NCAAF Week 8: 5-5, (50.00%) -0.5 Units
NCAAF Season: 26-32-1, (44.82%) -9.2 Units
Ended up drinking some juice last week going 5-5 for -0.5 units. Was 7-4 in Week 7 though so a mini 12-9 run over my last 21 plays has me optimistic that things are heading in the right direction. Here’s what I’ve got this week…
North Carolina (+20): I’ll take a shot against Miami here in a double look ahead spot. After this week the Canes have games against Virginia Tech and then the following week against Notre Dame. At 6-0 and now in the top 10 reaching the college football playoff isn’t absurd for the Canes but to realistically have a shot they’d need to beat both Va. Tech and the Fighting Irish. The test here is to pay attention to detail and care enough to cover this many points on the road in a conference game. I’m sure the Canes will win this game but I think they’ll sleepwalk enough for UNC to hang around and find their way to a cover. At 1-7 the Heels aren’t playing for much right now, they obviously aren’t in ACC contention and they won’t even make it to a bowl game. A home game against a top 10 team is about the only thing that’ll give UNC some motivation and a good showing here would be the highlight of their season. I’m expecting a max effort from the Heels against a Miami team that I suspect will be looking ahead. If I get that then I full expect UNC to keep this one close or at least close enough to cover.
Pittsburgh (-3): I’ll stay in the ACC with my next play and take Pitt as a small home favorite over Virginia. The Panthers are coming off a solid 24-17 road win over Duke where they also seem to have found a new running back. Darrin Hall came out of nowhere to go crazy for 254 yards and 3 TD’s on 24 carries. QB Ben Dinucci hasn’t been anything amazing since stepping in for the injured Max Browne but to his credit has only thrown 1 INT in 60 pass attempts. With him taking care of the ball and the newly found weapon in Hall the Panthers have some reason to be at least somewhat excited about their offense. On the other end Virginia is coming off a 41-10 home loss to Boston College in a game where they were completely dominated. The Eagles outgained UVA 512-247 in total yardage and did pretty much whatever they wanted on both sides of the ball. Virginia might have the better overall and conference record this year but I actually think Pitt is the slightly better team. Factor in that these teams appear to be going in opposite directions and I’ll lay the FG with the Panthers at home.
U Mass (+4.5): On the surface I’m sure this line doesn’t make sense to many people out there. 5-2 Appalachian State only a 4.5 point favorite over 1-6 U Mass. What’s going on? How can this line be so short? Well a deeper look shows U Mass is actually far better than what that 1-6 record would lead you to believe. They are actually outgaining their opponents by an average of nearly 60 yards per game and quietly Junior QB Andrew Ford is putting up some very nice numbers. He’s completing 63% of his passes and has 13 TD’s with only 2 INT’s. Just going down the line these teams are far more similar statistically than you’d think given what their records are. App State is still a solid team but they aren’t quite what I thought they’d be this season. I can’t knock a 5-2 record and being 4-0 in conference play but they haven’t been rolling through teams the way I expected. This is a tricky spot against a U Mass team that I think very well could pull a mild upset here.
Duke (+15.5): I’m going to milk this upcoming Miami/Va. Tech game from both ends and fade each in the look ahead spot. I’m already fading Miami and now for the fade of Virginia Tech. Pretty much the same logic applies here… The Hokies play at Miami next week and I think there’s a good chance they could be sleepwalking a bit here against the Blue Devils. I’ll admit Duke has been fading a bit losing 4 straight after a 4-0 start. With the exception of a blowout loss against Miami they’ve been competitive and the other 3 losses have all been by only 7 points. Their offense isn’t terribly explosive but their defense is pretty solid. As a team they are only allowing 334 yards and 20.1 points per game. If they can keep the Hokies offense under control (which I think they will) then I expect a cover. I expect a sort of go through the motions 28-17 type win from Virginia Tech.
New Mexico (-2): This is another game where the team with the worse record is actually the better squad. The records both overall and conference would lead you to believe Wyoming is the better team here and being at home they should be a clear favorite right? Well in reality despite what those records say I truly feel it’s the Lobos that are the better team and the play in this one. We’ll start with the Wyoming offense which is absolutely horrible. QB Josh Allen came into the season with all the hype in the world surrounding him but after 7 games the Cowboys are only putting up an average of 278 yards per game which is one of the worst totals in the nation. On the other end the Lobos are averaging 416 yards per game offensively so needless to say the edge in terms of firepower goes to New Mexico. Not to be overly simplistic but at the end of the day I’ve got one offense that can chew up yards and move the ball and one that can’t.
Clemson (-14): I’ll take my chances with Clemson here in a bounce back spot and coming off a bye. We all remember a few weeks ago when Syracuse pulled the Friday night upset of at that time undefeated Clemson. Clemson had a bye to recover after that loss and now I think it’s take out your frustration time for them at home against the Yellow Jackets. As has been the case since Paul Johnson arrived on the scene Georgia Tech is known for running the ball and their triple option attack. As a team they run for 372 yards per game and if you can’t stop the run they’ll just eat you alive. Luckily for Clemson they are one of the best teams in the nation defending the run allowing only 108 yards per game on the ground. If Clemson can get an early lead and force Tech for pass, or in this case at least pass more than they want to, then that’s where this lead could really grow. As Clemson showed last year 1 loss isn’t a death sentence and they’ll be looking to have some statement wins from here on out, starting with this one Saturday.
Texas Tech (+20): A couple things I like here as I’ll back the Red Raiders getting nearly 3 TD’s against Oklahoma. First worth mentioning is the double look ahead spot for OU in this one as they have games with Oklahoma State and TCU waiting on deck after they get done with Texas Tech. It’s also worth noting that Oklahoma isn’t exactly blowing people out lately. They haven’t won a game by double digits since mid September and as we all know there’s even that home loss against Iowa State mixed in there. I’ll admit before the season I thought Oklahoma was going to be excellent and I’ll also admit they are still a damn good team, but maybe it’s time to say they are more good than great. I fully expect Oklahoma to win this game but Texas Tech is built better than most to play from behind. As is the case year after year they pass the ball as well as just about any team in the nation and with teams like that even if OU is up 24 or so late in the 4th the backdoor cover is always in play. I think the Red Raiders hang around long enough to cover. Something like 44-28 Oklahoma sounds about right.
Arizona (+3): Kahlil Tate, Kahlil Tate, Kahlil Tate, what else can you say when talking about Arizona right now? Tate stepped in at QB for the Cats 3 weeks and since then he’s been putting up video game numbers. Numbers when you play on rookie mode and do whatever you want with your created QB that you gave 99 speed to. In those 3 games he’s run for 694 yards on 46 carries. Just think about that 694 in 3 games on only 46 carries. That’s an absurd 231 yards per game and 15 yards per carry. When I said video game numbers I wasn’t lying. He also does enough as a passer to keep defenses honest as he completing 72% of his passes with 4 TD’s and 2 INT’s and a very impressive 10 yards per attempt. To say the least Tate is going to be a huge problem for Washington State to deal with. The Cougars are a solid team but they’ve still only played 2 road games this year and one of them was a 37-3 loss to Cal. I know Washington State is good at home but I’m still not really sold on them playing on the road. I’ll take Tate and company at home getting a FG.