September 23, 2017
There are seven picks today.
#1: Take NC State +10.5 spread against Florida State risking 3% of the bankroll.
The Florida State Seminoles are a team that has become synonymous with winning for the better part of a decade and have been the top of the class in the ACC for much of that time., however, we believe the oddsmakers have truly missed the mark on this matchup.
Florida State was given a huge blow in the opening game of the season when starting quarterback Deondre Francois was lost for the season due to injury. While the Noles can still go on to have a solid season, given their proficiency on defense, the fact that they will have a rookie caller under center, surely limits the offensive capabilities of this team, especially against an NC State defense that has one of the best defensive fronts in all of college football.
Coach Jimbo Fisher has expressed a lot of confidence in James Blackman, but he’s yet to attempt a pass in a game and did not enroll in the spring to compete for the backup job. Hurricane Irma also left the Seminoles on the sidelines for the last couple of weeks and have not taken the field in an actual game since their matchup with Alabama in Week 1. With a rookie quarterback and some rust building up, it's hard to believe that Florida State will be firing on all cylinders from the onset.
Heading into the season, Florida State's offensive lines was a big question mark and their performance against the Crimson Tide wasn't an encouraging one. NC State’s defensive front is among the best in the nation and has generated six sacks, 19 tackles for a loss and ranks third in the ACC against the run. Defensive end, Bradley Chubb, is an All-American player and he is not the only one who can rush the quarterback. Fellow ends Kentavius Street and Darian Roseboro are capable of getting to the quarterback, with tackles B.J. Hill and Justin Jones clogging the interior of the line. NC State has faced 93 rushing attempts through the first three games and has limited opponents to just 2.9 yards per rush. There is no question that Florida State will look to lean on the ground game in the early going in order to get Blackman comfortable in the pocket. That being said, in last year’s matchup, NC State held Florida State to just 63 yards on 24 attempts and that was with the dynamic Dalvin Cook in the backfield. If the Wolfpack can have similar success in this matchup and limit the ground game, that will put a tremendous amount of pressure on Blackman in the pocket.
The Wolfpack will have an edge in quarterback play with Ryan Finley, who is off to a great start to the season. The junior ranks second among league passers, averaging 329 passing yards per game and has tossed six touchdowns to zero interceptions. Additionally, Finley’s 75.6 completion percentage ranks No. 1 among ACC quarterbacks. Helping Finley get off to a fast start has been a standout offensive line, along with an emerging group of receivers. Kelvin Harmon (24 catches) and Stephen Louis (16) are two playmakers poised for a big season on the outside. Finley’s favorite target, however has been all-purpose threat Jaylen Samuels. The senior has caught 26 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 38 yards and three scores on eight attempts. Samuels is a player that has the ability to play multiple possessions and can line up anywhere on the field. The Florida State defense will need to be sure to account for Samuels at all times, or could find themselves exposed down the field.
Florida State has arguably the more talented overall team; however, we don't believe they are going to try to get too creative with a rookie quarterback under center. they will likely lean on their ground game and try to shorten this game which will make breaking away on the scoreboard that much tougher. NC State has the quarterback and the talent to pull off the upset and we wouldn't be surprised if they did just that. Blackman is a wildcard and could light the world on fire, however, we believe it is more likely that NC State continues their solid play on defense and gives their offense and opportunity at the end. Either team is capable of winning this matchup, but we believe the points are where the value resides.
#2: Take Army +3 spread against Tulane risking 3% of the bankroll.
This is another matchup where we believe the oddsmakers have put too much stock into a team’s performance a week ago. Last week the Tulane Green Wave took on the Oklahoma Sooners and after the first quarter of action, it was tied 14-14. The Green Wave actually managed to move the ball and nearly score at will in the first quarter, however, it was short lived as the Sooners then did whatever they wanted to Tulane enroute to a blowout victory. While Tulane may have lost, there is no question that the fact that they put 14 points up on the team that just throttle the Ohio State Buckeyes one-week prior, got a lot of people's attention. It's that attention which we believe will lead to their backers' downfall in this contest.
