College Football Fantastic Five: Plenty of ACC Plays; Bruins Can Put up Number

Auburn Tigers vs Penn State Nittany Lions - Over-Under

Today, we are rolling out the “Fantastic Five” as each week, we will take five college football games and break them down with a pick on the OVER/UNDER.

As we look at the Fantastic Five this week, we pick up a nice ACC-Big Ten Battle when Michigan State visits South Beach to take on the staggering Miami Hurricanes. More ACC flavored games as the 0-2 Florida State Seminoles visit Wake Forest and Georgia Tech is at Clemson.

Later Saturday evening, Auburn visits Penn State for white-out conditions in Happy Valley, and finally, Fresno State journeys to UCLA, where the Bruins look like they are ready to burst on the national scene.

Check out the betting previews below, plus if you need any help with your OVER/UNDER bets, take a look at our complete guide here.

Miami Hurricanes vs. Michigan State Spartans – September 18

My Pick: Under 56 (-105)

The Hurricanes are only averaging 19 points per game and 321 yards (110th/CFB) over the first two games although No. 1 Alabama and Appalachian State are going to pose issues for any offense. Miami has to find some way to unleash quarterback D’Eriq King and get the most out of him in the running game where so far he has 28 carries but only 89 yards.

The fact that Hurricanes’ time of possession (25:05) is an issue as well as they can’t get first downs and keep the offense on the field.

Michigan State has given up 142 yards per game on the ground so this is where the Hurricanes get potentially give the Spartans trouble with Cam’Ron Harris (30-128-2) and King. Although Michigan State has up 42 points in its first two games, the Spartans’ opponents have converted 42.5 percent of their third downs (92nd/CFB). Safety Xavier Henderson has been the star performer so far this year in leading in tackles with 17 and he also has two of the Spartans’ six quarterback sacks and their lone interception.

Flip over to the Miami defense and you see a unit that has allowed 413 yards per game (100th/CFB). They held Appalachian to 326 yards and it came up big late in the game when it was able to hold the Mountaineers on downs at midfield with 55 seconds remaining.

The ‘Canes have only one interception so far and they have just recorded two sacks. They have to have more pass rush to get quarterbacks anxious and moving and eventually turning the ball over. Safety Gurvan Hall leads the Hurricanes with 18 tackles.

The fact that the Spartans are averaging 40 points per game rests on their 2-0 record vs. Youngstown State and Northwestern. Quarterback Payton Thorne has completed 65.2 percent of his passes, but what the Hurricanes gave to be careful with is a Spartans running game that has churned out 299 yards per game in the first two.

That attack is led by Kenneth Walker, III, and Jordon Simmons as Walker averages 160.5 yards per game and has scored five touchdowns. Jayden Reed is a big play receiver who has nine catches for 245 yards and two touchdowns.

Michigan State Spartans Logo

Michigan State Spartans:

The total has gone OVER in the last 5 Spartans games…The OVER has also been the call in 4 of Michigan State’s last 6 road outings.

Miami Hurricanes Logo

Miami Hurricanes:

The UNDER has won in 4 of the Hurricanes’ last 6 games…The total has gone OVER in the last 5 Hurricanes’ games.

Tale of the Tape

This game comes down to the ground game and who can roll up yardage. It feels like both teams will establish against each other which will eat up time and chew up clock and allow for UNDER 56.

Florida State Seminoles at Wake Forest Demon Deacons – September 18

My Pick: UNDER 61.5 (-110)

The Seminoles lost in the direst way once again on Saturday night as FCS opponent Jacksonville State as Gamecocks quarterback Zerrick Cooper hit Damon Philyaw-Johnson on a 59-yard strike as Philyaw-Johnson was running up the right sideline untouched. The ‘Noles gave up 13 points in the last 4:45 as they were enjoying a 17-7 lead throughout the fourth quarter.

It is two weeks in a row now that Florida State has lost either in OT or on the last play of the game. There’s no telling where this team is mentally, but unlike with Willie Taggert, who was only allowed 16 games to try to turn this slumbering program around, FSU administration has to stay with Mike Norvell until he can get this fixed.

