Last week ATS: 7-5 (1-5 National, 6-0 B1G)
Season ATS: 47-42-2 (34-32 National, 13-10-2 B1G)
Picks for Indiana-Ohio State, Wisconsin-Northwestern, and the rest of the week’s Big Ten action can be found here.
Appalachian State v. No. 15 Coastal Carolina (-5) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN2
Coastal Carolina has been one of the surprises of college football this year. The Chanticleers are in just their fourth season of FBS football, and this is the first season in which they have won more than five games. Redshirt freshman quarterback Grayson McCall has been terrific for Coastal Carolina, tossing 16 touchdowns and just one interception this season.
Appalachian State has been the beast of the Sun Belt lately, earning at least a share of the conference championship in each of the last four years. That run could be coming to an end, though. Not only will the Mountaineers be without running back Daetrich Harrington, but there is a possibility quarterback Zac Thomas also won’t play, as Thomas is in concussion protocol after a hit he took last week.
This is a game where Appalachian State can’t afford to not be at full strength. Coastal Carolina can smell blood in the water, and the Chanticleers know a win will get them one step closer to their first conference title. Jamey Chadwell’s team has been balanced and disciplined on both sides of the football, which is surprising for a team that is still so new to FBS play. Coastal Carolina wins by at least a touchdown.
Coastal Carolina 30, Appalachian State 20
No. 7 Cincinnati (-6) v. UCF - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN
If anyone can keep pace with Cincinnati offensively in the American, it certainly is UCF. The question is can the Knights get enough stops on defense to pull the upset? Dillon Gabriel continues to put up big numbers at quarterback for UCF, tossing 23 touchdowns and just two interceptions this year. The Knights are averaging over 615 yards of offense per game this year, and have scored at least 38 points in each of the last four games.
Cincinnati has already had some practice at slowing down the high flying teams in the conference. The Bearcats held Memphis and SMU to a combined 23 points, and so far this season the only team Cincinnati has given up more than 17 points to was in the season opener against Austin Peay. Desmond Ridder might not be quite as skilled through the air as Gabriel, but the quarterback has improved his ground game this year, rushing for nine touchdowns in 2020.
It’s very tempting to take UCF as the unranked underdog at home against an undefeated team. I just can’t do it though. I know that at some point Cincinnati is going to play a game that goes down to the wire. This isn’t that week. The Bearcats will use their running game to hold onto the football and slow down the high-octane offense of the Knights. Cincinnati doubles the number of interceptions Gabriel has thrown this season and ends up winning by double digits.
Cincinnati 44, UCF 31
UCLA v. No. 11 Oregon (-17.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN2
This is more of a play because there is doubt that UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson will be available to play because of COVID-19 concerns. If Thompson-Robinson isn’t able to go, it will leave the game in the hands of redshirt freshman Chase Griffin. We already saw what Oregon is able to do against a backup quarterback after Davis Mills wasn’t able to play in the season opener.
The UCLA defense is going to be on their heels all game long. The Ducks can move the football both through the air and on the ground. Quarterback Tyler Shough is gaining more confidence behind center for Oregon, while running backs C.J. Verdell and Troy Dye are racking up yardage on the ground. This game shouldn’t be all that close, as Oregon shows no mercy against former head coach Chip Kelly.
Oregon 45, UCLA 20
Tennessee v. No. 23 Auburn (-11) - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN
Tennessee had people fooled for a couple weeks. After opening the season with wins over South Carolina and Missouri, many were asking if Tennessee was BACK? The Vols most certainly aren’t. After starting the season 2-0, Tennessee has been outscored 150-58. Jarrett Guarantano is looking like his isn’t the answer at quarterback for the Vols, which could lead Jeremy Pruitt to turn to freshman Harrison Bailey.
Auburn was facing some questions after a stretch that saw the Tigers lose to Georgia and South Carolina, while narrowly beating Arkansas and Ole Miss. The Tigers quieted some of those questions with a 48-11 destruction of LSU a couple weeks ago. Tank Bigsby has shouldered a lot of the load recently for Auburn, rushing for five touchdowns in the last three games. Bigsby should be in for another big day against a Tennessee defense that is giving up 160 yards per game on the ground.
While both teams have been infuriating to get a handle on, Auburn shouldn’t have much of a problem in this game. Tennessee has looked lost after their 2-0 start, and a trip to Jordan-Hare isn’t going to make things any easier. Bigsby wears the Tennessee defense down, which will open things up for Bo Nix to make some easy throws and pad the lead later in the game.
Auburn 38, Tennessee 17
No. 21 Liberty v. NC State (-3.5) - 7:30 PM EST - ESPN3
Let’s get really wild here. Liberty has already won two games against ACC teams this year, so why not make it a third? NC State has been atrocious on defense this year, which should play right into the hands of what Hugh Freeze and the Flames want to do. Liberty’s Malik Willis might be one of the best players you haven’t heard of, as the quarterback has throwing for 1,645 yards and 15 touchdown, while adding 700 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.
This game has the potential to be one of the best games of the weekend. Liberty wins a high-scoring battle and claims their third victory of the season against an ACC team. Maybe we should get the Flames to battle Coastal Carolina for a spot in the playoff? Now that would be something.
Liberty 44, NC State 41
No. 14 Oklahoma State v. No. 18 Oklahoma (-7) - 7:30 PM EST - ABC
Earlier in the year Oklahoma State was probably thinking they had a really good shot to beat their rival in Bedlam. That doesn’t quite look like the case now. The Cowboys are coming off an unimpressive 20-18 win over Kansas State, and could potentially be missing running back Chuba Hubbard and wide receiver Tylan Wallace, who haven’t been able to practice because of injuries.
After a start to the season that saw them lose two of their first three games, Oklahoma has righted the ship. The Sooners have won four straight games, and scored 62 points in their last two contests. Quarterback Spencer Rattler hasn’t had to do a whole lot lately, as running back Rhamonde Stevenson has returned after a suspension. Stevenson has rushed for 191 yards and five touchdowns over the last two weeks.
Even though there still is concerns about Oklahoma’s defense, right now Oklahoma State can’t get their offense right. Between injuries to Hubbard and Wallace, as well as inconsistent play from quarterback Spencer Sanders, it’s hard to trust the Cowboys right now. Oklahoma continues working their way towards the Big 12 title game with an impressive win over their rival.
Oklahoma 42, Oklahoma State 24
No. 20 USC (-2.5) v. Utah - 10:30 PM EST - ESPN
If Utah had at least a game under their belt this year, I’d probably be siding with the Utes here. Not only will Utah have to knock off some rust in this game, but they’ll also be trying to replace some of the departed key pieces from last year’s team, most notably in the secondary.
Even though USC is 2-0, this season has to be frustrating to watch for Trojans fans. USC should be playing better football instead of needing comebacks late in the fourth quarter to earn wins over Arizona State and Arizona. Not only do the Trojans know just how tough a team Utah is, they also know how hard it is to go to Salt Lake City and leave with a win.
The difference in this game will be USC being crisper on the field. The Trojans know they can’t keep letting games go down to the wire, or else they are eventually going to get burnt. Kedon Slovis has another big day as he takes advantage of the Utes trying to find some new pieces in the secondary.
USC 34, Utah 27