College football pick: Clemson should cover vs.  WakeForest

College football pick: Clemson should cover vs. WakeForest

Clemson running back Will Shipley has been tough to stop this season.
Clemson running back Will Shipley has been tough to stop this season. (Jacob Kupferman/AP)

This column finally came out of its rut ​​in Week 3 of the college football season, going 3-1 correctly predicting an easy Mississippi win over Georgia Tech and two unders at Texas A&M-Miami and Kansas State-Tulane. The only loss was that Fresno State failed to keep up with USC after its quarterback suffered a sprained ankle in the third quarter (the Bulldogs still nearly passed the Trojans in yards per game, a sign that USC’s defense is going to be a lingering problem going forward).

Those picks are now 7-5 on the season. Let’s go on.

This column will give four choices per week: the match of the week, a favorite, an underdog and a wild card, which can be anything (another favorite or an underdog in a game that might fly under the radar, or a total , for example). Hopefully, we’ll all be rich by the time the clock hits zero in Inglewood, California on January 1. 9.

All spreads and totals were drawn Wednesday from consensus odds at, unless otherwise noted. All times Eastern on Saturdays, unless otherwise specified.

Syracuse and Appalachia State have wild wins (college football winners and losers)

No. 5 Clemson (-7) at No. 21 Wake Forest, noon, ABC

What would that gap be if the Demon Deacons had lost to Liberty last weekend instead of picking up a one-point win when the visiting Flames failed to convert a late two-point conversion attempt? The stats suggest Wake Forest may have had at least some luck to emerge victorious – they were outmatched in yards per play (5.7-4.9) and had to rely on four takeaways, two of which arrested Liberty readers in Demon Deacons territory. . The Flames also missed two baskets.

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Despite all the talk of DJ Uiagalelei struggling at Clemson quarterback, all he has to do is get the ball to running back Will Shipley, who is averaging 7.78 yards per carry and s rushed for six touchdowns this season. Shipley rushed for 112 yards and two scores against the Demon Deacons in Clemson’s 48-27 win last season, and Liberty rushed for 181 yards against Wake Forest on Saturday.

Tigers defense is as solid as it usually is, especially against the rush: Clemson’s defense ranks eighth nationally in rush success rate and seventh in expected points added per rush. Add to that Wake Forest’s complete inability to do anything on the field this season – the Demon Deacons only rushed for 21 yards against Liberty and rank 128th in rushing success rate – and I think that the Tigers are doing enough to cover that number.

Minnesota (-3) at Michigan State, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

The Golden Gophers won their first three games by a combined 149-17. Yes, they played perhaps the simplest schedule of a Power Five team, driving the score up over New Mexico State, Western Illinois and Colorado. Well, that’s no reason to make Minnesota disappear here.

The Spartans are still getting the glow of last season’s 11-2 squad, and that masks a season that is in serious danger of going badly wrong due to injuries. Wide receiver Jayden Reed (the 2021 team leader in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns), defensive tackle Jacob Slade (one of the Big Ten’s best defensive linemen), and safety Xavier Henderson (Big Ten third team in 2021) missed on Saturday. loss to Washington, and starting linebacker Darius Snow suffered a season-ending injury earlier against Western Michigan.

The injuries particularly hurt Michigan State’s pass defense, which ranks 89th nationally in success rate and 103rd in yards allowed per game (264.3). Minnesota is averaging 10.7 yards per pass attempt (fifth in the nation) and also includes running back Mohamed Ibrahim, who is second nationally with 154.67 yards rushing per game with the seven best touchdowns in the game. soil of the Football Bowl sub-division. Yes, the loss of first receiver Chris Autman-Bell to a season-ending knee injury will sting, but the Golden Gophers have plenty of other seasoned pass-catchers (wide Michael Brown-Stephens and tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford are each averaging almost 16 yards per reception).

Defensively, Minnesota leads the nation in hit rate and should be able to limit the Spartans even if Reed returns. I’ll take the preferred route.

Georgia can break your spirit. Just look at the empty stands in South Carolina.

Michigan Center (+27.5) at No. 1 14 Penn State, noon, Big Ten Network

It’s an obvious disappointment for the Nittany Lions after last weekend’s resounding victory at Auburn, but there are a few other reasons I like the big dog MAC here. The Chippewas have demonstrated their ability to make big plays, ranking 27th nationally in explosive rate of play and gaining at least 10 yards on 58 plays from scrimmage so far this season (12th nationally). Penn State, meanwhile, has allowed 48 scrimmage plays for at least 10 yards, which ranks 104th, and Pro Football Focus ranks its defense as number one. 125 unit in the country in terms of tackle. Auburn only managed to score 12 points over the Nittany Lions, but that total was a little disappointing: The Tigers got pretty deep into Penn State territory in their first three practices, but found themselves with just two goals. on the ground and an interception, and their fourth drive ended at 50 after a fumble.

Defensively, Central Michigan ranks 27th nationally in rushing success rate, and opposing teams average just 2.85 yards per rush attempt. Penn State running back Nicholas Singleton is averaging 15.6 yards per carry in his last two games, but he’s only had 10 carries in each. One has to wonder if Coach James Franklin will hold him and the other Nittany Lions starters off if this gets out of control, especially with Michigan and Ohio State looming in Penn State’s next four games.

In the Nittany Lions’ only other game as a heavy favorite this season, they covered while giving Ohio 27.5 points on Sept. 1. 10. Now, the point spread is essentially the same for this one against Central Michigan, which turns out to be a much better team than the Bobcats in terms of an SP+ efficiency metric. Take the dog here.

Boise State at Texas El Paso under 45.5 points, 9 p.m. Friday, CBS Sports Network

Here we have two slow offenses: the Broncos are averaging 4.76 yards per play (107th nationally) and the Miners are averaging 4.67 (108th). UTEP has also failed to surpass 13 points in three of its four games this season, and with the one exception, it has only managed 20 against a team from New Mexico State who gave up 38 at Minnesota and 66 at Wisconsin.

That alone makes the under an intriguing game, and the Boise State defense only adds to that. Check out this graph showing the rate of explosive offensive and defensive play among the teams in the group of five:

Look at the Boise State logo all by itself in the upper left quadrant of this graphic. That means the Broncos have been great at limiting explosive plays on defense (defined here as runs of at least 10 yards or passes of at least 15 yards) while being pretty dismal at creating them on offense. Boise State allowed just 19 scrimmage plays for at least 10 yards, tied for fifth nationally, and 14 of those came in its season-opening loss to Oregon State. The Broncos offense, meanwhile, had just 25 scrimmage plays gaining at least 10 yards, better than just three teams nationally. And it’s not like Boise State played top-notch defenses, with games against New Mexico and Tennessee-Martin following the loss to Oregon State.

Of the 47 UTEP practices that took place with significant time on the clock (i.e. practices not started at the very end of a half or match), 34 were finished scoreless (72.3%), and the Miners scored just five offensive goals. touchdowns despite playing four games (one more than most FBS teams). I don’t see any of that improving here against a solid Boise State defense, so give me the least.

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