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November 11, 2017

There are 6 picks today that were released early on Friday.

 

#1: Take Virginia Tech - 3 spread against Georgia Tech for 3% of the bankroll.

Both teams are looking to rebound from tough losses a week ago. Georgia Tech is coming off somewhat of a surprising loss to the Virginia Cavaliers while the Hokies gave it all they could but couldn't get much going against the Miami Hurricanes. While both teams suffered defeat, we believe the Yellow Jackets loss to Virginia is a much more telling story.

There is no secret what Georgia Tech's game plan is week in and week out. Paul Johnson's squad wants to run the football and they do it better than nearly every other team in the country. The problem with that is, Georgia Tech is a very one-dimensional offense. If their rushing attack is not working, then it makes things incredibly difficult for them to move the football. We have seen what quality defenses have been able to do to Georgia Tech this season and we believe this will be another showing of that. The Hokies are no strangers to defending the Triple-Option and they are very familiar with the style of play that Georgia Tech employs. The question becomes can the Hokies make enough stops to prevent the Rambling Wreck from running all over the place.

In terms of offense, we believe the edge lies with Justin Jackson and the Hokies. They have numerous weapons at their disposal and can move the ground just a well on the ground as they can through the air. The Yellow Jackets defense has been good this season, but their strength has truly been at stopping the run. Their coverage in the secondary has been suspect and that is due to their inability to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Justin Jackson has become proficient at moving around in the pocket and making plays happen on the move. His style of play should make things difficult for the Yellow Jackets front 7 and allow the Hokie receivers time to gain separation from the GT secondary.

We wouldn't look too much into the Hokies loss to Miami. This is still a young team and that was a high-profile primetime matchup on national television. Their inability to perform on the big stage shows just how much more work this young team has ahead of them, however, we believe they will be taking a step down in competition for this contest and should be able to play much more loose and free with little pressure on them.

The Triple-Option is tough for teams to defend, so we wouldn't be surprised if Georgia Tech was able to find some success early. Over the course of 4 quarters however, the Hokie defense should settle in and we expect their offense to find their groove. In the second half, Justin Jackson will make some plays and Virginia Tech will create enough separation on the scoreboard to come away with the win and cover.

 

#2: Take Georgia -2 spread against Auburn for 3% of the bankroll.

This matchup between the Georgia Bulldogs and Auburn Tigers is one of the marquee matches on the card and could have huge implications on the College Football Playoffs. Both teams play a similar style of offense focusing on a strong offensive line and a bruising running game. With both teams having similar styles, the quarterbacks could prove to be critical to the outcome. But this game features an interesting battle and slight contrast in styles between two first-year starters in the SEC.

Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham started his career at Baylor in 2015 and became the starter after a season ending injury to Seth Russell in late October. Stidham completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 1,526 yards and 13 scores in 10 appearances that year but left the program after Art Briles was dismissed prior to the 2016 season. Stidham spent last year at a junior college and did not participate in a football program. As expected, the sophomore won the starting job over Sean White this offseason and passed for 1,996 yards and 11 scores through the first nine games of the year.

Stidham is accurate (66.8 percent), has enough mobility to slide around in the pocket or scramble and brings the big arm that the offense lacked in 2016. The sophomore has connected on 17 throws of 30 yards or more this season, with 15 coming in SEC play. The issue that we see here is that in Auburn’s two losses, the sophomore only completed 22 of 50 throws for 244 yards and had a 44 percent completion rate. Auburn's losses have come against two of the top defensive units in the country in LSU and Clemson. Georgia is holding their opposition to just 11.7 points per contest. They are also holding opponents to just 4.2 yards per play, allow only 89 rushing yards a game and have surrendered three plays of 40 yards or more. Auburn has struggled with imposing defenses this season and this may be the best defense they have seen all season long.

On the other sideline, Georgia’s Jake Fromm has been the SEC’s top freshman in 2017. Jacob Eason opened the year as the starter but suffered a knee injury against Appalachian State that sidelined him for a couple of weeks. While Eason was on the mend, Fromm staked his claim for the starting job and never looked back. The true freshman is completing 63.3 percent of his throws for 1,459 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s tossed only four picks on 150 attempts and has 13 completions of 30 yards or more. Fromm hasn't been asked to do much this season given the strength of their ground game, but when his number has been called, he has certainly delivered.

Georgia’s offensive success this year has largely rested on its ground game and offensive line. The Bulldogs don’t need Fromm to throw for 300 yards to win on Saturday. However, with Auburn likely to load up against the run, the true freshman will likely be called up to throw and keep the defense off the line of scrimmage and convert on third downs So far, Fromm has aced every test since taking over the starting job, which includes a win over Notre Dame in South Bend. Saturday afternoon is his biggest test within the SEC since taking over as the starter, but we believe he will thrive in this sort of pressure environment.

