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Giving Away Money 2020: Week 5 picks against the the spread to enhance your filthy lucre

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When does the Big 10 begin play? OSU is always good to ring up some cheap covers.

Las Vegas

2020 Record: 31-15
Last Week: 8-6
No Action: FAU
Mortal Lock of the Week: 4-0

Last week was not particularly great. And for that, you can thank those backdoor covers. Let us share two stories.

Recall us telling you to dodge that that MTSU — UTSA game (UTSA -7 1/2). If you are a wagering man of many refinements, then you were feeling very good with time ticking down, and your Roadrunners up 37-29...until the Raiders scored with time expiring. Only a last-ditch failed 2PAT kept this one from going to overtime: 37-35 UTSA. Vegas is undefeated.

The second story is one that brought you some profit. UGA (-26) turned it on in the second half against hapless Arkansas. But Georgia was still only up 34-10 when it got the ball back near midfield with just over three minutes remaining. Kirby ran his regular offense, then opted to kick with just under a minute remaining. 37-10, DAWGS COVER! (And our mortal lock remains undefeated!).

Similar things happened in the Army and WVU game too — road underdogs driving late would fail to convert, and then the home favorites pulled away with a final dagger to the heart.

It was that kind of week. Fortunately, we were not dumb enough to bet on those stupid-high spreads with stupid teams coached by stupid men — Texas, Oklahoma, LSU, Texas A&M: take a bow.

What Went Right? The Barn...and that it was going a low-scoring snoozer. Backdoor covers working for us — lookin’ at you Kirby! UAB, BYU slaughtering Troy, UVA, Va. Tech, Baylor, Tulane, etc.
What Went Wrong? We were very wrong on FSU. That team has given up, y’all. We will be adjusting accordingly (Conversely, Miami is now 2-1 on the year ATS...hmmmm.) And sooooo many backdoor covers — Army, WVU, Liberty: All these teams were treating us well...then a very late score doomed us to loss. Yadda yadda
Trends to Consider: BYU is 2-0 ATS, ULL (though a very good team) has been woeful ATS (1-2, covering just one time against Iowa State as a ‘Dog). Something similar is happening in Boone, where the Mountaineers are 0-3 ATS. And, on Sundays, the Falcons and Seahawks are 3-0 over the points, while KC is just 1-2 o/u.

With that ground covered, let us look forward — never backwards — and endeavor now to make more than the meager pocket change we did last week.

Not With a 10’ Pole and Stolen Money:

Like heavyweight fighters wary of the knockout power of their opponent, we’re still feeling some teams out; dancing around as we gather more information. In particular, there are a few that we’re absolutely not touching.

LSU -20 at Vanderbilt. Man, I just don’t know about either of these teams. We definitely need another week to figure out how bad that Who coaching staff is, how bad those corners are, how error-prone Myles Brennan is...and whether the ‘Dores can consistently force turnovers as they did last week in College Station. And, whether Vandy can keep Vandying it up. Almost other team in the conference beats Aggie by two scores last Saturday.

Oklahoma -7 at Iowa State — Two defenses that can and have collapsed late, but two quarterbacks that can put up points in a hurry...only to then turn around and make mistakes in bunches. Alex Grinch is stealing money in Norman. TBH, my wariness here comes more from which Iowa State team shows up than it does Oklahoma. The Sooners can win; I’m not sure they do (least of all in Ames). I suspect the Sooners rebound this week (narrowly), but I’m not putting money on it either way and it likely won’t cover in any event.

UVA +28 at Clemson — The first D1 team that CU has played this year (sorry Wake). So, we’ll have to see what the Tigers actually look like against a decent-ish bowl team. The Cavs played footsie with the Devils way too long last week for my comfort. But, when they are generating turnovers, they can score in a hurry. We don’t know much about either team, honestly.

Memphis -2 12 at SMU — We have no idea how many Tigers are going to be out in this game, nor for how long (we only know that “the majority” will travel). Dozens and dozens of UM athletes have had the ‘Rona. Simply too much uncertainty to make that call. If everyone is healthy, it should be a fun one though (and I give the nod to UM).

Vanderbilt v Florida Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Bet the House, Baby

Virginia Tech -10 12 at Duke — The Hokies are just the much better team. The Devils finally cut down on turnovers last week, and as a result were much more competitive. But Va. Tech’s front seven is tremendous, and I would expect to see those Duke miscues return to form this week as they’re harassed for 60 minutes. Virginia Tech 37 — Duke 15

TCU +13 at Texas — DYK: The Frogs give up nearly 8 yards a rush? Against the Longhorns on the road that simply isn’t going to cut it. Not even Tom Herman can screw this up (famous last words indeed). UT 38 — TCU 20

Alabama - 17 12 vs. Texas A&M — The thin Aggies secondary is going to get a workout this week when they travel to Tuscaloosa. The front seven of both teams were lights-out last week surrendering less than 3 YPC. I’m willing to bet the turnover machine of Kellen Mond, Saban’s desire to humiliate former assistants, and just an all-together better Tide team makes the difference in the end. Alabama’s MOV against SEC teams has been about 25 points for the better part of a decade. Against former Saban assistants, it’s been nearer to 29. I don’t think a more deliberative Alabama offense gets to that level this weekend, but it won’t be far off. There is just nothing positive to say about this A&M offense. Alabama 38 — Texas A&M 13.

