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The Triple Option: College football Week 4 best picks and predictions

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There is no tougher sport to handicap on a week-to-week basis than college football.

Example. Last week I picked Florida to cover 8-points at Kentucky mostly due to the edge at quarterback and a swarming defense, and a tiny bit due to the revenge factor. Well, the quarterback I liked (Feleipe Franks) didn’t look great early, then suffered a season ending ankle injury.

The Wildcats proceeded build a 21-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Then, a funny thing happened. Backup Kyle Trask got in a groove. He went 9-13 for 126 yards in leading two touchdown drives to give the Gators a 22-21 lead.

But after Kentucky missed a potential go-ahead field goal with less than a minute to go, it seemed that our bet was sunk. Then thanks to some Kentucky timeouts, Josh Hammond busted lose for 76 yards, as I busted off my couch, screaming at my television for the Gators back to take it to the house. All for a push.

College football, man. It’s hard to cap.

So, a losing week every now and then shouldn’t be a surprise. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it. So, we try to get back on track this week starting with an old favorite – the UCF Knights.

Hey everyone! If you haven’t heard, UCF is a legit college football power, not just a Group of 5 one. The Knights have outscored their opponents 155-41 on their way to a 3-0 SU/ATS record and looked super impressive in their beatdown of Stanford last week as they head into this weekend’s matchup at Pitt.

Oh, and the Hawaiian pipeline to UCF is a real thing. Dillon Gabriel has thrown for 716 yards and nine touchdowns with no picks. He goes up against a Pitt defense, that while ranks well, hasn’t faced an attacking UCF offense like this.

What always been overlooked aspect of this UCF squad, has been its defense. The Knights rank 13th in total defense and 12th in opponent yards per play at just 4.0. They face a struggling Pitt offense that hasn’t put up more than 20 points in a game since last November.

Simply put, UCF hasn’t scored less than 30 points since the 2016 Cure Bowl. And they’re looking for a second victory over a Power 5 team to boost their resume. If the Knights can get up early, the Panthers, who are in a bit of a letdown spot after a close loss to rival Penn State, won’t be able to keep up.

Pick: UCF -11

COLORADO BUFFALOES AT ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (-8.5, 49)

It’s a trap!

But as I cram two movie references into two sentences, my boy Tony Stark would say, “Yeah, I don’t much care.” That’s right cause we’re taking down Thanos, I mean, this spread no matter what!

Sometimes you just look at a line and wonder what the books know that you don’t. Yes, the Sun Devils come into this matchup undefeated and off a big win at Michigan State as 15.5 underdogs. However, they scored just 10 points in that game and are averaging just 19.7 per contest this season. The Buffs have struggled on defense so far this year, but it’s been good enough to keep them in games. And this Sun Devils’ offense is not the toughest they’ve faced.

And yes, the Arizona State defense is good. But they’ve played Kent State, which ranks 125th in total offense, an offensively challenged Sparty team, and FCS Sacramento.

While Colorado is coming off its first loss of the season against a scrappy and well coached Air Force team, getting 8.5-points here seems like a bit of an overreaction. The Buffs still had a chance to win that game and are that close to being undefeated themselves.

If Colorado can give Steven Montez time in the pocket, he should be able to make some plays in the air, particularly to star wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. Kind of like they did last year, in the Buffs 28-21 win over the Sun Devils in Boulder. Montez threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns with no picks while Shenault hauled in 13 receptions for 127 yards and a score in that one.

Admittedly, the Sun Devils defense has improved since then, but I think it’s asking a lot of a team that has this much trouble scoring to cover a number this large. Especially considering that Colorado has a chance to win this outright.

Pick: Colorado +8.5

CAL GOLDEN BEARS AT OLE MISS REBELS (-2.5, 41.5)

Cal legitimately has one of the premier defenses in the country and is more than capable of handling the Ole Miss offense. While some might say the Rebels’ offense has found its grove, the last time they ran up against a defense close to this calibre, it was in Week 1 in Memphis when the Tigers held them to just 10 points.

