I had hoped that following a 5-1 performance in Week 3, The Process had broken through a few weeks of mediocrity and was ready to start sprinting. It was not. Instead, things went the opposite direction. The Six Pack went 2-4 last week, narrowly avoiding a 1-5 result.
So I suppose it could've been worse?
While the results weren't what I was hoping for, I can at least take away a few lessons. The most prominent one is that Maryland might genuinely be good this year. Not win the Big Ten good -- losing to Michigan hurts those chances severely -- but possibly the fourth- or fifth-best team in the conference. Maybe if we learn at least one lesson like this every week, we'll be able to go 6-0 once before the end of the season!
Maybe it'll even happen this week. There's only one way to find out. Let's get to the picks. All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
Games of the Week
No. 7 Kentucky at No. 14 Ole Miss: I don't trust either of these teams very much. Kentucky might be a top-10 team in the AP Poll, but I fear for the sport if it's one of the 10 best teams in the country right now. The Wildcats struggled to get by Northern Illinois last week, and it was not due to any fluke. It's an offense that struggles to move the ball consistently and lacks explosive plays. That's not Ole Miss' problem; the Rebels rank 10th nationally in explosive play rate and have been particularly exceptional on the ground. The problem is Ole Miss hasn't played anybody yet. Its best win is either a 42-0 shutout over a Georgia Tech team that just fired its coach, or last week's eight-point win over Tulsa.
Neither inspires much confidence. In the end, I think Ole Miss' offense is good, but not as good as it's looked, and it will have a much tougher time against Kentucky. With the Rebels' offense likely to slow down, combined with little faith in Kentucky's offense to do anything special, the under makes for an appealing play. Ole Miss 27, Kentucky 17 | Under 54
No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 16 Baylor: Baylor is a tough team to figure out offensively. On a per-snap basis, the team's EPA ranks 13th nationally. That's great! Its success rate of 50.2% ranks 15th. That's also outstanding! But that same offense ranks 105th in explosive play rate. What does it mean? Well, it means the Bears are overly reliant on stacking successful play after successful play to sustain long drives. Also, Baylor's conversion rate of 39.1% is well above the national average of 26.2%, and I do not recommend relying on converting third-and-long. It rarely works for long, particularly when you run into good defenses.
Oklahoma State's defense has not been as good as last year, but it's still above average. Some of that is due to its schedule, but fundamentally it's a sound unit. We saw these teams play two close games against each other last season, and I wouldn't be surprised if this year's meeting looks similar. In that situation, I'll take the points. Oklahoma State 31, Baylor 28 | Oklahoma State +2
Lock of the Week
Navy at Air Force: We arrive at a long-standing tradition ... and one I fear will come to an end soon. Hopefully, just not this weekend. For those new to The Six Pack, Service Academy Unders have long been a staple of our diet. The concept is simple. Service academies run option offenses. That means they run the ball more often than every other team in the country. Air Force is No. 1 in the country with an 89.1% run rate, while Navy is third at 82.9%. Army is second. No other team runs the ball more than 70% of the time (UMass is at 69.6%). When teams run the ball, the clock doesn't stop. When the clock doesn't stop, it limits overall possessions. When there are fewer possessions in a game, fewer points are scored.
Also, while option offense can give the academies an edge against other teams that aren't used to it, that's not the case here. These defenses face option attacks every day in practice. Put these factors together and here's what you get: the under has gone 41-9-1 in games between the service academies since 2005. The concern is books have caught on and begun lowering totals for these games in recent seasons. It hasn't stopped the unders from cashing, but they'll crack the code eventually. Until they do, we ride the wave. Air Force 20, Navy 13 | Under 37.5
Underdog of the Week
Iowa State at Kansas: Speaking of riding waves, I've been on Kansas all season long and I'm not stopping now. The Jayhawks won and covered again last week, improving to 4-0 on the season straight up and against the spread. They have covered by an average of 17.5 points per game. Still, even though it should be obvious to everybody by now that this team is a lot better than expected, it's a home dog this weekend against an Iowa State team that sits outside the top 50 nationally in both offensive and defensive success rate.
The Cyclones have been the Big 12's plucky underdog over the last few seasons, but despite their 3-0 start and win over Iowa, they aren't the same team this year. Kansas has taken over their role in the Big 12, and I believe Kansas to be the better team in this game. Not markedly better, but the Jayhawks' offense will be the best unit on the field. That makes it hard to pass up the Jayhawks catching points. Kansas 31, Iowa State 30 | Kansas +3
Friday Night Fade of the Week
San Diego State at Boise State: Boise State is a train wreck, but the market hasn't figured it out yet. Last week, the Broncos lost to UTEP 27-10. The performance was so lackluster it led to the firing of the team's offensive coordinator, Tim Plough. The decision to fire Plough caused the team's starting QB, Hank Bachmeier, to enter the transfer portal.
It's not a great sign when your starting QB is peacing out after the first month of the season! Considering how poor Boise has looked and that its lone wins have come against New Mexico and UT Martin, this isn't a team that should be favored by a touchdown against anybody right now. Not even at home. No, the blue turf does not provide the same advantage it used to; Boise is only 6-4 at home since the 2020 season and 4-6 ATS. San Diego State 23, Boise State 20 | San Diego State +6.5
Upset of the Week
No. 17 Texas A&M at Mississippi State: I have not been an avid supporter of Texas A&M this season, and I believe my concerns about the Aggies have been justified. It's not just the loss to Appalachian State; it's the offense overall. Even in wins, the Aggies have been dreadful with the ball, and they rank 106th nationally in point per drive, 107th in success rate and 88th in EPA per snap.
Yet here I am, taking them as my upset pick! While Mississippi State's offensive numbers have been strong, they are severely lacking in the explosive play department. That could be a problem against this Texas A&M defense. Also, if you look at the Bulldogs' résumé, the best win is over Memphis. Against LSU, the Bulldogs struggled to move the ball, and I can see that situation repeating here. Texas A&M wins this game often enough to make this a worthy bet. Texas A&M 27, Mississippi State 21 | Texas A&M (+148)
Games of the Week
Lock of the Week
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