Lock$ of Saturday: Week 6
Okay, now that was a college football Saturday!
We had upsets, close calls, and some big game blowouts. It's that kind of unpredictability that has become so, well, predictable. Not so great when you're betting on the games but hey, I don't think anyone is complaining.
Last week, NC State rose from the dead, and head coach Dave Doeren may have saved his job with a win on the road at Pittsburgh. North Carolina struggled with a stagnant Boston College team who had a chance to take it to overtime late in the 4th. And the Hokies, down to a few 3rd stringers and some walk-ons, were able to walk out of Durham with a gritty, albeit close, victory.
Way down south, Bama is still Bama, and the Georgia Bulldogs are really, really good on defense.
After a wild week, here are our current standings:
This week, we have a loaded slate that has 9 out of the 10 teams in the AP Top 25. The one? Poor ol' defenseless (literally) Oklahoma. But you know we had to pick the Red River Shootout. We also have a top 10 ACC matchup, another big ACC, and of course the Hokies traveling back down to the Triangle to face North Carolina.
Texas +2.5 vs Oklahoma
Sam - Oklahoma -2.5
This game is going to be the quintessential Red River Shootout. I’ve always wanted to attend this game. The deep-fried pageantry of the Texas State Fair coupled with a classic college football rivalry is maybe the best week an American could ask for. Not the same magnitude of energy for this game, but should still give us the same fireworks. Hammer the over at 72. Boomer Sooner.
Robert - Texas +2.5
Is Texas back yet? Oh, they’re not? Did they lose to another unranked team despite being in the top 10? Sheesh. Waiting for Texas to be back is like waiting for there to be no line for Chicken Parm at Owens. You’ll just be disappointed. That said, perhaps the greatest disappointment thus far in this young season is Oklahoma. They’ve lost two in a row and have gone from #3 to unranked. This is the least hyped Red River Rivalry in a long time. With this toss-up line, I am going to pick Texas to win here, mainly because their QB (Sam Ehlinger) is much more experienced and has looked less shaky than Oklahoma’s (Spencer Rattler).
Ed - Oklahoma -2.5
I hate picking games like this. Both teams have vastly underperformed and no one knows which Oklahoma or Texas team will show up. While Sam Ehlinger is the more experienced QB, Spencer Rattler has more talent. If Rattler can keep the turnovers to a minimum, I like the Sooners chances,
Brett - Texas +2.5
This hurts. I love Oklahoma and Lincoln Riley, but Texas is getting the nod here. Ehlinger is leading the top scoring offense in the country against a young and average defense which spells trouble for the Sooners. Rattler has also shown that he needs some more experience behind center after throwing critical picks against Iowa State and Kansas State. Hook ‘Em!
Chris - Texas +2.5
If you take away each team’s tune-up game from the Longhorns and Sooners, often considered the class of the Big 12, both are a combined 1-3 against conference competition with point differentials of +11 and -10 respectively while averaging INSANE numbers on offense.
The problem though is defense or a complete lack thereof. Considering that each of these teams is unlikely to find a solution on that side of the ball in less than a week, this game is guaranteed to be a shootout, meaning a +2 point spread is essentially a “pick’em”.
All things considered, I would pick Texas since Sam Ehlinger is the better and more experienced QB, the Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler kind of seems like a tool, and Texas Head Coach Tom Herman is literally coaching for his job.
Ryan- Texas +2.5
Quarterback play here has to be the difference. Neither team has shown that they are complete on both sides of the ball. Can you imagine Oklahoma being 0-3 in the conference? Alex Grinch is their Defensive Coordinator in year 2 and he has not been up to snuff as of late. I am picking Texas here because of the QB mismatch with Ehlinger > Rattler. Spencer Rattler to me feels very overhyped at this point and he has not shown the leadership that past OU quarterbacks have. He doesn’t have this team behind him and bought in. Texas isn’t much better but give me the horns with the points.
Mike- Texas +2.5
I can’t believe we’re going into the Red River Rivalry with neither one of these teams really being all that good. This feels like a pick ‘em, so a two-point spread seems just about right in this one. I’m going to lean Texas plus the points because I trust Sam Ehlinger a lot more than I trust Spencer Rattler right now. At the very least, we know that Ehlinger will take care of the football.
