Three games interest me: Florida State vs. Clemson, Georgia Tech vs. Wake Forest, and Minnesota vs. Northwestern. For your best bets, I will recommend that you wager on all three underdogs.
I like to invest three-quarters of a unit in the underdog ATS and the remaining quarter in the underdog moneyline.
Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Northwestern Wildcats
Saturday, September 23, 2023 – 07:30 PM EDT at Ryan Field
The Golden Gophers are a great team to fade when they are favored by double digits because their offense will not score enough to cover the spread.
In three games, they scored 13 points against Nebraska, 25 points against a MAC team in Eastern Michigan that allowed a similar scoring output to no-name Howard, and 13 points against North Carolina. To make a further comparison, Nebraska allowed a similar number of points to MAC team Eastern Illinois.
The upshot of this is that Minnesota does not have an offense with which to compete against Power Five competition.
Bad Quarterback Play
A significant reason for the Golden Gophers’ offensive struggles is the play of quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis. Minnesota’s offense lacks explosiveness because Kaliakmanis struggles just to complete passes, as evident in his 51.1% completion rate.
His interception total of three does not do justice to the number of passes that he has thrown that should have been intercepted. He will do much to put Northwestern’s defense in a position to succeed.
Northwestern Offense’s Outlook
The Wildcats won’t need to score much in order to pull off the upset. Their ground game is favorable match-up-wise against Minnesota’s defense.
One, they have fast running backs whom Minnesota’s rather strong and physical Big Ten defense will struggle to keep up with. Cam Porter, most notably, is Northwestern’s leading rusher. He is known for his quickness.
In terms of passing, the Wildcats benefit from facing a Golden Gopher secondary that lost two players to the NFL and another to the transfer portal.
While Wildcat quarterback Ben Bryant’s numbers are deflated by his rusty performance against Rutgers’ pressure-heavy defense, Minnesota’s hard-hit secondary will be vulnerable to Bryant, who will benefit from facing a Minnesota pass rush whose last game shows it to be as anemic as it was last year when it ranked 108th nationally.
NCAAF Pick: Northwestern (+345) at BetOnline
NCAAF Pick: Northwestern +11.5 (-110) at BetOnline
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Saturday, September 23, 2023 – 06:30 PM EDT at Allegacy Federal Credit Union Stadium
Georgia Tech’s Improved Offense
With the hiring of new staff and with improvement in personnel, Georgia Tech’s offense has improved tremendously.
Whereas the Yellow Jackets ranked 124th in points per game last year, they rank 51st in the category. They are scoring 13 more points per game.
Ground Game Outlook
Their new play-caller has them running the ball more often.
Two of their running backs, Jamal Haynes and Trey Cooley, average 6.1 YPC after performing well against Louisville and Ole Miss.
It might not seem like their outlook could be positive in view of the ranking of Wake Forest’s run defense. While the Demon Deacons’ run defense ranks highly, it is poorly tested. So far, Wake Forest’s have been low-profile competition: they played Old Dominion, Vanderbilt, and Elon.
The running backs that they have faced, though, elicit concern. Old Dominion running back Devin Roche, for example, amassed 86 rushing yards on eleven carries against Wake Forest’s run defense.
Georgia Tech’s Passing Game Outlook
The Yellow Jackets are benefiting from the arrival of Haynes King, a transfer from Texas A&M.
King is clearly thriving in Georgia Tech’s power-spread offense: relative to last year, he has upped his completion percentage by 11% and has thrown nine touchdowns to one interception, whereas he threw seven touchdowns and six interceptions last year.
He has a soft test in Wake Forest’s pass defense, which is hurt by a raw and inexperienced secondary. The Demon Deacons rank 104th in pass defense.
Wake Forest Can’t Keep Pace
Is Georgia Tech’s defense similarly problematic? Sure.
Why isn’t this a problem? Because the Demon Deacons offense won’t be as efficient as Georgia Tech’s. The Demon Deacons’ quarterback, Mitch Griffis, is much more prone to turning the ball over than King.
Griffis helps explain why the Demon Deacons rank 97th at limiting turnovers on offense and likewise struggle to convert red zone opportunities.
In Georgia Tech, we get the crisper and more well-tested offense facing a defense that won’t stop it from scoring, and we get this at plus money.
NCAAF Pick: Georgia Tech (+160) at BetOnline
NCAAF Pick: Georgia Tech +3.5 (-104) at BetOnline
Florida State Seminoles vs. Clemson Tigers
Saturday, September 23, 2023 – 12:00 PM EDT at Memorial Stadium
Jordan Travis’s Resume
Any decision to wager on Florida State is likely going to be predicated on a positive assessment of Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis’ outlook for this game.
Travis is easy to like because he is flashy and athletic and his playmaking abilities have elicited comparisons to Patrick Mahomes. Public perception of Travis skyrocketed during his Mahomes-like performance against LSU.
But now he faces his toughest defensive test of the season. Moreover, he might continue to miss key offensive linemen. Since left tackle Robert Scott Jr. has missed action, Travis has completed less than 60% of his 53 throws.
This lack of production has also hurt him physically, causing him to enter this game relatively dinged-up.
Clemson’s Pass Defense
Clemson has already been tested by an offense similar in caliber to Florida State’s – the Seminoles rank 13 spots higher than Duke in total offense but haven’t had to face Clemson, whereas Duke has.
The Tigers also got to be tested by Blue Devils quarterback Riley Leonard. They held Leonard to 175 passing yards on 33 attempts. While they allowed a lot of rushing yards to Leonard, running for a lot of yards isn’t something that Travis tends to do so much.
In contrast to what Travis will focus on trying to do, Leonard plagued the Seminoles with designed quarterback runs, including a longer run that, sustaining itself on broken tackles, exposed the Tigers’ defense’s initial struggle with acclimating itself to the new season.
Since its Week 1 loss to Duke, Clemson has improved its tackling as well as its havoc creation.
Clemson’s Two-Pronged Attack
It is easy to dismiss Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik because that nationally televised season-opener against Duke feels recent. But recall that Klubnik is a five-star recruit touted for his accuracy. Rapidly improving from game to game, and making difficult throws that his predecessor failed to make, he is going to look radically different on Saturday than he did in the opener.
He also gets a favorable test against a Seminoles defense that ranks 98th nationally after allowing Boston College’s quarterback to achieve his second-best game of the season against it. Moreover, Florida State’s front seven is going to struggle to contain Clemson’s running back.
Will Shipley, who ran for 114 yards on 17 carries against Duke, is notoriously tough to bring down. With his physicality, he will expose a Seminoles run defense that is ranked around average nationally.
NCAAF Pick: Clemson +2.5 (-110) at BetOnline
NCAAF Pick: Clemson (+110) at BetOnline
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.