Daily Wager: NCAA Week 5
This is the week on the NCAA college football schedule that will have massive playoff implications as there are three key football games featuring undefeated top 12 teams.
At noon ET Saturday, the No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks head to Athens, Ga., to meet the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs, who might have a fair argument of being the real No. 1 seed so far this season.
Then at 2:30 p.m. ET, the No. 7 Cincinnati Bearcats, who desperately need this win to keep any chance of a Group of 5 playoff bid alive, take on the No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend, with the Irish coming off a 41-13 blowout win over the No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers last week.
At 3:30 p.m. ET, we get the marquee SEC matchup featuring the two current Heisman Trophy favourites in Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral and Alabama QB Bryce Young. This is also a rematch of the wild, high-scoring game between the No. 1 Crimson Tide and the No. 12 Rebels last year, which Alabama won 63-48. It will be interesting to see what bag of tricks ex-Alabama assistant coach Lane Kiffin has in store for his old boss Nick Saban.
You won’t find a better afternoon of games this season. Here are my picks for this weekend.
No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks at No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs
Spread: Georgia -18
Arkansas has been one of the biggest surprises early this season. A lot of people scoffed at the hire of 59-year-old head coach Sam Pittman, but the early results to this point have proven otherwise. This Razorbacks team competes hard and has pulled off a couple of upset wins so far over teams that were ranked at the time in Texas and Texas A&M. They also have a legit future NFL wide receiver in Treylon Burks. However, playing against this Georgia defence will be a whole other story. The Bulldogs are giving up a ridiculous 5.8 points per game, and while that Clemson win early does not hold the same merit, this Georgia team is the best in the country in my opinion. On top of that, 90 per cent of the public bets are on Arkansas. The 18.5 seems like the oddmakers are begging you to take the points with the Razorbacks, so I’m going to go the other way on that and hope for a Georgia blowout here.
THE PICK: Georgia -18
Memphis Tigers at Temple Owls
Spread: Memphis -11
Temple has two wins over really bad teams in Akron and Wagner. Do not let that get in your head, as they are a bad football team. Rutgers scored 61 points against them on Sept. 4 and the Owls are far from being an offensive juggernaut as they have yet to score more than 20 against their other two FBS opponents. The Owls also give up 30 points per game, which suits Memphis here, as they score around 40 a game. Led by wide receiver Calvin Austin, who is second in the NCAA in receiving yards and leads the way with seven touchdowns, Memphis will score a lot of points in this game. I don’t think Temple will able to keep up with the Memphis offence. The Tigers have played a tough early schedule and are coming off a tough loss so they will want a blowout win here.
THE PICK: Memphis -11
No. 7 Cincinnati Bearcats at No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Spread: Cincinnati -2
This is almost certainly a playoff elimination game. Notre Dame is coming off a big win over Wisconsin and it looks like the injury to quarterback Jack Coan was nothing major and he will be good to go this week. The Irish defence really stepped up last week and looked like they were back to last year’s form with two pick-sixes in the fourth quarter. Safety Kyle Hamilton is an absolute star on this Irish defence as well. I was big on this Cincinnati team entering the season, but their 38-24 win over Indiana was a deceiving score as the Hoosiers were in control for a while and gave that game away late. That’s the same Hoosiers team that was taken to the brink by Western Kentucky last week. The Bearcats need this win to have any hope of being the first Group of 5 playoff team, but personally I think the wrong team is favoured here so I’ll take the Irish.
THE PICK: Notre Dame +2
No. 12 Ole Miss Rebels at No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Spread: Alabama -14.5
When these two teams met last season, the final score was 63-48 for Alabama. Do not think for one second that Nick Saban has forgotten about giving up that near 50-burger. Saban has never lost to a former assistant coach and he certainly does not want that streak to end at the hands of Lane Kiffin of all people. As well, while Matt Corral has lit up Louisville, Austin Peay and Tulane, he will miss Elijah Moore and Kenny Yeboah (now both with the NFL’s New York Jets) who combined for 324 receiving yards in last year’s matchup. I think Alabama will look to slow down this game and not play to the Rebels pace. This game will either elevate Matt Corral to a Heisman or see a halt in his +150 odds. I’m leaning the latter. If this number was 13.5, I would likely take Alabama but I don’t like the 14.5 as it has lots of backdoor potential. However, the total being 80 is just insane. I know what happened last year and do not expect a repeat. I know it’s not the most fun bet in the world, but I have to take the under 80 here.
THE PICK: Under 79.5
Air Force Falcons at New Mexico Lobos
Spread: Air Force -11.5
I gave out Florida Atlantic against Air Force last week and I was wrong. I really underestimated this team and their triple option run game was impressive. They lead the nation averaging 357 yards a game on the ground. New Mexico, on the other hand, has played very good run defence, giving up under 100 yards a game, but they have not quite seen a rushing attack like this yet. The Lobos do have a familiar face at quarterback in ex-Kentucky starter Terry Wilson, but he was never known as an elite passer and their two wins over Houston Baptist and New Mexico State don’t carry much weight. This Falcons team really impressed me last week in dominating a solid team in FAU and I think that run continues here.
THE PICK: Air Force -11.5