This is the first edition of Take it or Leave it, a series in which I pick four college games every week and the point favorites and see if it seems realistic to me or not. If i take it, this means the point favorites are about right. If I leave it, then it either leans for the different team or I expect a different outcome. It’s a mix of both projecting what these scores will be and what teams will win them. Texas made, and a Mizzou grad, I look forward to making these weekly. Let’s get to it.
The Tigers travel to Columbia east to take on the Gamecocks for the Mayor’s Cup. Mizzou opens up as a two point favorite. I’m going to leave it and predict a win by a touchdown, maybe more, and here’s why.
To beat Mizzou’s offense you have to beat the O-Line… and then the weapons behind them. Mizzou leads the SEC in sacks allowed. Only three sacks allowed over four games. The second-ranked team in that category? #1 Alabama allowing only four sacks over five games. The line has been key to helping Drew Lock keep his reign as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.
Lock has plenty of depth in his receivers, including big-play star Emanuel Hall and speedy Johnathon Johnson. To add, he has a slew of tight ends including Albert Okwuegbunam who lead in receiving against #2 Georgia. To add to the passing game, they have running back trio of Larry Rountree (5.3 YPC), Damarea Crockett (3.98 YPC), and Tyler Badie (4.3 YPC, 3 catches for 49 yards).
South Carolina’s defense is tough on passing (159.5 Pass yds per game), the atmosphere at Williams-Brice should be electric. With Jake Bentley expecting to be out with an injured knee, backup Michael Scarnecchia will have to come up big. In the end the Tiger’s 15th ranked rush defense and Lock’s arm brings home the cup.
Tigers win by 10. 41-31.
Maryland- #15 Michigan
The Wolverines host the Terrapins in Ann Arbor as a 17.5 point favorite. Come on, man. It’s the Big Ten. King of low-scoring, big defensive games. I’ll leave it.
Michigan and Maryland are ranked 66th and 76th in total offense respectively. Michigan is ranked 90th in passing offense while Maryland is ranked 121st. Both teams rely heavily on their running backs. Michigan with Karan Higdon (6.3 YPC) and Maryland with their big-time backs in Ty Johnson (7.5 YPC) and Anthony McFarland (10.8 YPC).
With both teams that rely heavily on the run game, and being ranked 10th (Michigan) and 35th (Maryland) in rushing offense. I see it much closer than the 17.5 favorite.
Michigan pulls away late. 17-10.
#5 LSU- #22 Florida
This is actually going to be a really exciting game I think. Mostly because it gives me flashbacks to when LSU was good. Not like 8-4 good, but ACTUALLY good.
The Tigers visit The Swamp for the 2:30 P.M. CBS slot for a matchup that seems to be close every year. Florida may be good, but we aren’t too sure. They beat Mississippi in Stark Vegas last week 13-6, but the Bulldog offense looked dismal and has most of the year. So we’ll put it this way, the offense of Florida may or may not be good, but that defense has some bad dudes.
Neither team jumps out as having an explosive offense, but LSU and Jake Burrow are efficient. Burrow only has a 53.4 completion percentage. He’s thrown six touchdowns, but zero interceptions. The strength of both offenses come in their run game. LSU RB Nick Brosette (4.67 YPC) has filled the shoes of Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice as much a man can. Florida’s Lamical Perine (5.86 YPC), Dameon Pierce (10.2 YPC) and Jordan Scarlett (5.0 YPC) carry this Gator offense.
LSU’s 16th ranked rush defense will force Florida to throw, but both defenses step up big time. I’ll take the LSU 2.5 favorite.
LSU wins in the swamp 13-10.
#6 Notre Dame- #24 Virginia Tech
I may be way off with this one, but let me put it this way, this looked like a top-10 matchup just three weeks ago, and in my opinion was going to be a quality win for the Hokies.
Just three weeks ago, Notre Dame narrowly won against an improved, but still lowly Vanderbilt team at home 22-17. The Irish were 3-0, but looked like one of the most overrated 3-0 teams out there. The QB Brandon Wimbush was struggling. The week after, 2-1 #13 Virginia Tech team loses to 1-3 Old Dominion 49-35 in their first ever win against a Power 5 program. That same week, Notre Dame puts in Ian book and wins at Wake Forest 56-27.
Notre Dame’s QB woes have been solved with Book who has passed for 616 yards and seven touchdowns over his last two games. One of those games was a 38-17 win over #7 Stanford. Virginia Tech that same week went to #22 Duke and won 31-14 with QB Ryan Willis taking the spot of injured VT QB1 Josh Jackson.
Let me cut this short. The Hokies fourth-ranked rushing defense are going to force Book to pass a lot. And from his last two games, that seems to be alright with him. I’ll leave this seven point favorite for Notre Dame.
It looks a lot more like the Irish win it 31-20.
My ‘beat the brakes off you’ pick: Alabama at Arkansas.
The Tide’s Tua Taovailoa hasn’t played a fourth quarter this season. Don’t expect him to here. Bama is a 35 point favorite, but with how both of these seasons are going for these teams, the Hogs will be lucky to lose by 35.
My upset pick of the week: I believe Texas A&M will get it done at home against the surprising #13 ranked Kentucky Wildcats. Kyle Field and its fans will be too much for the red hot Wildcats and give them the first loss of the season.
Other Predictions: #21 CU over ASU, #3 Ohio State over IU, #2UGA over Vandy, Iowa over Minn, #17 Miami over FSU, #7 OU over #19 UT, #20 Mich. St. over NW
Name which games you want to see for Take it or Leave it next week!