Lock$ of Saturday: Week 7
And just like that, it's mid October.
Through our five weeks of picks (we didn't pick week 1) we've seen multiple upsets, a few close calls, and some classic games. Here's how the scoreboard looks after last weekend.
Georgia +6.0 @ Alabama
Sam - Georgia +6.0
This line has moved from Bama -5 to Bama -6, and I think that’s just way too much. Georgia has the best defense in the country, and I think they can ride that defense to a potential upset here. With these coaches and these teams, we just have to get a close game, right? We deserve it. 8 pm, CBS, Bulldogs vs the Tide. This has all the makings for a classic. I think this will come down to special teams and a big play here and there. Give me the points and the Dawgs.
Robert - Alabama -6.0
As we watched Ole Miss tear Alabama’s defense to shreds last week, we were reminded once again of Nick Saban’s greatest weakness: a high-powered offense that can spread the ball all over the field through a playmaking QB. With that in mind, should Bama fans be worried about this Georgia offense?
Not even slightly. I’ve been high on Stetson Bennett all year, but going against the Tide is always an unprecedented challenge. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, one could argue we are going to see the nation’s best offense go against its best defense. Sign me up. This will be a great game to watch, and I ultimately believe the Tide has too much talent for Georgia to handle. Expect a low scoring contest early, with Mac Jones, Najee Harris, and Jaylen Waddle making big plays late to pull Bama ahead by a touchdown or two.
Ed - Alabama -6.0
There is no way Stetson Bennett and the Dawgs can keep up with this Alabama offense. Roll Tide!
Brett - Alabama -6.0
I’ve picked UGA every time to cover the spread, but Kirby Smart's worst enemy is truly his old boss in Nick Saban. The difference in this game to me will be in the trenches. UGA has one of, if not the best, defensive lines in the country. This will be their first major challenge getting to Mac Jones, whose offensive line has only allowed four sacks the whole season. It is going to be your typical knockdown-dragout SEC matchup, but Bama is going to have the clean uppercut toward the end of the game. Too many playmakers on offense for Bama not to put up points, I predict the score to be around 35-24 for the Tide.
Chris - Alabama -6.0
Sometimes you just have to throw away all of the advanced metrics, against the spread trends, and recent performance and go with your gut. Right now, my gut says to never go against Alabama to cover as a favorite at home with a spread under a touchdown with Nick Saban as their head coach.
In this matchup, UGA is facing an ELITE offense, anchored by weapons yet to be seen by UGA and an OL that has kept QB Mac Jones relatively clean, as he has only been sacked twice in three games. Whatever version of this game transpires (slugfest or shootout), Bama should win by a touchdown.
Ryan - Alabama -6.0
I am juiced up to watch this game. I think it will be a really interesting barometer to see where these two teams are. Without a doubt the premier matchup on the week, but I think Coach Saban gets things right with his team after a close one last week to Ole Miss and they come focused and ready. If the defense of Bama played as it did last week this could be a high scoring potential Georgia blowout. However, I believe in the weapons that Alabama rolls out and think Harris and Waddle are true NFL players. The skills players for Alabama make the difference in this one because they are just better and will make more plays. Look for it to be a 7 point game but because of that, I am going with the Tide.
Mike - Alabama -6
If you’re a believer in Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, this is the “prove it” week, so to speak.
I love Georgia’s defense, but Alabama’s offense is firing on all cylinders, and I think they’ll score enough points to make it difficult for Georgia to keep up. I refuse to believe that Alabama’s defense is as bad as it looked last week. Lane Kiffin’s Ole Miss offense will put up numbers like that on almost anybody, and couple that with Kiffin’s familiarity of Saban’s scheme, it was a perfect storm for Ole Miss to score a bunch of points last week.
I don’t think Georgia has the playmakers on the outside to test Alabama’s corners like Ole Miss did last week, and I think Alabama’s rushing defense will make enough stops to win and cover this spread.
The game is receiving a great deal of hype, but I’m not sure it’s warranted. Alabama is offensively superior, and I don’t think Georgia will keep up. The only path would be to keep this low scoring and good luck with that against the Alabama offense.
Ole Miss -3.5 @ Arkansas
Sam - Ole Miss -3.5
Arkansas has been able to hang with the big boys so far in the SEC and has been quite the surprise. They’ve done so with a stingy defense. That defense will certainly be tested against the Lane Train offense this weekend. The Rebels have averaged over 41 points per game against Florida, Kentucky, and Alabama. Yeah, they might score 60+ this week. No way Arkansas can keep up. Big prop bet game for me.
