Now that the calendar has flipped to November, we are in the final stretch of the college football season. With the first edition of the College Football Playoff rankings being released on Tuesday, teams know the path they must take to get into the top four. This week’s slate is loaded with four ranked matchups that all have playoff implications on the line. Let’s dive in!
“Am I getting enough points to fade Bama?” Game of the Week:
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide @ #3 LSU Tigers +14.5; O/U 53.5
What a battle this is shaping up to be in Death Valley on Saturday night as both of these teams come in well rested off a bye week. For LSU, this has been a season of proving everyone wrong. Coming into the year they were projected to finish towards the bottom of the SEC West, but three top ten wins has quickly showed people this team is legit. However, all of those great wins will be for not if they can’t beat Alabama. Les Miles had a .770 winning percentage at LSU but was mostly fired for the sheer fact he couldn’t conquer the Goliath that is Alabama. Coach O was born and raised in Louisiana so he knows the importance of this one.
Now Alabama hasn’t been tested the way LSU has but they’ve taken care of business winning games by an average of 38.25 PPG. Tua is tied for sixth in the country in passing touchdowns and has yet to throw a pass in the fourth quarter. Bama has been rolling teams early as they are 8-0 ATS in the first half this season. Let’s look at some other trends going into this matchup:
- Alabama is 7-0 SU its last seven vs. LSU winning by an average of 13 PPG
- LSU hasn’t lost at home by double digits since 2016
- Under Nick Saban, Alabama is 18-11 ATS when favored by double-digits against a ranked team
The key to this game will be if LSU is able to prevent an early onslaught from Alabama as they have been outscoring teams by almost 17 points in the first quarter of games this year. If LSU can avoid the Tua 70-yard bomb to start the game than they’ll have a great shot in this one. Having said all of that, I like taking the points in this situation. As mentioned above, Alabama hasn’t been tested yet and they won’t be able to move the ball easily on this LSU defense (ranked 7th in the country in points allowed). Coach O is going to have this team fired up and the crowd at Death Valley is going to play a huge factor. I believe this will be a low scoring game (under has hit in six of the last eight matchups) and LSU able to cover the 14.5 number.
Bonus: If you’re able to find LSU ML take it. It’s currently +475 on Action Network which is unbelievable value for a top-5 team at home.
Double Bonus: I just saw this and I’m now terrified for LSU
Weekly Quest for Six:
Michigan State Spartans @ Maryland Terrapins +2.5
With Indiana on bye this week (thank god), I decided to change up this section to another Big Ten matchup between two teams a win away from bowl eligibility. It has been a crazy week for the Terps off the field with all the drama surrounding the program. On Tuesday, the university decided to reinstate head coach DJ Durkin after determining he couldn’t be held fully responsible for the off-season death of offensive lineman Jordan Mcnair. Interesting stance to take for a guy a who was 10-15 in two seasons as head coach. Well the backlash came swift and Maryland certainly heard it as they decided to fire Durkin the next day. Maybe just a little too late to take the moral high ground but it was the necessary move. However, the dysfunction doesn’t stop there as Maryland punter Matthew Barber was beaten up by teammates for allegedly speaking out against Durkin, leaving him with a dislocated shoulder and needing multiple stitches. Now the accused player is saying that’s a lie and he hurt him for other reasons but all and all it’s an absolute dumpster fire right now in College Park.
I have a hard time believing Maryland will be mentally prepared to play a football game on Saturday so that’s why I love Michigan State. The Spartans are 4-1 ATS/SU its last five on the road and have the top ranked rushing defense in the country. This has been a tumultuous week for the Terrapins and their minds won’t be focused on football in this one.
Gamecast Game of the Week:
Marshall Thundering Herd @ Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles +2.5
In honor of Nick Mullens tearing up the Raiders on Thursday Night Football right now, I just had to feature Southern Mississippi. Mullens is certainly putting this program on the map, not some other guy who played their named Brett Favre. Favre currently has his number 4 retired by the Golden Eagles but you have to think if Mullens stays on this pace they’ll replace Favre’s name with Mullens. Getting back to this game though, it’s another great matchup of mascots:
This is my favorite part of non-Power 5 football. They might not have the talent level of say an Alabama or Clemson, but these games always bring the fire when it comes to the mascots. Ok, ok lets actually talk about this football game. Last season when these two teams met Southern Miss came out victorious after Marshall went for two to win the game. Now for anyone who may not know, I have a lot of ties to this Marshall football team. My favorite video game growing up was NCAA Football 2009 and I started my coaching dynasty with Marshall. I led them to three straight undefeated seasons yet was still never given the shot to play for the BCS Championship. I wanted to stay and bring a ‘ship back to Huntington but when USC came knocking with a massive offer it was hard to pass up. My heart will always be with Marshall though and that’s why I like them in this game. Marshall is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games on the road and 5-2 SU its last seven matchups vs Southern Miss. Southern Miss has questions around the quarterback position and has other key positions on the offense banged up. Marshall is still in the hunt to play in the C-USA championship game so I expect them to come in motivated off of last year’s tough loss and come out victorious.
