look a lot closer than they are given their style and this is a sandwich spot for the Knights after Temple last week and Cinci next week. That’s why we’re only going for the two units.

YTD: 49-41 (+4.9u)

2018 CFB Picks: Week 10

Picks were posted on Monday night, but thought I’d add a little here.

5 Units

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.

4 Units

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.

3 Units

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.

2 Units

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.

2018 CFB Picks: Week 9

Picks

4 Units

ARKANSAS (+2) over Vanderbilt

I considered going five here, but Ke’Shawn Vaughn will be in the backfield for the Dores and he’s the biggest threat of the offense.

On the positive side for Arkansas, they’ll get Ty Storey back this week at QB. His numbers look pretty modest, but Storey was starting to get it going finally. The first few weeks were a game of hot potato at QB for the Hogs. Once Storey was given the job for good, the offense started to come alive.

After mediocre performances against a pair of Top 25 defenses away from home – Auburn and Texas A&M – Storey started to get things rolling at home. Arkansas put up 405 yards (5.7 YPP) and 31 points against Alabama. And no, it wasn’t all garbage time. According to S&P+, that performance was in the 88th percentile of what teams typically do against a defense of Alabama’s caliber.

Against Ole Miss – admittedly a bad defense – the Hogs drive chart looked like this under Storey:

  • Field Goal, 11 plays, 50 yards
  • Touchdown, 7 plays, 78 yards
  • Touchdown, 3 plays, 80 yards
  • Touchdown, 5 plays, 75 yards
  • Field Goal, 9 plays, 52 yards
  • Field Goal, 10 plays, 55 yards
  • Field Goal, 11 plays, 57 yards

Pretty efficient, I’d say. After those seven drives, Storey was knocked out with a concussion and the Hogs went punt, punt, interception and ended up losing the game.

Storey missed last week, as well, and Arkansas could only muster 23 points against Tulsa. They’re a different team when he’s on the field. I think his impact is bigger than the line is giving him credit for.

Arkansas has also been playing better with the increased role of Rakeem Boyd (yes, the guy from Last Chance U). Boyd has 44 carries for 310 yards (7.05 YPC) the last three weeks.

OKLAHOMA STATE (+3) over Texas

I’m still of the opinion that Texas just really isn’t that good. By the wildly outdated AP/Coaches poll math, I understand why they’re #6, but they’re not close to that level in reality, in my opinion.

Oklahoma State is hard to get a read on because they’ve been a roller coaster this year, but I’m expecting their best performance of the season since Week 3 when they rolled Boise State.

The Pokes are coming off a bye – as is Texas – which was preceded by laying an ostrich-sized egg against Kansas State in Manhattan. It was a wretched performance, but I like that it happened heading into the bye week. It gives them double the time to sit in that sewage of a performance and to focus in on getting ready for this game.

And it’s a big one. Texas does have that shiny single digit next to its name and it’s a night kick on homecoming weekend

There’s one thing on the field that really sticks out to me when evaluating this game on the field: big plays. OSU makes a lot of them on offense. They’re the 8th most explosive offense in the country, according to S&P+, and they make them both on the ground and through the air.

The Texas defense ranks 99th in giving up those explosive plays and their offense doesn’t have the ability to match, coming in at 113th in the country. Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey are talented wide receivers, but not necessarily gamebreakers, and the Longhorn RBs seemingly count on their O-Line to get them every inch of their yard totals.

It should be a raucous atmosphere in Stillwater with a desperate team looking for victory against an opponent that generates more buzz than they can backup. If the Pokes can get some of those big plays, things could snowball for Texas.

And yes, I’m making this pick with the anticipation that Sam Ehlinger will play for the Horns, although I wouldn’t expect him to be 100% and he’ll be going against a front seven that gets to the QB a ton. Not sure that health holds up if he’s getting knocked down frequently.

3 Units

CHARLOTTE (+8) over Southern Miss

Trying to get back some of that Charlotte home dog magic again after they came through big against WKU a couple of weeks ago.

The 49ers will be without starting QB Chris Reynolds for the second straight week, but senior Evan Shireffs was solid enough on the road last week, they weren’t a good passing team when Reynolds was healthy to begin with, and they have a run-first identity anyways.

The real reason to like the 49ers is the defense. They’ve been incredible since the bye week a couple of weeks ago, only giving up 400 total yards in the past two games. They’ll be going against a super young offense this week that has managed just 20 points in their two road games this year.

Georgia Tech (+3) over VIRGINIA TECH

I promise there’s a lot more behind it, but sometimes it’s best to put it simply. Obviously, GT is an option team and relies on 77% of their offense to come from running the ball.

Here’s where their opponents have ranked in S&P+ rush defense, rush defense explosiveness, how many total yards the Jackets gained in those games, and how many points they scored.

Opponent Rush D Rank Rush D Explosive Rank GT Yards GT Points
USF 93 43 602 38
Pitt 34 85 386 19
Clemson 1 4 203 21
BGSU 127 107 532 63
Louisville 85 36 554 66
Duke 10 19 354 14
VT 107 130 ? ?

VT had the bye week to prepare, but GT has won three of the last four in the series (all as underdogs) and a bye week doesn’t fix the Hokies’ problems defensively, which has stemmed from trying to replace a ton of personnel.

GT is also coming off a bye and they had things rolling for a few weeks before it was derailed by a backbreaking sequence against Duke where they fumbled on three straight possessions in the second half, Duke converted all three into TDs, and they suddenly found themselves in desperation mode. They should be hungry to get back on the field.

AIR FORCE (+10) over Boise State

Once again, we’ll keep it simple. Air Force runs the option and Boise ranks 123rd in giving up those explosive run plays. The obvious question mark for the Falcons is defending against Brett Rypien, who’s as experienced as you can get at QB and might be even better in road games.

However, I’m comforted by Air Force covering 5 of the last 6 against Boise and winning 3 of those games outright, all of them as underdogs of more than a touchdown.

Further support if you’re an ATS trend guy: Air Force is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 as a home dog and they’ve won 6 of those outright. They’ve covered the spread in those games by an average of 14.9 points per game.

SAN JOSE STATE (-1) over UNLV

UNLV is pretty garbage without Armani Rogers. He remains out. SJSU has been knocking on the door of victory for weeks now and this is the perfect opportunity to break through. The only reason this isn’t a five unit play is because you’re still putting faith in one of the worst teams in the FBS, who has won one of their last 18 football games. Go Spartans.

2 Units

Wyoming (+2.5) over COLORADO STATE

Essentially, Colorado State does one thing decent and that’s throw the ball. Wyoming does one thing at a dare-I-say-elite level and that’s defend the pass.

The Cowboys have their issues, but they’re not your every day 2-6 Mountain West team. The pass defense is awesome, they’re respectable on both sides of the run, the only thing they can’t really do is throw, but almost anybody can against the Rams.

Wyoming is 2-6, but understand they’ve played the 28th most difficult schedule in the country. Five of their eight games have come against Top 30 teams. Not only do they win this game, but I’ll take it a step further and say they win out and go bowling.

UCLA (+10) over Utah

I’ll stick with UCLA, who I said a couple weeks ago was gonna go on a run. I didn’t really mention it in the Arkansas section because there were so many things to touch on, but they’re in similar spots. I liked both teams before the year, but figured they’d both struggle early and peak late in the season. That looks like it’s coming to fruition. Both have good coaches who are re-hauling the system. It takes time and now’s the time to ride with them.

Utah has looked unbeatable lately – which is good for my Pac-12 champ future – but this is also a play that there has to be some regression at some point for the Utes. I still think they win here, but it’s a short week for them and they’re going on the road after a huge win at home. Could come down to the wire.

WEST VIRGINIA (-13.5) over Baylor

In theory, West Virginia has a lot bigger games coming up to close out the season. They play Texas, Oklahoma, TCU, and Oklahoma State in November.

But this week feels big. They were terrible two weeks ago against Iowa State and were lucky they were playing Kansas the week before with the way Will Grier was tossing interceptions.

Now they’re coming off a bye, with an extra week to refocus the offense, and they play a team at home that they should roll. The Bears have a vulnerable defense and they’ve only found success as a team because of a weak schedule that’s been made even worse due to opponent injury.

Possible Additions

ARIZONA (+10) over Oregon

Need to know the status of Khalil Tate. Rhett Rodriguez was alright last week against UCLA, but you’d still like to have Tate.

MINNESOTA (+2.5) over Indiana

If Annexstad plays, we’re firing all the way up until Minnesota -3.

North Carolina (+9) over VIRGINIA

I like the UNC side, but probably only if it gets to 10.

YTD: 38-35-2 (-3.2u)

2018 CFB Picks: Week 7

All picks are 2 units except for the first…

Picks

COASTAL CAROLINA (-4.5) over UL-Monroe – 5 Units

I always hate when I love a side this much. I feel like I’m missing something so obvious. I’m scouring the internet looking for a reason the line feels so off.

There’s really only one possible reason the line is less than a touchdown here and that’s the uncertainty of the status on CC’s QB Kilton Anderson. Anderson missed the Troy game with a sprained ankle, but has had an extra week to recover with the bye. And this good news came through on Tuesday:

The other good news is that Anderson’s backup is pretty good. Bryce Carpenter is 27-34 on the year for 300 yards, 4 TDs, and 1 INT. He’s also carried 22 times for 135 yards. Carpenter can’t match the big plays that Anderson creates with his arm and he takes too many sacks, but obviously those numbers are still pretty impressive and they mostly came against Troy, one of the best teams in the league.

But once again, it looks like Anderson may be able to go.

As far as the number goes, every analytical measure I respect/look at has this line at least at 7.5 and as many 14. Even if you factor in the Anderson injury, I think you’re still looking at CC as the right side. The dropoff from him to Carpenter isn’t that severe.

But numbers are just a piece of the handicap. The biggest reason I really like this game is due to what I guess you’d call the logistical situations of the two teams.

UL-Monroe is playing their fifth road game in six weeks. I repeat: FIVE ROAD GAMES IN SIX WEEKS. They went to Mississippi in Week 2, Texas in Week 3, home for a week, Georgia in Week 5, Mississippi in Week 6, and now head to South Carolina for Week 7.

It really started to show the past couple of weeks. Georgia State beat them like a drum two weeks ago. GSU doesn’t beat anybody like a drum, especially when they’re 7.5 point dogs. Then last week, they were down 63-7 to Ole Miss just five minutes into the second half. Yes, Ole Miss is an SEC team – barely – but ULM was only three touchdown dogs in that one and they were down eight touchdowns 35 minutes into the game.

Coastal has also had a tough stretch with travel recently, only they’ve handled it much, much better. The Chanticleers had to evacuate Conway a few weeks ago when the hurricane hit. They were living out of hotels for three weeks. They couldn’t practice at home, yet they still won two of three games.

Now they’re settled back at home, which they were able to do during the bye week. They should be amped to play at home for just the second time this season. Their only other home performance was a 23-point win over UAB, a game in which they were dogs by nine points.

If you need anything more, CC has a Top 30 offense and Top 30 special teams when it comes to efficiency, according to S&P+. That efficiency only gets better offensively when they have scoring opportunities, where they rank 8th in the country in converting those opportunities.

Look at the flip side of that equation and UL-Monroe ranks dead last in the same category and nearly dead last – 126th – defensively.

The only thing I hate about this game is that it’s on ESPN+ and I’m finally gonna have to cave to those corporate monsters.

FIU (-2) over Middle Tennessee

MTSU is coming off two big wins and they were rather fortunate in both. The FAU win was a huge comeback that they pulled out by going for two at the end of regulation to win the game by one. Last week was a better performance, but Marshall was without their starting QB.

FIU is off a bye – as opposed to the second straight road trip for MTSU – and the Panthers have been a little more consistent from week-to-week. They’re also a much more balanced offense than the Blue Raiders. The FIU staff has had two weeks to prepare for the MTSU passing game and they’ve been really good defending on passing downs this year. They will be without one of their best pass rushers – Fermin Silva – but he’s a bit of a one-trick pony and the Panthers have several other guys who are capable.

Colorado (+7) over USC

Name me the game this year where USC has really looked impressive this year. Wazzu was a good win for them, but it was a one-sided effort. The defense didn’t show up.

