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Last week we went through some of my favorite situational spots that I look for when finding value in a number. To refresh, here is my list below.
-Teams coming off an emotional win and traveling the next week
-Teams coming off an embarrassing/tough loss the week before
-The classic look ahead game where a team is playing a lesser opponent but the next week they have a big-time opponent on their schedule.
As we go through these situations there are a couple of things that stick out this time of year, especially as we get closer to bowl season and championship week.
Teams striving for bowl eligibility. Teams that have lost championship hopes. Teams striving for style points for the CFP. Teams just playing out the season.
Games before a big rivalry in the final week. This week I have 3 situational plays, along with a bonus play at the end, that I played this week. For additional picks give me a follow @bkwins33.
USC will take the short trip to UCLA this Saturday to take on the Bruins. These two teams are very similar on the football field. Both these teams have very high rated offenses while both also have horrendous defenses. UCLA is coming off a terrible loss against a below average Arizona team while USC is coming off a blowout win over one of the worst teams in the nation Colorado. This to me is a clear bounce back spot for UCLA as they will be motivated in a rivalry game to spoil USC’s CFP hopes. UCLA can match USC step for step on offense as they both rank in the top 10 in offense success rate and top 25 in offensive finishing drives. The defenses also rank in the bottom 20 in defensive success rate. I believe the wrong team is favored here as UCLA has already been tested by the likes of Utah, Washington and Oregon, going 2-1 in those games while USC just has not had the tests, only facing Utah and losing that matchup. With UCLA’s motivation to bounce back on top of spoiling USC’s season and the fact that USC just hasn’t played the likes of who UCLA has, I’m on UCLA +3 here.
Illinois is traveling to Ann Arbor to face the undefeated Michigan Wolverines for what should be a low scoring Big Ten affair. These two teams are coming into this game going the exact opposite ways. Illinois is licking their wounds after two disappointing home losses after a great start to their season. Michigan on the other side just cruised past a lowly Nebraska team. Illinois’ defense has been a tough bunch all year and they should be able to slow this Michigan offense down just enough. Illinois on defense comes into this game with impressive defensive ratings. In defensive success rate they rank 3rd, coverage they rank 3rd, defensive stuff rate 23rd, run defense 5th and defensive point per opportunity 2nd. Michigan is clearly the better team coming into this game but J.J McCarthy has struggled to connect in the passing game against much less defenses the past two games, only completing 47.5% of his passes. Illinois has struggled the last two weeks, but they should be motivated coming into this one to preserve what was a magical season for them. Michigan has their eyes set on a bigger prize in the Ohio State Buckeyes next week,so I don’t see Harbaugh getting too cute with McCarthy in this one. Michigan’s strength is to run the football but Illinois with their top five run defense and top 25 stuff rate should be able to slow Michigan’s offense enough. Give me Illinois in a methodical type of game to cover the +18.
Texas is traveling to Lawrence, KS to take on the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday. The motivation factor is huge for me in this ball game and I think this spread is a bit overblown for a very mediocre Texas football team on the road. Kansas has played well at home all year and I really like them in this spot. Texas is the better team in more categories than not but not by a large margin. Kansas will be able to attack Texas through the air as Texas ranks 62nd in coverage while Kansas ranks 31st in offensive success rate(CFD) and 25th in overall passing via PFF. Texas’ biggest game was last week against TCU and they do not have anything to play for in this one besides pride. Between the downfall of their QB Quinn Ewers and the motivation that Kansas will have to beat a rival and put another stamp on a wonderful season I like Kansas in this game. Kansas is also 4-0-1 this season ATS at home. Texas is the better team here, but Kansas will show up for this one and cover the +9.
Oregon State –7.5
Oregon State is headed to the desert to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils. Oregon State has quietly impressed me this season going 8-2 ATS and 7-3 overall. After almost taking down USC early in the year they have stayed consistent and played some good football. Oregon State is a balanced team as they rank in the top 35 in both offensive success rate and defensive success rate. Their offense should be able to control possession in this one as Arizona State has the 111th ranked run defense while Oregon State boasts the 27th ranked rushing offense. With the balance of Oregon State and the struggles that Arizona State has had on the defensive side of the ball (Coverage 96th, Run Defense 111th, defense success rate 111th, defensive points per opportunity 124th) I see the Beavers able to pull away in this game and cover the -7.5 spread by making enough stops early and grinding out this Arizona State defense.
By Brandon Kenyon
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