Four picks this week spanning the ACC, SEC, Pac-10, and one future Pac-12 member.
Tennessee +11 at Georgia
Last week’s bizarre finish against LSU was a heartbreaker for Tennessee, but an easy win for those who took the 16.5 points. Vegas oddsmakers continue to disrespect Tennessee and are giving away a generous number for the second straight week.
Despite losing to Florida and LSU, the Volunteers have showed a lot of fight and a strong defensive will. Getting 11-points is huge number and Tennessee is covering that number in 55.5% of our simulations. The Georgia Bulldogs are a tough sell to anyone and Mark Richt is on the hot seat. Most will tell you that now Georgia will focus, but the bottom line is they just don’t have the talent. A.J. Green is a superstar, but Colorado showed that Georgia does not have enough weapons around him to really make a big difference. Also note that AccuScore is 5-3 this season ATS in games involving Tennessee and Georgia.
Virginia Tech –21.5 over Central Michigan
It’s easy to write off Virginia Tech after their losses to Boise State and James Madison, but the Hokies are rounding into form. They are 2-0 in the ACC and finally starting to hit their stride. The storyline for me with last week’s victory at North Carolina State was the 41 points Virginia Tech scored. The game against Central Michigan is a great match-up stylistically for the Hokies. Two weeks ago, Central Michigan had all sorts of trouble with Northwestern, who features a mobile quarterback who often runs away from trouble (like Tyrod Taylor). While the score of that game was close, Central Michigan was dominated throughout and had no answer for the mobile Persa. AccuScore is 3-1 this season ATS in games Virginia Tech plays in and is hitting at 55% ATS in forecasts where the home team is favored by 14 or more points.
Utah -6 @ Iowa St.
Utah is a strong on-the-field performer as well as in the computers. The Utes are projected to win this game by 9 points by AccuScore simulations with a 55% chance to cover the 6 point line. Iowa State put up a shocking performance last week scoring 52 points against Texas Tech. But plenty of that had to with luck and sloppy play as the Red Raiders had three turnovers and allowed the Cyclones to score off an onside kick. One of Utah’s hallmarks under Kyle Wittingham has been sound, disciplined play. To beat the Utes you actually have to make plays rather than wait for mistakes. Despite losing 8 defensive starters, Utah has bounced back to rank 7th nationally in scoring defense and 17th in pass efficiency defense meaning their strengths match-up well with Austen Arnaud and the Iowa St. passing game. Not only that, Utah is 3-0 ATS this season, and AccuScore has picked against the line correctly in all three games as well.
Oregon St. +7.5 @ Arizona
The nation seems to have finally caught on to Arizona being a top team this season, but it seems to have forgotten that Oregon State plays it’s best football after September ends. You can see the evolution again this year as the Beavers stayed competitive with Boise and TCU despite a new quarterback in Ryan Katz. Katz struggled early, but he’s growing each week as evidenced by a 260 yard, 2 TD (0 INT) performance against a good Arizona State defense. The Beavers also get James Rodgers back this week from a concussion. This pick is less of a knock on Arizona as it is more of a faith in Oregon State, and his team’s ability to improve dramatically year after year. The extra half point on the line is the reason I like this pick. One key thing to watch will be when Arizona punts as the Wildcats rank 95th in the nation in net punting while Oregon State has one of the absolute best return men in Rodgers.