Last week ATS: 8-5-1 (4-2-1 National, 4-3 B1G)
Season ATS: 73-76-4 (32-32-2 National, 41-45-2 B1G)
After getting spoiled with some great matchups the last few weeks, this week’s schedule is pretty underwhelming. It’s essentially how you don’t eat too much close to Thanksgiving knowing of the impending punishment you are going to dish out to the turkey, sides, and dessert. MC&J was still able to find five national games that were worthy of your time on Saturday.
Virginia v. #3 Miami (FL) (-19.5) - 12:00 PM EST - ABC
Miami is really growing on people. Not only is Miami starting to get respect, especially after beating Virginia Tech and Notre Dame the past two weeks, but the turnover chain has people going out of their mind.
Virginia has been a lot better in Bronco Mendenhall’s second season, and the Cavaliers have already wrapped up bowl eligibility. The Cavaliers have a sneaky good quarterback in Kurt Benkert, who has thrown 24 touchdowns and just seven interceptions so far this season.
The Hurricanes will stay undefeated, but I feel like this point spread is a little inflated, especially after last week’s demolition of Notre Dame. The Hurricanes might be in for a bit of a letdown, especially after two high-profile primetime games the past two weeks. Virginia is a solid team, and should be able to keep Saturday’s game within two touchdowns.
Miami 34, Virginia 24
No. 15 UCF (-14) v. Temple - 12:00 PM EST - ESPNU
The Golden Knights are in the driver’s seat of the Group of Five schools right now, but UCF has no margin for error, especially with Memphis sitting right behind them in the CFP rankings. Last week McKenzie Milton had another strong day, throwing for 311 yards and two touchdowns in the 49-24 win over UConn.
Temple has been up and down in their first season after Matt Rhule left for Baylor. The Owls have split their last four games, with the last two being wins over Navy and Cincinnati.
Even though the Owls have been playing better lately, I’m not sure they are quite ready to handle what UCF is going to throw at them. Scott Frost’s squad is tested early, but pulls away in the second half to stay undefeated.
UCF 41, Temple 23
Kentucky v. No. 7 Georgia (-21.5) - 3:30 PM EST - CBS
The Bulldogs don’t have a lot of time to feel sorry for themselves after getting pasted by Auburn last week. Georgia will host a Kentucky team that is 7-3, but could have an argument for being 9-1 after losing to Florida by just a point earlier in the year, and by a field goal to Ole Miss a couple weeks ago.
The Wildcats aren’t going to throw the football unless they absolutely have to. Who could blame Kentucky for wanting to run the football when they have a running back like Benny Snell Jr.; the sophomore from Westerville has already rushed for 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns this year.
Kentucky has been pretty good at stopping the run this year, but they’ll have their hands full trying to slow down Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. If the Wildcats can slow the duo and make Jake Fromm do more with his arm, then Kentucky might even have a shot at the upset. I don’t think it’s quite that serious, but the Wildcats will at least give Georgia a game.
Georgia 28, Kentucky 20
Navy v. No. 8 Notre Dame (-18) - 3:30 PM EST - NBC
This game might be over in two hours with how much these two teams like to run the football. Navy is averaging 369.8 yards per game rushing this year, while Notre Dame is averaging 303.2 yards per game rushing. The Fighting Irish will be looking for a little revenge, as the 28-27 loss to the Midshipmen helped contribute to the 4-8 record Notre Dame posted in 2016.
Last week, Navy was even more Navy than usual. The Midshipmen beat SMU 43-40 without completing a pass. Quarterback Malcolm Perry made his first start last week and rushed for 282 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the Mustangs. The bad news for Navy is Perry is dealing with an ankle injury, so his status is up in the air for Saturday’s game.
The good news for Notre Dame is they don’t have to see the turnover chain this week. Miami laid a whoopin’ on the Fighting Irish last week, but Notre Dame should bounce back ahead of their regular season finale against Stanford next week. Running back Josh Adams will have a big game after rushing for just 40 yards last week. Even if Perry plays for Navy, who knows how effective he’ll be. Give me the Golden Domers by three touchdowns here.
Notre Dame 42, Navy 21
UCLA v. No. 11 USC (-16) - 8:00 PM EST - ABC
What a quarterback battle we are in store for on Saturday night. After missing the game against Utah a couple weeks ago, Josh Rosen returned last week and threw for 381 yards and a touchdown in the 44-37 win over Arizona State. Rosen hasn’t gotten much help from his running game, or the UCLA defense, which is why you are seeing such a big spread for this rivalry game.
Sam Darnold had a rocky start to the year, but since the loss to Notre Dame, the sophomore has been excellent. The Trojans have won all three games since their setback to the Fighting Irish, Darnold has thrown for 906 yards, seven touchdowns, and just one interception. Darnold isn’t doing it alone, as running back Ronald Jones II has 552 yards rushing and six rushing touchdowns during that span.
I know USC is a more talented team than UCLA. Jim Mora’s seat is still plenty hot, but I think the Bruins at least put forth a decent effort against the Trojans. Rosen keeps UCLA within shouting distance, but Darnold and Jones II are too much for the Bruins to overcome to pull the upset.
USC 38, UCLA 28