Man, that was close. A fourth quarter points explosion in Virginia Tech-Louisville and a meaningless Arkansas touchdown just prior to the final buzzer was the only thing keeping us from an undefeated run on Halloween. We finished the week at 4-2 and now sit at 26-18 ATS for the season. I’ll take it.
We move on to the first weekend of November and every conference in the FBS will be up and running in Week 10. We’ve gotten a few more COVID-19 cancellations, but it is a stacked Saturday following three weekdays that were filled with college football. It’s the most wonderful time of the year and it is time to once again visit cover town.
Here are the best plays on the card.
Tulane @ East Carolina Over 61.5
Willie Fritz is perhaps the most popular G5 college football coach on Twitter, but it’s been tough for him to get things over the hump in New Orleans. Tulane is 26-31 with Fritz at the helm and are off to a 3-4 start this season with very tough home losses to both Navy and SMU. This offense has put up over 30 points in five straight games, but their defense is allowing over 30 points per outing.
Former FCS national champion head coach Mike Houston is in the middle of a rebuild in Greenville as East Carolina is off to a 1-4 start with back-to-back close losses to both Navy and Tulsa. The Pirates are putting up over 30 points per game, but it’s more due to tempo than efficiency. Meanwhile, this defense has been leaky giving up over 37 points per outing.
The AAC is most offense friendly league in college football and a total barely over 60 is good value. Both Tulane and ECU will hit a their fair share of chunk plays as this one becomes a shootout in a matchup between two teams who desperately need a conference win. Play the over.
Michigan State @ Iowa Under 46
One week after looking like absolute you know what against Rutgers, somehow Mel Tucker was able to circle the wagons as the Spartans went into the Big House and stunned Michigan. True freshman wideout Ricky White had his coming out party with eight grabs for 196 yards while the Spartans continue to play solid ball on the defensive side.
Ricky White today: 8 rec, 196 rec yds, 1 TD
Most rec yards by a Michigan State player AGAINST MICHIGAN since Plaxico Burress had 255 against them in 1999. pic.twitter.com/gO2II3bB5u
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) October 31, 2020
Iowa is off to a very slow 0-2 start after two losses by a combined five points to both Purdue and Northwestern. The Hawkeyes are better than their record, but there is no denying new starting quarterback Spencer Petras is really struggling and this passing game is currently holding back the team. As always, this defense is solid.
Both Iowa and Michigan State rank top-three in the Big Ten when it comes to yards per play defense and they have both smothered their competition. You add that in with 15mph winds expected to be in the forecast for this nooner in Iowa City and it feels like both passing games are going to struggle. Iowa’s run game has been much more efficient and that gives them the edge, but this one sets up to be a snoozer. It would be a shock if the winner here posted more than 30 points while possessions will likely be limited in a classic Big Ten grinder.
Oklahoma State @ Kansas State (+12)
For most of the season, Oklahoma State has looked like the best team in the Big XII. The Cowboys are legit good on defense while the offense is slowly starting to figure things out in Stillwater. They hosted Texas in a big spot last week and somehow lost despite owning a 5.82-3.83 yards per play advantage. A defeat like that can happen when you are minus-four in the turnover column. The Pokes finally have quarterback Spencer Sanders back in the lineup, but they need him to take better care of the football.
K-State has spent a good amount of time this season in the top 25, but many including myself thought that was a bit fraudulent. The advanced numbers told us this team is not very good and that showed up last week when they were thumped by West Virginia in Morgantown. Now the Wildcats look to regroup as they return home. Despite all their flaws, true freshman running back Deuce Vaughn appears to be the real deal.
Highest-graded true freshman offensive players
1? Deuce Vaughn, Kansas St RB
2? Peter Skoronski, NW OT
3? Tank Bigsby, Auburn RB
4? Marvin Mims, Oklahoma WR
5? Walker Parks, Clemson OT pic.twitter.com/43CiRoQ2em
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 4, 2020
Oklahoma State is the better team in this matchup, but I love this spot for the Wildcats. They should be pretty upset after the loss to West Virginia while it is an obvious hangover spot for Oklahoma State. Getting double-digits is just way too many points and this has been a spot where K-State has thrived lately with a 10-3 ATS record as a home dog. Take the nearly two touchdowns and play the purple cats.
Texas A&M (-9.5) at South Carolina
The Aggies are back in the top 10 and seem poised for a monster end to the season. This has become a really efficient offense with a deadly running game and quarterback Kellen Mond is playing like just what you would hope your senior quarterback would look like. This has been one of the best offensive lines in college football while the Aggies are very stingy against the run. A&M backdooring their way into the playoff is a legit possibility.
South Carolina pulled off a big home win over Auburn thanks to turnover luck, but the good times didn’t last long. The Gamecocks were throttled by LSU in Death Valley as the passing game does not have much big play pop. However, Kevin Harris has been one of the SEC’s biggest surprises and he trails just Alabama’s Najee Harris in the league’s rushing battle. On the other side, the run defense has been exposed the last two games and that’s a major worry.
Expect A&M’s Isaiah Spiller to run wild at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday night while South Carolina will have a very tough time moving the football once Texas A&M stuffs the run. It will be another business like win for the Aggies as they continue to march forward under Jimbo Fisher. Play the road favorite and lay the two possessions.
Tennessee (-1) @ Arkansas
We haven’t seen Tennessee since Bama ran it up again at Neyland Stadium, but the offense did show some improvement in that blowout. The Vols aren’t running the ball against good defenses, but Jarrett Guarantano can stretch the field vertically and to say he is due for a good game would be an understatement. Defensively it has just been okay for Jeremy Pruitt’s group, but the bye week gave them some time to heal up.
Arkansas has been the flavor of the month throughout SEC media the last couple weeks, but we saw the shine start to wear off this group in College Station. The Hogs remain woefully inefficient on offense and if you can take away the big play they are in big trouble. Meanwhile, the big play defense has been excellent but if you are disciplined enough to stay ahead of the chains you can make them pay.
Tennessee really needed the bye week and I think you’ll see them come out and try to push a smaller Arkansas squad around. The Vols are able to establish the run to make everything easier on Guarantano while offensive coordinator Jim Chaney learned some lessons after the Kentucky loss. UT stays patient on offense while their defense takes away the big play. The Vols win a close one in Fayetteville, but they cover the number.
Best Bet: North Carolina (-11.5) @ Duke
Mack Brown’s squad has made a lot of appearances here on this weekly feature and they return this week. The Heels are fresh off a tough rivalry loss to Virginia in Charlottesville despite Sam Howell throwing for 443 yards and averaging nearly 16 yards per attempt. This North Carolina is one of the best in college football putting up 7.48 yards per play while their defense is much better than what we saw last week.
It’s been a very long season for David Cutcliffe at Duke while Clemson grad transfer Chase Brice hasn’t been the shot in the arm at quarterback that most close to the program were hoping. The Blue Devils have a minus-9 turnover margin while Brice has thrown 11 interceptions while barely putting up six yards per attempt. If they can’t run the football they are in trouble.
It’s another really good spot for North Carolina coming off a tough road loss heading into a rivalry. Duke has a competitive defense, but it should be no match for one of the best offenses in college football. Meanwhile, the defense has a bounce back performance in Durham as they get right against a struggling Duke attack. Lay the double digits with the road favorite in this rivalry matchup.