Last Updated: 2019-11-08
Our stay at .500 with our College Football Pick of the Week was short-lived, as Air Force put forth a dismal first half and never was really close to covering, which dropped us to 4-5-1 on the season. This week, we’ll take a look at the game between Minnesota and Penn State. The Nittany Lions are favored by 6.5 and the total on the game is 47.5.
Penn State came out at No. 4 in the playoff rankings, which was a bit of a surprise to see them ranked over Clemson, but if Penn State can manage to win out, they’ll definitely be in the top four. While most people are looking forward to the Penn State vs. Ohio State game, the Nittany Lions have to get past Minnesota first and that might not be quite the gimme people seem to think it will be.
The Gophers can match Penn State offensively and the teams are somewhat similar when they have the ball. Both teams are run first offenses, although the Nittany Lions are a little more balanced, as Minnesota runs twice as much as they threw and Penn State rushed 38 times per game and throws 30.
Penn State gains 4.4 yards per rush against teams who allow 3.7 yards per carry, while the Gophers average 4.4 yards against teams who allow 4.1 yards. Through the air, Penn State gains 252 yards per game while Minnesota picks-up 225 yards, while throwing eight fewer times per game.
It’s defense where the difference is, as Penn State allows just 2 yards per rush, but are a little better than average against the pass. Minnesota isn’t bad against the pass, a little better than average themselves.
The Gophers allow roughly the same number of yards per game as Penn State, but the Nittany Lions are making the big stops when they need to, while Minnesota isn’t. The Gophers allowed 32 points to Georgia Southern and 31 to Purdue, but have held their last three opponents to 10 points or less, although the quality of competition wasn’t exactly top notch.
Penn State’s last three games have come against Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State and playing physical teams like that will take a bit of a toll on you eventually.
It isn’t often that you get games with two undefeated teams at this stage of the season, but there are several taking place Saturday and the underdogs have historically fared well in this spot, as games in Week 9 or later with two undefeated teams have seen the underdog go 32-19 ATS and 10-3 against the number if they’re home underdogs, so will take Minnesota +6.5 in this one.
END OF WEEK 11 PICKS
We’re 4-4-1 in with our College Football Pick of the Week and this week we’ll take a look at the game between Army and Air Force, where the Falcons are favored by 15.5, which is where the game opened, after Army received more than 60% of the wagers.
Army comes into this one not playing very well after a 3-1 start to the season. But those three wins came against the likes of Morgan State and UTSA. The Cadets did play well against Michigan in a game the Wolverines were likely looking past, but it’s been tough going recently for Army, who have lost to the likes of San Jose State and Tulane.
Army hasn’t lost any games by more than double digits, but other than Michigan, none of the teams they’ve played are really in the same class as Air Force, who will bring a 6-2 record into this one, although one of their losses was to Navy, so the Falcons won’t be winning the Commander-in-Chief Trophy this season, but can improve the bowl game they play in with a few more nice wins.
Army pulled off the upset last season, winning 17-14 as 6-point underdogs, but the four previous games were all decided by at least 17 points, so it isn’t a case of one service team trying not to run up the score against another. They may call the dogs off a little sooner, but 15 of the last 39 games have been decided by at least 20 points, with Air Force winning 12 and Army taking three.
Air Force is the better team here and if the Falcons can get out to a double-digit lead it will be pretty tough for Army to come back, as the Cadets are terrible throwing the ball, averaging 75.4 yards per game, which is poor no matter how well a team runs the ball.
The Falcons also happen to be pretty good at stopping the run, allowing less than 100 yards per game, which could be good enough to get the Cadets out of their game.
You don’t like to lay so many points in a rivalry game, but the Falcons have the better offense and defense and are playing better. Throw in the fact that the Falcons will be looking for revenge and I’ll go ahead and take Air Force to win this one.
END WEEK 10 PICKS
We’re still sputtering with a 3-4-1 record with our College Football Pick of the Week and this week we’re going to go on a bit of a square play, as we look at the game between the Washington State Cougars and the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks are favored by 14 in a game that is seeing Wazzu get 57% of the wagers.