While that game was on the road, the Golden Bears defense is on another level. They are allowing just 4.4 yards per play and have already snagged six turnovers, one year removed from ranking sixth in the country in takeaways.

Cal’s front seven will be able to shut down Jerrion Ealy and Scottie Phillips in the run game and will force Matt Corral into some bad decisions against what is arguably the nation’s best secondary. Corral only has one interception this season, but Memphis limited him to 9-19 passing and dropped a few catchable picks.

The early start time for a west coast team traveling east is always concerning, but if Chase Garbers can take care of the ball and Christopher Brown Jr. can do just enough damage on the ground, then Cal can lean on its defense to not only cover this spread, but win outright.

Pick: Cal +2.5

Last week’s picks: 0-2-1
Season to date: 4-4-2

Running up the points with Rockets, and the college football bets you need to make in Week 12

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Are you ready for some more MAC-tion? Because there are two more games on the schedule Wednesday night. We break down the best bets for these games and take a look at the weekend ahead in college football – from sides and totals to props and everything in between.

ROOM TO ROAM

The Toledo Rockets might be only slight favorites for Wednesday night’s MAC tilt with visiting Northern Illinois, but they have a significant advantage in at least one area – and it could turn this one into a bit of a laugher. The Rockets come into the game with the nation’s No. 12 rushing offense, averaging nearly 251 yards per game on the ground – and they’ve been especially dominant over their previous two games, racking up a combined 664 rushing yards in narrow victories over Eastern Michigan and Kent State. The Huskies, meanwhile, are coming off getting routed 48-10 to Central Michigan in which the Chippewas posted 327 rushing yards.

An edge like this makes Toledo a terrific option in a variety of different bet scenarios; we recommend buying a few points in their favor and taking an alternate line of -6.5.

MIAMI (OH) FOR 3

The Miami (OH) Redhawks should have little trouble filling the board Wednesday night as they host a Bowling Green defense that ranks among the worst in the nation in points allowed. But while the Falcons have surrendered a mind-boggling 33.8 points per game so far this season, the Redhawks might not necessarily be headed for a parade to the end zone. Miami (Ohio) has one of the worst touchdown-to-field-goal ratios in the country coming into Week 12, having scored 22 TDs compared with 16 FGs – six of those coming over the course of their current three-game winning streak.

Miami (Ohio) is a big-time favorite here, and is a good bet to open the scoring given BGSU’s 2.5 first-half-points-per-game average on the road this season. We like the Redhawks FG to kick off the point parade.

GILBERT  GETTING BACK

Kansas State’s premier rushing threat might be back on the field this weekend. Wildcats senior James Gilbert practiced on Tuesday and is trending in the right direction as he recovers from an undisclosed ailment that kept him out of last week’s 27-24 loss to the Texas Longhorns. It was originally thought that Gilbert would be in the lineup vs. Texas, but he was a late exclusion – and Kansas State struggled in his absence, finishing with a paltry 51 rushing yards on 26 attempts. Gilbert ranks ninth in the Big 12 Conference in rushing yards (558) while adding five touchdowns on the ground.

Gilbert’s return would invigorate a Kansas State rush attack that has a favorable matchup against a West Virginia defense allowing 173 rushing yards per game. We recommend the hosts ATS if Gilbert is deemed fit to return.

WAKING NIGHTMARE

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have seen their season take a terrible turn with word that standout wide receiver Sage Surratt will miss the remainder of 2019 with an undisclosed injury. Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson confirmed Tuesday that Surratt, who wasn’t featured on the team’s depth chart ahead of its Week 12 encounter with Clemson, would be out for the rest of the season – though he wouldn’t specify what was wrong with the star wideout. Surratt finishes the year with 1,001 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns on 66 receptions as the premier target for quarterback Jamie Newman.

The absence of Surratt should give bettors even less of a reason to bank on Wake Forest, which has seen the line shift as far as four points in Clemson’s favor. Look for the Tigers to keep the undermanned Deacons below their team total.

