The 2019 season is not being kind to my picks. After a 5-13 start to the season in The Six Pack, I went 2-4 last week to bring my record on the year to 7-17. That’s awful, and my entire season can be summed up by the events of two games that took place over a 28-hour span.
I took Houston +5 against Tulane on Thursday night. The Cougars had a 28-7 lead and blew it. Then, late in the game, the score was tied and Tulane had the ball. The Wave were simply trying to get into field goal position, which would have won them the game and given me a cover with Houston +5. Jalen McCleskey caught a deep ball in field goal range, shook two tacklers and just scored a touchdown instead.
Then on Friday night, I had FIU +7. The Panthers trailed most of the game, but in the fourth quarter, put together a drive that cut Louisiana Tech’s lead to 36-31 with 51 seconds left to play. The Panthers had pulled off a backdoor cover … or so I thought. They then decided to onside kick, as any team would do in that situation. Still, I felt pretty safe. Louisiana Tech would most likely recover, and then kneel. Or, maybe FIU recovered and tried to win the game. There’d be fear of a pick-six in that situation, but it wasn’t likely. Do you know what was less likely? Louisiana Tech not just recovering the onside kick, but returning it for a touchdown.
Guess what happened! Yep, Louisiana Tech returned the kick for a touchdown. Even when I get lucky, I’m unlucky.
Keep all of this in mind as you read through my picks for Week 5. Do you dare to #TrustTheProcess?
Games of the Week
No. 18 Virginia at No. 10 Notre Dame (Under 48.5): I hate the spread on this game because it just feels a little too perfect. Thankfully, we have a total that’s a bit too high for these two teams. We’re only a month into the season, but that’s long enough to get an idea of what teams are, and in this matchup, we have two disruptive defenses. Virginia ranks 12th nationally in my Chaos Rate metric, while Notre Dame isn’t all that far behind at 24th. The Irish rated much higher before going against Georgia last weekend, which has one of the best offensive lines in the country.
Both defenses should perform well in this one because neither team has what I’d consider a dynamic game-breaker on offense. In fact, Virginia’s offense doesn’t have many big plays in it at all so far. The Cavs are the only team in the ACC, and one of only 16 teams nationally without a play of at least 50 yards this year. The Irish have four, but all of them came against New Mexico. With two stout defenses and two offenses that rely on putting together drives to score points, this under looks quite attractive. Notre Dame 27, Virginia 14
No. 17 Washington (-10) vs. No. 21 USC: Last week, Kedon Slovis was injured early in USC’s game against Utah and replaced by Matt Fink. Fink then came in and threw a bunch of jump balls to his receivers, which took advantage of the Utah secondary and came down with them. It led the Trojans to an upset win. As I write this, Slovis remains in the concussion protocol, and it’s not clear whether he’ll play. That doesn’t mean a whole lot to me, however, because whether its Slovis or Fink, I like the Huskies.
Do you know what defense or secondary I don’t want to face if I’m a young or inexperienced quarterback? Washington’s. The Huskies have one of the best secondaries in the country every year and make life difficult on experienced QBs, not just the young ones. So whether it’s Slovis or Fink, I like the Huskies here. The fact USC’s defense has been prone to allowing big plays only makes me like Washington more. Washington 38, USC 21
Lock of the Week
Washington State (+6) at No. 19 Utah: Speaking of Utah, last week it lost to USC despite the Trojans being down to their third-string QB. The Utes also saw running back Zack Moss go down with an injury in that game, and QB Tyler Huntley’s banged up as well. Utah isn’t divulging the health of either, but I believe Huntley will play while Moss’ status is the one in greater peril. They’ll be facing a Washington State team that blew a lead last week against UCLA, allowing the Bruins to score 50 points in the second half. A second-half that’s made this line a lot bigger than it should be. Utah has had problems with passing attacks in recent seasons. I did some research and since the beginning of the 2017 season, Utah has played five Pac-12 games against offenses that average at least 300 yards passing per game. It is 1-4 ATS in those games as well as 1-4 straight up. That includes four straight losses on both counts, including last week’s game against USC. Two of those losses came to Washington State, as the Cougars beat Utah 33-25 in Salt Lake City in 2017, as well as 28-24 last year on the Palouse. I’m taking the points, but I think Wazzu wins this one outright. Washington State 38, Utah 31
Upset Alert of the Week
Baylor (+3) vs. Iowa State: This is another matchup I would give strong consideration to the money line with. I think the wrong team is favored in this matchup, as Baylor will face Iowa State in Waco as a field goal underdog. The Cyclones defense has been prone to allowing some big runs in its first three games this season, and few teams have been as explosive on the ground as the Bears. The Bears have rushed for at least 20 yards on 11.11 percent of their rush attempts this season. The only offense with a better rate than that is Oklahoma at 12.17 percent. Baylor can run the ball quite well, and while the Cyclones put over 70 on the board last week, most of their damage is done through the air. Well, current forecasts call for 15 to 16 MPH winds throughout this game on Saturday afternoon, which will add a degree of difficulty to passing the ball. That will play even more in Baylor’s favor. Baylor 28, Iowa State 27
Under of the Week
Kentucky at South Carolina (Under 51.5): My Lock of the Week last week was the under in South Carolina’s game against Missouri. It hit then, and I like the chances of an under hitting here as well. What we have here are two offenses that are pretty average when it comes to explosiveness, as well as two defenses that have done a decent job of limiting those explosive plays. Plus, both defenses are slightly above average when it comes to my Chaos Rate metric. Put all of that together, and we should have a lower scoring affair here. South Carolina 24, Kentucky 21
Friday Night Rock Fight of the Week
Arizona State (+5) at No. 15 Cal: Last week, Arizona State found itself in a style of game it has no interest in playing, and it came up short, losing to Colorado in a 34-31 shootout. Cal plays much more to Arizona State’s preferred style of inertia. These are two teams that would much rather beat you 3-0 than 66-60, and this will likely be a low-scoring affair, which makes every point you can get on the spread all the more valuable. Still, while I like the under, 41 is a low total, and it’s not as appealing as taking the Sun Devils on the spread. Also, considering what typically happens to Pac-12 favorites in Friday night games, the outright upset isn’t out of the question here, even though I think Cal squeaks by. Cal 20, Arizona State 17