Lock$ of Saturday: Week 10
We love the board.
Yeah, we say that pretty much every week but we really mean it this time. This weekend marks the weekend of PAC-12 football, and has not one, but two top 10 matchups on the slate. Not to mention, undefeated Brigham Young is getting their first test of the year as they travel to Boise to play on the blue-turf. Playoff contenders will be decided this weekend, and the lines couldn't be closer.
After last week, the struggles are continuing for our crew. Games that were supposed to be close ended up as blowouts. I think its safe to say that we are done picking games involving LSU and/or Auburn, cause those two groups of Tigers are about as hot-n-cold as you can get. Still, we press on and look to capitalize on some great matchups this week! Here is the scoreboard after Week 9:
Clemson -5.5 @ Notre Dame
Sam - Notre Dame +5.5
This is such a difficult pick, and it's so hard to pick against Dabo Swinney in a big game. This will be a close one though, as Notre Dame is one of the best teams at home in recent memory of college football, winning 22 straight contests at home.
But the weather is going to be unseasonably warm in South Bend. I think it’s safe to say Notre Dame was looking for a cold, wintery mix kind of game. Still, Ian Book has been good enough to keep the Irish offense moving, and issues on the defensive front 7 seem to be fixed for the Irish. Say what you want about the guy, but Ian Book is 26-3 as the Irish QB. I think Clemson will win the game, but they'll do so by less than a touchdown.
Ed - Clemson -5.5
We should come away from this game having learned a lot about both teams. I am never a believer in Notre Dame on a national level, and until they prove otherwise I'll roll with Dabo and the Tigers. Clemson has too much talent for the Irish to overcome, even without Lawrence.
Robert - Clemson -5.5
This is perhaps the biggest “Litmus Test” game in the country so far this season. Every year the question is asked, “Is Notre Dame legit?” I think it’s become pretty clear ND is the 2nd best team in the ACC, but even with Lawrence and three defensive starters out for Clemson, it’s hard to imagine the Irish putting up much of a fight in this one. Uiagalelei is too good and Notre Dame’s offense is too one-dimensional. Tigers keep rolling.
Chris - Clemson -5.5
For the last decade, the Irish carried the perception of being unable to compete with the nation’s top ranked programs under Brian Kelly. However, perception may not be reality since the margin of victory in those matchups was only -1 points, meaning they usually lose close. Also, Ian Book has expanded on that trend with his 7-2 record against the spread versus ranked competition since 2018 along with a +7.3 point margin of victory.
So the question here is, whether Clemson is 5.5 points better on the road against a solid Notre Dame team without Trevor Lawrence? And the answer is… yes, yes they are.
If Clemson was going to lose this season, last week versus Boston College in their first game without Trevor Lawrence, down 15 points at the half, was when it was probably going to happen. It didn’t. As it turns out, Clemson is also the sum of its parts and it doesn’t hurt having a 6’5 250lb game ready 5-star red shirt freshman QB come in and drop 340+ yards and 2 TDs, while showing incredible poise in leading the Tigers to a second half come from behind victory against a solid BC program. Also, the last time these teams met in 2018, yielded a 30-3 Clemson victory, and not much has changed since.
Brett - Clemson -5.5
I think this line is so low due the Trevor Lawrence effect. News flash everyone: they don’t need him! Uiagalelei is just as capable of running that offense, especially when you have a guy like Etienne to hand the ball off to.
I think the Tigers were caught sleepwalking on defense last week, but that won’t be the case here. Notre Dame’s offense is less than flashy, leaving them at risk outside the hashes when they have to throw. I really want to be right about the Tigers losing one game, but I think I’ll be proven wrong again. Tigers by two scores.
Ryan - Clemson -5.5
They have had a week to figure it out without Trevor back there. This team is just too talented and while I do think there are weaknesses on that defense, I don’t think they get exploited until the playoff rolls around. I expect this to be Clemson big here. Etienne is probably the catalyst. Ian Book has something to show the country in this spot though and we will learn a lot about this Notre Dame team this week. However, the fire power and superior athletes from Clemson is just too much.
Georgia -3.5 vs Florida
Sam - Florida +3.5
In a big-time game, especially a heated rivalry, I have to lean on the better QB. Kyle Trask is the best QB on the field by a country mile, and has the best weapon to throw to on the field in TE Kyle Pitts.
