Welcome to writing about college football in 2020: What would have been two of our picks in this space have been rubbished because the games are no longer taking place. And in one case, we had no idea the extent of the Covid-19 outbreak on that team until the game got axed.
Seven games on the original slate for this weekend that aren’t happening, and the sport was dropping competitors like a hotshot prospect in the UFC even yesterday. There’s probably never been a tougher season to handicap pregame... and never an easier one to beat your beloved bookmaker on the second half of games!
But we did manage to go 3-0 in this space last week, so ride the wave as we fire these selections for Week 3. And if there’s a starting quarterback quarantined in his dorm room we don’t know about... well, caveat emptor there.
UCF vs. Georgia Tech UNDER 62.5
No one goes with more tempo than the Knights, but they’ll be adding pieces to Josh Heupel’s offense that haven’t been under live fire before. And the Knights Dillon Gabriel does tend to make at least one big mistake a game that will result in a free possession for Tech. Meanwhile the Wreck might have a quality quarterback they can build around in Jeff Sims after his true freshman win at FSU last week, but they don’t play with blistering tempo either.
The Noles and BEES combined to score 29 last week in Doak Campbell, and the total was 51.5. This week it’s 62.5, and we don’t think they get there. Root for the punters, including Tech’s that might be the best in the country.
South Florida vs. Notre Dame OVER 48.5
We were fortunate enough to be in attendance for these two teams in 2011 when the Bulls pulled a huge upset via five turnovers and two thunderstorms that made it a 6+ hour affair. It gave us with a wonderful meme of Brian Kelly that lives on forever.
The Bulls should start transfer quarterback Noah Johnson today, and he’ll be able to make one or two plays with his feet to get on the scoreboard. But USF will be completely incapable of stopping the Irish on the ground, and should be able to run the ball to the paint at will. Ian Book will be turning around and handing it off plenty, and that will be enough to get both teams to 50.
Disclosure: We hold a degree we’re still paying for from the road team.
Clemson -46.5 vs. The Citadel
We’d still have the Tigers if it was 60. The Citadel is really, really that bad. And even though you’ll play as many snaps in the second half as Trevor Lawrence will, even the backups for Clemson will be incapable of not scoring. You’ll be covering at halftime, and that’s enough because the Bulldogs aren’t getting to double-digits today even if they decide to play for 120 minutes instead of 60.
Wake Forest +1 at North Carolina State
The biggest advantage in the sport right now is teams that have played a live game against those that haven’t. Dave Doeren is very good at his job and will have the Wolfpack prepared, but you just can’t simulate live hitting until you do it when it counts. Plus NC State won’t have fans cheering them on today, which does seem to have made home field negligible so far this year.
Sam Hartman and the Deacs should feel like they took the donut off the bat going from Clemson to NC State, and they’ve had a week to get the corrections together.
Bonus pick strategy
Whatever is happening in the Navy vs. Tulane game, just double down on the second half. These are two teams where the adjustments will matter less than any game in America. If Navy is still woefully behind because of no contact in practice as they were to BYU, fade them because they can’t fix it at halftime. And if they aren’t: No one controls the clock better than the Mids, even against a team that runs the closest form of triple option in the G5 that’s not uncut triple.
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