Dearest reader, let me tell you something. I looked at the board this weekend and loved it. Not just because there are plenty of lines we can take advantage of, but because there are more games period.
I have to admit, I've felt a bit caged in the first two weeks of the season trying to find six games I believed in with such limited slates. Now that the SEC is returning to the fold, that's seven more games to choose from, and not surprisingly, a lot of them made the final cut for this week's column.
So let's dive in and continue our momentum after a 4-2 performance last week.
Games of the Week
Florida State at No. 12 Miami (Under 54) -- I was all over taking Miami and the points last week against Louisville, and while I expect the Canes to beat rival Florida State this weekend, I'm a bigger fan of the total than the spread. Miami's offense has been fantastic through two games and has put together a lot of explosive plays. Still, we shouldn't let last week's performance carry too much weight. Louisville's rush defense was terrible in 2019, and it doesn't look much better in 2020.
Saturday against Florida State, the new Miami offense will be going against the best defensive line it's faced so far this year, and the Seminoles should do a better job of slowing it down. On the other side of the ball, I haven't seen anything to suggest that Florida State's offense will have a fun day against this Miami defense, either. The under has gone 8-1 the last nine times these two have played, and we're banking on that trend continuing. Miami 27, Florida State 17
No. 8 Auburn (-7.5) vs. No. 23 Kentucky -- Listen, if you've paid any attention to my feelings about these two teams since last year, whether on this website or the Cover 3 Podcast, you're probably surprised to see this pick. I get it, I really do. I'm not a huge fan of Bo Nix and this Auburn offense. So why am I taking the Tigers here?
Well, it's pretty simple. It's the first game for both teams, and having continuity at quarterback early in the season is significant considering how the offseason has gone down. Kentucky doesn't have that convenience in 2020. Also, Auburn just tends to do well as a favorite! The Tigers are 10-3 in their last 13 games when favored, and they're 9-3 in their last 12 at home. Kentucky, meanwhile, is only 20-24 ATS in SEC play as an underdog under Mark Stoops. Auburn 27, Kentucky 16
Lock of the Week
NC State (+6.5) at No. 20 Virginia Tech -- The following is a direct quote from Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente earlier this week: "We will not have a full roster. I hope we're able to play." First of all, I hope everybody at Virginia Tech is healthy or getting there. Secondly, I appreciate that Fuente is honest because it presents us with an opportunity, ladies and gentlemen. I mean, do you want to bet on a team as a favorite when its coach isn't even sure they can play this week? Particularly when that team has already had one game postponed and is now playing its first game of the season against a team that not only got in a game last week but won? Yeah, me neither. Give me the Wolfpack. NC State 28, Virginia Tech 24
Under of the Week
Mississippi State at No. 6 LSU (Under 57.5) -- Last week, I mentioned a trend in games featuring teams playing their first game of the season when I told you to take the under in Oklahoma State's game against Tulsa. The under had gone 14-6 in 20 such games. Well, the Oklahoma State-Tulsa game that had a total set at 66.5 points saw both teams combine for 23 points. Our opening game trend now has the under going 15-6, and considering all the turnover both of these teams have had to deal with this offseason, I like the odds of it pulling through here. Also, don't be afraid to keep this trend in mind when looking at every SEC game this weekend. I'm not, and if you don't believe me, continue reading. LSU 27, Mississippi State 13
One More Under of the Week
No. 16 Tennessee at South Carolina (Under 44) -- Yep, here's another SEC opener that I like the under in. Aside from that beautiful trend, what draws me to this play were the comments of new South Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. Bobo, who will be Will Muschamp's 500th career offensive coordinator (or thereabout), does not like all these hurry-up offenses! He thinks they're ruining football and believes teams should slow things down. That is music to the ears of my under-loving heart. Tennessee 20, South Carolina 13
Pitt'nest Game of the Week
No. 21 Pitt (-3) vs. No. 24 Louisville -- Listen, it's difficult for me to trust Louisville after that defensive performance. I love the offense, I do, but that defense is a problem. We don't put our hard-earned money on the line by betting on problems. Pitt didn't look great offensively last week, but I like a lot of the talent the Panthers have on that side of the ball, and I trust their defense under Narduzzi. Also, here's a fun little trend involving Narduzzi. In games that are expected to be close (spreads of 3.5 or less), Narduzzi's Pitt teams have gone 12-5-2 ATS. I don't know what it means, exactly, but it calls to me. Pitt 28, Louisville 24
SportsLine Pick of the Week
No. 22 Army at No. 14 Cincinnati (-13.5, O/U 45) -- If you can get past the idea that Cincinnati and Army are playing while both are ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll, head on over to SportsLine to see my play on this game. I told you I loved the board this week, and this game is one of the reasons why.
Games of the Week
Lock of the Week