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The Triple Option: College football Week 5 best picks and predictions

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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

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.