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Welp, it finally happened. I turned in a long-awaited losing week. No excuses, but I got bit by some quarterback injuries. Devin Leary going out during the game and Will Levis' injury creeping up after I submitted could have given me a pivot to other options. Oh well, it happens. Let's just hope it's a blimp on the radar, and I can get back to some winners. Some column regulars are featured again here, which can be a dicey proposition, or we've got a beat on multiple teams and will keep targeting for or against. A few lines don't make much sense, including North Carolina (-7) at Duke. Surely Duke can't score with the Heels. Why is this number so low?
Miami (-7) at Virginia Tech
Yours truly will be in attendance, and loyal readers know I'm a die-hard Miami fan. If I'm feeling confident, that says something as I'm usually overly critical. Yes, Miami has lost three straight. They are struggling to score points, and lack a running game along with playmakers in the red zone. And they are easy to pass over the top against. None of these things are places the Hokies excel, as they are a bad, rebuilding football team. The Hokies have also lost three straight and are 1-5 ATS on the year. Miami is on the road for the first time since Week 3, and I think getting out of South Florida allows them to get away from the noise of their bad start, regroup, and get back into the win column.
Under 58.5 Georgia vs. Vanderbilt
Y'all know I don't do totals, but I really struggled to find five teams I liked this week, looking at plenty before passing, so here we are. Only Georgia's game against Kent State has gone over this number, though all of Vanderbilt's have had at least 58 points. That's the concern, as the Commodores are going to get gashed. But with the Bulldogs coming off of a rivalry game against Auburn, and the meat of their schedule ahead with Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Kentucky all looming, it's reasonable to assume they look ahead a bit and go through the motions. If Vanderbilt gets to 14 points, we're in trouble, but I'll bank on that not happening.
Tulane (-11.5) at South Florida
This Tulane defense is legit, allowing just 13.3 ppg, which allows me to feel slightly more confident in them covering the double-digit number, as their offense leaves some to be desired. That USF ranks 120th in scoring defense further helps. Tulane sits at 5-1 SU and ATS and have played their way into 24+ points in all of those victories. South Florida meanwhile is bad, sitting at 1-5 SU and 2-4 ATS, beating only Howard while rising up and competing at Cincinnati. Perhaps that's a sign of improvement, or perhaps they got up for a game and are going to be flat here, which I'm banking on.
James Madison (-12) at Georgia Southern
JMU is making the transition to FBS look easy, sitting at 5-0 SU and ATS. They've been elite defensively, leading the nation against the run by allowing just 1.42 ypc and 42 ypg. The Dukes also check in 23rd against the pass, allowing 6.9 ypa and 186.4 ypg and 14th in scoring, surrendering just 15.0 ppg. They are also explosive offensively, averaging 44.0 ppg and have balance.They are on the road for the second straight week, which could lead to a stinker, but this is a championship FCS program that expects to win. Georgia Southern is 4-2 ATS, have beaten Nebraska and challenged Coastal Carolina, so they won't be push overs. But they can't stop the run, allowing 5.6 ypc and 224.2 ypg, ranking 126th. JMU will go right through them, and not give up enough for GSU to keep it close.
Clemson (-3.5) at Florida State
I've doubted FSU all season, and they are actually slowly making me a believer, as they've competed far better against North Carolina State and Wake Forest than I expected. And a night home game surely has Doak Campbell Stadium rocking. But that's exactly what Clemson thrives on. They are in the thick of the playoff race, but likely need an undefeated season to get there, so they'll come in and do their jobs. Their cornerbacks still scare me, so expect the 'Noles to score some. But FSU isn't there yet across their lines, where Clemson will dominate. The line has come down some two points from open, so if you like it, keep an eye on it as it could perhaps drop more. And don't be afraid to take an alt-line at reduced juice if you're more cautious.
Last week: 2-3; Season 21-14
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And we're back! I can't tell you how nice it is to write this article after a winning week as opposed to a losing week. After a rough patch to start the season, I scored my first 4-1 week of the season this past week. I'm not one to gloat, however, as I know losing weeks are just as easy to come by as winning ones, so let's just move onto the recap.
