CFB Week 6 Early Bets

Another college football week is in the books, and boy was it chaotic. With 5 Top-25 matchups we were destined for drama and they delivered. Kentucky nearly came back on Ole Miss in the Grove but two 4th-quarter fumbles ended all hope, while Clemson had NC State at stiff arm's length for nearly the entire game, just a level above the Wolfpack. Entering Week 6, we don't have the high-end games we were offered last week, but we do have a ton of teams on upset alert. Beginning that group is Tennessee traveling to LSU. Lets get it going!

Tennessee Volunteers @ LSU Tigers (12:00 ET)

Spread: Tennessee -3.5

Total: 64

Before I got my first look at the lines this week, a friend of mine told me the matchup and I guessed it. Humbly, I was decent for most games but when it came to this matchup I guessed seven. When he told me it was 3.5 I knew it was a play immediately, so I bet it and tweeted it out that evening. What I didn't expect was for the line to move to -2.5, which has me questioning a lot. What do others see in this LSU team that I don't? An 11:00am CST game in Baton Rouge does sound like a trap game, but do people really expect LSU's average offense to keep up with Tennessee's?

I'll stop berating the Tigers and will hit on how they could win this game. It starts with their defense. They've only allowed 74 points through five games, or 14.8 points per game, and their loss came in a nail-biter to Florida State in New Orleans. Their best victory so far this season came against Mississippi State in a 31-16 come from behind victory where the Tigers scored 21 in the fourth quarter to take the lead and seperate themselves. They've only allowed more than 300 yards once this year and it was the debut game. They're in for their toughest task this season trying to stop Hendon Hooker, and obviously some think they can do it.

The offense for the Tigers is a bit of a mess. Excusing their games against New Mexico and Southern University, they've had to largely rely on their run game to open up their passing. Quarterback transfer Jayden Daniels from Arizona State has showed off his ability to extend plays, highlighted by being the team's leading rusher, but he's not been good through the air. In the 3 relevant opponents he's faced this year he's completing only 55/91 (60.44%), averaging 166.33 yards per game. For comparison, Hayden Hooker is averaging 337 yards on 70% completion percentage against Florida and Pittsburgh. Those number improve if you add in Akron and Ball State.

The reason this line must be this low is due to injuries to a handful of starters for the Volunteers. Their leading receiver Cedric Tillman is out for the foreseeable future, as is cornerback Dee Williams. They should finally have a fully healthy running back core and had a week off to heal and prepare for the Tigers. Given the bye week, I expect Tennessee not to overlook this feisty LSU roster and to come out and impose themself before welcoming Alabama to Knoxville. Some may claim this is a "look-ahead" spot for Tennessee. I think the coaching staff will be drilling into their players the importance of this game and they'll be able to scheme for Jayden Daniels to limit his running game and make him win through the air. Give me the Volunteers at -3.5, though you can likely get a better number now at -3 or -2.5.

Pick: Tennessee -3.5 -110 (3u)


Tulsa Golden Hurricane @ Navy Midshipmen (3:30 ET)

Favorite: Tulsa -6.5

Total: 45.5

This is another instance where my closing line value is poor. This season I've been able to capitalize on early lines before the public hit them, but this week the line movement has not been in my favor. Tulsa (2-3) travels to Annapolis to face Navy (1-3) in what will be a pivotal game in both seasons. This will largely determine if either team makes a bowl game. Navy has largely struggled this year, losing to Delaware and Memphis to open the season before upsetting ECU on the road in Week 3. They then overperformed against Air Force last week to only lose by a TD.

The matchup I love in this game that will be the difference-maker for me is Tulsa's defense against the Navy offense. Navy has scored a whopping 53 points through 4 games (13.33/g), and against it's not like their opposition has been good. They still run the triple option but they're not getting the success they typically do out of it because of pourous offensive line play. The Midshipmen are averaging only 176 yards on the ground and when that's your main method of producing yards, that's not good. The Tulsa defense had definitely had their issues - allowing 30+ points to each FBS opponent they've faced this year, but they kept games against Cincinnati and Ole Miss tight. In the 2nd halves of both games they allowed just 7 points total.

Tulsa Quarterback Davis Brin is healthy and ready to return to the form of his first few games, where he threw for 400 yards on average. If he can hit Keylon Stokes and run up the score on Navy, I doubt they'll be able to keep pace. Give me Tulsa to cover the spread, and again you'll likely get a better number here than I.

Pick: Tulsa -6.5 -110 (1u)

Kansas State Wildcats @ Iowa State Cyclones (7:30 ET)

Favorite: Kansas State -2

Total: 45.5

I spoke above about how Navy's offense only gets about 167 rushing yards per game using the triple option. Well, they should take note from Adrian Martinez, Deuce Vaughn and the Wildcats. They're currently averaging 267.2 yards per game on the ground, good for 7th in the country. After their astounding upset of Oklahoma in Week 4, they backed it up with a largely dominant game against Texas Tech that was made closer by a garbage time Red Raider touchdown.

Now traveling to Iowa State, the Cyclones are desperate to stop the wheels from coming off after consecutive one-possession losses to Baylor and Kansas. Their struggles largely come offensively, scoring just 15 points per game against power five schools so far this season. What has saved them this season is that their defense allowed just 14.4 points per game. Even though they lost a majority of their returning starters from last year and don't recruit all that well, they've been able to replace guys with ease and still hold good offenses like Kansas (can't believe I'm saying that) to just over 200 yards and 14 points.

Iowa State's offense has struggled to move the ball and more importantly struggled massively in the red zone. They're 93rd in Red Zone score percentage, and have only scored touchdowns in the red zone on 12 of their 22 trips. While they should be able to score some against Kansas State's average defense, I don't trust this offense to get it done. Give me the Wildcats.

Pick: Kansas State ML -130 (1.5u)

K-State Athletics

Florida State Seminoles @ NC State Wolfpack (8:00 ET)

Favorite: NC State -3

Total: 52

Both Florida State and North Carolina State lost vital matchups last week in the ACC title race and now have to secure victory to have any chance of staying in the running. Florida State's offense never got going against one of the worst defenses in the league in Wake Forest, while NC State's offense continues to sputter with a lack of playmakers.

The Wolfpack returned their entire offensive line and quarterback, and many assumed - including myself - that they'd figure it out at receiver and end up being one of the more potent offenses in the league complimented by a fantastic defense. That's yet to happen and with only 68 points in their 3 games vs FBS opponents (not counting UConn), they've shown just that. Even in the game they scored 27 points in they only managed 270 total yards, boosted by a Pick 6.

While the North Carolina State offense has been largely underwhelming, the Florida State offense has greatly overperformered. They're ranked as the best offense in the ACC and 4th best in the country according to PFF, and that takes into account how bad their offensive line has played. Those numbers are also a bit faulty given the best defense they've played was LSU, and the others are all horrible. I doubt they'll be able to take advantage of NC State's stout defense, and the Wolfpack should come out hungry and angry after losing in Death Valley.

Winning on Saturday is of the utmost importance for both squads, and I'll lean with the more experienced, proven team on both sides of the ball to prove their worth and keept he pressure on Clemson to stay perfect.

Pick: NC State -3 -110 (1.5u)

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