We haven’t seen North Carolina in three weeks since their opening win over Syracuse. UNC’s vaunted offense took a few quarters to warm up, and then unleashed a 21-0 fourth quarter to win 31-6 and cover the 24-point spread. After a hot finish to 2019, UNC enters on a 4-game win streak both straight-up and against-the-spread.
There is still value with UNC, as most of the college football public has not caught on to how prolific this offense will become in 2020. Quarterback Sam Howell shined as a true freshman last year with a 38-7 touchdown to interception ratio, and a Top 10 quarterback rating. Look for the offense to shake off their slow 3-quarter start, and come in focused and fresh after the triple bye week.
While UNC is well rested and had three weeks to prepare, Boston College is coming off back-to-back emotional victories. They dunked new head coach Jeff Hafley in Gatorade after their opening win at Duke, the culmination of a trying offseason. Then last Saturday in Chestnut Hill, they let Texas State hold a halftime lead, and a 21-7 lead late in the 3rd quarter. Boston College entered the game as 21.5-point favorites but needed a furious comeback and last-second field goal to fend off the straight-up upset.
BC’s win over Duke has lost some luster after the underwhelming showing Saturday (and Duke’s 0-3 start). Meanwhile, UNC’s blowout win over Syracuse looks a bit better after seeing Syracuse beat Georgia Tech by double-digits.
PREDICTION: NORTH CAROLINA 37, BOSTON COLLEGE 17
PICK: UNC -13.5 @ -110
If you like betting trends, this matchup is the Trends Super Bowl – something’s got to give here.
Iowa State has owned the underdog role under head coach Matt Campbell (2016-present):
Vs. FBS: 29-19-1 60.2% ATS
Vs. Big 12: 23-14 62.1% ATS
Vs. Ranked: 11-6 64.7% ATS
Vs. Oklahoma: 4-0 100% ATS
Iowa State pulled off the 31-point upset over Oklahoma in 2017, and again last year was a last-second two-point conversion away from another 14-point upset over Oklahoma.
Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock’s creative 3-3-5 schemes have not only caught the eyes of several NFL and college coaches, but also held Oklahoma’s defense below their scoring average in all four meetings.
However, the counterpunch to all of the pro-Cyclone trends: Oklahoma is 31-0 straight-up, and 23-10-1 (69%) ATS, coming off of a regular season loss since 2000.
Oklahoma’s offense jumped out to a 28-7 lead over Kansas State, and the defense held them without a first down in the entire first quarter. But the defense wore down in the fourth quarter, and freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler threw three interceptions. My Game Grader Formula points out that statistically, Oklahoma was the better team. They outgained KSU by 130 yards, out-passed them, out-rushed them, but were victim to an unlikely 4-0 loss in the turnover margin. Not to discredit KSU, because the scoreboard is all that mattered that day, but from a forward-looking predictive view, OU is better than the perception.
I’d side with the Iowa State trends if this were another double-digit spread like usual.
PREDICTION: OKLAHOMA 31, IOWA STATE 23
PICK: OKLAHOMA -6.5 @ -125
Duke’s perception has taken a hit the past three weeks. They opened up playing Notre Dame close, and forcing veteran Ian Book into several mistakes. But then Boston College beat them by 20, and UVA beat them by 18, and Duke appears to be right back where they ended the 2019 season – as a struggling offense and one of the league’s weakest statistical teams.
Under head coach David Cutcliffe, Duke used to thrive as the underdog, but hasn’t had a winning season ATS since 2016. Over those past three seasons, Duke is just 1-5 (16%) ATS vs. ranked opponents.
And coming to Durham is another ranked foe. Virginia Tech is fresh off of an opening game 45-24 beatdown of NC State. Virginia Tech was down 23 players, and without star quarterback Hendon Hooker, and still dominated every phase of the game. The offensive line placed in Pick Six Previews’ preseason top 15 OL’s -- and they certainly looked the part Saturday, paving the way for 314 rushing yards.
Virginia Tech had the longer preseason, is only one game in, and will likely get some reinforcements from that 23-man deficit. Meanwhile, Duke is coming off of three losses in three weeks – against three physical programs.
PREDICTION: VIRGINIA TECH 34, DUKE 16
PICK: VIRGINIA TECH -10 @ -137
Oklahoma State’s rushing attack woke up Saturday after a slow opener two weeks ago against Tulsa. Chuba Hubbard and LD Brown each had 100-yard rushing days, while the Oklahoma State defense held West Virginia to just 4.2 yards per play. Kansas lost by 33 points to a coach-change, coordinator-change, inexperienced Baylor team.
PREDICTION: OKLAHOMA STATE 38, KANSAS 14
PICK: OKLAHOMA STATE -21 @ -138
This matchup is my weekly “Big 12 Total Points” bet. Last week I picked Texas & Texas Tech to go over their combined 70 points – and they nearly doubled it in the 63-56 shootout.
TCU’s offense looked effective in the 2nd half when Max Duggan was back in the ball-game. They are spreading the field with huge offensive line splits, and spacing their playmakers all over the field. You could already sense the impact of having Doug Meacham back with Sonny Cumbie as co-coordinators (like their potent 2014 & 2015 offenses).
Meanwhile, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger joined the 100-Touchdown club, and the defense needs some fixing. Expect another weekly shootout in the Lone Star State.
PREDICTION: TEXAS 41, TCU 31
PICK: TOTAL POINTS OVER 62 @ -110
NC State allowed 42 & 45 points so far. Pitt is quietly one of the best defenses in America (again). Look for the Pitt defense to suffocate NC State and do enough offensively to cover.
PREDICTION: PITTSBURGH 27, NC STATE 10
PICK: PITTSBURGH -14 @ -110