This may be antithetical to the engagement goals my employer has set, but I need to be up front and honest regarding the following post. There are precious few spreads on the board that jump out as safe bets. It took a few weeks for Vegas to perfect its curveball. Now it’s breaking late and in on the hands. Time to foul off a few, stay alive, and fight another day.
Miami at DUKE (+7): The Hurricanes and Blue Devils have much in common. Both score over 40 points per game and sport a stingy defense. Both have exhibited great balance in the run/pass department. We know more about Duke, though, as they’ve played three Power 5 opponents while Miami has feasted on Toledo and Bethune-Cookman. Mark Richt’s team gets its first real test on the road, at night, against a David Cutcliffe-coached side 4-0 ATS this season. Look for the two-headed monster of Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown to get things going out of the Duke backfield and Daniel Jones to continue his steady work leading the offense. Duke 28, Miami 24.
Clemson at VIRGINIA TECH (+7): The Tigers went into Louisville two weeks ago and crushed Louisville. The Hokies’ Bud Foster-guided defense is vastly superior and will present bigger roadblocks for Kelly Bryant & Co. Josh Jackson has the skills to put up points against a stout Clemson pass-rush. He’s thrown 11 touchdowns and a single pick thus far. Can he maintain composure? The home crowd will help, just not enough to walk away with the victory. Luckily, close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and gambling. Clemson 27, Virginia Tech 21.
South Carolina at Texas A&M (OVER 54): Let’s just use our brains here. The Aggies are scoring 40.8 points per game and allowing 30.8. South Carolina is scoring 24 and allowing 20, along with over 414 yards/game. This could be a sucker line. There’s no shame in being a sucker. Texas A&M 38, South Carolina 28.
Maryland at MINNESOTA (-12.5): The Terrapins lost quarterback Kasim Hill to a season-ending injury, then got waxed 38-10 by UCF in College Park. P.J. Fleck’s defense has made it nearly impossible for opposing teams to row over the goal-line, holding them all under 14 points. The Gophers aren’t blessed with explosive gamebreakers but won’t need to post very many points to cover. Bank on a demoralized Maryland team getting run over in the second half. Minnesota 31, Maryland 10.
USC at WASHINGTON STATE (+3.5): We’ve learned more about USC in the close games this year than the blowouts. And what we’ve learned is they are immensely talented yet vulnerable. A night game in Pullman against one of the best Mike Leach sides in years renders the Trojans exceedingly vulnerable. Cougars quarterback Luke Falk has 14-1 TD/INT ratio. Sam Darnold’s is 1.28. This Washington State team is not one-dimensional and is well-coached. USC has played Stanford, Texas, and California the last three weeks wile Wazzou has only been pushed once, against Boise State. All the elements are there. This is the week the vulnerability manifests into the loss column. Washington State 39, USC 34.
2017 Record: 12-8, 60 percent