This week is ugly. The games are not sexy. However, there are some bets that I absolutely love. I finished 4-1 last week, and I’m 11-5 in my last three weeks. Let’s keep on keepin’ on!
Syracuse +25 (@ Clemson)
Look, 25 points is A TON. A few things justify my liking of Syracuse in this game. First, the public is going to be all over Clemson since they just named Trevor Lawrence their starting QB over Kelly Bryant, who quickly decided to transfer after that. It’s showtime for the highly touted freshman. Always fade the public.
Second, this is an early kickoff game and Clemson is clearly going to win. They’ll be looking forward in their season, knowing that they just need to get this game over with. They’ll get a lead, run the ball, and get out of there. This isn’t a night game with the whole day to think about it. Teams usually start slower in these early games.
Last, Syracuse is legit this season. They’re only allowing 20 points per game, while their offense has been crushing teams, scoring 50 points per game. It just feels like this is going to be close through two and a half quarters before Clemson pulls away, and Syracuse will cover.
Purdue @ Nebraska OVER 57 Points
Speaking of offenses that are humming, Purdue has been fun to watch, even in losses. I mentioned him last week, but their speedy little WR Rondale Moore is the most electric player on the field most games. He’s a game changer, and Nebraska has struggled this season. There will be opportunities for Moore to get the ball in space this weekend.
On the other side of the ball, Nebraska is DESPERATE for their first win under new coach Scott Frost. Freshman QB Adrian Martinez is starting again, which is a good sign. He is a great athlete, and will need to run the ball effectively for Nebraska to win. After seeing Michigan’s defense last week, Nebraska should feel alright against Purdue’s defense. A fair amount of points is to be expected given the circumstances here.
Purdue’s good offense, Nebraska getting their best QB back in a desperation game, this has all of he makings of an over. 30-28 hits the over, that seems easy with these two teams.
Stanford @ Notre Dame OVER 53 Points
Stanford is coming off of a HUGE comeback miracle victory in Eugene over the Ducks last week, so some might assume that they would suffer from an emotional come down. Wrong. If they win this game, they have a really good shot of getting into the College Football Playoff. Stanford will be at an emotional high, as they know what this game could mean for their season.
Stanford will have survived two straight road games against top-20 opponents if they win this game. Coach Shaw probably learned the best way to call plays during the second half of the Oregon game. Don’t rely too much on Bryce Love power runs up the middle, and let QB KJ Costello open it up and throw the ball down field to their giant tight ends and wide receivers, most notably JJ Arcega-Whiteside. I think the Stanford offense will keep it up, especially if Bryce Love is effective running the ball, allowing Shaw to open up the playbook for Costello.
While Stanford may have found their rythm, Notre Dame may have found the spark that they need as well. Notre Dame decided to switch starting QBs, starting Ian Book over Brandon Wimbush. Book is a much more talented passer, and led Notre Dame to 56 points over Wake Forest last weekend.
This is a huge game with playoff implications. These are two very talented QBs with very well rounded offenses who have been forced to support defenses that can clearly be scored on, as seen by previous games.
Like my reasoning with my previous pick, think of it this way: 30-24 hits the over. This will hit in the third quarter.
Stanford +6 (@ Notre Dame)
See reasoning above on why Stanford is pumped up, and why they’ll score.
Ohio State @ Penn State UNDER 70 Points
I have no numbers to back this up. It just feels right.
Yes, I know Ohio State is scoring a ton of points. QB Dwayne Haskins looks incredible. Urban Meyer is back from suspension. They have amazing running backs. However, this is their first true road game. Apparently the crowd was mostly Ohio State fans at their game at Jerry World in Dallas against TCU.
This game is different. Penn State’s annual white out game is always electric, and louder than any game that Haskins will play in all season. The crowd noise alone will slow down the Ohio State offense, on top of this being the best defense they have seen all season.
On the other side, Ohio State is by far the best defense that Penn State has seen all season. They are on a different planet than their other opponents, Pitt, Kent State, Illinois, and App State. Penn State will be forced to slow it down in order to manage the offense against this terrifying defensive front, even without star defensive end Nick Bosa.
Since Ohio State will be forced to slow down to deal with crowd noise, and Penn State will be forced to slow down due to Ohio State’s defense, on top of the fact that these are the best defenses that either team has seen, and the fact that this is a rivalry game, both head coaches know the importance of running the ball effectively in order to win these kinds of games. If there are no special teams touchdowns like there have been in the previous matchups between these teams, the under seems likely.
Everything points to the under 70 here. 34-31 Penn State.
USC -3 (@ Arizona)
I predicted this a few weeks ago when I unsuccessfully picked USC to cover against Stanford, but their offense under freshman QB JT Daniels is finally starting to pick up. This will be a good game to polish the offense, because Arizona’s defense is garbage.
Arizona is giving up 30 points per game, and Southern Utah even scored 31 on them. USC should be fine, just based on talent alone. The fact that USC is doing their classic Clay Helton thing where they slowly improve until they peak late in the season is even more reason to pick them here.
Arizona’s offense has looked off all year. Khalil Tate hasn’t looked anything like he did last season when he burst onto the scene, running all over everyone. This doesn’t feel like the game where it all comes together for him, not against the athletes on USC’s defense.
USC will do a good job bottling up the running game, and forcing Tate to pass the ball. ESPN FPI says that there is a 62% chance that USC wins this game, and in my opinion they’ll blow Arizona out. Even if it’s something in the middle, covering -3 is foreseeable.
Message me on Twitter @ThomasLovejoy if you want to talk about these picks, or have any future blog requests!
Edited at end of week: I finished 5-1, and I’m now 16-6 on the season