Washington State isn’t playing as well as it has the past couple of seasons and owns a bad loss at Utah and an inexplicable home loss to UCLA right before than game. The Cougars followed that up with a third straight loss when they fell to Arizona 38-34 after getting outscored 14-3 in the final quarter, so a game they could have easily won and the same goes for the game against the Bruins.
In the game against UCLA, they led 35-17 and completely fell apart in the second half, allowing 50 points, so you can excuse their performance against Utah a little bit, as teams who lose a game that they seem to have in the bag don’t always come out and give their best effort the following week, as they appear to be a little shell-shocked.
The Ducks have beaten up some pretty weak foes over the course of the season and have had a much tougher time against the better teams, losing to Auburn and pulling out a win over Washington when they were forced to come from behind. While Washington State isn’t in the same category as UW or Auburn, they’re also not Nevada or Montana.
Offensively, Washington State is averaging 6.8 more points than the Quack Attack, but also allows 16 more points than the Ducks. So WSU gets a small edge on offense, while the Ducks get a significant advantage of defense, but this Oregon team doesn’t seem to be as explosive as the teams we’ve seen the past couple of seasons. Other than a few big scoring efforts against Nevada and Colorado, the Ducks have been a good offensive team, but not what you can call a great one.
Washington State is catching the Ducks at a decent time, coming off a big win over UW and for some reason the Cougars seem to play the Ducks hard, having won four straight. So while it is a revenge game for Oregon, you could have said the same thing the last three meetings, which were won by the Cougs, so will go ahead and take Washington State +14 in this one.
END OF WEEK 9 PICKS
We’re just 2-4-1 with our College Football Pick of the Week and this week we’ll take a look at the game between Tulsa and Cincinnati. The Bearcats are favored by 17 and the total has dropped from 52 all the way down to 47.
Tulsa just got waxed 45-17 by Navy as 1.5-point favorites, but now find a role that should suit them a little better, as they’re 2-1 as underdogs this season, having played tough against Michigan State and SMU and hung around with Oklahoma State for the most part, but lost 40-21 as 13.5-point underdogs.
The Hurricanes don’t always take advantage of their field position at times, as they gain just 16 fewer yards than Cincinnati per game, but score 6 fewer points. Tulsa has allowed 40 points three times, with last week’s 45 points surrendered the most they’ve allowed this season. They also allowed 40 to Oklahoma State and 43 to SMU.
Tulsa has hurt itself with turnovers on a couple of occasions this season, but have also had a few games where they’ve forced three or more turnovers on three occasions.
The Bearcats are 5-1 on the season, with a loss to Ohio State their lone blemish on the year, and have a couple of big victories, although most of their wins have been relatively close, winning by 10, 3 and 15 points among their five wins.
Cincinnati can run the ball and Tulsa has had trouble stopping the run on occasion, as both Navy and Oklahoma State ran the ball for more than 300 yards, although the other four teams have all been held to 143 yards or less. Cincinnati has rushed the ball more than they’ve thrown in all six games this year, so the game will be decided by how well Tulsa can stop the Bearcats’ rushing attack.
Not the greatest of spots for Cincinnati, as the Bearcats could be due for a slight letdown here after wins over Marshall, Central Florida and Houston. You couldn’t blame the Bearcats if they had a little trouble getting up for this one, as the teams haven’t played since 2016, so no real rivalry or anything between the two.
The Hurricanes have the talent to keep this one within striking distance and will take Tulsa plus the points in this one.
END OF WEEK 8 PICKS
For the second time this season New Mexico State’s turnovers did us in and caused us to fall to a dismal 1-4-1 with this play. I came close to picking them again in this one but instead will use of the bigger games on the schedule, as it came down to Minnesota over Nebraska or this one here, which is the big showdown between LSU and Florida. LSU opened as 13.5-point favorites and the line is still there with a pretty decent mixture on the betting, with the Tigers getting 53% of the wagers and the Gators receiving 47% of the bets.
No question that Florida is the toughest defense that LSU has faced this season, as the Gators are allowing just 9.5 points per game, but they did get shutouts against Towson and Tennessee-Martin, but even if you throw those two games out, the Gators are still allowing just 16.25 points per game. The Gators have been solid against the pass and the run, allowing just 94.2 yards on the ground and 183.3 through the air.
