Top teams proving it

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Yes, we normally have seen some conference play by now to gage a top team’s strength. And no, we have yet to see the Big Ten or the Pac-12 in action. But, we have seen a glimpse of a few teams that have separated themselves from the rest of the NCAAF pack.

Future No. 1 draft pick, Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers string of 32 consecutive regular season victories doesn’t seem to be in jeopardy. Alabama missed the CFP for the first time in the format’s existence in 2019. With Mac Jones and arguably the best stockpile of offensive weapons in the nation, they are most likely heading right back to the playoff.

I myself went against Georgia last week and paid the price. The Bulldogs defense is for real, making them one of the best overall squads in college football. The “Two Kyles” — Trask and Pitts — have Gators fans excited for the first time since the Tim Tebow-era. And although untested yet, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are one of the most-well balanced teams we have seen.

With Ohio State, Oregon, Michigan, and Minnesota all ranked in this week’s top-25 without setting foot on the gridiron yet, it’s going to be one of the most exciting campaigns in years. Grab a helmet and let’s have some fun.

The last two weeks I am 4-2. Here are this week’s Best Bets (Lines are as of Tuesday and can change. If a line is around a Hot Number or moves against us, be smart):

Saturday

Miami-Florida at Clemson -14: There is no question that Miami’s stock is on the rise. Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee and Houston-transfer quarterback D’Eriq King have the offense humming and the team 3-0.

But, in all sincerity, if you combine UAB, Louisville, and Florida State (their three 2020 opponents), you still wouldn’t have the talent to compete with Clemson. You will see some money come in on the Hurricanes because they are both this season’s “It” team and because they are 3-0 ATS, while the Tigers have yet to get the bettors paid (0-3 ATS).

But this is Clemson’s first true test and Dabo Swinney loves to beat up on ACC foes, particularly in Death Valley. Prior to last week’s win and no cover against Virginia, the team had a string of seven consecutive covers vs. conference foes at Memorial Stadium. The stout Tigers’ stop-unit will flex their muscles here and show the ACC just who is the boss, while Lawrence snuffs out any question that King belongs in the Heisman talk with him.

The Hurricanes are 1-5 ATS the last six meetings in this series and 3-12 ATS the last 15 in October. The Tigers are 17-5 ATS the last 22 vs. the ACC and 5-2 ATS the last seven at home. CLEMSON

Kansas State +8.5 at TCU: I have been doing this a long time and I cannot figure out this line. Yes, Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson (check status) is listed as questionable. But, backup Will Howard looked like a veteran filling in last week getting an outright win at home vs. Texas Tech.

Not only do the Wildcats get the bettors paid as an underdog (22-7 ATS the last 29 in the role) but they have been money in this series, covering four of the last five meetings.

The Horned Frogs defense is a far cry from the once-feared unit they were only a few years ago. They have been torched by just about every opponent they have lined up against the last year and change.

Kansas State is 4-0 ATS the last four in conference play and 8-3 ATS the last 11 overall. TCU is 7-15 ATS the last 22 vs. the Big 12 and 8-22 ATS the last 30 at home. KANSAS STATE

Florida Atlantic -2 at Southern Mississippi: FAU finally opened up its season with an unimpressive win and no cover over Charlotte last week. But, after so much idle time, you should have expected some rust. They will be able to shake it off here against a (not so) Golden Eagles squad they won and covered against a season ago.

Southern Miss got off their six-game loss and no cover slide at North Texas last Saturday. However, I don’t see this team competing here on either side of the ball, especially on “D,” where they are getting burned for nearly 500 yards per game (490.5). Look for the game’s highlights reel consisting solely of FAU’s dual-threat quarterback Nick Tronti padding his stats.

The Owls are 7-1 ATS the last eight on the road and 10-4 ATS the last 14 in conference play. The Golden Eagles are 0-4 ATS the last four at home and 2-5 ATS the last seven in October. FLORIDA ­ATLANTIC

Florida State at Notre Dame -21: Despite some recent health issues for Notre Dame, this game is set to go. I read an interesting column this week claiming that the Seminoles have out-recruited the Fighting Irish over the last several seasons. Hmmm. But since 2017, they are just 19-23 compared to the Notre Dame record of 35-6. That might further motivate Brian Kelly in this one.

Mike Norvell named Jordan Travis the starter here. In his three seasons, the quarterback has completed just 21 passes with two TD’s and two INT’s. He doesn’t have the experience or the savvy to go up against the ferocious Irish “D.”

But the real problem FSU faces is on defense. They were manhandled by both Georgia Tech and Miami-Florida (both SU and ATS losses) and looked confused in their win and no cover last week against nobody, Jacksonville State. This doesn’t bode well here as they face a very well-balanced Notre Dame attack.

Notre Dame doesn’t have a tough opponent until November when they face Clemson. So, they must stay sharp here. The Seminoles are 1-6-1 ATS the last eight on the road and 5-15-1 ATS the last 21 overall. Notre Dame is 8-3 ATS the last 11 at home and 6-1 ATS the last seven overall. NOTRE DAME

Last week: 2-2

Season: 6-6

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