We are nearly at the halfway point to the college football season and still have a winning record. This season seems to lack a truly dominant team over all the rest. You can make a case that there's faults with a lot of the top five and even the top 10. There are some great stories though with the success of Northwestern, Temple and Navy among others. We are fully in conference play with just one FCS vs. FBS matchup. Stick around to see if it made the cut this week.
Record: 26-22 (5-4 last week)
NC State (4-1) at Virginia Tech (2-3) (Friday)
The Hokies have lost two straight and eight of their last 10 games at home against FBS opponents. Virginia Tech's last effort was especially bad, putting up just 100 yards of offense at home against Pittsburgh. Luckily the defense played well and kept them in the game even though it ended with a 17-13 loss. This is a unit that has struggled at times especially now that All-ACC cornerback Kendall Fuller is out. We really don't know what the real NC State is like because of a weak non-conference schedule. The Wolfpack have wins over Troy, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion and South Alabama. Last week they lost at home to Louisville in a game where they put up just 228 yards of offense. Virginia Tech has played 12 unders in its last 17 conference games. NC State has played six unders in its last seven October games. SELECTION: Under 46.5 (Hokies -2 as well if we learn Michael Brewer will play)
Minnesota (3-2) at Purdue (1-4)
Purdue continues to look for its first FBS win of the season as the Boilermakers host Minnesota. Minny has scored just 77 points in five games and has struggled to do anything through the air. The Golden Gophers have not put up 300 passing yards in a single game. Mitch Leidner has not played well at QB and is not in good health either, as head coach Jerry Kill admitted as much. Purdue's defense has allowed some gaudy stats, but the Boilermakers also have faced some tough offenses. Few teams would have success against a healthy Marshall, Virginia Tech, Bowling Green and Michigan State. The real matchup will be between the Boilers' offense and Minnesota's defense. The Gophers have allowed 27 points or less in every game and have clamped down on aerial attacks. Purdue has been able to move the ball although its issue has come with turnovers. The Boilermakers have 13 turnovers in five games and some of them have turned potential wins into sure losses. The two teams have combined for seven unders in 10 games. SELECTION: Under 46
Duke (4-1) at Army West Point (1-4)
Army West Point may have just one win this season, but the Black Knights have been close several times. The Black Knights lost by three at home to Wake Forest, by five at UConn and by six at Penn State. They have a solid triple option offense which has not really mixed in the pass element too much. It'll be the second triple option team that Duke faces after getting a taste of Georgia Tech two weeks ago. The Blue Devils' defense has been on point and should be able to hold down Army. The question is how will Duke's offense perform? The Blue Devils have scored just 53 points in their last three games and have struggled for consistency now that they are no longer playing the likes of Tulane and NC Central. Army held Penn State to 264 yards of offense. Duke has played 13 unders in its last 19 games as a favorite and 20 of its last 32 overall. SELECTION: Under 47.5
Appalachian State (3-1) at Georgia State (1-3)
It's the start of conference play in the Sun Belt. Appalachian State has dreams of a bowl game and potentially a conference title. The Mountaineers feature a stellar running game that has put up over 200 yards in every game. Georgia State's weakness resides in its defense and it's how the Panthers defend the run. The Panthers allowed FCS opponent Liberty to put up over 500 yards of offense in a 41-33 loss. Appy State should be able to move the ball pretty freely in the dome as the Mountaineers scored 31 points in a driving rain storm last week. The Mountaineers' defense has put up good numbers, but their competition has been weak outside of allowing 41 to Clemson at their place. Georgia State has gone over in nine of its last 15 home games. SELECTION: Over 59
Virginia (1-3) at Pittsburgh (3-1)
The recency effect is in place here. Pittsburgh is coming off an impressive road win at Virginia Tech where the Panthers held the Hokies to 100 yards of offense. The Panthers finished up their three-game road trip 2-1 with the loss coming against Iowa. Pitt's offense doesn't put up gaudy numbers against FBS opponents, averaging around 300 yards per game. Virginia's lasting memory is getting blasted by Boise State at home in front of a Friday night crowd. The Cavaliers were a few plays away from beating Notre Dame at home on Sept. 12. They are coming off a bye week and have the talent to win this game. T.J. Thorpe received another week to get healthier and to get schemed into the offense more. Virginia has covered in 11 of its last 19 games as an underdog with Pittsburgh failing to cover in 12 of its last 18 games as a favorite. SELECTION: Virginia +10
