What college football games appear to be the best bets and the best picks against the spread going into Week 6?
I apologize for really and truly thinking Vanderbilt was going to act like the SEC program it is against UConn. Instead of it being a layup of a Commodore blowout, it took a late rally to survive 30-28 and not covering the 14.5
I failed you, America.
I promised you something special after going 4-6 in Week 4, and going 9-1 ATS isn’t good enough.
(Or, to move the dial off the snooty-brag setting, if you’ve followed me over the years you know this means the time for the HARD fade is soon to come.)
Pushing that boulder up the mountain again …
Results So Far ATS: 39-21-1
Click on each game for the preview
LINE Point Total 66.5
ATS PICK Under
And it’ll probably get up to closer to 68 by gametime.
First, 66.5 is hard to get to, even for these two teams. Last year these two got the respective Os going and it still landed on 54.
Second, if you believe Arkansas is going to pull this off, it’ll probably do it controlling the game and tempo throughout.
No Hog game this year – even with 40 put up against Texas and 45 against Georgia Southern – got to 67. Three of the four Ole Miss games got past the mark, but the one that didn’t was against Alabama when the Rebels couldn’t stop the run.
Think of it this way. Georgia couldn’t have been better last week and it only got 37 on the Hogs.
LINE Point Total 71
ATS PICK Under
The hard and fast rule is to never, ever take the over when the world is asking for 80, and that worked out just fine with the under on Ole Miss and Alabama last week – they got to 63.
But what about 72? Ehhhhhh, not close enough, but worth a shot here on the biggest point total of the day.
Maryland-Ohio State opened at 72.5 and dipped down a bit. No one likes to take the under on a major game that everyone will watch, but getting past 71 is a large ask.
If the game gets there, then blow off the loss, sit back, and enjoy the show.
Maryland might be improved, but it only hung up a big number on Howard. It’s not getting 62 on Ohio State, and the second-best scoring output was 67.
Yeah, some might have visions of the wild 52-51 Buckeye win in 2018, and the 31 allowed to Minnesota and 35 to Oregon is enough to worry. This will get into the 60s, but 72 is a push even for these two.
LINE North Carolina -17.5
ATS PICK North Carolina
Florida State was able to close out last year with a win over Duke, and it beat Jacksonville State along the way. The stunner for that awful, awful team was a 31-28 win over a North Carolina squad that did just about everything offensively but score more points than the other team.
That won’t be an issue this week.
The Tar Heels have been way flaky – hello, Georgia Tech 45, UNC 22 – but that wasn’t in Chapel Hill, and neither was the Virginia Tech game. They annihilated Georgia State, Virginia, and Duke, and now it’s a revenge game with FSU coning in.
Sam Howell will throw for over 300 yards getting off the bus.
Revenge Game Part 2 …
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 7: Michigan State at Rutgers
LINE Michigan State -5.5
ATS PICK Michigan State
Start with this …
Michigan State isn’t going to turn the ball over seven times like it did in last year’s season opener against the Scarlet Knights. If it does, you tip your cap and move on.
For all the fear that Rutgers put into Michigan, it still only scored 13 points in the loss. Last week it wasn’t even close thanks to three turnovers in the 62-13 loss to Ohio State.
There’s no Rutgers downfield passing game for the Spartans to worry about, and this year they have a running game. They only hit the 100-yard mark twice last year and never got to 200. They’ve rushed for 190 yards or more in four of the five games, and while they might not get there, it’ll be enough to control the game.
LINE Alabama -18.5
ATS PICK Alabama
What about Texas A&M makes you think it can score?
Beyond never being a bad thing to pick Bama, A&M was able to fight its way to 22 in the loss to Mississippi State, and that’s been about it.
Really, you’re worried after the Aggies scored 41 in the opener against Kent State, and you’re impressed by the 34 against New Mexico?
There’s no running game going against a run D that had problems in the second half against Florida and that’s it. There’s no efficient in the passing game, and it has to keep up with Bryce Young and an attack that only failed to put up more than 42 on the Gators.
It’ll take a little bit to get there – A&M can play some D – but it’s Alabama. You know the drill.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 5: UCLA at Arizona
LINE UCLA -16
ATS PICK UCLA
Arizona just doesn’t score enough.
The defense might give up a ton of points, but it’s actually been better over the first four games of the Jedd Fisch era.
Overall, though, the lines aren’t there yet, the team can’t seem to create its own breaks, and turnovers have been a massive issue with eight in the last two games – losses to Northern Arizona and Oregon.
UCLA is coming off a home loss to Arizona State with a tough second half and a Sun Devil two-point conversion throwing everything off. Even so, the running game that hit the 200-yard mark against everyone but Fresno State should be able to power away.
Again, though, it’s just about the scoring punch, and Arizona doesn’t have it.
It has yet to get to 20 points, and UCLA might have that in the first half. After the collapse against Fresno State and the struggles last week, it’s going to be a full four quarter day for Chip Kelly’s team.
Again with the lines. It took years, but Kelly has them now. Fisch is working on it.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 4: North Texas at Missouri
LINE Missouri -19
ATS PICK Missouri
It’s never good to go with a revenge pick, especially if it really doesn’t have anything to do with the previous misfire.
Again, my one miss last week came on the belief that Vanderbilt would act like an SEC team at home against UConn. Nope.
