For the second time in 9 weeks, the entire card came together. Michigan State and UTEP both stagged furious second-half comebacks, Mississippi State took full advantage of Kentucky’s sloppy play and both of my overs cashed comfortably. For a clean sweep, you need to be both lucky and good and I was in spades during Week 9.

For an encore, I’m mining the depths of the Sun Belt, turning my attention to a critical leg in the Commander-in-Chief trophy chase and predicting the outcome of the critical SEC West showdown between Auburn and Texas A&M. I’ll also toss in a pair of bonus picks to round out the 5-pack.

Last week: 5-0, +6.05 Units
Season record: 36-19 (65.5%), +21.75 Units

Auburn at Texas A&M-4.5

Bo Nix is playing a football game on the road. That’s where we start. Prior to his 2 wins over LSU and Arkansas away from The Plains, Nix had been, well, not good away from home. In those wins over the Bayou Bengals and Hogs, however, he combined to go 44/70 (63%) for 547 yards, while accounting for 5 touchdowns. It’s a brand new Bo!

But here’s the thing: LSU is absolutely horrific against the pass. The Tigers check in 86th nationally against the pass. Texas A&M, by comparison, has put the clamps on opposing passing attacks, allowing a paltry 5.9 yards per attempt. It’s one of the main reasons they field the nation’s No. 3 scoring defense. During Nix’s resurgence, he’s been hitting big plays, a trend I foresee coming to an end against a salty Wrecking Crew defense.

When the Aggies have the ball it’ll be a pure strength vs. weakness battle. Texas A&M is ripping off runs at a 5.4 yards per carry clip (14th nationally) and is currently the 11th-ranked rushing attack according to PFF. Auburn is allowing close to 150 yards per game on the ground, a number that ballooned to an average of 197 in their past 3 (UGA, Arkansas, Ole Miss).

It will be physical and likely low-scoring, but I think A&M has the defense and running game to take advantage of Auburn’s shortcomings. I expect north of 175 yards from Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane as the Aggies push closer to the CFP top 10.

Army at Air Force Over 37

Slow, plodding, triple-option offenses collide in Colorado Springs. Not exactly an over-bettor’s dream headline. Especially when you consider that the Cadets and Falcons have exceeded this 37 number just once since 2014.

But this season is different. As the Action Network’s Collin Wilson has pointed out, Air Force is just 82nd in defensive stuff rate. Army isn’t much better, checking in at 59th nationally. And in a game where a long touchdown or two would do wonders to aid the over, the Falcons are more than happy to oblige. Air Force is 76th in terms of allowing running plays of 30 yards or more this season.

A quick survey of the Army schedule and it’s easy to see that over has been a profitable play in 2021. The Cadets have already played in four games that have exceeded 50 points, including shootouts with Western Kentucky and Wake that produced 199 points in those two contests.

My power rankings call for this total to come in at 41, which is a fairly significant difference in a game with a total this low.

Both these teams like to start fast, with Army punching in 20.3 points per game in the first half. For that reason, I’d also advocate taking a look at the first half total over which is currently sitting at 19.5 over at WynnBet Sportsbook.

SMU at Memphis Over 70.5

The Mustangs may be the best “road offense” in the nation. The Ponies are piling up the points when they come down off The Hilltop, scoring 38 points per game on the road this season. Tanner Mordecai, quite possibly the most impactful transfer of 2021, has thrown 14 touchdown passes in four road games this season while accruing a QBR of 76.1 away from Dallas. That’s the 7th-highest road QBR of any passer in the nation.

But it takes 2 to tango and this “over” play comes down to the health of Seth Henigan. The freshman quarterback has made the Tigers’ offense sing. With him as their QB1, the Tigers are averaging 36 points per game. As of publication, his status remains in doubt for Saturday. According to College Fantasy Update, he’s been a limited practice participant since Monday.

If he does play, I believe this over will fall early in the 4th quarter. Not only can both teams score, and score quickly, but their special teams could lead to non-offensive touchdowns. Calving Austin III is one of the nation’s best punt returners and SMU both scored and allowed a KO return for a touchdown last week. Nothing gives an over a shot in the arm like a non-offensive touchdown.

At the very least, SMU’s 119th ranked kickoff coverage team should serve up ideal field position for the Memphis offense.

South Alabama ML+160 at Troy

South Alabama is 4 points from being one of the best stories in college football. In his first season, Kane Wommack has already exceeded last year’s win total in just 8 games. And that includes a pair of 2-point losses (Louisiana, Texas State).

In short order, the former Indiana DC has turned the Jags’ defense into one of the Sun Belt’s best. South Alabama is 19th nationally in total defense, 30th in yards per carry allowed, and the scary part is its pass defense might be even better (55% completions, picking off nearly 5% of throws). This has led to a top-25 showing in turnover margin on the season.

And for as well as their defense has played, OC Major Applewhite now has the Jags’ offense rolling in Sun Belt play. In its past 4 games, USA is averaging 33.5 points per game. Jalen Tolbert has been doing the most damage, averaging 10 receptions and 141 yards per game during that torrid stretch. He’s nabbed 5 touchdowns in his last 4 and appears headed for the NFL next season.

If the Jags had upset Louisiana earlier in the season this spread could easily be flipped in their favor. My power rankings call for it to be USA-3.5, so I’m more than happy to take the moneyline and tack that onto the card.

Tulsa at Cincinnati-22.5

Seeing as this is an SEC-centric audience I’ll keep my commentary on Cincinnati’s treatment at the hands of the CFP committee brief. They got hosed and the Bearcats are mad as hell. With College GameDay coming to town, if there ever was a motivational spot to bet big on Luke Fickell, this is it.

Cincinnati needs to win going away and they’ll get a chance to do it against an anemic Golden Hurricane offense. Tulsa is struggling mightily, unable to string together first downs at this point in the season. They’ve been held to 17 or fewer 3 times (UC Davis, Houston, Navy).

And when Tulsa trots out its defense, teams are running all over them. Tulsa is 83rd against the run, and when it comes to allowing carries of 30 yards or more, they’re even worse (92nd). Cincy QB Desmond Ridder and RB Jerome Ford should have banner days touting the rock. After posting 4 games with multiple rushing touchdowns in 2020, Ridder has zero thus far in 2021. I expect that to change with lots of zone reads giving Tulsa problems.

Because of the likelihood of Cincy running things up, I’d advocate maxing out the alternate line up to Cincy-31 at +300.