Lock$ of Saturday: Week 11
This week, we're going to mix some things up.
Instead of picking against the spread for 5 games, we're going to pick the spread and over/under for Tech's matchup with Miami. We'll also look ahead and give you our best bets for the ACC Champion, the Heisman Trophy Winner, and the National Champion.
After last week, the scores continue to tighten! Also, yes we know we aren't doing too swift. But we're picking the hardest and most high profile games we can find, and that's not a good betting strategy. Alas, it's super fun so we're gonna do it anyway! Here's a look at the current scoreboard:
Miami +2.5 @ Virginia Tech
Sam - Virginia Tech -2.5
Lol. Fuente is 14-5 outright after a regular-season loss in his 5+ years in Blacksburg. The Hokies will score the points. It’s just a matter of how they control the game.
Besides, Miami is gonna pull a Miami at some point this year, right? Every year, some team goes into a game fully expecting Miami’s athleticism to be too much to handle, but then they inexplicably come out with the win. I think now is the time for all Hokies to ask the question that gets fanbases fired up every year: Why not us?
Ed - Miami +2.5
While everyone is concerned with Fuente and Corn, I'm significantly more worried about Justin Hamilton's defense. The offense, while frustrating at times, has not been the issue for the Hokies. On the other hand, the defense has been awful and is coming off a game where they allowed 38 points to Liberty.
Malik Willis of Liberty and D’Eriq King of Miami are very similar players. On that note, the Hokies just allowed Willis to put up 217 passing yards and 108 yards rushing, to go along with 4 total touchdowns. I just can't see the Hokies defense being able to slow down King and the Miami offense.
Robert - Miami +2.5
You know, I actually think there is a fairly clear path to the Hokies pulling off the upset here. However, it would take a pretty out-of-character performance from the VT defense to get it done, and it’s not wise to bet on such anomalies, especially when Vegas is inexplicably giving Miami 2.5 points.
Miami’s greatest weakness is D’Eriq King being forced to throw the ball down the field. Whether that’s more indicative of King or his mediocre-at-best receiving corps is anyone’s guess, but regardless, Miami’s offense does not do well when their running game is limited.
Good thing the Hokies are 14th in the ACC in rush defense! I don’t envision this being a good day for the Hokies’ front seven, and I do envision it being a great day for King and Cam’Ron Harris.
Brett - Miami +2.5
My first emotional hedge of the season! Woohoo! In my eyes, either team is going to roll the other. Miami is going to sleepwalk and lose by 20 or more or the Hokies will be outmatched on every aspect of the field and lose by 20.
Miami has looked better as of recent, so I will take my luck on the Canes….but go Hokies.
Chris - Miami +2.5
Many will cite Virginia Tech’s impressive 14-5 straight up record coming off a loss under Justin Fuente since 2016 as a reason to expect a bounce-back performance this week versus Miami. What they don’t say is the best win among that bunch was versus 22nd ranked Duke back in 2018 following the ODU loss, just before the wheels came off that season and the team bus careened off the highway.
Let’s just say, this version of Miami is the best Fuente has ever faced and so far, D’Eriq King is the best version of a mobile quarterback which has been an issue all season for this Hokie defense that relies heavily on creating turnovers to keep the opposing offense in check and Miami just doesn’t turn the football over enough.
Ryan - Virginia Tech -2.5
Call me whatever you want but I am not going to pick against a team I am so loyal to. It just doesn’t equate to me to do that. I have stayed off Twitter this week because I am a consummate optimist and would be booed off by the majority of hokie twitter it feels like for my takes right now.
As far as the hard-hitting analysis goes, this is going to be a make or break game to see if JHam can lock into a gameplan of stopping an extremely mobile QB. We saw that Bud Foster struggled with that throughout his career but this is a new system that admittedly the players don’t have down. That has to be the story of the game. We should maybe start scheduling Miami as the first game of the year because the game before Miami the past couple of years has been a massive letdown. However, I look for a similar narrative to play out like last year after Duke. Hendon is in charge and seems unphased playing inspired football right now. I think we will have to do our best to outscore Miami here and I have faith that we do that. If the players aren’t up for this game then all is lost and my optimism might fade quickly
Mike- Miami +2.5
Vegas is begging us to pick Virginia Tech. Miami’s offense finally came into form last Friday night against NC State, putting up 44 points to go along with an offensive explosion from a statistical standpoint. The stats have been there all year for Miami, but the offense hasn’t always had much to show for it from a points standpoint.
Virginia Tech, meanwhile, reached a new low point in 2020, as coaching gaffes and uneven play defensively led to a stunning home loss to Liberty. The Hokies are a buy-low candidate, and the spread is begging us to pick the Hokies, but Miami is a better team, and I’m going off what I’ve seen in the last month. These are two teams going in entirely different directions.
Miami @ Virginia Tech O/U 65.5
Sam - Under 65.5
This is not about the defenses as much as it is about the offenses. Both teams are run first, which points towards fewer possessions for both teams. I also think the Hokies will have to be aggressive in this one and may keep Brian Johnson on the sidelines for some 4th downs that they normally wouldn’t. That could lead to more points for the Hokies, but could also lead to more time being taken off the clock.
