Hometown heroes: Bama, UAB, Troy, Jax State and more
Before anyone has even seen a single snap of Big Ten football, national sports media this week returned to its pandemic panic room and pronounced the conference’s season a failure.
Sports media argued tirelessly during the summer months that it was not cheering for football to get canceled. However, following Nick Saban’s false positive coronavirus test, it did exactly that here, here and here.
At Yellowhammer, we are cheering for college football. More specifically, this week, we are mainly cheering for underdogs.
Let’s get to some picks.
Alabama (-22) at Tennessee: The largest margin of victory in this series was a 51-0 win by Alabama in 1906. Alabama’s current win streak over the Vols began a mere three years later (or at least that is what it feels like). Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt allegedly fired an assistant coach mid-game on Saturday. That is a bad start to what is, for some people, a favorite week of the year. Those people will not be disappointed.
The pick: Alabama 34, Tennessee 17
NC State at North Carolina (-14.5): North Carolina went into Tallahassee a double-digit favorite and lost. That may have had more to do with Florida State getting its first quality coaching since Jimbo Fisher’s national championship season. Mack Brown has a good team. Now it is a matter of them playing like it.
The pick: North Carolina 40, NC State 20
Texas State at BYU (-28.5): The Cougars have been a fun story this season amidst their mini-revival. They are physical along the lines of scrimmage, and quarterback Zach Wilson has worked his way up to No. 4 on ESPN’s Heisman Watch List. If this team remains undefeated in late November, we can all hope they handle the playoff talk a bit more graciously than UCF has in recent years.
The pick: BYU 30, Texas State 13
Louisiana (-2.5) at UAB: This is a game between two of the nation’s more underrated coaches, UAB’s Bill Clark and Louisiana’s Billy Napier. Do not be surprised to see both coaching in the SEC sooner rather than later. This will be an emotionally-charged game for Louisiana, as it will pay tribute to former assistant coach D.J. Looney, who passed away suddenly in August. The Ragin’ Cajuns plan to wear his name on the back of their jerseys. This could be as good a game as has been played at Legion Field in a while.
The pick: UAB 24, Louisiana 20
Georgia State at Troy (-2.5): The Trojans bring a two-game win streak into this Sun Belt matchup. Both teams have scored points freely so far this year. Georgia State is ninth in the country in rushing offense and 73rd in scoring defense. Troy is a respectable 33rd in scoring defense and 31st in total offense. All signs point to a shootout.
The pick: Georgia State 42, Troy 35
Jacksonville State at Florida International (-10): This game was originally scheduled for September 2. Since its postponement, the Gamecocks have gone to Tallahassee where they gave Florida State a scare and won a couple of tight ball games against Mercer and North Alabama. It was good to see this one get back on the calendar because no one ever turns down a trip to Miami.
The pick: Florida International 38, Jacksonville State 30
Tulsa (-11.5) at South Florida: There was a time when the Thursday and Friday night college games meant something, and visiting favorites were constantly on upset alert. That has not been the case in a while. In late October, Tulsa has still only played two games, a close loss to No. 6 Oklahoma State and a win against Central Florida. South Florida is in rebuild mode under first-year head coach Jeff Scott, whose team has started to show just a glimmer of improvement the last few weeks. Anyone tuning in to watch this game should not expect to see a work of art.
The pick: South Florida 20, Tulsa 16
Last week: 4-1 straight up; 3-2 ATS
Season: 13-2 straight up; 9-6 ATS
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia