This article is part of our College Football Picks series.
Don't look now, and I better not jinx myself, but last week was a third 4-1 week in four tries. We know that can change on a dime, and this week's slate looks primed for some regression with so many games canceled and so few remaining to choose from. My one trap game this week is Virginia Tech (-2) vs. Miami. How on earth are the Hokies favored here, and have been since the line opened Sunday. Keep an eye on the availability of RB Khalil Herbert and TE James Mitchell, huge difference makers for VT.
Kentucky (-17) vs. Vanderbilt
This is a big number for a limited Kentucky offense to cover, but I expect their rushing attack, which averages 176.2 yards per game, to get going against a Commodores side that allows 5.2 yards per carry. But the real story will be defense, and Vandy's paltry offense. The latter is averaging just 12.8 ppg, boosted by 21 points put up against Ole Miss' pathetic D. Kentucky is only giving up 11.2 ppg in five games not played against Ole miss. They are also second nationally in interceptions and tied for first with three returned for TDs. This may not feel comfortable for a while, but UK can find their way into at least 24 points, hopefully more, which earns them a cover.
Wake Forest (+13.5) at North Carolina
It's a scary proposition going against a UNC offense that's averaging 40.9 ppg, having topped that number in three straight and four times overall. But Wake is riding a four-game winning streak, scoring at least 38 in three of those, and had an extra week to prepare. Trend betters should love the Deacons, as they are 5-1 ATS while North Carolina is 4-3, alternating covers with non-covers. After last week's blowout at Duke, the Heels trend is to be under the number here. While I like Dave Clawson to have his team read to play and keep this in single digits, it couldn't hurt to wait and see if this number continues to rise after opening at UNC (-10).
Coastal Carolina (-10.5) at Troy
I'm done waiting for a letdown from Coastal, and will just happily ride them until proven otherwise. QB Grayson McCall has a ridiculous 16:1 TD:INT ratio, adding four rushing scores and has shown poise on the road, where the Chanticleers are 3-0 with a combined 69 point margin of victory. Troy has been uneven, but their wins aren't overly impressive (MTSU, Eastern Kentucky, Texas State and Arkansas State), while losing to Georgia Southern and Georgia State, the latter of which Coastal beat by 51. This is very much a business trip for Coastal, and they won't be caught looking ahead to next week's showdown with Appalachian State. They'll take care of business early.
Army (+5.5) at Tulane
Maybe this line belongs in the intro, as I find it puzzling. Tulane's wins are over South Alabama, ECU, Southern Miss and Temple, while they fell to Navy by three, and a murderer's row, by AAC standards, of SMU, Houston and UCF by a combined 38 points. Army haven't played since October 24, but that was due to positive tests at Air Force and a bye, rather than anything with the Black Knights. Their victories aren't impressive either, so maybe I'm being sucked in blindly. But with both teams running often, I'm going to trust Army plus thanks to time of possession, where they rank 19th and Tulane 86th.
Mississippi (-11) vs. South Carolina
USC has lost their last two games 100-27, which included 24 points against a defenseless LSU side. If LSU is defenseless, Ole Miss is worse, but I just can't see the Gamecocks scoring enough to keep pace with Lane Kiffin's crew. The Rebels average 38.0 ppg, topping 40 three times and 50 once in six tries. SC could make a change under center and get a spark early, but a lack of confidence and firepower won't keep them within two touchdowns through four quarters.
Last week: 4-1, Season: 24-23-2
Another winning outcome as I found my way back to 4-1 this past week. The first win came on Friday night with BYU, which dispatched Boise State with ease. Ease isn't the word I would use for how Northwestern covered, but it doesn't matter how you get there, it's that you get there. Oklahoma took its sweet time to get above the number, playing around with Kansas for most of the first half, but in the end, the Sooners covered the number with ease as well. The nightcap was perhaps the easiest win of the weekend as Clemson and Notre Dame lit up the scoreboard and hit a relatively low total with no problem. The lone loss was the over in the Minnesota game, which thanks to the Gopher defense, didn't have much of a chance of hitting. I knew the Gopher defense would improve its play at some point, but I'm still not sold that they are back.
Over (58) Iowa at Minnesota
As mentioned earlier, I'm not entirely sold that the Gopher defense is back. Sure, they played well against a depleted Illinois team, but they're about to face a real offense once again this week. Iowa is no juggernaut on offense, but the Hawkeyes lit up the scoreboard this past week against Michigan State, which traditionally has a strong defense. While the defense is still in question, there's no denying the Gopher offense picked up where it left off last season. The Gophers will continue to get theirs on offense and Iowa will take advantage of a weak Minnesota defense. This number isn't so high that we need a track meet, just a decent pace, and both teams contributing.
Over (56) East Carolina at Cincinnati
East Carolina has been an over machine this season and even though the Pirates failed to get over the total this past week, they were just one yard away from doing so, getting stopped on the 1-yard-line in the final minute. Cincinnati has just been a machine this year, often going over the total, but failing to do so when its defense plays too well. I'm a little worried that the Bearcat defense might shut down East Carolina, but after a stretch where they've played the best teams in their conference, it's time to relax on defense. With its guard down, the Bearcat defense will allow a few scores; meanwhile, the offense will slice through the Pirate defense with no problem.
Boston College (+13.5) vs. Notre Dame
This pick has little to do with Boston College and more to do with Notre Dame as it attempts to play at a high-level just one week after a monumental win over Clemson. Not only did the 'Irish knock off the number one team in the country in a Saturday night spotlight game, but they did so in overtime. Outside of the mental hurdle this week, that game had to take a lot out of them physically. I'm not sure if they'll be in any kind of shape for another battle this week. That's where Boston College comes into play as the Eagles need to show up here, but they don't need to be at their best to cover this number. Just show up with some kind of game and put some pressure on Notre Dame and this should be a close game.
North Carolina State (-9.5) vs. Florida State
Florida State was a mess before the events of this week took place, but now the Seminoles not only enter this week off two blow out losses, but they just lost more key players as well. There's nothing to salvage this season and during a normal year, perhaps they play for pride, but during this COVID season, I have to imagine that the Seminole players just want this to end. NC State is also coming off two consecutive losses, but the Wolfpack have an excuse as they faced North Carolina and Miami and they gave the Hurricanes all they could handle. It's not often a middle-tier team gets a chance to beat down a big name like FSU and I expect the Wolfpack to take full advantage of this situation and destroy the Seminoles.
Over (57.5) Houston vs. South Florida
I don't understand this total. I'm not sure why it isn't in the 60s, but I'm not going to complain. South Florida has been a great "over" team this season as the Bulls have allowed nearly 40 points per game in their past four games and their offense hasn't been too shabby either. Houston ran into a buzz saw this past week in Cincinnati, but that'll just make facing South Florida's defense that much easier. It's always nice getting a team off a tough matchup, especially when they have a great matchup in front of them. Houston will put up a lot of points this week and USF will hang with them long enough to put this game over the total.
Last Week: 4-1-0, Season: 26-20-0