McPhil’s Week 8 College Picks

Thanks to some poor ball security and offensive struggles, Northwestern fell short of covering the spread against Nebraska by just a point leaving me at 0-1 against the spread for college. From here on out I will be giving two picks for college weekly. Without further adieu, let’s get to the picks.

College picks ATS: 0-1

NC State @ Clemson, NC State covers the spread (+16.5)

Clemson will very likely win this game, but I think this spread is absurdly large and that people are severely underrating how good the Wolfpack was last season, and how good they’ve continued to be this season. Clemson is a good team with a young, inexperienced quarterback that has performed well from a clean pocket but has been spotty under pressure. Clemson would like to rely on their star running back Etienne and take as much pressure off Lawrence as possible, but I expect N.C. State’s stout run-defense to prove more difficult than previous opponents the Tigers have faced.

Not only is N.C. State’s defense one of the better units in the country, but their receiving core is one of the more talented and deep units in college football currently. Add that to the stellar performance of Ryan Finley this season and a narrow loss to Clemson last year, and I firmly believe this spread is just way too high. According to Pro Football Focus, “[Finley] hasn’t let pressure affect him much, fielding the ACC’s top passer rating under duress at 99.2. Ryan Finley has been the highest-graded on a per-snap basis, with an impressive 40.3% of his passes earning a positive grade from us, and his team generating 0.42 expected points each time he drops back to throw. Clemson has been absolutely dominant against the run on early downs, allowing just a 21.51% success rate, but have not been as dominant against the pass (41.07%)”. I expect the pass-happy Wolfpack to force the Tigers into some uncomfortable situations and ultimately lose the game, albeit by less than 16.5 points. Depending on where you bet, you may even be able to get them at 17.5.

Final score prediction: 34-21, Clemson

Minnesota @ Nebraska, Minnesota covers the spread (+4)

Northwestern did everything they possibly could to hand the game to the Cornhuskers last week and still Nebraska found a way to lose. This week, I’m going back at the Cornhuskers who are 1-4-1 against the spread this season and are for some reason FAVORED going into a game with Minnesota. While Minnesota is not a team of world-beaters or college stars, they’re a solid enough team to cover a +4 spread against a truly awful Nebraska team. ESPN has Minnesota’s chances of winning this game outright at 57.8%. A four-point spread is just a gift from God should Nebraska come close to sniffing the win again, but I think Nebraska played as well as they could last week and still fell short. Minnesota actually played Ohio State pretty close last week for a while, though the Buckeyes were clearly in control. I’m confident the Golden Gophers cover this spread against the inept Cornhuskers.

Final score prediction: 23-20, Minnesota

McPhilPicks – College Football Week 7

Nebraska @ Northwestern (-3.5): Northwestern Covers

The Cornhuskers travel to Ryan Field to battle it out with Northwestern, who enters as three-and-a-half point favorites at home. Both teams have struggled to get their footing this season, but Nebraska especially so. They’re allowing more than 200 yards a game on the ground AND through the air to go along with a whopping 39.2 points per game. Even though they are accruing well over 400 yards a game,
they are not finishing drives as evidenced by their average of 21.8 points per game on offense.

Northwestern has been a perplexing team, beating two quality teams on the road (Michigan State, Purdue) yet dropping all three of their games at home to Akron, Michigan and Duke. Outside of their seven-point dud against Duke, the Northwestern offense is averaging almost 28 points per game. The defense has been passable, and their average of 133 rushing yards per game should give a Nebraska team that would like to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible some issues.

ESPN’s matchup predictor puts Northwestern’s chances at winning outright at 83.4%, and I like the chances that they cover the spread just as much. Nebraska hasn’t been able to get out of their own way this season, allowing big plays, stalling on critical drives and succumbing to untimely turnovers. Head coach Scott Frost said himself “this could get worse before it gets better”. I’m buying that it gets even worse this week with a tough loss on the road.

Final score prediction: 35-24, Northwestern

SEC Preview: Win Totals

Recapping the win total picks from the College Football Preview Podcast.  This is the SEC portion of the recap.

Alabama- o/u 11

I chose to lean on the over.  I can’t see them losing 2 games.  Alabama’s schedule is pretty weak and they will be strong again as always. Saban has to navigate the QB situation and I assume Tagovailoa will win that battle which would be an improvement at the position.

Auburn- o/u 9

Under on this number. They return 6 on offense and 7 on defense including Stidham and their WR’s. They replace their RB’s and whole OL. Malzahn is a great and creative coach but they have been 12-10 on the road and 3-5 in neutral site games under his reign. Tough schedule with at Bama, at Georgia, and somewhat neutral site against Washington to start the year. If they lose those three, that’s at the number and need one more that they shouldn’t lose.

Georgia- o/u 10.5

Georgia has an embarrassingly weak schedule and it’s a shame Georgia fans have to pay for that. Can’t help but choose the over given what’s ahead of them. Only 4 road games the entire year. I don’t see any tough games for them even though they won’t have as great of a year as last year.

LSU- o/u 7

LSU is at a number that the public can’t believe. They return 5 on each side of the ball and lose their QB, 2 RB’s (Guice), WR’s, 2 OL, 2 DL, 3 LB’s, and 1 DB. Their defense will be solid again but that’s never the question with them. I am an under lean but don’t have a good feel for it. Ed Orgeron is on a fiery seat coming into this and things could spiral out of control. I think the Miami game sets the tone for both teams.

Texas A&M- o/u 7

Exit Sumlin, enter Jimbo Fisher. He doesn’t walk into a bad situation either with 8 starters returning on each side of the ball. It’ll take him a second to get his guys and change the program. This could be on the number but I think the coaching upgrade and experienced players could drive them over. I have them over with 8 wins.

Florida- o/u 8

Don’t want to touch this one but we had to discuss it. They return 10 offensive starters and 9 defensive starters. QB is still a huge issue with Franks as the probable starter but Mullen could work some magic and get them up to speed. Just too many question marks all around to feel comfortable either way.

Kentucky- o/u 5.5

Under. We discussed this program. Took some jabs at Big Blue Nation’s football program. Under. We didn’t need to see anything to know we liked the under here. Under.