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September 17, 2016

There are a total of 4 college football picks on Saturday! All were released earlier this week.

#1: Take Appalachian St. +4 spread (buy half a point) against Miami Florida for 3% of the bankroll.

This is a huge matchup for the Appalachian State Mountaineers and their chance to prove themselves against a Power 5 conference opponent. There is no question that the Miami Hurricane is the more known program, however it would be a mistake to overlook the Mountaineers in this matchup, especially in this venue.

Kidd Brewer Stadium has proven to be an extremely tough place for opposing teams to play. The Mountaineers are 77-15 in this stadium over their last 95 games and this will be the first time a Power 5 opponent has made the trip to Boone, NC. This is a venue that typically sits around 30,000 people, however they are expecting a record setting crowd for this contest. There is no question that the "Rock" will certainly be rocking and that could prove to be quite the distraction for the visitors, especially considering this is Miami first true road test of the season.

Appalachian State is a very underrated program and have shown many times that they are capable of standing toe-to-toe with nearly any team in the country. This is the same program who went into the Big House and knocked off Michigan a number of years ago. This season, the Mountaineers have already given the Tennessee Volunteers all they could handle on the road in the season opener and arguably should have won that game. Now playing at home, we expect the Mountaineers to get their manner of revenge and pick up a win over a Power 5 opponent.

Miami is 2-0 on the season, however they certainly haven't played like a dominant team. especially against lesser foes. A big part of their success has been their defense and their ability to rush the passer. They are currently ranked #1 in the country in sacks and tackles for loss. That being said, We don't believe their pass rush will help them in this contest as App State is primarily a running team. The Mountaineers have perfected the use of the sweep and stretch running plays which are used to separate a defense and force defenders to make one-on-one tackles in the field. Their heavy use of the running game, opens up room for Taylor Lamb to throw the ball downfield. While their offense is certainly good, the staple of this program has been their defense.

Despite being a smaller school from the Sun Belt Conference, Appalachian State has a very physical and athletic defensive line. The Mountaineers gave Tennessee’s offensive line everything it could handle in the season opener giving up only 127 yards rushing on 43 carries. They also sacked Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs twice and recorded five tackles for a loss. Appalachian State’s defense features plenty of experience with nine returning starters. The player that the Hurricanes will need to keep their eye on is strong-side defensive end Antonius Sims. In two games, Sims has seven tackles, three sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss. Miami also will need to account for Caleb Fuller, who has two tackles for a loss and a sack.

This is the biggest game is program history and we believe the Mountaineers will be extremely motivated and ready to pull off the upset. These players believe they can win this contest and so do we. Miami is a talented team, but we expect that App State will want this victory more and be the more aggressive team. Even if the talent of Miami proves to be too much for the Mountaineers, we believe this will be a very close game, with the points likely coming into play.

#2: Take Western Michigan -3 spread against Illinois for 3% of the bankroll.

This is an interesting matchup as not only does it pit a team from a much more recognized Power 5 conference (Big 10) against an opponent from the much smaller MAC, but we also find it interesting that the MAC team is in fact favored and favored on the road no less. While it certainly is an interesting situation, we do, in fact, believe it is warranted.

Western Michigan is an incredibly balanced team on both sides of the ball and have improved each season under HC PJ Fleck. The Broncos were the preseason favorite to win the MAC this season and so far, they have lived up to expectations. They are 2-0 on the season and even already hold a road win against a BIG 10 opponent as they defeated the Northwestern Wildcats in week 1 of the season.

The Broncos could have been in a letdown spot after their defeat of Northwestern, however they came on the field the following week and complete lit up NCCU 70-21. It was the ideal matchup for them as they faced an inferior opponent to avoid the flat spot. They now should have confidence heading into this matchup with Illinois, knowing that they have already had success against a Power 5 team and will look to do it again.

The Broncos are a very balanced team on both sides of the ball and have veteran playmakers who have shown the ability to step up when needed. Zach Terrell is arguably the best QB in the league not in a Power 5 conference. He has made great decision with the football already this season and has an explosive and sure-handed receiver in Corey Davis at his disposal. He also has a duo of RB in the backfield in Jarvion Franklin and Jamuri Bogan. Bogan has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in three straight games dating back to last season and has already rushed for 234 yards and 2 scores this year. The Broncos have numerous weapons at their disposal and that should keep the Illinois offense on its heels from the early going.

Illinois may play in the Big 10 conference however they are a team that is still trying to find its identity. The program went out and hired former NFL HC Lovie Smith to help bring some experience and stability to the program and while we believe Love will eventually do that, it will likely take his team a couple of weeks, if not this season to completely buy into his coaching philosophies. Illinois started the season 1-0, however things took a turn for the worse when they took a step up in competition and faced UNC.  The Illinois defense gave up 265 yards through the air and 197 yards on the ground in that contest! The Tar Heels are going through a number of changes as well this season, which shows just how questionable the Illini's defense is. Against a team as balanced and experienced as the Bronco's, we believe they should have similar success in their matchup.

While it is a little unnerving back a smaller conference team as a favorite on the road, we do believe that Western Michigan is the better overall team and will likely come into this contest more motivated as they are the team that has much more to prove. This is Western Michigan's chance to once again shine against a Power 5 opponent and prove that their victory over Northwestern was not a fluke. Laying a field goal are reasonable odds as we believe the Broncos win this by 6 or more.

