No one could have ever imagined that BYU vs. Coastal Carolina would be a matchup of undefeated, Top 20 teams… in December. In fact, this is the first meeting of pre-bowl undefeated teams in December since the 2009 SEC Championship Game when Saban’s 12-0 Alabama beat Meyer’s 12-0 Florida. Before 2009, you’d have to go back another 40 years to the 1969 Arkansas-Texas game. Yes, there are odd circumstances here in the crazy 2020 season, but this is still historically rare.
Coastal Carolina launched their football program in 2003, and after some FCS success, moved up to FBS in 2016. So in five short years, Coastal has gone from FCS to Playoff Top 20 and hosting College Gameday.
Coastal has a Power 5 win, something BYU still lacks, but it was against winless Kansas, who is dead last 66th of 66 teams in my Game Grader formula. Further, of all 8 of Kansas’ losses, the Coastal game was the most competitive. It was the closest scoring margin, and the only time Kansas actually outgained their opponent.
Meanwhile, BYU is destroying every team in its path. They are #1 nationally in scoring differential AND yardage differential. And now have extra motivation to put up another big margin in a national ranked game.
BYU is now 8-1 (89%) ATS and is covering by an average of 22 points above the spread. We’ve correctly hit on most of those wins here, and I expect the run to continue.
PREDICTION: BYU 45, COASTAL CAROLINA 27
PICK: BYU -10 @ -110
Ohio State still holds a Top 4 Playoff spot, despite having played just four games compared to teams with double the experience. As of Friday afternoon, this game got cleared and appears to be on. With so few opportunities to play and prove themselves, Ohio State will be treating this with championship-level importance. They will be motivated to not just win, but win BIG.
Justin Fields came into the Indiana game having more touchdowns than incompletions. However, against the Top 10 opponent he tossed three interceptions – more than his previous 17 games combined. Look for Fields to refocus and the offense to drop another 40+ point performance.
Meanwhile, a weakness (if any) of Ohio State’s has been their passing defense. They are dead last in passing yards allowed per game in the Big Ten, and just allowed 500+ to Indiana. However, their weakness aligns with Michigan State’s weakness, a struggling passing offense that has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns (9 vs. 8), and is barely above 50% completion.
PREDICTION: OHIO STATE 42, MICHIGAN STATE 17
PICK: OHIO STATE -23.5 @ -110
Since their season pause in October, Florida is 2-1-1 against the spread, while Tennessee is 0-5 ATS. The programs are trending in different directions as Florida chases an SEC Title and Playoff bid, while Tennessee is faltering into December on a 5-game losing streak straight-up and ATS.
Florida is also chasing a Heisman Trophy, as quarterback Kyle Trask has been incredible, setting SEC passing records week to week, and surpassing where former Heisman winners were at this point in their seasons. Tight end Kyle Pitts is back in the lineup and continuing his record-setting season. Pitts now has 11 receiving touchdowns, which is tied for most by any Power 5 tight end in a season since 2009. And he’s done so in just 6 games compared to the usual 13 or 14.
Look for Florida’s vertical passing success to continue, especially against a Tennessee defense ranked 13th (or 2nd to last) in pass defense yards per attempt, and bottom half in other pass defense metrics. Tennessee will struggle to generate points themselves. My Game Grader formula has this at Florida by 24, which is a notable variance above the current market rate of Florida -17.
PREDICTION: FLORIDA 44, TENNESSEE 20
PICK: FLORIDA -17 @ -110