So, something fun happened this week. I got a new car! A Toyota C-HR to be exact. I think it’s pretty cool looking. My boss called it an Autobot. Which of course, as a huge nerd, I instantly loved.
That said, there’s a lot of steps that come into play when buying a new car. And although the search for that vehicle is exciting, it sure can be rigorous. From determining your budget, and figuring out your personal or family needs. To test drives and negotiating the best price you can. It’s a lot.
Evaluating college football teams follows a lot of these same principles and can be just as rigorous. But when that bet hits on Saturday it feels an awful lot like gripping the wheel of your brand new rig and taking it for a rip on the highway for the first time. Pretty awesome.
So, who is the fancy new car on the college football lot? For me, that’s Auburn. The Tigers are 4-0 SU/ATS and already have two Top 25 wins, including one of the most impressive victories of the college football season thus far – a 27-21 comeback win over Oregon (who actually still looks like one heck of a football team) in their opening game.
Heading into this season, everyone knew about the Tigers talent on the defensive line, but was there a team to go around Derrick Brown and Co.? Well, nothing is newer and shinier than becoming the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Auburn since 1946. And that’s what exactly what Bo Nix has done.
After a bit of a rocky start in that Oregon game, Nix has been exactly what the Tigers have needed. He’s been efficient and poised when he’s had to be. Nix hasn’t thrown a pick since that first game, and has 645 yards passing with five touchdowns, while adding another 117 and a score on the ground.
He’s also been supported by a strong rushing attack headed by JaTarvious Whitlow, that ranks 22nd in the country in yards per attempt. And Saturday, they’ll go up against a Mississippi State team that is not what it once was on defense. For example: The Bulldogs ranks 81st in the country giving up 4.5 yards per carry.
On the other side, the Tigers have arguably the best defensive line in the country, that already has 11 and haven’t allowed more than 21 points in a game this season. The Bulldogs rely on their run game, but their offensive line is banged up and the Tigers allow just 3.1 yards per attempt. If Auburn can stuff the run (which they are very capable of), it could be a very long day for whomever is under center for Mississippi State.
So, here’s hoping the Tigers roll out like my new Autobot and get us an easy cover this week.
Pick: Auburn -9.5
VIRGINIA CAVALIERS AT NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (-13, 49 @ BETAMERICA)
This matchup between Virginia and Notre Dame is the low-key Game of the Week. Despite the loss in Athens last Saturday, the Irish proved they were worthy of their Top 10 ranking, while the Cavaliers come into this one undefeated, this will clearly be their toughest competition to date.
Notre Dame easily covered the 15.5-point spread against Georgia last week thanks to the defense doing a good job of containing Jake Fromm and Ian Book putting up some respectable numbers against a very strong Bulldogs defense.
But the Irish will have to go up against another strong defense in this one. Bronco Mendenhall’s unit ranks 14th in the country in total yards allowed and are particularly good at stuffing the run. The Cavs are allowing just 2.3 yards per carry this season, seventh best in the nation. But the secondary is almost as strong led by star corner Bryce Hall.
People may be doubting Virginia here after its uninspiring performance against Old Dominion last week. But that was about as textbook of a lookahead spot as there is.
The Cavs have another thing going for them in this one. And that is quarterback Bryce Perkins. For my money, he is the best signal caller in the ACC not named Trevor Lawrence. He is a true dual-threat quarterback with 843 yards passing and six touchdowns on a 65 percent completion rate and also leads the Cavs in rushing with 183 yards and another two scores.
This is the biggest game for the Cavaliers in years and they’re going to be jacked to be playing in South Bend. I don’t expect Virginia to win, but if Perkins can limit the turnovers this defense is good enough to keep this one within the number. Plus, this is a bit of a letdown spot for the Irish after that close lose to Georgia.
Pick: Virginia +13
TEXAS A&M AGGIES AT ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (+23.5, 61 @ BETAMERICA)
It’s fair to have expected a little more from Texas A&M this season. Kellen Mond has some big numbers, but he and the Aggies haven’t performed as well as fans would have hoped in their two biggest games against Clemson and last week against Auburn.
That said, the Aggies will be hungry for a win in Saturday’s Southwest Classic at AT&T Stadium against rival Arkansas. And you can expect A&M to take out some frustrations in this one.
Mond has put up 1,082 yards through the first four games and now he gets to go up against a Razorbacks defense that allowed San Jose State’s Josh Love to throw for over 400 yards in last week’s shocking 31-24 home loss to the Spartans. Yes, an SEC team lost outright at home as 20-point faves to a San Jose State team that got blown out by Tulsa. No offense to the Golden Hurricane, it’s just a really bad look for the SEC.
Arkansas quarterback Nick Starkel goes up against his former team and he’s got a good arm, but the Hogs offensive line is shaky at best, and he is prone to making bed decisions under pressure. To make things tougher, the Aggies secondary is probably the best part of their defense, allowing just 165 yards per game through the air.
Despite the issues in big games, the Aggies are still 3-1 ATS this season and have done well covering large spreads. But whether or not A&M can cover this number, all comes down to Mond. He an huck it with the best of ‘em and if he has a good game the Aggies get the job done against what is a mess of a Razorbacks team.
Pick: Texas A&M -23.5
Last week: 2-1
Season to date: 6-5-1