Lock$ of Saturday: Week 9

By Sam Jessee | October 30
Lock$ of Saturday: Week 9

Well that stunk.

Oh, you thought I meant the Tech game? Yeah that was less than ideal, but the Lock$ of Saturday crew took a big fat L.

That's okay though! There's always this weekend. And you know what? You're breaking even so far in week 8. You go, Glen Coco!

Here's a look at how bad we look after last week. Read 'em and weep.

Week9

That's was a really bad week for all of us. Let's right the ship this week and gather some momentum.

Memphis +7.0 @ Cincinnati

Sam - Memphis +7.0

Cincinnati is a very good team, but I don’t think many people are giving Memphis the credit they deserve. Memphis can score with anybody, so I don’t think that will be much of a problem. I do, however, think this is a very tall task for a team that has been dealing with COVID issues all season. Still, 7.0 is a big number for this kind of matchup and I’d expect the Bearcats to win in a close battle.

Also, are we ready for the Cincy to the playoff conversation yet?

Ed - Cincinnati -7.0

Cincinnati just blew the doors off of a good SMU team. The same SMU team that gave Memphis its only loss this season. I just can't see Memphis (giving up 33ppg) being able to slow down an explosive Cincy offense.

Robert - Cincinnati -7.0

The Bearcats flexed their muscles last weekend against SMU, further proving they are undoubtedly the best G5 team this year. However, this was really the first time Cincinnati looked like the #7 ranked team in the country. After a couple of lethargic wins over Army and USF, Desmond Ridder and the Bearcat offense finally matched its lights-out defense. Memphis might be the best team Cincy has played thus far, and the analytics would tell you this is a closer matchup than #7 against an unranked team. I like the Tigers to be a tough test early, but Cincy will pull away late to win by two possessions and cover.

Chris - Cincinnati -7.0

Would you like to guess what the Memphis record is as an away underdog in the post-Fuente era? 0-7 (straight up and against the spread) with a devastating -17 point differential. In other words, not good.

Prepare to make that 0-8 considering Luke Fickell has built a solid program that thrives on shutting out their opponent (5 TDs in 4 games) and is primed to score a lot of points with an offense led by dual threat QB Desmond Ridder, who was just named the Walter Camp FBS National Offensive Player of the Week, against one of the worst defenses in college football.

Brett - Cincinnati -7.0

Analysts were saying that Cincy could be that G5 contender for a playoff spot this year. I didn’t believe that one bit, especially since Army kept it close most of the game with the Bearcats.

However, last week painted a completely new picture for me. Cincy is FOR REAL folks. They put a whooping on a good SMU team with a great quarterback. An explosive offense against a subpar defense will be the difference-maker here. Bearcats by two scores or more.

Ryan - Cincinnati -7.0

I am not a believer in Memphis. They can put up points against subpar teams but Cincy is far from subpar. The key here will be Desmond Ridder holding onto the ball and not throwing picks. He has silenced the doubters enough this year but needs to continue to be efficient. Ridder is also tied for the leading rusher on the bearcats with 250 yards on the ground. Expect this game to be won by Cincy on the ground with Ridder throwing enough wrinkles in to keep Memphis off balance.

Mike - Cincinnati -7.0

I have a hard time betting against Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder. He’s been so dynamic with his legs and continues to progress as a passer each week. I think Ridder, with his receivers, makes enough plays in the passing game this week to pull away from Memphis.

Skyline
Cincinnati's pride and joy...a plate of spaghetti topped with bad chili and Kraft cheese.

Ohio State -12.0 @ Penn State

Sam - Ohio State -12.0

White out? I mean kind of, but this won’t be the same home-field advantage Penn State has capitalized on in recent years. (Huh, imagine that, a team capitalizing on a loud and intimidating home field advantage and winning big games.)

This line could be 20 and I’d still pick Ohio State. I think what they have cooking with Justin Fields and those talented WR’s is freakishly close to what we saw last year with LSU. Penn State, on the other hand, just lost to Indiana. Indiana is a good team this year, but it’s still a basketball school. Give me the Buckeyes by a few TD’s here.

