It's a good thing these picks are for entertainment purposes, or I would have lost my shirt last weekend. I went 1-8 in Week 3, bringing my total to 6-16 ATS on the year. You might call me the Larry Lewis or Steve Fairchild of game-picking. Which is to say...I'm having a rough year. Adjust your picks accordingly.
The week 4 ACC menu isn’t as appealing as last week’s, but there are some intriguing games nonetheless. Let’s get to it.
The Short UVA Preview
Virginia is a 2.5-point home underdog against Boise State
This game actually seems like more of a mismatch than the spread would suggest. Boise State has been tremendous against the run, and Virginia has committed itself to being a power running team. Boise State has been efficient on offense, and Virginia’s defense has more holes than a golf course. But I’m taking Virginia to win and cover. The Broncos are flying across the country and playing a backup QB duo in a Friday night away game. And Virginia’s receivers should be able to take advantage of Boise State’s secondary. If Virginia opens up the offensive playbook and lets Papa Johns make plays, the Wahoos will score enough points to win.
The Conference Game
Duke is an 8.5-point home underdog against Georgia Tech
I went back and forth on this game a couple of times before eventually taking the Yellow Jackets to cover. Both teams are coming off losses to ranked opponents. Neither team has an impressive win on its resume. This is definitely a game in which both teams will be playing for a shred of legitimacy. But the Jackets have won 10 out of their last 11 against the Blue Devils and most of those games haven't been close. Duke won last year in Atlanta after three Georgia Tech turnovers in the second half. David Cutcliffe's squad also had an extra week to prepare last season. Georgia Tech will get its revenge this weekend.
Games Against Power 5 Opponents
Syracuse is a 24.0-point home underdog against LSU
Wake Forest at Indiana (No spread in the STL Pick 'em)
Syracuse takes a major step up in opponent as LSU comes to town. The Tigers are fresh off a big win against Auburn and look poised to contend for the SEC title. LSU will win, but my guess is that they’ll struggle to match the Cuse’s emotional intensity. The Orange will keep it close for a half, and that will be enough to cover.
Wake Forest hosts Indiana in Winston this week. If this were basketball in the 1990s, there would be a lot of interest in this game. But Saturday's clash will be nothing more than a pillow fight between two teams who are THIS close to being a combined 1-5. The Deacons lost their starting quarterback to an ankle injury last week, and he’s doubtful for Saturday. I’ll go with the Hoosiers on the road.
Games Against Group of 5 Opponents
Boston College is a 4-point favorite at home against Northern Illinois
Virginia Tech is an 8-point favorite on the road against East Carolina
NC State is a 17-point favorite on the road against South Alabama
Last week we saw Virginia come out flat against William and Mary after an emotional loss to Notre Dame. I’d look for the same from Northern Illinois when they travel to Alumni Stadium. After pushing #1 Ohio State to the brink, I’m betting on the Huskies to run out of gas against a stout Boston College defense.
Virginia Tech looks improved each week with Brendan Motley moving the offense better than expected. East Carolina has played the Hokies tough over the years, but the Pirates appear to be down in 2015. I’d take the Hokies to cover here and enter ACC play with a ton of momentum.
NC State has played four cupcakes. The Wolfpack will be 4-0 after this weekend, and the only question will be the score. The Jaguars had an impressive win on the road at SDSU in Week 3. The game is under the lights and figures to be USA’s biggest home tilt all year. I like the Jaguars to cover.
Games Against FCS Opponents
Louisville vs. Samford (no spread
UNC vs. Delaware (no spread)
Yet another hand was played in the Louisville quarterback shuffle last week against Clemson, as the Cardinals stuck with sophomore Kyle Bollin for most of the game. Bollin didn’t perform poorly, but he did throw two interceptions. I’d look for Louisville to try to shore up the quarterback situation in a much-needed breather against Samford. Meanwhile, I’d expect Carolina to keep their momentum rolling with one last out of conference tune-up against Delaware.