Florida is rushing for 140.2 yards and throwing for 284.5 and appear to have gotten their turnover problem corrected. After making six turnovers in the first two games, the Gators have made just one in their last four. Florida’s probable is that they don’t rush the ball very well, especially when you factor in the level of competition and LSU allows only 81 rushing yards per game, so the Gators are going to have to have some success through the air.
While the Tigers’ offense gets all of the attention, the defense isn’t all that bad, allowing 19.8 points per game. They only allow 287 yards per game, which is just 10 more than the Gators, but they do have to do a little better job preventing scores, as based on the yards they allow, they should be allowing fewer points.
The LSU offense has put up at least 42 points in each game this year, although they’re known to start a bit slow, scoring seven points or less in the first quarter in three of their five games. The tigers have also called off the dogs on offense, scoring seven points or less in the fourth quarter in three of their five games so far. LSU has been at their best in the second and third quarters this season.
The prevailing logic is that Florida’s defense will keep them in the game here, but have to believe LSU is going to be too much for the Gators to handle, especially coming off a hard-fought, physical game with Auburn, so going to go ahead and take a shot on LSU in this one.
END OF WEEK 7 PICKS
We’re 1-3-1 with our Pick of the Week after Kansas State failed to get the job done last week. This week, we’ll take a look at the game between Liberty and New Mexico State. Liberty opened as 4-point favorites and the line hasn’t moved despite Liberty getting 68% of the wagers in the game.
Liberty is trying to make it a New Mexico sweep after knocking off the Lobos a week ago 17-10 in a low-scoring game. For the season, Liberty is averaging 26 points a game, although a lot of that is due to scoring 62 against Hampton and 35 against Buffalo. In their other three games against Syracuse, Lafayette and New Mexico they’ve scored a combined 31 points.
Defensively, the Flames are allowing 23 points a game and the 10 they held New Mexico was their best defensive effort of the season. Liberty is averaging 408 offensive yards and allowing 423 per game.
New Mexico State is 0-5 straight-up this season, but they are 3-2 against the spread. They’re obviously not going to beat the likes of Alabama, Washington and San Diego State – who were the first three teams they placed this season – and they just played Fresno State tough, losing 30-17.
There’s no secret what’s done New Mexico State in this season and that’s turnovers. NM State has made three or more turnovers in four of their five games. The one game that they didn’t make three turnovers was the one game they could have won, a 55-52 loss to New Mexico, who is the only common opponent the two teams have played this season.
New Mexico was at home against the Aggies and Liberty had New Mexico at home, so the final scores would have Liberty right around 4-point favorites.
Even though New Mexico State has played a much tougher schedule, they’re averaging 19 points, with most of those coming in the instate game with New Mexico and allowing 47 per game, but you can’t really blame them too much for those numbers considering the level of competition they’ve faced.
Think New Mexico State can keep this one close, if not get the victory in this one. Liberty isn’t exactly a team you can feel comfortable laying points with on the road and after playing some of the big guys in college football, think they’ll find Liberty more to their liking so will take the Aggies +4.
END OF WEEK 6 PICKS
We’re laboring here, as well, with a 1-2-1 mark entering this weekend’s games and here we’ll take a look at a bit of a square play, as Kansas State visits Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are favored by 4.5 and the total on the game has dropped from 63.5 ll the down to 60.
Kansas State has moved beyond Bill Snyder and new head coach Chris Klieman has gotten the most out of the Wildcats so far, as KSU brings a 3-0 record into this game and is coming off a bye. Klieman led North Dakota State to three FCS championships in a five-year span, so the guy knows his stuff and is a great recruiter and motivator. Granted, the competition Kansas State has played so far leaves a little to be desired, but they did get a decent road win at Mississippi State two weeks ago before their off week.
Oklahoma State is coming off a tough loss at Texas and they didn’t look all that impressive against Oregon State in their opener. It’s hard to get a read on their other two games, which were against McNeese State and Tulsa.
This is a revenge game for the Cowboys, who have dropped the last two against Kansas State, but these teams have a habit of playing close games. Eight of their last 12 games have been decided by a touchdown or less, with five of those games being decided by 4 or fewer points, so probably not a spot where you can feel real confident laying the points.
