Last week left us with a respectable 5-3 record. Not bad, but definitely able to be improved upon. Notably, though, I'm now 5-0 on the year in Team Total (TT) points picks, so let's hope to keep that ball rolling through the whole season. We're exactly even at 18-18 so far this year but the gambling gods seem to have lifted their curse on a majority of my bets, so things are looking up for the remainder of the season. Let's get to it.
#13 Notre Dame -7.0 vs. USC
Losing a ton of production as well as hiring a new Defensive Coordinator was bound to cause disruption among Notre Dame's success from their O-line and defense early on. And it did. Since the first two weeks though, they're allowing just 20 points per game (PPG) and 4.6 yards per play (YPP) while steadily improving everywhere except at quarterback. I'm here to tell you, however, that it won't really matter against USC. Traditionally, these programs have been equals over the years, but the Trojans are without a real Head Coach and have been without an identity all season. Additionally, the Fighting Irish come into this game fully healthy and off a bye (granted, USC is off a rest week as well), going against their old rival at home. Expect their safety, Kyle Hamilton, to continue to lead this defense which hasn't allowed a 300 yard passer all season. I also lean their TT Over 31.5 but won't officially be playing it. Vegas hasn't fully come around to the strides this team has made since the beginning of the season and we will see it in full effect here. I also played a small amount at an alternate line of ND -13.5 @ +185. I feel very confident with this pick.
Kent State @ Ohio Over 65.5
This bet is purely in a lack of confidence on the defensive side of the ball for both teams as they've combined to allow 6,300+ yards of offense in 14 combined games! That's good for 450 yards of offense per game, which also includes 2 FCS offensive outputs in those numbers as wellâ¦ Point is, outside of Akron, Ohio has given up at least 27 points to every FBS school they've played and the Golden Flashes are allowing 34 PPG. To keep the trend going of things in our favor, Kent State is allowing 215 yards per game (YPG) rushing while the Bobcats are rushing for 200 YPG on the season. Kent State are also rushing for 178 YPG in FBS against some great defenses while Ohio is allowing 230 yards on the ground per game. Neither team can get off the field defensively and the offenses, especially Kent State's, have been great in group of 5 play.
#10 Oregon @ UCLA Over 60.0
To me, the summation of each team's offensive parts are greater than their defensive parts. UCLA is allowing 385 YPG on the year while Oregon is allowing 489 YPG against FBS teams. They also rank 79th and 94th respectively in defensive 3rd down conversions, combining to allow over a 42% conversion mark in 2021. Their offenses also combine to convert 44% of third downs en route to two top-35 scoring offenses in the country. I know people have been calling for Oregon QB Anthony Brown's job, but he's posted an 8-1 TD-to-pick ratio while adding 40 yards on the ground per game - and I expect him to have some soft passing lanes to exploit against UCLA who are 85th in opponent completion percentage this season. I see this game as closer to the mid to upper 60s if not more, given the right breaks. As I've said before though, it's the PAC-12. If it's the first 0-0 game that goes to 10 overtimes still with no points and they end the game there, don't be mad at me.
#22 San Diego State @ Air Force Under 40.0
The last time a Brady Hoke led team faced the triple option happened to come against an Air Force team and they held them to 4 yards per rush (when Hoke was at Michigan), which was right in line with their defensive season average. This year's San Diego State team has allowed just over 63 rushing yards per game, en route to a perfect season record. I say that with saying their defense is the catalyst to the team's success, as their offensive output is amassing just 338 yards per game. Air Force is also great at taking the air out of the game (pun intended) as their offense has played an average of 16 more plays per game than their opponents. Finally, the Aztecs defense is 4th in the nation in opponents' rushing first downs, and tied for first in rushing touchdowns allowed at an astounding 1 TD allowed on the ground through six games. Not sure which team wins here and by how many, but I'm certain points will be at a premium.
#17 Texas A&M 1st Half -11.5 vs. South Carolina & Under 45.0
Both teams' game totals are combining to average just 42 PPG this year. What's concerning is A&M's depreciating pass defense throughout the year, but they've also played offenses recently more than capable of putting up points. Realistically, though, the Gamecocks literally have not put up more than 23 points in a single FBS game this year. They're putting up just 333 YPG and 5.4 yards per play. Neither of those will get it done against an incredibly talented Aggie defense. Conversely though, Zach Calzada fell back to Earth last week amassing just 6 yards per attempt with 2 touchdowns and an interception. Ideally, it shouldn't matter a whole lot as they'll be looking to gash SC on the ground early. I believe their run game will find success, though they'll slow the tempo way down in the 2nd half when they're winning handily. I could see this game finishing somewhere along the lines of 35-7 with no scores in the 4th quarter - similarly to their trip to Missouri last week.
Clemson +3.0 @ #23 Pittsburgh
Wow, I can't believe I'm doing this and I'm sure I'm one of the only people in America publicly backing the Tigers, but hear me out. Go look at the remainder of Pitt's schedule: who else has the best chance to beat them? Maybe Virginia? A lot of Panthers fans wanted Pat Narduzzi out for consistently underperforming with their talent/rosters since he's been there, but now all of a sudden he's good enough to get them to 11-1 this year? Something that hasn't occurred since 1981? Ain't happening. They'll lose this game. Clemson, for all their problems, still have a bunch of freak athletes on the defensive side of the ball, and no team has scored more than 21 on them in regulation this year. Brent Venables is as good as any other DC in the country at devising gameplans and I believe they'll be the best team the Panthers face at pressuring/sacking Kenny Pickett this year, as he holds the ball the longest of any collegiate quarterback per dropback. It also took 134 penalty yards in order to beat a Tennessee team that had Joe Milton at quarterback for half the game. This, to me, is the second weakest FBS secondary Clemson will have gone against and I can certainly see them have some success with decent field starting position. Give me Clemson outright (but we'll take the points for insurance) in a game where the outlook of these two teams regresses back to the mean.
#8 Oklahoma State @ Iowa State Under 47.0
Put simply, I believe in the defenses more so than their offenses. Pause for concern on the under is Iowa State's improved offensive line play, as well as Oklahoma State's self-confidence being inflated as an undefeated team even though they probably shouldn't be.
WKU TT 1st Half Over 23.5 @ FIU
Two words: Bailey Zappe. But also, FIU is allowing over 500 yards of offense to opposing FBS teams. As well as 15 passing touchdowns allowed in their last 4 outings. Not good.
Miami TT Under 25.5 vs. #18 NC State
NC State has 1 rushing touchdown allowed all season. They're going against a backup Freshman QB for Miami who has posted a 2-3 TD-to-interception ratio in FBS play.
Western Michigan -1.5 @ Toledo
Toledo has inflated defensive metric numbers due to playing against offenses whose combined scoring would rank 83rd out of 130 teams. This will also be the fastest offense they've gone against this season. The Broncos should be able to get to 30+ points here which would be enough to put the Rockets away.
#4 Alabama TT Under 47.5 vs. Tennessee
This is mind boggling to even think about, but according to PFF, Bryce Young will be the third best quarterback Tennessee's defense has seen this year. They held the previous two to 36 PPG and just 4.9 yards per play! For perspective, those same teams combine for 6.9 YPP on the year. The only reason this isn't a play is because UT is thin on defense and just logged 101 snaps last weekend in an emotional loss - and if Hendon Hooker/Tiyon Evans aren't healthy for Tennessee, their offense won't get much going, leaving the defense on the field that much more.
âWritten by Alex Hill