Upset Watch: Week 6

Michigan was on a bye last week, (hopefully) preparing for Purdue. The Wolverines should be well-aware that Purdue is able to score points at will, but they are also more than capable of giving up tons of points, surrendering 27 points in the last half of last week’s win over Marshall. Last week I went a very pedestrian 4-3 ATS. I’m now 14-20-1 on the season. With room for improvement, I’ll take a stab at six more games and the Michigan game this week.

Week six of the college football season begins with the Arkansas State Red Wolves visiting the Florida International Golden Panthers, in what will likely be a knock out game for the Sun Belt Title, as both teams are 0-1 in conference; the game can be found on ESPNU at 7:30 PM ET. Starting at 8:00 PM ET on CBS Sports Network, the East Carolina Pirates travel to Orlando to take on the UCF Golden Knights. The big game on Thursday night pits the (#13) USC Trojans against the Utah Utes, in Salt Lake City, at 9:00 PM ET on ESPN. On Friday, the Syracuse Orange host the Pittsburgh Panthers, in their last meeting as Big East members, on ESPN at 7:00 PM ET, while the Brigham Young Cougars host the rival Utah State Aggies at 10:15 PM ET on ESPN.

If you followed the Upset Watch last season, you know I pick five underdogs to cover the points, a favorite to cover, and I preview the Michigan game.

Be sure to check out my website, Before Visiting the Sportsbook, throughout the week, for more content.

Recap:



Wins



Marshall (2-3) +18.0 @ Purdue (3-1). Result: Purdue 51 Marshall 41.



Missouri (3-2) +3.0 @ UCF (2-2). Result: Missouri 21 UCF 16.



@ South Florida (2-3) +17.0 Florida State (5-0). Result: Florida State 30 South Florida 17.



Miami (OH) (3-2) -5.5 @ Akron (1-4). Result: Miami (OH) 56 Akron 49.



Losses



North Carolina State (3-2) +3.5 @ Miami (FL) (4-1). Result: Miami (FL) 44 North Carolina State 37.



@ Rice (1-4) +7.0 Houston (1-3). Result: Houston 35 Rice 14.



@ Wake Forest (3-2) -3.0 Duke (4-1). Result: Duke 34 Wake Forest 27.



Push



None


This Week


Five games involve a pair of top 25 teams, as the (#10) Florida Gators host the (#4) LSU Tigers on CBS at 3:30 PM ET. At 7:00 PM ET, (#5) Georgia Bulldogs travel to Columbia, South Carolina to take on the (#6) South Carolina Gamecocks (ESPN), while the (#8) West Virginia Mountaineers face their first Big 12 road game against (#11) Texas Longhorns (FOX). The (#21) Nebraska Cornhuskers, fresh off their thrilling victory over the Wisconsin Badgers, travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on the (#12) Ohio State Buckeyes. At 10:30 PM ET on ESPN, the (#2) Oregon Ducks host the (#23) Washington Huskies.

Upset Watch


Virginia Tech (3-2) +3.5 @ North Carolina (3-2). Virginia Tech is 7-1 against North Carolina. The Hokies have won all four meetings in Chapel Hill. Virginia Tech is 90th in total offense (70th in passing, 77th in rushing), while the Tar Heels are 39th in total offense (23rd in passing, 53rd in rushing). The Hokies are 53rd in total defense (29th in passing, 75th in rushing), while North Carolina is 16th in total defense (33rd in passing, 16th in rushing). North Carolina Coach Larry Fedora is 37-21 (32-25 ATS, 23-18 ATS as a favorite); Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer is 105-35 (73-59-3 ATS; 10-4 as an underdog) since 2002. Virginia Tech has outscored North Carolina by a margin of 10 points in their eight ACC meetings, on average. The Hokies are 4-4 ATS against North Carolina in ACC games. Despite the Hokies success under Beamer, they haven’t had less than three losses in a given season since 2005. Still, they have dominated the ACC, going 40-9 since the 2006 season. VT has looked bad offensively, but North Carolina has built up their gaudy stats on bad teams (Elon and Idaho, a combined 128-0 scoring output). I like the Hokies to get the win, here.



Northern Illinois (4-1) +1.0 @ Ball State (3-2). Northern Illinois has won three straight in the series, and five of the last six in Muncie. Northern Illinois is 67th in total offense (84th in passing, 17th in rushing), while the Cardinals are 38th in total offense (42nd in passing, 27th in rushing). The Huskies are 59th in total defense (20th in passing, 98th in rushing), while Ball State is 109th in total defense (115th in passing, 75th in rushing). Ball State Coach Pete Lembo is 9-8 (11-6 ATS; 2-2 as a favorite); Northern Illinois Coach Dave Doeren is 15-4 (9-10 ATS, 4-0 ATS as an underdog). Northern Illinois is 10-5 against Ball State since 1997 (9-6 ATS, but 1-3 ATS in last four meetings). Ball State is 4-1 ATS this season, while Northern Illinois is 3-2 ATS. Both teams have exceeded my expectations this season, but I had Northern Illinois as a MAC West contender. I expect to see the Huskies win by at least a touchdown.