Colorado hasn’t played an elite schedule by any stretch, but they’ve been consistent and have gained a lot of confidence over the first half of the season. JT Daniels may be the star of the future for SC, but Stevie Montez has been a stud for the Buffs this year and he’s got the best target in the country. Shame on me for thinking ASU could slow down Laviska last week.

Colorado has covered three straight against the Trojans.

CHARLOTTE (+9.5) over Western Kentucky

It’s truly a disgusting game, but that’s why I love the home dog here. WKU has been horrendous offensively and Mike Sanford said this week that starting QB Drew Eckels will remain out.

Charlotte is Charlotte, but they’ve been decent at home this year with wins over Old Dominion by 3 and Fordham by 24. They’re not horrendous defensively and when it comes to run defense they’re actually quite competent. I think that’ll be huge this week with WKU having QB troubles and probably hoping to rely more on the running game.

UCLA (+7.5) over CAL

Not a great time to be on the UCLA or Cal beat!

I feel like UCLA is about to go on a long run of covers. Since the bye week, they’ve looked a lot better. The Colorado score ended up being pretty ugly, but that was an even game for a long time in Boulder. The Bruins put together another respectable effort last week against Washington.

It can only get better for the offense as they go through the growing pains with DTR running the show. It’s a tough trip up to face the Bear defense, but Cal’s offense puts very little pressure on opponents. They’re inept and Wilcox can’t commit to one QB.

Georgia Southern (-17) over TEXAS STATE

Feels like it’s about to hit a breaking point at Texas State. HC Everett Withers is fighting with the media for simply doing their jobs. People are openly calling for the AD’s firing at the games.

And it’s become tradition for the Bobcats to throw in the towel under Withers. They’re 1-17 in the Sun Belt during his three years.

I don’t typically consider it to be good practice to take a favorite of 17 points, especially on the road, and especially on a short week.

However, I always like taking option teams on a short week (see: Georgia Tech/Louisville last week). It’s a tough system to prepare for as it is and now the staff has two less days to work with. And to make matters better for GSU, they’ll be going against an incompetent staff.

Louisville (+14) over BOSTON COLLEGE

It’s not gonna be fun, but the Cards do get a couple extra days of prep. They can’t possibly be worse than last week. And they’re either getting no AJ Dillon or a non-100% AJ Dillon for BC.

BC was getting a lot of buzz early in the season, but it was predicated on preseason expectations, blowouts over UMass and Holy Cross, and a road win at Wake Forest, who may be as bad as Louisville. Since then, they’ve been blown out by Purdue, had a shaky win over Temple, and then got down 28-3 to NC State before making it look a little better with some late scores.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN (pick) over Ball State

I’ll always believe in my boy John Bonamego, who was sounding fed up with some of his comments this past week.

Perfect timing. Ball State is CMU’s own personal slump buster. The Chips were a disappointing 3-4 before winning 50-9 in Muncie last year and rattling off five in a row. In 2016 the Chips were on a little two game slide before the Cards rolled into town.

CMU has actually been playing fairly decent and might’ve won last week if not for four turnovers. They’ve had bad turnover luck all year. I think things start to go their way this week. First time Ball State has been on the road in four weeks.

YTD: 29-27-1 (-2.7u)

Leans

Texas Tech (+7) over TCU

Seems like both starting QBs are going to end up playing and this line is too high for a TCU team that’s still overvalued, but I don’t trust Texas Tech to do shit.

ILLINOIS (+10.5) over Purdue

Maybe it’s the scared Purdue fan in me, but it’s an interesting spot. Illinois is coming off a dominant win at Rutgers and likely sees another opportunity for victory. Purdue was sizzling hot offensively the three weeks heading into the bye. Who knows if they can keep that going after the time off? It was also announced on Monday that they’d be playing in the primetime game on ABC next week against Ohio State at home. I would hope they aren’t dumb enough to overlook Illinois, but they are college kids.

Kent State (+11.5) over Miami OH

Feels like a letdown for Miami after last week and Kent is pesky and should only get better in year one under a new coaching staff.

Wisconsin (+7.5) over MICHIGAN

Feels like a trap, but it’s just hard for me to imagine anything other than someone winning this game 20-17.

NAVY (+7) over Temple

Navy has an underrated homefield advantage and I refuse to believe they continue to play this poorly. Ken Nia always seems to figure something out.

Baylor (+14.5) over TEXAS

Baylor already got jumped all over, so the value has kind of been washed away. But there’s always letdown potential.

LSU (+7.5) over Georgia

I watch an unhealthy amount of college football and I think I’ve only maybe seen 20 snaps combined of  Alabama and Georgia so far. I guess I’ll watch this.

Hawaii (+12.5) over BYU

This line has been all over the place. Opened initially at 8, got up to 14.5, and now back down to 12.5. I liked BYU at 8, especially since Hawaii has logged a billion miles the past five weeks with their travel schedule. I wouldn’t actually take the Bows for that reason, but this has gotten pretty high for a team that really sucks at scoring.

Missouri (+28) over ALABAMA

I’m not a psycho, but there seems to be some value in the line, especially with the way Bama has treated second halves.

Minnesota (+29.5) over OHIO STATE

Ditto.

Duke (+3) over GEORGIA TECH

This just seems like quite the overreaction to the last game each team has played. I might actually take it later in the week.

NEVADA (+17.5) over Boise State

Boise has turned into a bit of a wildcard.

2018 CFB Picks: Week 6

After last week, feels like it’s time for your bi-annual reminder to always sprinkle a little on the money line when taking dogs of 14 or less. Got me an extra couple units last week, which is not included in the record. Two units each again this week.

Picks

CENTRAL MICHIGAN (+7.5) over Buffalo

The number is still 7.5.

I can’t sit here and tell you the CMU offense is great, but I think it’s at least getting a little better with Tommy Lazzaro at QB. Lazzaro went three out of four leading scoring drives for the Chips in the second half against Michigan State. I expected the run game to be better than it has been, but they’ve run the gamut of tough run defenses. MSU, Kentucky, and NIU are all Top 25 run defenses in some form or fashion. Maine has only given up 1.5 YPC to opponents on the year. Hopefully the rushing lanes can open for CMU against a below average Bulls run defense.