Like their opponents, the Army Black Knights were crushed in their most recent contest and were in the unenviable position of facing the Ohio Buckeyes straight off their defeat to the Oklahoma Sooners. That loss was no surprise and it was pretty much expected to go the way that it did. This week however, the Black Knights are back to competition at their own level and we believe we'll see a bounce back performance with a Knights team that is still 5-1 in their last 6 games dating back to last season.
These two teams are incredibly similar as both rely heavily on the run and option play as their main method of moving the football. They only thing with that is that Army is better at it. As it stands and even with their poor performance against Ohio State, Army is still ranked second in the league in rushing offense. They run the wishbone option to near perfection and Tulane will need to play disciplined defense (which they typically do not) in order to slow down the Cadets attack.
Army is not a team that passes the ball very often, or is very proficient with the pass and while that is concerning, that has not seemed to matter since they managed to run their rushing offense extremely efficiently. There is a reason this team has won 5 straight prior to their loss this past week. Tulane is not as good a team as they showed early on in the Sooners' contest and we believe they will come back to reality in this contest as Army is able to control the clock and the chains with their ground game and manages to come away with the outright victory. Even if they happen to fall short, we don't believe Tulane will have a dominating performance and this one could end up being decided by a late field goal. The value is with the underdogs in this contest.
#3: Take Toledo +14 spread (buy the half point) against Miami risking 3% of the bankroll.
This is a matchup that could easily be overlooked by the casual fan, but one that we believe could prove to be one of the most entertaining on the entire card. There is no question that the Miami Hurricanes are the more well-known and established programs, however we need to make it known that it would be a mistake to sleep on these Toledo Rockets.
Toledo is one of the most underrated programs in the country and quarterback Logan Woodside is arguably one of the most underrated quarterbacks in college football. He currently ranks 11th in the nation in passing yards (1,004) and tied for 11th with eight passing touchdowns. Woodside leads a Toledo offense that ranks 16th nationally in scoring offense with 46.0 points per game through three games. In the Rockets' 54-51 comeback victory against Tulsa, Woodside tied a school record with six touchdown passes. IT would be a mistake to overlook or underestimate that kind of production.
It's important to mention that this will be just Miami's second game of the season and their first since Week 1 where they took on Bethune Cookman. In that matchup back on Week 1, the Miami’s defense gave up 350 yards of total offense and 13 points and allowed the Wildcats to convert 8-of-17 third-down attempts. With nearly 2 weeks off since that performance and no further game time reps under their belts, a performance like they had in Week 1 in this contest, could leave themselves wide open for the upset against an offensive minded program like Toledo.
There is no question that this will be the best defense that the Rockets have faced this season, but with Woodside at the helm, their offense can certainly never be counted out. Miami may find a way to break this game open at some point, however, we don't believe the Rockets will ever find themselves too far out of the game to make a comeback. 2 touchdowns is simply too many points to spot this team and even if it happens to come in garbage time, after Miami has put the game away, we expect Toledo to score enough to stay within this vastly generous point spread.
#4: Take Purdue +10.5 spread against Michigan risking 3% of the bankroll.
This matchup could prove to be one of the more entertaining on the entire care and could be a surprise to those who have not paid close attention to what head coach Jeff Brohm and the Boilermakers have done through three weeks of the season. After a close opening loss to Louisville, Purdue has rattled off consecutive wins, including an absolute mauling of Missouri last week in Columbia. As for the Jim Harbaugh led Michigan Wolverines, they have put together back-to-back uninspiring performances in wins over Cincinnati and Air Force at home. If Michigan has another lackluster performance in this matchup, they may not be as lucky to come out of their conference opener with a victory.
With head coach Jeff Brohm coming over from Western Kentucky, the immediate expectation was that the Purdue offense would be drastically improved over years past. Brohm’s WKU offenses averaged just under 45 points per game during his three seasons with the Hilltoppers. That said, it is the defense that has been the more impressive side of the ball to start the season for Purdue. In three games, the Boilermakers have allowed just six offensive touchdowns, three of which came in the opener against Louisville with Lamar Jackson under center. Purdue was exceptional last week on the road against a potent Missouri offense which scored over 70 points in their season opener, out of the end zone altogether. Given Michigan's struggles on the offensive side of the football this season, points could prove hard to come by for Big Blue in this contest.