Wake Forest (3-2) +5.5 @ Maryland (2-2). Wake Forest opened this series losing seven straight, but has won four of the last six. The home team has won five straight with an average margin of victory of 22 points per game. Wake Forest is 101st in total offense (75th in passing, 87th in rushing), while the Terrapins are 116th in total offense (107th in passing, 113th in rushing). The Demon Deacons are 99th in total defense (53rd in passing, 114th in rushing), while Maryland is 8th in total defense (18th in passing, 11th in rushing). Maryland Coach Randy Edsall is 69-58 (66-51-2 ATS, 30-20-2 ATS as a favorite) since 2002; Wake Forest Coach Jim Grobe is 65-64 (60-64-2 ATS, 33-27-1 ATS as an underdog) since 2002. Wake Forest is 5-15 in the ACC on the road in the last five years, but 2-2 last year. I did have the Demon Deacons beating Duke last week, which they did not, but Duke is vastly improved from last year. WR Michael Campanaro will be out for 3-4 weeks with a hand injury, which is a major loss. I think Maryland is vastly improved from last season, but the Demon Deacons are still underrated. I like Wake Forest to keep this one closer than a touchdown.



Rice (1-4) +4.0 @ Memphis (0-4). Teams first meet in 2007, with Memphis emerging victorious. Since then, Rice has won the last two. Rice is 30th in total offense (49th in passing, 38th in rushing), while the Tigers are 111th in total offense (113th in passing, 100th in rushing). The Owls are 119th in total defense (90th in passing, 119th in rushing), while Memphis is 110th in total defense (98th in passing, 102nd in rushing). Memphis Coach Justin Fuente is 0-4 (1-3 ATS; 0-1 as a favorite); Rice Coach David Bailiff is 24-42 (31-32-2 ATS; 21-28-2 as an underdog). In the last three seasons, Memphis is 2-7 against CUSA West teams. But Rice is 0-12 the last three years in true CUSA road games. Rice is 2-1 ATS in this series, covering as 20.5-point favorites last season. Is there really a 25-point swing in the difference from the 2011 version of these teams?



SMU (1-3) +2.5 @ UTEP (1-4). Visitor is 1-7 in this series. SMU last won at UTEP in 2002. SMU is 79th in total offense (48th in passing, 114th in rushing), while the Miners are 99th in total offense (92nd in passing, 91st in rushing). The Mustangs are 98th in total defense (114th in passing, 55th in rushing), while UTEP is 96th in total defense (73rd in passing, 105th in rushing). UTEP Coach Mike Price is 56-59 (55-57 ATS, 23-31 ATS as a favorite) since 2002; SMU Coach June Jones is 79-53 (58-65-2 ATS; 23-24-1 as an underdog) since 2002. UTEP is 6-3 in this series and hasn’t lost back-to-back games in this series since 2001-2002. Since 1997, SMU is 6-8 SU and 4-10 ATS against UTEP (1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS at UTEP). The numbers indicate UTEP has a huge advantage. I’ve always been a fan of SMU though, and I think they are the favorite to win the CUSA West. Take SMU to cover the points and win.



Sure-fire Favorite


Fresno State (3-2) -13.0 @ Colorado State (1-4). Colorado State leads this series 7-4. Last time these teams met in Fort Collins, Colorado State won 34-10. Fresno State is 29th in total offense (11th in passing, 48th in rushing), while the Rams are 107th in total offense (63rd in passing, 112th in rushing). The Bulldogs are 44th in total defense (26th in passing, 77th in rushing), while Colorado State is 81st in total defense (40th in passing, 106th in rushing). Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter is 4-2 (6-0 ATS, 4-0 ATS as a favorite); Colorado State Coach Jim McElwain is 1-4 (1-4 ATS; 1-4 as an underdog). Yes, Colorado State is 4-2 ATS over the last six meetings (since 1999), but Colorado State is 1-4 ATS this season (only covered against Colorado) and has been outscored in their last three games by an average of 37.7-20. Take Fresno State to win by more than two touchdowns.



Gameday Prediction


Danny Hope is 19-22 straight up. Coach Hope is 14-10 in games at home, is 20-20-1 against the spread and 11-10-1 ATS as an underdog.

Brady Hoke is 60-54 straight up (13-12 at San Diego State, 34-38 at Ball State, and 13-4 at Michigan). Coach Hoke is 58-47-4 ATS (38-30-1 at Ball State, 12-10-2 at San Diego State, and 8-7-1 at Michigan) and 27-18-2 (16-8 at Ball State, 5-6-2 at San Diego State, and 6-4 at Michigan) against the spread as a favorite.

Michigan is 8-3 against Purdue since 1999. While the home team is 7-4 in this series, the underdog is 2-9 straight up. The favorite is 6-5 ATS in the last 11 meetings; Michigan is 7-4 ATS against Purdue since 1999.

In their five meetings at Ross-Ade Stadium since 2000, Michigan is 3-2, with an average margin of victory of 1.6 points per game. The Wolverines are 2-3 ATS at Purdue. In their last meeting at Purdue, in 2010, Michigan won 27-16, their largest margin of victory over the Boilermakers since a 45-23 victory in 1994.

For some reason, this game doesn’t scare me. This history shows that Michigan should be wary, since all games at Ross-Ade Stadium since the 1994 blowout (and the 2010 victory) have been decided by a touchdown or less. Still, Purdue’s nearly epic collapse against Marshall last week shows that the Boilermakers’ secondary can, and has been, exposed. If Denard can get the ball moving through the air, the Wolverines should win easy. But if he struggles . . .

Michigan -3.0 @ Purdue.

Michigan 42 Purdue 38.


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