College soccer picks towards the unfold, over/unders, favorites, locks

Can Hendon Hooker and Tennessee keep things close enough against Georgia to cover the spread? (Washington Post illustration/Scott Keller/AP)
Can Hendon Hooker and Tennessee preserve issues shut sufficient towards Georgia to cowl the unfold? (Washington Put up illustration/Scott Keller/AP)

Remark

Hopefully final weekend was all-time low. I went a season-worst 1-3, with Ohio State failing to cowl as a favourite at Penn State, Syracuse getting its doorways blown off by Notre Dame as a house favourite and Rutgers failing to attain (a lot much less cowl) as an underdog at Minnesota. Solely the Tennessee-Kentucky underneath saved issues from getting really bleak. My file stands at 19-16-1 for the season. Time to bounce again.

This column will give out 4 picks per week: the sport of the week, a favourite, an underdog and a wild card, which may be something (one other favourite or underdog in a recreation that could be flying underneath the radar or a complete, as an example). Hopefully we’ll all be wealthy by the point the clock hits zero in Inglewood, Calif., on Jan. 9.

All spreads and totals had been taken Wednesday from the consensus odds at VegasInsider.com until famous. All occasions Jap on Saturday until famous.

NFL finest bets for Week 9: Kirk Cousins over the Commanders. (You want that?)

No. 2 Tennessee (+8.5) at No. 1 Georgia, 3:30 p.m., CBS

As CBS Sports activities/247 Sports activities analyst Bud Elliott and 247′s Brandon Marcello have identified, the Volunteers are beginning to look a complete lot just like the 2019 LSU group that received the nationwide title.

The Tigers’ ninth recreation of that charmed season: a 46-41 win at Alabama as five-point underdogs.

The Vols’ ninth recreation of this doubtlessly charmed season: a recreation at Georgia as 8½-point underdogs.

The knock towards Tennessee for many of this season has been a leaky cross protection. The Volunteers gave up a median of 402.7 passing yards in wins over Florida, LSU and Alabama. However Tennessee smothered Kentucky’s Will Levis, who may very well be the primary quarterback chosen in subsequent 12 months’s NFL draft, in final weekend’s 44-6 win, permitting solely 98 passing yards, intercepting Levis thrice and sacking him 4 occasions.

Georgia’s offense is rather more potent than Kentucky’s: The Bulldogs rank fifth in passing success charge. However in addition they are 127th in passing explosiveness, preferring to maneuver the sticks methodically as an alternative of with huge performs. If Tennessee’s protection can proceed the momentum it began accruing Saturday, that would restrict the Bulldogs’ assault.

Flipping sides, Tennessee’s offense has had 30 passing performs acquire not less than 30 yards and 19 passing performs acquire not less than 40 yards, each tops within the nation by appreciable margins. Georgia will likely be with out edge rusher Nolan Smith — a high NFL prospect who leads the Bulldogs with three sacks, seven tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hurries — after he tore a pectoral muscle within the first half of Georgia’s win over Florida on Saturday. All 4 of the Gators’ passing performs that gained not less than 20 yards got here after Smith left the sport.

It’s a giant loss, and Vols quarterback Hendon Hooker (2,338 yards, 21 touchdowns, one interception) could have that rather more time to work. It must be sufficient to maintain this recreation shut.

Earlier than Georgia-Tennessee, rating this century’s ‘Games of the Century’

Fresno State (-24.5) vs. Hawaii, 10:30 p.m., Fox Sports activities 2

East Coast night time owls acquired a deal with final week when Fresno State scored 15 factors in 13 seconds with round a minute left, then picked off San Diego State quarterback Jalen Mayden to seal a wild 32-28 win. The Bulldogs shouldn’t have been ready the place they wanted a nutty comeback, as a result of they’d 4 journeys to the pink zone finish with zero factors (a turnover on downs, two interceptions and a missed discipline objective). Convert a few of these alternatives into factors, and Fresno State would have received extra comfortably.

Saturday night time’s recreation towards Hawaii must be much less aggravating for the Bulldogs, who acquired quarterback Jake Haener again from the high-ankle sprain he suffered towards USC on Sept. 17. Haener threw for 394 yards and three touchdowns towards San Diego State, with these two red-zone interceptions an indication of rust. He additionally took seven sacks because the Bulldogs’ offensive line felt the absence of sixth-year senior Dontae Bull, who suffered a damaged leg through the recreation and is finished for the season. However the Rainbow Warriors have simply eight sacks (solely Air Power and Colorado have fewer) and rank a hundred and fifteenth in defensive success charge.

