Lock$ of Saturday: Week 5
It's October, and things are heating up.
The weather is cooling, football is in full effect, and in this week's Lock$, we have some big boy selections to consider this Saturday. The SEC gets started with a top 10 matchup in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, and Texas A&M brings an electric QB Kellen Mond into Tuscaloosa to face the Tide.
But that's not the only exciting thing happening this week. I'm stoked at how this segment has started to grow, and now we get to add two new Scribes to the Lock$ of Saturday! Mike McDaniel will be hitting us with some prop bets every week while Ryan Hartman will be giving us some Over/Under's to be sweating to the final whistle. It's going to help our readers, as Fidelity puts it, diversify our weekend investments.
They'll both be joining us in our new podcast that will be out Friday where we'll go further in-depth on these picks and have some fun at each other's expense, as well as giving a bit more insight into our thoughts on the upcoming Hokies game.
After last week we have a close battle on the scoreboard. Robert and Chris have a slight lead to close out September, while Ed came back from the grave with a 4-1 week and looks to continue his hot hand. Here's how the cards fall now:
Ryan and Mike will be joining us as guest pickers this week. We'll see if they have some beginner's luck and embarrass the rest of us. If the first month of this has taught us anything, it's that 2020 is unpredictable. We have some great matchups this week, so let's get to picking!
Texas A&M +17.5 @ Alabama
Sam - Alabama -17.5
Alabama has won this match-up by over 17 in 4 of the last 5 games head to head. A&M is a much better team than what they played like against Vanderbilt last week, where they only beat the hapless Commodores by 5. However, we don’t know how prepared this team is for the season, and until proven otherwise you’d have to imagine that the Aggies who have been in the news every week for players opting out, just aren't ready to face the Tide.
Robert - Alabama -17.5
17.5 is a lot of points here, but I still have to go with the Tide. Coming into the SEC’s first games last week, I would have told you Alabama was about 17 points better than A&M. Now, I’d say they’re even better than that. Last week, the Aggies offense struggled to put points on the board against the perennially awful Vanderbilt, barely pulling it out 17-12. Meanwhile, I asked my friend that is an Alabama fan how he felt about the Tide’s performance against Missouri (they won, 38-19), and he said, “I’m disappointed in how our freshmen/reserves are playing.” Some fan-bases are just spoiled.
Ed - Texas A&M + 17.5
My confidence level in this pick isn't very high. I'm going with A&M because 17.5 is a pretty big number, and I'm not sold on Mac Jones. While he played well last week, that was against a much less talented Missouri team. Bama wins, but A&M covers.
Brett - Alabama -17.5
Saban is going to have this team ready to rock in their first major SEC matchup. The Tide only beat a weak Mizzou team by 19, but that game was over after three quarters. Mac Jones threw for 249 yards and two TDs early, mostly to lightning-fast Jaylen Waddle. You know Bama will have a defense, but this offense looks GOOD. Give me the Tide by three touchdowns or more.
Chris - Alabama -17.5
Since 2017, which marked the beginning of the overrated pairing of HC Jimbo Fisher and QB Kellen Mond, the Aggies are 5-4 against the spread as an away underdog with an average LOSING margin of at least 14.1 points.
In that same time-span, the Nick Saban juggernaut, Alabama is 10-11 against the spread as a home favorite with an amazing 34.6 point margin of victory, meaning the Crimson Tide have beaten SEC teams on average by 5 TDs, and STILL not covered due to being overwhelming favorites.
With this line being ‘low’ at 17.5 points, probably because Tua Tagovailoa is now a Miami Dolphin and the public forgot that his replacement Mac Jones is AJ McCarron 2.0, especially in the new Bama offense, meaning they should eviscerate the Aggies in Tuscaloosa this weekend. Roll. Damn. Tide.
Ryan- Alabama - 17.5
Last week Texas A&M was over 30 point favorites against Vandy and ended up winning by a meager 5 in a 17-12 bout. Call it rust if you would like but Bama looked like a well-oiled machine against Mizzou. They didn’t cover due to late turnovers from second-teamers, but this line feels low and give me the Tide here BIG.
