Virginia Tech looks to hand Miami its first loss of the season
The Week 10 edition of college football picks against the spread is highlighted by a huge battle in the ACC Coastal Division as Virginia Tech visits undefeated Miami and a key rivalry game in the Big 12 as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State get together for Bedlam. Here are 10 predictions for games against the spread:
Note: All games are on Saturday, Nov. 4 unless otherwise noted.
Virginia Tech (-2.5) over Miami
Miami has returned to national relevance in Year 2 of the Mark Richt era thanks to a 7–0 start that has the Hurricanes ranked No. 6 in the Coaches Poll. Despite the undefeated record and the lofty rankings, this is not a team many consider to be a threat to make the College Football Playoff. Each of the Canes’ last four wins has come by eight points or fewer, including last week’s 24–19 victory over 1–8 North Carolina. Injuries are taking their toll on a roster that has some quality front-line players but lacks the depth that Richt hopes to build in future seasons. Virginia Tech heads to South Florida with one blemish on its record — a 31–17 loss to Clemson — but has otherwise played very well. Since that loss to the Tigers, the Hokies have defeated Boston College (on the road), North Carolina and Duke by a combined score of 106–20. Virginia Tech might not be a better team, but it seems as though the Hokies are playing better at this point of the season.
Virginia Tech 27, Miami 20
Oklahoma State (-3) over Oklahoma
The Big 12 race is wide open — four teams are tied atop the standings with a 4–1 record — but this feels like the most significant game of the regular season. Both teams have looked great at times... and both teams have looked vulnerable. Oklahoma’s defensive issues are a concern; the Sooners are allowing 6.4 yards per play against Big 12 opponents, better than only Kansas (6.6) and Baylor (8.1). Oklahoma State ranks third in the category at 4.0 per play. OU has, however, been devastating on offense in Big 12 games, leading the league with 8.2 yards per play (OSU is second at 6.8), 10.5 yards per passing attempt (OSU is second at 9.4) and 5.7 yards per rushing attempt (OSU is third at 4.8). The pick is Oklahoma State for two reasons: The Cowboys are home and appear to be a bit more trustworthy on defense.
Oklahoma State 34, Oklahoma 30
Eastern Michigan (-23.5) over Ball State (Thurs.)
Eastern Michigan has lost six games. Eastern Michigan is a pretty good team. Yes, both of those statements are accurate. Each of the Eagles’ losses has come by seven points or fewer, including five straight by four points or fewer. And each of the teams they have lost to — Ohio, Kentucky, Toledo, Army, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois — has a winning record. Ball State, on the other hand, is not a good team. The Cardinals have lost five straight games, the last four by an average of 42 points. They somehow erupted for 51 points in a Week 2 win over UAB but have scored a total of 32 points in the last four games.
Eastern Michigan 44, Ball State 14
Navy (-10) over Temple (Thurs.)
Navy opened the season with five straight wins but has since lost two straight. But those two losses came by three points at Memphis (in a game in which the Mids committed five turnovers) and by 10 to UCF, the best Group of 5 team in the nation. Temple continues to struggle in the first year of the Geoff Collins era. The Owls are 3–5 overall — though each of their last three losses has been close (by seven to Houston, by four to UConn and by three to Army). Temple does have one relatively significant advantage heading into this game: The Owls faced an option team (Army) last week. They did, however, give up 248 rushing yards.
Navy 35, Temple 21
Idaho (+18.5) over Troy (Thurs.)
Troy made national headlines with its 24–21 win at LSU in late September but has been rather ordinary in many of its other games (even with a 6–2 overall record). The Trojans struggled with Akron at home (22–17 win) and followed up their big win at LSU with a 19–8 loss at home to South Alabama. Idaho, in its last season in the FBS ranks, is a disappointing 3–5 but has three losses by single digits (at Western Michigan, Louisiana, Appalachian State). The Vandals beat ULM last week, 31–23. There is little doubt that Troy is the better team, but this seems like too many points.
Troy 30, Idaho 20
Memphis (-12) over Tulsa (Fri.)
Memphis hasn’t always played at a high level on a consistent basis — the Tigers struggled in wins over ULM and Southern Illinois and were shut out in the first half of a win over Houston — but this team is very, very good when it’s playing up to its potential. The Tigers beat UCLA, handed Navy its first loss of the season and rallied from a 17–0 deficit at the half to beat Houston 42–38. Tulsa has also been inconsistent, but the Golden Hurricane’s low points have been far more frequent. Among the head scratchers: a 62–28 loss to Tulane and a 20–14 loss to UConn.
Memphis 48, Tulsa 30
Vanderbilt (-11.5) over Western Kentucky
Vanderbilt is in the midst of a five-game losing streak, but two of the losses came against Alabama and Georgia and the other three were on the road (Florida, Ole Miss and South Carolina). The Commodores’ defense — so dominant during a 3–0 start — has been a huge issue during the losing streak. The offense, however, has played well in recent weeks, scoring a combined nine touchdowns in the losses to Ole Miss and South Carolina. Western Kentucky is 5–3, but the five wins have come against Eastern Kentucky, an FCS school, and four FBS teams ranked 120th or lower in the most recent Athlon Sports national rankings. The Hilltoppers have taken a step back in the post-Jeff Brohm era.
Vanderbilt 30, Western Kentucky 17
Maryland (-2) over Rutgers
Maryland snapped a three-game losing streak with a 42–29 win over Indiana on Saturday. The Terps are 4–4 overall, which is a bit of disappointment but not unexpected given their injuries at quarterback and tough schedule (they have lost to three top-15 teams and Northwestern). Rutgers is showing signs of improvement in Chris Ash’s second season — two Big Ten wins! — but is still struggling to score points. The Knights scored 35 in a win at Illinois but have scored 17 or fewer in their other six games against FBS opponents.
Maryland 27, Rutgers 20
Tennessee (-5.5) over Southern Miss
Two signs that Tennessee is not having a good season: The Volunteers were a 3.5-point underdog last week to a Kentucky team that had lost to Mississippi State by 35 points the previous weekend, and they are only a 5.5-point favorite at home over a Southern Miss team that lost to UAB by 18 points at home last weekend. Southern Miss has done some nice things this year, but its best win (among five) is at UTSA by two points. Tennessee’s issues are well-documented, but this is still a talented team that should be able to handle a middle-of-the-pack team from Conference USA at home without too much stress.
Tennessee 30, Southern Miss 14
Air Force (-7.5) over Army
Jeff Monken has Army bowl eligible for the second straight season — and the Black Knights still have four games to play. The schedule, to put it kindly, has been soft. The wins have come against Fordham, Buffalo, UTEP, Rice, Eastern Michigan and Temple. So while we can credit Army for winning games, we can also be skeptical about this team’s ability to beat good teams. That begs the question: Is Air Force a good team? The Falcons got off to a slow start (1–5) but have since defeated UNLV at home and Nevada and Colorado State on the road. The win on Saturday in Fort Collins was by far their most impressive of the season.
Air Force 38, Army 24
Last Week: 8–2