Each week, I’ll sort the Saturday games into three categories to help you decide which games you will spend time watching.
Ain’t Come To Play School Game: A game you cannot miss. The players on the field aren’t at their respected universities to play school. This category, of course, is a tip of the cap to Cardale #12Gauge Jones.
Sneaky Good Bill Snyder Game: A game that you wouldn’t typically tune into, but if you are in front of the TV you should highly consider putting on. These games will be high scoring and/or competitive. This category is a tip of the cap to Bill Snyder, who has provided the college football world with more sneaky good teams than I
Butt Diaco Game: A game that is going to SUCK. Don’t watch this. Unless you have money on the game, there are 10 bajillion better things you could do with your time. This category is a tip of the cap to Bob Diaco, the buttiest of all butt coaches in college football history.
Ain’t Come To Play School Games:
TCU @ Oklahoma State (-13, O/U 70.5), 3:30 PM, ESPN:
Before we start, I want to get something off my back: this is the game of the week. GameDay should be in Stillwater and not in a city that has never cared about college football this weekend. Period.
I love Mason Rudolph and the 2017 Oklahoma State Cowboys. It felt like they were going to drop 100 on Pittsburgh last week during the first half. James Washington, Justice Hill, and Marcell Ateman are three weapons that should scare every defense that goes up against the Okie’s. If the defense keeps improving, they have a shot at winning the Big 12.
All that being said, I do think the number is a bit too high against a revamped TCU team. Last year TCU was god awful, but Gary Patterson, who I regard as a top coach in the country, has rallied the Frogs and put them in a position to be a Big 12 contender this year. Two weeks ago, TCU strolled into Arkansas and kept the Razorbacks to 7 points. Last week, they blew out SMU, which would’ve been an easy task a few years ago, but Chad Morris has transformed the Mustangs into a decent program.
TCU hasn’t had a big game like this in 2 years and must be chomping at the bit to get a chance at the team they’ve seen anointed as “unstoppable” the past few weeks. The defense is ranked 24th in the country according to S&P+ and deploys a pass defense that has held other teams to a 29% success rate through the air, ranking them in the top 20 of all other teams. If there is a team that is going to slow down Rudolph & Co. it’s going to be TCU.
Kenny Hill, who I feel is going to throw a pick-six every time he drops back, gives me concerns, but the Frogs have the 14th ranked offense according to S&P+. Starting RB Kyle Hicks may be out for the game, but Sophomore Darius Anderson has been out playing Hicks through the first three games (262 yards, 3 TD’s, 6.2 YPC). I’m confident the defense can slow down OSU to around 35-42 points, which means TCU has to get in the 24-31 range to cover. This offense 100% has the explosiveness to score that (scored 56 last week) and won’t face a vaunted Cowboy defense. TCU has also excelled on 3rd down conversions this year, where they rank 1st in the country, while OSU has struggled to get off the field on 3rd downs, ranking 96th.
Oklahoma State strives on big plays, which TCU has had trouble stopping all year. Currently, TCU ranks 125th in IsoPPP (which measures explosive plays) on defense, while Oklahoma State ranks 6th on offense. This discrepancy is my only cause of concern that will prevent TCU from covering. I still see this line as an overvaluing of OSU and one that is still looking at TCU as the 2016 team, not the current one. I expect Gary Patterson to gameplan against OSU’s explosive offense and think he will show that he finally has one of his classic strong defense’s again.
Pick: TCU +13
Michigan (-10, 51.5) @ Purdue, 4:00 PM, FOX:
What Jeff Brohm is doing for Purdue is awesome. It’s been a blast watching a Purdue team that doesn’t punt every four plays. Saturday will be the biggest game in West Lafayette in a very long time. Doormat programs aren’t good for college football, so whenever one of them seem to be turning it around I get very excited. All that being said, it’s not officially time yet for the Boilermakers. This team has talent, but nowhere near the blue chippers they will be facing. Brohm will have his signature win for the Boilermakers one day, but this Saturday won’t be that day.
I’ve been hearing a lot about Michigan having an awful offense. The offense hasn’t been great, but if they convert in the red zone (10 trips past few weeks with only 1 TD) going forward they will have a top 20-25 unit. Jim Harbaugh is a crazy man, but if there is a guy I want to fix an offensive problem, it’s going to be him. Losing Tarik Black stinks for the Wolverines, but Ty Isaac and Donovan Peoples-Jones will pick up the slack. I am still a believer in Wilton Speight as well. The good news is they won’t be going up against world beaters in West Lafayette on Saturday night. The Boilermakers rank 75th in defense according to S&P+, and have struggled against the pass all year. Purdue is a perfect team for this offense to get back on track against.
