NCAA Football Predictions: Week 9 Opening Line Report and Picks
From my albeit somewhat limited research, I haven't found an FBS program this decade that failed to cover a single game in an entire season. Last year was pretty close as Hawaii covered just once - although it wasn't "close" because the Rainbow Warriors did it in their first game (vs. UMass).
Why do I bring this up?
The UConn Huskies. I'm guessing the ACC is glad it took Louisville a few years back instead of Connecticut, which was very much in the running. Sure, the men's basketball program used to be a powerhouse, but that's a bit of a mess now. (OK, the women have no peer, but conferences lose money on women's sports.).
The football team is a complete disaster, too. The Huskies haven't finished with a winning record since 2010, the end of Randy Edsall's first tenure before he left for Maryland - UConn did go to a bowl in 2015 but was accepted as a 6-6 team and lost the bowl game. Edsall is back after he largely flopped with the Terps and things are worse.
The Huskies fell to 1-6 on Saturday but did become the last team of the season to cover as they were +32.5 and fell 38-30 at South Florida. It was 7-7 at halftime as the unbeaten Bulls clearly were looking ahead to a tougher matchup this week at Houston. It was only the second time all season that UConn, which has played more than 30 freshmen or sophomores, hasn't trailed at the half. It was also the first time the Huskies held an opponent under 49 points. They are last nationally in giving up 51.4 ppg. There's no opening line as of this writing with the Huskies hosting UMass, but UConn should be favored. The Minutemen are off a 24-13 home loss to Coastal Carolina. Their starting QB, Andrew Ford, injured his leg in that game, so that's why it's off the board.
Here are a few other Week 9 opening lines that caught my eye. Games Saturday unless noted. Picks are ATS.
Baylor at No. 13 West Virginia (-14), Thursday: This absolutely screams trap game for the Mountaineers, although the fact they are home should mean avoiding a straight-up upset. West Virginia's Oct. 13 30-14 loss at Iowa State was a killer for the Big 12 because WVU was the last overall unbeaten in the conference. That loss also ended any shot Will Grier had of winning the Heisman Trophy as he was held to just 100 yards passing. Oddly, Dana Holgorsen only allowed Grier to throw it 15 times while trying to force-feed a running game that managed all of 52 yards on 27 carries. When's the last time a Holgorsen offense had 152 total yards? That defeat dropped WVU from No. 6 in the polls, but it still controls its destiny to reach the Big 12 title game. I just don't see it winning all of next week at No. 7 Texas, Nov. 17 at Oklahoma State or Nov. 23 vs. Oklahoma. It's that Longhorns game why I think this could be tricky as I'm sure WVU will be looking ahead. Matt Rhule has worked a minor miracle in that fact that Baylor is 4-3 overall and 2-2 in conference after all that went on at that campus under Art Briles. Why would any parent send their child to Waco after that? Baylor lost a home 38-36 shootout to WVU last year as the Mountaineers stopped a 2-point conversion try in the final seconds. The pick: WVU.
Miami at Boston College, Friday (+3): There's a portion of the Miami fan base that already is souring on Mark Richt. He was the toast of South Beach when UM was 10-0 last season and ranked second in the College Football Playoff Top 25. However, quarterback play by Malik Rosier then went in the tank and the Hurricanes lost their final three. Rosier wasn't much better in Week 1 this year in a loss at LSU, and Richt eventually pulled the plug for redshirt freshman N'Kosi Perry before the Sept. 27 game vs. North Carolina. The Hurricanes won that and the next week vs. FSU, with Perry showing both promise but troubling inaccuracy and a penchant for turnovers. He would be pulled from the Oct. 13 16-13 loss at Virginia for Rosier, and the senior has been reinserted back in that role for this one Friday. The reasons fans are angry at Richt is because UM has a national championship-caliber defense but the offense has been very inconsistent due to the QBs -- Richt calls the plays and his son Jon is the QBs coach. If the Canes lose this one and the offense is lousy again, dad may have a tough decision to make. The pick: BC.
No. 14 Washington State at No. 24 Stanford (-3.5): Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott obviously can't say this publicly, but he'll be rooting for a Cougars upset here. Why? Wazzu is the conference's only shot at getting into the College Football Playoff because every other school in the Pac-12 has at least two losses. Mike Leach's team ended Oregon's playoff hopes with Saturday's 34-20 home win. Gardner Minshew was 39 of 51 passing for 323 yards and four touchdowns. The East Carolina transfer originally committed to Alabama but wisely changed his mind. He's second in the country in passing yards. Stanford controls its destiny to win the Pac-12 North as well and is off a 20-13 win at Arizona State last Thursday. Bryce Love returned from injury but was limited to 21 yards on 11 carries. Stanford avoided its first three-game losing streak under Coach David Shaw. The pick: Stanford.
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