Opening Line Analysis: NCAA Football Week 6
Expect these lines to move ahead of Saturday
- UConn is getting double digits at home against a USF team that has quit.
- Maryland will be looking to bounce back after an awful loss to Penn State.
- Miami (FL) has had two weeks to prepare for Virginia Tech and is only laying 14.
- Auburn is only laying 2.5 points in The Swamp in the ESPN College Gameday game this week.
- Michigan State is nearly a three-touchdown underdog on the road against Ohio State.
- Liberty is currently a 5.5-point road favorite over New Mexico State.
If you watched any of USF’s game against SMU on Saturday, you saw a team that just quit on its coach and its season. The calls for the Charlie Strong era to come to an end have grown louder and louder as USF has now lost nine straight games against FBS opponents, and the Bulls should not be laying double digits on the road against any FBS team other than Akron.
UConn was abysmal last season, but the Huskies have shown some signs of life this year. Their defense hasn’t been terrible in 2019, and they stayed within eight points of a decent Illinois team in their first game against an FBS opponent.
The Huskies may have finally found a quarterback too. Steven Krajewski replaced Jack Zergiotis after an abysmal start from Zergiotis against UCF, and Krajewski completed 22-of-33 passes for 273 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
Strong’s tenuous hold on his job will lead to this line moving in favor of the Huskies. I expect UConn to close as a single-digit favorite.
Chris Ash became the first college coach fired this year when Rutgers dropped the hammer on Sunday. Ash deserved to be canned after going 8-32 during his time with the Scarlet Knights, but now the situation at Rutgers is an even bigger mess. Offensive coordinator John McNulty was sacked along with Ash leaving tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile as the interim coach for the remainder of the season.
Campanile only became an assistant coach at the university last year and was a high school coach prior to landing a position on Rutgers’ staff. High school coaches don’t have a great track record after making the jump to college, and Campanile is likely to be a bit overwhelmed with such a daunting promotion.
Meanwhile, Maryland will want to get the sting out of Friday’s loss to Penn State. The Terrapins were hammered 59-0, getting shellacked by the Nittany Lions for the third straight season. Maryland is still 2-2 and can make a bowl in Mike Locksley’s first full season on the job, so the Terps will want to pass a beating onto another team.
Despite being in disarray last year, the Terrapins crushed Rutgers 34-7, and the Scarlet Knights have already been shut out twice this year. This line should rise to over two touchdowns by kickoff.
Although the Hurricanes are 2-2, the advanced metrics say Miami is a pretty good team. Miami has had two weeks to prepare for Virginia Tech, so the Hurricanes should have a good game plan when the Hokies come to town.
As for the Hokies, who knows what we will see from Virginia Tech this week? The Hokies are freefalling down power ratings, and none of their performances have been convincing. They lost to a Boston College side that lost to Kansas, they struggled to beat an above average FCS team in Furman, and they were housed by Duke last week.
It’s clear that the Justin Fuente-Bud Foster marriage is not working, and Virginia Tech’s defense has cratered over the last two seasons. Miami has more talent on its offense than any team Virginia Tech has faced, so the Hurricanes could run riot in this game. Look for this spread to close over two touchdowns.
This is a much different Auburn team than we have seen in the past. The Tigers are excellent in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and many consider this defensive line the best in the nation. Auburn used that defensive line to control the line of scrimmage against Oregon in the opener, and neither Texas A&M nor Mississippi State could establish the run against the Tigers either.
Florida wants to keep the ball on the ground with the inexperienced Kyle Trask under center, but the Gators have a subpar offensive line that is likely to get exposed. The offensive tackles have not played well this year, and that will probably make life difficult for both Trask and the run game.
You usually don’t see much value in marquee games, but Florida is somewhat overrated. The Gators don’t have a great win to their name, while the Tigers have faced one of the toughest schedules so far in this young season. I see this line moving up to 4 or maybe 5 as kickoff nears.
The Spartans have a habit of mucking games up. This defense is ranked among the best teams in the country, and Michigan State will be Ohio State’s toughest test so far this year. The Buckeyes have ran over all of their opponents to this point, and Justin Fields has not thrown more than 25 passes in a game.
Michigan State won’t let Ohio State run on them. The Spartans are allowing an NCAA best 1.9 yards per carry, and they will force Fields to beat them with his arm. Fields has yet to prove he can do that during his time in Columbus, so bettors should raise an eyebrow at this line. Expect Michigan State to close around +17.
Liberty is 3-2 and have a solid quarterback in Stephen Calvert, while the Aggies are 0-5 on the year.
This line seems to be the result of New Mexico State losing somewhat respectable close games to San Diego State, New Mexico, and Fresno State. However, the Aggies were behind 24-0 to SDSU and Fresno State before those teams shifted into cruise control and allowed them to come back, and the Lobos just aren’t good. Liberty should be favored by a touchdown or more.