Last week I crushed it, bringing my record to 71-52 (57.7%) on the season. I also went 4-0 in the NFL to bring my record to 27-15 on the year. You can find all of my NFL picks on my podcast which every episode is posted on my twitter, @mikerothou.
Note: All team rankings will be based on S&P+ formula by Bill Connelly
Wednesday: Ball State +19 At Toledo: I’ve faded Ball State the past two weeks and it has worked well because each time fading them has covered by over two touchdowns, This week, however, I’m riding with the Cardinals. Ball State was just a 10.5 point underdog at Ohio, a team probably a little better than this Toledo team, and now Ball State is getting 19 points from a Toledo team that is worse than past seasons. Toledo’s only FBS wins this year are in games where they gave up 44 and 36 points to teams with a combined record of 6-11 and a game against Western Michigan where the Broncos had to use a backup quarterback after four passing attempts by starter Jon Wassink. Toledo has also outperformed their final score projection in five of their last six games. The Rockets have been outscored by only one point their last six games despite having an adjusted final score projection margin of -53.3 in those contests. Expect that to come back and have the Rockets underperform their projections in this game.
Thursday: Northern Illinois At Akron under 37.5: These two teams have the 124th and 125th ranked offenses in the nation. Akron is averaging 16 points per game in conference play compared that to a Northern Illinois offense that has failed to score over 20 points in a single out of conference game.
Ohio -1 At Western Michigan: I’ve been pretty solid with my picks in Ohio games this year, and I’m very confident in backing my school in this MACtion battle. Western Michigan is ranked 85th in the nation, but has the 105th defense in the nation. The Broncos are led by a passing game that ranks 26th, but without stud QB Jon Wassink, the Broncos lost by 27 to a Toledo team that has been disappointing this season. Ohio came into the season as preseason MAC favorites, and despite a slow start, the Bobcats are starting to figure things out. Nathan Rourke has been fantastic and the Bobcats defense has held every single MAC opponent to under 30 points this season. That comes after a season opening stretch where they gave up over 30 points to each of the four non conference opponents, including giving up 32 points to FCS Howard and 45 points to Virginia. With an improved defense and an offense that has exploded in the past two weeks, I expect Ohio to roll into Kalamazoo and get another conference victory.
Friday: Pitt At Virginia over 48.5: Don’t look, but Pitt has started to play actual offense in the past couple ACC games. The Panthers have scored 35, 44, and 54 points in their last three ACC games. Virginia has played in some ugly, low scoring games this season, but the Cavaliers should have little trouble scoring some points against the 98th ranked defense in the nation.
Saturday: Michigan State -1 At Maryland: The last time I doubted Maryland’s focus, they beat a ranked Texas team that just lost their second game of the season in Stillwater last week. But this time I have to take the Spartans because of the pure chaos going on in the Maryland football program. The team announced that DJ Durkin would continue to be the head coach, proceeded to have a very weird press conference, and also it was reported that multiple players walked out of a team meeting this morning. Maryland football looks like a disaster and Mark Dantonio is a master at beating opponents that beat themselves.
Memphis -13 At East Carolina: Memphis is coming into this game motivated off of a bye. The Tigers lost to UCF in a monsoon by one point and then got crushed by Missouri. I’d expect an A+ effort from Memphis because they have not locked up a bowl appearance yet, and this is a perfect opportunity to ensure that happens. Memphis does have the 9th ranked offense in the country, led by Darrell Henderson who leads the country in yards per rush by over two yards per carry! Memphis does struggle on the defensive side of the football, ranking 100th in the nation, but East Carolina boasts the 122nd ranked offense. This should be a get right game for the Tigers defense.
Iowa State -14.5 At Kansas: This is a pure fade of Kansas. I really don’t care what the final scores have said, the Jayhawks are just as bad this year as they usually are. In conference games, Kansas has had a postgame win expectancy of 2%, 0%, 0%, 0%, and 4% (was actually a win) this shows that other Big 12 teams (yes even Baylor) are simply much better than Kansas this season. Iowa State is due for a letdown game, coming off a huge victory over Texas Tech at home, but Matt Campbell cannot afford a loss to Kansas if he wants to prove himself as a legitimate NFL coaching candidate.
Georgia -9 At Kentucky: I have no idea how Kentucky pulled out their last second victory over Missouri, but it created an awesome winner take all battle for SEC East supremacy in Lexington this Saturday. Georgia is coming off a huge victory over Florida, but the Bulldogs know that they only way they can return to the college football playoff is likely by winning out, so I’m not worried about their focus level. Jake Fromm is one of the most disrespected quarterbacks in the nation, and he proved how valuable he is against Florida, throwing for 10 yards per pass and three touchdowns. Kentucky’s only real hope is to keep this game very low scoring, but with the amount of talent Georgia has on the outside, I expect them to cover. The Bulldogs could potentially struggle against the 3rd ranked defense in the country, but they should have enough weapons to win by double digits. Terry Wilson is going to eventually cost Kentucky a chance at victory, and I think that game is this Saturday. The sophomore quarterback is only throwing for 5.5 yards per pass attempt, which is not going to get it done against the 6th ranked pass defense. If Georgia can get up early, I find it highly unlikely Wilson leads the Wildcats offense down the field to score consistently.