I do subscribe to the idea that Georgia is one of the most complete teams in the country. The ‘Dawgs defense is elite. They were, however, exposed when they played the only competent offense they’ve gone up against this season. Alabama throttled the ‘Dawgs for 564 yards of offense on that day. I don’t think Florida has that kind of potency on offense, as Alabama is the top offense in football this season. Florida isn’t far behind though, and I think the step up in competition is going to be too much for Georgia to keep up with. The Gators will simply outscore them in this one. Truthfully, the fact that you’re getting a field goal to work with here is a gift from Vegas.
Ed - Florida +3.5
Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts will be too much for the Georgia D to handle. I can't see UGA keeping up on the scoreboard. Dan Mullen gets a significant win for the Gators.
Robert - Florida +3.5
I think it’s safe to say Georgia has one of the top 2 defenses in the country. The Dawgs and Cincinnati have been a force to be reckoned against many good offenses. However, in Georgia’s case, elite defense has proven futile against equally elite offense. Alabama, who has the SEC’s best offense, hung 41 on the Dawgs two weeks ago. Florida’s offense is almost as good as Bama’s, and I expect them to find success against Georgia. Stetson Bennett’s story at Georgia may be coming to an end soon, and their offense simply won’t do enough to keep up. Give me the Gators in the points and outright.
Chris - Florida +3.5
Interesting trend to consider, dating back to 2008, the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party rivalry series is split 6-6, with each team winning three in a row followed by losing three in a row, meaning that with UGA having won their third straight last season, it would seem like it’s the Gators turn for a victory.
And after looking at every angle and metric in this matchup, it turns out that each of these teams is incredibly balanced in offsetting the opposing team’s strengths and weaknesses. So with that in mind, I would lean Florida given the historical trend, balanced matchup, and the extra half point on the spread.
Brett - Florida +3.5
Kyle and Kyle are going to wreak havoc on this Georgia defense, just like Alabama did. This is probably going to be one of the toughest Lock$ spreads of the season, but I think Mullen is going to have his team amped up for the game. Georgia’s offense is also less than to be desired that might not be able to match Florida if they end up going over 35.
Ryan - Georgia +3.5
This is a tough pick for me as I am unsure if Georgia is the real deal yet, but they are figuring out how to work the offense and they really have only played one bad half of football against Alabama. I think Florida’s defense leaves a lot to be desired and Kirby smart schemes up a game plan to win this one. However, the 3.5 is big in this one in that I think it will be close the whole game and a field goal could decide it down the stretch for that reason give me to Dawgs.
Michigan -3.5 @ Indiana
Sam - Michigan -3.5
Turnover luck is such a big part of teams like Indiana competing with the big boys. Against Penn State, the Hoosiers got 3 turnovers and were able to capitalize on some late game shenanigans to pull out the OT upset. The Hoosiers were outgained by over 300 yards. Against Rutgers, the Hoosiers grabbed 3 interceptions on it’s way to a two possession win.
Where this comes into play? Michigan hasn’t committed a turnover in their first two games. That’s even with already throwing the ball 73 times. I think the Wolverines win this one via the one-on-one matchups and just being more physical.
Ed - Indiana +3.5
Michigan is the more talented team and should win this game, as long as they take care of the ball. The problem is, they are coached by Jim Harbaugh. I'll take an overachieving and momentum driven Indiana to cover the 3.5 at home
Robert - Michigan -3.5
We all know the story of Icarus, right? He flew too close to the sun and got his wings burned. We might be seeing a similar story in the Hoosiers. Icarus, Indiana, they both start with I. As exciting the Penn State win was, I find it hard to believe the Hoosiers are the 13th-best team in the country, especially when they average less than 300 yards of offense. Indiana will fall back down to earth this week as Joe Milton and the Wolverines get back on track.
Chris - Michigan -3.5
Since assuming the head coach position at Michigan in 2015, Jim Harbaugh is 33-13 against Big Ten opponents, with 8 of those losses coming to Ohio State and Michigan State. While posting another loss to Ohio State this season may very well seal his fate, the Wolverines have still posted a 31-5 record against the rest of the conference, with those losses coming at the hands of Penn State, Wisconsin, and Iowa. With respect to Indiana and their 2-0 start, this is a game Harbaugh needs to win and has usually won pretty handedly.
Brett - Michigan -3.5
There is just no way that Michigan will lose two in a row, especially after losing to their mediocre in state rival. If that were to happen, Harbaugh is as good as gone in my book and Luke Fickell is on the next plane over.
That being said, Harbaugh is going to play conservative and wear down a less talented Indiana team. Big Blue by a touchdown or ten points.
