Last week ATS: 6-5 (3-2 National, 3-3 B1G)
Season ATS: 40-33-1 (14-11 National, 26-22-1 B1G)
Last week may not have been as fruitful as the week before, but it’s hard to be mad at a positive result. Hopefully this week will be able to put a little more distance on .500.
National games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
No. 17 Louisville (-4.5) v. No. 24 NC State - Thursday 10/5 8:00 PM EST - ESPN
After their loss to Clemson a few weeks ago, Louisville got a chance to get their feet back under them with a couple layups. The Cardinals beat Kent State and Murray State, but now the competition ramps back up as they travel to Raleigh. Louisville will be trying to break a streak of recent dominance by the Wolfpack, with NC State winning six of the last seven games against the Cardinals.
Had it not been for a season-opening loss to South Carolina, the Wolfpack would likely find themselves ranked higher than the Cardinals right now. Ryan Finley still hasn’t thrown an interception this year, and that streak could continue since Louisville safety Jaire Alexander’s status is up in the air for this game.
I know picking against Lamar Jackson is a dangerous proposition, but the Wolfpack have a number of playmakers on defense who could slow Jackson down, most notably defensive end Bradley Chubb. North Carolina State keeps rolling, while another Louisville loss could only add to the rumblings Bobby Petrino could trigger his buyout after this year is over with the recent changes in the athletic department at Louisville.
NC State 28, Louisville 24
No. 5 Georgia (-18) v. Vanderbilt - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN
Georgia continues to keep rolling along, and with each win they put themselves in a better position to earn a spot in the SEC Championship Game against what will likely end up being a scary Alabama squad. Last week, the Bulldogs beat Tennessee so badly that I was surprised the Volunteers didn’t fire Butch Jones at halftime.
Vanderbilt has to wonder when they’ll catch a break. After a 3-0 start, the Commodores have had to square off against Alabama, Florida, and now Georgia. Kyle Shurmur has thrown 11 touchdowns and just one interception this year, but he’ll need a lot of help on offense if Vanderbilt has designs on beating Georgia for the second straight year.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about Georgia the rest of the season, but I’m wondering if they might be playing a little too good right now. Somewhere there is going to be a struggle, and I get the feeling this week might be when it happens. The Bulldogs won’t get upset here, but they get a tougher fight than many might be expecting.
Georgia 31, Vanderbilt 21
No. 23 West Virginia v. No. 8 TCU (-13.5) - 3:30 PM EST - FOX
Can we just cancel the Big 12? Nothing ever makes sense in this conference, and it is easily the conference I have the most trouble picking. A few weeks ago I thought TCU would get rolled by Oklahoma State, and that obviously didn’t happen. This week I just assume that whatever I pick is going to be terribly wrong, so I wouldn’t blame you for picking the opposite.
West Virginia is still a relative unknown. The Mountaineers have stability at quarterback with Florida transfer Will Grier, but it’s hard to gauge how good West Virginia is since they’ve played some pretty terrible teams so far. The season opener against Virginia Tech was a tough contest, but since then, the Mountaineers have feasted on East Carolina, Delaware State, and Kansas. I can smell the dumpster juice just looking at that portion of West Virginia’s schedule.
TCU was very impressive two weeks ago in Stillwater against Oklahoma State. Kenny Hill looks like he has rebounded from last year’s inconsistent season, while the defense for the Horned Frogs has been strong, at least when it comes to Big 12 defensive standards.
As I said before, the Big 12 is a crapshoot. I think the safest play here is to take the points, even though we don’t know exactly what we are getting quite yet with West Virginia. I could see this being a two touchdown game late, and a touchdown from Grier gets the Mountaineers a late cover.
TCU 45, West Virginia 38
No. 13 Miami (FL) (-3.5) v. Florida State - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN
It almost feels like somebody doesn’t want Miami and Florida State to play this year. After having their game a few weeks ago pushed back due to Hurricane Irma, now another disturbance in the gulf could bring some gnarly weather to Tallahassee. Last year’s game nearly was impacted by Hurricane Matthew, and I remember a few games in the past which have been played in heavy rain, most notably in 2003 where Miami wide receiver Roscoe Parrish was obliterated by a Florida State defender.
Miami has looked good so far this year, but I’ll refrain from saying they are “BACK” until they are able to navigate Florida State. The Seminoles have won seven straight against the Hurricanes, with four of those last six wins coming by less than a touchdown. Miami is going to need running back Mark Walton Jr. to be fully healthy if they want to finally take down Florida State.
Florida State’s season feels like it was ruined soon after it began, following the injury to quarterback Deondre Francois. Freshman James Blackman won his first start last week against Florida State, but it came right down to the wire. The Seminoles are going to need even more out of safety Derwin James if Florida State is going to slow down Walton and quarterback Malik Rosier.
Even without Francois, Florida State still has plenty of talent which can give Miami fits. Also, the Seminoles have the Hurricanes’ number recently, which is hard to ignore. Doak Campbell Stadium is going to be rocking for this game, and the Seminoles put forth a huge effort to earn the win.
Florida State 30, Miami (FL) 27
No. 11 Washington State (-2.5) v. Oregon - 8:00 PM EST - FOX
Washington State had one of their biggest wins in school history last week when they outlasted USC on Friday night. Now the Cougars hit the road for the first time this year as they travel to Eugene to face a beaten up Oregon team. Last week’s win over the Trojans has Washington State fans wondering if the College Football Playoff could in the future for Mike Leach and the Cougars.
Despite being 4-1 in Willie Taggert’s first year with the school, the Ducks are really hurting right now. Quarterback Justin Herbert broke his collarbone last week against Cal, and running back Royce Freeman is questionable with an arm injury. True freshman Braxton Burmeister could be in line for his first start at quarterback, which would have Hercules Mata’afa and the rest of the Washington State defense licking their chops.
Normally I would see this as a prime letdown spot for Washington State after the win against USC, but Oregon is just way too injured right now. Luke Falk adds to his lofty career totals as the Cougars navigate their first road test of the season.
Washington State 48, Oregon 31
Stanford (-6) v. No. 20 Utah - 10:15 PM EST - FS1
One of the stories of the first month of the college football season has been Stanford running back Bryce Love. The junior rushed for 301 yards last week against Arizona State, and has nearly 1,100 rushing yards through five games this year. Love has rushed for at least 160 yards in each game this season.
Utah is still undefeated after beating Arizona two weeks ago, but they might have taken a loss with the injury to quarterback Tyler Huntley. At least if Huntley can’t play against the Cardinals, Utah has Troy Williams, who started all 13 games last year, to take the snaps.
Love can’t run like this all year, can he? My money is on no, as I see the running back coming down to earth a bit against a Utah defense that is giving up less than 100 yards per game on the ground this year. Even with Utah’s questions at quarterback, give me the ranked home team as an underdog.
Utah 24, Stanford 21