Friday, October 7, 2022

The Six Pack: Florida vs. Tennessee, Texas A&M vs. Arkansas among best Week 4 college football picks

Last week was the week for which The Six Pack was waiting. After a rough start to the season, The Six Pack went 5-1 last week, including a hit on its upset pick with Vanderbilt to bring in 4.05 units and get us into the positive for the season.

Now, all we have to do is stay there. Betting in the early part of the season is hard, but Trusting the Process has proven fruitful. 

What’s even better than last week’s performance is that I feel more confident in this week’s picks — and I felt pretty good about last week. There was a lot of value to be found, and it’s still there as we head into the weekend. The market still hasn’t entirely caught on to some teams and Week 1 overreactions are still course correcting. So let’s get to it. All odds via Caesars Sportsbook.

Games of the Week

Featured Game | Tennessee Volunteers vs. Florida Gators

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No. 20 Florida at No. 11 Tennessee: Remember when Florida beat Utah at home to start the season and Anthony Richardson was suddenly a Heisman candidate? People were saying Richardson was a blend of Cam Newton and Vince Young, which would be an incredible combination — if true — but we haven’t heard many of those comparisons in the last two weeks. Let it be a lesson to all of us not to take anything we see in the first week of a new season too seriously. Strange stuff happens. Richardson is a talented player, but he’s young, inexperienced and has a lot of learning left to do.

As for this game, while Florida has been the dominant side in this rivalry for a while now (it’s won five straight and 25 of the 32 meetings going back to the dawn of the Steve Spurrier era in Gainesville), it won’t be Saturday. While I was hesitant to christen Tennessee the second-best team in the SEC East during the offseason due to its defense, it’s looked like the second-best team. While I’m not ready to say the team’s defensive issues are fixed, they’re certainly improved. With an offense this potent, that might be enough.

The Florida defense has been solid, however, and should slow the Vols down a bit — enough to help keep this one under the total, anyway. Tennessee 35, Florida 24 | Under 62.5

Featured Game | Texas A&M Aggies vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

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No. 10 Arkansas vs. No. 23 Texas A&M: Yeah, I will not be betting on the Aggies soon. The offense is … well … offensive. As I wrote last week when we took the under in Texas A&M’s game against Miami (and cashed easily), if it weren’t for Iowa’s comically bad offense, more people would notice A&M’s isn’t much better. The Aggies rank 105th nationally in points per drive (1.72), 104th in success rate (37.3%) and 85th in EPA/play (-0.03). It’s not that coach Jimbo Fisher doesn’t know how to coordinate an offense. It’s that his offense is far too complicated for college, where players are only allowed so much time to “study.” There’s a reason so many college offenses are simplified, but Fisher refuses to simplify his offense or hand the reins to somebody else. You see the result.

You know who runs a simple offense, one that scores a lot of points and is explosive? Arkansas. Now, Arkansas’ pass defense is suspect, but that’s partially by design (there’s a lot of bend-but-don’t-break to it). It doesn’t worry me against Texas A&M, which can’t pass efficiently against anybody. I’m taking the points, but if you want to take Arkansas straight up, I won’t try to talk you out of it. Arkansas 24, Texas A&M 23 | Arkansas +2

Lock of the Week

Featured Game | Michigan Wolverines vs. Maryland Terrapins

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Maryland at No. 4 Michigan: There’s a simple way to approach betting Maryland, which is off to a 3-0 start and has outscored opponents 121-58. When Maryland is playing a team it should beat, it will beat that team far more often than not. It’ll even stunt on them given the opportunity. However, when Maryland plays a better team, it gets obliterated. In five games against Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan last season, the Terps went 0-5 and were outscored 247-84. Michigan beat it 59-18.

In fact, Michigan has won the last six meetings by a score of 261-59. That’s an average margin of 33.7 points per game. While the Wolverines have not been tested yet, I don’t think Maryland will provide much of a test, either. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa still takes far too many chances with the ball, and he gets away with them against average defenses. Michigan’s defense isn’t average, though. It will get pressure on him, he will panic, and he will throw it to the Wolverines. I’ve seen it far too many times to expect this week to be any different. Michigan 41, Maryland 13 | Michigan -16.5

Under of the Week

Iowa at Rutgers: It’s disgusting, isn’t it? We have a total of 34.5, and my initial reaction was that it’s too high. Then I thought about it for a little longer, and it still seemed too high, so we’re taking the under in a game that might feature more punts than points. While the overall numbers aren’t horrible for the Rutgers offense, most of the damage was done in a 66-7 win over Wagner. In two games against FBS opponents, it scored 38 points, averaging 1.29 points per drive (107th) and a 34.6% success rate (107th). For reference, the terrible, very bad, no-good Iowa offense ranks one spot ahead of it in both categories vs. FBS teams. 

On the flip side, the defenses are good. Iowa’s defense remains one of the best in the country and will not have problems against an anemic Rutgers offense. The Rutgers defense ranks in the top 25 nationally in the stats I care most about (#TrustTheProcess), so it’s hard to believe the Iowa offense will do much itself. As always with Iowa, we may fall prey to a special teams miscue or a bunch of Rutgers turnovers leading to short fields, but even then, it may not matter. Iowa 20, Rutgers 10 | Under 34.5

Jayhawks of the Week

Featured Game | Kansas Jayhawks vs. Duke Blue Devils

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Duke at Kansas: While I’m not making them my Lock of the Week, I am not abandoning my Jayhawks. They aren’t a lock because I have more faith in Michigan against Maryland, but the market is still underrating the Jayhawks. It’s certainly corrected course a little following road wins against West Virginia and Houston, but it’s overrating Duke a little here.

Like Kansas, Duke is off to a surprising 3-0 start. The primary difference is Kansas has picked up tough road wins. In contrast, Duke has played what might be two of the worst FBS teams in the country (Temple and Northwestern) and an FCS opponent in North Carolina A&T. The Blue Devils defense hasn’t seen anything like this Kansas offense yet. I don’t think the Blue Devils have the talent to slow down what has genuinely been an elite Kansas attack. Let’s ride this Jayhawks wave until we crash upon the stony shore. Kansas 37, Duke 27 | Kansas -7.5

Upset of the Week

Featured Game | California Golden Bears vs. Arizona Wildcats

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Arizona at Cal: I’ve been on Kansas in this column for three weeks in a row. Last week I told you to take Vanderbilt on the money line against Northern Illinois. I felt the market was far too low on both programs heading into the season. You know the Kansas bets, but I also took Vanderbilt’s season-long win total of Over 2.5, and it has already cashed. I also took the Arizona Over 2.5 wins total before the year, because Arizona’s numbers last season were far better than its record indicated. Well, the Wildcats head to Berkeley this week with a 2-1 record and a chance to go over their total before October, just like Kansas and Vanderbilt.

And there’s a good chance they get the job done — a better chance than the price here indicates, anyway. I have this game as being little more than a coin flip (slight lean to Cal). The Bears struggle to finish drives, and as a result, they struggle to score points. The Arizona offense is not efficient and falls into ruts, but its overall success rate hints at improved performances to come. It’s also much stronger in the red zone, which might prove to be the difference in what should be a close game. Arizona 24, Cal 20 | Arizona (+135)

Games of the Week

1-1

2-5

-3.5

Lock of the Week

1-0

2-2

-0.2

Overall

5-1

12-10

1.73

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 4, and which Top 25 favorite will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned more than $3,300 in profit over the past six-plus seasons — and find out.

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