NCAA Football Fantastic 5: Fireworks in Columbus; Angry Dawgs Invade Michigan

Oregon Ducks at Ohio State Buckeyes - 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.

This week, there are two scintillating games between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten as the Oregon Ducks roll into Columbus to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes at 12 Noon EST on Saturday and then at 8 pm EST on Saturday night the wounded Washington Huskies enter Ann Arbor for a battle with the Michigan Wolverines.

Watch the Pac-12 and the potential for UNDERs in the USC-Stanford and Arizona State-UNLV matchup, although the Sun Devils may potentially cover the number themselves.

Finally, the ACC wants to right itself as Pitt travels to Tennessee. The SEC took three wins off the ACC last week so the Panthers are carrying that ACC mantra on their backs. Also, Mississippi State hosts NC State on that ACC-SEC “challenge.”

Oregon Ducks at Ohio State Buckeyes – September 11

My Pick: OVER 62.5 (-115)

The Buckeyes bring a 9-0 lifetime record over Oregon into the Horseshoe to face the Ducks as the last meeting in 2016 resulted in a 42-20 Ohio State win and a national championship. Both teams are going to wield potential to put mega-points on the board with the structure and athleticism on the offensive side of the football.

Ohio State exploded in the second half last week as the Buckeyes scored five touchdowns after trailing Minnesota, 14-10, at halftime. Quarterback C.J. Stroud fired four touchdown passes of 38, 56, 70, and 61 yards in that second frame. He ended up with 294 yards through the air as wide receiver Chris Olave hauled in the two TD tosses of 38 and 61 yards as he finished with four catches for 117 yards.

Defensively, the Ducks are faced without having Kayvon Thibodeaux on Saturday as he sprained an ankle in last Saturday’s win over Fresno State. Oregon survived the Bulldogs’ offensive attack as the Ducks had a 21-6 lead with 1:16 to play before halftime and then found themselves trailing the Bulldogs, 24-21, early in the fourth quarter.

The Ducks’ secondary struggled with the FSU passing attack as Bulldogs’ quarterback Jake Haener completed 30-of-43 passes for 298 yards, so now corners Jamal Hill and DJ James will be available as the Ducks need depth in dealing with the athleticism and physicality of Olave and Garrett Wilson.

On offense, Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown will need a big game as he broke down for a 30-yard TD run while throwing for a pedestrian 172 yards. The Ducks beat Fresno State with the ground game behind C.J. Verdell and Travis Dye, who had 74 and 64 yards, respectively.

Defensively, the Buckeyes had trouble with Minnesota’s Mohamad Ibrahim, who went out of the game with a season-ending injury. He rushed for 163 yards on 30 carries, but he is probably a more physical ball carrier than Verdell or Dye.

The key here is the Oregon offensive line getting nasty up front and opening holes for this two-pronged attack.

Both of these offenses have enough weapons to explode as these two teams have explosive quarterbacks who can put up big numbers in the passing game as well as on the ground. The trends tell you to take the UNDER, but with all of this firepower on offense and the fact that neither defense established itself in Week 1, OVER 62.5 points looks like the play.

Trends:

Oregon

Oregon Duck Logo

  • The UNDER has been the call in 14 of the last 20 Oregon road games

  • The UNDER has been the call in 4 of Oregon’s last 5 games

  • The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Oregon’s last 6 games vs. the Big Ten

Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes Logo

  • The OVER has been the play in 6 of the Buckeyes’ last 7 games

  • The UNDER has been the play in 5 of Ohio State’s last 5 game in Week 2

  • The total has gone OVER in 4 of their last 5 games when playing as the favorite

Pittsburgh Panthers at Tennessee Volunteers – September 11

My Pick: UNDER 57.5 (+100)

The Panthers’ matchup with the Volunteers is one of those intriguing ACC/SEC matchups that the entire ACC is watching after the SEC swept three games in the “challenge” last weekend.

Both of these teams overwhelmed outmanned opponents last week as the Panthers destroyed UMass, 51-7, while Tennessee took a 38-6 win from Bowling Green in the opening game of the Josh Heupel era in Knoxville. With that, it’s hard to get a solid feel for how each of these offenses will operate.

With Pat Narduzzi as the head coach at Pitt, the Panthers are always going to try to win with their defenses as even in last season’s 6-5 campaign that was hit with all sorts of covid issues across the country, Pitt allowed opponents only 339.5 yards rushing (20th/CFB) and 93.5 yards on the ground (3rd/CFB).