Ed - Ohio State -12.0

James Franklin is a pretender, and Ryan Day is a contender. Penn State being overrated is a yearly occurrence, it just became evident earlier on this season. Oh, and Justin Fields might be the best player in college football.

Robert - Ohio State -12.0

Get ready for a year full of Ohio State-Clemson comparisons. Not just because of their quarterbacks, but because they are, in my opinion, the two best teams in the country, and they also play in conferences with a similar talent spread. The B1G has taken some steps back, and I expect OSU to be the same sort of juggernaut as Clemson is in the ACC. This means OSU will win every game by extreme margins, and just as the Tigers were able to crush another “contender” in Miami by 25, the Buckeyes will do the same to Penn State. Not to mention, the Nittany Lions are pretty far from healthy enough to pull off the upset or even cover right now.

Chris - Penn State +12.0

Never overreact to Week 1. Coming off an embarrassing loss to Indiana, where Penn State successfully snatched defeat away from the jaws of victory with its late game clock mismanagement and inability to perform basic math, most believe that Penn State is overmatched against an Ohio State program that looked the part once again in their blowout victory versus the Cornhuskers.

But are they? Although James Franklin has gone 1-5 in head to head matchups with Ohio State, the average scoring margin has only been 8 points, mostly due to one blow out game back in 2015, with the last 4 games being decided by a 10 point TOTAL scoring differential. Odds are the Buckeyes should not be a two touchdown road favorite in Happy Valley, especially since the original line for this game was Ohio State -8.

Brett - Ohio State -12.0

That’s a huge number for this game, but for good reason. Penn State looked like they had been bamboozled last week in their loss against unranked Indiana while Ohio State looked like a well-oiled machine. The Buckeyes only have a few games to make their statement this season and this game is one of them. Per usual, they are going to knock James Franklin and the Penn State fan base down to earth. Buckeyes big here.

Ryan - Ohio State -12.0

The rust is off and Ohio State looks as formidable as their preseason hype video was. I mean give me a helmet and a mouthpiece now. Fields and Lawrence for the Heisman seems an automatic at this point given what Fields showed us last week. We haven’t seen Ohio State yet in a tough spot and maybe Penn State becomes that but this team has got to be reeling after last week in a shortened season. This one may get ugly.

Mike - Ohio State -12.0

This is a tough spot for Penn State. Coming off of a tough loss to Indiana last week, it’s tough to turn around and rally the troops at home with one of the best teams in the country coming to town. The running back room keeps getting mauled by injuries, and I don’t think Sean Clifford can do enough with his arm at quarterback to make up for the lack of production in the running game. Ohio State wins big here.

Ice
Penn State's Berkey Creamery has some of the best ice cream you'll ever have.

Kansas State +3.5 @ West Virginia

Sam - Kansas State +3.5

Is Kansas State good? Did Virginia Tech kill the West Virginia program at FedEx Field? Why is West Virginia favored? So many questions, and I quite frankly don’t have the answers.

I do know that Chris Klieman is a darn good coach that has done an impeccable job at Kansas State. A shaky performance to start the year against a good Arkansas State team is the sole blemish on a 4-1 start that has wins against Oklahoma and TCU. My highschool mascot was also the Wildcats, so once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.

Ed - West Virginia -3.5

This is a toss-up, but I like the Mountaineers at home to cover the spread. When you think of WVU you don't typically think about defense, but that's exactly what they have this year. The Neers are only giving up 261 yards per game this season, and I think they will lean on that defense to keep it close and come away with a win.

Robert - Kansas State +3.5

I don’t really understand why WVU is favored here. Yes, many of the numbers would tell you K-State is not that good. But they would tell you the same about WVU. The Mountaineers are headed in a good direction under Neal Brown, but he is still trying to fit square pegs into round holes by completely changing their identity. They aren’t the weekly offensive explosion they were under Holgersen. K-State is the better team, so I like them to cover and win outright.

Chris - Kansas State +3.5

Since joining the Big 12 in 2012, WVU is 32-41 against the spread (38-38 straight up) with an average scoring margin of 0.2 respectively for each category, meaning in a conference defined by shootouts, big plays, and no defense, the Mountaineers have somehow found a way to be a spectacularly average program.

