Another good week across the board as Dr. Bob goes 3-2 again bringing his record to 22-18. I went 4-1 bringing my record to 25-11-4. Hopefully, somewhere someone is betting on our games.
As always, you can see all of Dr. Bob's picks on his website, Dr. Bob Sports.
Now on to Bob's picks...
Louisville (+6) 20 SYRACUSE 21 (or 18 - 21)
Louisville's top two running back are injured and starting quarterback Adam Froman is questionable with a thigh bruise. Froman may play, but losing leading rusher Bilal Powell hurts the Cardinals attack since it will be tough to replace his 7.0 ypr average (he's already run for over 1,000 yards). Louisville if healthy would certainly be the better team here, as the Cardinals have been 0.6 yards per play better than average offensively (6.3 yppl against teams that would allow 5.7 yppl to an average team) and 0.2 yppl worse than average defensively (5.6 yppl allowed to teams that would average just 5.4 yppl against an average team). Syracuse, meanwhile, wasn't as good last week as their 31-7 win over Cincinnati makes them look. The Orange were fortunate to face Cincy's backup quarterback Chazz Anderson, who has been terrible both last year and last week. The Orange were still out-gained 262 yards at 3.7 yppl to 277 yards at 4.1 yppl, so that 24 point win is very misleading. Syracuse is a good defensive team, allowing 4.7 yppl in 6 games against Division 1A opponents that would combine to average 5.2 yppl against an average team. However, Syracuse is 0.7 yppl worse than average on offense (4.8 yppl against teams that would allow 5.5 yppl to an average team), so they're slightly worse than average from the line of scrimmage. I rate Louisville's offense at 0.3 yppl better than average without Powell and the Cardinals would be 0.1 yppl worse than average if Froman also can't play. Froman said that he wasn't hurt at last week's press conference, so I expect him to play. With Froman and without Powell would result in these teams being pretty even and my math model would favor Syracuse by just 0.3 points. If Froman doesn't play then I get Syracuse by 4 points, so the line value favors Louisville regardless of how bad their injury situation is. The Orange also apply to a negative 17-46-1 ATS situation that plays against favorites after playing 3 or more consecutive games as an underdog. I like Louisville in this game regardless of who is at quarterback, but I'll consider Louisville a Strong Opinion at +4 points or more with Froman starting at quarterback.
Boston College (-3) 26 WAKE FOREST 14
Boston College has struggled offensively all season, but the Eagles can play defense, and they are actually a pretty good team. BC has actually played even from the line of scrimmage against a tough schedule of Division 1A opponents (4.5 points better than average), averaging 283 yards at 4.5 yards per play while allowing just 299 yards at 4.4 yppl. The Eagles are slightly improved offensively with Chase Rettig at quarterback, but their attack is still 0.5 yards per play worse than average. Boston College hasn't had the luxury of facing a worse than average defensive team since they scored 38 points against Weber State in their opener. Today they get another shot at a bad defense, as Wake Forest has allowed 472 yards per game and 6.4 yppl in 7 games against Division 1A opponents that would combine to average 5.9 yppl against an average defense. As you can see, the Boston College offense and the Wake Forest defense are equally bad.
BC's advantage in this game is their great defense (4.4 yppl allowed to 1A teams that would combine to average 5.6 yppl against an average team) going up against a sub-par Wake Forest attack that is 0.7 yppl worse than average for the season overall and 0.4 yppl worse than average with Tanner Price at quarterback. Boston College is also significantly better in special teams and my math model projects a 353 yards at 5.3 yppl to 246 yards at 3.9 yppl advantage for the Eagles in this game, which should be enough to get their second consecutive win (they beat Clemson last week). Wake Forest, meanwhile, has lost 6 consecutive games since starting the season with wins over bad teams Presbyterian and Duke. What we have here is two equally poor offensive teams (BC -0.5 yppl and WF -0.4 yppl) with one team having one of the best defensive units in the country (BC 1.2 yppl better than average) while the other team is bad defensively (WF 0.5 yppl worse than average). My math model gives BC a 59 percent chance of covering at -3 points and the Eagles apply to a 56-17-2 ATS late season road favorite situation.
