The AFF crew normally does Games and Locks of the Week as a patron-exclusive post on Patreon. But since there’s no Army game this week, I can only imagine how badly you fine folks are dying for some good old fashioned As For Football content. We’re not here to disappoint.
So. I’ve split out and expanded this week’s Games of the Week section and brought it over here onto the main site. Alas, Locks of the Week is staying on Patreon. If you want to see how we’re betting, you’ll have to head over there. Rob and I both had winning records last week. In fact, Rob went 5-0.
We’re getting down to crunch time in the college football season. This weekend offers plenty of high-leverage match-ups with rivalry games right around the corner. I’m excited!
2020 Schedule is out!
— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) November 20, 2019
Top 5 Games of the Week
Note: All of these are on Saturday.
5. #8 Penn State at #2 Ohio State (-18.5) (Noon, FOX)
In any reasonable year, this would be the game of the week. In 2019, Ohio State is favored by nearly 20 points, and I don’t know if you’ve seen them play, but they’re liable to cover that outsized spread. This despite the fact that the Nittany Lions are 9-1 and have looked good pretty much all year.
The Buckeyes are just that good.
On the season, Ohio State QB Justin Fields is 159/230 passing (69.1%) for 2,164 yards and 31 touchdowns against just *1* interception. Holy snot! That’s not even the worst of it. The Buckeyes are putting a whopping 541.7 yards/game with nearly 300 of that coming on the ground. Oh by the way, their defense has given up just over 200 yards/game — total. Bottom line: these guys are running like Army and throwing like Hawaii without the interceptions.
Penn State’s rushing defense is allowing just under 76 yards/game on the ground, but their pass defense is giving up 240.3. That tells me that the Buckeyes are gonna sling it to win this one, probably in a rout.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) November 20, 2019
4. #25 Southern Methodist (+4) at Navy (3:30 pm, CBS Sports)
I can’t stress enough how impressed I am with the job the Mids’ coaching staff has done this season, especially on defense. However, I don’t understand this line. SMU is a 4-point underdog despite the fact that their offense is elite, and their defensive problems have mostly come against the pass.
We’ve all seen QB Malcolm Perry throw, right?
SMU QB Shane Buechele is 249/388 passing (64.2%) this season for 3,195 yards and 28 touchdowns against just 8 interceptions. That’s excellent. By comparison, Perry is a more pedestrian 32/60 passing (53.3%) for all of 758 yards and 5 touchdowns against 3 interceptions. It’s worth noting, though, that Perry got off to a hot start. His accuracy has reverted to more like his career average over the past month of so. That matters a lot this week because SMU is allowing an indefensible 301.5 yards/game passing but just 124.4 yards/game rushing.
Did I mention that SMU recruited me a little? They did, in case you were wondering.
So look, I get that we’re all very impressed with the Mids, but this is just not a great match-up for them. I expect the game itself to be close, but Navy needs to get it done on offense in a shoot-out, and that’s not their game. That’s the Mustangs’ gameplan. If SMU doesn’t pull away in the fourth quarter and win by at least 10 points, I’ll be pretty damned surprised.
— SMU FootbaII (@SMU_Football) November 20, 2019
3. Texas at #14 Baylor (-5.5) (3:30 pm, FS1)
I want Texas to be better than they are. However, in this reality, they are just 6-4 with losses in pretty much every high-leverage game they’ve played. Which isn’t to say that they’re not getting there. I like the ‘Horns to come back with a vengeance in 2020. However, they’re not all the way back in 2019.
Baylor, by comparison, is great. At 9-1, they’ve exceeded expectations, and really, they still have an outside shot at the Big 12 Championship. They’re putting up 444.3 yards/game with a balanced attack while allowing just 356.2 with no obvious weaknesses. Granted, those are not elite defensive numbers, but this is the Big 12 we’re talking about. Against that, Texas is allowing 305.0 yards/game passing, which is how you lose to Oklahoma and all the rest of the better teams in the Big 12 — including Baylor.
I think this will be an entertaining match-up, but I also think Baylor’s gonna pull away late.