Purdue’s transformation into an offense that is fun to watch is something nobody was expecting to happen this quick. The 105 points they’ve put up through the first three games is impressive, but if you made an all-star team of their first three opponents (Louisville, Ohio, and Missouri) defenses you wouldn’t be able to create a team as good as the one Jeff Brohm’s offense will face on Saturday. Michigan ranks 2nd in defense in S&P+ and has a defensive line that must be keeping Purdue’s offensive line up at night. QB David Blough is off to a hot start, but he is going to face pressure from ALL directions. He did throw 21 interceptions last year, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him turn the ball over a few times. Brohm does deploy a complex offense for the Boilermakers, but I don’t see him outsmarting Michigan’s DC Don Brown.
Purdue’s resurgence has been a great storyline so far this season, but Saturday is a test they won’t have the talent to pass. Harbaugh will have his troops ready and the offense will start to show signs of life. Also, don’t think this Michigan team hasn’t heard the rumblings that Purdue is going to upset them on Saturday. Time for Harbaugh & Co. to go into Indiana and remind Purdue where they stand in the Big Ten.
Pick: Michigan -10
Mississippi State @ Georgia (-4.5, O/U 48.5), 7:00 PM, ESPN:
Mississippi State looked realllllllllllll good during their 37-7 win over LSU, which has to be one of MSU’s biggest wins in recent history. This is the best team Dan Mullen has had since Dak Prescott was in Starkvegas. Can they go into Athens and take advantage of a team still playing their backup freshman QB?
What it’s going to come down to for Georgia every week from here on out is whether or not they can run the ball effectively. If they can’t get Sony Michelle and Nick Chubb going every week they are doomed, but if that two-headed attack is hitting on all cylinders every team in the SEC should be on the look out for the DAWGS. MSU ranks 95th on stopping successful run plays this season, which spells a possible recipe for Georgia to win their first SEC game of the year. Jake Fromm will be starting again for Georgia, which isn’t the best news, but the kid has been good enough for Georgia to win. Looking at these stats, he has even been better than Nick Fitzgerald:
Speaking of Fitzgerald, he will be an interesting test for a stout Georgia defense. The Dawgs did shut down Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush, but Fitzgerald is 10x the passer Wimbush was 2 weeks ago. MSU also has another solid weapon in Aeris Williams, a junior RB, who has put up 336 yards and a TD on 7 YPC so far this season. Nick Fitzgerald will have to bring his A game against the 12th ranked defense in the country according to S&P+.
I don’t have a strong read on this game, so I will be passing. This will be a great game to watch and will be interested to see how MSU responds after last weeks thumping of LSU.
Lean: Georgia -4.5
Penn State (-12.5, O/U 52) @ Iowa, 7:30 PM, ABC:
There is something about Kinnick Stadium when they turn on those lights. Last year, we saw Michigan fall to Iowa under the lights, can Penn State avoid the same result?
Penn State has three of the top weapons in the country with Trace McSorely, SaQuon Barkley, and Mike Gesicki. Their first three games have included whoopings of Kent State and Georgia State and a performance against Pittsburgh that left a bit to be desired. Can they go into Iowa and put up 40-50 points? Yes, but it would be surprising knowing they are going up against the 19th ranked defense in the country.
Iowa’s offense deploys a few good players in RB Akrum Wadley, RB James Butler, and QB Nate Stanley. The offense currently ranks 88th in the country, but has been efficient and finished drives in the red zone. Penn State’s known for their explosive offense, but they do have a defense that stacks up against any other teams in the Big Ten. This will be a test for Iowa.
The stats say Penn State blows this Iowa team out of the water, but 12.5 points is a lot to cover on the road in a place that is known for eating up and spitting out road favorites under the lights. Iowa is 11-4 in their last 15 games, but their 4 losses have been in the single digits. I want to pick Penn State, but my gut is telling me to stay away from this game that will end something along the lines of 31-21 Penn State.
Lean: Penn State -12.5
Florida (-2, O/U 44) @ Kentucky, 7:30 PM, SEC Network:
It’s been 30 LONG years for Kentucky since they’ve beaten Florida. It’s time though, right? This HAS to be the year that Kentucky finally beats Florida…..right? RIGHT!
Just look at the situation: Florida is coming into this game with injuries and suspensions to their best players. Jordan Scarlett and Antonio Callaway are still in street clothes on Saturday’s. The Gators are also coming off a hail mary win in a rivalry game and playing a team, on the road, they’ve beaten THIRTY times in a row! This is the type of letdown situation you dream of as a coach! Have I mentioned that Florida’s offense looks incompetent, yet again?!