UTAH (+4 ½) 24 Tcu 23
When two unbeaten teams, both at least 6-0, get together the home underdog/pick is now 9-1 straight up (and 9-1 ATS) with Missouri beating Oklahoma adding to that a few weeks ago. Utah also applies to a 64-23-1 ATS home momentum situation and a 76-28-3 ATS statistical profile indicator while Utah applies to a negative 9-43 ATS unbeaten road team angle. The technical analysis is pretty strongly in favor of the Utes here and my math model favors TCU by 4 points -- so the line is fair. TCU's defense has been dominating bad offensive teams lately and that unit is 1.2 yards per play better than average for the season (4.2 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.4 yppl against an average team). The Horned Frogs have been just as good against the 4 good offensive teams that they've faced, allowing a combined 5.2 yppl to Oregon State, Baylor, SMU, and Air Force -- teams that would combine to average 6.3 yppl against an average defensive team. Utah's offense is 1.2 yppl better than average (6.9 yppl against teams that would allow 5.7 to an average attack) and the Utes have had mixed results against the two better than average defensive teams that they've faced -- averaging 6.4 yppl against a very good Pitt defense and just 4.4 yppl last week against Air Force. Utah's defense is 0.5 yppl better than average, allowing 4.4 yppl to teams that would combine to average 4.9 yppl against an average defense and that unit shut down a good Pitt offense (4.2 yppl) while struggling last week against the Air Force option, which probably doesn't apply since a lot of good defensive teams can struggle against an option offense that they're not used to seeing. TCU's offense has been 1.4 yppl better than average so far this season (6.9 yppl against teams that would allow 5.5 yppl), but that attack was slowed by a better than average SMU defense (5.3 yppl in that game) and by a better than average BYU defense (5.5 yppl), so TCU's attack may not be as good, relatively, when confronted with a good defensive team. Utah's advantage in this game is their great special teams, which could come into play in what should be a tightly contested game. This game is priced correctly, but the situational analysis is strongly in favor of Utah as a home underdog.
Smu (-6 ½) 33 UTEP 21
UTEP has played an incredibly easy schedule this season and SMU will be the toughest team that the Miners have faced since losing 24-54 at Houston in week 2. El Paso has gained and allowed 5.6 yppl this season, but they've done so against teams that would combine to be out-gained 4.7 yppl to 6.1 yppl by an average Division 1A team - so the Miners are not close to being a mediocre team. SMU has out-gained their opponents 6.6 yppl to 5.1 yppl while rating at 0.9 yppl better than average on offense and 0.2 yppl better than average defensively, so the Mustangs should have no trouble winning this game - even on the road. SMU has faced 4 teams that are about UTEP's caliber and they've won all 4 of those games by double-digit margins over UAB (by 21 points at home), Washington State (by 14 points at home), Rice (by 11 points on the road), and last week at Tulane (14 points). I'll call for another double-digit win by the Mustangs over a bad team, as my math model gives SMU a 55.5% chance over covering at -6 ½ points.
MISSISSIPPI (-28) 46 UL Lafayette 13
UL Lafayette has the longest injury report in the nation and their defense has been even more atrocious than usual lately. The injury to quarterback Chris Masson is actually a blessing given that backup Brad McGuire has always performed well when called up. McGuire has averaged 8.8 yards per pass attempt on 89 career passes over the last 3 seasons, including completing 28 of 43 passes for 422 yards this season. McGuire is a likely upgrade, but my math model favors Ole' Miss by 31 points after accounting for Lafayette's defensive injuries. Mississippi lost straight up 48-49 to Division 1AA Jacksonville State to open the season, so I'm sure that they won't take this non-conference game lightly, especially after getting beaten 31-51 last week. Home favorites of 20 points or more are 85-48-3 ATS after losing by 20 points or more, which is another reason to believe that the Rebels won't let up this week.
Now on to my picks...
Houston +3 over SD
SD certainly is a snake-bitten team that is much better than their record but giving three to Houston on the road seems like way too much and with all the injuries on the offensive end, I have to think Houston is a good play at this price.
Detroit +4 over NY Jets
Detroit is growing into a solid squad and I think they will be able to get pressure on Sanchez and hold down the struggling Jets offense. This game will come down to Matthew Stafford and I am a believer.
Miami +5 @ Baltimore
Miami is a solid road team and they match up well with this Baltimore offense. They will keep this close and could surprise the Ravens.
NE -4 @ Cleveland
Cleveland has been competitive all season but this line is only depressed because of NE's struggles on the road. Belichick still had a bone to pick with Mangini and will make sure the Patriots win this game by margin.
Dallas +8 @ GB
As dysfunctional as Dallas is they still have talent and can keep this game close. As long as Kitna can keep the turnovers down to a minimum they will keep this game within a TD.