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September 2, 2017

There are three college football picks today! All were released yesterday, a day in advance.

 

#1: Take North Carolina State -5 spread against South Carolina for 3% of the bankroll.

The North Carolina State Wolfpack haven't gotten a lot of preseason love from the experts, but we believe this is the game that will start to change a lot of people’s minds. The NC State defense is projected to not only be one of the stoutest in the ACC, but should be one of the best in the country. They were absolutely suffocating a season ago, and this year they return 8 starters on defense, including one of the best in the nation in Bradley Chubb. A season ago Chubb collected 62 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks. NC State also features Justin Jones and B.J. Hill, who are also very talented players. There may not be a more talented front four in college football than this team and that will be in full display in this contest against a South Carolina offense that was one of the worst a season ago.

The Wolfpack also return star QB and veteran Ryan Finley under center. Finley has proven to be a consummate professional and while he has had the luxury of having a dynamic crew in the backfield, he has proven more than capable of shouldering the load on offense. Luckily, Finley won't be asked to do that as he has an extremely dynamic player in the backfield in Jalen Samuels. Samuels is arguably not only NC State’s best player but their most valuable as well. During his time with the Wolfpack, Samuels has lined up as a receiver, tight end, halfback, and fullback, and probably has been used in some other fashion. Last season, Samuels led the team with 55 receptions and seven touchdown catches, and was second with 565 receiving yards. He also ran for 189 yards on 33 carries and six touchdowns. With running back Matt Days gone, Samuels could be even more involved in the offense this year compared to a season ago. With such a versatile player, the Gamecocks are going to need to be aware of where he lines up on the field as he is the type of player that will make an opposing defense pay if he is no accounted for always.

The South Carolina Gamecocks appear to be a team on the rise and should improve from the 6-7 team they were a season ago in Will Muschamp’s first year at the helm. That being said, this is still an extremely young and raw team with players that are still looking to find their way and settle into their positions. We will see improvement this season, but we don’t believe it is going to happen in this game. The Wolfpack are being severely undervalued in this contest and could be one of the top teams in the ACC that no one is talking about just yet. The Wolfpack have a top tier defense and consistency at the QB position. Once they find their running game, this is going to be an incredibly dangerous team. We will see a preview of that in this contest. This may be a defensive battle in the early going, but NC State will pull away in the second half and come away with the win and cover.

 

#2: Take Arkansas State +14.5 spread against Nebraska for 3% of the bankroll.

This may seem like a David vs Goliath type matchup; however, we don't recommend sleeping on the Arkansas State Red Wolves and it would be a mistake for Nebraska to come into this contest looking past a team from the Sun Belt. Arkansas State may not be a team that many casual fans are familiar with, however, they are a team that is much better than the conference that they play in. They have gone 40-7 in conference play over the last 6 years and have been the conference champions in 5 of those seasons and are projected to dominate the conference once again this season as well.

The Red Wolves put up a modest 27.3 points per game a season ago, however with QB Justice Hansen returning, along with his top two RBs and top WR from last year, we expect the offense to take a step forward this season. Offense has not necessarily been what the Red Wolves have hung their hat on however, they are more of a defense-first type mindset. Last season this defense ranked 34th in the nation against the run, 51st against the pass and 19th in total yards allowed while giving up just 21.9 which was 19th in the land. This season they have the top rated defensive line and top rated linebacking corps in the league, while their secondary rates as 5th best. They have really recruited well on this side of the ball and it is starting to pay off.

Meanwhile, while Nebraska has a big-time name, they have lost a lot from a season ago. The Huskers have just 10 starters back and are ranked 126th in the nation in experience. On offense, they have just four starters back and must replace QB Tommy Armstrong, who was also the teams 2nd leading rusher. They also must replace leading rusher Terrell Newby and three of their top four receivers from last year. They are severely lacking at the skill positions and they are breaking in a new QB, so they really have some work to do on this side of the ball. Last year, they ranked 73rd in the nation in rushing, 86th in passing, 90th in total offense and 79th in scoring, putting up 26.5 points per game. Those are not great numbers and they will be hard-pressed to top them this year.

While playing in Lincoln is no easy feat, the Red Wolves have the defensive chops to hold the Cornhuskers offense in check while they are still figuring some things out. This is an incredibly tall number to ask Nebraska to cover against one of the top defenses in the country. The Red Wolves may not have to do much on offense in order to cover this number. We expect a low scoring game from both sides and that will be enough for Arkansas State to stay within this 2-touchdown spread.

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#3: Take BYU +15 spread against LSU for 3% of the bankroll.

The Taysom Hill era may be over at BYU, but the Tanner Mangum era is about to begin. Over the last few years BYU has been one of the biggest surprises in the country. The fact that they are an Independent allows them to play the highest level of competition and they have never been a team that looks to pad their records. They have proven to be a tough as they come, especially on the defensive side of the ball and we expect no different this season.

Offense has always been a weak point of the Cougars, especially with Hill under center due in part to his weak passing game. With Mangum now back under center, he is more of a prototypical pocket passer and that will be a different look for the Cougars in the passing game this season. The Cougars also come into this matchup with the advantage of having already played a game this season. BYU defeated Portland State 20-6, however they looked less than impressive in doing so. We believe second year head coach Kalani Sitake didn't want to reveal too much of their offense against a lesser opponent in anticipation of this matchup with LSU. We expect to see a much more dynamic Cougars team in this contest.

The LSU Tigers are a team that has been known for their defense, however they will be short stacked on that front for this contest. Arden Key is arguably the nation’s best pass rusher entering the 2017 season. Some around the SEC consider Key to be a better defensive end last season than former Texas A&M All-American Myles Garrett, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft. However, Key has been ruled out of this weekend’s game due to a lingering shoulder injury. This could be good news for Mangum as it should afford him a bit more time in the pocket tonight.

The Tigers are also not a team that has been known for their powerful offense. They have a bruising running back in Derrius Guice, however the passing game under Danny Etling is severely lacking. The Cougars strength on defense has always been stopping the run and that is something they are going to have to do in this contest. LSU is the better team on defense, but the Cougars should have the edge on the offensive side of the ball. We expect this to be a low scoring defensive affair and because of that, we believe the points will come into play.




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