Meanwhile:

The Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for 272 yards in the win over the Minutemen. The Vols’ defense only allowed 4.9 yards per catch last week, but the likelihood of the unit stopping Pickett at that level is almost nil. Pickett throws to a solid tight end in Lucas Krull and wide out Jared Wayne.

Pittsburgh will start with their ground attack where a freshman in Rodney Hammond, Jr. led them with 45 yards on eight carries last week. In addition, nine different Panthers carried the football and five Panthers scored touchdowns on the ground

Of course, with the staff change and Heupel as the head coach, we don’t know what we will get in any realm in a competitive game. Tennessee held opponents to 141.5 yards on the ground last season, 20th in the BCS.

Heupel’s offense relies on and rallies behind a dynamic quarterback and he brought a solid QB into Knoxville in John Milton, III. Tennessee pounded Bowling Green for 326 yards rushing as Tiyon Evans and Jabari Small each had 116 yards. Milton accounted for three scores with two rushing and one passing.

The Panthers (-3) are favored here and this game will be hinged on how well Pitt can defend Heupel’s offense. As the Vols showed last week, if they engage in the ground game, they will stay there. Both of these categories are why UNDER 57.5 points feels like a lock. The number has risen over the week as it was at 54.5 on Monday.

Trends:

Steel City

Pittsburgh Panthers Logo

  • The total has gone OVER in 8 of the Panthers’ last 9 games

  • The OVER has been the call in 4 of the Panthers’ last 5 road outings

  • The Panthers have gone OVER the number on their last 8 games on a Saturday

Rocky Top

Tennessee Volunteers Logo

  • The total has gone UNDER in 7 of the Volunteers’ last 8 games

  • The UNDER has been the play in Tennessee’s last 5 home games

  • The total has gone OVER in Tennessee’s last 5 games vs. an ACC opponent

Stanford Cardinal at USC Trojans – September 11

My Pick: UNDER 52.5 (-110)

We had a sample of the Stanford Cardinal offense last week and it wasn’t very palatable in their 24-7 loss to Kansas State. They only picked up 233 yards total and the lone touchdown was with 3:16 to play in the game as it was already decided.

Tanner McKee completed 15-of-18 passes for only 118 yards for the Cardinal, who was locked down to the point where two quarterbacks, including Jack West, starts on Saturday and will try to find a downfield passing game as everything the Cardinal did was short. Stanford also rushed for only 39 yards as the Cardinal offensive line was manhandled up front by the more physical Wildcats.

The Trojans’ defense was money in defending a San Jose State offense that is predicted to keep the Spartans in the heart of the race in the tough and competitive Mountain West. The Trojans led only 13-7 going into the fourth quarter, and although Spartans QB Nick Starkel threw for 308 yards, USC’s defense forced six punts, came up with two interceptions, and held SJSU on downs. Defensive back Greg Johnson had a 37-yard touchdown on an interception.

Defensively, the Cardinal had a tough day as Wildcats’ running back Deuce Vaughn ran for 124 yards on 31 carries and 200 yards over all. It was ground control by Kansas State and although Deontay Ingram and Vavae Malepeai can probably do comparable damage, the Trojans have quarterback Kedon Slovis, who is capable of putting points on the board with the talented and deep WR position, led by Drake London who had 12 catches for 137 yards last week.

The USC passing attack is a huge reason to like the OVER in what should be a blow out.

The Trojans are favored by 17 points and (-17.5) in some college football sportsbooks. The last time these two teams played was in 2019 when Slovis completed 28-of-33 passes for 377 yards and three scores as the Trojans rolled to a 45-20 win over the Cardinal in the Coliseum.

The UNDER is too easy right here as Stanford will not score enough against a more athletic Trojans’ defense while the USC offense generally maintains the games.

Trends:

Stanford

Stanford Cardinal Logo

  • The total has gone OVER in 5 out of 6 games between them in the LA Coliseum

  • The UNDER has been the play in 7 of Stanford’s last 10 Week 2 matchups

  • Stanford have hit the OVER in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning record

USC

USC Trojans Logo

  • The total has gone OVER in 6 of the Trojans’ last 7 games

  • The OVER has been the call in 5 of the last 7 games between USC and Stanford

  • The UNDER has been hit in their last 4 games when favored by 10 or more points

UNLV Rebels at Arizona State Sun Devils – September 11

My Pick: OVER 53.5 (-115)

The OVER/UNDER on this game is going to be similar to the O/U on the Stanford-USC game where it is uncertain whether the Runnin’ Rebels can score enough points to help push this game OVER.

