Lock$ of Saturday: Week 4
We're almost a full month into the college football season, and we finally have a Hokies game.
It's been a September to remember in the college football world, just not for the Hokies. But finally, after weeks of disappointing slumber, the Hokies are back!
But there's been plenty of great football played outside of Blacksburg this season, and the boys from the Lock$ of Saturday are fully in the boat and rowing along. After two weeks of picks, here's how things stand:
This week is the week of road underdogs. All six games that we're picking have the home teams favored, even without the normal home-field advantages. How the lack of crowd noise and energy will affect college football is still to be determined, but it can't hurt to be playing in your backyard. Still, Vegas seems to be leaning towards the home team in some close matchups, including a top 25 showdown between Army and Cincinnati (yes, that's a top 25 game). We got conference inter-division matchups, rivalries, and the return of Hokies football...let's get pickin'!
Louisville +3.0 @ Pittsburgh
Sam - Pittsburgh -3.0
Pitt is rolling out some gnarly looking uniforms for this game. That gives them at least a field goal edge to start. On a more football-related note, I can't think of a worse opponent to play after getting your feathers plucked at home on national television than this nasty Pitt team. The Pitt defense is legit, and I don't see the Cardinals learning how to play defense in the next few days. Also, slow turf up their at Heinz Field. That's not good for a speedy offense.
Ed - Louisville +3.0
I was high on Louisville coming into the season, and I still think they are a good football team. After the slip up last week against a Miami team that is better than we thought, I think they will bounce back and cover this week.
Robert - Pittsburgh -3.0
Well, I picked Louisville to make the ACC Championship game. We all make mistakes. As we all saw last weekend, this Cardinal defense is abysmal. Pitt's offense isn't much better, but their defense is arguably the best in the conference. Micale (Malik?) Cunningham will struggle to get into a rhythm while Louisville's defense will help Kenny Pickett continue to be the most overrated QB in the ACC.
Chris - Louisville +3.0
A classic case of Louisville getting beat up on national TV by a Miami program that may very well be “bak”. Meanwhile, Pitt shuts down Syracuse and ends up ranked slightly higher than the Cardinals going into Week 3.
Over the years I have adopted a few guidelines on picking spreads and Rule No. 1 is to never abandon your preseason predictions too early, meaning that Louisville, in this matchup, is probably the superior team coming off a down week and will be looking to save face against an overrated and untested Pitt football team.
Brett - Pitt -3.0
I was also riding Louisville for covering ATS all season, but after watching them last week I lost a little confidence. Pitt's defense is going to be a problem for Cunningham and company, it's just up to Pickett and the Pitt offense to convert. I think Pitt will get the win by a touchdown in a low scoring game.
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) September 20, 2020
ꜰᴏʀɢᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ꜰᴜᴛᴜʀᴇ
Florida State +11.0 @ Miami
Sam - Florida State +11.0
Oh, Miami has a quarterback now? Miami's defense looks nasty? Florida State is still a dumpster fire? Easy pick for the 'Canes. Nope! As the Seminole legend himself, Lee "Scooter" Corso says... "Not so fast, my friend!" The 'Noles have had two weeks to prepare for a simplistic Miami offense, and defense hasn't been the problem in Tallahassee recently. There's just too much talent for Florida State to get blown out in a rivalry game. I know this is a hot take, but I think the 'Noles can win this one.
Ed - Miami -11.0
Is the U back? I'm not convinced, but they looked good last week. D’Eriq King can ball and seems to have elevated everyone around him. Besides, Florida State is very much not back.
Robert - Miami -11.0
Fine, I'll say it: Miami looked good last weekend. Man, that hurts to type. I'm still not sold though. D'Eriq King will have way more issues against this FSU defense than he did against Louisville's, especially with star DB Hamsah Nasirildeen making his season debut for the Noles. It will be ugly at the start, but FSU's offense is so bad, which will cause their defense to burn out. Miami will put the foot on the gas in the fourth quarter and pull away.
Chris - Miami -11.0
In Week 1 against Georgia Tech, Seminole fans witnessed what a competent, albeit inexperienced, mobile QB was able to do against their stout but somewhat inconsistent defense. It didn’t end well.
In their second game, Florida State fans will once again witness an exponentially better mobile QB run circles around a still inconsistent defense whose head coach is currently in quarantine. If last week was any indication, it was that Miami may indeed be “back”. Watch out.
Brett - Miami -11.0
Alright, alright, alright. Miami looks better than I anticipated, but I am still not convinced yet. However, Florida State has been without their head coach for days because of Covid-19. They also just look......terrible. Give me Miami by two touchdowns in this heated rivalry.
