Pick Analysis: NCAA Week 8

Cincinnati +2.5

We love Cincy and the points coming off the extended bye due to the China Virus. The main reason is their defense is elite. SMU is without two of their playmakers in RB T.J McDaniel and stud WR Reggie Roberson. In order to beat this Bearcat team SMU QB Shane Buechele is going to need some more weapons. Cincy is tough on the pass giving up only 171 yards a game in the air and 135 yards on the ground.

This is a step up in class for the Bearcat defense as the SMU Spread / Air Raid offense has been clicking on all cylinders. However, SMU hasn’t played a defense like Cincy. Their previous opponents Texas St, North Texas, SF Austin, Memphis, and Tulane couldn’t win a pillow fight, and now they have to face a Bearcat D who only gives up 13 points a game. The Bearcats are foaming at the mouth, and haven’t played a game in 3 weeks. Luke Fickell will have them dialed in on defense. Look for both offenses to run around the same amount of plays, but SMU is going to really have to work to turn those plays into points. We really like Cincy’s Secondary vs the SMU receivers. The Bearcats have 7 INTs in their first 3 games and have notoriously stopped the run, holding run happy Army to 10 points. The Bearcat D is #1 in takeways per game in the country and we believe that trend will continue Saturday. On offense the Bearcats will use a balanced approach with QB Desmond Ridder to cash in on an SMU defense who gives up 30 points a game to FBS opponents. This balanced attack has put up enough points en route to a 14 point win over then 22nd ranked Army and 21 point victory over USF.

Remember the Bearcats are getting points in this one. Shocked? Yeah we are too. We like the Bearcats to continue to move the chains boasting a 51% 3rd down conversion rate and kill time to keep SMU’s offense off the field. Cincy is 18th in the country in time of possession. This offense feeds off the defense and can grind out wins, especially if they get ahead early. Look for Cincy to not only cover the low number, but win outright 30-24.

-Mike Forbis, RSP Contributor

Boston College -3.5

RSP loves the Eagles to bounce back this week when they host the rambling wreck of Georgia Tech.  BC returns home to the friendly confines of Chestnut Hill where they have played very well this season.  Georgia Tech on the other hand has not had much success this season on the road.  They won an ugly first game vs an unprepared FSU team and then lost by 17 to Syracuse who is easily the worst team in the ACC. 

After getting off to a 3-1 start and playing well, the Eagles fumbled away their game last week in Blacksburg.  Despite the 5 fumbles (yes, 5!) Boston College was in the game late 3rd quarter trailing only 17-14 when the wheels fell off.  We look for the Eagles to get back on track with their tough defense and talented QB Jurkovec against a struggling Ga Tech team.  The Eagles defense has been excellent vs the pass this season and shouldn’t have many problems this weekend vs Jeff Sims.  The Eagles should be much better prepared to face a mobile QB after playing Va Tech and their talented dual threat QB last weekend. 

Ga Tech comes limping in after a ramblin’ train wreck performance where they got destroyed by Clemson 73-7.  Trevor Lawrence picked apart the yellow jackets defense for over 400 yards and 5 TDs.  BC QB Jurkovec is no sunshine, but the ND transfer is talented and shouldn’t have any problems slinging it around vs Tech.  Georgia Tech also has issues with turnovers where they are 64th in the country in turnover margin losing almost 1 possession per game.  We see the Eagles being a +1.8 in turnover margin vs Tech which does not bode well vs the mistake prone Jackets.  Another issue for Ga Tech is penalties. The biggest issue with their penalties is they are mostly avoidable as the Yellow Jackets have a tendency to lose their cool and get numerous late hits and personal fouls. 

With BC playing so well at home this year, along with facing a defense that is undisciplined and struggles vs the pass, the Eagles should take care of business this weekend.  As long as BC takes care of the ball, they should pull away in the 2H getting the win and the cover vs Ga Tech. 

-Jackson Morgan, RSP Contributor

Kentucky -5.5

Kentucky heads to Columbia this weekend to take on Mizzou in a SEC East matchup of big cats.  This game wasn’t supposed to take place until Halloween, but due to some Covid schedule changes we get this matchup a week early.  The Wildcats have a tenacious defense and defense travels and that’s why we love Kentucky as road favorites this weekend. 

The last two games Kentucky has outscored their opponents 58-9.  And if you didn’t think 9 points was impressive, the defense has only given up 7 because Mississippi State’s only 2 points came on a safety.  Not only has the scoring defense been impressive but they are feasting on turnovers with 9 interceptions the last 2 games including three pick 6’s.  On the other side of the ball the offensive numbers leave a lot to be desired.  But when you constantly have short fields (or don’t even get the ball because your defense scored) the statistics aren’t going to pile up.  This is definitely a run first attack led by a dangerous senior QB in Terry Wilson who is an elusive runner and is great at extending plays with his feet.  The Wildcats have also been impressive on 3rd down, where they have converted 60% of the time this season. Look for Kentucky to have some offensive success this Saturday when they get their opportunities.

