East Carolina Pirates at Central Florida Knights -10
Two teams heading in different directions meet this weekend when the East Carolina Pirates, coming off of 3 straight wins, take on the Central Florida Knights, coming off of 2 straight losses.
Central Florida brings name value to this game, which is why they are getting ten points against a powerful offensive unit. The Pirates are averaging 30 ppg this season behind fourth year QB Holten Ahlers and freshman RB Keenan Mitchell. The latter has been a force on the ground, averaging 9.4 yards per carry on the season, coming off a dominant effort against Tulane. Mitchell went for 222 yards and two touchdowns against Tulane. The ECU offense will have an advantage against the Knights. UCF will not be able to stop the ground game and as long as they hold onto the ball they will be able to score at will.
UCF will have to deal with the loss of QB Dillon Gabriel. In his place is Mikey Keene, who has been solid this season but does not bring the resume of Gabriel. UCF will have to take advantage of the ECU’s poor pass defense, that is giving up 320 yards through the air. They will have to throw because it looks like leading rushers Isaiah Bowser could possibly miss the game.
Both of these teams share the same problem, they seem to ignore the defensive side of the ball. The Knights are not the contenders of a few seasons ago, they will have trouble pulling away from East Carolina, this is a one score game and potentially an upset pick.
Pick: East Carolina Pirates +10, over 67
Michigan State Spartans at Rutgers Scarlet Knights Total 50
Michigan State has exploded up the CFB rankings with a hot start to the season. With victories over Northwestern, Nebraska, Western Kentucky and Miami the Spartans have found themselves ranked #11 in the country. They also take care of business, covering the spread in 3 of 4 games. The Spartans have been a top notch offensive team all season, they have averaged 37 points per game. RB Kenneth Walker has been an unstoppable force, he leads the nation in rushing yards with 680 and top five in TD’s with 8. Rutgers will have to stack the box to slow him down, but all they will be able to do is slow him down rather than stop him. If they do stack the box, QB Payton Thorne will pick them apart efficiently. Thorne has 11 TDs and just one interception on the season. He will get a lot of man to man coverage that his talented receivers will be able to exploit.
Michigan State’s secondary has been troubling. Last week the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers lit them up and it was the same story against Miami and Northwestern. They have given up an average of 300 yards through the air this season. Rutgers is a run first team but QB Noah Vedral has the ability to throw the deep ball and will test the secondary. Rutgers has been dominated by superior talent but they should be able to put the points up on the board to keep it competetive at home.
Michigan State has hit the over in 3 of 5 games and will be able to move the ball for explosive plays consistently on the ground. Rutgers will just need to get in the end zone twice against Michigan State, I see this as a route for the Spartans in the second half leading to a nice higher scoring victory.
Pick: Over 50
Alabama Crimson Tide at Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies are coming off of two straight SEC losses, one on the road to a revamped Arkansas team and at home against Mississippi State. They will welcome in the Alabama Crimson Tide who reminded us who is the top dog in the conference and in all of college football by putting a beating on Ole Miss last week 42-21.
Texas A&M has not only lost their last two games, but they have looked abysmal on offense. In both losses they totaled less than 300 yards of total offense and still have a lot of questions at the QB position. The Aggies have more turnovers than touchdowns this year. A team that can’t hold on to the football will now get to face the SEC’s top turnover margin team. Bama will be able to get constant pressure on QB Zac Calzada and force him into long yardage situations, the worst nightmare for A&M.
Since their close call to Florida three weeks ago the Crimson Tide have been as impressive as can be. They held Heisman hopeful Matt Corral to just 213 yards and one touchdown. They ran all over Ole Miss, gaining over 200 yards on the ground. Alabama RB’s are dealing with some injuries but should be good to go on Saturday. The Crimson Tide will have to deal with a tough Aggie defense but they are still going to be able to put up the points necessary to pull away in the end. The A&M offense does not have the ability to put up the points to make this one interesting. Let’s not ignore the fact that Aggie Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has given Saban’s squad some nice bulletin board material with some comments in the Houston Chronicle. The dogs will not be called off and Crimson Tide will make another SEC statement.
Pick: Alabama -18