Georgia Tech had a statement win in the opener over Florida State – at least, it appeared to be a statement at the time. Since then, we’ve learned that Florida State is one of the league’s worst teams. Georgia Tech was then blown out by 28 points by a UCF squad that lost to Tulsa, and then also lost to Syracuse, another team at the bottom of the ACC.
The Yellow Jackets are also fresh off of a 73-7 demolition. The “Clemson Effect” will factor in here Saturday. Teams coming off of a Clemson loss perform well below their statistical averages and are below average against-the-spread.
That trend will continue in this matchup, as Boston College comes in a bit undervalued. Yes, they lost by 26 points to Virginia Tech, but the score is a bit deceiving. They were only outgained by 25 yards, but surrendered an uncharacteristic FIVE turnovers, or else they would likely have covered their 13-point spread. I say uncharacteristic, because quarterback Phil Jurkovec has been strong all season, led a 4th quarter and overtime win over Pitt, and leads all of Power 5 in 2nd half passing yards and 2nd half touchdowns.
PREDICTION: BOSTON COLLEGE 27, GEORGIA TECH 20
PICK: BOSTON COLLEGE -3 @ 110
In a league filled with high-powered offenses, these two teams feature tough defenses. Iowa State’s defense under coordinator Jon Heacock has been creative with using 5-DB and 6-DB sets, and has drawn the attention of tons of NFL and college coaches. Oklahoma State returned 10 starters from a defense that held their last 6 opponents below scoring averages to end 2019, and currently leads the nation in yards/play (4.0). In total, they have held their past 9 opponents below their averages, and are 7-1 (88%) ATS vs. Power 5 opponents over that span.
Both offenses average 30 points per game, but it is actually the new starter Brandon Illingsworth (Oklahoma State) that is ranked in the Top 5 of national QB rating – and not the veteran Brock Purdy (Iowa State) who is below the national average.
Even if you consider the offenses a wash, Oklahoma State has the clear advantage on defense. This game is not being appreciated enough nationally – the winner could likely grab a Big 12 title game spot.
PREDICTION: OKLAHOMA STATE 31, IOWA STATE 24
PICK: OKLAHOMA STATE -3 @ -110
My weekly “Big 12 OVER” is back after a 3-0 start ATS. The two offenses combined average 68.5 points per game, and they are facing defenses that are in the bottom half nationally. From watching TCU’s games, they have moved the ball better than their scores would suggest, and I expect the offense to click against an Oklahoma defense that has shown poor tackling all season. TCU, usually known for innovative defense under Gary Patterson, ranks in the bottom 5 of all Power 5 defenses (yards/play).
PREDICTION: OKLAHOMA 38, TCU 31
PICK: OVER 59 POINTS @ -110
Maryland was ranked dead last, 66th of 66, in Pick Six Previews’ 2020 Preseason book. Meanwhile, Northwestern is undervalued nationally, as they were one of the youngest AND most injured teams last year. Towards the end of 2019, they were starting their 4th string quarterback.
Those 2019 struggles reverse in 2020, as they are now one of the most veteran teams in America, and have fixed the quarterback spot with Indiana transfer Peyton Ramsey. He led several Indiana wins over the past two seasons and set their passing accuracy school record.
PREDICTION: NORTHWESTERN 34, MARYLAND 20
PICK: NORTHWESTERN -11 @ -110
Minnesota barely survived their September against non-AQ teams, then played a string of backup quarterbacks. Yes, they return a bulk of that offense, but lost their ace coordinator to Penn State, and lose most of the defense including several 3-year starters and veterans.
Michigan’s defense is a proven commodity under Don Brown, and are the more proven program overall.
PREDICTION: MICHIGAN 30, MINNESOTA 23
PICK: MICHIGAN -3 @ -110
BYU has dominated their opponents both straight-up and ATS. BYU is ranked #6 in Pick Six Previews’ Game Grader formula and looks complete on both sides of the ball. They are 4-1 (80%) ATS this year, but in those 4 wins they are covering their spreads by an average of 25 points above the spread.