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:
Miami (-3, O/U 46.5) @ Florida State, 3:30 ABC:
It’s been a LONG time for Miami. It feels like every time they go up against FSU they end up with a heartbreaking loss that snowballs into three more losses. FSU has been Miami’s kryptonite for years.
Thinking about this game, one question pops into my mind: it’s time, right? FSU is 1-2, barely just beat Wake Forest and is down to their backup QB leading a team that is either waiting for next year or the NFL draft. The Hurricanes just stomped a good Duke team 31-6 and look to finally have the swagger back that they’ve always seemed to have been missing since the early/mid-2000’s. The situation begs the question: if not now, when?
It is time. As much as I love the turnover chain, I love what The U has been doing on the field. The biggest question coming into the season was Malik Rosier at QB, was he going to be able to replace Brad Kaaya? So far, Rosier has done just that and a bit more. His explosive WR unit, which includes Braxton Berrios & Ahmmon Richards, doesn’t hurt either. RB Mark Walton currently leads Miami with 9.2 yards per carry, which puts them as the best rushing team in the nation according to S&P+. The defense hasn’t been too shabby either, ranking 13th. They are #2 in the ACC in
The defense hasn’t been too shabby either, ranking 13th. They are #2 in the ACC in TFL & sacks, which will spell trouble for FSU. The Seminoles currently rank dead last in TFL per game. Looking at the forecast and the prediction of Hurricane Nate moving towards Tallahassee, FSU is going to have to run the ball on a sloppy Saturday. Will they be able to get more than 2 to 3 yards a run against this stout Miami front? I don’t think so. James Blackmon doesn’t scare me at all. The Seminoles had only 81 passing yards last week before his last minute 40-yard bomb. Although the line doesn’t reflect it, Miami still feels like an underdog in this game. Although the line doesn’t reflect it, Miami still feels like an underdog in this game. FSU is the team with the most to lose here. It feels like there’s a huge “what’s going to go wrong next?” sentiment in Tallahassee right now, which doesn’t produce good football teams. This is finally the year for The U.
Although the line doesn’t reflect it, Miami still feels like an underdog in this game. FSU is the team with the most to lose here. It feels like there’s a huge “what’s going to go wrong next?” sentiment in Tallahassee right now, which doesn’t produce good football teams. This is finally the year for The U.
Pick: Miami -3
West Virginia @ TCU (-13.5, O/U 67.5), 3:30 FOX:
This should be a fun game. If I had to rank the top games of the weekend, this contest would be #1. I don’t have a good read on this game at all, though.
TCU is one of the squads I am very high on this year, while WVU was a team that I believed to be overrated coming into the season. Will Grier has been very impressive, more than I expected, and leads a WVU offense that would make Pat White & Steve Slaton proud. The Mountaineers have an offense that seems to be able to score 14 points in a blink of an eye. The Horn Frogs secondary is the best it’s been in a few years, but slowing down Dana Holgorsen’s attack won’t be easy.
Kenny #TRILL Hill has been very good as well, but the rush offense has been TCU’s greatest strength. Star RB Kyle Hicks may be ready to go for the Frogs, but if not Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua will continue to fill his role. WVU has struggled on the defensive side of the ball all year, but the most against the run. Last week was a bye for WVU, but the week before they allowed….gulp….361 rushing yards to Kansas. Yes, you read that stat correctly.
TCU will win this game and continue their march to the Big 12 title game, but WVU’s offense is too explosive for me to lay almost two touchdowns. Hopefully, this game will be fun and involve two offenses dueling it out.
Lean: TCU -13.5
Michigan State @ Michigan (-10.5, O/U 40), 7:30 ABC:
Michigan State seems to always play tough against Ohio State and Michigan. Maybe it’s Dantonio or the rivalry aspect of both games, but whatever it is, the Spartans come ready to play against the Wolverines and Buckeyes.
Similar to WVU, I came into the season very down on Michigan State. They lost a lot and had a big sexual assault scandal that led to multiple starters being thrown off the team. My concerns for Sparty were wrong as the team has come out and played much better than I or anybody thought they could. All that being said, they aren’t in the same ballpark as Michigan and playing under the lights at the big house doesn’t help their cause.
John O’Korn looked mighty good in the second half against Purdue. Saturday will be another test for him to see if he is indeed the answer Michigan needs at the QB position. The Wolverines looked good against Purdue, but they still need to improve on 3rd down and in the red zone. They give up a lot of sacks and tackles for loss. If there is something that will bring down Michigan this year it will be the offense. Sparty’s defensive performance this year has been phenomenal, ranking 16th in S&P+. They also boast the 4th best rush defense, so a plan of O’Korn handing the ball off all day won’t work.