Robert - Ole Miss -3.5
I never thought I’d say this, but when Ole Miss is playing, it is must-watch TV. The Kiffin Show is not the best football by any means but man, oh man is it fun. The Rebels’ offense puts up numerous points while their defense should just opt to automatically give the opponent a touchdown and an extra point to save themselves the effort of getting burned anyway.
Meanwhile, Arkansas has been the surprise of the SEC so far with Florida transfer QB Feleipe Franks keeping the Razorbacks competitive against Georgia and Auburn. This will be another ridiculously high-scoring game (pound that over). With the spread being this close, I think it comes down to QB play. Franks is more experienced, but the main reason he lost the Florida job was ball security. His career touchdown-to-interception ratio is nearly 2:1 whereas Ole Miss’s Matt Corral has thrown only one pick compared to nine touchdowns this season. I think Franks makes one too many mistakes to propel the Rebels over the top.
Ed - Ole Miss -3.5
The Lane Train is full steam ahead right now. Ole Miss offense is legit and I cant see Arkansas keeping up.
Brett - Ole Miss -3.5
LANE KIFFIN. That’s all you need to know why to pick Ole Miss here. This team put up 48 points on ALABAMA last week. However, Arkansas has played two top SEC teams (UGA and Auburn) extremely tough because I think people downplayed them this year. I don’t think Kiffin is going to fall for that one bit. This is a must-win for Ole Miss to keep the hype train going and I think they will easily cover the spread here.
Chris - Ole Miss -3.5
This comes down to a battle of scoring. Ole Miss is good at it, Arkansas… not so much. This line is heavily influenced by how Arkansas effectively shut down the Mike Leach Air Raid offense for Mississippi State two weeks ago and believe they can repeat the same effort against Ole Miss without considering the dramatically different playing styles of each program.
Ole Miss QB Matt Corral is averaging 12.3 yards per attempts (compared to Miss St QB KJ Costello’s 6.7) in an offense that actually runs the ball 63% of the time and is led by two rushers averaging around 5.0 yards a carry. Bake in Corral’s effectiveness as a rusher and you have the makings of a potential blowout in Fayetteville considering the Hogs just don’t seem to have the same firepower to keep pace.
Ryan - Ole Miss -3.5
Arkansas is showing some life this year after multiple down years really since the Tech come- back in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte. Lane Kiffin is just a scoring genius and he and his offense are going to put up huge numbers against Arkansas’s defense this week. I actually don’t have much faith in Felipe Franks behind center for the razorbacks, but Matt Corral at Ole Miss is a gunslinger and he has some serious weapons to use in the downfield passing game. High-scoring affair here as I am not sure that the rebels can stop anything but they outscore Arkansas in this one easy.
Mike - Arkansas +3.5
Arkansas got robbed last week against Auburn, a game that they certainly should have won if it were for poor officiating. Ole Miss put everything into beating Alabama last week, and I believe Arkansas will be a different kind of challenge. Arkansas is capable of playing a ball-control game with its offense, and I think they’ll force a couple of turnovers to upset Ole Miss.
Don’t actually bet this game, it could go any number of directions.
Pittsburgh +10.5 @ Miami
Sam - Pittsburgh +10.5
I can think of a lot of words to describe the Miami program, but resilience isn’t one of them. The ‘Canes just got boarded up in Clemson, and their deficiencies were really exposed. Pitt on the other hand has struggled offensively to start the season and is coming off a heartbreaking OT loss to Boston College.
Overall, Pitt has to be disappointed with their back to back losses against the bottom half of the ACC (at least we think bottom half) which most likely negate them from the ACC title game conversation. Still, I trust Pitt to bounce back and play with energy after a tough loss more than I do Miami. Miami wins, but only by one possession.
Robert - Pittsburgh +10.5
This is as “Back’s Against the Wall” a game you’ll find for the Panthers. They have lost their last two games by one point each, so we are four points away from looking at a 5-0 Pitt team. But sadly for them, they are 3-2 with any hopes of contending for a spot in the ACC Championship hanging in the balance.
They’ll face a Miami team coming off their turn behind the woodshed with Clemson. The Canes had their eyes opened as they faced the humbling reality of their best not even being close to good enough. They played about as well as they could have hoped and still lost by 25. That hurts, and it makes getting up for your next game even more difficult, especially against a desperate team like Pitt. I like the Panthers to cover here and potentially win outright.
Ed - Pitt +10.5
I haven't been very impressed with Pitt. That being said, they love to keep the score close. Both teams are looking to respond well this week after losses, and I think Pitts' ability to keep things close will allow them to cover. Miami wins, Pitt covers.
