A 3-2 showing in Week 6 on a low volume 5 play card. Nothing to do backflips about but you won’t see me complaining about hitting 60%. Hopefully more of the same this week and can keep it moving in the right direction. Here’s what I have for Week 7….
Georgia Tech (-2.5): I cashed Georgia Tech in a blowout win over Louisville last week and I’m going to go back to the well and take them here at home as Duke comes to town. The Jackets are just 3-3 overall but they are coming off 2 straight wins where they are averaging 64.5 points per game. On the strength of 373 rushing yards per game their offense is really clicking right now. As I mentioned in my write up of the Louisville game last week, Marshall is now at a point where he can run this Georgia Tech offense in his sleep. He’s very comfortable making his reads and is seemingly choosing correctly between pitching the ball to one of his wing backs or keeping it himself every time. Even Oliver at backup QB has seen some time the last few weeks and ran for 100 yards in each of those games. Their 3 losses are nothing to be ashamed of as they lost at South Florida, at Pitt and home to Clemson. The 3-3 record doesn’t really bother me and I rate this team towards the top of the ACC. On the other side we have Duke who despite a better record at 4-1 I have rated below Georgia Tech in my power numbers. The Blue Devils got off to a 4-0 start before being brought back to earth 31-14 by Virginia Tech in their most recent game. They’ve since had a bye week to try and get things back on track but more than anything else I just don’t think they have the offense to keep up with the Jackets. Both the pass and rush offense are fairly mediocre and there just isn’t much Duke does offensively that’s going to scare you. I think Georgia Tech is as usual going to get their 350 or so rushing yards and they’ll find a way to get their 30 points or so. I honestly just don’t think Duke has enough offensively to approach that number on the road in a game where they are likely limited to about 25-27 minutes in time of possession. I see a 31-21 type win for the Jackets as they stay hot.
LSU (+7.5): Georgia is an excellent team and by numbers are the 3rd best team in the nation behind only Alabama and Clemson. That said covering over a TD in Baton Rouge against LSU is not going to be an easy task. The Tigers are off a road loss to Florida last week but despite that are still off to a very solid start. At QB they are led by Burrow who doesn’t do much in the way of fantastic jaw dropping plays, but he’s a very smart QB and he doesn’t make many mistakes. So far this year he’s only thrown 2 INT’s in 165 pass attempts and as corny as it sounds that’s about all they are looking for him to do. I’m not big on the term “game manager” but to be honest about it that’s pretty much what Burrow is. Throw for about 200 a game, get the offense into the right plays, run things smoothly and protect the ball. Those 2 INT’s he has this year both came last week against the Gators so you can bet they’ll be renewed emphasis on avoiding turnovers in this one. Led by Brosette and Edwards-Hilaire they average nearly 200 yards rushing as a team and are one of the more balanced teams in the nation. Defensively the Tigers have been great and here they’ll give the Bulldogs offense the toughest challenge they’ve had so far this season. For as much as the “game manager” label is thrown around with Burrow the truth is Fromm is only averaging 200 yards passing per game himself. Now I’m not saying Burrow is as good as Fromm, because he certainly isn’t. The point I’m trying to make is you can still lead a solid offense without necessarily putting up video game numbers, which is exactly what Fromm is doing. The truth is there isn’t much to pick on with this Georgia team, they are excellent and it would be foolish to try and sell you guys on anything other than that. That said I think LSU can do enough defensively to keep Georgia under control and then do enough on the ground to open up a few things for Burrow through the air. I don’t think they win outright but I can see a 27-23 type win for Georgia.