The Michigan struggles in the red zone this season have been well documented to this point. While the Wolverines have scored points in nine out of their 10 trips inside the 20-yard line, thanks in large part to kicker Quinn Nordin, the offense has scored just a single touchdown. Quarterback Wilton Speight has struggled mightily, completing just 1 of 13 passes for seven yards in the red zone. On the other side, Purdue has been perfect with 13 scores in 13 tries in the red zone, including 10 touchdowns. Quarterback David Blough has been especially good throwing the football in the red zone, completing 12 of 13 passes with four touchdowns. If these trends continue this week, the Boilermakers will have an excellent shot at pulling the upset.
Michigan is unquestionably the favorite in this contest and it's hard to trust a Purdue team that has been mediocre season after season, however, something must give in this contest. This will be the sternest test for both teams thus far this season and we believe this is the contest where we find out exactly how good this Wolverine's defense truly is. We expect a closely contested matchup in this one and wouldn't be completely surprised if Purdue managed to shock the wolverines and pull off the outright victory. That being said, we believe the points have the most value in this contest and recommend siding with them.
#5: Take Mississippi State +4 spread against Georgia risking 3% of the bankroll.
The battle of the Bulldogs is going to be an interesting one tonight, however, we believe it's the Bulldogs from Mississippi State that hold the advantage.
Both teams are undefeated on the season, however the Georgia Bulldogs, we believe, are the more one-dimensional team. Georgia relies heavily on the run behind Nick Chubb and Sony Michele. They have one of the most talented backfields in the country, however, they will be facing one of the best defenses in the country in stuffing the run in this contest. Mississippi State is limiting opponents to 101 rushing yards per game and an impressive 2.6 yards per carry. Coach Dan Mullen’s defense has been especially active around the line of scrimmage so far with 20 tackles for a loss. Last week this defense held standout LSU running back Derrius Guice to just 76 yards on the ground. Sophomore Jeffery Simmons is the leader up front for Mullen and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, with linebacker Leo Lewis and junior college recruits Johnathan Abram (safety) and linebacker Montez Sweat helping to bolster a unit allowing just 9.3 points per game.
Under center, the Georgia Bulldogs will once again likely start freshman Jake Fromm. Fromm is 2-0 as a starter, however, he hasn't been asked to shoulder much of the offense load with Chubb and Michele garnering a bulk of the load. The true freshman completed 10 of 15 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown in his debut against Appalachian State and held his own on the road at Notre Dame in Week 2 by throwing for 141 yards on 16 completions. Tonight's matchup however will be the toughest that Fromm has faced this season as Mississippi State’s defense enters this game ranked second in the SEC in pass efficiency defense. The Bulldogs have allowed just one touchdown through the air and are holding opposing quarterbacks to just 43.3 percent in completion percentage. Grantham is known for his aggressive approach, so it’s no surprise Mississippi State has seven sacks and 20 tackles for a loss through the first three games. If Mississippi State loads the box and stacks up against the run, it will put an incredible amount of pressure on Fromm to win the game with his arm.
On the other hand, we believe Mississippi State has more ways to win this game. The offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage in the Bulldogs beatdown of the LSU Tigers and quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was just as dangerous with his arm as he was his leg. He is the more versatile QB in this contest and is Dak Prescott-esque with his ability to adapt to what the defense gives him. If the Georgia Bulldog defenders stack the box against the run, Fitzgerald has proven capable of airing it out, whereas if the Bulldogs employ a two-deep safety look, Fitzgerald has the ability to scramble or audible to a run play to gash the coverage. There are simply more ways that we see Mississippi State being able to move the ball in this contest than Georgia has.