Mike- Alabama -17.5
If this game was three weeks from now, I’d feel differently. Texas A&M has a chance to be a pretty competitive team in the SEC this year, but after seeing one game of each opponent, ‘Bama looked like it was in mid-season form, while A&M couldn’t get out of their own way with three turnovers in an ugly 17-12 win over a bad Vanderbilt team. A&M could win 8 or 9 games this year, but I think this one will be a struggle.
Auburn +6.5 @ Georgia
Sam - Auburn +6.5
No way this is more than a 5 or 6 point game. This will just be a classic low scoring, SEC slug-fest decided by special teams and gutty coaching. I think Auburn got disrespected last week as well by Vegas, only heading into their game against Kentucky as 7.5 point favorites. I think you’re getting another value pick here.
Robert - Georgia -6.5
I know what you’re thinking: “How can you pick Georgia after they looked so awful against Arkansas?” You’re right, being down 7-5 to Arkansas at halftime is about as embarrassing as it gets. But let’s keep in mind, the second half was a different story. Stetson Bennett IV, who has the best name for a Georgia QB ever, came in and woke up the Dawgs’ offense. It’s unclear whether he will get the start over USC transfer QB J.T. Daniels, but either way, Georgia is in good hands. Georgia’s defense will cause problems for Bo Nix, and Gus Malzahn will do what Gus Malzahn does best: choke in big games against teams other than Alabama. Dawgs by a touchdown.
Ed - Auburn +6.5
The lack of a solidified QB along with a slow start against Arkansas lowered my confidence level in the Dawgs. Auburn was impressive against a talented Kentucky team last week, and Bo Nix looked solid. And like I said last week, SkyBar is amazing. WDE
Brett - Georgia -6.5
Auburn looked like they handled business by the score against Kentucky, but in reality, that game was way closer if you watched. Several TOs in the red zone (including one at the 1-yard line), kept Kentucky out the game.
Nix didn’t sell me on anything last week, but neither did Georgia. However, the Bulldogs were in the common position of coming out flat against a weak opponent. This time they are at home with a major opponent, and less than a touchdown favorite? Psh. Dawgs cover this easy.
Chris - Georgia -6.5
Remember last week where I said Auburn usually has a difficult time matching up with big aggressive defensive lines? Well, it took multiple Kentucky turnovers near the goal line for Auburn to finally pull away late in the 4th quarter of a very tight game, in which the Tigers were out-gained in both passing and rushing yards.
Well, this week it only gets worse for Auburn considering Georgia has THE most aggressive defensive front in the SEC, which should be more than enough to stop Bo Nix and the “run-spread” style Tiger offense in their tracks in what will likely be a low scoring matchup in Athens. Factor in that Georgia is 8-2 in the last 10 games head to head against Auburn, and I LOVE taking the Bulldogs at home.
Ryan - Auburn +6.5.
There is talk that we may see JT Daniels this week against Auburn or do we see a Stenson Bennett again who struggled a bit in a game where the Dawgs were not challenged by Arkansas. The quarterback nod to me goes to Bo Nix because of the experience and the knowledge of a system. I was impressed overall with Auburn last week in a game where I thought they would struggle against Kentucky.
Georgia had a top 3 recruiting class in the past two years and we may see some of that talent finally manifest itself on the gridiron. This to me is a classic SEC slug fest where both teams try and pound the rock and I think this screams defensive struggle. That being said, give me the team getting the points. Georgia wins by a field goal but doesn’t cover.
Mike - Auburn +6.5
This is one of my favorite picks for the weekend. After a slow start to its game against Kentucky, Auburn rolled in the second half behind the strong passing game from Bo Nix (233 yards and 3 TDs). The Auburn defense stymied Kentucky en route to a 21-6 run after the first quarter.
Georgia, meanwhile, looked shaky early against Arkansas, but made a QB switch from D’Wan Mathis to Stetson Bennett and stormed past the Razorbacks. Now, with USC transfer JT Daniels cleared to play this week, will Georgia stick with Bennett? Or will the Bulldogs roll with JT Daniels against the Tigers?
Not knowing who your quarterback is going to be in a prime-time SEC match-up is not a good place to be...and with one-game sample size, I think there’s more certainty with Auburn than there is with Georgia at this point. Georgia is the better team, and I think that will prove itself out this season. But in a week two game? Give me Auburn to cover and potentially win outright in an upset.