Florida -6.5 @ Texas A&M
Sam - Florida -6.5
Kyle Pitts for Heisman is my dream, and I think that gets some traction this weekend. Florida is a juggernaut on offense and I think we see that again this weekend. Simply put, I don’t think the Aggies, who have scored an average of 21 points in their first two games, can keep up with the Gators. Texas A&M has all the talent in the world to match up with Florida, but I don’t think they have the “it” factor that’s needed to win the SEC under Jimbo Fisher. Gators stay chomping.
Robert - Florida -6.5
Honestly, I’m not really sure why the spread isn’t bigger here. A&M is not good, and they proved that by giving up 52 points to Alabama a week after only beating Vanderbilt by 5. Both their offense and defense are average at best, and they have no business still being in the top 25. Meanwhile, Florida has looked unstoppable and like a true playoff contender for the first time in the Dan Mullen-era. Expect the Trask/Pitts combo to light the Aggies up. Gators huge here.
Ed - Florida -6.5
Kyle Trask has been lighting up scoreboards so far this season. With Trask under center and a top 6 Heisman odds weapon in tight end Kyle Pitts out wide, I expect the Gators offense to put up a similar performance to what Alabama was able to do a week ago against A&M.
Brett - Florida -6.5
Yooooooo what up Kyle(s)? Yeah, two Kyle’s playing college football and they are KILLING it. Florida is hot right now and TAMU is...not. They looked completely out of sorts last week against Bama while Florida looks like a well-oiled machine. This right here is my lock for the week. Chomp chomp!
Chris - Florida -6.5
The Gators enter this game boasting the nation’s 4th best scoring offense that has two Heisman candidates in QB Kyle Trask and TE Kyle Pitts as well as being 6-1 as an away favorite with an average margin of victory of 16.4 points under Head Coach Dan Mullen.
Also, Gator fans sport the highest per capita of jean shorts in all of college football, so that has to count for something too right?
As for the Aggies, they have… decent brisket?
The fact is since joining the SEC, TAMU has been overrated every season before posting an 8-5 or 7-6 record, then during the winter, fans and pundits get the Men in Black memory eraser treatment and end up over ranking the Aggies the following season. If you narrow the Aggies performance under Jimbo Fisher, TAMU as a home underdog is 3-7 against the spread and performs just as awful when coming off a loss and against ranked opponents. This game is a mixture of all three. Expect Florida to hit cruise control by the 3rd quarter as Aggie fans commence Fisher’s buyout GoFundMe campaign.
Ryan- Florida -6.5
POINTS are the winner here so stay tuned for the over/under portion of Lock$ but in the meantime, these two defenses have struggled with elite competition and expect more of that in this one. Florida can outduel A&M due to superior QB play and better weapons, but both teams will put up big numbers this week. I am not as sold on this pick as others but Trask has looked elite thus far.
Mike- Florida -6.5
While Trevor Lawrence has starred in the ACC thus far, Florida quarterback Kyle Trask has been the best quarterback in college football in 2020. It’s hard to bet against him and the Florida offense right now, which seems to be firing on all cylinders in the early going.
Trask is completing nearly 72% of his passes for 684 yards and 10 touchdowns to only one interception. This week, Trask and the Gators face a Texas A&M defense that ranks 71st out of 74 teams that have played this season in passing efficiency defense. I love the Gators here.
Tennessee +12.5 @ Georgia
Sam - Georgia -12.5
UGA X has a 56-15 record (0.7887) on the sidelines for the Bulldogs. Smokey X has a 49-41 (0.5444) on the sidelines for the Volunteers. UGA X is 5-2 against Smokey X outright and has covered the spread convincingly in each of the last 3 matchups. Give me the defensive, stout Bulldogs over the spastic, quick Bluetick Coonhounds by a couple of touchdowns.
Robert - Georgia -12.5
I’ll preface this pick by saying I think Tennessee finally found a great coach in Pruitt. However, this team is way too unproven to pick them against the SEC East juggernaut that is Georgia. Stetson Bennett looked great against Auburn, and he should have no problems finding similar success this week. That brutal defensive front for the Bulldogs will likely force Jarrett Guarantano into multiple turnovers. This game will be over early as Tennessee fans are brought back to earth from their irrational expectations once again.
Ed - Tennessee +12.5
I like Tennessee to cover 12 in this game, primarily because I'm not sold on Stetson Bennett. Georgia came out and punched Auburn in the mouth last week, but after the hot start early, Georgia's offense struggled mightily in the second half. I think Tennessee will learn something from Auburn's second-half success and be able to contain the Bulldogs offense enough to cover the spread.
