Last week ATS: 6-4-2 (4-2 National, 2-2-2 B1G)
Season ATS: 35-29-2 (30-23 National, 5-6-2 B1G)
Any week over .500 is a good week. Really though, last week should have had a couple more wins. Not only did Purdue push against a depleted Illinois team, but Ohio State somehow only beat Penn State by 13 points and not 31 points.
Plenty is on the slate this week with one of the “games of the year” taking place in South Bend, even though it has been diminished a little without Trevor Lawrence. The Pac-12 is also back in action which will provide some more options the rest of the year instead of picking just SEC, Big 12, and ACC games all the time.
National games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
No. 9 BYU (-3) v. No. 21 Boise State - Friday 11/6 9:45 PM EST - FS1
Forgive me if I’m not buying into BYU this week. Who exactly have the Cougars played this year? I’ll give BYU a little credit for wins over Navy and Houston, but I’m going to hold off on giving the Cougars a shot at the College Football Playoff. I’m not even sure if Zach Wilson is all that good. I see people fawning over the BYU quarterback, but I feel like a lot of that is because he is able to pad his stats against some pretty weak teams.
Boise State doesn’t have nearly as many games under their belt this year, winning their first two contests of the year against Utah State and Air Force. Hank Bachmeier missed last week’s game against Air Force, but USC transfer quarterback Jack Sears stepped in and the Broncos didn’t miss a beat. Along with who starts at quarterback for Boise State, it will be interesting to see if running back George Holani is healthy enough to suit up on Friday night.
If you’re giving me the home team and points on the “Smurf Turf”, I’m taking that side every day of the week. BYU has played Boise State on the blue turf five times and have yet to beat the Broncos. I’ll gladly take a talented Boise State team to beat an overrated BYU squad.
Boise State 34, BYU 27
Arizona State v. No. 20 USC (-10.5) - 12:00 PM EST - FOX
USC has a lot of pieces returning this year, which could see them possibly make a run at the College Football Playoff. Sophomore Kedon Slovis has the opportunity to be the next great USC quarterback after tossing 30 touchdowns last year. Slovis should be able to put up big numbers again this year with quality targets Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown at wide receiver.
Arizona State has a great sophomore quarterback of their own in Jayden Daniels, who threw 17 touchdowns last year. Daniels showed the ability to make good decisions as a freshman, throwing just two interceptions. Even more pressure will be on Daniels this year after the Arizona State offense lost running back Eno Benjamin and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
I like a lot of what USC does, but there’s one thing about the Trojans that I can’t stand — head coach Clay Helton. I just don’t think he’s that good of a coach. I’d give USC a lot better chance to be a sleeper for the College Football Playoff if they didn’t have Helton at head coach. Maybe Helton will be able to build off last year’s season, I’m just not ready to believe it yet. Arizona State at least is able to keep things close in Saturday’s Pac-12 opener in Los Angeles.
USC 35, Arizona State 31
No. 8 Florida v. No. 5 Georgia (-3.5) - 3:30 PM EST - CBS
Not even COVID-19 can stop The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. This year’s rivalry isn’t short on storylines. Florida is coming off a 41-17 win over Missouri in their first game in three weeks after a loss to Texas A&M and the spread of coronavirus which two games to be moved to later in the season. While last week’s win was nice for the Gators, it was overshadowed by a brawl at halftime.
Georgia rebounded from a loss to Alabama a couple weeks ago with a very boring 14-3 win over Kentucky last week. The Bulldogs have a really good defense, but I’m not buying Georgia being one of the top-five teams in the country. Stetson Bennett is really good at throwing interceptions, and while Florida has struggled most of the year on defense, they have the athletes that could make some big plays against the Bulldogs.
The defense of the Bulldogs has taken a hit with the loss of Richard LeCounte, who was injured in a traffic accident. While Georgia can slow down Florida quarterback Kyle Trask, I don’t know if they can stop Trask without LeCounte. I’ll take the team that is more consistent of offense. Florida snaps a three-game losing streak to their rivals on Saturday.