Pitt -14 vs. NC State — Pitt just does not allow teams to score...they don’t even give up gimmes in garbage time. Bad teams, good teams: it doesn’t matter — Pat Narduzzi’s commitment to 1972 football is admirable. Another low-scoring blowout could be in the offing here. Pitt 28 — NCSU 11

South Carolina + 18 12 at Florida — UF’s passing offense was soooo good last week. But its secondary was also soooo bad. There are few teams that can exploit that in the East, and South Carolina with a new starter on the road in the Swamp isn’t one of them. I don’t think the Gators will be running to daylight all afternoon as they did against the Rebels, but I think the quick passing game (and USC’s tendency to commit boneheaded mistakes) is too much for the visiting ‘Cocks at the end of the day. Gators 41 — Sakerlina 20

Arkansas +19 vs. Mississippi State — Sure, why not? That Razorback secondary is godawful. Even if the ‘Dogs get scored on (and they will), there’s no way the Hogs stop the safe about to drop out of the third-story window and on to their head. Kylin Hill’s Heisman numbers are about to go through the roof. CAVEAT: Mike Leach is always good to screw up road games, and this team could have a victory hangover, so I wouldn’t trust this spread against decent teams. But...yeah...this is Arkansas. The Bulldogs could hit the over by themselves (the o/u incidentally is 69. #nice). Mississippi State 59 Arkansas 23

UNC -13 12 at BC — The more that I look at this BC offense, a group that’s yet to come out of the 20s despite forcing 6 turnovers in two games, the more I like the Tarheels to look like the team that we expect them to. Throw in a Tarheel team that is in the Top 10 in nearly every defensive metric, Ben Howell, and Mack bein’ Mack, and we get a whooping in Chestnut Hill. UNC 38 — BC 17

Clemson University v University of North Carolina
It’s always sad to watch the halftime ritual slaughter of a Basic in Chapel Hill
Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Underdogs With Bite

Mizzou +12 at Tennessee — Go back and watch both of these teams play again. Missouri didn’t lose because of execution errors, poor scheme, or piss-poor coaching. At an X and O level, it’s the best we’ve seen the Tigers looks since Gary Pinkel retired. They just got whipped by a better team. Now, go back and watch the Vols play — a team that won despite having some really derpy calls, questionable decisions, and errors a’plenty against a far worse opponent. Can you tell me that this iteration of Tennessee is two scores better than MU? I can’t see it. Vols 27 — MU 24

Georgia - 6 12 vs. Auburn — Gun to our head, we think the ‘Barn gets ‘em on the road. Defenses are a wash, uninspired running games, marginally better WRs for the ‘Barn, and yeah, Auburn probably has the coaching advantage too. Bad, bad quarterbacks, but Georgia’s played inexplicably worse. Auburn is going to squat those short routes all day and force Daniels or Bennett to take the top of it (JT Daniels was cleared as of Tuesday). I don’t think UGA can do that enough to win the battles up front, and especially not with a rebuilt offensive line, to win this game on the ground. Auburn will force UGA into making mistakes that give them just enough breathing room to pull one out. This game is going to set offenses back by 30 years. Take the under, no matter how low it is (and, it is set at 45 1/2 ...which seems eerily right). It should be a very close game, but I don’t suspect it will be a good one. If it happens, don’t call it an upset. Auburn 24 — UGA 20

Navy -7 at Air Force — Any trip to the elevation is a tough one; this is the second-highest altitude where the sport is played in college ball. Throw in the commander in chief trophy round robin, and even when AFA isn’t as good as it might otherwise be, the game tends to be a close one. The teams run the identical offense, but I have a hunch that the elevation, a rebuilding Navy team, and AFA’s long offseason to work on just this game gives the Falcons the nod. Falcons with the actual upset. AFA 24 — Navy 23

For Your Consideration:

Georgia Southern -20 at ULM — Yes, that’s an absolute ton of points. But this Warhawks team is somehow even worse against the run this year than it was last. They are surrendering well north of 6 YPC with the triple option flexbone Eagles coming to town. I think it’ll get ghastly. The biggest question is can ULM keep up on the scoreboard? I don’t think they do. GSU 45 — ULM 21

Want to see an under-the-radar game with the potential to be much better than it sounds? Arkansas State (-3 12) visiting the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. The Red Wolves lost to Memphis on the road, then beat Kansas State on the road. All CCU did was go to Kansas and also pick up a win, pummeling the hapless Jayhawks. As goes the passing game for both teams, so goes their season, and I just ASU’s more. Coastal will score. But is it enough? Likely not for this battle-tested opponent, and I do like over 64 12 here too. ASU 38 — Coastal 31

Baylor -3 at West Virginia — Probably the two best defensive fronts in the Big 12 square off in what should be a very tasteful, sufficiently manly game. Add a WVU offense that couldn’t score with a platinum card in the Red Light district, and it’ll be quite low-scoring indeed. The Bears offense is leaps ahead of where the Mountaineers are (but where they need to be). Morgantown is always a tough out, but the ‘eers don’t have enough in the tank. Baylor 21 — WVU 13

Western Kentucky -7 vs. MTSU — I shall keep betting against MTSU until they prove me wrong. I don’t thing they do this week again either. The ole’ Data Machine says Hilltoppers by 8.9 (+/- 1.8 points), which includes a 2.7 point home field, so I will trust its predictive powers. WKU 38 — MTSU 27

Louisiana-Lafayette v Western Kentucky
The heart wants what the heart wants.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Mortal Lock of the Week:

BYU -23 12 vs. La. Tech — BYU is undefeated SU and ATS. So, we’re going to keep riding this Mormon train against middling and bad teams until that turnip has been squeezed dry. The Bulldogs are solidly coached, but it is not a good team. They’ve already given up 8 passing scores on the season and surrender almost 70% completions-against (did I mention they played Houston Baptist and that ghastly Southern Miss team?) The Bulldogs have been pretty good up front, but when teams are passing for 355 a game, it may have a little something to do with it. Throw in a BYU defense that has devoured its midmajor opponents, a road trip to Provo, and Kilani showing a penchant for running it up a bit. and you have the recipe for another blowout. BYU 48 — La. Tech 17