It feels weird to be this jazzed up about basketball, doesn’t it? Yet, here I am, telling you the same thing I have said since January — I’m excited for this Final Four team lurking in Tuscaloosa.
Keon Ellis could mature into the best two-way player in America. Jelly and Shack’s awesome scoring output didn’t go anywhere. And JD Davison...man, that kid is the truth.
Oh, wait...We were talking about football, weren’t we? Not the man I’d take a bullet for?
Here are a handy half-dozen (as well as the most toxic line of the week to steer clear of, and let’s begin by telling you what to stay away from.
Tennessee +21 vs. UGA — The stat spread looks reasonably solid here (UGA -23.54, 98% CI). And the Vawls have imploded down the stretch against UF / Alabama, blowing two covers with their go-for-broke, 4th down attempts at every field position.
No, rather I’m hesitant here because UT is by far the most efficient offense that UGA has seen to date — 17th overall (9th in generating explosive plays, 3rd in play efficiency). The ‘Dawgs have looked great, but really, what offense have they beaten? 3-loss, run-first Kentucky with a turnover-prone career backup as their star...at home? 3-loss Arkansas with a hurt freshman QB...at home? 3-loss Clemson with an immobile inexperienced one? A 4-5 Florida team with two glorified running backs? The most daunting offense they’ve faced on the road has been...Clemson.
Throw in the loss of Anderson, UGA’s best pass rusher, and I think this could be absolutely poisonous. Pitt and Ole Miss were in a battle for their life against the Vols in Neyland. This team is a very tough out at home. You’re going to have to stop the pass and throw the ball yourself. UGA should win, sure. But by that margin? Nah, just watch it instead, as we finally get some idea of what kind of secondary UGA is even fielding this year. Because after 10 weeks, you still don’t know how they will respond to a concerted air attack, even less so how they will after this week’s off-the-field issues.
South Florida +23 vs. Cincinnati — The Bearcats have gone 1-3 ATS in their last four. USF has also gone 1-3 ATS in their last four, so some trend has to give on Friday. But, the Bearcats are finally back on national television, and it’s time to earn some goodwill back from the pollsters and committee. They’ve been great nationally broadcast this year (3-0 ATS). Stomping the Bulls won’t necessarily do it, but they can’t afford to lose any more ground, not when so many 1-loss Power 5 teams are looking like crap.
Fortunately, the state of USF’s offense is so trash, that Cincy’s defense alone may cover this one.
We’ll take the Bearcats (-30.47 at 98%) 38-7ish
FIU +10 at MTSU — Like the Marshall/UAB game, the home team is just the better one here — and are better than the spread projection by almost a full score. MTSU is outpacing performance metrics by almost a full TD (6.7), while FIU is undershooting their mark on the road by double digits (10.8). And the data already suggested that Mighty Middle should win by two TDs.
Let’s throw that in a stew together, and say that it’s not particularly close. Poor Butch Davis; this awful Panthers team was no way to close out a career.
MTSU -18.4 (91% to cover 10)
UTSA -33 vs. So. Miss — So Miss is 1-8 against the chalk; the Roadrunners are 8-1, and perfect at home ATS.
The data say UTSA by 39.39 at 99%, so huge or not, we’re going with it. This Golden Eagles offense is among the worst I’ve ever seen for such a proud program with a solid tradition of putting points on the board.
UTSA 42 So. Miss 3
Michigan State -13 vs. Maryland — The Terps have yet to cover a road spread this season, and are underperforming metrics by over 5 PPG OTR against B1G teams. As with that FIU team, it’s not just a matter of not covering for UMD, it’s also a matter of complete flameouts when they lose.
Whereas, MSU is +7.8 in B1G play this season to go with their healthy 75% ATS record. They’re not winning with smoke and mirrors — MSU is beating who they should beat, by even more on average than metrics suggest. The secondary is still a bit iffy, so Sparty will give up some, sure. But the Terps give up a ton.
While the number is already solid here (-18.3, 88% CI), it’s even better for MSU when looking at all the trends.
Sparty 42 Maryland 24
WKU -18.5 at Rice — The Owls have to be considered a success this season. They’re not bowl eligible, and won’t be making one either. But they have sprung a few upsets, are near .500 in conference play, and are at .500 at home.
Still, they’re facing the nation’s most potent passing attack with their pitiful 103rd-ranked pass efficiency defense. That’s a tough combination, esp. since WKU is overperforming spread expectations by well over a FG per contest too, and are a smoldering 4-1 ATS the last 5.
WKU -23.67 at 96% CI
Houston -24 at Temple — Recall last week when I was baffled why UH wasn’t favored by more over USF? Repeat the same thing against this far-worse Temple team.
Holgo loves to run it up on bad teams too. Even adjusting for Temple’s home field (which is surprisingly among the best in the AAC, at near 5 PPG), it’s still an Abe Lincoln Game — four scores.
UH -30.55 at 97%
Texas -31 vs. Kansas — Is there any team more in need of a defiant ass-kicking to save jobs (and face) than the Longhorns? No. I don’t think there is. Horns fans are pining for Tom Herman back, FFS.
Fortunately, KU has the cure for what ails mediocre teams — the Power 5’s worst defense and its second-worst offense. That is music to Sarkisian’s ears, who has ran it up on bad teams this year when given a chance. Honestly, the metrics suggest this game should be an even larger spread than it already is.
Take the Longhorns, YUGE, bigly even. This may be the closest thing to a Mortal Lock since we bet against the Jayhawks as the Mortal Lock...just last week. In fact, OU is the only team that hasn’t covered the spread against KU. And, well, if Sark can’t put a 5-score thumping on this awful squad, just fire him now and send him back to Tuscaloosa (Wait. Do that anyway. Please?!)
UT -43.57 at 99%., Longhorns 63-65ish Jayhawks 20-23ish
That’s it. Go forth lads and lasses to profit, and a fat bank. You can also check out plenty more at our SuperGroup.
And, I think I picked out about 30 games this week, and another dozen to avoid, over at my companion site. You’re free to check that out, as well (and if you do, be sure to sign up to get free stuff I’m giving away).
We’ll see you tonight after the hoops game. Until then, keep your powder dry...and away from Alabama (-51.5)!