Auburn will have the advantage of playing at home in front of their fans, however, Georgia is a battle-tested team who has passed every test put in front of them this season. This will be a tough test for the Bulldogs, but they have been playing lights-out on both sides of the ball this season and we expect them to find a way to win in what should be a competitive and extremely physical matchup.

 

#3: Take West Virginia +3 spread (buy the half point) against Kansas State for 3% of bankroll.

West Virginia and Kansas State have played some very close games in recent years. The past two seasons the games have been split and decided by one point each. The Wildcats won 24-23 in Manhattan in 2015 and last season, the Mountaineers returned the favor with a 17-16 victory. These two teams seem to like to play in close games, however, we believe the separation between these two teams this season are much greater than in years past.

Kansas State in Manhattan is always a tough out; however, they are not the same team that they have been in years past. They are a bruising team on the ground and use the threat of the run with both their backs and QB to set up the passing lanes down the field. Kansas State is a team that is not built to play from behind and therefore needs to keep games close in order to grind out wins. The Wildcats will have a wildcard at the quarterback position today. Alex Delton is out with injury, Jesse Ertz may play, but all signs point to freshman Skylar Thompson taking over the starting role. Ertz is a dual-threat QB while Delton was more of a running quarterback with no real threat of the pass. Thompson is a wildcard and plays a similar style of football to Ertz. He can run, he can throw, and he may add another wrinkle in Bill Snyder’s offense. That being said, he is still young and does not have a ton of in-game experience which could prove to be costly against a team as good as the Mountaineers.

The West Virginia Mountaineers are a team that is extremely balanced on both sides of the ball. They have a ferocious ground game and a lethal passing attack with Will Grier at the helm. Grier is quietly having an impressive season, even though we don’t believe he is getting the credit he deserves. Grier is ranked second in the nation in touchdown passes, fourth in points responsible for per game and passing yards per game, fifth in total offense, eighth in passing efficiency and yards per pass attempt, 11th in completions per game and No. 15 in passing yards per completion. The only quarterback in the country who is putting up better numbers is Baker Mayfield, who happens to be the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. Grier should be in line for a big afternoon in this contest. He has passed for at least 300 yards in all but two of the Mountaineers games this season and the Wildcats are ranked dead last in the conference in pass defense and has given up 400 yards to opposing quarterbacks in each of their last 3 games.

two teams know each other well and this could be a close game in the early going, however, there is no question that the Mountaineers are the better all-around team in this contest. They are coming off an impressive victory over a red-hot Iowa State team that had just taken down both Oklahoma and TCU this season. The forced Iowa State to become a one-dimensional team by taking away the run and forcing the QB to beat them with his arm. Kyle Kempt is proving to be a talented quarterback and if West Virginia was able to limit his ability through the air, that doesn’t bode well for a Kansas State team that doesn’t rely heavily on the pass. The oddsmakers made a mistake in this contest and favored the wrong team. West Virginia should win this game outright, but we’ll gladly take the free points as an added bonus.

 

#4: Take Alabama -13 spread against Mississippi St for 3% of the bankroll.

The Alabama Crimson Tide head to Starkville to take on the cow bells and square off with the Mississippi State Bulldogs in a primetime matchup.

There has been a lot of buzz around this particular matchup and rightfully so. Dan Mullen has done a great job down in Starkville and undoubtedly has his Bulldog team on the rise. That being said, the Alabama Crimson Tide are a team in a class of their own. They are as methodical as they come and have no glaring weakness on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball. They currently lead the SEC in both scoring offense and scoring defense, which makes it difficult for any opponent to have success against them.

Nick Fitzgerald is a solid quarterback. He is big, he is strong, and he is mobile. There has been a lot of talk about Fitzgerald being able to dissect this Alabama defense given the Tide's past struggles with mobile quarterbacks (Johnny Manziel, Deshaun Watson). We don't believe that Fitzgerald is on either of those QB’s levels. Fitzgerald has also had issues when facing top notch defenses this season. We saw both the Georgia Bulldogs and Auburn Tigers defenses have their way and completely shut down whatever Fitzgerald was trying to do. Now, going up against the best defense in the country and arguably the best college coach ever in Nick Saban, we wouldn't be surprised to see Fitzgerald struggle again.

This game is likely to be much more competitive than what we are used to see in an Alabama game, however, this is a reasonable spread for a Crimson Tide contest. Alabama is not a quick strike type of offense where they are going to put point on the board in a hurry. What they do do however, and do well, is they grind teams down while methodically putting points on the board for the full 4 quarters. They ground game is bruising and when opposing defenses start to get tired, Alabama begins marching up and down the field. We have seen it time and time again that Alabama simply creates separation the long the game goes on and that is what we believe they will do here tonight. Mississippi State will keep things close early on, however, as the game wears on the Tide will start to pull away on the scoreboard. Their defense will create pressure and turnovers and the Tide will go on to win this one by 2+ TDs.

