ATS record (2017): 13-8.
Saturday, September 23
Mississippi State at Georgia (-7)
Mississippi State more than handled a good LSU team last week (37-7) and proved they’re worthy of being considered a top-10 team. They’re big, efficient on offense, and experienced on defense; coming from behind against a team that’s this good at getting to the passer is tough. On the other end of this bet, Georgia’s played App State, Samford, and Notre Dame, and is starting a true freshman at quarterback. I believe in Nick Chubb, I really do, and Jake Fromm has the potential to be something very special. In the preseason, I would have projected this to be a seven-point game and I would have struggled with the line back then. That was before Mississippi State stuffed LSU in a locker, and before Georgia slotted in a teenager at QB.
My pick: Mississippi State (+7) to cover.
Alabama (-18.5) at Vanderbilt
The big lines you get with Alabama are risky because ‘Bama rarely blows out opponents to the extent of its ability. This week, however, the line is a little more palatable than it’s been in weeks past (forty-something against Fresno State was scary) and Saban has something to prove. The Tide didn’t put away Colorado State the way they should have, which means that Nick Saban will be in a mood this whole week and Vanderbilt will learn some uncomfortable lessons about execution and doing things the right way and Minkah Fitzpatrick.
By any measure, 18.5 points is well within the capabilities of Alabama, and if anything, I’m worried that this line won’t last.
My pick: Alabama (-18.5) to cover.
Wake Forest (-4) at Appalachian State
As much as I love App State, Wake Forest is onto something in 2017. The Deacs have outscored their opponents 131-27 so far, and if they weren’t named “Wake Forest,” you would have them marked down as a really good team. Appalachian State’s been up and down, getting blown out by Georgia in a game that was supposed to be competitive and then squeaking out a win at Texas State in a game that wasn’t. I’m not ready to completely hitch my wagon to Wake Forest and Arkeem Byrd just yet, but against this underperforming App State team and a modest spread? Sure.
Seriously, what’s up with Wake Forest?
My pick: Wake Forest (-4) to cover.
TCU at Oklahoma State (-11.5)
I’m a shameless Okie State fan, but I’m having some trouble wrapping my head around this one. TCU is a very good — and likely underrated — football team that’s better than anyone OSU has faced so far. They’re also one of the few teams in the country that could potentially go blow-for-blow with the Cowboys in a shootout, as Kenny Hill (formerly Kenny Trill) and this offense can be seriously explosive.
I’m going with OSU, because I have yet to see anybody find a way to stop the Mason Rudolph/James Washington connection. The Pitt game was deeply impressive, despite Pitt’s secondary being seriously spotty. TCU has one of the best secondaries in the Big 12, and if anyone in the conference can cover James Washington, it’s Ranthony Texada, but I’d still rather back the offense that scored 49 points in one half against another Power 5 team.
My pick: Oklahoma State (-11.5) to cover. Fingers crossed on this one. The safer bet here is the over (66.5).
Cincinnati at Navy (-11)
I’m not sure why Navy’s so heavily favored here. Cincinnati took a blowout loss to Michigan on the road, but everyone expected that. The Bearcats have otherwise performed as expected (26-14 win over Austin Peay; 21-17 win over Miami, OH). Navy has, too, thrashing FAU in Week 1 (42-19) but narrowly beating Tulane in Week 2 (23-21). Cincinnati and Navy are similar teams, in terms of overall strength. With homefield, the edge goes to Navy, but not by much more than a field goal. An 11-point spread is a head scratcher.
My pick: Cincinnati (+11) to cover.
Syracuse at LSU (-23.5)
LSU just got pushed around by a Mississippi State team with a size advantage, and now they have to chase around Syracuse for 60 minutes. They’re not going to see this kind of uptempo team anywhere else on their schedule, and Syracuse presents a unique challenge for the Tigers.
I’m worried about the LSU offense’s ability to build up this kind of a lead. They haven’t exactly been prolific, with QB Danny Etling looking vaguely similar to how he’s always looked. I’m not telling you to be on upset alert, but I don’t like LSU’s chances of running away with it, at least to this degree.
My pick: Syracuse (+23.5) to cover.