Duke +5.0 @ Virginia
Sam - Virginia -5.0
Duke is bad. The only reason I picked them last week was that my dog chose them, and it's safe to say he's cut off from making picks for a few weeks. The Hoos win in a low scoring affair by 10 or so.
Ed - Virginia -5.0
Virginia without Bryce Perkins is tough to get behind, but Duke is terrible. I picked them last week, and will not be making that mistake again.
Robert - Virginia -5.0
I want to pick Duke here, especially with UVA playing their first game of the season, but Chase Brice's supporting cast is so awful. Brennan Armstrong will look rough in his first start for the Hoos, but Duke will look worse. If you like offense, stay as far away from watching this game as you can. That other school by a touchdown.
Chris - Virginia -5.0
I forgot rule No. 1 last week in picking Duke to cover versus BC. I will not fall victim again. In a matchup between bad teams with a < 1 TD spread, I usually trend towards the program with better defense which unfortunately means the Cavaliers should cover in their first game of the season.
Writing that hurt. Excuse me while I go rinse my hands in bleach.
Brett - Virginia -5.0
Duke's offense is only averaging 9.5 points a game. That's it. That's the sentence. While UVA's offense is less than impressive, they do have a pretty stout defense. Duke will struggle to get points up and the 'Hoos cover by a touchdown or so in a low scoring game.
Kentucky +7.5 @ Auburn
Sam - Auburn -7.5
Auburn is just a better football team. The Tigers lost a lot from last year's team, especially on the defensive side of the ball losing first-round draft pick DT Derrick Brown. But programs like Auburn don't rebuild, they reload. Look out for redshirt freshman Colby Wooden to be the next game wrecker for the Tigers. On offense, Bo Nix has looked like either a Heisman contender or a JV backup. If he takes any sort of step up this season, then I think he can scare defenses enough to open up the run game that Auburn's offense relies so heavily upon.
Ed - Auburn -7.5
SEC football is finally here and I could not be more excited. Coming off a Belk Bowl victory against the Hokies, Kentucky finds themselves without Lynn Bowden. Auburn is super talented as usual, and the offense should take a big step in Bo Nix's second season. SkyBar in Auburn is also one of the coolest bars I’ve ever been too. WDE
Robert - Kentucky +7.5
As awful as that Belk Bowl was for Hokie fans, that game likely served as a huge momentum builder for the Wildcats. This team is no contender, but they're finally good enough to give some of the SEC's best some fits. Terry Wilson is solid, and he will cause some problems for this Auburn defense. Ultimately, the Tigers are the better team and will probably win, but I feel good enough about this Wildcat team to pick them in the points here.
Chris - Kentucky +7.5
Before resorting to the Lynn Bowden rushing attack last season, Kentucky saw massive attrition at the QB position while proceeding to go 0-3 against SEC opponents with an average losing margin of just 13 points. Not bad considering the context.
However, they return a significant amount of production on both sides of the ball, including 80% of last year’s insanely LARGE defense as well as incumbent veteran senior QB Terry Wilson, who looked solid before going down early last season.
If Auburn has one weakness, it's going against big physical defensive fronts, which is pretty much every program at the top of the SEC, explaining why the Tigers always seem to play well early in the season before having to matchup against the big boys. Kentucky may not be at the top of the SEC, but they sure do have some beef.
Brett - Kentucky +7.5
Kentucky returns with Terry Wilson, their prized QB that went down with a season-ending injury last year, and their two NFL caliber tight-ends Justin Rigg and Keaton Upshaw. Yes, Bo Nix is good and that'll probably convince enough people to pick the Tigers to cover. But WAIT, there's more! Auburn lost 15 starters....yikes. Not a good look for game one and Kentucky is riding on a lot of momentum from last year. Cats by 90!
Army +13.5 @ Cincinnati
Sam - Army +13.5
The Bearcats have lost 15 of their last 16 to ranked opponents. That's not great. On the other hand, Army has outscored its two opponents this season 79-7. That'd be impressive if they'd played anyone but Middle Tennessee State and Louisiana-Monroe. Still, I think these are two teams very worthy of a Top 25 ranking. Both teams have veteran defenses that will put up a fight, so a two-touchdown spread with an over/under of 45 doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Bearcats win and stay alive for a CFP run, but it'll be close. Go Army, Cover the Spread.
Ed - Army +13.5
After blowing out two bad teams, Army finds themselves ranked heading into a game against a very highly thought of Cincinnati team. Cincy is better and should win the game, but based on the style of play I like Army to cover.
