The Kentucky Wildcats’ garbage time touchdown last weekend salvaged what would have been a disastrous week for the Betting Stuff column. As the saying goes, it’s better to be lucky than good. After weathering a 2-3 card, we’re back with 5 picks to make your Saturday more profitable.

Last Week: 2-3, -1.3 Units
Season Record: 29-16 (64.4%), +16.4 Units

UMass at Florida State-35.5

Florida State used to be in the same boat as Texas and USC, with the national media quick to anoint them as “back” after a quality win. The problem for the Seminoles is that they haven’t been able to string together quality wins since the Jimbo Fisher days and as a result, they’ve fallen completely out of the national consciousness.

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When teams are flying below the radar, that’s when I love to play them, and Florida State is fitting that bill right now. After an 0-4 start, the Noles have scored 68 points in their past 2 games, a pair of upset wins over Syracuse and North Carolina.

Their offensive line play has been significantly better, thanks in large part to the return of a few previously sidelined starters. With more continuity and talent up front, Jordan Travis has had time to operate. The dual-threat has accounted for 510 total yards and 7 touchdowns in his past 2 games.

UMass, meanwhile, can’t seem to stop anyone. The Minutemen rank 122nd in plays from scrimmage that go for 20 yards or more, and 118th in that same metric at 30+.

FSU will hit plenty of long gains and hang north of 50 on UMass as they march toward bowl eligibility.


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San Diego State ML+160 at Air Force

This will be a low-scoring game for two simple reasons. The first is that San Diego State’s offense is a complete abomination. The Aztecs have zero difference-makers at quarterback and their offensive line has struggled to open holes for their lone skill-position weapon, Greg Bell.

The second reason that this will be a game played in the teens is that Air Force’s greatest strength (running the football) is also SDSU’s greatest strength on defense (stuffing the rush). The Falcons rank No. 1 in rush attempts per game, No. 1 in yardage and No. 2 in rush percentage. San Diego State counters those gaudy stats with a run defense allowing just 2.3 yards per carry. When it’s easy to convert your run defense into feet (7 feet per carry), you know you’re dealing with an elite unit.

And since it’s a fairly safe bet that this game will be a low-scoring affair, I’m more than happy to take the better special teams unit. The Aztecs’ Matt Araiza is a superstar. He kicks, he punts and he handles kickoff duties. He drilled an 86-yard punt last Friday, and is good from 58 yards and in when lining up for a field goal. The lefty is an absolute stud.

Air Force, meanwhile, ranks near the bottom in both net punting yardage and field goal conversion rate. Field position and making the most of your scoring opportunities will rule the day here, so give me the Aztecs.

Miami (Ohio) at Ball State-5.5

After a very rocky start that included a beatdown in State College, Ball State has righted the ship. Winners of 3 in a row, the Cardinals’ passing attack is humming behind Drew Plitt. He just posted a QBR of 82.3 at Eastern Michigan last week and their running game is finally starting to chip in.

Ball State won the MAC last season behind their passing game and now that the trio of Yo’Heinz Tyler, Jordan Hall and Plitt are rolling again, I’ll be betting BSU until they burn me.

Miami (Ohio), on the other side of this matchup, has just 3 wins this season, 2 of which have come to college football doormats (Long Island, Akron). Defensively, the Redhawks are feisty, having held their last 4 opponents to just 18.5 points per game. But upon closer inspection, they fail to do anything noteworthy on that side of the ball. Teams are able to pass and run with relative ease (162 rush yds, 75th | 214 pass yds, 47th) and they can’t seem to take the ball away from anyone (.8 Takeaways, 109th).

I’ll take the home team on a heater against an average MAC opponent.

Nevada at Fresno State-3

This is probably the best Group of 5 game in the country this week, with elite quarterback play on display. Fresno State proved early on, in a narrow loss to Oregon and an upset of UCLA on the road, that they can move the ball on anyone. Jake Haener has helped the passing game blossom into one of the best aerial shows in college football (332 yards, 10th).

But it’s really the Fresno defense that has me siding with the Bulldogs. They check in top 20 nationally in run stuff rate, hold opponents to just 4.8 yards per play (24th) and lead the country in opponent completion percentage (47.9%). Carson Strong has been playing well as of late, but he showed Boise State and Kansas State that he and the Wolf Pack passing attack can be reined in.

My power rankings call for this one to be Fresno-7.5, so I’m happy to walk this line all the down to the key number of 3 before pulling the trigger.

Oklahoma-38.5 at Kansas

Oklahoma is in the midst of a PR campaign. Under Spencer Rattler, they were labeled as a fraud, at least from a national title contender perspective. But that identity was cast aside the moment that Caleb Williams took over the starting job in Norman.

After captivating the nation with an off-the-bench performance for the ages in the Red River Shootout, Williams put together a stellar line in his first career start, torching TCU to the tune of 18/23-295-4 TDs, while adding 66 yards on the ground and another touchdown. The defense is still lagging far behind, particularly against the pass. Luckily, Kansas can’t throw the football.

The Jayhawks rank 110th in passing yards per game, 100th in yards per attempt, and 110th in competition percentage. It’s even worse in the explosive play department, as KU has cashed in just 12 passes of 20 yards or more all season (114th).

Oklahoma can easily score 60 points on the 126th-ranked defense, and I foresee them using this game to work out the kinks on defense. What we do know about OU is that they can dial up pressure (7 TFLs per game, 15th) and that should be enough to draw punts or turnovers from a Kansas offense that simply doesn’t have the personnel to execute Lance Leipold’s offense, at least in 2021.

Back the Sooners in a rout.

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