Even with their struggles on offense, the Wolverines defense continues to be a damn brick wall. Michigan State’s QB Brian Lewerke will have a long day on Saturday night going up against the Don Brown led unit. Lewerke has led an average offense this year, which is better than most expected, but scoring points won’t be easy.
I don’t feel confident in any play here. I’d lean under. If somebody put a gun to my head and told me I had to pick a side, I’d pick Michigan minus the points. Any game under the lights in Ann Arbor is a must-watch, so I’m going to sit back and enjoy this one without having any stake in it.
Lean: Michigan -10 & Under 40
Wild Card Games:
Memphis (-14.5, O/U 71.5) @ UConn, 7:00 PM (Friday) ESPN:
Last week I mentioned I’m going to bet against UConn until they show me they aren’t a completely #booty team. Thanks to a front door cover from SMU, we cashed our bet last week, but UConn’s offense has been looking great recently thanks to former Auburn OC Rhett Lashlee (weird sentence to write). The defense, on the other hand, is looking the opposite: actually bad.
Memphis is coming off a tough loss against UCF last week, but they still have the 7th most explosive offense in the country and a good passing attack led by Riley Ferguson. Similar to the Tigers, UConn’s success on the offensive side of the ball has also come through the air. Another common thread linking these two teams is their lack of passing defense. UConn ranks 124th in passing defense and Memphis ranks 109th. Being on short weeks won’t help these defenses either. Short weeks equal less practice time to fix the kinks armor. Short weeks are great for top end defenses, but also terrible for bottom-tier defenses.
Both of these teams are going to throw the ball all over the yard on Friday night. I wanted to take Memphis, but I could see UConn sticking around or even coming in the back door late in the game thanks to their ability to score quick. Life is too short not to take the over.
Pick: Over 71.5
Boise State (-7.5, O/U 47) @ BYU, 10:15 (FRIDAY) ESPN:
If you haven’t been following CFB this year a few things will shock you. Here are a few: Purdue isn’t awful. Tennessee may not make a bowl. FSU is 1-2 and barely beat Wake Forest. BYU and Boise State are both awful.
I can’t stress how bad these two teams are. Boise State can’t run or pass the ball. BYU is the definition of incompetent on offense. Both teams defenses are the only reason they aren’t in the same sentence of the Texas State’s and UTEP’s of the world. If anybody is trying to tell you they have a read on either of these teams they are lying.
Here is what I do know: Boise State shouldn’t be favored by more than a touchdown in 99% of situations this year. If you are laying 7.5 points on the road with the 2017 Boise State Bronco’s against a top-40 S&P+ defense then you are a CRAZY person. Yes, they may cover, but if you are going to become a gambler that makes crazy bets like that I will guarantee you won’t win long term. Ever since they blew that lead against Wazzu, BSU’s #1 concern has been to win the Mountain West. Yes, this is a primetime game and on ESPN, but it isn’t against a Mountain West opponent. How motivated are the Broncos going to be? My gut is telling me that BYU will
Ever since they blew that lead against Wazzu, BSU’s #1 concern has been to win the Mountain West. Yes, this is a primetime game and on ESPN, but it isn’t against a Mountain West opponent. How motivated are the Broncos going to be? My gut is telling me that BYU will beat Boise State handily in the motivation category.
Due to them being independent and their location in Provo, BYU doesn’t get to play a lot of home games. This place will be rocking on Friday night (what else are all those Mormons going to do on Friday night?) and BYU recognizes this is their chance to turn around their season. If you look at their schedule, aside from Mississippi State, all of their remaining games are winnable. As weird as this sounds, BYU could finish 8-5 or 7-6 if they win this game.
I know I’m going to regret this, but give me the Mormons with the points in the late game on Friday night.
Pick: BYU +7.5
FAU (-4.5, O/U 57.5) @ Old Dominion, 6:00 PM:
Don’t look now, but Lane Kiffin is developing himself a hell of a football team down in Boca Raton. I love this game for FAU. The line opened as ODU -1, but is now at FAU -4.5. All the money is on #THEfaU and for good reason. Some might say “Intern Jack Mac, you missed the best number, why bet FAU when the market is now settled?” and to that, I would say: great question. Getting the best number possibly should always be the goal of a sports bettor, but if you like a game and the line has moved in the favor of the team you want to place a bet on, don’t feel hesitant to still take that team. Yes, you missed the best number, but that number is gone because sharp money has decided that game is worth their time. Take it as a confirmation of you handicapping the game correctly.
Old Dominion ranks 92nd in rush defense, 108th in opportunity rate on defense, and 127th in power success rate. Now look at FAU’s rushing attack headed by Devin Singletary: 4th in success rate, 14th in opportunity rate and 7th in power success rate. Talk about a mismatch. FAU has also been improving ever since getting Jason Driskel back in the lineup at QB. FAU is going to put up a lot of points.