The one real strength of the entire Chips team is the pass defense. Admittedly, they haven’t faced a murderer’s row of passers, but they’re going to need to keep up that trend against the Bulls, who’ve generated 63% of their offense through the air. Not a staggering number, but above average and they’ve been much more efficient passing than running.

Situationally, I think it’s a good spot for CMU. They had the embarrassing blowout loss to Kansas, but since then took MAC power NIU to the wire, beat Maine, and had a really strong showing against MSU in the second half. They’re gaining confidence.

Buffalo was rolling to start the season before getting blown out last week at home as a touchdown favorite against Army. Sometimes you might expect a bounceback, but I would think confidence might be shaken after last week and now they hit the road. And under Lance Leipold, the Bulls rarely just lose one game in a row. It’s actually only happened once (he’s lost 24 games here) and that was his first season and they beat a 3-9 FAU team.

RUTGERS (+4) over Illinois

The number is now 4.5 or 5.

This is almost entirely about the spot for Rutgers. By no means are they a good football team, but I don’t think they’re as bad as they’ve shown. The number is too high by nearly every statistical evaluation. Let’s not forget they’re playing Illinois.

But I think you’re going to get a desperate Rutgers team. The season hasn’t started like they hoped/expected. And now they get Illinois coming to Piscataway right before the season is essentially over. If lines were made right now, Rutgers would be dogs by at least two touchdowns the rest of the way. The players aren’t stupid. They know if they don’t win this week, they might not win again. They also should have some confidence knowing they went into Champaign and walked away with a 35-24 victory last year.

I’m guessing part of the reason this line has gone up by three points is Illinois coming off a bye week. I can’t express how little that means to me. Last year coming off the bye, the Illini lost 28-6 to 4-8 Nebraska at home. They failed to cover the three games after the bye by an average of 13.3 points and they didn’t win a game the rest of the year. Also heading into this year’s bye, the lasting memory for the team was giving up 42 straight points to Penn State at home, with the Nittany Lions scoring a touchdown every single time they touched the ball in the second half.

And if the line movement had anything to do with AJ Bush’s status being upgraded throughout the week, that’s hilarious. He might be worse than true freshman MJ Rivers, whose been filling in for him.

Arizona State (+2.5) over COLORADO

Same number.

I’ve done a 180 on Herm. I’m now all in on the Herm experiment.

For brevity’s sake because I can already tell this is going to get long: I think Herm and DC Danny Gonzales are going to minimize the impact of my personal man crush Laviska Shenault. Laviska has accounted for 51% of Colorado’s receiving yards.

ASU has done an effective job limiting opponents’ best receivers. Here’s how they’ve fared so far:

  • UTSA: Greg Campbell, 4 catches, 34 yards, 0 TDs, 8.5 YPC (other games: 21 catches, 235 yards, 1 TD, 11.2 YPC)
  • MSU: Felton Davis, 5 catches, 65 yards, 0 TDs, 12.8 YPC (other games: 11 catches, 214 yards, 1 TD, 19.5 YPC)
  • SDSU: the Aztecs don’t have a good receiver. They only had 129 yards passing.
  • UW: Aaron Fuller, 3 catches, 50 yards, 1 TD, 16.7 YPC (other games: 27 catches, 424 yards, 0 TD, 15.7 YPC)
  • OSU: Timmy Hernandez, 7 catches, 61 yards, 0 TD, 8.7 YPC (other games: 19 catches, 218 yards, 1 TD, 11.5 YPC) Also limited Isaiah Hodgins to one catch.

I like Colorado, but they haven’t played a team in the top half of the FBS yet and the big win was at Nebraska in the Huskers first game with a true freshman at QB.

I also like that this game is being played at 2 PM local time. Folsom Field can get pretty raucous at night, but an early afternoon game should keep the crowd subdued.

Kentucky (+6) over TEXAS A&M

It’s still either 5.5 or 6.

It seems much of the world has decided that this is the week that Kentucky turns back into a pumpkin. I’m not sure it’s gonna happen. That defense is legit, playing at a Top 5 level nationally for nearly half a season’s worth now.

The line suggests that even on a neutral field, A&M would be favored. That’s lunacy to me. So far, the two most impressive things A&M has done have come in losing efforts. Those two things: stick around with Clemson at home in Week 2 and “only get destroyed by Alabama, as opposed to obliterated.” There seems to be this hype around A&M as if they’re not sticking to the typical Kevin Sumlin season script to a T.

Meanwhile, UK has beaten three Top 30 teams already. This game should be a pick ’em. I’ve heard – from people I even respect – that A&M is going to “key on Benny Snell”…revolutionary. Guess what? Everyone keys on Benny Snell. He still hangs 100+ about 75% of the time.

WISCONSIN (-20) over Nebraska

The number is now 19.

Nebraska’s not as bad as their 0-4 record, I guess. They can move the ball against mediocre to bad teams. But boy do they kill themselves with bad decisions, turnovers, and penalties.

And now they get to go to Camp Randall with Wisconsin coming off a bye. Nebraska just doesn’t match up well in this game. Teams that spread it out and aren’t chock full of elite athletes never do well with the Badgers.

From what I’ve seen of Adrian Martinez, he’s great in the read option game, can make easy throws, but doesn’t have the accuracy to hang in the pocket and deliver a strike against tight coverage. He’s gonna have to prove me wrong to have much success through the air in this game.

Obviously Wisconsin can run the ball. Given that Michigan averaged 6.3 YPC on their way to 285 rushing yards against Nebraska, I’d say the Badgers are likely to experience some success. Alex Hornibrook is a shaky passer at times, but the Huskers don’t have much of a pass rush, UW has an elite O-Line, and it should provide a lot of time for Hornibrook to find an open man.

I could see this one getting ugly. The Badgers are coming off two ultra-physical games, a bye week, and know they need to be perfect to keep playoff hopes alive. Nebraska is reeling right now.

SAN JOSE STATE (+3.5) over Colorado State

The number is now 2.5 or 3.

I don’t get it. CSU has been terrible. They’re coming off a bye, but I’m not sure what’s going on there. Apparently Mike Bobo had a QB competition going on in the bye week and refuses to name a starter.

