Last week ATS: 5-2
Season ATS: 17-10
MC&J had a shot at a perfect week last week, heading into the night games with a 5-0 record. Sadly, Auburn and Oklahoma couldn’t finish off the job, but that’s what I get for trusting those two teams on the road. Still, not a bad week overall, as we were able to push our season record a few more games above .500.
No. 4 Florida (-7) v. No. 21 Texas A&M - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN
This is one of those rare occurrences when Florida goes west of the Mississippi River. Since 2010, the Gators have ventured west of the big muddy six times, with three of those trips being to SEC East foe Missouri. This marks the second time Florida has traveled to College Station since the Aggies joined the SEC, with the Gators beating Texas A&M 20-17 in 2012.
Florida has been unstoppable so far on offense this year, scoring 89 points in their first two games. Kyle Trask has already thrown 10 touchdowns this year, with six of those going to Kyle Pitts. Pitts and the Gator offense have to be licking their chops after watching Texas A&M allow 435 yards passing to Alabama last weekend.
If the Aggies want to have any shot at winning this weekend, they’ll need quarterback Kellen Mond to play better. Mond hasn’t been terrible this year, but more has definitely been expected of the veteran quarterback. Texas A&M has to hope that Florida plays more like the defense we saw from them in the season opener, because they did show signs of improvement last week against South Carolina.
Jimbo Fisher does have Florida’s number, as Fisher compiled a 7-1 record against the Gators during his time at Florida State. Things have changed a little though since the last time Fisher squared off with the Gators in 2017. There are questions about Florida’s defense, but I think the Gators are just a better football team right now. If there was going to be a capacity crowd at Kyle Field, I’d likely side with the Aggies here. Luckily for the Gators, Texas A&M won’t have their normal home-field advantage.
Florida 38, Texas A&M 28
No. 22 Texas v. Oklahoma (-2) - 12:00 PM EST - FOX
Instead of announcers, can they just play Yakety Sax the whole game? The Red River Rivalry is quite the clown show this year. Oklahoma is on a two-game losing skid, while Texas just fell to TCU last week. Not long after the season started, the playoff hopes of the Big 12 are pretty much already dead.
At least the quarterbacks should be fun to watch in this game. Sam Ehlinger will be squaring off with the Sooners for what feels like the 45th time in his Texas career, while Spencer Rattler will be making his first start against the Longhorns. Both quarterbacks should put up big numbers, as they’ll be taking on a couple of the worst defenses in the country. Since this is a FOX game, can we get a camera on Urban Meyer the whole game so we can see him wince at just how bad former assistants Chris Ash and Alex Grinch are these days?
In a game like this, give me the quarterback who has played in the rivalry before. Rattler is a tremendous talent, I just don’t have as much faith backing him as I do Ehlinger. Tom Herman avoids his seat getting a little warm, as Texas hands Oklahoma their third loss in a row this season.
Texas 34, Oklahoma 30
No. 19 Virginia Tech v. No. 8 North Carolina (-4) - 12:00 PM EST - ABC
There are plenty of tough games this week to predict, but this one might just be the toughest. Last year’s game was a five-overtime thriller, with Virginia Tech squeezing out a 43-41 win over the Tar Heels. The Hokies have gotten the better of North Carolina since joining the ACC, compiling a 13-3 record against the Tar Heels.
North Carolina came into the season with high expectations, and while they haven’t lost yet, they haven’t looked all that great in wins over Boston College and Syracuse. Sophomore quarterback Sam Howell has struggled to start the season, throwing three touchdowns, but also throwing three interceptions.
Virginia Tech has been killing it on the ground so far this year, averaging nearly 320 rushing yards per game. One of the most impressive performances in college football came last week against Duke, when Khalil Herbert ran for over 200 yards and amassed over 350 all-purpose yards. The Hokie offense gets a boost with quarterback Hendon Hooker being cleared to return to action. In Hooker’s absence, Oregon transfer Brandon Burmeister has been able to navigate Virginia Tech to victories over Duke and N.C. State.
Something has to give in this game. North Carolina is allowing just 54 yards per game rushing, while the Hokies have been doing most of their damage on offense on the ground. I think the Tar Heels find a way to slow down Virginia Tech’s rushing attack in this one. For the first time this year we see the North Carolina team that was so highly regarded coming into the season.