Brett - Pittsburgh +10.5
Talk about bad timing here. Pitt is desperate for an ACC win after two close losses and Miami is coming off of an evisceration on national television. This is also a bad, bad matchup for Miami. Pitt is also sneaky athletic on defense with players that can cover the length of the field. Paris Ford might be too aggressive on some plays, but man is he fun to watch. Expect him to be all over King’s doorstep the whole game when he scrambles.
10.5 points is too many and I think that is because Vegas believes Miami ran into a buzzsaw last week (which they kind of did). This is that time of year when the wheels fall off the wagon for the Hurricanes. I think Pitt covers the spread here and Miami wins the game, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if the Panthers pull off the upset in Coral Gables.
Chris - Pittsburgh +10.5
s indeed… not back. The Canes posted a complete dud last week and it doesn’t get easier heading into a matchup with a Pitt program that is only giving up 18.2 points per game and seems to be effective against mobile QBs with limited passing capabilities given their ability to shut down Louisville and Syracuse. Miami is more talented than those teams but Pitt is more experienced and efficient on both sides of the ball which seems to indicate a lower scoring game with Pitt covering a double-digit spread.
Ryan - Pitt +10.5
I said this last week but do we really know who Miami is yet? Historically this is not a mentally tough team and Manny Diaz thinks they were inches away from competing with Clemson, but that didn’t show on the field last week in any way. I am not sure we know fully what Pitt is capable of either but we do know their defense is stout. They will key in on King here and look to control the pace. Miami has not shown enough to be 10 point favorites here so I will take the panthers with points.
Mike - Miami -10.5
I understand that Pitt tends ugly games up. I also understand that Pitt has given Miami recent trouble, including an outright upset in 2017 and a narrow defeat 16-12 last season.
However, these are two programs heading in opposite directions. Miami’s defense played generally well a week ago against Clemson but didn’t play nearly as well offensively as they’re capable of playing. Credit Clemson, they’re really freaking good.
Miami could certainly show up on Saturday and roll over, but I can’t bet on Pittsburgh right now, especially after losing me three bets against NC State and failing to cover against Boston College a week ago. The defense has looked bad the last couple of weeks, and the offense is unbalanced, relying too heavily on the arm of Kenny Pickett with their inability to consistently run the football.
Pittsburgh hasn’t covered a spread all year. They’re 0-3-1 ATS, and I don’t think they’ll cover here either, especially on the road against a much better Miami team.
Virginia -2.5 @ Wake Forest
Sam - Wake Forest +2.5
This is a true pick ‘em game with not a lot to separate the two sides on paper. For the Wahoos, the potential loss of QB Brennan Armstrong to a concussion can be devastating for a team that has struggled to find its way running the ball. Wake Forest has had an extra week to prepare for this game with the postponement of their contest with Notre Dame, so I look for Sam Hartman and the offense to be well prepared. Wake has the better QB, the home field, an extra week to prep, and 2.5 points to play with. That’s enough for me to take the Demon Deacons here.
Robert - Virginia -2.5
So if NC State beat UVA by 17 but only beat Wake Forest by 3, that means Wake is two touchdowns better than UVA, right? I wish it were that simple. As bad as the loss seemed for UVA, they actually outgained the Wolfpack 405-363 while also gaining nine more first downs. The problem for the Hoos lied in turnovers. UVA turned the ball over four times, including causing Booger McFarland to lose his mind over a big boy pick-six just as they were trying to make a comeback. UVA still has no semblance of a running game, but if they can limit the turnovers, I expect them to find success against a pretty porous Wake Forest defense.
Ed - Virginia -2.5
Wake is not a bad team. They've played above expectations so far this season, thanks to solid QB play. That being said, I like Virginia to bounce back and win by a field goal this week. I just think across the board UVA is a little bit more talented.
Brett - Wake Forest +2.5
I think Wake Forest is a bit better than people originally thought, and that is attested to Dave Clawson. I think he’s a great coach and, much like Mendenhall, has a disciplined and tough football team. I expect this game to be ultra-low scoring and if it hovers around 50-55, I’d take that under. Wake has had an extra week to get ready and Brennan Armstrong is questionable this week. Give me the Deacs!
Chris - Wake Forest +2.5
UVA’s QB Brennan Armstrong has been in a concussion protocol all week and is currently a game-time decision, meaning he will have minimal preparation this week leading up to only his 4th game as a starter with no offseason which leaves Lindell Stone, who put up garbage time stats against NC State after being down 24-0, as his primary replacement. With Wake Forest getting an extra week to game plan for a UVA team with big questions on offense, the edge here favors the Deacons.