Arizona State is a balanced offense behind a stellar quarterback in Jayden Daniels. He threw for only 132 yards in the 41-14 win over Southern Utah as the Sun Devils just had to balance their rushing game with enough of a passing game to keep the Thunderbirds honest. ASU had seven players carry the ball and used six touchdowns, two each from Rachaad White and Deamonte Trayanum.

This is a UNLV defense that was exploited repeatedly by Eastern Washington, also of the Big Sky Conference, as the Eagles put up 471 yards and threw for 374 on the Runnin’ Rebel in a 35-33 EWU win in Week 1.

Coach Herman Edwards will likely unleash Daniels early an often with a steady group of wideouts who are looking to differentiate themselves on the Sun Devils’ depth chart. Facing the UNLV pass defense may make for a night of differentiation and a night of points on the home side of the scoreboard. Ricky Piersall and Curtis Hodges are the names to watch for a big game here.

On defense, Arizona State recorded four turnovers, so the penchant for the big play is there, at least out of Week 1 as Darian Butler had two of the interceptions while leading tackler D.J. Davidson recovered a fumble. This defense should be one of the more athletic units in the Pac-12. It can definitely overpower UNLV with that athleticism.

Cautiously take that OVER 53.5 as Arizona State could explode in Sun Devil Stadium with enough points to push the game OVER.

Trends:

UNLV

UNLV Rebels Logo

  • The OVER was hit in the last 6 road games where they have been the underdog

  • The UNDER has been the call in 4 of UNLV’s last 6 games played in Sept

  • The UNDER also has been the bet in in 4 of the Rebels’ last 5 games in Sept

Arizona State

Arizona State Sun Devils Logo

  • The UNDER has been the call in 5 of Arizona State’s last 7 games

  • The total has gone UNDER in 4 of the Sun Devils’ last 5 Week 2 outings

  • Arizona State have been UNDER in 4 out of 6 games when they were favorites

Washington Huskies at Michigan Wolverines – September 11

My Pick: UNDER 51 (-110)

The Washington Huskies are still smarting from the 13-7 loss to FCS opponent Montana on Saturday and they have the perfect scenario for atonement – a trip to the Big House to battle the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday evening.

Washington’s defense held serve against a Grizzlies team that has talent to be a solid Group of 5 combatants in any division. However, this was the No. 20 team in the nation who was neck and neck with the Oregon Ducks to win the Pac-12 North and maybe even the Pac-12 title.

The injuries to the Huskies wide receiving corp – Terrell Bynum, Rome Odunze, and Jalen McMillan – are termed week-to-week. But, Ja’Lynn Polk was added to that injury list. Offensively, the Huskies have to ask why they couldn’t score after the first drive of the game as they had a mammoth-sized offensively line against a little and quick Montana defensive front. This doesn’t bode well for a road game at night against a hungry Michigan team who is the little brother to Ohio State as of now.

Michigan defensively locked down Western Michigan in the 47-14 win over the Broncos as WMU only had 317 yards and 191 through the air. It stands to reason that Dylan Morris won’t be as bad as he was with the three interceptions on Saturday; however, how he navigates the Wolverines’ secondary will be a key in whether this game can go OVER.

Keep in mind, Michigan had only one sack vs. the Broncos and Washington has all five offensive linemen intact from a year ago.

There’s nothing wrong with the Washington defense and quarterback Cade McNamara will get a stern test against an angry, fired-up unit. Michigan rushed for 335 yards on the Broncos last week and that will not be the case Saturday vs. the Huskies. The fact that the Washington defense should rise to the occasion and the Huskies’ motivation should be a major storyline in a defensive game that will go UNDER.

Trends:

Washington

Washington Huskies Logo

  • The total has gone UNDER in 7 of the Huskies’ last 9 games

  • The UNDER has also been the play in 11 of Washington’s last 15 road games

  • The total has gone UNDER in 4 of their last 6 meetings with Big Ten competition

Michigan

Michigan Wolverines Logo

  • The total has gone OVER in 13 of Michigan’s last 20 games on a Saturday

  • The OVER has been the call in 5 of the Wolverines’ last 7 games

  • The total has been OVER in 5 of the Wolverines’ last 7 games played in September

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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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