Another middling week last week for yours truly, falling below .500 on the year as a result. All we can do is keep on keeping on, and hope to get hot. It's coming!
Connecticut (-3.5) at Massachusetts
The Huskies have at least shown effort of late, with their last two losses coming by a total of four points to Vandy and Wyoming. UMass hasn't, at all, being outscored 236-73, scoring just 10 total in their last two while allowing at least 42 in every contest. It's concerning they opened as a one-point favorite and the number has moved this much, but that's because folks are realizing what I knew Sunday evening. UMass will cement itself as the nation's worst Saturday evening.
Wake Forest (-6) at Syracuse
Syracuse has had some defense success, statistically, but I'm not buying anything they've done other than upsetting Liberty, as beating Ohio, and losing to FSU and Rutgers is poor. They haven't faced an offense like Wake's either. QB Sam Hartman is a budding star, they are comfortable handing off to three different backs, and have three options in the passing game too. They'll be able to spread the Orange out and outscore them relatively easily. I think this is the start of seeing who Syracuse really is, and that's still sitting at the bottom of the ACC.
East Carolina (+10.5) at Central Florida
These two teams are moving in opposite directions. ECU was competitive against Appalachian State and South Carolina before upsetting Marshall, the start of what is now a three-game win streak after last week's dismantling of Tulane. QB Holton Ahlers has steadied himself, but the emergence of RB Keaton Mitchell, who has three-straight 100-yard games and is averaging 9.6 ypc has given them balance. Meanwhile, UCF has dropped two straight and managed only 178 yards through the air without QB Dillon Gabriel, despite having a bye week to prepare for life without him. The Pirates defense can be had on the ground, allowing 11 TDs, but they've held three opponents to 4.0 ypc or less. It's a gut call, and I don't think they win, but I think they can keep this manageable.
SMU (-13.5) at Navy
Playing the service academies is always a bit frustrating due to the bleeding clock. But I think Navy is over-valued off last week's win over UCF. They'd previously lost to Marshall, Air Force and Houston by a combined 100-30, and I find a surging 5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS SMU squad better than those. Oklahoma transfer QB Tanner Mordecai is thriving, posting a 24:6 TD:INT ration while averaging 313.8 ypg, and has proven to be a capable runner as well. They've got a stable of backs led by Ulysses Bentley IV (7.6 ypc), and I just don't see the Midshipmen having the firepower to keep up. SMU's defense has been above average against the run as well, further lending confidence.
Georgia (-15.5) at Auburn
The Dawgs defense is like something I've never seen. They've allowed 23 total points in five games, including consecutive shutouts, allowing 2.35 yards per carry and 4.7 yards per pass attempt. Auburn continues to receive mediocre play at QB, and I don't think they'll run the ball with any success. It is a big enough number that I get concerned if the Tigers score 10-14 points, but not too concerned to stay away. For the record, I like Alabama (-17.5) at Texas A&M too but didn't include both so as to provide the column some diversification.
Michigan (-3.5) at Nebraska
I mentioned last week that the litmus test for Michigan was the trip to Wisconsin. The Wolverines won with ease and if they are truly a different team, they'll have no problem covering this number. Yes, they will have to deal with a potential hangover as these kids aren't used to big wins, but Nebraska shouldn't offer any more of a challenge than Wisconsin did this past week. Nebraska has certainly played better over the past three weeks, but the 'Huskers just don't have the horses to keep up if Michigan plays like it did this past week.
Reeky's Over/Under PICKS
Over (63.5) Texas vs Oklahoma
The last time I took the Oklahoma over it didn't end so well, but this time we have a much better matchup. Texas has a potent offense and very little defense to speak of. Oklahoma has not been the offensive machine that we've become accustomed to over the past two decades, but the Sooners have enough to score points against this Longhorn defense that surrenders 170 yards per game on the ground. As for the Sooner defense, it's shown up once this season and that was aforementioned over that I lost earlier, against a Nebraska team that has no offense.
Over (67) Arkansas at Ole Miss
Have you ever run with ankle weights on and then taken them off? That's how these offenses are going to feel this week as things will be much easier on offense this week as opposed to this past week. Arkansas really struggled against what might the best defense in the country and Ole Miss was in a very tough spot at Alabama. This week these offenses will look like completely different units as they can let loose and just do what they do best. Prior to this past week, Arkansas was scoring around 35 points per game and Ole Miss was in the 50s.
Over (65.5) Florida State at North Carolina
I'm going back to the well with the over in the Tar Heels game. The theory here is that a bad defense can't put it together in consecutive weeks. As for the other side of the ball, the Seminoles have been poor against the run and the pass and the Tar Heels are well equipped to beat them, especially via the air this week. The question then is, can the Seminoles put up more of a fight than Duke did this past week? I think they can, largely because they are putting up more than 200 per game on the ground and they should be able to gash the Tar Heel defense this week.
Under (40.5) Penn State at Iowa
I'm sticking to my guns in this spot also. I had the under in the Iowa game this past week and that play fell apart early because Maryland was a train wreck. Penn State will not turn the ball over nearly as much and when it does, the defense will apply at least some resistance. The mistake I made this past week was that Maryland is too much of a wildcard. With Penn State, I know what I'm getting. A decent offense and a strong defense…just like Iowa. I'm expecting both of these decent offenses to struggle against each team's better units.