Wake Forest has bombed ODU and Norfolk State in getting its feet under it to be able to begin the ACC portion of their schedule.

Coach Dave Clawson’s offense is not where he wants it as the Deacons have averaged 382.5 yards in those first two games, albeit, the games were so out of hand that it probably skewed how Wake wanted to call the games, so the numbers may not be representative.

The Seminoles’ passing game has been abysmal as McKenzie Milton only completed 18-of-33 passes for 113 yards while freshman Jordan Travis is just getting ingratiated into the program. FSU is 113th in college football in averaging just 155.5 yards per game. They have to stay on the ground with freshman Jashaun Corbin has averaged 126.5 yards which is getting him 8.4 yards per carry while he has two of FSU’s four touchdowns.

Defensively, the Demon Deacons have proven to be better against the pass so far. Sitting up inside and waiting on Corbin will be the number one objective as Wake has allowed 143 yards rushing on average in both of the first two games. Defensive back Luke Masterson leads the Deacons with 13 tackles and Linebacker Ryan Smerda, Jr., posts 11. Wake has allowed a 38.2 third-down conversion rate (89th/CFB).

Wake Forest sophomore quarterback Sam Hartman has completed 67.2 percent of his passes, but he is averaging only 26 attempts per game. He figures to be throwing more Saturday with the profile FSU has already developed against the pass (see below).

Jaquarii Roberson could be in for a huge day as he has posted 10 catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns so far while A.T. Perry has 16.7 yards per catch as he has six so far. Christian Beal-Smith and Christian Turner have combined for five touchdowns on the ground as Beal Smith has 20 carries for 134 yards.

Defensively, the Seminoles look strong against the run in allowing only 86.5 yards per game. The antithesis of that is the 304 (120th/CFB) that Notre Dame and Jacksonville State have gashed the defense at critical times. In its last two-possession which resulted in touchdowns, the Gamecocks ran 21 combined plays and went 97 and 83 yards for the two late scores.

Florida State Seminoles Logo

Florida State Seminoles:

The Seminoles have seen the total go OVER in 7 of the last 10 games… The total has also gone OVER in 5 of the ‘Noles’ last 7 ACC games.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons Logo

Wake Forest Demon Deacons:

The Demon Deacons and Seminoles have seen the total go UNDER in the last 6 meetings… They have enjoyed the UNDER in 6 of their last 7 games played in September.

Tale of the Tape

We don’t know which Seminoles provide the real offense – those who scored vs. Notre Dame or those who struggled vs. Jacksonville State. When you have that dilemma, you error no the side of the lack of the score.

Wake Forest feels like they could blow this game out and that 61.5 is a big number as you look at the situation this weekend because of the idea that FSU won’t score and then the Deacons will control the ball if they get up by three or four touchdowns.

No. 22 Auburn Tigers at No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions – September 18

My Pick: UNDER 53 (-110)

Happy Valley and a white-out on a Saturday night with ABC on the scene is a storyline for what should be a stellar SEC-Big Ten matchup. This game can announce Auburn as an SEC West contender, an SEC Championship contender, and even a predator for the national championship.

The Tigers have destroyed Akron and Alabama State in their first two games of the season and they did it in a resounding fashion, but they should have. Now, with Penn State on the road, we can see the Tigers’ place and the Lions’ place as well after Penn State defeated Wisconsin on the road and beat Ball State at home.

The Tigers of course are looking for marked improvement out of quarterback Bo Nix this season as he has to impale his interception rate and so far this is not an issue as he has five touchdowns against no picks, but, again, Akron may be No. 130 out of 130 FBS teams and Alabama State is an FCS team that has had it’s struggled on that level. Nix came into the season with 28 touchdown passes and 13 picks. The Lions have picked off four passes in their first two games.

He has one of the top running backs in the SEC behind him in Tank Bigsby, who has 24 carries for 241 yards, but freshman Jarquez Hunter has shown up huge so far as he has had 17 carries for 257 yards. The Tigers have not needed to put the ball in the air hardly at all so far with Shedrick Jackson and Demetrius Robinson as the top receivers with seven and six catches.

