Rivalry week is upon us. I think this is a sign of getting old (I'm 31), but I really feel like the last 12 weeks have been an absolute blur. It feels like we're just getting into late October and the regular season is over. Where did it go!?
This week seems to feature some huge traps. The Ohio State line is rising, currently at (-8) but still seems low. Florida State was (+10) a week ago at Florida, it opened at (+1) and has climbed to (+3). Here's to hoping I can avoid the lines that make no sense, and actually don't!
Mississippi at Mississippi State over 62 (Thursday)
Here's hoping your excess tryptophan allows you to stay away for Thursday night's Egg Bowl, which looks to be an absolute scoring fest. Loyal readers know my struggles with totals, but I've hit a few this year, and this just looks like a gift. MSU QB Will Rogers is in a groove, tossing 15 TDs in his last three while being held below 300 yards just once all season. I'd find it shocking if Matt Corral didn't match points here. There could be some feeling out early, but it's hard for me to see a path where neither team reaches 28 points. And someone has to win in addition to that. Somewhat surprisingly, the under has hit in six straight for Ole Miss, but the Bulldogs have gone over in three straight.
Miami (-21) at Duke
I'm a noted Miami homer, who is also likely to be in attendance here as the family-friendly (read: empty) nature of Wallace Wade Stadium is always a road trip for the family. And Miami has lost their last two trips here. But this outing is different. For as disappointing as the record is, and the rumors on Manny Diaz's future continuing, this Miami team has played hard every single week. That's not something I'm accustomed to. QB Tyler Van Dyke has thrown for over 300 yards and at least three scores in five straight. I'm perfectly content going back to the Duke well. Nothing suggests they'll suddenly be competitive, having been outscored 326-109 in-conference. Miami's defense isn't good and they haven't won by this many against an FBS opponent, but I'm not sure we can quantify Duke as that right now.
Coastal Carolina (-15) at South Alabama
Coastal, somewhat surprisingly, got QB Grayson McCall back last week, and as such, this line feels discounted, as there's no way the Chanticleers offense doesn't put up 38+ points. On the flip side, USA seems likely to continue without USC/Utah transfer QB Jake Bentley. In two games without him, Desmond Trotter has led them to only 21 total points. Motivation is always a concern, with Coastal likely locked into a bowl game in their hometown while USA needs a win here for their sixth. But they just don't have the horses.
Texas A&M (-6.5) at LSU
I went to the well against these Tigers at home at night two weeks ago and squeaked out a win by a half-point, so let's go again! The Aggies' defense is surging and performing as we expected at the beginning of the season, allowing just 12.6 points across their last five outings. For as much as LSU has tinkered and tried to send Ed Orgeron out with a win, they struggled against UL Monroe and have scored 44 points across their last three SEC games. I expect they'll fight early, but once A&M gets the ground game going and hits a timely pass or two, LSU will fold up shop and go into the offseason's rebuild.
Kentucky (+3) at Louisville
Outside of last week at Duke, I haven't bought the Cards' offense all year. They have no playmakers in the passing game and RB Jalen Mitchell hasn't emerged as a true alpha, which leaves them with just QB Malik Cunningham to produce. Perhaps that's all that's needed given last week's obscene stat line. And while Kentucky's defense hasn't been the same over the last six weeks as they were early, they still rank 19th against the run, allowing 3.74 yards per carry and only nine touchdowns all year. Offensively, Kentucky has a QB/WR duo in Will Levis and Wan'Dale Robinson, but can also ground and pound with Chris Rodriguez. Point being, they're getting points and can either match scoring or stop Louisville from putting some up.
The fun continued this past week with yet another 2-3 finish. That's the bad news, the good news is, I like the card this week, which is something that I haven't said all that often this year. Before we get to this week, let's take a quick look back at last week.
The prospect of 2-3 looked mighty fine after dropping my first three games this past week. It started with Michigan State, which suffered the same fate as Purdue the week prior and was crushed by Ohio State. Wake Forest hung tough for a while but could not get inside the number against Clemson and Indiana started strong but faded fast in a home loss to Minnesota. The wins were Nebraska, which stayed within range all day at Wisconsin, and Baylor, which won with ease over Kansas State.
All lines courtesy of draftkings.com
Iowa (-1.5) at Nebraska
The Hawkeyes have not been kind to me this year, whether I've picked them or against them or a total that they were involved in, it feels like I've lost almost every time, but this week, this week is going to be different. Iowa enters at 9-2, ranked 16th and with a chance to improve its bowl positioning. Nebraska enters off yet another tough loss at Wisconsin and really nothing to play for. The biggest problem facing Nebraska this week however is the loss of QB Adrian Martinez, who is essentially the entire offense. Nebraska will be breaking in a new QB against perhaps the best defense in the BIG 10 this week.
Michigan (+8) vs Ohio State
Apparently, the old adage of "fool me once…" doesn't apply to me because I'm going back to the well for the third straight week but hear me out. There are two possible scenarios here; one, Ohio State has the best offense in the history of college football or two, the Buckeyes are very good, but have simply caught fire in favorable situations over the past couple weeks. If this line were higher, I might buy the former, but since it's only eight, I have to think that this offense can be slowed just enough for Michigan to stay within the number. How? Well, Michigan can run the ball, that's not in question, but can the Wolverines run on OSU? At home, I think they can and with that run game comes ball control. Second, Michigan's pass defense will be the toughest OSU has seen all season.
Florida State (+3) at Florida
Fire a coach early in the season and you might get an immediate bounce. Fire him late in the season and it's just time to go home. Both teams need a win to become bowl eligible, but I have a feeling that the Gators simply want this season to end. Don't get me wrong, they'll get up for their rival, but the Gators are just lost right now. FSU meanwhile has pulled itself out of an early-season hole and is suddenly surging with wins over Miami and BC in the past two weeks. What I like most about FSU right now is the play of Jordan Travis, who has improved tremendously over the course of the season.
Wake Forest (-4.5) at Boston College
Wake Forest was ranked 10th entering this past week when it ran into a defense it couldn't solve in Clemson. BC has a strong defense, but it's not at the level of Clemson's and I just watched Jordan Travis torch it this past week and while Travis is improved, he's no Sam Hartman. The issue with Wake has been its defense, but I'm not sure BC is equipped to get into the shootout that it'll end up in eventually. BC's offense has a tendency to disappear and if that happens for even one quarter this week, it'll be too late.
Purdue (-15) vs Indiana
I'm not sure what happened to Indiana this year as the Hoosiers had some serious steam entering this season, but whatever happened, they are now one of the worst, if not the worst team in the BIG-10. I understand this is a rivalry game and we're going to get Indiana's best effort, but the same is true on the other side of the ball and guess what? Purdue is well equipped to turn this game into a route. Indiana simply does not have the firepower to keep up with Purdue's aerial attack, which is currently averaging 346 yards per game.