It was a good start to the season with my premonition that rusty teams coming out of the gate could lead to low scoring. I went 3-0 on totals (all under) and 1-2 against the spread. This week we know a little more about the teams so whether or not that helps is anyone’s guess. Unfortunately, we have to wait another week for Virginia to get things going, but in the meantime, here’s what I’m looking at this week.
Syracuse Orange @ Pittsburgh Panthers
Pitt -21; Over/Under 49
While I had a feeling Syracuse wasn’t going to be great this year, I wasn’t expecting that. Their defense was a sieve (even though Sam Howell and UNC didn’t take advantage of it until late), but most of all their offense was anemic. Most troubling was that their offensive line couldn’t keep Tommy DeVito clean. On the day, Cuse surrendered seven sacks. And that was to a defense that finished in the bottom half of sacks a season ago. Enter a Pitt team with one of the best pass rushes in not just the ACC, but the country. I don’t see Syracuse putting up many points in this one and while I’m not sold on the Pitt offense, they could still cover the spread based on cheap points via turnovers or short fields. Thus I think the under is very much in play here in what should be a low scoring affair.
Pick: Under 49
Boston College Eagles @ Duke Blue Devils
Duke -5.5; Over/Under 51.5
I don’t love taking teams playing their first games of the season given the uncertainty of the preseason and I really don’t like taking teams with new coaches. Yet here we are. 5.5 is just too many points for a Duke team that I don’t think is very good. They couldn’t get anything going on the ground last weekend against Notre Dame and Chase Brice doesn’t exactly have the type of weapons to run away from the Eagles. Boston College will grind this one to a halt with their veteran-laden defense and top notch offensive line. They could move to a more pass friendly offense as the season progresses, but in their first game out, I like them to utilize their bread and butter ground game with David Bailey.
Pick: Boston College +5.5
South Florida Bulls @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame -24; Over/Under 48
Last week’s win over Duke played out almost as I had expected with Notre Dame riding a solid ground game and stout defense to an easy win. This week should be much of the same. However I do like the Irish to cover the spread, behind a couple more explosive plays from Ian Book and the Irish passing game. South Florida was great on the ground a week ago against The Citadel, but Notre Dame is a completely different animal. Look for Notre Dame to get up early forcing the Bulls into passing the football. That could spell some easy points for the Irish.
Pick: Notre Dame -24
UCF Knights @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech +7.5; Over/Under 63
There’s something not right about Georgia Tech only being a 7.5 point dog to UCF a week after being a 12.5 dog to Florida State. Sure, that game was in Tallahassee, but the Yellow Jackets are getting too much steam from their “upset” over the Seminoles. I think as the season rolls along, we’ll find that game was much more about Florida State than it was Georgia Tech. UCF is playing their first game of the season, but they’re way more talented and won’t look past any opportunity they have to take down an ACC team.
Pick: Central Florida -7.5
The Citadel @ Clemson Tigers
Clemson -46; Over/Under 57.5
Another game where something just doesn’t add up with the line and particularly line movement. The game opened with Clemson a 47.5 favorite and a total of 53.5. The line has swung a point and a half in The Citadel’s favor and the total four points higher. That suggests The Citadel will score MORE points than originally thought. The Bulldogs will bring an option attack, but that will only serve to keep the clock moving as I don’t think they’ll have any effectiveness scoring on this Clemson defense. I originally liked giving The Citadel the points, but with the increase to the total, I think that is where the value lies.
Pick: Under 57.5
Miami-Florida Hurricanes @ Louisville Cardinals
Louisville -2.5; Over/Under 64.5
Hold on tight folks, this is going to be a good one. Louisville impressed me last week hanging 35 on a very good Western Kentucky defense and D’Eriq King was the real deal for Miami in their win over UAB. This Miami defense isn’t as good as it’s been in previous years, but that might not matter if King and the offense are as explosive as they were a week ago. This total has crept up as the week has gone along, opening at 59.5, but I don't care. I think there will be fireworks.
Pick: Over 64.5
Wake Forest Demon Deacons @ N.C. State Wolfpack
Pick; Over/Under 53
In what is an early make or break game (at least as their team win total is concerned) for both teams, we get our first look at both the Wolfpack and Demon Deacons (against a non-Clemson foe). Both come into the year with major offensive question marks and I’m not really that high on either team. I don’t really want to back a team playing their first game if they have to win, so I’m going to be looking at the total here. The Wolfpack will be rusty to start and the Deacs don’t have the firepower to take advantage, so look for a close, low scoring game.
Pick: Under 53.5