Brett - Georgia -12.5
I knew UGA would wake up last week against a tougher opponent and the Vols have come a long way since losing to Georgia State just over a year ago. This game is going to be close in the first half, but I also expect the Dawgs NFL sized DL to keep the pressure on all game and force some turnovers. Another big 3:30 matchup for the Dawgs and it’s going to be another big win for them. UGA UGA!
Chris - Tennessee +12.5
Considering each of these programs is more of the sum of their parts, I’m solely looking at the number here where Georgia as a home favorite under Kirby Smart is only 10-15 against the spread, which is surprising considering the Bulldogs have played a significant amount of those home games against FCS opponents and lower-level FBS programs.
Factor in that Tennessee has been raking in top-end talent over the last 3 years under Jeremy Pruitt, the Vols are a sneaky good away underdog with a 6-2 record against the spread in the same timeframe, UGA is coming off a big win last week versus Auburn and maybe caught looking ahead to the game next week against Bama, and you have the makings of a solid cover, possibly even an upset by the Volunteers.
Ryan- Tennessee +12.5
Do we really know who Tennessee is yet after games against South Carolina and Mizzou? I am saying no and I think this number is inflated for that reason. A 12 point spread in a game where the over-under is at 43 is just a lot. I look at this more as a low scoring affair where both teams rely on their stout lines to run and try to stop the run. Georgia wins this one by 7 but Tennessee covers. Eric Gray and Ty Chandler are a good one-two punch on the ground for the Vols. I see a pretty even matchup as far as the O-lines go and the Vols will try to force the issue in the run game and I think will have a bit of success. Points at a premium here so give me the team getting 12.
Mike- Tennessee +12.5
Are we REALLY convinced that Stetson Bennett is good? I think he’s adequate, but there are still some throws that make me feel a little bit shaky if Tennessee can bottle up the run in this game. Tennessee’s defense might be better than Auburn’s and Jarett Guarantano should make enough plays in the passing game to make this one interesting. I love Georgia’s defense but I think Tennessee’s defense will hang in there enough to keep this close. Georgia wins, but Tennessee covers.
Miami +14.0 @ Clemson
Sam - Clemson -14.0
Miami is really good this year, but let’s not kid ourselves. Clemson, along with the elites of college football, have this extra gear that they can tap into that very few teams can keep up with. This should be a really good game, but I see Clemson pulling away in the second half.
We’re yet to see what the scoreboard looks like if Trevor Lawrence and other starters remain in the game for four quarters, and I think that’s influencing the spread a bit here. I also think Miami is going to have issues running the ball as effectively as they have been, which makes D’Eriq King into a passer. That’s not what you want as a ‘Canes fan.
Robert - Clemson -14.0
Here’s the deal: I just got married on Saturday and my wife grew up in Clemson, SC. Why would I make a terrible first impression on my new in-laws by picking Miami?
Ed - Clemson -14.0
Clemson is finally getting a chance to play a potentially worthy opponent, and I think they will come out looking to make a statement. D’Eriq King isn't going to be able to run away from Clemson's defensive line (see Bryan Bresee). I like the Tigers to knock Miami down a peg or two.
Brett - Clemson -14.0
I just cannot get myself to pick Miami here, even with points. Clemson is going to be FIRED up to play this Miami team and show why they are the best team in the country. Clemson is going to be the first team to finally be able to contain King with their athleticism and he is the life of the offense. You make him throw the ball, its game over in my opinion and Clemson is more than capable of that. Etienne and Lawrence both have shot at the Heisman and this is the game where they show out. Again, going to be a close first half but I would take the Tigers here. Rawr!
Chris - Miami +14.0
This game has Clemson facing a ranked team as a 14 point favorite, in which over the last 11 years under Dabo Swinney, they have gone a respectable 29-20 against the spread albeit with a 4.1 point margin of victory, meaning Clemson tends to win close versus the top teams in the nation. So the real question is… is “Da U” back as a top team?
Well, if you’ve watched this year’s version of Miami, they just feel different and it all starts with the talented veteran dual-threat QB D’Eriq King and how he’s been able to finally inject some life into a program that’s been a sleeping giant in the ACC for over a decade. Compound that with their scary ground attack averaging 232.3 yards per game and I have no reason to believe the Canes can’t cover two TDs during a prime time ABC matchup against the No. 1 team in the nation. So to answer the question from before, “Da U” is back.