North Carolina -14.0 @ Boston College
Sam - UNC -14.0
I think you’ll see a carbon copy of the UNC vs Syracuse game in which the Tar Heels made mistake after mistake, then turned it on in the fourth. BC has been a roller coaster already this season, and I don’t think they can hang in for 60 minutes against that UNC offense.
Robert - UNC -14.0
After the colossal buffoonery that BC showed last weekend, having to come back from down two touchdowns to Texas State and squeeze it out 24-21, how on earth could I ever pick them in a spread again? UNC’s defense isn’t good, but BC’s offense is often enough defense on its own. Sam Howell will have another huge game and the Heels will roll into next week’s huge matchup with the Hokies.
Ed - UNC -14.0
UNC coming off a bye against a bad BC team? The Tar Heels will pick up where they left off in the second half against Syracuse and roll in this one.
Brett - UNC -14.0
UNC looked awful in the first half against Cuse for sure, but they scored 21 points in about 10 minutes after that. BC barely beat Texas State last week and UNC is itching to play again. One thing to watch though, UNC is having to start a true freshman at CB. That will be the Eagle’s only way to exploit da Heels and Hokie fans should specifically watch that. That’s not enough for me to cover, Heels BIG.
Chris - UNC -14.0
I spent almost an hour analyzing BC’s near shutout of Duke in Game 1 followed by a near loss to Texas State, which required the Eagles to come back 14 points at home and win on a game-winning FG.
Then you realize that Duke is bad, Texas State is bad, and BC is also probably bad, meaning a UNC team that had two weeks of preparation following a 31-6 win versus Syracuse, a game where the Heels started slow then boat raced Cuse in the 4th quarter, is likely to crush BC.
If you also consider that the Heels under Mack Brown are 2-1 against the spread as an away favorite with a 15 point margin of victory (all against ACC competition) and you have the makings of a dominant win before next week’s matchup against the Hokies.
Ryan- UNC -14.0
You can say I am on the UNC hype train, but I am on the caboose of that train. I think they warmed up against a bad Syracuse team in week one but the talent level here is too impressive not to take them. I think BC is slightly better than Syracuse because of O-line play but UNC beat Syracuse by 25 and I don’t think BC is 11 points better than Cuse realistically and this UNC team has had plenty of prep time.
Could they be looking ahead to the juggernaut Hokies next week though? Maybe, but they roll this week behind a premiere back in Michael Carter.
Mike - UNC -14.0
The only thing that gives me pause about this game is that North Carolina hasn’t played in three weeks. The ‘Heels looked shaky earlier in its opener against Syracuse but finally blew by the Orange with an offensive explosion in the 4th quarter.
Boston College has been a mixed bag early on, looking dominant over a terrible Duke team in the opener and then barely skating by Texas State last Saturday.
I think it’s going to be a weird year for Boston College because the coaching looks improved but the circumstances surrounding the season are strange in and of itself. I expect some rust out of North Carolina, so even though the ‘Heels are a much better team, I think the final score could end up being pretty close to the final spread. Give me North Carolina, but I don’t feel as good about it as I probably should.
North Carolina State +14.0 @ Pittsburgh
Sam - Pittsburgh -14.0
I came into the season thinking this was the time that the Wolfpack started to put things together and get back to the middle of the ACC. I was wrong. That defense looks weak, and they have two not-so-good options at QB. Tech could have scored 50+ with ease last week, and although Pitt’s offense isn’t anything to ride home about, they’ll be able to score 3-4 TD’s against this defense. Dave Dorean has no clue how to fix his program, and he won’t figure it out in Pittsburgh.
Robert - Pittsburgh -14.0
It’s weird to see Pitt be favored by two touchdowns against an ACC opponent, but that’s 2020 for you. The Fighting David Hales currently have the best passing and rushing defense in the ACC. As good as the Wolfpack’s ground attack is, the Panthers’ front seven is just too tough. Devin Leary at QB makes NC State’s passing offense better, but once again, that Pitt defense is just too good. Panthers huge here.
Ed - NC State +14.0
I think NC State will take what happened last weekend in Blacksburg as a wake-up call. The quarterback change may be exactly what the Pack needs to avoid another meltdown. Pitt will still win this game, but I like NC State to cover 14.
Brett - Pittsburgh -14.0
NC State will be lucky to get 14 on the board this week in my opinion. Pitt’s defense is going to manhandle the Wolfpack offensive line without any problems. They also have one of the best run defenses in the country and all NC State has going is a run game. I think Pickett can get some points on the board for Pitt to cover this one.