Kentucky is the play here. The Wildcat faithful aren’t asking “is it November?” just yet. There is a lot of hype for this game in Kentucky, as there should be. It will be a loud environment on Saturday under the lights and the discrepancy in talent between the two teams won’t be as obvious as it was in the past because of Florida’s suspensions and injuries.
Kentucky is in the middle of the ring and Florida is standing there with buckled knees and their boxing gloves at their waist. It’s time for Mark Stoops, QB Stephen Johnson, and the Wildcats to deliver the knockout punch on this streak. I say it happens. CATS BY 90.
Pick: Kentucky +2
Wild Card Picks:
UNLV @ Ohio State (-40.5, 65), 12:00 PM, BTN:
If I’m going to lay a huge spread the opportunity better be perfect. I don’t want to jinx myself, but it looks like that is what we have here.
UNLV may have bounced back against Idaho after their loss to FCS Howard, but they are still ranked 104 in S&P+ and will be going up against the third-ranked team, Ohio State. UNLV ranked 121st in rushing defense last year and are currently ranked 126th in overall defense so far this year. That is not what you like to hear about a team that will be going up against JK Dobbins and Mike Webber. On offense, UNLV has found success this year has been on the ground, but going up against the 30th best-ranked run defense is going to be a shock to them. Ohio State is coming off a weekend where they kept a triple-option team in Army to just 7-points.
Ohio State is far better in every stat than UNLV. You know this, I know this. Ohio State is going to run all over UNLV. When I lay big spreads, I like to bet against a team that can’t stop the run, so when the second and third team for OSU comes in, they will still be able to run all over the Runnin Rebels. UNLV will also be playing this game at 9 AM west coast time, which never helps (e.g. UCLA last week). I think the Buckeyes could score 60, even if they put their second stringers in before the half.
Pick: OSU -40.5
Texas Tech @ Houston (-6.5, O/U 71), 12:00 PM, ESPN 2:
This is my third straight week on Houston as I yet again find them undervalued.
Texas Tech can’t stop a nosebleed. It’s been that way since Kliff Kingsbury came into town and I don’t care how much the man looks like Ryan Gosling, he can’t field a decent defense. Houston, on the other hand, has a very good squad that will be looking to take down their second Power 5 team of the season.
After a lackluster performance against Arizona, Houston’s offense got back on track against Rice. Their pass offense currently ranks 24th in the country and they will go up against Texas Tech’s 115th ranked passing defense. QB Kyle Allen and WR Linell Bonner are going to have a day.
On the other side, Texas Tech will score their 30 or so points, but Houston is no pushover on defense as they rank 20th in the country in S&P+! Texas Tech survives on big plays and Houston ranks 8th in IsoPPP, a stat that looks at the rate of explosive plays, which is good news for the Cougars.
Houston wants to send a message here. Although they are the favorite in Vegas, Houston is a squad full of players that feel like underdogs because they didn’t get recruited by Power 5 schools like Texas Tech. So, every time they get a chance to go up against said Power 5 teams, they are going to give them their best shot. I really like the Cougars this weekend.
Pick: Houston -6.5
Alabama (-19, O/U 43) @ Vanderbilt, 3:30 PM CBS:
I’ve been going back and forth on this game the entire week. Will Alabama be shocked by a decent/good Vanderbilt team? Can QB Kyle Shurmur and Ralph Webb keep up with Alabama’s offense? Can Derrick Mason scheme something up that shuts Jalen Hurts & Co. down enough to keep the Commodores in the game?
The more and more I think about this game the more I realize this has classic “Alabama reminds everyone who is the king of the SEC” written all over it. If Vanderbilt stayed quiet for the past week and let Alabama come into Nashville with little motivation then MAYBE they could’ve stuck around with the Tide. But now they are playing this game on the 3:30 CBS slot and Vandy players are running around saying ridiculous things about beating Alabama:
Maybe if Alabama had a game against LSU or Auburn next week they’d overlook Vandy, but they don’t. The only thing on the Tide’s mind is this team that has the AUDACITY to think they have a shot to tear down the king from his throne.
Alabama is going to come into Nashville and run through this Vanderbilt team like a pack of damn elephants. They are going to shut up this random OL from the Commodores and send a message to the rest of the country that they are a squad we’ll be hearing from all season. You think Alabama isn’t watching every TV talk show saying Clemson is the best team in the nation? People want to see Alabama fall, but it isn’t happening in Nashville on Saturday.
