I was the only preseason publication in America to predict Florida to the 2020 Playoff. A large part of the prediction logic was built around how Dan Mullen had finally gotten stability at the quarterback spot. Florida has had a carousel of quarterbacks over the past few staffs, and let some elite defenses go to waste. Kyle Trask is on fire through two games with 10 touchdowns (just one pick). Tight end Kyle Pitts is proving me right after I selected him as the 1st team All-American tight end in my preseason book. He is a mismatch nightmare and is the nation’s leader in touchdown receptions -- already with SIX.
This is bad news for Texas A&M’s defense, who was just gashed by explosive passing plays Saturday. Alabama scored on touchdowns of 87 yards, 78 yards, and 63 yards. It was vertical shot after vertical shot. And while both of A&M’s final scores are a bit deceiving, they are set to face another vertical passing attack here.
The program identity for Florida over the past decade has been their elite defense. It is ranked #3 in Pick Six Previews’ opponent adjusted metrics since 2010. However, they have had some growing pains in the two 2020 games, letting Ole Miss explode for long-yardage plays, and letting South Carolina hang around ATS. Look for Florida to win straight-up and ATS, but to allow some points in the process.
PREDICTION: FLORIDA 34, TEXAS A&M 27
PICK: Florida -6.5 @ -110
PICK: Florida vs.Texas A&M Over 57 @ -138
For the first time since 1999, Oklahoma lost back-to-back regular season games. The first was a 28-point upset loss to Kansas State, in which the Sooners blew a 28-7 lead and quarterback Spencer Rattler tossed three interceptions. Last Saturday night, Oklahoma lost as 7-point favorites, again blowing a double-digit lead thanks to poor tackling and turnovers.
The defense and missed tackles clearly stand out, but that hasn’t held Oklahoma back over the past five seasons as they won the Big 12 all five years. What makes this team different, is their offensive line failing to get their usual run push. In 2018, Oklahoma led the nation with a 6.6 yards-per-carry average. They were Top 5 last year (6.0). But so far in 2020, they are averaging just 3.7 per carry which is #52 of 74 active FBS teams. They continue to fail in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Meanwhile, Sam Ehlinger leads the nation in passing touchdowns (14) and in his three Red River Shootouts, he has still not thrown a single interception. Texas was a goal-line fumble away from potentially beating TCU and remaining undefeated.
Over the past six seasons, Texas has been the underdog in all five Red River Shootouts – and they covered the spread in all six.
PREDICTION: TEXAS 41, OKLAHOMA 38
PICK: Texas +2 @ +100
My Big 12 “Over” bet is 2-0 so far. Yes, it took a game-ending intentional safety by TCU to move the “Push” to an “Over” last Saturday. But a win’s a win. Texas & Oklahoma will make it 3-0 here, as their defenses have continued to struggle. Together, all four of their league games have gone “over” this season.
PICK: Texas vs. Oklahoma Over 72 @ -105
I’ve been impressed by the resiliency of Virginia Tech. They were down 23 players, including their returning starting quarterback Hendon Hooker, but still crushed NC State in the opener. Then again Saturday, down 21 players, they beat Duke.
Virginia Tech leads the nation in rushing yards per carry, thanks to a pair of star transfer backs and a powerful offensive line. Yet, Jay Bateman’s UNC defense is #2 nationally in rushing defense (per-carry).
In the 2nd half of the Duke game, you started to see Virginia Tech’s roster wear down a bit, letting Duke hang around and cover ATS. Meanwhile, UNC has been more statistically dominant than their final scores would suggest. Look for that to correct itself Saturday.
PREDICTION: UNC 31, VIRGINIA TECH 21
PICK: UNC -4 @ -110
This is a measuring-stick game for Miami. Are they really back on the national scene, and a legit threat to push for the ACC title? So far their new up-tempo, power-spread offense under Rhett Lashlee has been an incredible one-year turnaround. D’Eriq King is taking care of the ball (zero interceptions) and the offensive line has made progress.
However, from a betting angle, Miami is one of those programs that gets over-hyped by the media, and eventually by bettors. That is not an opinion, but a statistical fact. Their last “bounce-back” season was 2017 and while it was a strong 10-0 start (straight-up) and #2 national ranking, they failed to live up to the public’s perception. They went just 5-8 ATS (38%) that season and 16-23 ATS (41%) over the past three seasons.
Clemson is Clemson. They are a proven commodity with the best quarterback, best running back, and arguably best defensive line in the nation. Oh, and the best defensive coordinator.
PREDICTION: CLEMSON 37, MIAMI 20
PICK: Clemson -14 @ -110