Last week ATS: 7-5 (5-2 National, 2-3 B1G)
Season ATS: 63-51-2 (44-36 National, 19-15-2 B1G)
Another positive week for MC&J, and we aren’t talking about COVID. The start to last week was a little rough with a 2-2 Friday record, but we did enough on Saturday to pickup a couple more games on .500. With just a few weeks left in the regular season, we need a strong finish so we don’t erase any the gains we have made this year.
National games (all games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
No. 5 Texas A&M (-7) v. Auburn - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN
Normally this would be a game where I would tab Texas A&M to fall on their faces. This year has a little different feel. Texas A&M keeps piling up wins as they work their way towards the playoff, while Auburn feels like they are just playing out the stretch.
This game is going to be decided on third down. We saw something similar earlier this year when the Aggies played Florida. The Gators weren’t able to stop Texas A&M on third down, which allowed the Aggies to hand Florida their only loss of the season. Auburn’s defense is the worst in the SEC on third down, allowing conversions on over 50% of third downs.
Auburn was thoroughly dominated by Alabama last week. How will the blowout carry over to this week? I think the Tigers will still be feeling some of the effects when they square off with the Aggies this week. Texas A&M will control the clock against Auburn on Saturday, wearing down the defense of the Tigers and allowing for Kellen Mond and Isaiah Spiller to find some holes in the defense as the game goes on.
Texas A&M 27, Auburn 17
West Virginia v. No. 9 Iowa State (-6.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN
One of the biggest surprises in college football this year has been West Virginia. The Mountaineers are not only 5-3, but Neal Brown’s team has one of the best defenses in the country. West Virginia’s defense has been especially stingy lately, giving up a combined 29 points in their last three games.
The Mountaineers will have their work cut out for them on Saturday when they take on Brock Purdy, Breece Hall, and the rest of the Iowa State offense. Hall is working his way into being a contender for the Heisman Trophy, rushing for 1,260 yards and 16 touchdowns so far this season.
I’m going to go with a bit of a curveball here. West Virginia has a defense that is capable of bottling up the Iowa State offense. The offense of the Mountaineers isn’t too shabby either. Jarrett Doege has thrown for 13 touchdowns this year and running back Leddie Brown is working his way towards 1,000 yards rushing this year. The Mountaineers score their biggest win under Neal Brown.
West Virginia 24, Iowa State 21
No. 6 Florida (-17.5) v. Tennessee - 3:30 PM EST - CBS
Remember when this rivalry used to be one of the most entertaining in the country? Much like how Ohio State-Michigan is these days, now the rivalry is dominated by one side. Florida has won 14 of the last 15 meetings against Tennessee, with the only win by the Volunteers during that span coming in 2016.
Florida has been getting better as the season has progressed. Early on in the season, the Gators couldn’t stop anyone on defense. That hasn’t been the case lately, as Florida has allowed 17 points or less in three of their last five games. The improvement of the Gator defense has taken some of the pressure off the Florida offense, which has been outstanding this year.
I just don’t see how Tennessee is going to keep pace with Kyle Trask and the Florida offense. What really do the Volunteers have left to play for? I mean I guess they could play spoiler, but I don’t think they have the talent and coaching to pull the upset on Florida. Tennessee loses their third straight at home by at least 20 points.
Florida 41, Tennessee 17
No. 13 BYU (-10) v. No. 18 Coastal Carolina - 5:30 PM EST - ESPNU
This is one of the games that BYU needs to show they belong in the College Football Playoff race. While a win over Coastal Carolina won’t vault the Cougars into the top-4, it certainly should move them up at least a few spots with the win. Zach Wilson is primed for a big game against a defense that hasn’t seen anybody like him this year. Wilson has 34 total touchdowns this season.
Props to Coastal Carolina for scheduling BYU after Liberty wasn’t able to play this game because of COVID-19 issues. The decision will likely end the undefeated season of the Chanticleers, though. The BYU defense is nasty, which should allow them to hold Grayson McCall and the Coastal Carolina offense in check. The Chanticleers might hang around early because of the adrenaline from hosting such a big game, but the Cougars will eventually pull away.