Rice (2-3) at FAU (1-3)
The bye week came at a good time for FAU, which that Jaquez Johnson will be close to 100 percent from his ankle injury. He played in the win over Charlotte, but wasn't very mobile. Johnson's got several weapons in Greg Howell and Jenson Stoshak. Rice has been beaten up on defense to the tune of 119 points in the last two games. The Owls have had injuries that have crippled the unit, which already was young before. The Owls have potential on offense, but Driphus Jackson's confidence has to be shot after getting benched. FAU has covered in 14 of its last 23 Saturday matchups. SELECTION: FAU ML -160
Navy (4-0) at Notre Dame (4-1)
As mentioned above, Navy has been a great story as the Midshipmen continue to steamroll opponents. Now they take on Notre Dame, which is fresh off a 24-22 loss to Clemson. The Fighting Irish should be able to do what they want offensively against the Naval Academy, which hasn't been tested defensively. The Midshipmen have faced Colgate, ECU, UConn and Air Force. Notre Dame's defense has seen the triple option once already this season, beating Georgia Tech 30-22 back on Sept. 19 at home. These two teams have played some high-scoring affairs with Notre Dame winning 49-39 in 2014 and 38-34 in '13. SELECTION: Over 56
Colorado (3-2) at Arizona State (3-2)
Things are about to get a whole lot tougher for Colorado as the Buffaloes continue Pac-12 play. The Buffaloes accounted for themselves well against Oregon but fell short 41-24. This is a unit that can score points and should do so with Arizona State having struggled defensively in conference play. USC was able to score 42 while the Bruins put up 23. Each of these teams have a bit of balance although the Buffs skew more to the pass. These two played a 38-24 game in Colorado last year with a 54-13 ASU home win in 2013. The road team has gone over the total in 11 of the last 14 games against teams with a winning record. SELECTION: Over 56
UTEP (2-3) at FIU (2-3)
FIU has lost two straight and will be playing its second home game of the season. The Golden Panthers will not be confused for Baylor or TCU, scoring over 20 points just twice this season and only once against FBS opponents. The good thing is their defense has played very well behind a stout front line. The Miners' offense has struggled since losing running back Aaron Jones and has become a bit one-dimensional. They have scored just 33 points the last two games accumulating just 140 yards on the ground combined. FIU has gone under in nine of its last 11 against teams with a losing record while UTEP has gone under in 11 of its last 17 conference games. SELECTION: Under 44.5
- I took a crack at Kent State a few weeks ago after the Golden Flashes scored 29 points against Marshall ruining my under in that game. Now I'm considering the Flashes as a live dog on Saturday at Toledo. Kent State has a very good rushing defense that may have to contend with Kareem Hunt of Toledo. The Rockets are 3-0-1 ATS this season, but with such a big spread, I think the road team is live as an underdog. I couldn't make it official because I don't know if KSU will be able to keep up if the defense falters. Consider Kent State, but it's not an official play.
- On face value, Western Michigan seems like a bad team if you just look at the 1-3 record. Upon closer inspection, one will notice that the Broncos lost to Michigan State, Georgia Southern and Ohio State. WMU has a potent offense with Zach Terrell, Jarvion Franklin and Daniel Braverman. Central Michigan also faced Michigan State and is coming off a home win over Northern Illinois. This series has featured several road wins in a row making things more complicated. I wish the line was shorter, because Western is a very good team that will be in the MAC race in the end.
- Normally I hate laying a ton of points so we're putting the selection of Mississippi State in the notes and not an official play. MSU is coming off a tough loss to Texas A&M and the Bulldogs will want to take out their frustrations on the Sun Belt opponent. They have Louisiana Tech next so there won't be any lack of focus here or so we think. The Trojans have already faced NC State (49-21 loss) and Wisconsin (28-3 loss) so they won't be fazed by this. Mississippi State has been a favorite this large just eight times since 1992 and have covered half of those contests. I think this is a "name your score" kind of game, but I'm not ready to make it official.
- In the SEC, Missouri takes on Florida, as Drew Lock gets another start. The Tigers have dominated the Gators as of late so revenge is an angle in this game. The question becomes is will the Florida revenge factor be enough for them to be focused after a huge home win over Ole Miss. Even bigger is the road game at LSU on Oct. 17. The Mizzou offense has been awful this season, but the Tigers' defense has picked up the slack. I really wanted to take the home underdogs in this one, but will sit it out instead.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.