Vanderbilt is going to get hit the in throat over and over and over and over again come 3:30 Saturday. I don’t care how much supposed “hype” there is around Vandy, the stadium will be full of half, if not more, Tide fans. This will be an away-home game for Saban’s team. Vandy will have no response. Alabama by a billi.
Pick: Alabama -19 & Vandy TT Under (Not Released Yet, Grab On Saturday)
San Diego State (-3.5, O/U 47) @ Air Force, 7:00 PM CBSSN:
Here is the situation for the Aztecs: coming off the programs biggest win in years against Stanford they have to go play against the triple-option in the second highest stadium above sea level in Colorado. That situation alone is enough to bet against San Diego State.
When you add the fact that Air Force is getting points and has the 1oth best defense against the run so far this season according to S&P+, an area where San Diego State excels, it makes the bet automatic. Take the Falcons.
Pick: Air Force +3.5
Hawaii @ Wyoming (-6.5, O/U 58.5), 10:15 PM, ESPN 2:
Josh Allen has been bad. Wyoming has been bad. You know it. I know it. They know it.
Wyoming isn’t as bad as they’ve shown the first part of the season. Josh Allen has had his fair share of awful throws, but he isn’t as bad as the numbers indicate. The guy has been playing against top Power 5 defenses, while his offensive line is made up of kids who couldn’t walk on at those said schools. The talent isn’t around Allen and it’s unfair to judge him solely based on his games as a Wyoming QB. The hype thrown his way was overblown, but it’s obvious the QB has an NFL arm.
All that being said, he and his team have a serious opportunity to rebound this weekend against Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors can score, but their defense is ranked 124th in S&P+, which includes a pass defense that ranks 110th. Time for Josh Allen and Wyoming to ride the ship on offense during a national TV game.
Also, take a look at what the weather is going to look like on Saturday night in Wyoming:
I love me some Nick Rolovich, but I would wager upwards of 75% of his Rainbow Warriors team have never been in a place that is 43 degrees, let alone played a football game in it. Add rain & wind on top of that (not good for Hawaii’s passing offense) and playing at the highest stadium above sea level in FBS football, you’ve got a potential disaster for the Rainbow Warriors.
Pick: Wyoming -6.5
Cincinnati @ Navy (-11.5, O/U 53), 3:30 PM, CBSSN:
Luke Fickell seems to be fielding a decent team in Cincy, which is surprising considering the crap that Tommy Tubberville left him. The former Ohio State DC will build a great program, but Saturday is a tough situation for his team. This will be the Bobcats third straight road game, following two physical games at Michigan and at Miami (OH). Now they have to go to Annapolis and face a Navy team that will run the ball down their throat for 60 minutes.
Yes, Navy struggled with Tulane last week, but Willie Fritz knows the option like he knows the back of his hand. Luke Fickell isn’t Willie Fritz and his team has never played Navy or any other triple-option attack. Zach Abey and Navy’s offense will surprise the Bobcats defense.
The numbers support Cincinnati, but the situation sides with Navy. I like to pick based on numbers most of the time, but the situation is too good here to pass up. The Midshipmen are going to be too much to handle for the Bobcats. They’ll be sick of seeing the triple-option come the fourth quarter and Navy will run away with it.
Pick: Navy -11.5
UCF @ Maryland (-4, O/U 60.5), 3:00 PM, Fox Sports 1:
UCF hasn’t played a football game in the month of September due to Hurricane Irma. Scott Frost has an AAC-championship quality team, but he will have to pull off a truly impressive feat to have his troops ready to take down Maryland on the road after such a long layoff.
Maryland will be ready to go on Saturday. They lost their starting QB during the Texas game, but 4-star freshman QB Kasim Hill looked more than competent enough to lead the Terrapins offense. He has had a week off to adjust more to the offense and RB’s Lorenzo Harrison and Ty Johnson will help the freshman out.
UCF is going to be rusty. Their only game of the season came against FIU, which told us absolutely nothing considering how bad Butch Davis’ team is. During this layoff for Frost’s team, the Golden Knights haven’t been able to practice until this week. Imagine going through camp, blowing out your first opponent and then stopping for two weeks. There were bigger issues to deal with, but the momentum UCF had as a football team was halted. They had to start all over again. I wouldn’t be surprised if a part of UCF is overlooking this game against Maryland and looking ahead to next weeks game against Memphis, which will be a big decider in the AAC race.
Pick: Maryland -4
#JackieGambling (YTD: 8-8) Picks:
Ohio State -40.5
Vanderbilt Team Total Under
Air Force +3.5
@JackMacCFB On Twitter for any additional plays that I like come Saturday!