#3: Take Oregon +3 spread against Nebraska for 3% of the bankroll.

This is likely going to be one of the more entertaining games on the card for those who like offense. Both Nebraska and Oregon have been lighting up the scoreboard this season and we are expecting that no much will change for this contest. That being said, there are few teams in the country that have the ability to survive a shootout with the Ducks. Oregon is a team that like to play fast and as a result of that, they can score quickly. Six of the Ducks' 7 scoring drives last week against Virginia took 3:15 or less off the clock. The only drive that took longer was a 10 play, 99-yard drive which took 4:28. This is a team that has the ability to move the ball quickly down the field and that will surely test the Nebraska defense.

There is no shortage of talent on this Ducks squad either. After losing Vernon Adams in the offseason after just 1 year, the Ducks went out and signed FCS Montana gun slinger Dakota Prukop. Prukop is starting to make a name for himself within the conference and is 42 of 61 passing for 602 yards, 6 TDs and zero interceptions. In the backfield is Royce Freeman who has led the charge and has rushed 32 times for 294 yards and 4 scores. The Duck receiving corps has also shown their experience with Tony Brooks-James and Darren Carrington leading the way. The Ducks can hurt teams both on the ground and through the air and we believe their speed is going to keep the Huskers off-balance all game long.

While Nebraska may be 2-0 on the season and coming off back-to-back blowout victories over Fresno State and Wyoming, this is a huge step up in competition for them now facing Oregon. It should be known that Nebraska's victories weren't as impressive as the overall score indicates as they were actually fairly close games before the Huskers pulled away in the 4th quarter. In both games, Nebraska has managed to outscore their opponents 50-0 in the 4th through 2 contests. While that shows that the team certainly stepped up in the most critical point in the game, the fact that they allowed their inferior opponents to stick around and could not capitalize on their early mistakes. Oregon is not a team that will be as forgiving as Fresno or Wyoming. Nebraska will need to bring their best efforts early on in the contest and up until this point we have yet to see them do that.

The oddsmakers have listed a fairly high total for this matchup so it appears that they are expecting a shootout. If that is indeed the case, the edge would have to be given to the Oregon Ducks. They are the team that has shown the offensive explosiveness to score nearly at will and with the game on the line, we trust them much more than we do the Huskers. Nebraska is only the favorite in this matchup because the game is being played in Lincoln and even with that, we feel that this price is a bit inflated. Nebraska's 4th quarter magic falls short in this contest as the Ducks go on to win this contest outright.

#4: Take BYU +4 spread (buy half a point) against UCLA for 3% of the bankroll.

The BYU Cougars currently sit at 1-1 on the season, however they could very easily be 2-0. Taysom Hill scored what would have been the game-tying touchdown late in the 4th quarter and instead of tying and going into overtime, HC Kalani Sitake made the decision to go for the win and go for the 2-point conversion. Hill took the keeper and was stuffed at the goaline and the Utes won the game by a single point. It was a heart-breaking loss for the Cougars and we expect them to use that as motivation in this contest.

BYU has played an extremely tough schedule to open of the season having back-to-back road games against both Arizona and Utah. They now return home to Provo in what will be their home opener. Provo is an extremely tough place to play for opposing teams and BYU enjoys quite the advantage with the game being played in altitude. The UCLA Bruins came into this season highly hyped up by the media due to the expectations placed on QB Josh Rosen. The Bruins struggled in their lone road game this season against Texas A&M and we wouldn't be surprised to see a repeat performance of that in this contest.

Rosen has been less than sharp thus far this season and because of that HC Jim Mora has elected to call a much more run oriented game plan. While that may have worked in UCLA's most recent contest, the Cougars defense has been lights out this season, especially against the run. The Cougars defense have already forced their opponents into 8 turnovers this season and UCLA hasn't exactly been protective of the football committing 4 turnovers themselves in the first two contests! This is also a revenge game for BYU as these two teams met last season in an extremely close contest. UCLA managed to escape the Rose Bowl with a 24-23 victory. In that contest Josh Rosen went just 11 of 23 for 106 yards and 3 interceptions. BYU dominated the stat sheet in that contest, but somehow managed to come up just short on the scoreboard. There is no question the players remember that contest and would like nothing more than to get revenge on UCLA and should have a great chance to do that with this game now being played on their home field.

The Cougars have struggled somewhat on the offensive end of the football as Taysom Hill continues to get back into game form. Hill has looked more and more comfortable in each game he has played and should come into this contest once again looking to take the next step. He is a dangerous runner and has showed poise in the pocket. If Hill does struggle, there is always Tanner Magnum who is sitting on the sidelines, ready to come in and perhaps give a spark to this offense. BYU is a team that has shown their penchant to play in closely contested matchups and we don't expect this contest to be any different. UCLA is by far the 'more hyped' team, however BYU has shown their ability to rise to the occasion and contend with anyone. They have had the tougher schedule thus far and are the more battle tested team. They will be steaming after last week's narrow loss and we expect them to take their frustrations out on the Bruins.

The oddsmakers continue to undervalue the Cougars this season and we will gladly take the points in a game that we believe BYU wins outright. Even if they happen to fall short, UCLA should not win this by more than a field goal.

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