Last Week: Kentucky (+2), Cal (+17.5) and N.C. State (+13) all covered, while Georgia smoked Mississippi State (+5.5) and Auburn and Missouri went over the total (60 points). So, another 3-2 week, making my record 6-4 on the season.
On to Week 5…
Texas at Iowa State (+4.5), 7:00 p.m. C.T., Thursday
I usually avoid weeknight games because I don’t like the value, but the underdog Cyclones are too good to pass up. Texas was thin along its offensive line before losing All-American left tackle Connor Williams to a sprained MCL and PCL. Defensively, the Longhorns have been stout but they’re facing an experienced Cyclone offense, led by Jacob Parks. The junior signal-caller ranks 14th nationally in passing yards (311.7 per game) and has 300-yard passing games in six career starts. His top weapon, senior wideout Allen Lazard, has 19 catches for 178 yards and three touchdowns this season. I’ll take the points, but could see ISU winning outright despite its issues with Texas in the past.
The Pick: Iowa State Cyclones +4.5
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech (+10), 7:00 PM C.T., Saturday
The Cowboys are a good bet to rebound from their loss against TCU but they’ll also have to earn it against the Red Raiders. Texas Tech ranks ninth in scoring and is averaging 45 points per game. Then again, they always light up the scoreboard. It’s been their defense that has been the problem under Kliff Kingsbury. While the Red Raiders will face their biggest challenge on Saturday night against Mason Rudolph and Co, they’re allowing 17.2 fewer points per game this season than last. I like taking underdogs in expected shootouts and this is a tough spot for OK State coming off a loss. We know Texas Tech will be hyped playing at home against a top-25 team. Can we say the same about an Ok State team that has to travel after getting knocked down a week ago?
The Pick: Texas Tech Red Raiders +10
Clemson at Virginia Tech (+7.5), 7:00 p.m. CT, Saturday
After fading Clemson two weeks ago in Louisville, I should know better than to bet against them again. Still, it’s tough to win in Blacksburg. Long known for their defense and special teams play under former head coach Frank Beamer, the Hokies have excelled this season because of their offense, too. Redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Jackson has been a revelation, completing 65.2 percent of his passes for 1,127 yards with 11 touchdowns to just one interception. Granted, Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson looked lost against Clemson’s unbelievable defense. What makes anyone think this Jackson can excel? I honestly don’t have a counter-argument for that, but I do expect VA Tech to play much better than Louisville. Plus, I’m getting 7.5 points with the Hokies, as opposed to just a field goal with the Cardinals. If Clemson burns me again, I’ll look for other fade material.
The Pick: Virginia Tech Hokies +7.5
Georgia at Tennessee (+7.5), 2:30 p.m. CT, Saturday
Just like with Clemson, I should probably stop fading Georgia. I took Mississippi State as a 5.5-point road underdog last week and the Bulldogs only managed a field goal in between the hedges. Now Georgia faces a Tennessee team with quarterback problems. That said, this is a true letdown spot for the Bulldogs, who no doubt came away unimpressed with the Vols’ film against UMass. Georgia beat Notre Dame 20-19 in Week 2, then allowed Samford to cover as a 33-point underdog the following week. There are no statistics that back Tennessee here, but that’s kind of the point. With over 70% of bettors backing Georgia, I’m going to fade the public and grab the points.
The Pick: Tennessee Vols +7.5
Mississippi State at Auburn (-9), 5:00 p.m. CT, Saturday
Maybe I’m just bitter after picking Mississippi State to cover as an underdog last week against Georgia, but I hate the Bulldogs here. Auburn is one of two teams ranked in the top-10 in total defense, scoring defense and passing defense. Mississippi State has an experienced quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald, but he’s coming off a brutal performance last Saturday in Athens (83 passing yards and two interceptions). Auburn also got back on track last Saturday, albeit against Mizzou, and should improve every week moving forward as Jarrett Stidham gets more comfortable in Gus Malzahn’s offense. The line is a little inflated, but the Tigers are still a safe play.
The Pick: Auburn Tigers -9