Penn State has been in the middle in defensive statistics, so far, as they have given up 330 yards in total defense, which is 61st in the nation while given up 125 yards on the ground (57th/CFB). If the Auburn attack starts with the ground game, the Tigers could be in to control the clock and move the chains. Linebackers Brandon Smith and Ellis Brooks lead Penn State in tackles with 15 and 12 tackles, respectively.

The Nittany Lions are a team that can generate lots of pressure on opposing quarterbacks so Nix has to use his feet and make good decisions in the passing game.

The Lions have two senior corners in Tariq Castro-Fields and Jonathan Brisker that will work on the matchups with Jackson and Robinson, but Auburn is deep at wide receiver, so being able to create mismatches in the passing game will make this interesting.

The Tigers are No. 1 in the nation against the rush, giving up 21.5 yards per game. Zakoby McClain and Chandler Wooten have led the Tigers from the linebacker spots. Auburn has a matchup with a stellar quarterback in the Lions’ Sean Clifford who has completed 62.9 percent of his passes, but he has also been sacked four times in two games. Noah Cain looks established as the go-to running back as he has 117 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns.

Auburn Tigers Logo

Auburn Tigers:

The UNDER has been the play in 5 of the Tigers’ last 6 road games…The total has gone OVER in 4 of the Tigers’ last 5 games.

Penn State Nittany Lions Logo

Penn State Nittany Lions:

The UNDER has been the call in 6 of Penn State’s last 9 road games…The total has gone UNDER in 4 of the Nittany Lions’ last 6 games where they have been the favorite.

Tale of the Tape

The Tigers have much more athleticism and big-play threats on both sides of the football while the Nittany Lions bring more experience and age into this matchup. Penn State is (+5) in turnover differential in it’s first two games while the Tigers are (+1) as they have created only two turnovers and lost the football once on an interceptions.

The quarterback position with Nix and Clifford will be a key in this one as the potential of ball control from the Auburn backfield will keep this game close and UNDER 53 points.

Fresno State Bulldogs at No. 13 UCLA Bruins – September 18

My Pick: OVER 61 (-110)

One of the great stories in the college football year may be brewing in Westwood after UCLA grabbed a signature victory for Coach Chip Kelly two weeks ago in 38-27 win over LSU in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl. Fresno State has become somewhat of a nemesis for the Bruins as the Bulldogs have won the last three games between the two. The last win came in 2018 as the Bulldogs won in 2008 and in the 2003 Silicon Valley classic. UCLA has not won in the series since 2000.

Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has killed it for the Bruins in their two wins over Hawaii and LSU as he has averaged a whopping 20.53 yards per completion and he leads the nation at 10.83 yards per passing attempt. The Bruins have to be aware of the Fresno State pass rush as the Bulldogs have recorded 11 sacks so far this season.

UCLA has steamrolled its opponents in the running game as well as the Bruins have a 454-75 advantage there in the first two outings. Michigan transfer Zack Charbonnet had 117 yards on 11 carries in the win over LSU. If you look back to last season, Kelly’s offense has tallied over 200 yards rushing in six of the Bruin’s last eight games.

The Bruins have rushed 90 times and passed only 38 times in their first two wins. Oregon rushed 49 times for 186 yards against Fresno State’s defense.

The Bruins’ defense could have its hands full with quarterback Jake Haener who completed 30-of-43 passes for 298 yards and a score in the 31-24 loss to Oregon. Including the 45-0 win over UConn and the 63-10 blasting of Cal-Poly, Haener has completed 72.5 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and no picks.

Running back Ronnie Rivers is also a threat from anywhere on the field as he is solid in the passing game where he broke the Bulldogs’ record for touchdowns with his 45th in the season-opening win over UConn. It was a 61-yard scoring toss that allowed him to become the program leader with 118 receptions by a running back and he added 1,119 receiving yards as a running back as well.

Tight end Greg Dulcich has four catches for 132 yards as he has a 75-yard TD reception.

Josh Kelly is the Bulldogs’ big-play threat at wide receiver where he is averaging 23 yards per catch on 11 catches while teammate Jalen Cooper has reeled in 15 balls to lead in receptions.