With the Wildcats entering this game 5-1 as a road underdog under Chris Klieman, who for those unfamiliar with that name, he’s the guy that won 4 FCS National Championships in 5 years as the head coach of North Dakota State, expect that success to continue.

Brett - Kansas State +3.5

I’m with Robert, not sure why WVU is favored at all. Kansas State had their hiccup against Arkansas State, but since then they’ve seem to have woken up. They beat Oklahoma, Texas Tech (who WVU just lost to), TCU, and walloped Kansas since then.

I also just can’t come to grips with wanting the Mountaineers to win at anything. Go Wildcats!

Ryan - West Virginia -3.5

I am going to with the Mountaineers only because I don’t get this line at all. When I don’t understand a line I am assuming the Vegas Gods know something I don’t. The guys have pointed out very logical stuff here with Kansas State’s momentum, but I will take the mountaineers to cover.

Mike - Kansas State +3.5

Kansas State is the pick here on the road. The Wildcats have been more consistent against tougher competition this season. I like the offensive and defensive balance of the Wildcats and I think they’ll make enough plays in the passing game on the road to pull off the upset.

Pep roll
Yes, West Virginia is in fact the birthplace of the pepperoni roll.

LSU -3.0 @ Auburn

Sam - LSU -3.0

I’m not mad at Auburn, just disappointed. They’re way too talented to suck like this. We’ve talked about coaches that are on the hot seat this year regardless of the whole COVID situation, and I think Gus Malzahn has limped his way into that conversation. Bo Nix aint it, and I think there’s a reason Auburn pushed hard for a certain blue-chip QB from Texas that was previously committed elsewhere.

I think LSU have started to figure out their team, which is understandable considering that they lost almost every single starter from one of the best college football teams ever. That’s a good sign for this team moving forward as they look to rebuild and challenge Bama in the near future. Plate up the gumbo and throw some extra Tabasco on there, Bayou Bengals win big on The Plains.

Ed - LSU -3.0

My how the mighty have fallen. Both of these fan bases have gotta be pissed. At least LSU has last year's title to fall back on. This has to be a must-win game for Gus Malzahn and Auburn, and unfortunately, I don't see it. The only chance Auburn has is for Bo Nix to play a solid game, something he hasn't shown he can do yet this season. LSU is solid against the run and won't allow Tank Bigsby to get going, and TJ Finley was able to give LSU some life on offense last week. Auburn will be looking for a new coach after this one.

Robert - Auburn +3.0

TJ Finley came in at QB last week for LSU and played very well, which is leading many to pick the defending National Champs to breeze through a disappointing Auburn. However, LSU’s slow start didn’t have as much to do with the QB as some might think. This LSU defense still has problems, and though they are better than some at stopping the run, their pass defense is awful. Meanwhile, Gus Malzahn is on his last life in Auburn, and if there was a “Pull One Out of Their You-Know-What to Save Their Job” Power Ranking, he’d be right at the top. I like Bo Nix to have a big day and Auburn to come out on top, so long as he is throwing the ball to the right group of Tigers.

Chris - Auburn +3.0

After cruising to a National Championship last season, the Tigers graduated 60% of its roster to the NFL, the majority of it from the offense, leaving behind a talented albeit youthful depth chart, where the crazy thing is, they STILL have a top 10 offense this season but unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the defense which is still a work in progress. In other words, LSU gets a pass in 2020.

As for Auburn? They are 8-2 as a home underdog against the spread and this is their kitchen sink game considering the “other” Tigers will be desperate to win this game since any additional losses before the Iron Bowl likely mean that Gus Malzahn is Gus Mal-gone. Am I right?

Brett - LSU -3.0

I’ve said it all year, Bo Nix is (was, at this point) so extremely overrated it’s not even funny. People just rode the hype off his performance against Oregon and his football name.

Malzhan’s back is against the wall with the firing squad armed and ready. Auburn somehow had playoff hopes going into the season and now are just plain unmotivated. LSU is full of young talent and waiting to take advantage of someone. Coach O gets the Tigers fired up…..and gets Malzahn fired.