BYU 38, Coastal Carolina 21
No. 23 Oregon (-10) v. California - 7:00 PM EST - ESPN
Remember when Oregon thought they had one of the best defenses in the country and were going to shutdown Ohio State? The Ducks couldn’t even slow down Oregon State, so it’s probably good Oregon didn’t play the Buckeyes this year or else the Ducks might have gotten embarrassed on their home turf. Oregon just gave up 226 yards to Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson in the upset loss to the Beavers.
Cal has to be feeling like they should be 2-1 right now. After falling to UCLA 34-10 in their season opener, the Golden Bears have lost their last two games by a combined five points. The Golden Bears are coming off a loss in which it looked like they were going to at least take Stanford to overtime, but Cal’s kicker missed the extra point.
Both teams are coming off deflating losses last week. I think we see Oregon come out firing on Saturday night. The Ducks still control their own destiny in the Pac-12 North and would make the conference title game with wins over Cal this week and Washington next weekend. Oregon’s offense is a little too potent for the Golden Bears to keep up with.
Oregon 34, California 20
No. 3 Clemson (-22) v. Virginia Tech - 7:30 PM EST - ABC
Things have gotten ugly in Blacksburg. The Hokies have lost three straight games, including an embarrassing 47-14 loss to Pitt a couple weeks ago. While the future of head coach Justin Fuente hasn’t been announced, it is becoming more and more likely there will be a new head coach at Virginia Tech next year.
Clemson saw Trevor Lawrence return to the field last week, and the game against Pitt went as expected. The Tigers jumped out to a big lead and never was threatened by the Panthers in the 52-17 victory. Now Clemson has one last hurdle before the ACC Championship Game, which will likely see them square off with Notre Dame again.
The weather in Blacksburg on Saturday night is supposed to be less than ideal, which could help the Hokies at least stay in the same zip code as Clemson. While there is a worry that Virginia Tech could have already quit on the season, I think they show up enough to keep this within a three touchdown game. Clemson isn’t in any danger of an upset, but they do take their foot off the gas a little earlier in this one.
Clemson 45, Virginia Tech 27
No. 10 Miami (FL) (-14.5) v. Duke - 8:00 PM EST - ACC Network
Prior to sitting on the sidelines the last three weeks, Miami had been living on the edge, winning their last three games by a combined nine points. Since losing to Clemson earlier in the season, D’Eriq King has found some rhythm behind center for the Hurricanes, throwing 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions in the last four games.
Miami’s turnover chain might get passed around a lot on Saturday. Duke quarterback Chase Brice has thrown 13 interceptions this season. Turnovers are a big reason why the Blue Devils are just 2-7 this year. Duke has been especially bad of late, allowing 56 points to both North Carolina and Georgia Tech.
After playing so many close games, Miami is due to blowout an opponent. The Hurricanes have had a few weeks off to recharge their batteries and get refocused. Miami will have some added motivation since they’ll likely be left out of the ACC Championship. Even though the Hurricanes won’t have a chance at the conference crown, they still could find themselves in a New Year’s Six bowl. Miami states their case with an easy win.
Miami (FL) 44, Duke 20
Washington State v. No. 20 USC (-13) - Sunday 12/6 7:30 PM EST - FS1
Since we so rarely get a Sunday college football game, I figured we pretty much had to include this one. Both teams have been on the sidelines recently because of COVID-19 issues, but everything seems good to go for Sunday night’s contest in Los Angeles.
The Cougars are coming off a 43-29 loss to Oregon a few weeks ago. While Washington State lost by two touchdowns, the game was closer than the score would indicate. Oregon scored a couple of fourth quarter touchdowns to swing the cover away from the Cougars and to the Ducks. Freshman Jayden de Laura has been solid in his first couple starts, throwing four touchdowns and just one interception.
USC looked a lot better in their last game than they did in their first two contests, beating Utah 33-17. Even though it looks like the Trojans might have fixed some things, we have to remember Utah was playing their first game of the year, so they weren’t all that sharp. I think Washington State gives USC a tougher game, especially with the revamped running game the Cougars are featuring.
USC 34, Washington State 27