Florida 27, Georgia 20
Houston v. No. 6 Cincinnati (-13.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
One of the few certainties in college football this year has been the Cincinnati Bearcats. Luke Fickell’s team has looked like one of the best teams in the country the last few weeks, dominating SMU and Memphis. The Bearcats should have little trouble this week against a Houston team that has struggled against better competition. After rushing for 179 yards against SMU, Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder showed off his arm last week, throwing for 271 yards and three touchdowns against Memphis.
If Cincinnati can shut down SMU and Memphis, I can’t see them having a problem holding something called a Clayton Tune and the rest of the Houston offense. The Bearcats know they have to win big the rest of the way to catch the eye of the College Football Playoff committee. Fickell and Marcus Freeman will have Cincinnati ready to go on Saturday. The Bearcats win by at least two touchdowns.
Cincinnati 38, Houston 17
No. 7 Texas A&M (-10) v. South Carolina - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN
South Carolina has had a little time to lick their wounds after LSU put it on them in Baton Rouge a couple weeks ago. The Gamecocks are a lot better in Columbia. The last time we saw South Carolina at home, they were able to beat Auburn for the first time in forever. Collin Hill and Shi Smith are a potent combo through the air, while Kevin Harris has been one of the best running backs in the SEC this year.
Aside from the loss to Alabama earlier in the season, Texas A&M has largely handled their business this year. The Aggies are still tough to trust to cover a spread of this size on the road. Between Kellen Mond and running back Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M should have the edge over South Carolina. Having said that, we still haven’t really seen the Aggies run away with a game this year. I’m not betting on them doing that on the road on Saturday night.
Texas A&M 38, South Carolina 31
Stanford v. No. 12 Oregon (-10) - 7:30 PM EST - ABC
Is anyone even left to play for Oregon this year? Offensive tackle Penei Sewell and defensive backs Brady Breeze, Jevon Holland, and Thomas Graham all opted out of this season. As if all that wasn’t hard enough to replace, also gone is quarterback Justin Herbert. That leaves Tyler Shough to try and fill the large void that Herbert left at quarterback.
After posting a 4-8 record last year, Stanford will be looking to bounce back from their worst season since 2008. The Cardinal don’t have a question at quarterback, as Davis Mills will line up under center for Stanford after throwing 241 passes last year. Stanford had their top offensive lineman also opt out of the 2020 season, as they will be without Walker Little.
Oregon is unquestionably the better team, I’m just not sure how long it will take the Ducks to get going in 2020. Stanford at least has a quarterback who is familiar with being out on the field, which could help their offense click early. The Cardinal have also had plenty of recent success in Eugene, winning three of the last four games on Oregon’s home turf. Stanford really makes the Ducks work to earn the win on Saturday night.
Oregon 31, Stanford 24
No. 1 Clemson (-6) v. No. 4 Notre Dame - 7:30 PM EST - NBC
Notre Dame has to be feeling blessed that they won’t have to try and slow down one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Clemson will be without Trevor Lawrence for the second straight game, again leaving D.J. Uigalelei to take the snaps for the Tigers. The freshman quarterback showed some stones in the second half last week against Boston College, leading Clemson back from a 28-13 halftime deficit to earn a 34-28 win.
Even though Notre Dame is undefeated on the season, find me a win that actually impresses you. Last week the Fighting Irish won at Georgia Tech 31-13. Clemson did the same a few weeks ago, 73-7. Ian Book is a solid quarterback, he just doesn’t show up in the big games. Book is 26-3 as a starter, with the losses coming to Clemson, Georgia, and Michigan.
If there was ever a time for Uigalelei to make his first start on the road, during a pandemic is a perfect time to do it. Obviously the crowd at Notre Dame Stadium won’t be what it normally is, which should make things a little easier for the freshman. It also doesn’t hurt that Uigalelei has Travis Etienne in the backfield with him to take some of the pressure away.
Uigalelei found his rhythm last week in the second half, and we should see even more progress this week. Clemson is able to navigate another game without Lawrence, beating Notre Dame by at least a touchdown.
Clemson 35, Notre Dame 24