Though several intriguing matchups dot the college football landscape this week, I’m staying away from some of the bigger ones: Notre Dame/Clemson, Georgia/Alabama, Ole Miss/Florida… all games in which you could make a compelling case for both sides. I do have a feeling that Ole Miss is gonna put it on Florida in the Swamp, but I’ve been burned by the Rebs too many times to feel comfortable laying a touchdown in this particular situation.
So while others may be focused on the “marquee” games, I’ll be turning my attention to the three below. And after righting the ship with a 2-unit win last week, I’m hopeful that our yearly midseason hot streak has arrived:
Minnesota @ Northwestern Saturday 17:00 GMT
Line: Northwestern -4 (StanJames)
The trap has been set here, as an undefeated Northwestern team ranked 16th in the latest AP poll is just a 4-point favorite over a 1-loss Minnesota team that hasn’t beaten anyone by more than 3 points this season despite facing such powerhouses as Colorado St., Kent St, and Ohio. It’s been ugly for the Gophers, no doubt, but the truth is it’s been pretty ugly for Northwestern too, as the Wildcats have struggled mightily on offense in three of their four games. And Northwestern, lacking in depth already, had seven players leave last week’s game due to injury, and several– including 3 starters– are questionable to play this week. Minnesota has a rugged defense and they play a grind-it-out, close to the vest style that is conducive to close games. This should be a really tight, low-scoring affair and I have a feeling the points may come in handy. I’m on the Gophers.
South Carolina @ Missouri Saturday 17:00 GMT
Line: Missouri -2.5 (PaddyPower)
The suspension of Missouri starting quarterback Maty Mauk means it’ll be a battle of freshman QBs this week in Columbia, but it just so happens that the majority of both fan bases think the right guy is starting. Mizzou’s Drew Lock is a prototypical pro-style passer who probably throws the ball better than Mauk, while South Carolina’s Lorenzo Nunez is a run-first type whose elite athleticism has given the Gamecocks offense a much-needed spark. It remains to be seen whether Lock can wake Missouri’s offense up, as they’ve been in such a deep slumber– 13 points in a loss to Kentucky last week, 9 points against Connecticut the week before– that I fear the problems run deeper than the quarterback position. The Tigers have been better on defense, but star linebacker Kentrell Brothers– the team’s leading tackler– may miss this game with a high ankle sprain. The Gamecocks played their best football of the season in the second half of last week’s win over Central Florida, and with Nunez leading an offense that features three capable running backs and all-purpose dynamo Pharoh Cooper, this suddenly looks like an elite rushing attack. Don’t be surprised if South Carolina pulls off the mild upset.
San Jose St. @ Auburn Saturday 21:00 GMT
Line: Auburn -19.5 (BetVictor)
How many players on San Jose State’s roster do you think would make Auburn’s 2-deep? Four maybe? Five? Point is, there is an extreme disparity in talent here, and I don’t care how bad the Auburn offense has looked over the last couple of weeks: I’m willing to bet that at home, coming off two straight losses and facing San Jose St., the Tigers are going to go up and down the field and put at least 40 on the scoreboard. And you can bet that defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has been all over his underachieving unit this week, so I’m not expecting big things out of a Spartan offense (yes, San Jose St. is the “Spartans”. Learn something new every day, don’t you?) that managed just 16 points against Air Force a couple of weeks ago. This one could get ugly… Auburn is the play here.
Recommended Bets (1-3 unit scale)
2 units Minnesota +4 at 1.91 (StanJames)
2 units South Carolina +2.5 at 2.0 (PaddyPower)
1 unit Auburn -19.5 at 1.92 (BetVictor)