Last Week: 8-2
2020 Record: 8-2
Mortal Lock: 1-0
What went right? With an 8-2 record, basically everything went well. I’m the most pleased with the fact that I called the Ark. St. — Memphis game within one field goal. I said 34-24, it was 37-24. Ahhhh, yeah.
What went wrong? Well, I nailed BYU and told you they’d maul Navy. I just didn’t count on Keilani Sitake to be an absolute monster with no mercy. 55-3. Up 38-0 at one point, the Mormons threw a 40-yard skinny post. LAWD. Also, SMU is in a lot of trouble, methinks. Either that or Tex. State is actually decent. Maybe somewhere in the middle. We’ll hold off on both for a week or two.
Here are this week’s ways to make you some cash. As usual, I like playing the points better than the totals in most cases. Where there are exceptions, they are noted below (esp. over in App State — Charlotte). But, even in those cases, I prefer the points.
Not With a 10’ Pole and Stolen Money
UNC -22 1⁄2 vs. Syracuse — People are rightly bullish on the Tarheels this year: 10 returning starters, a solid staff, a very good HC, a manageable schedule, and a good recruiting class. But, the Orange should be better this year too. I just don’t know that it will be on offense where those improvements necessarily occur. The ‘Heels are a player in the ACC, but four scores is just too much in a conference opener, even against a promiscuous SU defense. The far better play, given SU’s improvements on offense, the persistent holes in the defense, and tons of talent in Chapel Hill would be over 65. The Orangemen have improvement on the horizon, but that means 2021, not 2020.
Texas -43 vs. UTEP — Yes, UTEP is rebuilding and somehow has gotten worse every year under Dana Dimel. But, I hate Texas’ secondary with the intensity of a thousand suns, and I don’t trust Tom Herman at all in games that are of little consequence. The ‘Horns could win 66-3...or they could win 38-10. Either way, you’re a damned fool to lay any cash on Real UT in this spot.
Long Shots Worth A Shot:
Clemson -32 at Wake Forest — Yes, it’s a ton of points. No, I don’t think the Demon Deacons can still cover it. The defense should be marginally improved this year, but the Clawfense returns just three starters, including the entire backfield. And then those n00bs are being asked to keep up with Clemson? Nah, that ain’t gonna’ happen. This is going to be CU’s spring game, as Sunshine and Ettienne battle it out for who gets to rack up the gaudiest stats in 2020. I don’t expect the Fake Tigers from the Fake Death Valley to take it easy either, given the losses at WR over the last 8 months to graduation and injury. They have to find reliable playmakers on the outside now. That’s not a good combo for Wake.
Kansas State -10 1⁄2 vs. Arkansas State — The Red Wolves aren’t chumps, but they can be ran upon, as Memphis showed us. Against a KSU team that only returns three starters, you suspect that will be the ‘Cats formula as they rebuild on both sides of the ball. Play defense, pound the rock, win the battle up front. Old school football as you find out what kind of team you have in Manhattan. So, double-digits with that many questions on both sides of the ball is too much to ask against a deep, experienced conference-title contender like ASU. KSU could wind up being very good this year, or (far more likely) they could take a huge step back.
As a side note, with Satterfield and Mack Brown in their second year, Rhett Lashlee pulling the trigger in Coral Gables, ‘Cuse rebuilding, and Mike Norvell walking into a ton of talent for a change, in a year or so Dabo’s ACC won’t be quite the Stay-Puft experience that he and the toothless mob have come to expect. But, don’t tell him just yet. Let Uncle Clem enjoy this beatdown of a hapless Deacs team. Clemson 51 — Wake 3. And I will be taking under 60 1⁄2 as well. Wake couldn’t score on good teams last year, and I don’t see that changing with a significantly worse 2020 roster.
Texas State -8 vs. UTSA — (This one originally was one to not touch with a 10-foot pole.) On paper it looks pretty good, and I may wind up taking TSU anyway. But in good faith, I can’t recommend you doing so. If this were 6 1/2 , sure? But not at 8 points. And, as noted above, I really want to see the Bobcats again before we get an idea of what they’re dealing with under Spavital. They looked remarkably competent against SMU.
You know what? I’ve changed my mind and talked myself into it anyway. UTSA is in a complete rebuild with a brand new and inexperienced coaching staff (led by a special teams assistant!), with squat for talent, and they’re on the road — while the Bobcats have a game under their belt already. Go ahead and take the ‘Cats laying -8. And looking at what UTSA is bringing into this one, and how well TXSU played last week, under 57 1⁄2 is looking a’might bit tasty too.