News to Mike Bobo: THE PASSING OFFENSE HAS BEEN THE ONLY THING YOU’RE NOT ASTOUNDINGLY ATROCIOUS AT (besides special teams).

Seriously, the run offense, the run defense, and the pass defense are all bottom of the barrel in almost every single way. The pass offense has been above average (admittedly, so has the special teams).

KJ Carta-Samuels has thrown for nearly 300 yards per game at a 63% completion rate, 11 TDs to 4 INTs and has gotten 7.1 YPA. His backup – Colin Hill – has been shit, but still gets in almost every game and apparently now might start.

Uh, okay. Spartans outright.

New Mexico (+10) over UNLV

The number is now 9.5.

Just take it. It should be a touchdown or less even if UNLV wasn’t without QB Armani Rogers. New Mexico also has QB health issues, but it’s not as steep of a drop off. Lobos can win outright.

Utah State (+3) over BYU

The number is now 2.5.

BYU got the buzz for beating Wisconsin in a favorable matchup for them. It was a good win, but Utah State has been consistently a better team over the past year and a half.  BYU was just picked apart by Jake Browning (he went 23-25) and I think Jordan Love can do the same. He’s one of the most underrated QBs in the country. The Aggies have quietly averaged 51.5 PPG through their first four games.

AIR FORCE (+3.5) over Navy

Line is now 3.

This Navy team is getting a lot of credit for playing like shit so far. They’ve covered one game and it was at home against Memphis. They were touchdown dogs and it was a slop fest in the rain. Otherwise, they’ve been pretty bad. They’ve only been favored one time at Air Force and they lost the game outright by nine.

Fresno State (-12) over NEVADA

The line is now anywhere from 13 to 14.

I will ride Fresno until the wheels fall off. Nevada has been terrible against anyone remotely decent and Fresno is by far the best team they’ve played so far. Reno doesn’t exactly scare me as a road favorite.

YTD: 25-22 (+0.3u)

Leans

Tulsa (+18) over HOUSTON

I think Houston is a little overvalued and Tulsa is starting to chip away. Just seems like a lot.

SMU (+24.5) over UCF

SMU is starting to come alive under Sonny Dykes. This game is sandwiched between Pitt and a road game at Memphis for UCF. Hard to bet against UCF, though. They’re dominant and running up the score is about all they have if they want to make an impact on the CFP committee.

OHIO STATE (-25.5) over Indiana

It feels like Ohio State is on a vengeance tour, but Indiana has done remarkably well ATS against the Buckeyes for the better part of a decade.

FLORIDA (+2.5) over LSU

I think Florida is going to win, but these games always seem to be a toss-up.

CINCINNATI (-7) over Tulane

Tulane had a great week against Memphis, but I don’t think all of their issues are solved. I think Cinci is still undervalued in the marketplace.

VIRGINIA TECH (+6) over Notre Dame

It’s gonna be wild in Blacksburg, which brings up memories of last year in Miami for the Irish. But Ian Book scares me. ND was a legit QB away from being a national title contender. They might have one.

NEW MEXICO STATE (+4.5) over Liberty

Hard telling what to expect from Liberty. Kinda feels like they’re due for a stinker.

OREGON STATE (+17) over Washington State

This game is just a potential trap for Wazzu. They just had a big, emotional win over Utah in the final minutes. They’ve got a bye week next and then Oregon. I’d take it if I had any faith in Oregon State, but they did just lose to Arizona by 21 at home.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (+4) over Auburn

It feels like the perfect time to buy low on Mississippi State and Auburn has an overvalued feel to them, but Mississippi State seems to be playing the wrong QB.

 

 

 

 

2018 CFB Picks: Week 5

My allocation of units last week was regrettable. I’m sorry I failed you. We’re going 2 units across the board this week.

Picks

Army (+7.5) over BUFFALO

I really like Buffalo this year, but this is far too many points. This should be closer to a field goal because I really don’t think there’s a big difference between the two. If you’ve followed along closely with this blog the past couple years, you know Army has been the biggest moneymaker around here. They’re 7-2 ATS since 2015 when they’re dogs on the road by more than a touchdown.

It should be noted that stud WR for Buffalo, Anthony Johnson, has a hamstring issue. He’ll either be hampered (hamstrings seem important for a skill position) or out.

DUKE (-4.5) over Virginia Tech

I would’ve told you a week ago that I thought Duke was better than Virginia Tech. And then VT lost to ODU and lost Josh Jackson in the process. And, yes, I’m aware that Duke is also starting Quentin Harris. Two things: 1. Quentin Harris is a better, more stable QB than Ryan Willis. And 2. VT is more reliant on their offense to win games.

The concern with VT heading into the season was that the Hokie defense would struggle after losing so many pros. That concern was soothed when they absolutely dominated FSU on opening night. Turns out, that might’ve been fool’s gold because FSU’s offense is struggling against everybody. Outside of that game, VT appeared to do well against FCS William & Mary, but they were one-upped by a shutout by James Madison the next week against the Tribe.

Then of course, the Hokies gave up 632 yards and 49 points to Old Dominion. I don’t care if they didn’t take ODU seriously, that’s horrendous. That’s not something that is fixed in a week’s time, especially going on the road against a good team with a really good head coach.

WASHINGTON STATE (+2) over Utah

Utah’s offense has just been so remarkably inefficient. The Ute defense has been elite, but I like where the Wazzu offense is headed with Gardner Minshew. James Williams isn’t a game-breaking back, but he does a little bit of everything for them. They’ve got seven guys who already have double-digit catches through four games.

Ever since Leach turned the corner here in 2015, the Cougs are 4-1 ATS as a home dog and have won three of those games outright. Every analytics measure I respect – including mine – has Washington State winning the game. I’m sure the bye week will help out Utah, but I’m not sure that’s long enough to give them a competent offense.

FRESNO STATE (-7.5) over Toledo

Fresno is coming off a bye, which was preceded by a blowout win at UCLA. Toledo is hitting the road for the first time this year, with an inexperienced QB,  and it’s a long trip. I think it’s a two touchdown game.