More than anything, however, is the magnitude of this number. 65.5 means there are going to be more than 9 touchdowns scored in this game. That’s an astronomical number for a rivalry game. 4 of Miami’s 7 games have also been under this 65.5 mark, and those even include matchups against UAB, Pitt, and UVA. Not really your top-notch teams. I’d expect a game that finishes somewhere around 55-60 points total.
Ed - Over 65.5
Two high powered offenses and two below-average defenses. I think the winner of this game will be in the 40s, with the loser not too far behind.
Robert - Under 65.5
To make this pick, I looked at how many points both teams average compared to how many they give up per game. Then averaging those two numbers together, it puts the projected scoring total at 64 points.
Not only would that number (though very close to 66) sway me to the under, but when you also factor in the two teams’ offensive styles, it makes me feel even better about this pick. Both teams heavily rely on the run game, both through their RB and QB. This will lead to very few clock stoppages.
There could very well be a large percentage of drives that end in touchdowns for both teams, but the likelihood of 9-10 minute drives is much more than that of 3-4 minute drives. Simply put, there just will not be enough time on the clock to get to 66 points.
Brett - Over 65.5
As I said, it’s going to be a blowout on either side but that doesn’t mean the two teams won’t put up points. I am thinking something along the lines of the UNC game for the score.
Chris - Under 65.5
This one is tough since much of it relies on Khalil Herbert’s health to support the Virginia Tech ground game. If not, I expect the Hokies to struggle to put points on the board. Since it’s a hamstring injury, I would expect him to be available but not fully effective, meaning the Hokies will not be able to put up enough offense to justify taking the Over.
Ryan - Over 65.5
This is a run and gun shootout for both teams. I am playing the obvious card here but even 65.5 feels too low. Tech will have some breakaway runs and the Hokies won’t be able to corral King the whole game so I expect both teams to be upwards of 30 points
Mike- Over 65.5
Miami’s defense isn’t as good as it’s been in the past, and the offense has reached a new level with D’Eriq King running the show. Virginia Tech’s problem is on defense, as the offense is capable of scoring plenty - regardless of whether or not Khalil Herbert plays. Give me the over here.
ACC Champion Future
Sam - Clemson -500
It took Notre Dame 2OT and a home crowd to beat Clemson’s makeshift roster. Clemson wins in Charlotte.
Ed - Clemson -500
Do I really need to explain this one? It took 2 overtimes and a career-best game from Ian Book for Notre Dame to knock off a Clemson team without Trevor Lawrence. Clemson's defense will continue to improve, and Dabo and TLaw won't allow this to happen again in Charlotte.
Robert - Clemson -500
Remember my Clemson in-laws? Yeah, they would disown me a month into my marriage if I didn’t pick Clemson to win the ACC.
Brett - Clemson -500
Echoing my colleagues above, no way Clemson is getting handed a second loss. I am just happy I got the under 10.5 wins correct. When Lawrence returns, it’s game over.
Chris - Clemson -500
As I said in my preseason Over/Under ACC win totals segment, Clemson was likely to suffer a fluke loss in a weird season where the Tigers would fail to go undefeated. I would say that losing Trevor Lawrence to COVID-19 protocols and still playing Notre Dame to a double-overtime loss probably equates to their one fluky loss. I don’t expect another.
Ryan - Notre Dame +300
If I am going to play this future I am looking for VALUE. I believe Clemson will win the ACC I do, however at this point Notre Dame looks to have a more clear path there and just knocked off a Clemson team. I still worry heavily about Clemson’s defense and give the Golden Domers with a +300 clip.
Mike- Notre Dame +300
You’re not getting any value with Clemson -500, which is why ND +300 looks good to me. Notre Dame did plenty of good things offensively against the Tigers last Saturday night that would be repeatable in a rematch, including challenging Clemson’s corners down the field in the passing game and dominating the line of scrimmage with the running game. Notre Dame would be in a tougher spot defensively in a rematch against a Trevor Lawrence-led offense, but nothing I saw last Saturday tells me that Notre Dame couldn’t potentially win this game again, even as a likely 7 to 10 point underdog.
Heisman Trophy Winner Future
Sam - Zach Wilson +4000
You know what, let’s send it. He’s the most impressive player I’ve watched this season. And with Trevor missing games due to COVID and Ohio State playing what looks to be a 7 game regular season at best, he might as well, right?
In reality, I think the boring middle-aged sportswriters will probably vote for Mac Jones or Trevor Lawrence. Still, Zach Wilson has been the most outstanding player in college football, which is literally what is written on the Heisman Trophy.
Ed - Justin Fields +175
The best player on what I believe is the best team. Through 3 games, Fields has thrown for 908 yards and 11 touchdowns, with 0 interceptions. That is good for a 96.2 QBR, which is 1st in the country. He also has rushed for 2 touchdowns. If he continues to play at this level, it will be extremely difficult for the voters to not give him the Heisman nod.
Robert - Trevor Lawrence +175
OK, back to the boring picks. Despite missing two games with COVID-19, I still believe this is Lawrence’s award to lose. The argument of him missing two games is null, considering we’re in the middle of a pandemic and you don’t know which teams and/or players will be able to play each week.
