Week 5 was a mixed bag for my picks. I was all over TCU as a 13-point underdog against Texas, but I played the under in Texas A&M vs. Alabama — a game where Alabama was a point from single-handedly hitting the over 52.5.
In all, I went 3-3 on the week thanks to the Navy vs. Air Force game staying a half-point below the 47.5-point total. For the year, I’m still two games above .500 in this space with a 13-11 mark overall.
And if having to weigh the various factors that come with a pandemic wasn’t enough, this week it looks like we may have a hurricane to contend with. Hurricane Delta was upgraded to a Category 4 storm on Tuesday and is reportedly headed toward the Gulf Coast. I’m no meteorologist, but rainy and windy conditions typically result in some pretty sloppy football that you should factor into any plays you make this weekend for the games down south.
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
No. 4 Florida at No. 21 Texas A&M
Time: Noon | TV: ESPN | Line: Florida -6.5 | Total: 57.5
Even though Texas A&M was blown out by Alabama last week, I liked some of the creative ways A&M coach Jimbo Fisher got the ball into the hands of his playmakers. The problem is the Aggies don’t have enough of playmakers. Florida, meanwhile, has plenty of top-tier skill position players, led by tight end Kyle Pitts and the SEC’s best quarterback, Kyle Trask.
Florida’s defense is nowhere near as good as Alabama’s so I’d be surprised if this was a blowout, but I’ll take the Gators here especially with the point spread under a touchdown. UF has been very strong against the spread under Dan Mullen, including an 8-1 mark on the road.
Pick: Florida -6.5
Coastal Carolina at No. 23 Louisiana
Time: Noon | TV: ESPN2 | Line: Louisiana -7 | Total: 50.5
I think Coastal Carolina is a legitimate Sun Belt title contender. CCU is off to a strong 3-0 start and is averaging 44.3 points per game after trouncing Arkansas State 52-23 last week. Louisiana, meanwhile, opened the season with a road win over Iowa State but has won its last two games by a combined five points against two seemingly subpar Sun Belt opponents and failed to cover the spread both times.
This could be one of those storm-affected games I mentioned earlier and that makes me like CCU in this spot even more. CCU is typically a run-based team, but also has a really talented freshman QB named Grayson McCall who threw for 322 yards and four TDs last week. To top off, CCU is 5-1 against the spread in its last six games as a road underdog. Let’s make it 6-1.
Pick: Coastal Carolina +7
Kansas State at TCU
Time: 4 p.m. | TV: FOX | Line: TCU -9 | Total: 50.5
I’ve been on the right side for both TCU games this season, so I might as well try to make it three straight. I loved what I saw from TCU QB Max Duggan last week, but I haven’t been impressed by the defense. TCU is giving up seven yards per rush, and Kansas State was able to get its ground game going by giving electric freshman Deuce Vaughn more carries. K-State could be without starting QB Skylar Thompson, but backup Will Howard looked more than capable in relief action in last weekend’s win over Texas Tech.
On top of that, TCU has been miserable against the spread as a favorite in recent years — especially at home. Since 2016, TCU is 4-17 against the number as a home favorite, 6-20 at home, 10-26 as a favorite and 14-25 in Big 12 play. Conversely, K-State is 4-1 ATS as a road underdog and 8-3 ATS in conference play under Chris Klieman.
Pick: Kansas State +9
East Carolina at South Florida
Time: 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN+ | Line: USF -4.5 | Total: 54.5
East Carolina is off to an 0-2 start and has allowed a total of 100 points, but I think the Pirates are better than South Florida. USF’s offense is really bad. The Bulls have scored seven points combined over their last two games and have one of the worst passing attacks in the country. Three different QBs saw action for USF in last week’s 28-7 loss to Cincinnati. They combined to go 20-of-39 for 190 yards, no touchdowns and five interceptions. And that was an improvement compared to what they did against The Citadel and Notre Dame. ECU may have a weak defense, but it should be able to score plenty of points with third-year starting QB Holton Ahlers leading the charge.
Pick: ECU +4.5
Florida State at No. 5 Notre Dame
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: NBC | Line: Notre Dame -20.5 | Total: 52
Florida State got its first win of the year last week, but it was a come-from-behind effort against Jacksonville State, an FCS team. The comeback was spurred on when Mike Norvell put Jordan Travis into the game at quarterback. Travis, more of a dual-threat, gave the lifeless FSU offense a spark but won’t have anywhere near that kind of success on the road against Notre Dame.
Notre Dame hasn’t played since Sept. 19. A COVID-19 outbreak postponed the Sept. 26 game against Wake Forest and last week was a previously-scheduled bye week. Now returning to health, the Irish shouldn’t have a whole lot of trouble with FSU, though I’m expecting at least a little bit of rust. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Irish covered the spread (-20.5) pretty easily, but the under feels like a better play to me.
Pick: Under 52
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