FAU does struggle against defending the run, but ODU’s 123rd rush offense most likely won’t be able to take advantage of that. FAU has the 3rd ranked special teams unit in the country, which may be the reason they end up covering/winning this game. I don’t expect a blow out by FAU, so aspects of the game like field goals, kickoffs, and punts really do matter. In games with tight lines like this one, checking in on the special teams is incredibly important.
I’m glad I’ll be supporting Joey Freshwater around 6:00 on Saturday. If he and his Owls have a good game maybe I’ll use my winnings on buying a life-size cut out of the fearless leader of #THEfaU.
Pick: FAU -4.5
Army (-11.5, O/U 47) @ Rice, 6:30 PM:
Rice could be one of the worst teams CFB has seen in years. It’s time to fire David Bailiff and hit a complete reset on the entire program. There is zero reason for this program to be as bad as they are. Located in Houston with phenomenal academics and decent facilities, Rice Football should be a staying power in C-USA, not a bottom dweller.
The rest on Rice is going to take a long time, but it won’t start on Saturday and Army is going to take FULL advantage of that. If you know anything about Army Football it’s the team loves to run the ball. You all probably know nothing about Rice football, but here’s the one thing to know about them: they STINK at defending the run. Rice currently ranks 114th in run defense, 101st in defending explosive plays on the ground, 124th in standard down line yards per carry, and 118th in passing down line yards per carry. I’d play this line up to 24. Army’s 13th ranked run offense is going to run all over Rice.
Don’t worry about the Rice “offense.” They average 14 points per game and 3rd to last in S&P+’s offensive ratings. There are aspects of Army’s defense that could improve, but it is 10x better than the opponent it will be going up against on Saturday. Army is going to score over 21 points and I don’t see Rice scoring more than 10. Take the Black Knights and have fun cheering for the future men who will be defending this beautiful country we call home.
Pick: Army -11.5
Western Michigan (-7, O/U 49.5) @ Buffalo, 3:30 ESPNU:
Buffalo has turned it around this season. They are on a 3-game winning streak, which is one more game than they won all of last year. Lance Leipold has done a very nice job for the SUNY up near Niagara Falls. He’s got himself a hell of a test come Saturday, though. Western Michigan, who hasn’t skipped a beat after P.J. Fleck rowed his boat to Minnesota, is coming to town, also on a three game winning streak. To make matters worse, Buffalo will be without their starting QB Tyree Jackson for a second straight week. Jackson has been a big part of the Bulls offense all year, both on the ground and through the air.
Western Michigan is going to dominate this game. They rank 32nd in success rate on offense, while Buffalo ranks 103rd on defense. The biggest edge will be in the run game as Western Michigan ranks 29th in the nation according to S&P+ while Buffalo’s defense ranks 116th. Western Michigan isn’t afraid to run it either as they run the ball the 19th most in the nation on standard downs and 28th most on passing downs. Buffalo also likes to run the ball, but Saturday will be tough for the Bulls without 2 of their top 3 rushers. Buffalo has been good all year passing the ball (28th according to S&P+), but not having Tyree Jackson will be yet another challenge against the Broncos 44th passing defense. Back up QB Drew Anderson looked okay last game, but playing WMU is much different than playing Kent State. WMU is going to roll.
Pick: WMU -7
Wisconsin (-10.5, O/U 45.5) @ Nebraska, 8:00 BTN:
Put me on the Wisconsin train. Put me on the boring, unsexy train that is Wisconsin. Nothing would make me more happy.
Nebraska is a dumpster fire. I know a lot of us make that joke every now and then, but Nebraska, much like Tennessee, is an actual dumpster fire. I’m not even sure these players would elect to finish the season if they were given the option to skip the rest of their games and end the Mike Riley-era early. How is Nebraska going to score on Saturday? Because I’ve been thinking about it all week and still can’t come up with how they will. Going up against the 6th ranked defense in S&P+ is never good, but when your best weapon is Tanner Lee you are going to have an especially rough time.
All we will need is 11-points. Taking that Nebraska won’t be lighting up the scoreboard, I don’t think it will take more than 24-28 points from the Badgers to cover. Getting to 28 won’t be hard considering the Nebraska defense is far from their blackshirt days. Bob Diaco’s defense (lol, Bob Diaco) ranks 73rd in stopping the run, while Wisconsin has the 20th best run offense in the country. They run the ball the 12th most on standard downs, which they rank 30th in the nation in. Nebraska is particularly bad on standard downs (1st & 10, 2nd & 8 or less, 3rd & 5 or less, 4th & 5 or less), as they rank 115th in defending against them. Wisconsin will run the ball down Nebraska’s throat all day, especially when they are ahead of the chains, and be the second to last blow out loss in the Mike Riley era in Nebraska before they get blown out by 1 million points against Ohio State next week.