Chris - NC State +14.0
I’m not buying the Pitt hype, not even following last week’s win versus a plummeting Louisville program who, as it turns out, looks to be this year’s flop. However, in this game, you have a matchup of two head coaches that have overseen very average programs for the last half-decade, in which the Panthers under Patt Narduzzi are 7-15-1 against the spread as a home favorite and NC State under Dave Doeren is 3-9 as an underdog on the road, with each program’s average scoring margin being right at +/- 14 points respectively.
However, I do think Devin Leary, who is likely to start at QB this week for NC State, is far more competent, and Pitt is not a team that usually wins by two scores. I’m reluctantly taking the Wolfpack here who hopefully show some pride after being steamrolled last week in Lane Stadium.
Ryan- NC State +14.0
Devin Leary has to start this week after showing abilities to resuscitate a Wolfpack team that looked stagnant with Hockman leading the offense. The trio of running backs the wolfpack boast is impressive. They weren't necessarily showcased last weekend as much because of the Hokies' early lead. They may have gotten away from the gameplan a bit.
Pitt is elite on defense, but they haven’t proven that they can score enough points to cover. I think NC State is a sneaky ML pick here as they might be revitalized after the shellacking they got from the Hokies last weekend.
Mike- Pittsburgh -14.0
I get it, it’s A LOT of points that a mediocre Pittsburgh offense is giving to NC State. However, I like the Panthers here for one reason: the defense is really good.
NC State’s offensive line looked shaky against Wake Forest and gave up six sacks against Virginia Tech. The Hokies’ defensive line looked better than expected last Saturday, with some of that being related to underrating the unit, but more of that being due to NC State’s offensive line being PRETTY BAD, especially in pass protection. The running game has been fine for NC State, but I worry about the quarterback protection, whether it’s Bailey Hockman or Devin Leary under center.
Pitt’s defensive front could be in the top three of the entire ACC, which is why I don’t expect NC State to get much going on the ground in this game. We already know pass protection for the ‘Pack is objectively terrible, so this is a brutal match-up upfront for NC State. Plus, the defense has been brutal, allowing 35 offensive points against Wake Forest (a mediocre offense) and 45 points to Virginia Tech (a good offense) through the first two weeks on the season. Pitt’s offense isn’t great, but it’s good enough to support a strong defense. I love Pitt here - this is one of my favorite lines of the weekend in the ACC.
Virginia Tech -10.5 @ Duke
Sam - Virginia Tech -10.5
Duke is bad. Chase Brice looks like a backup QB and the Duke defense is not what it used to be. If Tech comes out with energy, I think you could see another 300+ yards on the ground and a 3 TD win. Hokies big.
Robert - Virginia Tech -10.5
Can you say, “Revenge game?” Duke is really bad, and the Hokies appear ready to fire back after the embarrassment the Blue Devils served them last year. Virginia Tech matches up better on both sides of the ball, as Duke has one of the worst offenses in the country and a defense that isn’t much better. Honestly, 10.5 points is a steal here. Hokies all day.
Ed - Virginia Tech -10.5
As soon as this line came out, I grabbed my phone and locked it in. Between the embarrassment that took place last year and the fact that this Virginia Tech team is coming off of a dominating performance last week, this feels like a lock. Hopefully, we get to see Coach Hamilton and all of the players who were forced to sit out last week, but regardless this team is too deep and too talented.
Brett - Virginia Tech -10.5
I honestly cannot believe the line hasn’t expanded more than this. Duke is bad….like REALLY bad. Duke has their backs against the wall and will play tough, but the Hokies want blue blood in this one. Duke has two DE’s that are great players (and that’s about it), but the Hokies OL is the best it’s ever been. Hokies BIG in this one and I’m willing to take some alternate lines, maybe an extra score or two.
Chris - Virginia Tech -10.5
Two words. Revenge game. It is very strange to type those words about a matchup against Duke but that is exactly the motivation this week for the Hokies based on an EMBARRASSING 45-10 home loss to the Blue Devils last season that had Hokie fans searching to see if their local ABC store was still open.