Ryan - LSU - 3.0

I am banking on LSU still being LSU and watching Auburn last week limp to beat Ole Miss in the final seconds with a long Touchdown has me believing in the resurgent LSU tigers to settle business here and take the win easily. Bo Nix is not the answer down there it seems. The lack of explosiveness on offense for Auburn hurts them here and LSU continues their rise.

Mike - LSU -3.0

LSU seems to have found something at the quarterback position with TJ Finley, who provided a spark to the offense in the absence of Myles Brennan last week. Brennan is unlikely to play against Auburn, which means it will be Finley’s show once again on offense. Plus, I’m out on Bo Nix and Auburn, no consistency, too many turnovers, and too many missed opportunities on offense. LSU should make enough plays offensively to pull away and win this football game.

Sky
Not sure Auburn, AL is known for their cuisine. But they are known for one of the best college town bars in America, Sky Bar. They have food there I'm sure.

Virginia Tech -3.5 @ Louisville

Sam - Virginia Tech -3.5

I have a few reasons to pick Tech here, and I’m really trying to stick to my mantra of betting the numbers, not the teams.

First off, I like Justin Fuente coached teams off a loss. Since being at Tech, Fuente’s teams are 13-5 outright after a loss. I think that shows a lot about how this coaching staff can put the previous week behind them and move forward.

Second, I don’t see Hendon Hooker having a worse game than last week in his Tech career. Hooker had a QBR of 49.7 last week at Wake, by far the worst of his career. Accuracy was his biggest issue, and although this team doesn’t have much in terms of a drop-back passing game the opportunities were certainly there. I think Hooker gets back on his horse against a porous Louisville defense.

Speaking of the Louisville defense, they are not good. The Louisville run defense is worse than Tech’s, which is certainly saying something. The Cardinals have been very bad in effective rush defense (64th in the nation) and have really struggled to create any negative drives this season (88th in the nation). They are also ranked 88th in opponent play efficiency, so teams are marching down the field on them. This seems like a get-right game for the Hokies offense, and I think the Tech defense can hang on enough.

Tech runs the ball, keeps the Louisville offense off the field, and makes some nice Beamerball plays to get a win in a very scary matchup.

Ed - Virginia Tech -3.5

I'm just gonna throw last week's game in the same pile as ODU and Duke from years past.

This game should be a shootout, and I like Virginia Tech's defense significantly more than Louisville’s. Tre Turner breakout incoming. Go Hokies.

Robert - Louisville +3.5

Remember when I picked the Cards to finish second in the ACC? Well, I think we can see based on last week’s performance what their offense is capable of and why I was so high on them. Cunningham, Hawkins and Atwell are one of the best QB-RB-WR combos in the conference, and they have what Virginia Tech struggles most to contain: speed. UNC dominated the Hokies earlier this year by torching them on the edge, and since then, I’ve been worried about this game. Add on the Hokies getting majorly exposed on offense last game and it equals a recipe for disaster.

Chris - Louisville +3.5

Entering this season, many had this game penciled in as a potential VT loss due to the rising competitiveness of Louisville and how Scott Satterfield seemed to be righting the ship for the Cardinals. Then the season started, UL quickly bottomed out, VT has been wildly inconsistent, leaving many without a feel for how this game will go, including yours truly.

So what do we know?

The Hokies still rank in the top 10 in explosive plays which matches up well against a porous UL defense. Conversely, the Cardinals present a more efficient offensive attack, much like Wake Forest, but with faster and better athletes, which does not bode well for Tech, who has been susceptible to methodical chunk plays and lacks lateral team speed in the front seven. With the Hokies also being 4-11 against the spread as a road favorite under Justin Fuente, this looks to be a close game in what may still be a narrow Tech victory.

Brett - Virginia Tech -3.5

I really don’t have much to say because I don’t know what to even expect anymore. I do know Fuente’s teams bounce back great after a tough loss which we could see here. Cunningham, Atwell, and Hawkins still worry me, but I think the Hokies wake up on offense and score 40+ again. Herbert goes for 150+ again too and the Hokies get back on track.

