For as brutal as the 2014 college football season has been to this column, a bright spot finally emerged last Saturday in the form of North Carolina State’s 42-13 romp over Wake Forest, a win that gave the Wolfpack their sixth victory of the season. As a result, our OVER 5.5 wins wager on N.C. State cashed with one game to play, giving us a brief respite from the ass-kicking we’ve been taking here on a weekly basis.
With Baylor currently sitting at 8-1, we need two victories over the Bears’ final three games (Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas State) in order to cash our OVER 9.5 wins ticket on Art Briles’ high-flying crew.
So as we’re grinding out the Baylor game this weekend, we might as well take a look at some other individual plays worth firing on.
Last week: 2-3
Season: 29-38 (.432)
UTEP Miners (6-4, 2-3 road) at Rice Owls (6-4, 3-1 home)
When: Friday, 8:00pm ET
Open: Rice -10
Current: Rice -8.5 (MGM)
UTEP in 2014: 8-2 ATS, 5-5 to the OVER
Rice in 2014: 7-3 ATS, 6-4 to the OVER
Analysis: UTEP has covered the number in five straight contests and for the second week in a row is out for revenge, this time against a Rice team that smashed the Miners 45-7 last October. Rice has played a solid brand of football in 2014, but the Owls had their six-game winning streak snapped last Saturday in a 41-14 loss at Marshall in a game where the Thundering Herd amassed a staggering 581 total yards of offense, which included 284 yards gained via the ground. The rushing attack is UTEP’s forte, as the Miners rolled up 351 rushing yards in last Saturday’s 35-17 win over North Texas thanks to the return of sophomore running back Aaron Jones (16-177-2). Take note that Rice is 2-5 ATS over its last seven contests against teams with a winning record.
Notable trends: The underdog is 7-3 ATS in the last ten meetings between these two schools.
Pick: UTEP (+8.5)
Miami Hurricanes (6-4, 1-3 road) at Virginia Cavaliers (4-6, 4-2 home)
When: Saturday, 7:00pm ET
Open: Miami -7
Current: Miami -6.5 (Wynn)
Miami in 2014: 5-5 ATS, 7-3 to the UNDER
Virginia in 2014: 6-3-1 ATS, 7-3 to the UNDER
Analysis: This game is all about the situation, as Virginia is coming off a bye week and still needs two more victories to get bowl eligible, while Miami just left everything on the field in a devastating 30-26 loss to in-state rival Florida State, a game in which the Hurricanes donked off leads of 16-0 and 23-7. We believe Miami will come out flat here against a Cavaliers team that is 6-1 ATS over its last seven games when coming off a bye week. Note that Miami is 1-4 ATS over its last five road contests while Virginia is 5-1-1 ATS over its last seven home dates.
Notable trends: The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings between these two schools.
Pick: Virginia (+6.5)
Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-5, 1-2 road) at No. 7 Baylor Bears (8-1, 4-0 home)
When: Saturday, 7:30pm ET
Open: Baylor -26.5
Current: Baylor -27 (Wynn)
Oklahoma State in 2014: 3-7 ATS, 5-5 to the OVER
Baylor in 2014: 6-2-1 ATS, 5-4 to the OVER
Analysis: Baylor is currently riding a 14-game home winning streak that includes nine consecutive victories over conference opponents by an average of 28.3 points per game. In addition, after throttling the Sooners 48-14 in Norman on November 8, Bryce Petty and the Bears had a week off to get ready for a three-game stretch that will determine whether or not Baylor qualifies for the first-ever college football playoff. As if all that wasn’t enough to get you excited, remember that Oklahoma State derailed Baylor’s national championship dreams last season by crushing a 9-0 Bears team 49-17 in Stillwater. Baylor remembers that game all too well and is going to pour it on early and often here against a struggling Oklahoma State squad that is 0-5 ATS over its last five conference games, 0-4 ATS over its last four road dates and 0-5 ATS over its last five matchups overall.
Notable trends: The favorite is 12-3 ATS in the last 15 meetings between these two schools.
Pick: Baylor (-27)
**BONUS PLAY** We’ll be riding Baylor on the first half line as well.
No. 19 USC Trojans (7-3, 3-2 road) at No. 9 UCLA Bruins (8-2, 2-2 home)
When: Saturday, 8:00pm ET
Open: UCLA -3.5
Current: UCLA -3.5 (Stations)
USC in 2014: 6-4 ATS, 6-4 to the UNDER
UCLA in 2014: 3-7 ATS, 5-4-1 to the UNDER
Analysis: Back-to-back home losses to Utah and Oregon dropped the Bruins from the national spotlight, but bettors need to pay attention to the fact that UCLA has ripped off four straight victories, the last two of which (vs. Arizona, at Washington) came by double digits. UCLA enters the Battle for Los Angeles on an extra week of rest while USC enters Saturday’s showdown with a 1-4 ATS record over its last five games following a win. Believe it or not, UCLA (No. 9) could still find its way into the college football playoff assuming the Bruins win out (vs. USC, vs. Stanford), knock off Oregon in the PAC-12 championship game and then get some help from the schools currently ranked in front of Jim Mora’s crew. Unlikely? Sure. Impossible? Absolutely not.
Notable trends: UCLA is 4-0 ATS over its last four games following a bye week.
Pick: UCLA (-3.5)
Oregon State Beavers (5-5, 2-2 road) at Washington Huskies (6-5, 3-3 home)
When: Saturday, 10:30pm ET
Open: Washington -6.5
Current: Washington -6.5 (Westgate)
Oregon State in 2014: 3-7 ATS, 5-4-1 to the OVER
Washington in 2014: 5-6 ATS, 7-4 to the UNDER
Analysis: Oregon State hasn’t played a road game since October 25 (lost 38-14 at Stanford) and is coming off a big-time upset of previously seventh-ranked Arizona State, which was no doubt the biggest victory of the Beavers’ season. On the other sideline for this one stands Washington, who outgained Arizona in total yardage last Saturday 504-375, but found a way to lose 27-26 on a game-winning 47-yard field goal. Expect a much better effort from Chris Petersen’s squad at Husky Stadium on Saturday against a Beavers team that has dropped four of its last five conference road games.
Notable trends: Oregon State is 1-4 ATS over its last five games following a win while Washington is 4-1 ATS over its last five games following a loss.
Pick: Washington (-6.5)
Joe Fortenbaugh, worked as an NFL Agent from 2003-2006 at JB Sports, Inc. Follow Joe on Twitter @joefortenbaugh, and check out his website at NationalFootballPost.com. You can reach him at [email protected].