USC (-7): Colorado is now 5-0 and has moved into the top 20 in the polls. Perhaps I’m still being a bit stubborn but I’m just not quite ready to fully believe in this team. This will by far be the toughest test they’ve had this year as they’ve had one of the weakest schedules in the nation. Their win last week against ASU was the best win on their schedule to date. No disrespect to the Sun Devils as they are a respectable team, but when a home win over them is your best win it speaks to how weak the rest of your schedule has been. USC on the other hand even though they lost both games has been battle tested and faced good teams by playing at Stanford and at Texas. JT Daniels is improving little by little at QB and in general I just think they have a higher level of talent on that roster than the Buffaloes can match. If Colorado puts up a nice showing here I’ll have to re-evaluate my numbers on them, but at the moment I’m just not sold. It’s also worth noting that the Trojans come into this game fresh off a bye week and should be well rested and ready to go. Their most recent win was a 24-20 victory at Arizona in a game that frankly wasn’t as close as the score indicates. The Trojans were in control just about wire to wire but Arizona salvaged a few late TD’s in garbage time to take a game that was 24-7 in the 4th and make it look more respectable than it really was. Daniels was fine in that game, but perhaps most encouraging was Ware and Carr combining for 253 rushing yards on about 7 yards per carry. If the ground game can remain even close to that effective it’s really going to help Daniels through the air and accelerate his growth as a passer. I could see this game possibly even ending up as a blowout if the Trojans can get a lead and make the Colorado offense one dimensional. Something like 38-21 USC wouldn’t surprise me at all.
Iowa State (+6): I think this is going to be a tougher game for West Virginia than most people expect. WVU is 5-0, ranked 6th in the nation and on the surface laying only 6 points against a 2-3 Iowa State team seems too good to be true. In fact this line only opened at 4.5 and has since been bet up a point and a half to where it is now. Not to be one of those “trap line” guys but I’ll just say it isn’t often you see a top 10 and undefeated team laying a number this small against a team that’s under .500. At QB for the Cyclones it’ll be Brock Purdy starting for the 2nd straight week instead of Zac Noland and I’m not so sure that’s even a downgrade. Last week at Oklahoma State Purdy went for 318 yards and 4 TD’s with just 1 INT on only 23 passes. He averaged nearly 14 yards per attempt and seemed quite comfortable. Also with Purdy in the mix you now have the added threat of what he can do with his legs. He ran for 84 yards last week and provides an element that Noland just can’t bring. He’s more of a stay in the pocket and do it all through the air kind of guy, while Purdy has shown he can do both. For WVU it’s all about offense. Grier is having a monster season and he has plenty of weapons at his disposal. Simms, Sills and Jennings might be the best QR trio in the nation and they’ll provide plenty of issues for any team they face. Iowa State however is plenty battle tested as they’ve already played against Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma State and Iowa. Realistically they aren’t going to stop this West Virginia offense but I do think they can do a better job than most have at slowing them down a bit. They hung around with Oklahoma, lost by only 3 at TCU and last week won on the road at Oklahoma State. Big games and tough opponents don’t phase this team as they aren’t overwhelmed by the moment or stage at all. They’ll be ready to go and I think have a decent shot at winning this one outright. I’ll opt for the 6 points in my back pocket but a W would far from shock me.
Central Florida (-4): I know on the surface this play will seem pretty “square” but for some reason I still think oddsmakers are still selling Central Florida short. They haven’t lost a game since 2016 and for the most part aren’t even really being challenged. I rate their offense as one of the best in the nation, and that isn’t just one of the best in the nation among non power 5 schools, they are flat out one of the best in all of the FBS. For the Knights it all starts on offense and in particular with Milton. Right now he’s running this offense about as well as a QB can run an offense. He knows the playbook inside and out and his comfort level when running things is just off the charts. His numbers both passing and rushing the ball are excellent but it’s more than just that. He knows when and where to throw the ball, he knows when to keep it and take off himself, and he does a great job of handling the warp speed tempo they want to play at. As a team they are averaging 48.6 points and 574 yards per game. They are elite through the air, they are elite on the ground, and they have everything you could want from an offense. Memphis has an excellent offense of their own, but they also have their issues defensively. They’ve allowed 40 points to Tulane, 35 to South Alabama and honestly I can’t see how they even slow down this Knights offense. It’s also worth noting how much Memphis has beefed up their offensive numbers against very poor opponents. They scored 66 against Mercer, 59 against Georgia State, 52 against South Alabama and 55 against U Conn. Defensively UCF isn’t great but they are quite a bit better than any of those other teams I just mentioned. Forcing just a few punts here and there is likely going to be the difference in this game. I think UCF flirts with 50 points in this game and mixes in enough stops to win by double digits. I’m looking for a 48-34 kind of win for the Knights as they continue their winning ways.