Too late to start fading the Fins, and the NFL bets you need to make in Week 11

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This may require a double-take, but listen up. The Miami Dolphins have been the best bet in the NFL since the start of October. Yes, those Miami Dolphins. We break down the odds and let you know what bets we like in Week 11 of the NFL as we dive into sides, totals, props and more. 

STAYING HOT IN Q1

The hottest team in the league right now is Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens. After knocking off the Patriots in Week 9, they turned their crosshairs on the winless Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10. The Ravens ran just 48 offensive plays but managed to put up 49 points. Lost in the 49-13 win was the fact that Baltimore moved to 8-1 against the first-quarter spread after winning the first 15 minutes 14-0.

This week, Baltimore is a 4-point home favorite versus a Houston team that is coming off their bye. If you don’t trust a team coming off a blowout win versus the worst team in the league and/or covering their last three games, take a look at the 1Q Ravens -0.5 (-105) as an alternative.

Baltimore is second in the league in first quarter points per game at 9.5 and third in the league in points against in the first quarter at 3.67 while the Texans are 0-3-1 on the road this year in the first quarter. Take the Ravens 1Q -0.5.

FEAST AWAITS EVANS

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face a very motivated New Orleans Saints team Sunday, but NOLA will be without their top cornerback in Marcus Lattimore. The third-year CB is week-to-week with a hamstring injury meaning Bucs WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will face sub-par corners in P.J. Williams and Eli Apple.

As Brad Evans pointed out on twitter, this is especially great news for Mike Evans who has struggled over his career versus Lattimore. Evans put up a donut early this year in Week 5 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and averaged 9.5 targets for three catches and 34 yards in two games in 2017 (last year Lattimore struggled following up his 2017 DROY but has been much better this year).

Even with Jameis Winston getting sacked nearly four times a game, Evans is averaging 139 yards a game over his last four contests. Jump on Evans’ receiving yard total on any number below 85 and check in on his reception total, hitting the Over on any number below 7.

LOADING SCREEN

No team in the league relies on the screen game more than the Minnesota Vikings. Per ESPN, Minnesota is averaging 9.8 yards per screen attempt which is 3.5 yards more per attempt than the No.10 team.

The beneficiary of this is running back Dalvin Cook who gashed the Cowboys in primetime every time he got the ball with blockers ahead of him. Over the last three games, Cook has amassed 193 yards receiving and will face a Denver Broncos’ defense that is giving up 8.6 yards per pass to RBs since Week 8.

Grab the Over on Cook’s receiving yards on any total less than 40 yards.

LOADING SCREEN PT. 2

If you’re tailing the Cook receiving yards play and want some action on the other side of the ball, maybe look to fade the Broncos’ backfield in receiving yards. Denver is the worst team at generating yards on the screen game (3.7 yards per attempt) and neither Phillip Lindsay nor Royce Freeman has topped 17 yards receiving in the last two weeks. In the only game Brandon Allen has started at quarterback, Lindsay wasn’t targeted at all and Freeman saw one target which he lost a yard on.

Feel confident in taking Lindsay’s Under receiving yards on anything greater than 19 and Freeman’s Under on any number greater than 25.

AIN’T FADING THE FINS NOW

The best team ATS over the last five weeks has been the Miami Dolphins. The former 0-7 team has rattled off five-straight wins ATS and face a Buffalo Bills team that has zero offensive identity of late and trailed the Dolphins by five points heading into the fourth quarter just four weeks ago.

We are a little bearish on Miami hitting a sixth-straight win ATS but have no problem fading Josh Allen’s Bills who are putting up just 288 yards of total offense over the last three weeks, good for sixth-worst. Their once stellar defense now sits 12th in Wtd DVOA — 9th against the pass and 27th against the run.

The Bills needed 22 4th-quarter points in their last meeting to cover their team total and we don’t see Brian Daboll’s offense clearing 23.5 points since they are 2-5 O/U that total in their last seven.

Get on the Bills’ team total Under 23.5 now, as it may drop under this key number later in the week.