The Cowboys have the better offense of the two teams, but you have to give the defensive edge to the Wildcats and taking the better defensive team plus points is never the worst idea.
The Wildcats did what was expected of them against the likes of Nichols and Bowling Green, allowing a combined 14 points, while defeating Mississippi State 31-24. The 31 points were the most the Bulldogs have allowed this season, while the 24 points Miss State scored are the fewest they’ve put up so far.
Oklahoma State has scored at least 30 points each game, but they’ve also allowed their share, giving up an average of nearly 27 points per game. If Kansas State can keep this one close early, have to think they can take it down to the wire, so will take Kansas State plus the points.
END OF WEEK 5 PICKS
We fell to 1-1-1 with our College Football Pick of the Week last week and won’t be guilty of over-thinking this one, which I was guilty of last week and passed on a couple of plays that I talked myself out of for one reason or another, which I listed and those games ended up going 3-0-1 or 3-1 depending on your line on the Florida game. Naturally, the game I did take was an ugly loss.
This week, we’ll look at the game between the Wyoming Cowboys and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, where Tulsa is favored by 3.5 over the Cowboys and the total on the game is down to 45.
The Cowboys are 3-0 on the season, but if there’s been a less-than-impressive 3-0 team in the county, I haven’t seen them yet. Wyoming has one of the worst passing offenses in the county and the Cowboys are completing less than 40% of their passes and don’t have a passing touchdown on the season.
The Cowboys are going to run the ball as much as possible, obviously, but the Hurricanes will be able to crowd the line of scrimmage a little bit and force Wyoming to get its passing game going, which I’m not so sure they’ll be able to do here. The Cowboys managed to pull off the upset against Missouri at home in the opening game of the season, but their Week 2 win at Texas State left a bit to be desired, as it was a few missed field goals and a couple of interceptions that changed the outcome of the game. The Bobcats threw for nearly 400 yards in the game and Tulsa quarterback Zack Smith should have some success through the air.
With three wins, the Cowboys are already halfway there to a bowl game, while 1-2 Tulsa can’t afford another loss, although it was pretty evident before the season began that Tulsa was most likely looking at a 1-2 mark after the first three games.
Tulsa’s defense did a decent job against Michigan State, allowing 28 points and the 40 they allowed to Oklahoma State doesn’t look quite as bad when you consider the Cowboys scored 108 points in their other two games. The Golden Hurricane stop unit is better than Texas State or Idaho and should be able to keep the Cowboys in check to an extent.
Not real thrilled with the 3.5, as you’d much rather be laying a field goal in what figures it should be a competitive contest, but believe Tulsa will get the win and the cover in this one.
END OF WEEK 4 PICKS
New Mexico State managed to stay under the lofty number, as we improved to 1-0-1 for the season. The hardest part of coming up with this week’s play was trying to narrow it down to just one game, as there were several plays I considered, but if you looked hard enough you could find reason for going the other way, which is pretty much true in all sports.
Among the teams I considered were Florida, Air Force, Central Florida and Liberty, but will go ahead and fall back to what looks like an ugly game, as Arkansas State visits Georgia in a noon game. No doubt the Red Wolves are making the trip for the money, as Georgia essentially bought a win, but not one that’s going to help them in the strength of schedule department. The Bulldogs opened as 33-point favorites and the line is still there with Georgia getting 63% of the wagers.
Still, the Red Wolves aren’t without a bit of talent, especially in a game where they may not have the opposition’s complete focus, which is the case for the Bulldogs, who will get their first real test of the season next week when they host Notre Dame.
Arkansas State has a favorable situation regarding teams off a strong offensive effort, as large underdogs, as teams who scored 40 or more points last game and are 34-20-2 when getting 30 or more points their next game.
On the other side of the equation, 30-point favorites who scored more than 60 points last time out are 36-42-1 (46.2%) so not the greatest spot for the Bulldogs, especially with Notre Dame on tap.
Granted, Georgia is a huge step up from the likes of UNLV and SMU, but the Red Wolves have put up points against FBS teams and not the likes of Murray State, who the Bulldogs played last. As strange as it sounds, Arkansas State is also a step up in class for Georgia, at least the two teams the Bulldogs have played so far, as Arkansas State is also better than Vanderbilt, who the Bulldogs defeated by 24 in their opening game of the season as 22-point favorites. So to be getting 33 in this one is a bit too much to pass up and will grab the points with the Red Wolves and hope they can generate enough offense to stay within the number.