PENN STATE (+3.5) over Ohio State

It scares the hell out of me, but I don’t think there’s a ton of separation between the two. Once again, the analytics say Penn State should be favored in this game. Dwayne Haskins is really good, but Trace McSorley has established himself as one of the best in the game and has a lot more experience in these big games.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN (+3) over Arkansas State

GSU has taken a step this year and they might just be the better team between these two. Arkansas State’s passing game was supposed to be lethal this year and it just hasn’t been. And the Red Wolves have been terrible at stopping the run this year, which is problematic going against an option team. The Eagles are coming off a bye.

GEORGIA STATE (+7.5) over UL Monroe

ULM was also supposed to be a team that could rack up the points this year, but they’re only averaging 23 per game so far. It’s not easy taking Georgia State, but they’ve played a tough schedule so far. If you look at last week, they were 9 point dogs to WMU at home. Obviously you adjust ratings week-to-week, but it insinuates that WMU is only 1.5 points better than ULM. I’ve got it more like 10. I think the Panthers can win this outright.

Coastal Carolina (+14) over TROY

This game should be around 5 or 6. Even if you adjust for CC probably not having their QB, it’s maybe 7 or 8. But I’ll still take the Chanticleers here. Freshman Bryce Carpenter stepped in during the ULL game and led a huge couple of drives to ice away the game on the road. He was 5-for-5 for 82 yards and a touchdown in the process. I still think Troy is overvalued as a team and they wouldn’t have covered last week against ULM if ULM didn’t shoot themselves in the foot on multiple occasions.

NORTH TEXAS (-7) over Louisiana Tech

I’m not gonna lie, the line stinks out loud. But I have a passion for running into bear traps. Based on performance this year, you could make the argument that the line should be double this. Not that La Tech has been bad, but NT has been rolling people over. My biggest fear is that the Mean Green start to get a little full of themselves, but if it was going to happen, you feel like it would’ve been last week at Liberty after they trounced Arkansas.

Also a little comforting, NT is 9-2 ATS their last 11 as a one score favorite at home with those wins coming by an average of more than 20 points per game.

SAN JOSE STATE (+11.5) over Hawaii

Pretty simply, I think Hawaii is overvalued and SJSU is undervalued. SJSU is also coming off a bye, which is always big, but especially big when you’re preparing for a unique system, which in this case is the Run and Shoot.

This is also a tough stretch for Hawaii in a couple of ways. Not only are they playing a rested team, but they’ve also played more football than anyone else so far, starting in Week 0 and now playing their sixth straight week.

They’re also in a three game stretch that started with a half day trip all the way to Army, flying all the way back to the islands, and now back on the road again. Last year they faced three stretches like this – road game, home game, road game – and they went 0-3 SU, 0-3 ATS and they missed the spread number by an average of 18.2 PPG in those three.

YTD: 18-19 (-7.1u)

Leans

UMass (+13.5) over OHIO

Ohio is just overvalued for what they’ve shown through the first few weeks. I’d like to take UMass, but there’s uncertainty at QB with injuries, they’ve been really bad on the road so far, and it feels like Ohio is going to break loose soon and get back to their level of expectation.

CAL (+2.5) over Oregon

It feels like a trap.

Texas (-8.5) over KANSAS STATE

Also feels like a trap. I just don’t think a Bill Snyder team can be this bad for a whole season.

Cincinnati (-17) over UCONN

Cincinnati should cover this, but I wonder if UConn will have their full attention.

TULANE (+14) over Memphis

Tulane can be scrappy, but they haven’t shown much yet and Memphis blew their doors off last year.

EMU (-3.5) over NIU

Maybe if it was 2.5. I believe Chris Creighton has a personal creed that every football game should be decided by a field goal or less.

ECU (-7) over Old Dominion

Not sure how ODU responds this week. Didn’t get a good feeling when I heard an interview with HC Bobby Wilder this morning – Thursday – and he was still going on and on about the VT game. Got another game in two days, chief.

Temple (+13.5) over BOSTON COLLEGE

Temple’s playing a lot better, but BC might have something to prove after laying an egg last week.

APPALACHIAN STATE (-26) over South Alabama

I’m just afraid to pull the trigger and give 26.

LOUISVILLE (+6) over Florida State

Still tough to trust FSU giving points on the road, no?

2018 Season Total Tracker: Week 4

You can find the entire list of totals here.

Unless I missed somebody else, I believe Hawaii is the first team to have their season total decided. Congrats to the Bows for hitting the over before September ends.

5*

FAU (over 8.5) loses 56-36 to UCF

(FAU 2-2)

I thought the Owls might have a chance to steal one, but UCF showed why they’re still kings of the Group of 5. A clear difference between the two was at QB. McKenzie Milton is McKenzie Milton and, I’ll be honest, Chris Robison worries me a little bit.

A win at MTSU this week is a must.

4*

East Carolina (under 3.5) loses 20-13 to USF

(ECU 1-2)

It was a loss for ECU, but that defense does look pretty good. USF’s offense isn’t nearly as good as it was a year ago – they also only managed 25 against Illinois – but the Pirates are definitely improved on that side of the ball.

I’ll admit I may have underrated the addition of DC David Blackwell to the staff. Blackwell came over from Jacksonville State, where they’ve had a number of great defenses. I just figured the dysfunction under Scottie Montgomery would outweigh Blackwell’s impact.

This week the Pirates are either playing ODU at the best or worst time. The Monarchs obviously just had a program-changing win over Virginia Tech. They’re either going to be full of confidence and ready to go or they’re still going to be celebrating.

Florida State (over 8) wins 37-19 over Northern Illinois

(FSU 2-2)

I hate this damn team.

Maryland (over 5) wins 42-13 over Minnesota

(Maryland 3-1)

Quite the first four weeks for Maryland. There’s no telling what they’re going to play like. I’d like to say that this win at least clinches a push with Rutgers and Illinois home games still remaining, but they did lose by 21 to Temple at home.

3*

Florida (over 8) wins 47-21 at Tennessee (under 5.5)

(UF 3-1; UT 2-2)

I’m still not really sure if Florida is any good or not, but it seems fairly clear that Tennessee is not. That was the most winnable game for the Vols in this brutal five-game stretch that they have.

Iowa (over 7.5) loses 28-17 to Wisconsin

It’s not a huge loss for the total, but it does make the Big Ten championship darkhorse bet a lot more difficult. But it was all right there for the Hawkeyes at home and they just let it slip away. They have a championship caliber defense, but a cellar dweller caliber offense.