Robert - Cincinnati -13.5
These are two very good football teams who, quite frankly, would cause plenty of issues for most ACC teams. Army has looked very tough so far, but Cincinnati is, in my opinion, the best Group of 5 team this season. They were a very good team last year, winning 11 games including an absolute dismantling of Boston College in their bowl game (38-6). I think Army is a solid team, but Cincy will be far too much for the Golden Knights to handle.
Chris - Cincinnati -13.5
With a significant amount of returning production, Cincinnati fields a team that went 3-2 as a home favorite with an average margin of victory of 18 points and went 4-1 with a 12 point margin of victory against non-conference. The Bearcats return a team that knows how to win big at home and against teams they don’t normally play, which is to be expected from a well-run and experienced program.
On the flip side, Army faced a few tune-up games in the first weeks of the season after a significant loss of production from 2019, meaning they are probably a bit overrated as the nation’s 22nd
ranked team, which explains why they are a still 2 TD underdog in this matchup, as they should be.
Brett - Army +13.5
If there is one thing for certain, Army will be extremely disciplined and ready to roll. Cincy does return 16 starters, but they just lost their top receiver, Alec Pierce, to injury. Army also has just pummeled two weak FBS opponents without remorse with a combined score of 79-7. Ouch. Army brings the WMD's for this one.
NC State +7.0 @ Virginia Tech
Sam - Virginia Tech -7.0
Bet the numbers, not the teams. That being said, this game shouldn't be close. NC State gave up 42 points and 32 first downs to a bottom tier ACC team with two returning offensive starters. They allowed almost 5 yards a carry to Wake RB Kenneth Walker III, mostly in the read-option game which the Hokies utilize heavily. Regardless of who is at QB, I think the Hokies have the outside weapons and bulldozers upfront to dominate a Wolfpack defense that lost 5 of their top 8 tacklers from last season.
On the other side of the ball, NC State poses a threat in the run game. Ricky Person, Jr., Zonovan Knight, and Jordan Houston (which are all fire names for running backs) will run a platoon system that can tire any defense out. It'll be pivotal for the defensive ends and whip linebackers of Tech to maintain contain and allow Dax, Ashby, and Tisdale to make the tackles. NC State utilizes mostly stretch run plays that capitalize on undisciplined edge players.
Even with a couple of key guys out here and there, the Hokies are the more talented, more veteran team. I also think Tech has a leg up in preparation for NC State since they haven't seen new DC Justin Hamilton's defense on film. I think that can create some confusion for the Wolfpack and facilitate a few key havoc plays for the Hokies. Again, bet the numbers, not the teams. Give me the better team -7.0 at home all day.
Ed - Virginia Tech -7.0
With all the uncertainty surrounding this game, it’s tough to make a real confident prediction. Fortunately, the Hokies are significantly more talented than NC State. It will be interesting to see who can play, but I'm confident that regardless of who is under center the Hokies will win and cover.
Robert - Virginia Tech -7.0
Despite all the uncertainty and Tech yet to play a game, I believe the Hokies are a significantly better team. Even if a situation so dire as Knox Kadum playing QB arises, I like the Hokie offense to find plenty of success against a suspect NC State defense. Meanwhile, I expect Justin Hamilton's first game as defensive coordinator to be an attempt to prove the nay-sayers wrong. His group will prove he was the right man to replace Bud Foster, as the Lunch Pail D steamrolls a pretty one-dimensional Wolfpack offense.
Chris - Virginia Tech -7.0
Given all the variables to include Virginia Tech’s QB competition, the COVID-19 protocol's impact on the 2-deep, and the new staff and personnel, the VT offense can still consistently score thanks in part to returning depth and experience, meaning the game will more than likely come down to how the Hokies defense matches up with the NC State offense.
However, new DC Justin Hamilton’s emphasis on “bend but don’t break” along with an experienced and athletic front seven are reasons enough to expect the Hokies to stifle NC State.
Brett - Virginia Tech -7.0
I have no clue who is going to be on the field for the Hokies, but these guys are going to unleash on the field Saturday. While I have no idea what to expect, I truly believe the good guys will get it done with heart and pride.
Sons of Saturday is all about giving you unique, in-depth, and most importantly fun content. That’s why the boys from the Lock$ of Saturday decided to get behind the mic!
We go in depth on our Week 4 Lock$ of Saturday picks. We hit everything from impact players to alternate uniforms. If you’re looking to play the numbers on Saturday, this is the place for you.