Late Night Desperation Game of the Week:
San Diego State Aztecs @ New Mexico Lobos +10; O/U 45
The first thing that jumps out to me when looking at this game is the over/under is only at 45. For a college football game that is crazy low. Now, granted there are a few stats and trends to justify this low of a number:
- San Diego State is only allowing 19.6 PPG good for 23rd in the country
- Out of 130 Division 1 football teams, SDSU is tied for 122nd in scoring offense
- The under has hit five of the last six times these two teams have played
Now those are definitely some good reasons why this total is so low and the under may be a good play, howeeevva (Stephen A) I implore you to take the over. For as putrid as the Aztecs may be on offense, the Lobos aren’t much better on the defensive side of the ball. The Lobos are giving up 35.6 PPG which is good for 113th in the country and they come off a game where they gave up 61 points to Utah State. The over is 6-2 in New Mexico games this year and San Diego State will be able to put up points against this weak Lobos defense. Now if you’re still wavering on taking the over think of it from this perspective. You’re at a pregame Saturday night and you’re talking to a nice girl or boy, doesn’t matter, and need something interesting to talk about. You obviously bring up Full Slate and he/she obviously knows about it and this article comes up. They then ask you who you took for this late night game and you tell them you took the under?!? Any sort of connection/vibe you may have been feeling is instantly ruined as no one wants to be with someone who took the under when the total is 45. Don’t ruin that opportunity for yourself and take the over in this one.
Premier Games of the Week:
#13 West Virginia Mountaineers @ #17 Texas Longhorns -1.5; O/U 58
Stat to keep an eye on: Texas is 3-7 ATS its last 10 games as home favorite
Last week, as predicted in my Week 9 deep dive, Texas slipped up on the road in Stillwater as they’re playoff hopes have all been squashed. However, all is not lost for the Longhorns this season as they still control their own fate to make the Big 12 Championship game. West Virginia comes into this one also controlling their own destiny and still has an outside shot of making the CFP. With only one loss, the Mountaineers will need some help but a game like this gives them a great shot at bolstering their resume. Lets look at some stats and trends for this one:
- West Virginia is 1-11 SU its last 12 as an underdog
- The total has gone under in 17 of Texas’s last 21 conference games
- Texas is 5-0 SU its last five at home
- West Virginia has the No. 2 rush defense (132.9 YPG) and No. 2 pass defense (216.6 YPG) in the conference
The total in this one may appear low first looking at it especially for a Big 12 game. But if you look at the numbers above, this West Virginia defense is a stingy group. Along with being at the top of rush/pass defense in the Big 12, they are also only allowing 19.6 PPG. This is a tough one, any total under 60 in the Big 12 seems like an easy bet for the over but these two teams are good on the defensive side of the ball… hmmm what to do, what to do? Take the over! If my spiel about the last game taught you anything its take the over. You don’t want to be sitting nervously this entire game hoping for punts in a Big 12 game. When this game is 14-10 after the first quarter you’ll feel sick to your stomach taking the under. For the game, I like Texas to bounce-back after last week’s tough loss. West Virginia hasn’t played that tough of a schedule yet and this is a tough road environment to play in. Expect a back-and-forth shootout, with Texas pulling out the victory late.
#6 Georgia Bulldogs @ #9 Kentucky Wildcats +8.5; O/U 44.5
Stat to keep an eye on: Georgia is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Kentucky
Who knew Kentucky had a football team? With the basketball team gearing up to play Duke on Tuesday night you’d figure that would be the biggest story in Lexington but it’s actually the Wildcats football team. They are in the middle of a dream season and control their own destiny to make the CFP. Who would’ve thought a big time basketball school is capable of building up a football program when they hire the right coach? What a wild idea (looking at you Fred Glass). For the Wildcats to keep the dream alive, they’re going to need to play better than they have been the last month. They needed a late score last week to beat Missouri and squeaked out a win the prior week vs. a bad Vanderbilt team. The key for Kentucky is if they can get the ground game going with star running back Benny Snell who has the eighth most rushing yards in the country. If they’re able to control the pace of the game the Wildcats will have a shot to pull of the upset.
For Georgia, they got back on track last week by thrashing rival Florida. Jake Fromm bounced-back after the LSU game and played great throwing three touchdowns helping the Bulldogs pull away late. They come into this one with everyone expecting them to win, to crush Kentucky’s playoff hopes. Will they? As much as I love to see an upset and the upstart team knock off the perennial power, I think Georgia wins this one. Kentucky’s passing game is abysmal, averaging only 148 yards per game. This will allow Georgia to focus in on stuffing the Kentucky running game. Georgia just has more talent and will be able to assert their dominance as they ruin Kentucky’s playoff chances.
#14 Penn State Nittany Lions @ #5 Michigan Wolverines -12; O/U 53.5
Stat to keep an eye on: Penn State is 1-7 SU in its last eight games on the road vs Michigan
If it wasn’t for a terrible Nate Stanley interception on the goal line and questionable coaching decisions by Kirk Ferentz, I would’ve been on the right side of Iowa money line vs. Penn State. However, we don’t live in an if, and, or buts world so Penn State still came out victorious in that one. Having said, I still don’t believe this Penn State team measures up to the ones from the last couple of years and will have a tough time Saturday in Ann Arbor. Since Michigan lost opening night vs. Notre Dame, they have been crushing everyone in their path including back-to-back wins over Wisconsin and Michigan State. They currently sit fifth in the first edition of the CFP rankings and have all the makings of a playoff team.
Their defense is dominating as they have held opponents to less than 100 passing yards in half of its games and only allowed more than 150 yards on the ground once. They are also tied for 16th in the country in sacks which doesn’t bode well for Trace McSorley who got banged up in the Iowa game. Penn State embarrassed Michigan last year beating them 42-13 and I think that game is still in the minds of Michigan players. The whole talk all off season about the Wolverines was how since Harbaugh has been at Michigan they haven’t beaten the premier teams and that talk only intensified after the Notre Dame loss. Penn State is one of those teams and I expect them to be another victim on Michigan’s path to the CFP. -12 may seem like a big number but I expect Michigan to come out on fire after a week off to prepare and not let their foot off the gas petal all game.
P.S: These three premier games are all scheduled to kickoff within 15 minutes of each other. The NCAA couldn’t have staggered these games?