UNC (under 5.5) wins 38-35 over Pitt (over 5)

(UNC 1-2; Pitt 2-2)

A double whammy in poor developments. Even still, I’m not remotely concerned yet with UNC hitting the over.

But I’ll level with you, the Pitt bet is looking a little bleak. I never have any idea what to expect with the Panthers. Narduzzi is a defensive guy and they haven’t developed a decent defense in three-and-a-half years. I’m pretty much just hoping for a push at this point.

Texas (under 8.5) wins 31-16 over TCU

(Texas 3-1)

If we’re in the trust tree, Texas is starting to feel like a 9-3 team to me now.

Buffalo (over 6.5) wins 42-13 over Rutgers

(Buffalo 4-0)

The Bulls are good.

Michigan State (over 8.5) wins 35-21 at Indiana

(MSU 2-1)

I don’t have much to say. It was big.

 

 

2018 CFB Picks: Week 4

Picks – 2 Units

All of these were given out on late Sunday night on Twitter.

INDIANA (+4.5) over Michigan State 

The line is now +5.

I’d say right now that there’s not a huge difference between the two teams. This line suggests that there’s a 7.5 or 8 point difference between the two. The Spartans have not appeared close to what they were expected to be heading into the season. Indiana’s really been more thoroughly dominant in their three wins than the final scores would indicate.

The Hoosiers aren’t the most explosive offense in the world, but that might suit them just fine in a game that will likely come down to ball control, turnovers, and field position.

MSU is 1-9 ATS in their last ten games as a favorite on the road. The Hoosiers won the last meeting between these two in Bloomington.

Northern Illinois (+10.5) over FLORIDA STATE

The line is now +10.

If FSU is going to suck so hard every week, I might as well recoup some of my loss from the season total bet that is in the shitter.

There aren’t many things that the Noles are good at right now, but if one thing really sticks out is that swiss cheese, turnstile-esque, alleged offensive line that they have. And that O-Line has to go against a character by the name of Sutton Smith. You probably haven’t heard of him, but he’s got 17 sacks in his last 16 games.

NIU can’t score, but at this point they have a Top 15 defense nationally. If the Noles can’t score once again this week, you have to start to wonder when it negatively impacts the mentality of the defense, also. They haven’t necessarily set the world on fire as it is.

TCU (-2.5) over TEXAS

The line is now -3.

I’m still firmly in the anti-Texas group. I’m not gonna be fooled by that 37-14 score they posted over USC. They gained a whopping 77 more yards and that’s with USC lacking any capability to run the ball and a banged-up true freshman QB.

TCU is the first offense Texas will play that actually has more than one dimension. Shawn Robinson made a couple of critical turnovers against Ohio State, but he still threw for 308 yards against the Buckeyes in his fourth career start. They’ve got a bevy of guys who can run the ball efficiently, including QB Robinson.

I have zero concern with a hangover from the Ohio State game for the Frogs. Gary Patterson is as good as it gets for preparing a team. And he owns Texas at this point. The last four years the Frogs have won this matchup by an AVERAGE of 30 points. They haven’t given up more than 10 points in any of those games. Since 2003, TCU is 47-7 as a road favorite and they’ve covered five of seven in the last couple years.

VANDERBILT (+2.5) over South Carolina

I will ride the Vandy train until it goes off the rails. South Carolina could be good. I don’t know. We haven’t seen anything to prove that they are.

I know Vandy is good at this point. They were dominant in the first two games against lesser opponents and then there was last week at Notre Dame. They lost the turnover battle 3-0, including a fumble at the one-yard line, missed a field goal, and settled for a field goal at the three. They lost by five, but they outgained the Irish and honestly looked like the better team in the final three quarters once they got settled down.

I’ll gladly take the 2.5, even though I don’t need it.

LOUISIANA MONROE (+7) over Troy

The line is now +4.5.

Always a good feeling to get 2.5 points of value. I’m not sure I’d take it at 4.5, but it should probably be 2.5 or 3.

Troy’s coming off of the big win at Nebraska. This is a big letdown spot for a couple of reasons. For starters, any time a Group of 5 beats a Power 5, you worry about the next week. And it’s a double whammy because Troy has the euphoria of the win, but honestly it didn’t really prove that much about them as a team. Why? Because it’s unclear if Nebraska is any good. They weren’t last year. They lost their opener at home to Colorado. And they didn’t have the services of stud freshman QB Adrian Martinez.

It could give the Trojans confidence, but it’s false confidence. Don’t forget, they were just a couple of weeks removed from being absolutely undressed by Boise State at home.

There’s also the part where Troy had a huge win last year at LSU and followed it up with a 19-8 loss at home to 4-8 South Alabama. I’m sure Neal Brown will remind them of that, but still.

Picks – 1 Unit

Clemson (-15) over GEORGIA TECH

Things I like:

  • Clemson just had a tune-up game against the option with Georgia Southern and gave up 7 points
  • The new cut blocking rules this year have made the option less effective
  • Clemson’s defense – especially up front – is ridiculous
  • GT is 1-9 all-time as a home dog of 7 points or more and hasn’t come close to covering under Paul Johnson

Mississippi State (-9) over KENTUCKY

I don’t know if Kentucky is actually good or not, but Mississippi State might be a Top 10 team and I’m going to hit you with the stat of all stats.

Here we go.

As a home underdog of 7 or more points, Kentucky has lost 18 straight and gone 3-15 ATS in those games with an average straight-up defeat of 22.2 PPG and an average ATS defeat of 8.0 PPG.

UNLV (+7.5) over ARKANSAS STATE

It’s late and I’m tired, but essentially it’s this: UNLV is a good running team, ASU has a poor rush defense. ASU relies on the pass, UNLV has a good pass defense. It should be 3 or less on the spread.

Texas State (+7) over UTSA

I guess the best way to put it is that I think both teams are somewhat equally bad. UTSA is 1-7 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite and they’ve scored a touchdown or less in four of those games.

Eastern Michigan (+12) over SAN DIEGO STATE

It’s only a single unit because EMU is on their third straight road game, but I’m not totally sure that it matters. EMU is just a dirty, grimy, grinding team…that has kind of learned how to throw the ball a little bit.

