Top Handicappers Picks 10/22/16

Sean Murphy

NCAA-F | NC State vs Louisville

Louisville -19½ -106

I’ll lay the points with the Cardinals on Saturday.

Louisville is coming off a less than impressive 24-14 victory over Duke last week but I’m not expecting it to stall against the Wolfpack here.

N.C. State fell just short in overtime against Clemson last week – a valiant effort on the road against the undefeated Tigers. We were behind the Tigers in that game and while they never sniffed an ATS cover, I still feel that we deserved a better fate. Clemson marched up and down the field all afternoon but simply couldn’t finish enough drives with touchdowns to ever pull away.

Credit the Wolfpack for hanging tough in that one, but they’ll face a tougher test here as the Cardinals stay home and aim to keep piling up victories.

Note that Louisville will be playing only its second game in the last three weeks so it should be fresh. Meanwhile, N.C. State is coming off back-to-back slugfests over the last two weeks (prior to the Clemson game the Wolfpack defeated Notre Dame by a 10-3 score).

While the Cardinals are known for their offense, I look for their defense to set the tone on Saturday as they ultimately deliver a convincing win over a quality opponent. Take Louisville (10*).

 

Jimmy Boyd

NCAA-F | Ole Miss vs LSU

LSU -7½ -102

A lot of people are going to look at this line and think the books have made a mistake. While LSU has won and covered their last two games, I don’t think the public is ready to back them. At least not against a top level team like Ole Miss. While the Rebels are 3-3, their 3 losses have all been close. The public just isn’t going to trust the Tigers laying over a touchdown.

This one is all about the situation. Any hope that Ole Miss had of sneaking into the playoffs is gone with their loss last week to Arkansas. The Rebels have “ZERO” to play for down the stretch. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a team that had such high expectations. They also beat LSU 38-17 last year, so there’s no revenge angle for them to play.

As for the Tigers, this team has looked like a different animal since they fired Les Miles. LSU beat Missouri 42-7 as a mere 12-point favorite in their first game without Miles. They followed it up by taking care of business against Southern Miss, in a 35-point win. What’s scary is they did that without star running back Leonard Fournette. Who is expected to be back this week.

Keep in mind, this is a team that still has a shot at winning the SEC West. While the Tigers are 0-1 in league play, they still have Alabama and Texas A&M left to play.

The big problem with LSU under Miles was the offense not producing at the level expected. For whatever reason, it’s been clicking since he left. A big party of that is the play of Danny Etling at quarterback, who has replaced Brandon Harris. Etling is completing 58.8% of his attempts. Not great, but a big improvement over Harris at 52.0. He’s also averaging 7.8 yards/attempt compared to Harris at 5.6. With the way this team can run the ball, that’s all they need out of the QB position to torment opposing defenses.

An uninspired Ole Miss defense could be in for a long night. The Rebels come into this game ranked 104th in the country against the run, allowing 212.8 ypg. They also have had their issues against the pass, allowing 233.2 ypg (74th).

What gets overlooked with LSU and their struggling offense is how good the defense has played. The Tigers are the only team in the country to hold all of their opponents under 21 points. They also have allowed a FBS-low 6 touchdowns (best red zone defense in SEC). Clearly they have talent on hand to slow down this Ole Miss offense.

The other key factor here is when this game is being played. It’s one thing to go to Memorial Stadium for 3:30 afternoon kickoff. It’s a whole different beast when you play this team on their home field at night. Especially when it’s a nationally televised game like this one. Tigers are 8-1 ATS at home in Weeks 5 through 9 over the last 3 seasons. Take LSU!

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