Locks

NCAA Football (0.75 Unit) Alabama First Half -13.5 @ Texas (-110): 11:00 a.m. CT on FOX

It’s pretty simple, there are two solid tendencies converging in this game. Nick Saban beats his former assistants with consistency, and this is his very first match with Steve Sarkisian on the other side. Additionally, Alabama beats teams early to cover the first half with consistency. When you put those two together, I see that the tide holds a comfortable halfway lead in this one.

This game has received considerable hype with two big-name programs going head-to-head, but it’s a pretty big mismatch in the field. Texas has a very weak front seven on defense, so Alabama will be able to run the ball at will and have Bryce Young sit down and split the Longhorns. I don’t think this game lives up to the hype because Alabama should roll early and often today. But Saban usually likes to roll in the second halves of these games, so come back to the tide to do most of his damage before halftime.

Bonus bet (0.5 units): Alabama 1st Half Team Total Over 23.5 (-110)

To build a solid lead in the first half, you need to score, obviously. While they may not have 41 points at halftime like they did last week, the Tide can still shine some light on this Longhorn defense that lost a lot of talent last season. A balanced attack from a Bama team looking to make a statement should find its way over this number with relative ease.

NCAA Football (1 unit) Wake Forest/Vanderbilt Over 65 (-110): 11:00 a.m. CT on the SEC Network

The Sharps hammered the upper hand in this game, obviously confident that Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman will play after a medical issue they call stress thrombosis. With him in the game, against a Vanderbilt defense that allowed Hawaii and Elon a combined 41 points, Wake’s offense should be in for a treat.

The Demon Deacons were a great over-bet last season as a prolific offense and below-average defense combined for epic shootouts, especially on the road where their last 5 games are 4-1 over. Their star quarterback returns with a deep receiving body and the same fast-paced system, who still racked up 44 points last week without him.

But Vandy has found his own offense so far this season behind dual-threat QB Mike Wright, and Wake has done little to improve on a defense that allowed more than 30 PPG last season. I’m not super concerned about light rain in the Nashville forecast, so I like the chances of that happening throughout the game.

NCAA Football (0.5 units) Miami Hurricanes 1st Half Team Total Over 20.5 (-110): 11:00 a.m. CT on the ACC Network

What Miami did to Bethune-Cookman last week by snagging 70 points — including 42 before halftime — was jaw-dropping even against a badly overmatched defense. But this is a team that is looking to make its presence known both in the ACC and at the national level, which means more points are to come. They also have a highly rated quarterback in Tyler Van Dyke, which means there will be an element of padding stats that will benefit him.

Those angles should all combine in another Hurricanes offensive showcase in this game. Southern Miss just doesn’t have the defensive talent to slow down a balanced Rods offense that should be roaring out the gates. This Miami team also has a great returning team that will set up short pitches or even score themselves. There’s also a huge road trip at Texas A&M on deck for Miami, which means they’d have to do some serious damage early today so they can ride late.

NCAA Football (1 unit) Tennessee/Pittsburgh Over 64.5 (-110): 2:30 p.m. CT on ABC

If you’re preparing for Pittsburgh for this game, you should be very concerned about last week’s performance. Specifically, they gave up 31 points to a West Virginia team not known for their offense in a rivalry game known for their tough defense and ball running.

It should be really scary then to see this attack from Tennessee coming to town. The Volunteers had 59 points last week, and 45 of them were on the board at the start of the 3rd quarter when they retired their QB and other starters. Pitt has the ultimate boom-or-bust defense that takes a lot of risk, so Tennessee’s offensive skill, speed and aggression is a bad match for them.

But a balanced offense from the Panthers should put a lot of their own points on the board. Defense is not Tennessee’s focus, and the Vols missed plenty of tackles last week against low-level competition. These teams combined for 75 points last season in a game played before Hendon Hooker took over as QB for Tennessee, unleashing this elite offense. It should be another shootout in near-perfect fall conditions.

NCAA Football (Unit 0.75) Arizona St./Oklahoma St. Over 57.5 (-110): 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPN2

We talked on my podcast this week about how Oklahoma State was a good bet when the spread was 11 points. But he’s since gained a few points, and now I’m much more comfortable with over betting in this game.

That number has also increased throughout the week, no doubt in response to how the Cowboys looked last week. Mike Gundy is really back to his traditional ways with a high octane attack and an aggressive passing attack. But the defense also showed the flaws I expected, missing a lot of tackles and allowing a weak conference opponent 44 points.

The state of Arizona is still a mystery with all the negativity surrounding Herm Edwards and the program as a whole. But they showed a competent offense last week that can exploit the OSU defense and certainly has big game potential with QB Emory Jones and RB star Xazavian Valladay. They should be able to at least keep up with the insane pace of the Cowboys a bit and get this game on a total that I expected to be in the sixties.

NCAA Football (Unit 0.5) Mississippi St./Arizona Over 57.5 (-110): 10:00 p.m. CT on FS1

Things tend to get weird late at night in PAC12, especially in Tucson. I’m fascinated by this game because it’s hard to know if either of these teams are real after some great performances last week. One thing I know for sure is that there are talented and electric quarterbacks on both offenses, which should turn this game into a high-scoring affair.

Mississippi State and Will Rogers, with coach Mike Leach at the helm, have all the offensive potential in the world. He was on full display last week en route to 49 points in a scrappy weather-delayed game. While Arizona’s defense looked better last week than it has in years, a quick offense with SEC talent will be tough to deal with.

The big surprise with Arizona, however, was the offense, which exploded for 38 points last week after being 124th in scoring last season. Transfer Portal to the rescue of the Wildcats, as quarterback Jayden de Laura and standout receiver Jacob Cowing were unstoppable in their first games with the program. Miss State’s defense likes to take risks, so there should be big plays galore that get this late-night game on the total.

degenerate

NCAA Football Iowa State/Iowa Under 40.5 (-110): 3:00 p.m. CT on BTN

My Iowa State roots compel me to watch this game, but if you’re looking for offense, I suggest you look the other way. Iowa never had much of an offense last season, relying on its excellent defense to win the Big Ten West division. Well, the offense has lost some talent while the defense is still elite, exemplified by last week’s near-disastrous 7-3 against South Dakota State.

Don’t make too much of the suspended Iowa State 42 over the upgraded SE Missouri State last week, as this offense needs to rebuild from last year’s degrees. Star receiver Xavier Hutchinson is the only big-play threat, and he should be neutralized by an outstanding secondary from Iowa. This rivalry has produced incredibly low totals over the years, and this one should be no exception as I’d be surprised to see either team approach 20 points.

Tiny Nick is 847-712 ATS (+77 units) on his locks since joining Zone Coverage.

Each day it will offer its Locks and Degenerate choices. The locks are the games he trusts. Degenerates are fun but riskier choices.