By: Austin Moehn
I got back on track last week hitting two of my three picks and will try to keep the momentum going heading into week eight. This week has me really excited with all my predictions coming in games with ranked teams playing solid competition. Also this week is the return Big Ten as they make their long awaited return with some solid games. Well let’s get into the action!
Cincinnati #9 at SMU #16 (-2.5)
This is such a great game. Both AAC teams are undefeated looking to get a win over their conference foe putting themselves in the driverseat for the conference title. SMU is (5-0) thanks to the fantastic play out of Senior quarterback Shane Buechele and the high scoring offense. Last week they were able to squeak out a 37-34 overtime win against Tulane. The Green Wave did about as good as any team has this season of stopping the Mustangs offense by forcing incompletions and slowing down Ulysses Bently IV to average 3.8 yards per carry. SMU did allow 34 points to an offense that hasn’t looked good as of late and weren’t able to slow down the run game. This inability to stop the run could be a problem facing Cincy who have a similar run game to Tulane. With a win, the Mustangs will go to (6-0) in back to back years, but first they have to beat #9 Cincinnati.
The Bearcats head to Dallas with a top ten ranking and a (3-0) record. They haven’t played since October 3rd, where they easily beat USF 28-7. This Cincy defense is experienced and very good. Cornerback Ahmad Gardner is on the Jim Thorpe award watch list and is arguably one of the best cornerbacks in the country. The Bearcats D is ranked in the top ten in points per game and yards per game allowed. The Cincy offense is led by Junior quarterback Desmond Ridder and a run oriented offense. Ridder has been inconsistent to this point, but the rushing game is pretty good and they are facing a team that couldn’t stop the run last week. They look to solidify their top tank ranking by taking advantage of a susceptible SMU defense.
Watching Tulane’s offense against SMU, I saw many similarities to Cincinnati’s offense. They both run the ball more than pass, they use a stable of good running backs, and have an athletic quarterback that can make plays with their feet. SMU’s offense is used to putting up big numbers which will be very difficult to do against the tough Bearcat defense. I’m picking Cincinnati to cover at (+2.5).
Georgia Southern at Coastal Carolina #25 (-5.5)
Coastal Carolina is coming off their biggest win in program history with a 30-27 win over Louisiana to become ranked for the first time since joining the FBS in 2017. Freshman Grayson McCall has been great this year by throwing efficiently and being able to scramble. McCall leads a high scoring that is averaging 40 points per game. CJ Marable and the run game has been the primary way the Chanticleers have moved the ball offensively. Coastal Carolina’s defense has been average to this point allowing 23.5 points per game, but against pretty good offenses like Louisiana they struggled to get stops. The Chanticleers are looking to avoid the hangover of a big win as they face off against the Eagles of Georgia Southern.
Georgia Southern is entering this one with a (3-1) record and coming off a 44-0 beat down over UMass. The Eagles option run offense is ran by Senior quarterback Shai Werts. They are averaging 281 yards per game on the ground and have multiple quality running backs that can make big plays. The defense has been decent, but due to the offense usually owning possession time their stats appear to be very good. Georgia Southern is allowing only 19 points per game and were able to slow down Louisiana to only 20 points. To this point the Eagles haven’t played too good of competition with the exception of Louisiana. They did allow weaker competition like FCS Campbell and (0-5) ULM to force close one possession games. With a win over Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern will be in contention for the Sun Belt.
This game is going to be interesting. If the Georgia Southern that played Louisiana shows up this game will be close and they will have a chance for the upset. However if it’s the team that played ULM, this game will be an easy win for Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers have played Georgia Southern in the past and know their option run. This Coastal Carolina team has played very well to this point and I think that they will avoid the big win hangover. I like Coastal Carolina to go (5-0) and cover the spread at (-5.5).
Penn State #8 at Indiana (+5.5)
Finally Big Ten football is back. Indiana has been improving over the past few years and made a great stride in 2019. Much of the production offensively, like Stevie Scott III is returning. Major departures are Peyton Ramsey who was fantastic in this matchup a seas ago throwing for 371 yards and offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer who is now at Fresno State. Now under Center is Micheal Penix Jr who was solid last season throwing for 1,394 yards in six games. The defense was pretty good allowing 24 points per game in 2019 and they are returning a majority of those starters heading into 2020. Indiana can shake up the Big Ten by pulling this upset over #8 Penn State.
The Nittany Lions are heading into 2020 without defensive captain Micah Parsons and productive running back Journey Brown. Also gone is KJ Hamiler and Yetur Gross Matos who are now in the NFL. James Franklin’s squad is looking to fill these gaps while also building off a great 2019 season. Penn State is returning plenty of experience on offense. Sean Clifford is back looking to improve upon his good first season as a starter. With some of the offensive line returning and running backs that were good in limited experience last season, I think that this Nittany Lions offense will be good. The defense was fantastic a year ago, but they did lose talent. Returning is most of their secondary, however losing Matos and not having Parsons will pose big questions on their ability to rush the opposing quarterback. Penn State has done well recruiting over the past few years and I expect that they have some good talent that will try to replace the holes on defense.
Penn State is (22-1) all time against Indiana and is currently riding a six game win streak against the Hoosiers. This is a much better than usual Indiana team that is sneaky talented. Last season this was close with Penn State pulling out the 34-27 victory, but Indiana got an incredible performance out of Peyton Ramsey who is now gone. With it being both teams first games it will most likely be sloppy and I look at coaching being a factor. Tom Allen has helped transform Indiana into a solid team and is a good coach. In my opinion James Franklin is one of the best coaches in college football and I believe that he will have the Nittany Lions ready for this one. Give me Penn State (-5.5).
Austin’s 2020 Best Bets ATS record: (9-9)