 

#5: Take TCU +7 spread against Oklahoma for 3% of the bankroll.

There is no question that the Oklahoma Sooners have been rolling this season. Baker Mayfield is the best quarterback in the country and Oklahoma basically holds the keys to their own destiny in both the Big 12 and regarding the college football playoff. That being said, TCU is a team that offers a unique challenge to the Sooners. Over the past 5 years, since the Horned Frogs have joined the Big 12, these two teams have played in some classic wars. Last year’s game saw a thunderous TCU rally fall short. It also left head Horned Frog Gary Patterson feeling like his team got jobbed, and it’s in his nature to hold a grudge. Not only will the Horned Frogs have the added motivation of gaining revenge for last year's meeting, but a win over the Sooners will certainly strengthen their case for receiving a bid to the CFP as well.

As good as Oklahoma has been this season, their defense has been a cause for concern this season and they have been far from the bulletproof team in the past in Norman, OK. The Horned Frogs’ have a ton of weapons at the skill positions will undoubtedly test OU’s shoddy defense, which has to play shorthanded. OU’s secondary will be missing safety Kahlil Haughton for the entire game and safety/nickelback Will Johnson for the first half in conjunction with a targeting penalty versus the Cowboys. Cornerback Jordan Thomas may be hobbled as well, and he was already being picked on relentlessly when healthy. As many as three true freshmen could end up seeing significant time at defensive back on Saturday night and expect offensive coordinator, Sonny Cumbie, to test them early and often in this contest.

The Sooners’ main edge is at the quarterback position. They have possibly the best player in the country under center. That being said, this will arguably be the best defense that Mayfield and company have seen this season and the TCU D is built specifically to slow down teams like the Sooners. they were able to neutralize the high-powered Oklahoma State offense and we believe they will find a way to do the same to Mayfield.

There is no question that TCU’s QB, Kenny Hill, has a reputation for cratering at inopportune times and everyone has been waiting for that to happen again this season. Hill has demonstrated greater maturity and poise this season than he has in the past. Betting on him to fall apart is a riskier proposition nowadays, and the Sooners probably need Hill to commit some mistakes if they want to sew up a win. TCU has all the pieces necessary to knock off OU and will do so if Hill can keep it together. We believe this spread is more based on the hype of Oklahoma that it is about what TCU brings to the table. Either team is capable of winning this matchup, but we don't believe either would be able to win by more than a touchdown. The last 5 meetings between TCU and OU have been decided by an average of 4 points. We believe we'll see something similar tonight in which case the points will prove to be valuable.

 

#6: Take Notre Dame -3 spread against Miami for 3% of the bankroll.

The Miami Hurricanes have a lot of momentum behind them heading into this contest. They have found ways to win games and are currently undefeated on the season. Miami has been fortunate to make the big plays when needed and a couple of scores on the final drives of games have granted them victories. They very easily could have come into this game with 2 or 3 losses and there would be a much different perception of this Miami team. We believe their luck will run out in this contest tonight.

Notre Dame has had somewhat of a program resurgence this season and are playing the type of football that had been synonymous with Notre Dame in years past. Brandon Wimbush continues to get better with each snap, the unquestioned strength of Notre Dame’s offense is its ground attack and offensive line. The Fighting Irish are pounding opponents for 324.8 rushing yards per game this season, with rushers averaging an impressive 7.04 yards per carry. Junior running back Josh Adams is having a terrific season and has rushed for 1,191 yards and nine touchdowns on 137 carries, averaging 132.3 per contest and 8.7 a carry. He also leads all players at the FBS level with seven rushes of 60 yards or more in 2017. Left tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Quenton Nelson anchor the offensive line, which is one of the best in college football through the first 11 weeks of the season. In addition to the success of the offensive line in clearing the way for rushers, this unit has allowed only 14 sacks in nine games.

Brandon Wimbush has experienced his share of ups and downs in his first year as the starter. Wimbush has struggled with his accuracy (51.5 percent) but has taken care of the ball (two picks) and passed for 1,286 yards over eight starts. While Wimbush is still developing as a passer, he’s an impact runner and a solid complement to Adams on the ground. The sophomore has rushed for 639 yards and 13 touchdowns this year, averaging 6.3 per carry. Additionally, he’s posted four games of 100 or more yards, including 207 in a win against Boston College.

The goal for Miami should be simple. They will need to stop the run. It likely that Notre Dame won’t hit its normal production on the ground against Miami’s defense, and Wimbush will have to connect on throws early to keep the Hurricanes off balance. IF he can do that, it will put a ton of pressure on Miami and will eventually wear down the defense opening up the running lanes. Notre Dame has been finding ways to win games and do so convincingly this season. Wimbush is getting better with each snap, and we expect him to be the difference in the second half. In what should be a close game, we expect Notre Dame to make the plays needed to come away with another convincing win tonight.




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