NCAAF Week 4: 3-4, (42.85%) -1.4 Units
NCAAF Season: 8-13-1, (42.10%) -6.3 Units
Those who have followed me for a while know I don’t and won’t give excuses when things are going poorly. Flat out I’ve had a bad start to the College Football season this year. No way around it, no BS, no excuses. That said I’m still confident in what I’m doing and it’s only been 22 plays on the season so I’m not going to jump off the deep end quite yet. I’ll just keep grinding and trust that things are going to turn around, there’s still a ton of football left to be played. Here’s what I’ve got for Week 5….
Pittsburgh (-20): I think Pitt is chomping at the bit to get a game against an opponent they can handle. The Panthers are coming off a 3 game stretch against Penn State, Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech all of which are very solid teams. Here they’ll get a shot at a Rice team that is probably in the bottom 10 in the country. The Owls currently sit at 1-3 and that lone win came against a UTEP squad that quite literally could be the worst team in the FBS. In their other 3 games they’ve been outscored 113-17. What also hurts the Owls is that at only 121 passing yards per game they aren’t exactly built to play from behind, which in this game they almost certainly will be. This feels like the kind of game where Pitt jumps out to an early lead and then goes into take out your frustration mode against a team that can’t pass.
Syracuse (+13): A nice shot to fade NC State in a big letdown spot and to take a Syracuse team that I think is better than most realize. We’ll start on the NC State side and basically daring them to follow up that big win at FSU with another focused performance this time against a lesser opponent. It’s a tough task to follow up big wins like that after everyone in the media and on campus tell you how great you are all week. You start to buy into your hype, read your own press clippings, etc etc. This week against Cuse the Wolfpack will deal with a team that as I mentioned is better than most people think. On the year the Orange are averaging 464 yards per game while allowing only 331. A net difference of 133 yards which is nothing to take lightly. The offense is led by QB Eric Dungey who now as a Junior is coming into his own. He’s completing 63.6% of his passes with 6 TD’s and 3 INT’s to go with 233 yards rushing. He’s a legit dual threat option and one of the best under the radar QB’s in the country. Syracuse will be able to put up points in this one and I suspect their defense will be good enough to keep them in the game throughout.
Houston (-14): It’s not normally my style to lay 14 points on the road but I really think Temple is a terrible football team. You might see that 2-2 record and be fooled into thinking they are mediocre but that isn’t the case. Even in their two wins at home against lowly U Mass and Villanova they were outgained in total yardage. Last week they only managed 85 total yards of offense against South Florida and on the year opponents are outgaining them by an average of nearly 200 yards per game. Houston should be ready to go coming off a home loss to Texas Tech last week and seeing their 16 game home winning streak come to an end. Despite that loss however I think Houston actually has a solid squad. Texas Tech was able to have some success against them but I think their defense should overwhelm this shaky Temple offense. It’s worth noting a few weeks ago that Houston went into Tuscon and held a good Arizona offense to only 16 points in a 19-16 win. Much like I mentioned about Rice in my write up of the Pitt/Rice game Temple is in no way built to play from behind. If Houston jumps out to an early lead this one could start to get out of hand pretty quickly.
Arkansas (-17): I like New Mexico State this year and this honestly could be the best team they’ve had in decades. That said this is still a Sun Belt team on the road with an early start against an SEC team. An SEC team that’s coming off back to back losses and looking to get back on track against an inferior opponent. Realistically this game should be won in the trenches for Arkansas where they are just bigger and stronger than the Aggies. On the year they are averaging nearly 200 yards per game on the ground and are coming off putting up 226 on Texas A&M last week. Arkansas also has one of the better pass defenses in the country allowing only 159 yards passing per contest. The Aggies have a nice passing offense but to put it mildly they haven’t seen a defense the caliber of Arkansas yet this year.