The Bruins’ ‘D’ has been rugged in the first two games as the Bruins held LSU to 49 rushing years and Hawaii to 26. The last time that UCLA held two straight opponents under 50 yards rushing was in 2006. Mitchell Agude has been credited with four forced fumbles in the first two games.

Fresno State Bulldogs Logo

Fresno State Bulldogs:

The OVER has been the call in 5 of the Bulldogs’ last 6 Week 3 games…The UNDER has been the play in 4 of the last 5 games where the Bulldogs have been the underdog.

UCLA Bruins Logo

Penn State Nittany Lions:

The UNDER has been the call in 6 of Penn State’s last 9 road games…The total has gone UNDER in 4 of the Nittany Lions’ last 6 games where they have been the favorite.

The Bruins are set as an 11-point favorite over the Bulldogs in some real money college football sportsbooks.

Tale of the Tape

If UCLA establishes the line of scrimmage with it’s running game, it will be hard for the Bulldogs to follow suit unless Haener establishes the passing game and can stay on the field. Limiting the Bulldogs’ possessions heavily favors UCLA. The offensive weaponry of both of these teams makes OVER 61 a solid pick.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Clemson Tigers – September 18

My Pick: UNDER 52 (-110)

The Yellow Jackets have to be super motivated when they think back to last season’s 73-7 embarrassment by the Clemson Tigers in Atlanta. The problem is that the chasm between these two teams is like the Grand Canyon and the Tigers are loaded once again after getting over the 10-3 loss to Georgia with the 49-3 win over South Carolina State.

The Yellow Jackets dropped a 22-21 decision to Northern Illinois in Week 1 when the Huskies scored with 38 seconds remaining and converted the two-point conversion. Of course, they had no trouble dispatching Kennesaw State last week as freshman Jordan Yates found his rhythm at quarterback and completed 17-of-23 passes for 254 yards and four scores.

Yates and his ability to run this offense with efficiency vs. a tough Clemson defense is the key for Georgia Tech. Freshman Jahmyr Gibbs leads GT with 29 rushes for 155 yards while junior Jordan Mason has picked up 21 carries for 107 yards. Yates has upperclassmen at his disposal on the outside with junior Malachi Carter (8-132-0) and Kyrie McGowan who has caught a team-high nine balls for 123 yards and three touchdowns already.

Defensively, the Tigers haven’t given up a touchdown yet as Georgia’s TD was a pick-six in Week 1. Clemson is 12th in the nation in total defense in allowing 245.5 yards per game and their pass defense has been a key as well with only allowing 133.5 yards through the air. The Tigers have 13 tackles for loss for 36 yards in these first two games.

Linebacker James Skalski is the Tigers’ leading tackler with 20.

Offensively, Clemson’s offense struggled all night against Kirby Smart’s defense in the loss to the Bulldogs two weeks ago. It was so much of a struggle in fact that the Tigers are still 94th in total offense at 342. Yards per game. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei has had a rough start in completing only 54.1 percent of his passes with one touchdown and two interceptions. So far, Georgia Tech allows only 123.5 yards through the air (8th/CFB), so we can see D.J.’s bounce-back performance or a Georgia Tech pass defense legitimize itself vs. the usual athletic Tigers with a star running back in Will Shipley and a go-to receiver in Justyn Ross, who has seven catches for 78 yards.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Logo

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets:

The UNDER has been the call in 4 of the Yellow Jackets’ last 6 games…The OVER has been the play in 12 of the last 18 outings vs. ACC opponents.

Clemson Tigers Logo

Clemson Tigers:

The total has gone UNDER in 4 of the Tigers’ last 5 games…The OVER has been the call in 6 of the last 9 meetings between the Tigers and Yellow Jackets.

Tale of the Tape

Defensively, how well the Yellow Jackets can stand up and then offensively, can they move the ball consistently against the Tigers’ athletic defense. Georgia Tech is a young team overall and a work in progress. When you look at the programs, the Jackets are on the right path while the Tigers can’t afford another loss in this BCS playoff formula. Go with the OVER at 52 as the Tigers may cover it themselves.

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Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.

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