North Carolina 35, Virginia Tech 24
No. 14 Tennessee v. No. 3 Georgia (-12.5) - 3:30 PM EST - CBS
It’s funny how much a week can change things in college football. Heading into last week’s action, here I was thinking Auburn would challenge Georgia in Athens. Samsonite, I was way off. Georgia’s defense is straight up nasty. The Bulldogs held Auburn to just 39 yards rushing, so I wouldn’t expect Tennessee to find much running room this week.
As long as Stetson Bennett can play like he did against Auburn, there’s not many teams that will be able to beat Georgia. While Bennett didn’t put up huge stats, he did a great job at managing the game and not turning the football over. Basically. when Georgia knocked Auburn down, they didn’t let the Tigers get back up.
You know who has the longest winning streak in the country right now? Tennessee. No, I’m serious, the Vols have been playing good football under Jeremy Pruitt over the last eight games. Don’t expect the winning streak to make it to nine, as Georgia is far and away the best team Tennessee has played during that span. Last year the Bulldogs destroyed Tennessee 43-14 in Knoxville, and while the game should be a little closer this year, I don’t see it staying within two touchdowns.
Georgia 37, Tennessee 17
No. 2 Alabama (-23.5) v. Ole Miss - 7:30 PM EST - ESPN
Saturday night’s game in Oxford is likely going to be a slopfest because of Hurricane Delta. The predicted rain and wind is not good news for two teams who are averaging over 300 yards per game through the air this year. Expect to see a heavy dose of Alabama running back Najee Harris, especially if the Crimson Tide jump out to an early lead.
Ole Miss will counter with running back Jerrion Ealy on the ground. We’ll also likely see plenty of looks at quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last year. Lane Kiffin now just needs to hope he’ll see some improvement from his defense, which is giving up 600 yards per game.
There’s no question that Alabama should win this game, but I think it’ll be a little closer than the experts think. Kiffin will want a good showing from his team since he was an assistant under Nick Saban at Alabama. The elements should also help this game stay within the spread. I feel like the Crimson Tide win by three touchdowns, at most.
Alabama 42, Ole Miss 24
Florida State v. No. 5 Notre Dame (-21) - 7:30 PM EST - NBC
Florida State trailed Jacksonville State early in the third quarter last week. If that doesn’t tell you how far the Seminoles have fallen off, I don’t know what will. At least the win snapped a four-game losing streak for Florida State, and earned Mike Norvell his first win as head coach at the school.
About the only thing to worry about when it comes to Notre Dame in this game is that they haven’t played since September 19th, when they shut out South Florida 52-0. There could be a little rust to knock off, but I don’t think it’ll matter all that much against a Florida State team that isn’t very good. Ian Book has to be envisioning putting up big numbers against a Seminole defense that is allowing nearly 280 yards per game through the air.
Three touchdowns is a lot to lay against a Florida State team that has talent. The problem for the Seminoles is they haven’t shown they are anywhere close to putting that talent together. Notre Dame is by far the more complete team and they have something to prove if they want to stay in conversation for the College Football Playoff. Expect a statement win from the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame 41, Florida State 17
No. 7 Miami (FL) v. No. 1 Clemson (-14) - 7:30 PM EST - ABC
The U may not be fully back yet, but they are certainly getting there. D’Eriq King has sparked the Hurricanes this year, really coming on in his last two starts to lead Miami to blowout wins over Louisville and Florida State. Running back Cam’Ron Davis has been just as impressive for the Hurricanes, rushing for 311 yards and five touchdowns through three games.
We know the cast of characters from Clemson, and so far this season Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, and the rest of the Tigers have effortlessly gone 3-0. Saturday night’s contest is by far the toughest opponent Clemson has played this year, but it’s a hurdle that championship teams should clear without too much of an issue.
Even though Clemson is at home and is the better team, I still think Miami keeps things respectable on Saturday night. I could see where Clemson builds a lead and allows a couple garbage time scores with their backups in which would push the spread in Miami’s favor. Somehow the Hurricanes end up covering this game.
Clemson 38, Miami (FL) 27