Let's start with the loss, which was Utah and man was it a bad loss. UCLA is the real deal as the Bruins were in charge of this game from start until finish. Now the good stuff, the first win was the Kansas over, which didn't look good at the half, but both teams picked up the pace in the second half and pushed the total over. Next up was the under in the Oklahoma game, which looked shaky early when the Longhorns jumped out to a big lead, but the Sooners couldn't get anything going on offense and the game stayed under with ease. Georgia was a nail-biter as once again the Bulldogs started slowly, but eventually they got above the number…only to let Auburn score and get back within the number. Luckily Georgia had one drive left and covered the number. The final win was hit with ease as Arizona State found its offense and forced Washington into a back-and-forth affair.
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Illinois (+6.5) vs Minnesota
Let's try this one more time. I've yet to figure out the Gophers this season, but I think I have this one. The only thing that has me worried is that the line has shifted three points towards the Gophers. Perhaps that's a reaction to the injury of Tommy DeVito, but it's not like he was the straw that stirred the drink, this offense revolves around the running game and last I checked, Chase Brown is still healthy. Illinois is coming off a tough game this past week against Iowa and I'm sure the Illini won't be as fresh as the Gophers, but the shine is off these Gophers. Yeah, Mo Ibrahim was out against Purdue, but that doesn't explain the complete dud they put up that day. Illinois is one of the best teams at stopping the run in the country and if it even slows down the Gophers, it's going to be a long day because Tanner Morgan can't win a game by himself.
Kansas (+8.5) at Oklahoma
I'm generally wary of fading a big school that's on a terrible bender, but man, something is just way off in Norman right now. This line started at seven and moved towards Oklahoma, which is likely due to the absence of starting QB Jalon Daniels, and while that's a big blow, backup Jason Bean is no slouch as he showed against TCU this past week. The Sooners have the talent to get separation here, but I wonder where the motivation lies now. Is there anything beyond not embarrassing themselves anymore? I mean, the Big 12 is gone and I dare say no one goes to Oklahoma with the goal of just becoming bowl eligible so how the heck do the Sooners get up for this one?
Iowa State +16.5 at Texas
Texas is back, right? Yeah, I know, the Longhorns played Alabama tough in week one and they blew out Oklahoma last week, so they must be back. Here's the thing though, as I just mentioned, Oklahoma was out of sorts before that blowout, so while that was impressive, I don't think it means that Texas is some superpower again. Iowa State is usually good for one big upset each season and this looks like a perfect spot to throw a scare into the Longhorns. The Cyclones like to make things hard for their opponents and that's what I'm expecting this weekend. ISU has three losses by a combined 11 points. The Cyclones might not win this game, but they'll give an over confident Longhorn team a real fight on Saturday.
Tennessee (+7.5) vs Alabama
It goes without saying that I'm a little disappointed with how the 'Tide played this past week against Texas A&M. I get that they were without Bryce Young, but the real disappointment was the defense, which surrendered 20 points to a terrible offense. Yeah the offense didn't help them out much and they were left with a couple short fields to defend, but without Young, that unit needed to step up against a vulnerable Aggie offense and they didn't. I bring that up because they are up against a heck of test this week in Hendon Hooker. Tennessee is coming off a very impressive road win this past week at LSU, one that should give them all the confidence the Vols need this week to pull out a win here, or at least stay within the number.
Over 68.5 Oklahoma State at TCU
This has all the makings of a wild shootout. Neither team can defend the pass and both teams have dynamic offenses. Both teams enter at 5-0 and neither team has won by less than seven points. TCU has faced a slightly tougher schedule, but both teams have looked impressive for the most part. The Cowboys may have more of an issue on defense however as their opening week effort against Central Michigan, when they surrendered 44 points turned out not to be a fluke, their defense really is bad. TCU's offense has been lights-out this season, but its defense has allowed teams to stay in games, just like it did this past week at Kansas. There's no reason to think that either defense bows up here, so the over looks like the best play.
Last Week: 4-1-0, Season: 16-17-0