Hawaii’s loss to Wyoming on Saturday eradicated the Warriors from bowl competition, so they won’t precisely be up for this journey throughout the ocean. They’ve been concerned in a string of shut video games of late, however they’ve all been towards equally unhealthy groups: The common SP+ rating of their previous 5 opponents is 116th, they usually went 1-4 in these video games. (Hawaii is 129th out of 131 Soccer Bowl Subdivision groups in SP+.)

Fresno State is within the driver’s seat to win its division within the Mountain West, and with Haener again, Fresno State is Hawaii’s hardest opponent since a Sept. 10 recreation at Michigan. And whereas the Bulldogs clearly aren’t on the Wolverines’ stage, Michigan’s 56-10 blowout may very well be not less than considerably just like what we see Saturday night time.

Tennessee earns high spot in first College Soccer Playoff rankings

No. 22 Syracuse (+3.5) at Pittsburgh, 3:30 p.m., ACC Community

Syracuse has misplaced two straight — at Clemson and vs. Notre Dame — to fall out of the nationwide dialog. Much less distinguished, although maybe extra stark, has been the decline of Pittsburgh, final season’s ACC champion.

The Panthers have misplaced three of 4. That skid consists of defeats to a really unhealthy Georgia Tech group at house, to a middling Louisville group on the street and at North Carolina, the one standout of this bunch. Pitt’s solely win over that stretch was towards Virginia Tech, which goes nowhere. Now you’re telling me the Panthers must be favored over a Syracuse group that was one unhealthy quarter away from beating Clemson two weeks in the past?

Positive, the Orange acquired a bit fortunate within the turnover division towards the Tigers. And, yeah, Syracuse seemed lifeless towards the Preventing Irish. However there’s sufficient proof to recommend that this level unfold is a bit off.

Pitt quarterback Kedon Slovis has regressed over the previous 4 video games, through which he averaged 6.5 yards per cross try and threw 4 interceptions. Towards West Virginia (123rd in passing yards allowed per recreation), Tennessee (127th) and Soccer Championship Subdivision faculty Rhode Island to begin the season, he averaged 9.2 yards per try. Syracuse is permitting simply 164.5 passing yards per recreation, a median bettered solely by Boise State and Illinois.

The Panthers have tried to cover Slovis’s shortcomings by handing it off to operating again Israel Abanikanda, whose 183 dashing makes an attempt rank fifth nationally. However 45.8 p.c of his dashing yardage got here in solely two video games — towards Rhode Island and Virginia Tech. In Pitt’s previous two video games, he has averaged solely 4.7 yards per carry, effectively beneath his season common of 5.9, and neither Louisville nor North Carolina has a very sturdy dashing protection. (Syracuse doesn’t, both, if we’re being trustworthy.)

Syracuse is in a little bit of a tailspin, however I believe the Orange can do sufficient to cowl right here.

No. 2 Ohio State at Northwestern, Northwestern group complete underneath 12.5 factors, midday, ABC

The Wildcats have performed three groups — Penn State, Wisconsin and Iowa — that rank within the high 20 in defensive SP+ (an opponent-adjusted measure of general effectivity) and scored seven, seven and 13 factors in these video games. They wanted a complete lot of assist to get to that final level complete in final weekend’s 33-13 loss at Iowa, with one landing approaching a brief drive after a 12-yard Hawkeyes punt and one other coming in rubbish time with the sport effectively out of attain. For the sport, Northwestern averaged an terrible 2.6 yards per play.

Ohio State ranks sixth in SP+ protection — larger than any of the Wildcats’ opponents listed above. That may be purpose sufficient to suppose Northwestern will battle to attain, however then there’s this: The forecast is looking for windy, showery circumstances in Evanston, Sick., which may tamp down the passing video games of each groups. Although it’s not notably good at it, Northwestern passes the ball 53.36 p.c of the time, which ranks thirty seventh nationally. A nasty offense on a foul group — the Wildcats have already got seven losses and received’t be bowling — taking part in in unhealthy circumstances screams low output, and I believe the Buckeyes received’t need to do a lot to maintain Northwestern from scoring.

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