NCAAF Week 5: 4-5, (44.44%) -1.5 Units
NCAAF Season: 12-18-1, (40.00%) -7.8 Units
Still looking to get things on track here in College Football. It was a rough September and hopefully the new month will lead to some more winners. I’m still confident in what I’m doing, I just need to trust that things will turn around and fall into place. Here we go with my week 6….
Northwestern (+13.5): I’ll start this one by saying I’m very high on Penn State. I know they are loaded and I took them 22/1 to win it all before the season began. Nobody needs to convince me how good this team is. That said I like this spot for Northwestern catching nearly 2 TD’s at home. Last week Northwestern lost 33-24 at Wisconsin but was very competitive in doing so. They had 7 more 1st downs, they won the time of possession battle, and they held the Badgers to a total of 306 yards. This is your typical hard nosed, physical Northwestern team and while they won’t wow you with 4 and 5 star recruits they will get after it and battle you for a full 60 minutes. As far as Penn State goes for as good as they are they’ve only played one road game this year and needed a TD in the final seconds at Iowa to escape with a win. Aside from that to be honest their schedule really has been pretty soft. Coming off a loss you know NW is going to be fired up and ready to go and this is the kind of team I love taking as a double digit dog at home. This one should be close throughout.
Vanderbilt (+17): This won’t be a comfortable play to make with as well as Georgia is playing right now, but it’s an excellent sell high spot. In their last 2 games Georgia has outscored Miss State and Tennessee by a combined 72-3. They are now in the top 5 and with all that comes what I think is a bloated spread. I have this one at 13.5 but right now with Georgia playing lights out oddsmakers aren’t going to make it easy for the public to get in there and make money taking them. Pretty much the exact opposite with a Vandy team that’s been outscored 97-24 in their last two games. We now find them in a buy low spot. Two weeks ago this game looked like it was headed for a line of Georgia -8 or so but given what’s happened for both teams since then we are all the way up to 17. Just your classic buy low/sell high spot here.
Florida State (+3): Speaking of buy low/sell high spots we move to one of the biggest ones that you’ll see. Undefeated Miami finds themselves a FG favorite at Florida State this weekend. This is a game that before the season started you’d have seen FSU as a double digit favorite, now with Miami’s hot start, Francois’ injury and FSU struggling we have a line that’s about 14 points off where it would’ve been if they played labor day weekend. For all FSU’s warts right now that’s still a team littered with NFL talent all over the field and they’ll be playing at home in a big rivalry game. The national title is out the window, the ACC is most likely out the window too, so what’s left for FSU to care about this year? Well ruining an undefeated season for arguably their biggest rival is surely reason enough to get them fired up for this one. For as well as Miami is playing we don’t truly know how good they are yet. They’ve only played 3 games and two of them were against non power 5 teams with Toledo and Arkansas State. The other was against a Duke team that I think pretty clearly was playing over their heads and came crashing back down to earth. If Miami wins this game I’ll by more into them overall but at the moment I’m not quite there yet. This is a show some pride game for FSU and I think they pull off the win as the small home dog.
Northern Illinois (-23): On the surface you look at NIU and see a 2-2 MAC team and you probably think “who cares?” Just another whatever team playing in a whatever conference. Well this NIU team is actually pretty solid. Yes they are only 2-2 but they won at Nebraska, nearly won at SDSU and nearly beat Boston College. All of which are significant steps up from the level they’ll see from Kent State on Saturday. Kent State seems to be one of the worst teams not only in the MAC but in all of FBS this year and they are in over their heads in this one. On average Kent State is getting outgained by over 200 yards per game. They can’t run, they can’t pass, they can’t stop the run, they can’t stop the pass. This is a team that literally has no strengths right now. They truly struggle in every aspect of the game. NIU on the other hand has a decent offense and a very good defense. As I mentioned they went into Nebraska and put the clamps on that offense and then went out to San Diego and did the same thing to San Diego State. Don’t be fooled by those 34 points the Aztecs scored as much of that was due to special teams and defensive scores. The offense only had 263 total yards. NIU probably feels like they should have won that game and now will be in a bit of a take out your frustration spot. This one feels like it could be 35-3 or so.
Texas A&M (+25.5): Alabama is off two straight huge wins by a combined score 125-3 against Vandy and Ole Miss. Now we get a line that I feel is 3 to 4 points higher than it should be. You’ve gotta take value where you can find it and if that means doing so against Bama then so be it. The Tide are every bit the powerhouse they are year after year but like I said I think this line is inflated a bit. For all the chaos and turmoil around Texas A&M last month if they didn’t blow a 44-10 lead against UCLA on labor day weekend they’d be undefeated right now. Realistically they won’t be a threat to win this game against Bama but I do think they can hang around. What will help the Aggies in this game is their rushing offense (255 yards a game) and their rushing defense (95 yards per game allowed). With Alabama it’s simple, if you can’t stop the run you’ll get eaten alive. The Tide run for an average of 315 yards per game so the fact that A&M is solid against the run if nothing else will force Jalen Hurts to pass probably more than he or Nick Saban want him to. Alabama should win just fine but unless they can find a way to get that ground game totally unleashed then covering this bloated number seems like a tall task.
San Diego State (-9.5): This is a classic example of needing to look at a teams opponents before putting too much weight into their stats. UNLV is averaging 481 yards per game on offense and a very impressive 305 yards per game rushing. This means they have an elite offense right? Or at the very least an elite rushing offense. Well, I’m not so sure. Let’s look deeper at what they’ve done. In their opener they played (and actually lost to) Howard. Yes non FBS Howard, and they lost to them in Vegas…. anyways in that game they ran for 344 yards. They then ran for 357 yards against a very bad Idaho team, and most recently they ran for 345 yards against San Jose State who is one of the worst teams in FBS. In between all that they had one actual good opponent and that was Ohio State. In that game to their credit they did run for 176 yards but most of that was late in the game after Ohio State had emptied the bench. In short I’m still not totally sold on UNLV’s offense or running game just because they ran all over some of the worst teams in the country. What I do know however is that their defense is horrid. Despite facing only 1 good opponent and 3 horrible ones they are still allowing nearly 500 yards per game on defense. Now they’ll face Rashaad Penny who is one of the best RB’s in the nation and I suspect he flirts with 200 yards rushing on his own Saturday night. It’s also worth noting that SDSU is actually battle tested, they’ve won at Arizona State, they’ve beaten Stanford, and also beat a solid Northern Illinois team. There’s a case to be made for UNLV if you want to try and take pride in bloated stats against awful opponents but realistically Penny and company run wild and SDSU wins big.
Oregon (+2.5): I’m going to challenge Washington State to follow up that big win over USC by doing it again this weekend at Oregon. Washington State is rolling right now and knocking on the door of the top 10 after that big Friday night win on ESPN for everyone to see against the Trojans. Now they head to the road to take on Oregon in what should be a very tough test. Now this isn’t your Marcus Mariota Oregon team but they aren’t exactly slouches either. On the year they are averaging 537 yards of offense while allowing only 332. Good enough for a difference of over 200 per game in their favor. Washington State’s numbers are also very impressive but this is their first road game of the season. We know they can put up points and numbers at home but we’ve yet to see what they can do on the road. It’s a hostile environment, it’s a tough team, and it’s avoiding a let down spot. None of which are easy to deal with and if Wazzu can do it I’ll tip my cap and take my loss.