The Tigers of Mizzou are coming off a huge win over LSU. While that was a great win 1st win for new head coach Eli Drinkwitz, outside of the game clinching goal line stand his defense may be causing him to hit the bar for a few drinks.  The Tigers defense has been bad this season, where they are giving up 38ppg, allowing teams to convert 3rd downs (when they actually can force one) at a 55% clip, and have only come up with 1 takeaway in 3 games.  On offense the Tigers haven’t been much better.  Yes they went up and down the field vs LSU, but this year’s LSU defense is just as bad as the Tigers.  In two games vs a defense with a pulse (Alabama, Tennessee), the Tigers couldn’t find the end zone until the 3rd quarter and the games were out of hand.  Knowing this Kentucky defense will be the best they’ve faced all season, Coach Eli have better have laid off the sauce the last two weeks to come up with some creative ways to attack the Wildcats. 

Look for the Wildcats defense to tame the Tigers while the offense finds some success vs a struggling defense.  RSP doesn’t mind laying the 5.5 on the road, as we see the Wildcats coming away with the win by at least a touchdown.    

-Jackson Morgan, RSP Contributor

Miami (FL) -12.5

We love the Canes at home vs a struggling Virginia team. The Virginia defense wheels have come off allowing 41, 38, and 40 the last 3 weeks in ACC play and now they have to play a much improved Miami offense who averages over 400 yards of offense. As we like to say in the business, there is a reason this line is so high. Miami hosts UVA after a tough home win vs Pitt. Everyone is saying the same thing, Miami struggled to run the ball vs Pitt. Newsflash, most teams struggle to run the ball against Pitt. Miami will get the offense back on track and will get the run game going. They average 215 rushing yards a game at home this year and we expect dual threat QB D’Eriq King to move this offense up and down the field on a depleted Virginia defense that can’t stop a nose bleed. Virginia has allowed 40 PPG and almost 440 YPG in their last 3 defeats and now have to deal with The Canes at home.  This shouldn’t be a close one. Look for Miami to chase style points and keep the pedal to the medal in an easy cover.

Virginia may get their starting QB back in Brennan Armstrong, but we don’t see that mattering. Miami loves playing at home and are 2-0-1 ATS as double digit favorite this year. The Canes are 4-1 ATS at home last 5 and have a knack for creating turnovers (nearly 2 a game). Miami will win the turnover battle giving their offenses multiple chances to cover a large number. Miami’s defense has given up 14, 10, and 19 their last 3 home games and we expect much of the same here. Especially with UVA struggling to score points 23, 21, and 23 their last 3 games. Bottom line we expect Virginia to struggle to score on a Miami defense that loves playing at home. Virginia will struggle to cash in on 3rd downs (38% conversion rate) and lose the turnover battle considering UVA hasn’t had a takeaway on the road yet. We expect Miami to get the offense rolling and dominating Virginia in points per play, by running a ton of plays with little resistance. Wouldn’t be shocked to see a 41-20 game.

-Mike Forbis, RSP Contributor

Notre Dame -9.5

Let’s all take a collective genuflect for the Golden Domer’s this week because we love em’ at RSP.

Spoke with my canary in the steel city and he assured me Pickett will not play because of that tender ankle,  which provides enough skinny for us to take Kelly’s bunch minus the points.

The fact that the bookmakers are keeping us under the key number makes us think we will be snipping some ears with the Irish. Notre Dame and Book did us a favor by laying an egg last week.

With that lethargic display,  the public is jumping on the Panthers and Vegas knows it. It’s obvious to us and that explains the single digit line.

The RSP round table was ecstatic as we huddled on Thursday night, all our key metrics are leaning to the Irish and this is the penalty-prone Panthers 7th game on the schedule… they are showing signs of regression with their loss to the Canes last week.

Notre Dame has some pissed off Alum to reward this week and this is a must to keep the donors happy. Brian Kelly knows this all too well. His phone has been ringing off the hook from the leprechaun  faithful.

Notre Dame is 4th in the FBS in defense , yielding just over 11 points per game. It’s going to be a crisp 50 degrees in Pittsburgh, so we can’t see the backup QB generating much against this defense.

The once stout Pitt defense has given up 30 plus the last 3 games, all loses, so we don’t see then stopping the Irish ground game. Pitt can’t run the ball, so again they will be leaning on the 2nd stringer. Nope, just don’t see it.

Notre Dame is 7th in rushing in the FBS averaging over 33 points per game.

The three headed monster of Kyren Williams 486 yards and 4 scores,  Chris Tyree 220 yards and 2 scores and C’Bo Flemister 129 yards and 1 score will continue to pound the rock for ND.

Touchdown Jesus will not let us down on Saturday as we back Notre Dame to cover the short number against Pitt.

-Vic Bunta, RSP Contributor

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