By: Austin Moehn
The past two weeks haven’t been too good for me going a combined 2-4. Last week the Louisville and Syracuse picks were tough especially since both were in their games for the most part. Louisville actually had a 14 point lead late in the second quarter but ended up losing by 19. That was last week though and I have my eyes set on a pair of ranked teams playing Friday night and a Saturday noon game as I try to get back to my winning ways.
SMU #17 at Tulane (+6.5)
SMU is trying to keep their perfect record as they head to New Orleans to face the Green Wave of Tulane. In their first big test of the season, the Mustangs looked good beating the ranked Memphis Tigers in a tight 30-27 win. They did lose starting running back TJ McDonald and wideout Reggie Roberson Jr in the win, but they still have plenty of talented weapons. The high scoring offense is led by quarterback Shane Buechele who has been a beast so far throwing for over 1,300 yards in only four games. Their ability to spread the field also creates great opportunities for running back Ulysses Bently IV who is averaging 8.4 yards a carry. The defense has been able to slow down the opponents enough to let the offense do its job. They were able to get the pass rush going which resulted in two interceptions in the win against a very good Memphis offense, but will face a unique offense in Tulane.
Welcoming SMU is Tulane who will surely make a statement with a win on Friday night. The Green Wave was fairly competitive in their last game out against Houston until the second half where the Cougars pulled ahead and ended up beating Tulane 49-31. Averaging 37 points per game, Tulane’s offense is highlighted by their group of running backs who average over six yards a carry. The committee is led by Cameron Carroll who already has seven rushing touchdowns. Tulane’s group of running backs have to be excited to face SMU’s defense who has surrendered 165 yards per game on the ground. Freshman quarterback Micheal Pratt made his first start last week in the Houston game relieving Keon Howard. To this point both have struggled, but Pratt is going to look to make a statement against a shaky SMU defense. The defense has been decent so far but did allow Houston to score 49 points in the Cougars first game of the season.
This game should be fun! There is a reason why the O/U is set at 64.5. Expect plenty of points scored between a battle of high scoring offenses. It will be a contrast in how these points will be scored as SMU should do a lot of it through the air and Tulane will do most of it on the ground. Last season SMU beat Tulane 37-20 when Tulane had a good quarterback in Justin McMillan. Now Tulane is relying upon a true freshman to upset #17 SMU. Between the QB situation and a defense that got exposed a week ago, this has me thinking SMU will take care of business on the road. Take the Mustangs to cover (-6.5).
BYU #14 at Houston (+5)
Dana Holgerson had Houston ready to play. Putting up 49 points against a team that has already played a handful of games is a great way to start the year. They were able to move the ball easily through the air and effectively on the ground. Clayton Tune looked pretty good throwing for 300 yards and two touchdowns, but he did throw two picks, one being a pick six. The defense played well, allowing only two offensive touchdowns. They were able to shut down the Tulane rushing attack to a total of 70 yards and forced inexperienced Micheal Pratt to beat them which paid off. For the first game of the season, the Cougars looked ready to prowl and will try to keep that momentum up against BYU.
Ok… did anyone actually think that BYU was gonna cover as a -35 favorite last week? Yes it was still an underwhelming performance in their 27-20 win over UTSA, but the score indicated a much closer game then it really was. BYU came out flat until the second quarter to where they were able to generate some offense and were up 21-6 late in the third. The running game was still good and Zach Wilson played well. The defense finally looked human as they allowed Lowell Narcisse to get into a rhythm and throw 17 for 20 with two touchdowns. The one bright spot on the defensive side of the ball was that they were able to keep Sincere McCormick and the good UTSA rushing attack under control. They still have one of the highest scoring offenses in the country and one of the best defenses statistically which was why they deserved a top ten ranking. BYU is still a good team and many good teams have a game that makes people start to question if they are really that good. The only question is will BYU’s defense be able to stop Houston’s passing attack.
This is a perfect example of crazy one week spread valuing. If this game was played before last week’s games, BYU would have been a large favorite. Houston did look good but facing a BYU team who has been dominant in 2020 will pose a massive challenge. BYU is 8-2 ATS in their last ten following an ATS win and Houston is 2-7 ATS in their last nine following an ATS win. BYU has a past tendency of losing games like this one, but this team seems to be better than ones of previous years. Give me BYU (-5) on the road.
Army at UTSA (+7.5)
As I mentioned before about the difference one week can make in a spread, this one is a prime example. If this game was played before last week’s games this would have seen Army being a huge favorite. The Black Knights had very little offense last week against The Citadel. Neither team could get any offense going especially in the run game where both teams averaged 3.2 yards a carry. That game isn’t a big concern with me because when each team knows how to stop each other it makes for a low scoring tight game. Army is a good team with a good offense and a defense that gets stops. They played #8 Cincinnati tough and have easily beat every other team minus The Citadel. UTSA’s defense has me concerned, allowing 153 yards per game on the ground against teams that are primarily passing is not a good look especially against a triple option that has been dominant for the most part. The Black Knights look to get back into the rankings and a statement win over UTSA will go a long way.
The Roadrunners are coming off their best game of the year making BYU not look like a top ten ranking. The rushing game with Sincere McCormick has been their go to all year, but wasn’t able to get going against the Cougars. Instead the offense was led by backup quarterback Lowell Narcisse who was picking apart BYU, compiling a 90.4 QBR. Narcisse replaced starter Frank Harris who has been dealing with nagging injuries. The defense has been below average allowing 452 YPG, but have looked better of late. In their past two games they were able to hold UAB to 21 points and slow the BYU offense to 27 points. The offense is well balanced but they definitely favor the rushing game with McCormick. He is leading the nation in rush yards at 569 and will look to get yards against a tough Army defense.
Let’s not forget that Army was ranked heading into the Cincy game where they played hard. UTSA has played in only close games to this point which makes them a tempting pick, however this Army team is a step up in talent compared to what they are used to. Army is 5-1 ATS in their last six as a favorite and they beat UTSA 31-13 last season. The Black Knights are a better team than last year and I see a similar result to a season ago. Army will cover (-7.5).
Austin’s 2020 Best Bets ATS record: (7-8)
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