NCAAF Friday night picks: #20 Virginia vs. Miami & more
What happened to Miami? The Hurricanes had a terrific offseason. They brought back Manny Diaz (who spent less than 18 full days as Temple’s head coach) and started to land seemingly every player they targeted in the transfer portal. They had a season opener that was both encouraging (a tight loss against a top-10 Florida team) and painful (quarterback Jarren Williams was sacked 10 times), but the latest 42-35 home loss to Virginia Tech has taken all the sizzle off their steak.
Meanwhile, Virginia is—Virginia. The Cavaliers are unbeaten in the ACC and their only blemish is a 35-20 defeat at the hands of Notre Dame. Bronco Mendenhall’s squad is led by a salty defense and quarterback Bryce Perkins. But the tea leaves may be forecasting some danger on the horizon for UVA. Before the Cavaliers fell to the Irish, Virginia tried to lose at home to Old Dominion. And Perkins is playing at a significantly lower level this year than last year (7.0 yards per attempt, 8-6 touchdown-interception ratio, 134 QBR, 2.45 yards per carry, versus 2018’s numbers—7.7, 25-9, 147, 4.35).
In order to pick Miami in this game, I think you have to try to understand what happened against Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes outplayed the Hokies in every facet except the most important one—turnovers. Miami had 10 more first downs than VT and outgained the Hokies by 226 yards. But the Hurricanes had five turnovers to Virginia Tech’s zero. Despite the field constantly being flipped against them, they only lost in the final minute of play. If Diaz can get his team off the mat, Miami has an opportunity to knock off a ranked team at home and turn its season around.
Pick: Miami -2
The money has been pouring in on New Mexico in this game, most likely because Colorado State quarterback Collin Hill is out. I see things a little bit differently. Replacement Patrick O’Brien is 0-3 this season, but the three teams he has faced (Toledo, Utah State and San Diego State) are all far superior to this leaky Lobo D (and he still threw for 839 yards against those three opponents, in three pretty close games).
Pick: Colorado State (-3.5)
Oregon is a hard team to love as a big betting favorite. Mario Cristobal’s coaching strategy is not conducive to stepping on opponents’ throats, and I’m impressed with what Mel Tucker has been able to piece together in his first season at Colorado (defense notwithstanding).
Pick: Colorado (+21.5)
Friday night is full of action this week, but you can also get a head start on Saturday’s NCAAF action at BetAmerica!