One of the key handicapping factors at this time of year in college football now that conference play has begun in earnest is to take struggles in non-conference action from teams and strong play in non-conference from teams with a grain of salt and don’t automatically assume those traits will transfer over to conference season.
Strength of schedule (SOS) is a very good barometer to use after non-conference play concludes to measure just how much quality there is behind the early strong start for a team because sometimes the good SU record in the first month of the season is a lot more schedule related and feasting on the weak than it is performance related.
Some teams are better prepared and other teams aren’t for the rigors of the conference season. So make sure to pay attention to strength of the schedule for each team in non-conference action and use that as a better indicator than just a team’s record when evaluating how truly good a particular team is when they step into conference play and have to face opponents and coaches far more familiar with them.
Here are my picks for this week:
Central Michigan +2.5 at Buffalo: The Chippewas are a much improved team this season under first-year head coach Jim McElwain. CMU is getting solid QB play from Quinten Dormady since his return from injury with the offense putting up 80 points in their last two games combined and the defense continues to get better as well holding Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green their last two MAC opponents to 20 points or less.
Buffalo lost a ton of their best players and critical pieces from last season’s team. The Bulls are in survival mode and so far they have done a decent job but they have lost to Miami (OH) and Ohio in conference play and their only MAC win is against bottom feeder Akron.
I like Central Michigan here to go into Buffalo and get the road win and cover and extend their current 5-1 ATS surge. CENTRAL MICHIGAN
Memphis at Tulsa +11: I have bet against Memphis two straight weeks and gone 1-1 in the process. I think the Tigers are worth betting against once again here at Tulsa against the Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa has been known more for their explosive offense in recent seasons but this year, Tulsa’s defense is vastly improved and their defense kept them in the game against a very good Cincinnati squad last week. The offense should find it a bit easier to perform at home against a Memphis defense that got shredded in their most recent road game which was an outright loss as favorites at Temple.
Memphis failed in their most recent step up in class AAC road game and though they might win this game, I expect a competitive contest making the points here worth taking on the home dog. TULSA
Texas Tech at Kansas, Total 62: The Jayhawks fired their offensive coordinator during their recent bye week and promoted Brent Dearmon to the position. The results were fantastic for the faster-paced, higher-tempo Kansas offense in their first game with the new OC. They piled up 48 points and 569 total yards in a wildly entertaining 50-48 loss to Texas.
I expect QB Carter Stanley and the revamped Jayhawks attack to do a lot of damage again here facing a struggling Texas Tech defense which has allowed 55, 35, 33 and 34 points in their last four games. On the flip side, I think Texas Tech’s own uptempo offense will have success with QB Jett Duffey who has gotten progressively better at the QB position for the Red Raiders in the absence of their opening-week starter Alan Bowman, who remains out due to injury.
Texas Tech has averaged 33 points per game in their last three games and Kansas’ defense remains a bottom-tier unit. Expect plenty of points. OVER
Last week: 0-4