STAFF WRITER: Michael Brown

Welcome back to The Loaf! It’s Rivalry/Thanksgiving Weekend, which is, in my opinion, the best weekend of the season. And, hopefully, it’s a lot better to The Loaf in comparison to last week, where we went a dreadful 2-4, bringing our season total (through just 3 weeks) to 14-6; we didn’t get very much TOA$$$$T. We got an easy dub with Notre Dame (-9.5) and rode Nebraska (+2.5) to a glorious cover, but we took some ferocious Ls with Tennessee (+6.5), Texas Tech (-6), and UTEP (+7.5) along with a brutal beat in Miami-Virginia Tech (51.5), as the game finished with a total of 52. We won’t let it get us down, though. We’ve got a massive week ahead of us; I’ve got 7 plays lined up for you, the people, including a whopping five (!!!!) unders.

I’m gonna lead off this week with the lone spread play I have, #3 Notre Dame (-8.5) at USC. Frankly, I would take Notre Dame to cover any number here less than 21. The number has skyrocketed from 8.5 to 11 as I write this, too. Notre Dame is a whole lot better than USC, and that’s just the beginning of the list of reasons the Irish are gonna win this one handily. USC is ready for this season to end. The fans are irate, the players don’t care, and Clay Helton’s seat is scorching. And on top of all that, the team just isn’t good. The defense allows nearly 30 points a game, and JT Daniels has been spotty in his freshman campaign at quarterback. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is having a very special season. Ian Book took over for Brandon Wimbush and has been great at quarterback. Dexter Williams is spectacular running the ball too, and he should have a big day against a USC defense that gives up nearly 170 yards of rushing a game. On the other side of the ball, Notre Dame has been brilliant on defense this season, giving up a fraction more than 17 points a game, and the defensive line is dominant. I would expect at least a couple turnovers from USC in this game, and would then expect Notre Dame to cash them in. I haven’t even mentioned yet that Notre Dame will undoubtedly lock up a spot in the College Football Playoff with a win in this game, as they will be 12-0 with no conference title game to play in. Notre Dame is the far superior team in this game, and it has much more to be playing for. Notre Dame 41, USC 14

We’re gonna head down to College Station now for #7 LSU at #22 Texas A&M (UNDER 48). This one makes a lot of sense to me. You’ve got two really good defenses, and two pretty bad offenses. That’s a perfect recipe for an under. Plus, it’s (sort of) a rivalry game, and rivalry game unders hardly ever disappoint (outside of Bedlam). I can’t say I expect Joe Burrow to lead this LSU offense to more than 28 on a Saturday night at Kyle Field. He’s not bad, but he’s not very good either. It’ll be a hostile atmosphere, and he’s probably good for at least one interception.

greedy williams and devin white

LSU’s Devin White (40) and Greedy Williams (29) have been sensational this season, and should come up big for the Tigers against Texas A&M – PHOTO CREDIT – Brett Duke

LSU’s running game worries me slightly, but I’m willing to overlook it due to the fact that  A&M allows just 80 rushing yards a game, good for second-best in the FBS. The other side of the ball makes the under look a whole lot better, too. A&M’s offense is…underwhelming, to say the least, and LSU is incredible on the defensive side of the ball. LSU gives up 16 points a game, partly due to the efforts of linebacker Devin White and cornerback Greedy Williams. Both are absolute studs and have a long future ahead playing on Sundays. I definitely look for them to make things difficult for Kellen Mond. I don’t see more than 6 touchdowns being scored in this game. LSU 28, Texas A&M 17

We’re on to the Iron Bowl now, where I like Auburn at #1 Alabama (UNDER 53). I must admit, taking the under in a game where Tua Tagovailoa is playing scares me. But when the opposition has a nasty defense and a really bad offense, I feel better about it, as I did with LSU-Alabama, which worked out very well. Yes, Tua is gonna sling the ball around some, but Auburn is stout on defense, especially their front 7.

tua tagovailoa

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa is the current front-runner for the Heisman, but expect him to be slightly slowed against Auburn this week – PHOTO CREDIT – Yahoo! Sports

