With Virginia playing on Friday night, our weekend gets started a little sooner this week. We’re almost to conference play and there’s only one FCS game on the slate. So sit back and enjoy as we have nine opportunities to get in on the action.
When will the Virginia offense wake up? Despite needing a game winning field goal to escape Old Dominion, that awakening is coming soon. Two fumbles inside the five yard line and another in the red zone kept Saturday’s game from being a route. If Virginia can limit the turnovers, I like their ability to score some points. Xavier Brown looks explosive and the passing game should be better. On the other side of the ball, I like for Syracuse to be able to get what they want in the running game opening things up for the passing game. As maligned as Robert Anae was during this tenure at Virginia he’s a great game planner. I think they’ll have what it takes to take advantage of a Virginia defense that has played better than expected this year. I don’t know who wins, but there should be plenty of points with both squads playing pretty quickly.
Pick: Over 54
Everything points to taking Wake Forest with the points. They’re at home, Clemson is down, but I just can’t do it. Until ACC teams can beat the Tigers on a more consistent basis, they’re still the cream of the conference. Despite being much better over the last several years, the Demon Deacons haven’t really challenged Clemson head to head. Their strength is on the offensive side of the ball and their defense looks better when it can force opposing offenses into playing catch up. I think Clemson takes advantage of their physicality keeping things on the ground and keeping Sam Hartman off the field. If they can do that, this game goes under.
Pick: Under 55.5
No folks, this isn’t a matchup of 3-0 Kansas and Duke teams on the hardwood. Both basketball powers are 3-0 on the football field. It’s tough though to determine how good either squad actually is. But I do think Duke’s defense is legit. Furthermore, both teams average in the low 60s for offensive snaps. They both run the ball more than they throw it so expect a game that goes quickly not leaving a lot of time to get to this total.
Pick: Under 63.5
South Florida hung tight with Florida last week, masking that they’re not all that good. That’s a game you can be sure the Bulls were up for and they gave everything they could to the Gators. I don’t think they can keep that level of intensity two weeks in a row. The Louisville offense is still very explosive and the way you stop them is to pressure Malik Cunningham. South Florida won’t be able to do that. I don’t love the 14 and a hook, but I’m still laying the points.
Pick: Louisville -14.5
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders @ Miami Hurricanes
Miami -25.5; Over/Under 53
How does Miami respond after their loss at Texas A&M a week ago? There’s no reason to think they don’t win, but I think they keep things simple. The Hurricanes are running on over 50% of their plays and haven’t displayed as much big play potential as in years past. Miami’s defense is still rock solid, but Blue Raider quarterback Chase Cunningham has a better passer rating under pressure than he does with a clean pocket. Middle Tennessee should be able to put up some points keeping Miami from completely running away with the game.
Pick: Middle Tennessee +25.5
Notre Dame’s offense is atrocious, but North Carolina’s defense might be worse. This could look like a square play, but I think Notre Dame scores over 26 points. If the offense can be just passable they should be able to score, but what I’m really looking for is the Notre Dame defense to create some turnovers, short fields, and even points on their own. I like North Carolina coming out of the bye, but the Notre Dame team total is the play.
Pick: Notre Dame Over 26.5
Last week I said I was fading Georgia Tech until I have a reason not to and I’m going to stick to it (though almost three TD’s is enticing). UCF is explosive and will play fast, but they do most of their damage on the ground. The Knights won’t run away from Georgia Tech, but I just can’t pick the Jackets to cover. Their offense is just so bad. Once again, I can’t see Georgia Tech scoring enough. On the flip side, UCF has a turnover worthy play rate of 7.2% which tells me they’ll leave some points on the field.
Pick: Under 57
NC State is really good. UConn is really bad. But this is just way too many points. With an implied score of 44-6, I just don’t see it. NC State will look ahead to next week’s matchup with Clemson and while they’ll win comfortably, 38 points is just too many.
Pick: UConn +38
I’m higher on Florida State than my STL colleagues, but this is too many points as well. Boston College hasn’t covered a spread all season, but that’s more a product of some incorrect lines. Sure, they lost by 17 to a bad VaTech team, but I see this one playing out differently. Florida State may be without quarterback Jordan Travis and Phi Jurcovec can come up with enough big plays to keep this game tight.
Pick: Boston College +17.5