— Baylor Athletics (@BaylorAthletics) November 19, 2019
2. Temple (+11) at #19 Cincinnati (7:00 pm, ESPN2)
The American Athletic Conference has several good games this weekend. This is the best of them. Temple (7-3) has played a bunch of high leverage games against ranked opponents and won pretty much all of them. They lost on the road to a UCF team that’s been inconsistent but which remains much better than their record, they lost to SMU, and they somehow dropped a game at Buffalo. However, they’ve also beaten a ranked Maryland team, beaten a ranked Memphis team, and beaten this year’s AAC breakout candidate Tulane. This week’s game at Cincinnati is exactly the kind of contest I could see the Owls stealing with a late field goal. That’s just how their season’s been going.
On the numbers, these offenses look pretty evenly matched. Temple tends to throw it a lot more while Cincinnati is doing it mostly on the ground, but both these teams are putting up just under 400 yards of offense per game. The defenses are similar, too, save that Temple has been a little worse against the run. That might come down to match-ups, but it may also be the factor that gives the Bearcats the edge in the second half
I have no idea if the Owls can actually pull this one out, but I definitely think they cover that outsized spread.
The Play, Week 12 🎥
— Temple Football (@Temple_FB) November 20, 2019
1. Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech (-4) (3:30 pm, ESPN2)
For the longest time, it seemed like nobody in the ACC save Clemson wanted to play any big time football. However, both Pitt and especially Virginia Tech have come on quietly late in the season, and this week we finally have a legitimate battle for The Second Best Team in the Atlantic Coast Conference. One of these two teams — or Virginia — is likely to play in the conference championship game.
Folks, do yourselves a favor, and don’t bet on the Cavaliers.
The critical match-up this week is Tech’s rushing attack against Pitt’s rushing defense. The Hokies are averaging 178.8 yards/game on the ground (47th) while the Panthers are allowing just 90.9 (7th). In fact, Pitt is ranked 11th in total defense, so if you believe defense wins championships, you probably ought to take the Panthers. But Tech has been on a roll since getting smoked by Duke in Week 4. I’d caution against one outsized loss overly influencing this week’s pick. Pitt has an equal record and some legit stats on defense, but they haven’t necessarily played the same caliber schedule.
Gimme the Hokies to make a statement. They beat Pitt this week and then roll their in-state rivals enroute to challenging Clemson for the ACC title. Next year, maybe Virginia Tech is back to being a legitimate college football powerhouse again. We’ll see.
VT's young O-lline will face stiff challenge on Saturday
— Virginia Tech Football (@HokiesFB) November 20, 2019
All of these games are on Saturday as well.
12:00 PM – UCF at Tulane (+6) (CBSSN)
What will Ross Tucker do without Army Football for a week? How will the food be in New Orleans? Can the Green Wave win another game this season?
3:30 PM – Texas A&M at Georgia (-13.5) (CBS)
I put this on the list for my friend Bill, but the Bulldogs are gonna beat the Aggies like an old drum.
3:30 PM – Western Kentucky at Southern Mississippi (ESPN+)
The Communists are ESPN continue to put some of Conference USA’s most interesting games behind the paywall. I’ll bet they have Chairman Mao’s picture up in their boardroom, too.
4:00 PM – Memphis at South Florida (+14.5) (ESPNU)
This week’s Ryan Leaf game!
I went to Chamberlain High School in Tampa, Florida, so I badly want the Bulls to be better than they are. Alas, they’re still a couple of years away. In theory, USF should be a good bet to cover this week. I don’t know if I would actually play that, though.
7:00 PM – Kansas State (+2.5) at Texas Tech (FS1)
Texas Tech is just 4-6, but they’re somehow favored by nearly a field goal. What is that? Man, the Big 12 is so weird.
7:30 PM – Tennessee (+4) at Missouri (SEC Network)
You know both these teams are bad because the game itself is on the SEC Network, and Aaron Rodgers’ little brother is doing color commentary. And yet, one of these teams is gonna get bowl eligible after this win.
Army plays Tennessee in a couple of years, and as God is my witness, if the Black Knights pull out a victory, I’m going to drive down to Arlington Cemetery and talk shit over my father’s grave. This week, though, I’ll be pulling for the Vols.
8:00 PM – Texas Christian at Oklahoma (-18) (Fox)
I’ll take QB Jalen Hurts to cover.
10:30 PM – #20 Boise State at Utah State (+8) (CBSSN)
USU is just 6-4 this year. I hadn’t realized they’d regressed quite that much.
11:59 PM – San Diego State (+3) at Hawaii (Stadium)
This is an immensely important game in the Mountain West-West. The winner is going to the conference championship. Too bad it’s at midnight.