Ryan- Clemson -14
Has Miami really proven itself yet? Louisville wasn’t who we thought they were and Florida State doesn’t even deserve a mention here. Clemson is dangerous and they are on a mission. Primetime under the lights with gameday feels like a showcase. Miami has been lauded up too much early this season, meaning they're due for the inevitable crash and burn. I don’t know how mentally tough this team can be and I see Clemson jumping on them early and often and I think the U will fold here.
I sincerely hope we have a closer game here because it is a prime time spot which I will be tuning in to, but Clemson is the better team and Miami hasn’t proven much to me yet. King will have to be stellar for them to cover this number, but Lawrence is the safer bet for me.
Mike- Clemson -14
This may very well be the only game that Miami loses all year. The ‘Canes have Virginia Tech and North Carolina left after Saturday night’s tilt with Clemson and could be favored in both of those match-ups (and every other game the rest of the way).
This is a good measuring stick game for Miami. Most people will try to make this a referendum on the program if Clemson wins handily, but I’ve seen enough out of Miami offensively and defensively to make me believe that they’ll keep this one close for a good bit of the game. However, Clemson is on a different level right now than every other team in this league, and I think over the course of 60 minutes, the Tigers will show it. Clemson wins and narrowly covers.
Virginia Tech +5.0 @ North Carolina
Sam - North Carolina -5.0
Y’all...I don’t see it. Bet the numbers, not the teams. Right now, the number to worry about is the guys out in the defensive secondary for the Hokies. It worked against NC State and Duke, but this is quite the step up. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Hokies can win this game, but to do so, they’ll have to get Sam Howell off the field. Tech will be able to score, and I think they’ll play an overall good game. I just don’t think they can hold onto the ball long enough in this game to control it for four quarters. A late field goal or touchdown may cover the spread for the Heels. It’s okay, Hokies, regardless of this outcome the season is still all in front of us.
Robert - Virginia Tech +5.0
I think this would be an easy opportunity to pick the Heels in the points here, especially given all the uncertainty facing the Hokie defense. But the bottom line is this: Justin Fuente is 4-0 against UNC. To me, this is one of those historical precedents you don’t pick against until you see it happen. At full strength, the Hokies are the better overall team. Even if enough Hokies are forced to sit to make UNC the better team, I expect this game to be competitive to the very end, with the Heels winning by 3 or 4 at the most.
Ed - UNC -5.0
Emotional hedge!! If Virginia Tech wins, I will be ecstatic. If they lose, this pick is a small consolation prize to lessen the blow.
Brett - Virginia Tech +5.0
There are a few things that are going to decide the outcome of this game.
First, the DB situation on both teams. It is extremely unclear if the Hokies will have any semblance of a normal DB lineup, which could be disastrous against Howell, Brown, and Newsome. However, that is fixable if they can get a few players back. Now for UNC….they are unfixable. Three newly integrated sophomores, a true freshman, and a newly integrated junior. Yikes. Whichever team can take advantage of that will have the upper hand.
Secondly, the Hokies rushing game so far has been the best since the David Wilson era. If #ViceSquad and Herbert keep steamrolling, that could be trouble for the Heels.
Lastly, the Hokies DL has forced 13 sacks in two games. That’s just over a third in all of last season's thirteen games. If they can get pressure on Howell all afternoon, the Hokies can get it done.
Chris - Virginia Tech +5.0
Each team is dealing with unknown availability in the secondary, so in reality, the impact is a net wash in picking this game. However, what can be considered is that over the last four years, regardless of who was in the backfield, Justin Fuente has gone 4-0 against UNC with an offense averaging 53.25 rushes per game for 194.5 yards.
So going into this game, Tech now has one of the best rushing attacks in the nation, made possible behind a road grading OL, a talented RB averaging 12.5 yards per attempt, and a stable of playmakers at the WR and TE position to help keep the UNC defense honest, and is getting 5.0 points? UNC’s QB Sam Howell can’t throw the ball if he’s not on the field as I expect VT will once again run over the Heels, stop, back up, and run over them again.
Ryan- Virginia Tech +5.0
This number is inflated too high because of the home-field advantage for the Heels. That is nonexistent really even outside of a global pandemic. This to me is a toss-up game that hinges on variables that we have no way of knowing right now. If the Hokies are healthy in the secondary this is a no-brainer, but they likely won’t be. The DBs were exposed a little but Chase Brice at times last week and Sam Howell is far and away a better QB than Brice.