Ryan - Wake Forest +2.5
How do I not take a team with a Hartman behind center (no relation)? I agree with the boys above here. This is a toss-up game to me and if Armstrong is truly out I think this line moves a little more towards that pick em number. Wake Forest has an NFL pass rusher in Boogie Basham who the Hoos will have to double. Look for this to open up some blitz packages from the Deacs and generate some pressure on whoever is playing quarterback for UVa.
Mike - Virginia -2.5
Wake Forest is not a very good football team. Virginia seems to have little to no drop-off offensively with Lindell Stone at quarterback, although incumbent starter Brennan Armstrong is a game-time decision after suffering a concussion last week.
Virginia’s defense has been solid enough but will need to play better than a week ago against NC State. I think Virginia avoids the turnover bug against a bad Wake Forest defense, leading to an easy win over the Demon Deacons on Saturday.
Boston College +11.0 @ Virginia Tech
Sam - Virginia Tech -11.0
I really like the attitude and vibes surrounding this Hokie team. Last weekend was always going to be a tough test, even with a fully healthy defensive secondary. An 11 point loss to a rival is no fun, but considering how that game could’ve gone, you have to feel good about this team going forward.
Fuente has done a great job after losses in his tenure, going 12-5 outright. In those games, the Hokies are just 8-9 against the spread, but still have an average margin of +11.7 against the spread. So, it’s been a feast or famine. I think this can be a feast game.
Boston College has been up and down this season and is not the same hard-nosed grind-it-out team that Hokie fans have come to begrudgingly know. Boston College struggles running the ball and will look to throw over a still depleted Hokies secondary. It seems like Divine Deablo will be back and Chammari Connor will be back in action. I think that’s enough to keep the Eagles under 30.
Offensively, the Hokies will look to continue their stellar play against a BC defense that has struggled to stop the pass, especially in the intermediate range where the Hokies get most of their work done. I look for Tre Turner to finally break out of his shell this season in the RPO game. End of the day, Tech bounces back and lights up the Eagles. Give me the over, too. I think Tech can put up 40+ in this one again.
Robert - Virginia Tech -11.0
Can you say, “Statement Game?” The Hokies are coming off an emotional (to say the least) game against UNC, and with this Virginia Tech team, emotion has always been the greatest motivator. Before the NC State game, Tre Turner described the team’s desire to take out their frustration on someone, and they did exactly that. I have every reason to believe this will be more of the same. Boston College is a good team with tough run defense, but I still give the edge to the Vice Squad/Khalil Herbert combo. An important matchup to watch will be Zay Flowers (who had 116 scrimmage yards and a TD against the Hokies last year) against Jermaine Waller. Waller is hungry after having to move positions in his first game back from injury, and he will gladly welcome the challenge of covering Flowers. The Hokies will dominate early and prove they are still a contender for the ACC Championship game.
Ed - Virginia Tech -11.0
I am not very confident in this pick. After watching the Hokies defense get gashed by both the run and the pass against UNC, my faith in their ability to pull away against a solid BC passing attack is low. That being said, we have a QB who the team loves to play behind, and I think the passing attack for VT will be much better as a result.
Brett - Virginia Tech -11.0
Yeeeewwww doggy. This is reminiscent of the Miami game last year to me. Coming off a brutal loss and facing an old foe. The team is looking for someone to use as a punching bag and BC is that team.
The Hokies kept it close last week, but if you sniffed anything on Twitter you would have thought we lost by 700000000. There were obviously a ton of positives to take away from the offense, but the defense is the glaring main concern. HOWEVER. I think if the defense gets back to a normal looking scheme and not having offensive players out there….it will be a massive improvement. Having Waller, Chatman (or Murray), JR Walker, and Keonta Jenkins all available will be huge for them.
The Hokies are more than capable of putting up more than 35-40 points this week and I think the defense is more than capable (if they are all in place) of keeping the Eagles under 30.
Chris - Boston College +11.0
At some point, you have to start fading the Virginia Tech secondary given the discontinuity across the DB two-deep and the ongoing impact from the COVID-19 protocols. We saw last week how that was exploited in the run game and this week the inverse is equally possible considering BC has an extremely efficient play-action passing attack and two legit NFL caliber receiving options in WR Zay Flowers and TE Hunter Long, who will be a matchup nightmare for the Hokie LBs and safeties.
Factor in that this will be the best defense Virginia Tech has faced this season, with 80% of its 2019 defensive unit returning which has held opponents, to include UNC, to an average of 20.8 points per game and you have the makings of a closer game than many expect.