The scenario actually presents itself perfectly for Lawrence to win the award: he comes back after his team loses without him and shows just how valuable he is when he leads the Tigers on a winning streak to close the regular season, culminating in a Heisman Moment in a revenge game against Notre Dame in the ACC Championship. I think that is exactly what will happen, and the narrative will be far too strong for the voters to pick anyone else.
Brett - Justin Fields +175
Even picking the favorite you are getting more money here for the value. I don’t see Lawrence winning after sitting out and as much as I want to pick Wilson, I just don’t think it’s gonna happen in this weird season.
Chris - Justin Fields +175
Save a perfect season by LSU QB Joe Burrow in 2019, Fields probably gets more first-place votes to move from a close third in the Heisman Voting to first last year. So far in 2020, his numbers are either on par or better in three games and would be set to outpace his 2019 season, meaning if Ohio State continues to run the table, of which he is undoubtedly their best player, the trophy is his to lose.
Ryan - Zach Wilson +4000
VALUE VALUE VALUE. Let’s say Wilson keeps putting up the numbers he has been and BYU makes it into the CFP. I think he slithers into the conversation rather easily. I understand the desire to take Jones or Fields and get why they are tied atop. However, Fields has a long season to go to maintain those numbers, and will the voters take a shortened season into account for the OSU signal-caller? I don’t like betting those unknown games. I do like BYU’s offense and ability to score. They only have two games left but he’s done enough to make me take a flier on him
Mike- Kyle Trask +1000
Kyle Trask is the best quarterback in the SEC. I think he’s better than Mac Jones, who is getting far worse value at this point as one of the favorites to take home the Heisman. Through five games this year, Trask has torched the SEC, completing 68.7% of his passes for 1,815 yards and 22 touchdowns to three interceptions. He’s a great dark horse at this stage in the game.
National Champion Future
Sam - Clemson +325
I think you can feel pretty confident in Clemson, Alabama, and Ohio State making the CFP. Once they’re there, someone is going to have to lose. I could very well see Clemson being the 3 seed behind Alabama and Ohio State, respectively. I just think with a healthy Trevor Lawrence, it’s going to be really tough to beat Clemson. It took one of the best teams in college football history to top Clemson in the championship game last year, and now the Tigers are back for revenge. Ohio State and Alabama are just as talented, but neither has the championship edge that Clemson is going to have in the postseason. This should be really exciting though, and I hope a Group of 5 team (Cincy or BYU) can make it to the CFP this season.
Ed - Ohio State +250
I love Justin Fields and Ohio State. The way they have looked so far, I'm not sure anyone can slow them down. They were almost denied the season as a whole, and I don't think they will be denied another shot at the title this year. The Buckeyes have a relatively easy road to the CFP, and I also believe they have the best player in the country in Justin Fields.
Robert - Oregon +10000
When looking at the top teams in college football this season, each one heavily favors one side of the ball over the other. Clemson and Alabama’s defenses have looked shaky at times this season, as have Florida and Texas A&M’s. Notre Dame’s defense has been spectacular, but their offense has had some duds, including only scoring 12 points against Louisville.
The team that rises to the top this year could very well be the one who shows an ability to perform well both offensively and defensively. Ohio State could very well be that team, but they are still trying to plug some holes from that stellar defense last year.
When looking for that balanced team, look no further than the Oregon Ducks. Their defense could arguably be the best in the country, and they run the ball tremendously with CJ Verdell and Travis Dye. The only unknown is QB Tyler Shough, who is stepping in for Justin Herbert. Fans in Eugene seem to be high on him, and he has the benefit of playing under Mario Cristobal, who is quickly becoming one of the nation’s best coaches.
Besides, +10000 is an incredibly high value. Why not take a shot at it?
Brett - Ohio State +250
Hard to go against the most consistent team and the most well-rounded team in my opinion. They will also be fresher for the playoff playing much fewer games. At +250, I feel like that’s good enough value to bite the bullet on.
Chris - Alabama +140
According to Football Outsiders, Alabama rates out as the No.1 team across the board in almost every category of their F+ and FEI ratings, which I hold as a more comprehensive assessment of a team’s overall prowess, rather than SP+ (which Bama is No.3). Factor in that since 2009, the Crimson Tide has not gone longer than two consecutive seasons without winning a National Championship, and it's likely they win out in a year where Nick Saban is the perfect head coach to manage the relatively unstable playing environment.
Ryan - Ohio State +250
This one has enough value for me to take a flier on it. OSU is back in the conversation after winning 6 years ago and it feels strange to say they have only won the national championship once in the past 15 years. This team looks complete and Justin Fields is showing that chip on his shoulder mentality. I am honestly surprised that Alabama is the favorite here because I don’t think they have the defense to back up their explosive offense.
Mike- Ohio State +250
Ohio State is the most complete team in the country on paper, and I believe that will bear itself out over the course of the entire season. The Buckeyes face some COVID-related hurdles to get to the playoff due to a minimum game requirement from the Big Ten, but assuming that the Buckeyes play the requisite amount of games, I think they can win the whole thing.