Yes, I am saying Mike Riley will be fired next week. It’s perfect timing, as they have a bye the week of the 21st. Riley’s firing will usher in an era of Nebraska football that everybody has been waiting for: Interim Coach BOB DIACO.
Pick: Wisconsin -10.5
Arkansas (-2, O/U 47) @ South Carolina, 8:00 SEC Network:
Here I am again, ready to wager on a relatively bad team. I’m higher on the Razorbacks and Bielema than most. Their game against TCU was a mess, but the teams response against Texas A&M (should’ve won that game) and New Mexico State has me back to being a hesitant fan of Arkansas.
I am feeling the opposite way about South Carolina. Ever since Deebo Samuel went down, the offense has been gross (13 points vs. Kentucky, 17 against LT & Texas A&M). The OL for Muschamp is in shambles as well as three out of his five starters are on the injury report this week and could miss the game. You may look at South Carolina’s performance last week against A&M and see they came within 7 points, but if you do some more digging you will see the Cocks came nowhere close to winning that game. For the game, they had a success rate of 25% on offense! For reference, that would rank South Carolina as the least efficient team in the nation if it was their success rate for the entire season. The defense wasn’t good either, allowing a success rate of 45% for Texas A&M (this would rank them in the top 25).
Taking Arkansas on the road as a favorite gives me pause, but the opportunity seems too good for me. South Carolina is trending in the wrong direction, as the Razorbacks are looking up every week since the TCU loss. Their 15th ranked efficiency in the nation on offense will come in handy, as the Cocks rank 82nd in defensive efficiency. SC is decent at defending the run, but god awful at defending the pass. Austin Allen is one of the most underrated QB’s in the SEC and I could see him having a big game against this secondary that ranks in the bottom 30 of the nation.
If I had to rank my picks this week in terms of confidence, this would be near the bottom, but I still see the Razorbacks winning this game by 7-10 points. Williams-Brice is typically a hard place to play, but the hype for the Cocks is at an all-time low. Give me BERT!
Pick: Arkansas -2.5
San Diego State (-10, O/U 57) @ UNLV, 10:45 ESPN2:
Last week we cashed UNLV, and we are going to be on the Running Rebels side AGAIN this week. I’m in love with this team, who is still undervalued thanks to the loss against Howard earlier in the season. I may bet UNLV blindly for the rest of the season. That’s how much I love Armani Rogers & Co.
People see the San Diego State name with the 5-0 record next to it and automatically assume they must have another dominant running attack. Those people couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, they do have Rashaad Penny, one of the best G5 RB’s in the nation, but they currently rank 119th in rushing success rate! They are turning out big plays on the ground (6th in IsoPPP), but Rashaad Penny’s stat line has been misleading this year when you look into the advanced analytics behind it.
The Aztecs percentile performance the past three weeks according to Football Study Hall has been 48% against Stanford, 38% at Air Force, and 25% against NIU. They haven’t looked great all season and have their fair share of luck in getting to 5-0.
The best running team in this game is UNLV and it’s not even close. QB Armani Rogers and RB Lexington Thomas have rushed for a combined 876 yards this season. That puts them 2nd in rushing success and 10th in IsoPPP (explosiveness). They rank 1st in standard down success thanks to their running attack, a place where SDSU’s defense ranks 53rd in the nation!
Of course, UNLV has had a tough week due to the shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night. It doesn’t look like any of the players had direct relations to anybody injured, but there is a large portion of Las Vegas players on the team so it’s understandably been a tough week for them. Here is a quote from their HC Tony Sanchez:
“[W]e told them we have a job to do and a great opportunity to go out Saturday night and give some people in our community a little bit of a reprieve and a little bit of a break from it. There’s so many people that are hurting right now that are going to have to pull themselves out of bed and out of their house and hopefully you get a couple hours of getting away from it a little bit, because it’s going to linger and be there for a long time. But if we can go out and play an inspired game and give everybody an opportunity to breathe a little bit and forget for a minute, then we need to do that. That’s our job and we’re back at work.”
I 100% expect this team to be ready to go on Saturday. This may be the biggest game for their program in years and a chance to take down an undefeated team that will put them in the drivers seat to win the MWC. SDSU also may be looking ahead to their game against Boise next week. Yes, we already talked about how awful the Broncos are, but Boise is still a big name and I’m sure most Aztec players are chomping at the bit to take down a wounded Boise State team. Take the Running Rebels late Saturday night and then go donate your winnings to those who were affected due to the shooting.
Pick: UNLV +10
#JackieGambling Week 6 Plays:
Season: 23-16, 59%
Last Week: 8-3
Memphis/UConn Over 71.5
Western Michigan -7
Follow me on Twitter @JackMacCFB. If I decide on any weekday/additional plays I tweet them out there, such as the NC State +3.5 ticket last night that cashed: