Another meh week last week. I just can't get a hot/perfect week to get me safely over that .500 mark. I
absolutely got what I deserved for being stupid enough to even think I could pick the UCONN/UMASS disaster.
Northern Illinois (-9) vs. Bowling Green
Bowling Green is 4-1 ATS, so maybe I'm taking the bait a second time unsuccessfully. I just find them overvalued still coming off of their massive upset at Minnesota. Since then, they are 0-2 SU, including a 15 point loss to lowly Akron where they were 14-point favorites. The bottom line for me is those two teams are the bottom tier of the MAC. Northern Illinois appears to be emerging as at least a mid-tier, if not just a rung below the top teams in the conference. The offense has been inconsistent and lacks firepower, topping 27 points only twice thus far. But the defense is stout, allowing 20 or less in three straight, all wins and covers. Let's stretch that to four, please!
North Carolina State (-3) at Boston College
Boston College's win over Missouri is looking less impressive, and while I'm not really sure what to make of their narrow loss at Clemson, I still find them a defensive first, smoke and mirrors offense second team. This is the game where they start to really feel the loss of QB Phil Jurkovec. Replacement Dennis Grosel wasn't up to the task at Clemson, and he's not going to make enough plays to keep up with the 'Pack, who won't wilt on the ground, where they allow just 3.36 ypc. Clemson put up 37 percent of the rushing yards BC has allowed all year, and I've been thoroughly impressed with the Wolfpack's offensive play calling. They'll scheme RBs Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person into success, while also hitting timely plays downfield to Emeka Emezie and win on the road relatively easily.
Texas A&M (-8.5) at Missouri
It's a clear spot for a letdown for the Aggies coming off their win over Alabama, so maybe they start slow. And this number appears to be trending down, which really gets me excited. Aggie head coach Jimbo Fisher, prior to last week, has a tendency to beat up on bad teams and wilt to good ones, and Missouri certainly qualifies as the former. The Tigers are 0-5 ATS and haven't beaten a Power 5 school this season. They rank dead last in rush defense, allowing 6.1 ypc and 288.3 ypg. They haven't proven capable of stopping anyone, allowing 131 points combined to Boston College, Tennessee and Kentucky. I look for the Aggies to build on the passing game momentum they found last week, while still reeling off chunk yardage on the ground. Don't forget this was considered a top defensive team to start the year, and that unit gets it's mojo back here as well.
Alabama (-17) at Mississippi State
My preferred play is usually the Tide first half line, but DK has it sitting at (-11) which is just an uncomfortable number, even if I'll still play it. No real breakdown here. 'Bama is coming off of a loss and will flex their muscle. Yes, Mississippi State had last week off to game plan, yes they've been far better at home and they have a capable defense. But the Bulldogs failed to score against Alabama last season, and rank dead last in the country in rushing offense (56.2 ypg). Being that one-dimensional, they won't find consistent offensive success while also absorbing blows from a ticked off team.
Tennessee (+2.5) vs. Mississippi
This pick seems to be growing in popularity across some national sites, which largely means nothing, but I still don't like it. Hendon Hooker taking over at QB for the Vols has really unlocked their offense, as they've scored at least 34 in all but one game since he came on, including 107 in their last two games. The Ole Miss defense hasn't shown any statistical improvement from a year ago, ranking 100th in scoring at 31.0 ppg, including 93 total in two conference games. They are 108th against the run and 83rd against the pass. Getting points at home feels right, and I'm probably equally inclined to buy a half point here as I am to take the Volunteers on the money line.
The order in which your results come in often determines whether you feel good about your games or bad about your games. For instance, if you play six games and lose the first three, your ecstatic if you break even. If the opposite happens, you're not feeling nearly as good. I bring this up because after a long stretch of 2-3 weeks, I was feeling mighty fine after winning my first two games this past week, so when I lost my final three games, it was quite the blow. Not only had I fallen back into another 2-3 week, but I did so in the most painful way possible.
So how did I end up there again this past week? After easy wins with the overs in both the Oklahoma-Texas and Ole Miss-Arkansas games, I failed to hit the under in the Iowa game, missed the over in the North Carolina game and missed on Michigan by half a point.
Syracuse (+13.5) vs Clemson
I'm a little uneasy fading Clemson after the run it's been on this season because there's almost a sense that the Tigers have to turn it around at some point, but maybe, just maybe, they aren't any better than they've looked over the past several weeks. The fact that it's Clemson involved here is the only reason this line is where it is. If you looked at blind resumes, there's no way Clemson would be favored by almost two touchdowns. Syracuse lost a tough one this past week against Wake Forest, but the Orangemen showed a lot of fight in doing so.
Cincinnati (-21) vs UCF
A couple of things working in the Bearcats favor this week. First, UCF is a mess without Dillon Gabriel, this isn't the same offense without him. Second, Cincinnati is having a special season, the Bearcats are winning big games and they are taking care of business against lesser opponents. Cincinnati won't look past this team, even without Gabriel, the Bearcats have become accustomed to getting up for UCF over the past decade. I think they take this opportunity to punish the Knights.
Missouri (+8.5) vs Texas A&M
Missouri appears to be a bit of a mess this season, but this is a tough spot for A&M. The Aggies are not only coming off the biggest win in years, but they now have to go on the road for the first time this season. The Aggies might use the win against Alabama as a springboard to a great finish to the season or they might still be hungover from their win against 'Bama. Considering they way they played prior to the win this past week, I'm leaning towards the hangover.
Over (69) Duke at Virginia
Let's try this again. I was high on the Duke over a couple weeks ago when it faced North Carolina, but as we all know, that didn't work out. The problem with that game was that North Carolina was starting to play some defense and its offense hadn't yet hit its stride. That's not the case here as Virginia has been hitting on all cylinders on offense all season and its defense hasn't done much of anything. I especially like the Duke rushing attack which averages over 218 yards per game, up against a Cavalier defense that surrenders over 200 yards per game. There are going to be a ton of possessions in this game, now we just need for some of them to end up in the end zone.
Kentucky (+23) at Georgia
I hate to play the "their due for…" angle, but Georgia is clearly due for a dud. The Bulldogs have been playing at an elite level all season and that can only last for so long. Now they have the pressure of being ranked #1 and things are lining up for a closer than expected outcome this week. This isn't just about Georgia either, Kentucky is having a great season and if the Bulldogs overlook this opponent at all, they'll end up in a dogfight.