Ryan - Michigan -3.5
Joe Milton is going to be the real deal. After watching him the first few games I have belief in his ability. He needs to develop quite a bit but this feels like a bounceback for the Wolverines. Indiana is frankly fortunate to be in the spot where they are and they are not deserving of the 13th spot in the country right now. This one being in Indiana certainly helps but Michigan’s talent is figuring it out and Joe Milton has a big day against the Hooisers.
Brigham Young -3.0 @ Boise State
Sam - BYU -3.0
I think this is one of the tougher games to choose this weekend, and it has everything to do with BYU’s schedule. The Cougars, through 7 games, have the 94th ranked schedule in the country. Their opponents are a combined 20-27 on the season. I think that is contributing a lot to this line.
That being said, I think the Cougars are playing like one of the top teams in the nation this year. You can’t quantify momentum, and those guys are just on a roll. Boise State has turned to QB Jack Sears, a Southern Cal transfer, who played phenomenally against Air Force last week.
Any spread larger than a touchdown, and I’d take the Broncos at home all day long. But at only a field goal, you’re basically calling for a Broncos win. I got BYU in a close, high scoring game that is certainly worth watching on Friday night.
Ed - BYU -3.0
BYU in the playoff? BYU winning a Heisman?
Both are very possible with a win this week. Zach Wilson has a legit chance to be a Heisman Finalist, and maybe even win the dang thing. I cant believe im saying this but BYU this saturday is a must watch game.
Robert - Boise State +3.0
As badly as I want to stay on the Zach Wilson Hype Train, the Broncos are easily the best team BYU has played all year. With Boise now having two games under their belt to shake the rust off, they will be tough to beat on the blue turf. Hank Bachmeier missed last week for undisclosed reasons (Boise coach Bryan Hardin is frustratingly closed-off about non-season-ending injuries), but when healthy, he is perhaps the most underrated QB in the nation. Even if he doesn’t play, USC transfer Jack Sears is pretty darn good, too. The Broncos will come out hot and punch BYU in the mouth early, clearing the way for a big Friday night upset and some ruined playoff dreams.
Chris - Boise State +3.0
Don’t get me wrong, BYU has been a success story this season in their rise up to the No. 9 overall ranking, mostly on the throwing arm of dark horse Heisman candidate QB Zac Wilson. But let’s be honest, if BYU played its original 7 game schedule to date that included match-ups with Utah, Michigan State, Arizona State, Minnesota, Utah State, and Missouri, would you bet on them to be undefeated at this point in the season?
On the other sideline, Boise State is perennially knocking on the door as the nation’s best Group of 5 contender for the College Football Playoff, and is probably not happy with being considered a home underdog against an overrated BYU team. Also, fun fact… since the last time Boise State was an underdog at home against Washington State in 2001, the Broncos have only been a home underdog ONCE, while going 114-8 straight up as a home team over that span. My point… it’s tough to beat the Broncos on the blue turf.
Brett - BYU -3.0
BYU has absolutely destroyed their opponents this year, outscoring them on average 44-13. That’s almost four scores a game. To be honest, I don’t really care who they’ve played because they have taken care of business week in and week out.
Boise State is only in their third game of the season and while they look good, I just don’t think they can stop the momentum of the Cougars.
Ryan - BYU -3.0
How do you not love watching Zach Wilson sling it all over the place. I have to stay on the cougars here. Both of these teams are averaging 45 points per game roughly and that is impressive. Rain in the forecast is likely so I am going to stay away from picking this one in the over under segment but that may be worth a flier on the over with these two going at it. BYU has a pretty solid defense though only allowing 13 points a game and they make enough stops in this one.
Liberty +14.5 @ Virginia Tech
Sam - Virginia Tech -14.5
I’m going to be concise, and that’s because I really dove into the numbers on this game and can’t find anything too worrisome. Out of all the teams that have played this season, Liberty has played by far the easiest schedule. They have a dynamic QB in Malik Willis who has made a living swimming circles around bad defenses with little to no speed. The Liberty defense is ranked 71st in the nation according to Sharp College Football, and have feasted offer lesser offensive lines. Going from that kind of competition to facing one of the nastiest offensive lines in the nation is really throwing your defensive front into the deep end.
I really think the Hokies have their lackadaisical performance behind them for the season, and I’d expect the team to come hyped up to knock off the #25 ranked Flames and Herbert to really make a splash statistically to revamp his Heisman campaign. Another note to look at? Liberty has struggled on special teams in all facets all season. Just something to look out for.
