The Six Pack: College football picks for Penn State-Iowa, Texas A&M-Mississippi State in a busy Week 9
The Six Pack was horrible last week. While I nailed the under in Michigan-Michigan State with plenty of room to spare, it was the only winner I handed out in the column. I was wrong on every other pick.
It’s the second time The Six Pack has gone 1-5 this season, and it drops our record this season to 24-24, a perfectly mediocre record if ever there was one. In short, it’s been an awful season to this point, but I’m not making excuses.
The reason The Six Pack’s record is mediocre is that I’ve made mediocre picks. But not this week. This week we’re getting back to our winning ways. There are ups and downs during any season when it comes to gambling, and I prefer to think the downs are behind us.
Games of the Week
No. 7 Georgia vs. No. 9 Florida (Under 52) – in Jacksonville, FL: If you’d like to take Georgia (-6.5) in this game, I wouldn’t blame you. I had been leaning that direction myself as I think Georgia is a better team than Florida, and that this line is slightly off due to the overreaction from the 20-point loss to LSU. However, the total is more attractive to me.
These two meet in Jacksonville every season, and while the favorite is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings, I prefer the other trend in this series. The one that doesn’t see many points scored. The under is 5-2 during the previous seven years, but there’s more to it than that trend. In those seven seasons, the average total number of points scored has been 40.6 points per game. In those seven games, only once (2014) did these two combine for a total higher than this year’s total of 52. Look for that trend to continue. Georgia 27, Florida 20
No. 17 Penn State (-6.5) vs. No. 18 Iowa: The Hawkeyes aren’t getting a lot of attention this season even though they remain a Big Ten team still alive not just for the conference title, but for a possible College Football Playoff berth. Now, I don’t think it’s a likely scenario, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Unfortunately for Iowa, I believe those playoff hopes die on Saturday against Penn State.
Iowa is 6-1 and ranked at No. 18, and it deserves to be. I just think it’s getting a little too much credit with this spread. Part of that is no doubt due to Penn State’s home losses against Ohio State and Michigan State. But the best team Iowa has played this season was Wisconsin, and it lost at home to the Badgers 28-17. Its best win is either last week’s 23-0 shutout of Marlyand or its 13-3 win over Iowa State back in September. Neither are wins to be ashamed of nor are they enough to give me a reason to believe Iowa goes on the road and covers this number. Penn State 34, Iowa 24
Lock of the Week
No. 16 Texas A&M (+2.5) at Mississippi State: I was burned by Mississippi State last week, but this isn’t about seeking vengeance. I think this line is off. The Bulldogs have played four SEC games. They’ve won once. In their three losses, they’ve managed to score a total of 16 points. They have a terrific defense, but I can’t trust this offense to cover at home against a good Texas A&M team. Particularly in this matchup.
Mississippi State has no passing attack to speak of. Its passing efficiency rating of 108.91 is the worst in the SEC and ranks 120th nationally. Against SEC opponents that number drops to 63.79. That is mind-bogglingly awful. So the Bulldogs are going to have to run to move the ball, but the problem there is the Aggies have a strong run defense. The A&M defense has given up only 3.24 yards per carry this season (17th nationally) and has allowed five rushing touchdowns (tied for 7th). Where are the points going to come from? Texas A&M 20, Mississippi State 17
Under of the Week
No. 6 Texas at Oklahoma State (Under 59.5): Oklahoma State isn’t the same Oklahoma State this season, but even so, I’m not brave enough to bet against it at home against Texas. Part of it is Mike Gundy, and part of it is always being leery of Texas, especially now that it’s ranked No. 6. Thankfully we have a total that’s too high here! After scoring at least 35 points per game in Big 12 games the last three seasons (over 40 ppg in both 2015 and 2017), the Cowboys are only scoring 29.8 points per game this year. And then there’s Texas’s offense, which exploded against Oklahoma but has been much more about efficiency than explosiveness in 2018.
Furthermore, the under is 4-1 in the last five meetings, 6-1 when Oklahoma State’s a dog the previous three seasons and 6-1 when Texas is a road favorite the last three seasons. Texas might lose, but I don’t think there will be as many fireworks as this total suggests. Texas 28, Oklahoma State 27
Hate Myself Pick of the Week
No. 21 South Florida (+7) at Houston: It was a couple of weeks ago that I had decided that, no matter what, I was going to fade South Florida the rest of the season. I had this revelation watching the Bulls struggle to beat a bad Tulsa team by one point. This came after watching it struggle to overcome a bad UMass team, and a bad East Carolina team, and a bad Illinois team. Do you see the trend here? Then Charlie Strong’s squad clinched it by allowing a horrible UConn team to look competent last week. Well, I’m betting on the Bulls this week because my new principle only applied to USF as a favorite. In this week’s game against Houston, it’s a dog, and it should be. And it will more than likely lose. But this spread is too big. Houston isn’t this much better than USF, and I expect the Bulls to ugly this up as much as possible and hang around because that’s just what they do. Houston 35, South Florida 31
Bottom 25 Bet of the Week
UNLV (+2.5) at San Jose State: The logic here is pretty simple. I write The Bottom 25 every week, so I’m a lot more familiar with the worst teams in the country than your average college football fan. Thanks to this I know there is just no way that San Jose State should be favored over anybody right now. I get that the Spartans are at home, and UNLV isn’t exactly good, but it’s better than this San Jose State team. And it’s going to win this game. UNLV 31, San Jose State 27
SportsLine Pick of the Week
No. 3 Notre Dame vs. Navy: Notre Dame and Navy continue their rivalry this weekend with a neutral site game in San Diego. Notre Dame is favored by 23.5 points, and the total is set at 54. I have a strong play available on this game that you can read by heading over to SportsLine and subscribing today.
Game(s) of the Week
Lock of the Week
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