Boise State (-17.5): This feels like a nice buy low spot for Boise State as they look to bounce back from a 19-13 home loss against SDSU last week. Boise had been putting up excellent offensive numbers in their first 4 games but then the Aztecs put the clamps on them holding them to 229 total yards of offense. Despite that showing I feel this is a very high powered unit and they’ll be playing with a chip on their shoulder in this one. Rypien is a Senior QB who is working on a very nice season. He’s at 66% completions for 312 passing yards per game and 12 TD’s to go with only 2 INT’s. At RB Mattison doesn’t quite have the numbers he was putting up last year but led by him the ground game is still capable enough of keeping opposing defenses honest. Led by Rypien though this is an offense that wants to throw, and throw downfield. Their top 3 WR’s are all averaging over 15 yards per catch so they are far from just dinking and dunking the ball down the field. After being shutdown by the Aztecs they’ll welcome a chance to see this Nevada defense. The Wolfpack have already allowed 41 points to Vandy, 35 to Oregon State, and 63 to Toledo. Offensively their season numbers look nice but a lot of that is bloated due to a 72 they hung on FCS Portland State in week 1. Since hitting conference play they are only averaging 15.5 points per game and last week they were totally shut down by Fresno State. I think the Broncos take out some frustration and really have some fun in this one. Rypien should throw for 350 yards or so and I’m looking for the offense to put up 40 plus. Nevada should have their moments here and there but at the end of the day their defense is horrid and their offense just doesn’t have enough to keep up with what Boise can do. I see a 45-21 type of win for the Broncos.
BYU (-12.5): Hawaii has been flirting with danger the last few weeks and pulled out a few wins in games that they probably should have lost. Two weeks ago they dodged numerous bullets in a 5 OT loss at San Jose State and then last week they needed a late 4th quarter score on a desperation type play with 1 minute left against Wyoming. They are 6-1 overall but haven’t done all that much to impress me. I’ll admit they are vastly improved and very entertaining to watch but they’ve taken advantage of some easy opponents and caught some nice breaks along the way. Power rating wise I have them quite a bit behind BYU and when you factor in the travel and altitude angles that are in play here the gap between the two only grows. The Cougars are coming off back to back blowout losses losing to Washington and Utah State by a combined 80-27. That provides us with what I think is a nice buy low opportunity. BYU clearly isn’t playing their best football at the moment but earlier in the season they landed road wins against Arizona and Wisconsin so we know they are capable and have high quality football in them. For Hawaii it looks like Cole McDonald will be back at QB after that bizarre situation last week. All week nobody really knew McDonald was hurt and then only about an hour or two before kickoff it came out that he wouldn’t be playing. He’s been back at practice early this week and as of my typing this I expect that he plays. That said this will be the toughest defense he’s seen this season as well as the most physical. That blowout loss to Utah State might scare some of you but the fact is that Aggies team is honestly one of the best non power 5 teams in the country. Losing to them while of course not ideal isn’t anything to be ashamed of. At end of the day I see each team due some major regression back towards what they really are. For Hawaii that means coming back to earth and for BYU it means coming up with a very nice 60 minutes of football. I think we get that on both sides here and BYU wins in a blowout.
Georgia Tech (-2.5)
Iowa State (+6)
Central Florida (-4)
Boise State (-17.5)