END OF WEEK 3 PICKS
Calling Louisville a push against Notre Dame, as 18 was the line at 5Dimes when I wrote the article even if pretty much anybody who tagged along got 18.5 or more. As I’ve said before, I’m much more concerned with the lines you get than the ones I post, since the main goal is to hopefully make some money for those who follow.
I really wrestled with this one, but am going to go ahead and pull the trigger in what is the ugliest game on the slate this week, and that’s New Mexico State at Alabama. The Crimson Tide are favored by 55.5 and the total is 65. Unlike last week, where we won a couple of plays by taking the over in games with big spreads and low totals, we’re not taking the total in this one, but instead will take the side, and those who have followed me for any length of time already know, we’ll be on the Aggies plus the points in this one.
No matter how much criticism Nick Saban gets there is one thing he refuses to do and that’s let his players embarrass inferior programs. Alabama is 6-13 ATS as a 40-point or more favorite since Saban took over in 2007 and the average fourth quarter score in those games is Alabama 6.8 to 2.5, so the Tide do not like to run it up. Sometimes it can’t be helped, but Saban’s 2-10 ATS record when the line is 45 or higher is a good indication that he has no problem calling off the dogs. Alabama was favored by 49 or more twice last year and failed to cover either game and was outscored 21-13 in the fourth quarter of those two games.
The Tide are 0-4 as a 50-point favorite under Saban and the first three games saw scoreless fourth quarters, before Alabama outscored Citadel 13-7 in the fourth quarter last year in a game that was tied at the half. This one won’t be and Alabama will be comfortably in front.
Saban apparently doesn’t feel nearly as bad about putting up a number of points against fellow SEC schools as he does the little guys. In the eight games Alabama has scored 58 or more points with Saban at the helm, six of them have come against SEC foes, once was against Duke and the other was against Georgia State.
New Mexico State is not a very good team defensively and they’re going to allow plenty of points, but the Aggies can move the ball a little bit and even a field goal or two will help the NM State cause.
Going to take a shot on NM State plus the points and hope that Saban and his team are more interested in next week’s SEC opener than they are running up the score against a New Mexico State team that just lost by 52 at Washington State.
END OF WEEK 2 PICKS
Our plays this week are being posted a little bit later than they will from here on out, as they’ll most likely come out a day or two earlier from this point forward, but this is the one week I tend to over-analyze things a bit. I want to get off to a good start and typically finding negatives about each game I start writing about, although in actuality, you can find those in pretty much any game you play. It just depends on which side you feel has the most positive factors, as well.
For this week’s game, I had given some thought to Florida State, but the game change to Tallahassee has seen the line climb to 6.5, and don’t think the hurricane won’t be in the backs of the players’ minds. The Broncos will be able to hop on a plane Saturday evening and return home. The Seminole players will try to make the best of what could be a bad situation.
So, we’ll go ahead and jump to the Monday game between Notre Dame and Louisville. The Irish opened as 19.5-point favorites and the line has come down to Notre Dame -18 even though two-thirds of the wagers have come in on Notre Dame.
The Cardinals fell off a cliff last year and were a dismal 2-10 and somehow managed to go 1-11 against the spread. But that was last year and it’s a new attitude in Louisville, beginning with a new head coach at the top. New coach Satterfield comes from Appalachian State where he did an amazing job with the Mountaineers, but he’ll have his work cut out here. Louisville wasn’t very good offensively a year ago and were worse on defense, allowing 44 points per game.
But this looks to be one of those games where bettors are going to see one team playing in the college football plays against another who was a dumpster fire last year without looking at why that happened. The Irish won the close games in the beginning of the year and the Cardinals had a few fourth quarter breakdowns that set the tone for the rest of the season.
Believe Louisville is going to be a better football team, which I’m not so sure Notre Dame is going to be able to duplicate last year’s success. Louisville is the more experienced team and will go ahead and take the Cardinals plus the 18 for our first play of the year.
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