Tennessee (+7.5): I like the way Georgia is playing this year but I also think we’ve now entered sell high territory. They already have an impressive road win over Notre Dame as well as a blowout home win over Mississippi State and have worked their way into the top 10. Now a tough road conference game against Tennessee and they are laying over a TD? I thought the open of 6.5 was a point or two high to begin with and now that it’s been pushed to 7.5 it’s at a point where I’m comfortable jumping in. The Vols were a bit flat last week against U Mass but I’ll give them a pass on that as I assume they already had one eye on this game. Their only loss this year came on that Hail Mary at Florida and overall I like the way Butch Jones has them playing. I’ll admit Georgia is the better team but at the end of the day winning road games on the SEC is no easy task and doing so by more than a TD is even tougher. I think the Vols hang around and possibly win this one outright.
Texas State (+16): This is more a fade of Wyoming than it is anything else. At this point I don’t think Wyoming should be laying 16 points against anyone. Coming into the season there was a ton of hype around QB Josh Allen and talk that he’d be a top 5 pick in the draft next year. The reality however is that they are near the bottom of FBS with only 269 yards per game and even last week in a 28-21 win over Hawaii they were outgained 450-269 in total yardage. On top of that Hawaii won the first down battle 24-11. In other words despite the fact they won, Wyoming was pretty badly outplayed throughout the game. I’ll admit Texas State’s offense isn’t anything special but in a game like this I don’t think it’ll have to be. Even if they find their way to say 17 points, Wyoming would need 34 or more to cover and I just don’t see their offense getting to a number that high.
New Mexico (PK): I’m going to take the Lobos here against an Air Force team that I think is probably physically and mentally worn out. The Falcons are coming off back to back losses against Michigan and San Diego State and played well in both. Two weeks ago at Michigan they were down only 16-13 late in the 3rd quarter before finally wilting and losing 29-13. Then last week they blew a 21-17 and 24-21 lead at home against SDSU before finally losing 28-24. Those were the two biggest games on their schedule and despite solid efforts in both they came away 0-2. That’s gotta leave a mark on you mentally as well as the obvious physically effects of playing back to back weeks against ranked teams. Match up wise this isn’t an ideal spot for Air Force either as all they do is run the ball and statistically New Mexico at only 97 rushing yards per game allowed is one of the best run defenses in the nation. I like the way this one shakes out for the Lobos and suspect Air Force will still be licking their wounds a bit after those Michigan and SDSU losses.
Colorado/UCLA Ov 68.5: I don’t play too many totals but I still don’t think oddsmakers have gone high enough on UCLA. I’ve mentioned a few times on Twitter over the past few weeks how UCLA just continues to fly over all their totals and I don’t think that ends this week. The logic here is pretty simple… they have an excellent offense and an horrid defense. Josh Rosen continues to put up video game numbers and the defense still can’t stop anyone. Last week they gave up 58 points to Stanford, a Stanford team that had 238 total yards the week before against SDSU. Now I know SDSU is now a top 20 team but it’s still 238 yards against a Mountain West school and then 58 points against UCLA. That right there should tell you all you need to know about the UCLA defense, not to mention the small fact that Stanford put up those points with a 3rd string QB at the helm. Now with Rosen at QB you know UCLA is going to find their way around 40 points or so in this one, the only question is will Colorado’s offense be good enough to score on UCLA. My thought is quite simply, yes they will be. First of all because UCLA hasn’t shown the ability to stop anyone and second because the Buffs have some nice weapons on offense. Steven Montez is completing over 70% of his passes, Phillip Lindsay is averaging 5 yards a carry, and the WR trio of Fields, Ross and Bobo I consider to be one of the best in the PAC-12. Per usual in UCLA games I’m expecting the bulbs on the scoreboard to get a workout.
UTEP/Army Un 52.5: I’ll take a shot on the under in this one as I’m expecting fewer plays than your typical College Football game. UTEP might have the worst offense in the nation and all Army wants to do is run the ball. On the year UTEP is only averaging a putrid 210 total yards of offense to go with 12.8 points per game. On the other end Army has 366 yards per game rushing and 9 (yes 9, that’s not a typo) passing yards per game. They run, run, run and with it the clock runs too. Most Army drives the clock doesn’t stop at all, no incomplete passes so it’s just constant ticking of the clock. I don’t doubt Army will be able to score but it’s likely that most of their scoring drives will be of the 6, 7, 8 minute variety. This isn’t a game that should offer much as far as entertainment goes but it should be played quickly and low scoring. I could see this ending something like 31-7 Army.