This weekend will be the midway point of the season for many teams, which means we’re also nearing the start of the College Football Playoff rankings. This year, as much as any, it feels like the pack behind Alabama and Clemson — the teams I’m confident calling the two best in the nation — are jumbled up with each team having question marks or reason for doubt.
However, as you know by now, we don’t care about the Playoff or what teams are really good compared to just being pretty good, we care about winners. Last week we got back on the right side of .500 and it’s time to put the pedal down and build on that with another solid week.
Week 6: 5-3
This week, we’re sticking to some of our principle plays (a lot of Unders on the board) while also trying to play catch up with some trends that are simply too good to ignore at this point in the season. Without further ado, let’s get to some winners.
BYU at Mississippi State UNDER 49
Believe in the BYU Under. They might finally have caffeine on campus, but their offense still hasn’t been able to wake up this season. Mississippi State has fallen off of a cliff after the LSU game, but if there were ever a team for that defense to get right against, it’s BYU. I’d expect a bit of a slugfest in Starkville for the 11 a.m. local time kick. This number jumped early but is coming back toward the original opening number so I’d get on this one quickly.
New Mexico State (-6) at Georgia Southern
Georgia Southern is an awful football team, while New Mexico State is a good bad football team. What I mean by that is, they’re competitive, they just don’t win an awful lot. The Eagles are just outright bad at football and don’t even really compete, having not played in a game in which they’ve lost by fewer than 10 points (and that was to FCS New Hampshire). Give me the Aggies here to roll big time over the Eagles.
Eastern Michigan at Army UNDER 47.5
Frequent readers of the column know the EMU Under is a principle play. I regret not handing it out last week against Toledo when it cruised to the Under in a 20-15 loss. I’m back this week and looking for that Eagles defense to keep the Army rushing attack in front of them and the Brogan Roback-led offense to continue struggling — his name is incredible and deserves a shoutout each week.
Michigan State at Minnesota UNDER 40.5
Look, if you don’t want to sweat from the opening kickoff, don’t ride with me here. It’s probably not a good idea, but sometimes I like to take a really low Under just to feel alive on a Saturday night and in a week where the night slate sucks, this is a way to be invested in something. There are some reasons to believe in this one, like Sparty having its last two games finish with totals in the 20s and Minnesota’s offense being generally not good.
The concern is with the Gophers’ defense being fairly Charmin soft the last two weeks and handing out 31 points to Purdue and Maryland. However, both of those teams play at a much faster tempo than Sparty, and Michigan State’s really not good at throwing the football. This could be a disaster, but it’s going to keep you on the edge of your seat all night.
Vanderbilt (+3.5) at Ole Miss and UNDER 56
It’s time to bring back the coordinated Vanderbilt and the Under parlay, because it went so well last time (Note: both lost horribly when Alabama destroyed them). However, this is the spot to bust it back out. All the trends in this series say take the road dog and the Under, and Vanderbilt’s just generally been a thorn in the Rebels’ side for awhile, even when Vandy wasn’t close to good. I know Vandy’s been demolished three straight weeks, but this is the perfect spot to get back on the ‘Dores.
Ole Miss is terrible and, most importantly, they can’t run the football. Vandy can’t stop the run, so facing a team that is averaging 2.88 yards per carry is a godsend for a defense that’s been beaten up by Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. If they cover, the Under almost has to come through, so let’s get that extra juice and make it approximately +280 for this coordinated parlay. A winner here and we’re cruising.
South Carolina (+3.5) at Tennessee
I feel like I’m missing something here with why this line has moved in favor of the Vols, but I’m not buying into them suddenly fixing their issues with a quarterback change. There are problems with South Carolina, but they just whooped a bad Arkansas team and have more confidence on offense than they have in weeks since Deebo Samuel went down. Tennessee’s defense is not good and can absolutely be had by Jake Bentley and company, and I just don’t see Jarrett Guarantano being the savior for the Vols offense. Give me the Gamecocks and let’s see just how hot Butch Jones’ seat can get.
Tulane (-12.5) at Florida International
FIU is not good. They have one-possession wins over Alcorn State, Rice, and Charlotte (a 1-point win) and have been run off the field by UCF and Middle Tennessee. Tulane’s losses are to Navy (by 2) and Oklahoma (by a lot) and most recently ran for a million yards and 62 points against Tulsa. Willie Fritz offenses can take some time to get going but when that option gets rolling it’s really tough to stop. I think they’ll run away and hide against FIU and cover this number pretty easily.
Wyoming (+3) at Utah State
Utah State is a really weird team, but their best win is against a bad BYU team so I’ll happily take Wyoming plus the candy. Josh Allen hasn’t impressed with all the preseason hype he had coming in, but he’s still very talented and in the Aggies’ three losses they’ve been carved up through the air. If Allen shows up and spins the ball like he can, I think they’ll take this one outright, but I’m even happier to take the three points.
Rutgers at Illinois UNDER 48.5
Rutgers and the Under are a match made in heaven. They’ve come Under in three of four games, with the lone failure being Ohio State covering the over by themselves (by 1.5 points). Illinois, now playing with Jeff George Jr. under center, isn’t Ohio State and I’ll ride with the Scarlet Knights’ defense (and the general ineptitude of the offense) to keep this thing low-scoring and come through with the Under.