I had big shoes to fill last year when I took over for Dan Rubin in the BCI Friday picks column. I’d put the pressure somewhere between having to take over for Tom Brady at quarterback and taking over for Arnold Schwarzenegger on The Apprentice. However, with all that weight on my back I still managed to stay over .500 and come away with an outstanding 77% of my Lock of the Week. Ironically enough the one area where I struggled was picking BC games. In the words of Steve Addazio if you want to blame someone BLAME ME! Here’s to hoping for an even better season in 2017!
Last Year Overall: 45-42-1
Last Year Lock of the Week: 14-4
BC (-3) at NIU
Compared to Las Vegas I am pretty bullish on this BC team. Now that might not be saying a hell of a lot seeing as how the wise guys have the BC over/under win total at 4, but I think this is a 6 or 7 win team. To accomplish that benchmark BC has to come out of this game with a win and I think they do just that.
From all indications the strength of NIU on offense is the running game and as we all know the BC rush defense was #7 in the nation last year. Something tells me that the Huskies shouldn’t be able to get that much going against BC. On defense NIU’s strength is its defensive backfield, but having that as a strength isn’t really a huge advantage against a team that runs the ball so much. NIU has question marks about its front seven so the BC offense should be able to pound that rock and get the running game going.
It doesn’t appear that NIU will be able to take advantage of any of its strengths in this game, while BC will be able to leverage its strengths on both sides of the ball.
Wyoming (+12) at Iowa
One of my favorite degenerate September traditions is going against Iowa because Kirk Ferentz’s squad is 9-18 ATS in the last five years in September home games. This includes five games in which the Hawkeyes lost the game outright as a favorite as well.
Normally in these situations I hitch my wagon to an opponent that I know very little about or even worse I back an opponent that I know stinks. That isn’t the case with Wyoming this year as I get quarterback, Josh Allen, who is projected to be one of the top five quarterbacks taken in next year’s NFL Draft.
Appalachian State (+14) at Georgia
Georgia has a showdown with Notre Dame looming next week so there certainly is a letdown factor for the Bulldogs here. More importantly though, I love the experience and talent of App State and think they have the best “Group of Five” team in the country. Taylor Lamb is a 4th year starter at QB and returns with sensational running back, Jalin Moore, and a pretty good offensive line. I don’t think this will turn into a situation where you see the Georgia defensive line push around a small school offensive line like you normally would in a SEC vs Sun Belt match-up.
I love the spot for App State here along with the fact that I love its veteran team. I know App State hasn’t been great at pulling off upsets ever since the upset of Michigan years ago but I think this is the time. At the very least App State covers the spread.
Temple (+18.5) at Notre Dame
The good news is that Temple is coming off of back-to-back 10-win seasons and the program has never been doing so well.
The bad news is that only ten starters return and a new coach is taking over. Why am I taking Temple then? The Owls do have six starters returning on offense which include All-AAC candidate Ryquell Armstead at RB, perhaps the best group of wide receivers in the conference and three starters on the offensive line. This offense can score on the ‘Irish.
The one scary part for Temple is its defense which has only four returning starters. Don’t forget though that new coach Geoff Collins is a former defensive coach so I think it is something he can mend together and is less of a concern than if the offense was only returning four starters.
My gambling nugget for this one is that ND is 2-7 ATS the last nine times that it was favored by 14 points or more in a game.
Lock of the Week
South Carolina (+6) at NC State
This number has gone down to five now and I still like it at that number. NC State seems to be the sexy pick of the year to be a surprise contender in the ACC and there are certainly things to like about the ‘Pack. Ryan Finley and Jaylen Samuels are one of the best QB-to-WR combos in the ACC and the NC State defensive line is very good as well. Still, do we really think this team is suddenly as good as FSU and Clemson? Good God just last November the school had to make an announcement that Dave Doeren was not being fired. Does that sound like a program ready to compete for the ACC Title?
With all that being said I’m not sure why NC State is favored by so much over South Carolina in what seems like a pickem game at best. The Gamecocks return 10 starters on offense and have one of the best duos of wide receivers in the SEC in Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards. On the other side of the ball South Carolina returns 6 starters on defense from a unit that was in the top 6 or 7 in most defensive categories in the SEC, which is obviously nothing to sneeze at. You know that 2nd year coach Will Muschamp will have the defense playing even better this year.
At the end of the day I think I’m getting the better defense and better coach in this game and that’s why I like South Carolina.