However, one angle working against Virginia Tech in this game has been their performance under HC Justin Fuente as road favorites where they are only 4-9 against the spread with an average margin of victory of 8 points, just slightly less than the 10.5 point spread.
But not this year. Not given the context of this game. Duke is awful and Tech is pissed, meaning I wouldn’t expect them to step off the gas until the final whistle. Hokies in a blowout.
Ryan- Virginia Tech -10.5
Vegas didn’t watch the Hokies game against NC State multiple times as I did. This O-line is nasty and if you add last year's fake punt by Duke and the beatdown VT got at home, there is way too much here. Hokies win similarly to last week and maybe even more convincingly because Duke isn’t as good as NC State. Confidence continues to build for the showdown next week against the heels.
Mike- Virginia Tech -10.5
This one is pretty easy for me. Chase Brice will throw the ball to the Virginia Tech defense at least a couple times, setting up the Hokies’ offense with short fields. That was a good recipe for Tech in the opener against NC State. Plus, it’s a revenge game for the Hokies. This team isn’t going to forget the 45-10 loss last season with the garbage time fake punt to run up the score. Hammer the Hokies.
Prop Bets of the Week by Mike McDaniel
Virginia Tech -6.0 at Duke (First Half Line)
You’re telling me Tech is going to get off to a slow start? Forget about it. Could be a two-score lead at the break. Duke has been a decent first half team this year, but their luck runs out here. This is good value for Virginia Tech bettors.
Pittsburgh-NC State UNDER 24.5 (First Half Total)
I love this game's total to stay under 46.5 for the full game, so you bet I love the first half under of 24.5 for NC State-Pitt.
Look, whether Tech fans want to admit it or not, Pittsburgh’s front seven is better than VT's at this point. NC State’s offensive line allowed SIX SACKS last week against a defensive line that’s not as good as the one it’ll face this week. I think NC State is going to have a heckuva time trying to get moving offensively in this game, and while I think Pitt will cover the spread, I think it will be a slow burn to cover the total. Hammer the under in this game overall, and don’t think twice about this first half under.
BYU -7.0 vs. Louisiana Tech (First Quarter Line)
Louisiana Tech held only a 17-14 lead over Houston Baptist after the first quarter last week. You’re telling me BYU isn’t 10.5 points better in a quarter than Houston Baptist? Roll with BYU - who has outscored opponents 103-10 through two games.
Over/Under's of the Week by Ryan Hartman
OVER 61.5 Ole Miss and Kentucky
Lane Kiffin’s offense looked more than competent versus a good Florida defense. He gets a Kentucky team this week that is a bit of a step down in my opinion and gave up some serious chunk plays to Auburn. Auburn squandered some of those opportunities with turnovers, but this seems like a place where Ole Miss puts up 35-45 points.
Terry Wilson has a game under his belt and is primed for a breakout game here against a BAD defense. Kentucky has a breakout game here probably both on the ground and through the air. Kentucky wins this game too so their point total has to be in the 40s in my opinion.
Don’t overthink this pick. Take the over.
OVER 63.0 TCU vs Texas
Texas had their wake up call last week. Luckily they escaped with a win but Sam Ehlinger has to have some serious confidence after tossing 5 TDs. I expect the Longhorns to come out of the gate fast here with some big plays against the frogs. I understand the late scores and the OT win, but this is a Texas team that put up 63 by itself last weekend.
I don’t yet know what to make of TCU because they have only played Iowa State and lost narrowly. I was pretty high on ISU coming into the year with Brock Purdy behind center, but they have looked pedestrian themselves. I think if TCU puts up 21 this game easily goes over the total. This is BIG 12 football and the defenses so far this year haven’t shown their teeth as much.
Texas and TCU have played a combined 3 games this year. The over is 3-0 in those games. Bank this pick. It is gonna be 4-0.
UNDER 44.5 Auburn vs. Georgia
I have served up two overs so for the sake of diversity and the satisfy my friends who like to see defense be king, take this SEC slugfest to stay below the total. The defense is probably the strong suit for both of these teams as they each reloaded the talent on that side of the ball.
This total opened in Vegas at 39.5. That to me is insane. Maybe let some more public money come in on the over to push the total up a bit because I could see it rise before kickoff this weekend. The clock will be ticking a lot in this game as I think it mirrors an NFL style running battle. I see a lot of unfinished drives and field goals (also known as under fuel).