However, I think we see Hooker this week and we see a little undressing of the UNC secondary on our part as well. Hooker has to be itching to see the field and you combine a competent passing attack with a proven ground game and dominant O-Line I will take the Hokies. Weather depending this is gonna be a high scoring game. I hope the rain pours cause that benefits the away team. Look for Blackshear to be unleashed a bit more this game as well.
Mike- Virginia Tech +5.0
I’ve seen two games from Virginia Tech and I’ve seen two games from North Carolina. Down 20+ players and multiple coaches in back-to-back games, the Hokies have looked much more impressive than the Tar Heels have.
North Carolina has top-end pass-catchers that could cause Tech problems with a depleted secondary, but the weather is going to be a factor and I think Virginia Tech can run the football well enough to win this football game. Right now, North Carolina statistically has one of the best rushing defenses in the nation...until you see who they’ve faced. Syracuse sits 13th in the ACC in rushing offense, while Boston College is dead last at 15th in the conference in rushing the football. I do believe UNC has a good rushing defense, but it may not be elite. We’ll find out on Saturday.
With all that said, I’m riding with the team that’s looked better, not the team that garnered all of the preseason hype. Hokies not only cover but win outright 23-17.
Over/Unders of the Week with Ryan Hartman
Over 57.5 Texas A&M vs. Florida
A&M’s first game against Vandy is an anomaly to me. They put up 17 points in a lackluster win. They bounced back a bit against Bama with 24, but this spot against Florida feels like a game that could be closer than people think and will feature some seriously big plays. I get SEC unders and that typically is where I will hang my hat, but this is not a typical SEC game to me. Florida has averaged almost 45 points a game against two SEC opponents.
Kellen Mond is a pretty good quarterback and he gets a Florida defense who has not shown much prowess at this point in the season against USC and Ole Miss. I don’t know how this number is in the 50’s and I think these two score often this Saturday. Both of these defenses are not SEC quality defenses. This may feel more like a Big 12 game to me and should feature a spread that respects that more.
Under 52 FSU vs Notre Dame
Jordan Travis gave FSU a little bit of life last week against Jacksonville St. , yes they needed resuscitation against Jacksonville St. Notre Dame is a far cry from Jacksonville State and this feels like a rude awakening for Travis against a much better Notre Dame defense. FSU needed a change but they run into a brick wall this week against the Golden Domers. I think that Notre Dame may show some rust here too as they have been off for a few weeks now. Notre Dame wins this but it feels like a ball-control game where Notre Dame probably goes up big and then controls the clock. FSU won’t score many points here. I am taking the under in a game with a bad FSU offense and a rusty Notre Dame team every day of the week.
Over 57.5 Mississippi State Vs. Kentucky
Kentucky was kind to my over pick last week and I am going to roll with them again. Terry Wilson has not been the QB I thought he would be coming into the year. He is due a breakout game however and it might be here. I think last week’s effort from Mississippi State was an anomaly. Mike Leach and KJ Costello are also due for a bounce-back because there is no slowing down that attack. I expect this one to be close too so one team won’t be able to just grind the air out of the ball. I am pivoting a little hard on my SEC unders rule but these two SEC overs just don’t have the stout defense to back them up and keep this total low. Mike Leach = Overs. Again let's not overthink this.
Props of the Week with Mike McDaniel
Louisville at Georgia Tech (Any team to score over 40 points +125)
I think this is worth a flier.
Look, Louisville’s defense has been horrific thus far this season. It’s been a struggle to hold opponents down, as penalties and big plays have marred this unit. Georgia Tech’s offense has been OK but has a chance to be pretty good if freshman quarterback Jeff Sims focuses on taking care of the football. That’s the case for Georgia Tech scoring 40+.
However, the best case for this bet to hit resides with Louisville’s offense, which gets quarterback Malik Cunningham back into the fold. He has a huge arm and weapons on the outside that could give Georgia Tech a lot of problems. Georgia Tech’s defense gave up a ton of chunk plays against Dillon Gabriel and UCF’s offense earlier this season, and Louisville is the best offense it has faced since. I think Louisville will be aided by more Jeff Sims turnovers, setting up favorable field position and some quick scores from the offense. I also think a few big plays through the air could push Louisville over the 40 point threshold in this game.
Louisville -3 at Georgia Tech (First Half)
Much like I said above, I think Louisville’s offense is going to create a ton of issues for the Georgia Tech secondary, and I’m not sure it’s going to take into the second half for the party to get started. Give me Louisville -3 in the first half, as I believe they should lead by a touchdown (or more) at the break.