No lounging by the pool, just taking care of business. Hokies big.
Ed - Virginia Tech -14.5
I will preface this pick by simply saying, I'm nervous. And I get it, Liberty hasn't played anyone. I don't care, still nervous.
Hugh Freeze can flat our coach some football. Say what you want about his time at Ole Miss, but they won games. He's got Liberty rolling, and this game is the equivalent of Alabama for the Flames.
All that being said, the Hokies should roll in this one. Tech is far more talented and should be able move the ball with ease. Unless Hugh Freeze just straight up out coaches Fu and co. it should be a nice comfortable Hokie win.
Robert - Virginia Tech -14.5
Remember that story about Icarus? Yeah, Liberty is flying WAY too close to the sun right now. I understand they are 6-0, but come on. Their opponents’ combined record is 4-28, and only one of those opponents is in the Power 5 (Syracuse). Frankly, the Hokies should find it insulting that Liberty is walking into Lane Stadium ranked ahead of them, and they will show just how much better they are. Expect the Flames to have a hot start to the game with the Hokies pulling away in the second half for a convincing win.
Chris - Virginia Tech -14.5
The only common denominator between these programs is Liberty’s 17 point victory over Syracuse on the road, which in retrospect, should be considered a solid P5 win for Liberty against an ACC program, until you realize that ‘Cuse is an absolute tire fire.
The truth of the matter is that VT is just deeper, more talented, and finally expected to be at full strength for the first time at each position of consequence, the secondary and along the defensive line. To use a baseball bullpen analogy, VT has been playing defense without its closer. Instead, the Hokies have had to roll out an ad hoc depth chart each week, which to the surprise of no one, has not translated to a consistent on field performance.
But Waller, Crawford, and Garbutt are back and healthy, and those players compensating in their absence now get slide back into their natural supportive relief roles. Basically, the pressure is off those with far less experience at those highly critical positions, meaning everyone else finally gets to concentrate on pinning their ears back and creating havoc, which is how this defense was designed to operate.
Brett - Virginia Tech -14.5
Liberty has played absolutely no one. I mean, NO ONE. The Hokies should be back fully healthy for the first time all season, and Herbert is back on track after his performance last week. (Did I not almost call it?)
Hooker throws it about 15 or less times again, Herbert goes for 150+, Blackshear busts one or two open this game, and Tre Turner is going to have his best game yet. Stamp it.
As Sam said, Liberty has been awful on special teams this season. Tayvion Robinson finally gets his break to the end zone as well as he’s been itching all season long.
I think the Hokies mean business in this matchup, sending blowing the flame out on Liberty’s season
Ryan - Virginia Tech -14.5
I am riding with the Hokies coming in hot and having hit their “playing down to competition speedbump” already. This team has gotta have a bit of pride as well in the claims from some that Liberty is the best team in the state. I mean a ranked Liberty team coming into Lane should be enough to motivate for the guys to come out swinging. This one gets out of hand in the 3rd quarter and the Hokies pull away from there and control the game. However, look early for the use of Mitchell and Turner in the pass game. I think this is the week we see a big bomb for a touchdown to one of those guys.
Over/Unders of the Week with Ryan Hartman
Florida vs. Georgia over 52.5
I am going to stay with this SEC over stuff. Kyle Trask has shown his ability to make the long throws and Pitts is an elite playmaker. That is a dangerous combo. This Georgia offense has been sputtering a bit but Florida’s defense has been prone to teams being able to score. This one is tricky because it needs to start off fast and the pace will set whether this goes over or under and I think Florida will be looking to outscore the Dawgs to win this one.
Clemson vs. Notre Dame over 51.5
This feels a little like a shootout to me. We saw BCs offense able to point out some weaknesses in that Clemson defense and exploit them through the a bit. I like Uiagalelei to light it up a bit more as well. This to me though comes down to a showcase game for Travis Etienne. Whether he deserves it or not over Herbert, he is getting Heisman hype now and he needs to have a signature game to point to against a quality opponent and this would qualify as that spot for me. I think we see him go off here.
Oregon vs. Stanford under 51
The Pac 12 is back and I am not gonna miss a chance to hop on an early under call in a Stanford game. We know they love to be methodical and run and try and control the game. I am banking on this to happen to an extent. I think Oregon wins but the rust shows on both sides here for Oregon and Stanford football is tough to prepare for. There is rain in the forecast which is always helpful for the under. I am riding with a 31-14 type of Oregon win here.