UTEP +1 At Rice: Everybody knows how much I love taking winless teams as favorites and going against unbeaten teams as underdogs, and despite this not fitting this criteria, I’m going to ride with winless UTEP. The Miners have actually fought the past couple weeks of the season, falling by 7, 9, 3, 7, and 19 points in their last five games. These close calls haven’t been against the bottom feeders of conference USA, in fact, the last three games were against the top three teams in the West division. UTEP is beyond due for a win, after going 0-12 last season and starting this year 0-8. I’d expect all of the upperclassmen to play with a chip on their shoulder and make winning this game the main priority for the season.
Utah At Arizona State under 56: Both of these offenses are fairly average (41st and 42nd) and while Arizona State has a bad defense, (85th) I still expect a lower scoring game. Utah has gone under this total in four of their six PAC 12 games this season, and two of the games went under despite the Utes scoring over 40 points in those games. Arizona State got a lot of hype early in the season, but after San Diego State burst their bubble, they have stayed under the radar. I am worried going against the Sun Devils offense because Manny Wilkins and N’Keal Harry can score lots of points in a comeback performance, but I’d be surprised if Utah jumps out to a huge advantage because Utah is 90th in points per play offensively. (ignoring garbage time)
Missouri At Florida under 58: Drew Lock is simply terrible against teams with solid defenses. In three games against ranked opponents this season, Lock has only one touchdown pass and doesn’t have a single game with a QBR of over 40. Florida showed off some talent on both sides of the football against Georgia, but eventually they weren’t able to stay with the Bulldogs because of a lack of offensive explosiveness. The Gators rank outside the top 50 in passing marginal explosiveness and outside the top 100 of rushing marginal explosiveness. Florida should use their 21st ranked offense on success rate to keep Lock off the field and chew clock on most of their scoring drives.
Appalachian State At Coastal Carolina over 57.5: App State got dominated on national TV and their offense looked terrible, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Mountaineers have been awesome all season. App State has the 44th ranked passing offense and 15th ranked passing marginal efficiency. I love App State’s offense even more to bounce back because Coastal Carolina has the 128th ranked defense in the nation! I don’t expect App State to take their foot off the gas pedal against a Chanticleers team has the 26th ranked offense in the country.
Uconn +18 At Tulsa: I know Uconn is likely the worst team in the nation, but Tulsa shouldn’t be laying over two touchdowns and a field goal against anybody. Uconn does have one of the worst defenses in college football history, but have been close against South Florida and Umass (falling by 7 and 5 respectively). Tulsa also shouldn’t be able to take too much advantage of Uconn’s defense because Tulsa has only the 116th ranked passing offense in the country. If there will ever be a game where Uconn competes defensively in good weather, it’s this one.
Notre Dame -9 At Northwestern: I know I got burned fading Northwestern, but the Wildcats have outperformed their second order wins by 1.2 games already this season, despite the fact that they have negative turnover luck. I’m also higher on Notre Dame because Ian Book is legitimately good at football. After replacing Brandon Wimbush, he has made the Fighting Irish offense much more efficient and explosive. Book has thrown for 8.0 yards per pass and has a 13-4 TD-INT ratio this season. If he can put up points early against a solid Northwestern defense, the Wildcats’ 105th ranked offense shouldn’t be able to come back.
Louisiana Tech +23.5 At Mississippi State: I know the Bulldogs have a dominant defensive line, but LSU couldn’t push around Louisiana Tech when they matched up earlier this season. Combine this with the fact that Joey Burrow and Nick Fitzgerald have some things in common, and that is that they struggle to pass the football accurately to their receivers downfield. If Mississippi State is going to cover this game it’s because they dominated the 115th ranked rushing defense, but scoring on the Bulldogs (Louisiana Tech) will chew clock. Another factor that made me take Louisiana Tech is the fact that Mississippi State is only a 16.9 point favorite according to S&P+. That touchdown difference gives too much value on the underdog.
Oklahoma At Texas Tech over 77.5: Bruce Feldman did a fantastic job recreating the biggest offensively explosion that I can remember watching in the 2016 matchup between these two teams for The Athletic, just in time for the game this season. Alan Bowman and Kyler Murray will not be the Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield combination in terms of NFL talent, but both guys are still crazy talented. Bowman has thrown 15 touchdowns this season for the 16th ranked offense. Oklahoma has the top offense in the nation and will put up points against a Red Raiders defense that has given up over 40 points four times this season, and I’d expect Oklahoma to easily hit that total in this contest.