SDSU is coming off a big, dramatic win over Arizona State. I will say that I don’t think it matters much that Christian Chapman is out because he’s been a liability for years.

EMU is 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games as an underdog, which have all occurred in about a two-year span.

YTD: 14-13 (+1.0u)

Leans

Florida Atlantic (+13.5) over UCF

I don’t think UCF is two touchdowns better than FAU, but they’ve definitely had the more impressive start, even if it did come against atrocious teams.

Akron (+18.5) over IOWA STATE

This game is sandwiched between Iowa and Oklahoma on one side and TCU, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia on the other side for Iowa State. However, I think that letdown/look-ahead spot might be mitigated by Akron just beating Northwestern. Also tough to gauge how the Zips respond to beating their first Big Ten foe in literally forever.

MARSHALL (+5) over NC State

Tough to get a real read on either team yet, but Marshall might be a better team right now and they’re catching points at home.

PURDUE (+7) over Boston College

It’s the same angle on Purdue as last week. Just to vent a little in this space: Bill Connelly (who you should be following) does something called “Postgame Win Expectancy” where he takes the box score, runs it through the number machine, and it spits out how often that team would typically win the game based on the box score. Purdue is 0-3. Their PGWE is 3-0. They only had a 6% chance of going 0-3 and they are 0-3. Terrific.

Ohio (+8) over Cincinnati

I think Ohio is better than they’ve played so far, but Cincinnati has looked really good.

WAKE FOREST (+7.5) over Notre Dame

It’s hard to believe in a team that’s so one-dimensional offensively. Especially when they need to cover 7.5 on the road against a very underrated coach. However, Brandon Wimbush might be able to get it going this against a weak Wake pass defense.

GEORGIA STATE (+7.5) over Western Michigan

I still don’t think Western Michigan is good.

Rice (+14) over SOUTHERN MISS

I’m not sure Rice is horrendous.

Kansas (+7) over BAYLOR

Initially wrote this one down when Kansas was +9.5. I’m not sure the Jayhawks are better than Baylor, but they’ve definitely shown a lot more so far.

IOWA (+3) over Wisconsin

Probably would’ve taken this if Wisconsin hadn’t actually gone through with losing to BYU. This would almost assuredly be more points, as well. It’s also very difficult to believe in Iowa’s putrid offense so far, especially after their performance against the Badgers last year.

Arizona State (+17.5) over WASHINGTON

Washington’s offense has been pretty underwhelming so far and ASU provides a unique look defensively. Wouldn’t expect experienced QB Manny Wilkins to be intimidated going against the crowd in Seattle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 Season Total Tracker: Week 3

You can find the entire list of totals here.

5*

Florida Atlantic (over 8.5) wins 49-28 over Bethune-Cookman

(FAU 2-1)

The score didn’t end up the prettiest, but the Owls had a 29-0 lead after the first quarter and just kind of coasted.

Absolutely massive game at UCF on Friday. It’s not a necessity to get a win, but it would certainly help ease my stress level.

4*

Maryland (over 5) loses 35-14 to Temple (over 6.5, 3*)

(MD 2-1; Temple 1-2)

Stunning, to say the least. The largest of eggs laid by the Terps. A staggering lack of production from either of Maryland’s QBs. After a really strong two weeks, you hope that it’s just a mental lapse looking ahead to Big Ten play. Speaking of which, a home game with Minnesota this week is basically a must-win if they’re going to do anything more than push.

On the Temple side of things, I guess this keeps their over alive. Still feels pretty unlikely, though. But for the second straight season, a change in QB has jump-started things. Anthony Russo looked solid for his first start, which just happened to be on the road against a Big Ten squad.

Florida State (over 8) loses 30-7 to Syracuse

(FSU 1-2)

There will be no spin zone this week. This is without a doubt one of the worst bets I’ve ever made, all things considered. They might go 3-9.

3*

Duke (over 6) wins 40-27 at Baylor

(Duke 3-0)

It may not seem like a big deal to beat a team that was 1-11 a year ago, but after Daniel Jones went down at QB, there was some worry.

But Quentin Harris took over and did a fine job. He wasn’t the most efficient passer, but made some big ones and provided a rushing element.

The most daunting thing about taking the over with the Blue Devils was the two road games against Power 5 teams and a matchup with Army as their first three games of the season. Coming out of this stretch 3-0 is a huge win.

LSU (under 7) wins 22-21 at Auburn

(LSU 3-0)

I’d like to issue a formal apology to Coach O. I was wrong about the Tigers. At this point, 7-5 seems like the absolute worst case scenario

Nebraska (under 6.5) loses 24-19 to Troy

(Nebraska 0-2)

Hard to believe the Huskers could only give up 253 yards and still lose to Troy at home. Obviously, they need Martinez back. Even if he does come back soon, road games with Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Northwestern are still left on the schedule. As is Michigan State at home.

Pitt (over 5) wins 24-19 over Georgia Tech

(Pitt 2-1)

Pretty much had to have this one and they probably need to win @ UNC this week, too. They’ve got a tough schedule.

Buffalo (over 6.5) wins 35-28 over Eastern Michigan

(Buffalo 3-0)

This one is looking pretty good. The Bulls had two games that I would call toss-ups the past two weeks and they’re 2-0 and things are looking pretty favorable with the remaining schedule. Tyree Jackson has been incredible.

Illinois (under 4) loses 25-19 to USF 

(Illinois 2-1)

The Illini are better than I expected, specifically on defense. I don’t need to explain that a 3-0 start would be problematic with the under at 4. Grandpa Lovie’s squad was leading late before a total blown coverage allowed USF to take the game. We dodged a bullet.

We’ll see if the Illini are favored the rest of the way.

Texas (under 8.5) wins 37-14 over USC

(Texas 2-1)

Good win for the Horns, but its unclear if USC is any good. Still feel pretty good about the under here.

UCLA (over 5.5) loses 38-14 to Fresno State

(UCLA 0-3)

Yeah, this just isn’t gonna happen. They might be favored over Arizona at home. Otherwise, they’re gonna have to pull five upsets. Not gonna hold my breath.