Ryan - Hokies -11.0
That’s a lot of points to be laying in my opinion but I think we see a truly inspired Hokie team come back out of the tunnel in Lane Stadium this weekend. They are back home with the QB situation handled and ready to prove points. They get healthier every week and I expect that to continue. Deablo showed how important he is to this defense last week and he becomes a key player. The attitude needs to make itself known in this one from the Hokies side of the field. They should be playing angry after last week. Factor in a tiny bit of revenge factor after they went down to BC last year in Boston. The Hokies were the better team on the field last year and gave the ball away too many times to win. Tre Turner has a coming-out party this week due to his chemistry with Hooker and the Hokies cover this.
Mike - Virginia Tech -11.0
Boston College is certainly capable of giving Virginia Tech problems defensively, especially with how bad the Hokies looked on that side of the football last Saturday against North Carolina. BC quarterback Phil Jurkovec is carrying the offense with his arm and looks frequently to tight end Hunter Long (31 catches) and wide receiver Zay Flowers (21 catches). That trio of players encapsulates the entirety of the Eagles’ offense, as BC has struggled to run the football this season. To date, BC is dead last in the conference in rushing production.
With that said, if BC runs the ball well on Virginia Tech’s defense, it’s time to officially sound the alarm on the Hokies’ run defense. I don’t think that happens though, and I think Virginia Tech scores too much for Boston College to keep up. Give me the Hokies on a late cover.
Over/Unders of the Week by Ryan Hartman
Over 64 UNC and FSU
This may be a recency bias pick because of watching the heels just tear it up on Tech’s defense last week but Sam Howell can sling it and Michael Carter in an animal. FSU is likely not going to have an answer here. They weren’t able to stop a Notre Dame team last week who hadn’t played in three weeks. UNC’s offense is also better than Notre Dame’s in my opinion when you take it in as a whole. They may throw up another 50 something this week as they have all the confidence in the world. This is a primetime ABC televised game that the Heels will be looking to show they are for real in. FSU probably needs to score a few times, which they will against this UNC defense which is porous in and of itself.
Over 57 Georgia vs Alabama
There are too many playmakers on the field for this game total to be in the ’50s. Two quarterbacks who will generate big plays in the air. I am not fully convinced on Alabama’s defense either as they showed serious weakness against a high powered Ole Miss team last week. Georgia’s game plan to win will likely be to score in high numbers like Ole Miss did and rely on their superior defense to make stops. I don’t see how Georgia can stope these playmakers Alabama has and I don’t think Alabama’s defense is as good as previous years. That right there is a recipe for the over.
Over 50.5 Auburn and South Carolina
Auburn allowed Felipe Franks and a mostly unproven Arkansas team to move the ball last week with 437 yards of offense. South Carolina is a similar team to Arkansas, so if they can emulate that success this game will easily hit the over here. SEC defenses this year have not been up to par. Auburn has shown every week they can move the ball and score and Nix and Bigsby both have big games here. This total is too low for me with the way Auburn’s defense is playing. USC will generate enough big plays for this one to go over. I am slowly changing my mantra of SEC unders which is generating some wins for my unit count.
Props of the Week by Mike McDaniel
BYU -3 at Houston (First Half)
BYU’s offense has been one of the most electric units in all of college football, and while firing on all cylinders, the Cougars get to square off against a Houston team that allowed 31 points to Tulane last week in their season opener. Give me BYU -3 in the first half.
UNC -6.5 at Florida State (First Half)
I really liked the way Florida State looked last week against Notre Dame, as quarterback Jordan Travis has inserted new life into the Seminoles’ offense. However, without top pass-catcher Tamorrion Terry, who will miss time following knee surgery, I believe that the ‘Noles will have a hard time keeping up with North Carolina’s explosive offense.
UNC’s offense looked outstanding against Virginia Tech, but the defense was less-than-stellar. If Carolina struggles defensively against a depleted Florida State offense, we’re going to have some questions about the ‘Heels moving forward.
I think UNC will handle business fine in this game, and I think they’ll cover the 6.5 in the first half.
Texas A&M -3.5 at Mississippi State (First Half)
Mississippi State threw the ball 70 times last week for zero offensive points against Kentucky. The Wildcats have a decent defense, but it’s not THAT good.
A&M upset Florida at home last week in one of the surprises of the weekend, and I think they roll the Bulldogs on the road in Starkville. I don’t think this game will be particularly close, and I think the Aggies will start fast here and cover the 3.5 in the first half.