Missouri, you are an SEC team. It needs to just mean more against North Texas.
The UNT defense was beyond awful last year. Anyone who tried to run was able to do it and keep doing it and keep on going from there. This year’s defense is better. It’s still bad, but it improved.
It’s the offensive side that isn’t getting the job done. It’s coming up with yards, but the points aren’t flowing.
The Mean Green scored just 35 points over its last three games. All were losses, and none of them were against a Power Five team, much less one from the SEC.
Missouri’s offense is working, but it’s not doing enough to overcome a brutal run by the defensive side. Head coach Eliah Drinkwitz is preaching focus for a team that’s can’t seem to get past the issues against the run.
At home, the Tigers are going to care. There’s no looking ahead to Texas A&M. The wildly inefficient North Texas passing game will help right the ship.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 3: UConn at UMass
3. UConn at UMass
LINE UConn -3.5
ATS PICK UConn
Oh you know you want to.
Yeah, it’s easy to program-shame considering these two have done a whole lot of not-winning for a very, very long time – but that stinks.
The students, players, and alumni all deserve to have a little bit of fun.
It’s finally going to happen for one of these two.
UMass has lost 16 straight since beating a winless Akron in 2019 – the Zips, by the way, play in their own sad matchup against Bowling Green this week – and are on a run of 22 losses in the last 23 games.
At least the Minutemen got to play four games last year.
UConn has lost 16 in a row – sitting out all of last year – after getting past Wagner to start the 2019 season. Worse yet, it has lost 32 straight games against FBS programs going back to the middle of 2017 and 37 of 39 since stunning Cincinnati in 2016.
Here’s the difference. UConn has at least been close.
It pushed Vanderbilt last week and almost one in a 30-28 heartbreaker, and that’s coming off the rough 24-22 loss to Wyoming the week before. The program is settling in under interim head coach Lou Spanos, all while UMass hasn’t come closer than 14 points to anyone since that win over Akron.
They’re both having problems, but UConn is showing a bit more of a passing attack and a more experienced kicker.
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 2: Utah at USC
2. Utah at USC
LINE USC -3
ATS PICK USC
I hope this pick is wrong.
Utah was still mourning over the loss of RB Ty Jordan in a shooting incident late in 2020, and now it has to suffer through another tragedy after the shooting death of CB Aaron Lowe a few weeks ago.
It’s been a rough run, and the program deserves something nice – even if it’s as trivial as a win over USC.
Please forgive the impossibly awkward pivot to silly football analysis.
Utah has beaten USC at times over the 19 meetings.
It won in 2018 when the Trojans were sputtering through a losing season, and it pulled off a win in 2016 when both teams had huge years.
It won in a 24-21 fight in 2014, and there was a 2001 Las Vegas Bowl win back when Utah was in the Mountain West. And it won in …
Since coming up with the 27-12 victory to kick things off way back then, Utah hasn’t been able to beat USC in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area.
The 1993 Utes lost to USC in the Freedom Bowl played in Anaheim. Including that, they’re 0-6 in LA since 1916.
This is a painfully flaky USC team, and if you’re a believer in patterns, its due for a loss after starting W-L-W-L-W.
But it’s in Los Angeles, Utah is lousy on third downs and USC is No. 1 in the Pac-12 in third down D, and the passing game isn’t there to keep up once Kedon Slovis and company finally kick in the groove.
The 3 is way, way, too low for the Trojans at home. Speaking of spreads that seem a tad askew …
NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 1: Michigan at Nebraska
LINE Michigan -3.5
ATS PICK Michigan
In the first of ten meetings between these two powerhouse college football programs, Michigan slipped by Nebraska 31-0 back in 1905.
It won’t be as lopsided this time around, but it wouldn’t be totally stunning if it is.
It’s time that we, as a nation, accept the reality that a Jim Harbaugh-coached team might actually be okay at football.
I know, I know, this right about when the piano falls on the Maize and Blue head. Nebraska is playing well, the Wolverines played with fire a wee bit against Rutgers a few weeks ago, and …
It’s okay. We’ll get through this together.
Give the Huskers some credit here. This might be in the No. 1 spot on the list, but that’s only because the 3.5 line seems way too low if Michigan really does win this. Scott Frost’s team fought back from the loss to Illinois to get to 3-3 with a real shot at going bowling if it can pull off a win this week.
However, the three wins game against Buffalo, Fordham, and a miserable Northwestern squad. To be fair, the loss at Michigan State was a fight until the end, and the team battled well in a 23-16 loss to Oklahoma.
But that’s sort of the point. The program under Frost is great at losing close games that are there for the taking.
Nebraska played its three easy games at home and won. It played its three hardest games on the road and lost. This is at home, and that, along with the 56-7 win over the Wildcats, and with Michigan being steadily unloved by the investment public this year – 4-1 against the spread – are all part of this just being 3.5.
That, and it’s Michigan. The base refuses to accept winning for an answer.
Rutgers is the only team to come within double-digits of the Wolverines, and it lost by seven.
The defense has yet to allow more than 17 points, and the only reason Wisconsin got to 17 last week was thanks to a meaningless second half score.
If you like Michigan to win, you’d like to get this at 3, but the 3.5 is just fine. You’ll have to sweat until the fourth, but it’s time to starting assuming that this team is just that strong.