Bet the House, Baby
Florida State -12 1⁄2 vs. Georgia Tech — This ain’t Willie Taggart’s FSU team...nor, for that matter, are these Paul Johnson’s annoyingly-competent BEEEEEEES. Norvell chased a lot of those Jimbo and Taggart candy-asses out and brought over anyone with a pulse who wanted to be a Seminole. Geoff Collins meanwhile is in the midst of a what will be a half-decade rebuild to get a competent FBS roster. FSU is already there. The upside for Beeees fans is that GT returns 19 starters. The downside is that it’s 19 Georgia Tech starters. Still, the experience will serve them well this year as they score a few upsets. But it won’t be in this one. Womp. Womp.
Look for the new-look ‘Noles to go fast, to go deep, and to lean on a physical running game. A veteran defensive coaching staff brought over from Memphis will help FSU become more aggressive and lessen those tendencies to to give up big plays. (I still hate the FSU linebackers though; they’ve not had a decent unit since Bobby Bowden). This was almost the Mortal Lock of the Week...but, the offseason gaffes may come back to bite the Seminoles. I think those issues evaporate once the whistle blows though.
Are we Talkin’ ‘Bout the Noles, yet? Not quite...but it won’t be long until we are either. 38-20 FSU sounds right.
Baylor -18 1⁄2 vs. Louisiana Tech — You don’t want to bet on a new coach to win his debut by three scores against a team with a cagey, veteran coach. Few guys have consistently done as good a job as Skip Holtz has in Ruston. But the Bulldogs are on the road against a loaded BU team, and they return just two starters on the defensive two-deep. That’s a tough, tough spot. Plus, you get the feeling that Dave Aranda is a lot like Kirby and McElwain — one of those guys who has been around winning programs enough to know how it’s done. The Angry Era begins in Waco swimmingly: BU 37 La. Tech 13
Western Kentucky at Louisville - 11 — If Tyson Helton’s Hilltoppers had any sort of returning talent in the backfield, I’d rake WKU to cover. But, they don’t. The ‘Ville, however, does return a lot of talent on an explosive offense. That will be the difference, and my Satterfield mancrush grows. Of all the games with the most potential to go off the rails this week, I think it might be this one...at least for a quarter or so. Luhvl 41 WKU 20
U-La-La at Iowa State -11 1⁄2 — There are very good G5 teams, and the Raging Cajuns are such a team. And there are good Power 5 teams — with Iowa State being such a team. When the ‘twain meet, the good P5 tends to muscle the other one around. Now, throw in a senior Brock Purdy and the weirdly-tough Ames homefield, and the ULL defense just can’t keep here. Be on the lookout for over 57, especially in garbage time., but def. take the Cyclones ISU 45 ULL 24
Enjoy Billy Napier while you have him, Cajuns. The ‘Rona has probably derailed a lot of firings for a season, but he’ll be on everyone’s wish list regardless.
Kansas -7 vs. Coastal Carolina — Last year the Chanticleers won this fug game 12-7. That won’t happen in 2020. CC’s nickel-and-dime option offense will give the rebuilding Jayhawks defense some trouble, but KU will lean on Pooka behind an all-upperclassmen offensive line and win just the way that Les wants to: in a fashion as ugly as it is criminally insane. 24-14 Kansas.
UNC-C +17 at Appalachian State — The Mountaineers are about to find out how much coaching continuity matters. On their third coach in three years, they host the dangerous UNC-Charlotte Miners, a team that is far more annoying than you would suspect. Last year, UNCC played FAU and App. State within 17 on the road both times. This time around, they get an ASU team that is facing a significant rebuild on defense and is without the CUSA’s Defensive and Offensive Players of the year. The ASU offense will be potent again, they do return veteran talent at most every position. So, Charlotte is going to get scored on. But this same UNCC team hung 41 on Appie last year, and they can strike a few blows of their own. Does Charlotte get the upset? Probably not. I still think ASU is a quality team in the Top 25. But UNCC is going to make them sweat it. Full-blown shootout alert in Boone. 45-37 ASU. And I love over 59 1⁄2 .
ULM -20 at Army — Told y’all: The Black Knights were going to be a surprisingly good team this year. They came out of the gates and mollywalloped MTSU. This ULM team is far worse than the Blue Raiders. Did I mention the Warhawks surrendered 5.7 YPC last season? And they’re on the road against a triple option team? Bad, bad combo. Army 41 ULM 13
Mortal Lock of The Week:
Miami -13 1⁄2 vs. UAB — No offense to the Blazers, but I’ve now seen what Rhett Lashlee’s offensive scheme can do at three separate stops (not counting you, ‘Barn). And it is hella’ impressive. I think that UM may wind up being potentially scary-good (and that Lashlee will be coaching the ‘Canes in a year or so). D’Eriq King is going to feast on the nougaty goodness in the ACC and vault himself into the dark horse Heisman discussion. It begins here: The ‘Canes are going to smoke UAB like a dime bag in the CHOP. If this game is within four touchdowns, I will show you my browser history. (But then you’ll get on a watch list. Just warning you.) Gun to my head, give me the ‘Canes something like 48-17