Ryan - Virginia Tech -3.5

Take this pick with a grain of salt because I am a self-declared homer and I will not pick against the Hokies in any spot. However, the news from practice this week is that the guys are intense and ready to come back and prove points. Hooker needs to bounce back and he has got to know that coming into this week. We are still waiting on breakouts from guys like Turner and Blackshear. This week feels like a Tre Turner breakout to show he can make that separation and become a weapon.

Mike - Virginia Tech -3.5

Picking Virginia Tech is easy for one reason - they’ve been more consistent. Tech laid an egg last week against Wake Forest, no question about it. However, it feels like every week yields a different Louisville team on both sides of the football. Some weeks, their offense looks great, and other weeks it looks terrible. It’s the same deal on defense, where it was a brutal start to the season but has been better over the last couple weeks.

I’m riding with the Hokies to bounce back for better or worse, but the defense better be ready to play, as Louisville’s team speed on offense could be a major issue.

Kfc
Hokies will hope to give the Cardinals a $5 Fill Up of Khalil Herbert on Saturday.

Over/Unders of the Week with Ryan Hartman

Georgia and Kentucky over 42.5

Ok I get Kentucky’s lack of an offense but I am sticking with my SEC over mantra and riding this one because of the bulldogs more so than the wildcats. 42.5 in the SEC this year is not right still to me. I like Georgia’s ability to score against a weaker Kentucky defense. Gerogia’s QB play gets a bounce back here after a week off last week and I think they come ready to play. The narrative remains the same with Georgia losing to Alabama again, but they will bounce back here and put some serious offensive numbers. SEC football is not what it used to be.

Maryland and Minnesota under 61

We are going to try the Big Ten under again here. For those following at home, it should have hot last week with Wisconsin but a later turnover by Illinois and a garbage time field goal pushed that one over. Minnesota may not be as explosive as we thought. Bateman is the man but expect Maryland to double him. More importantly there is rain in the forecast here in College Park. Lock this one in early because this one screams under to me given the conditions and what we know about both of these teams.

Boston College and Clemson over 61

Let’s finish our trip around the conferences back in our well known ACC. 61 seems low for a Clemson game where they are playing a BC team that we know throws the ball a ton. Clemson is going to be looking to rebound from last week which sounds crazy I know, but they did not play their best game against the Orange (which they never seem to do). This could be a statement game from Dabo and I expect them to take advantage of that BC secondary. On the other side of the ball though look for Jurkovec to make some throws and BC just needs 2-3 touchdowns for this one to hit and maybe even less than that. I am willing to take a flyer here and think this one goes over easy.

Props of the Week by Mike McDaniel

Minnesota -10.5 @ Maryland (First Half)

Outside of Kansas, Maryland is the worst team in the Power Five. Minnesota struggled against a very good Michigan defense last Saturday, but this feels like a good game to get back on track, and I believe that it happens early.

East Carolina +10 @ Tulsa (First Half)

Like everyone else, I think Tulsa wins this game convincingly against a mediocre East Carolina team. However, I don’t think it’s a situation where Tulsa jumps out to a huge lead early. I think over four quarters, Tulsa is the easy pick, but East Carolina can hang around early and potentially ugly this up a little bit to drag Tulsa down to their level. The Pirates are averaging 31.0 points per game and nearly 200 yards per game on the ground, and I think ball control in the first half could be crucial to the 10-point cover.

Sam Jessee

I'm a born and raised Hokie. My first game in Lane Stadium was in September of 1997 when Tech stomped Big East rival Syracuse 31-3. I graduated from Tech with a degree in Finance in 2019 and am currently in Blacksburg getting my MBA in data analytics and statistics. Born and raised in Richmond, VA, where I was a Deep Run Wildcat with fellow Son Grayson Wimbish, NFL Hokie Antone Exum, and Blacksburg legend Jack Click.

I'm a contributing writer at TheKeyPlay.com where I cover all things recruiting and approach all my work with the mindset of telling a unique and intriguing story. I look forward to bringing those same vibes to the Sons and Daughters of Hokie Nation.

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