This will likely be a close game and while we don't expect to see Mississippi State manhandle Georgia like they did the LSU Tigers, they should still be able to hold their own and move the football. Athens is an incredibly tough place to play, especially in a conference opener, however we believe the Bulldogs of Mississippi are more than capable of escaping Athens with a victory. Even if they don't this matchup should be close enough to where the points prove to be valuable and ultimately come into play. The value is on the underdogs in this contest.
#6: Take Kentucky +3 spread (buy the half point) against Florida risking 3% of the bankroll.
30 years! It's been 30 years since the Kentucky Wildcats have managed to defeat the Florida Gators and it is one of the longest losing droughts in NCAA history. The Florida Gators have been on the decline for some time now and have been survived basically by their stout defense. That being said, many believe that 2017 is the year when the streak ends, and we happen to agree.
The Florida Gators are not the tea that they once were and while they sport a rather strong defense, their offense is leaving little to be desired as the Florida defense has managed to score more touchdowns than the Florida offense thus far this season. Besides those touchdowns however, this is not the Florida defense that we have been accustomed to seeing in the past as they rank just 100th in the country in total defense, allowing an average of 437.5 yards per game. Florida has also given up 26.5 points per game during their first two games.
The Gators are also coming off a somewhat "fortunate" last second, hail mary win against Tennessee in their last game. With just 6 seconds remaining on the clock, Gator QB Feleipe Franks hurled the ball down the field into the end zone and it was caught by one of the Gator receivers for the win. It was an incredible way to win for the Gators, however fortunate it was. We don’t believe that their good fortunes will continue in this contest.
Kentucky hasn't been anything impressive on the offensive side of the ball, however, they have been efficient both on the ground and through the air. It has really been the Wildcat defense that has guided this team this season as they have been stellar against the run, allowing just an average of 57 yards on the ground this season. Against a Florida offense that struggles to move the football, Kentucky may just need one or two quality drives to put this game away.
Kentucky has momentum coming into this contest. They are 3-0 on the season and coming off a big win against South Carolina in their SEC opener. 30 years of frustration will only add to their momentum and motivation as we believe this is the year that Kentucky manages to snap their long lasting losing streak against the Gators. It may not be the most entertaining game on the card, however the value in this matchup is with the underdogs.
#7: Take Colorado +13 spread (buy the half point) against Washington risking 3% of the bankroll.
The Colorado Buffaloes were one of the premier teams in the Pac-12 a season ago and were the first, worst to best team in conference history. Despite all their accolades a season ago, this team fell short of their goal of winning a Pac-12 Championship and that goal was dashed by their opponents tonight in this contest, the Washington Huskies. A seaosn ago, the Huskies destroyed this Buffalo team 41-10 in the championship game. While many are expecting a repeat performance of that tonight, we don't believe that will be the case.
This Huskies team is vulnerable this season and not nearly as good as they were a year ago. The Washington secondary was among the best in the nation, however, this season they are missing the likes of dynamic playmakers Budda Baker, Sidney Jones, and Kevin King. Washington is also missing one of their deadliest weapons on the offensive side of the ball as well in receiver John Ross. So far, this new-look Washington Huskies have been up to the task this season, however, we believe this is going to be their toughest test yet as they now face a revenge minded Colorado Buffalo team, on their home turf.
With the Washington secondary somewhat depleted, it’s important to note that Colorado has one of the best wide receiving groups in the nation. Through three games, seniors Bryce Bobo, Shay Fields and Devin Ross have between 14 and 21 receptions apiece and the Buffs have yet to get Jay MacIntyre going fully. Add running back Philip Lindsay, a very capable pass-catcher out of the backfield, and the ways in which Colorado can attack a defense through the air are perhaps more varied than any other team in the Pac-12.
Washington is still living off their laurels from a season ago, however, in our opinion, they are still unproven. Meanwhile this Colorado team has taken a step up from a season ago and we believe they will be much more prepared for this Washington Huskies attack. This will be a much closer matchup than a season ago and we wouldn't be completely surprised to see the Buffs pull off the upset tonight on their home turf. Even if they fall short, they should be able to keep this game competitive enough to keep within a single score and find a way to cover the spread at the end.
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