They should be able to make some noise in the trenches. Also, Tua still isn’t 100% health wise. Alabama isn’t going to just move up and down the field with ease like they have become accustomed to this season. They’ll score, but it won’t be as easy as it has been. And speaking of things not being easy for an offense, Auburn has been abysmal on offense this season. Gus Malzahn has been suspect in his play-calling, and Jarrett Stidham has had more than his fair share of struggles this season. Long story short, Auburn isn’t scoring a lot of points in this game. They might get 7, or Alabama could even get its third shutout of the season. Alabama is still going to score a lot of points, Auburn isn’t. And for what it’s worth, the under is 8-2 in Auburn games this season and 4-0 in Auburn games with a total between 50 and 60. I say that trumps the Tua card. Alabama 41, Auburn 7

We’re gonna stick with the rivalry theme but move on to the ACC-SEC games now with #11 Florida at Florida State (UNDER 53). This number is really high. Both of these teams have been solid on defense this season, and both have had their struggles on offense, too (Florida State more so than Florida).

cam akers

FSU running back Cam Akers has lived up to the hype surrounding his recruitment, but he will probably be slowed somewhat this week against Florida – PHOTO CREDIT – USA TODAY Sports

This just seems like a game, especially between heated rivals both playing for something, where the two defenses will control the game, and it could even be a battle of the punters. Neither team has a great quarterback, nor will either team be able to run the ball very well. It may not seem as apparent on the offensive side of the ball, but both of these teams are very talented, especially on defense. Not a ton of points are going to be scored. CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli noted that the under is 4-1 in the last 5 games between the Gators and Noles, and it’s 9-2 in the last 11 games these two have played at Doak Campbell Stadium. Florida 24, Florida State 13

The Loaf remains unbeaten when picking the Game of the Week, so you know I had to go with #4 Michigan at #10 Ohio State (UNDER 57.5). This number is probably somewhat inflated as a result of Ohio State’s poor play on defense this season, and it has no doubt been really bad. But it’s been bad against spread offense that run 5-wide and try to air the ball out every play, like Purdue and Maryland.

rashan gary

Michigan DT Rashan Gary (3) is spectacular, and he will surely feast on a pedestrian Ohio State rushing attack – PHOTO CREDIT – WolverinesWire

And as efficient as Michigan has been on offense this year, they aren’t all that explosive really. Michigan’s ground & pound style of offense is the type Ohio State has done fairly well against this year, too. Michigan isn’t going to light up the scoreboard in this game. On the other side of the ball, you have an Ohio State team with an overrated quarterback in Dwayne Haskins combined with a struggling running game, up against the best defense in the country in Michigan, which allows just 13.5 points a game. Another factor I feel like could be big in this is the high-stakes, the rivalry, the tension, etc. There’s a playoff spot on the line. I expect both teams to be nervous and worried out of the gate; I don’t envision either team coming out of the gates guns blazing. A slow start and a slugfest throughout should keep this game under. Michigan 20, Ohio State 13

We’re gonna keep it B1G for our final under of the week, and it’s a dandy. I like Rutgers at Michigan State (UNDER 37). That’s right. The total in this game is THIRTY-SEVEN and I still think that’s high. It’s going to be a chilly, rainy Saturday at Spartan Stadium this Saturday, where the under is 5-1 this year. This game is going to be disgusting, NSFW, etc. I very much do not recommend. Rutgers is just horrible in every way, shape, and form. They are a terrible football team. They aren’t going to move the ball on a stout Michigan State defense. That’s just a given. Michigan State is really, really bad on offense, though. I told y’all last week that Michigan State was garbage on offense, and it ended up being one of my two dubs (shouts to Barret Pickering). There is no way Rutgers scores more than 7, right? I don’t think so. In its last 11 Big Ten games, Rutgers has scored 6, 0, 7, 3, 17, 17, 7, 15, 17, 7, and 7 points. They are going to struggle to score in this game, and with that said, I cannot imagine a scenario where this Michigan State offense puts up 30. It seems unrealistic. Plus, who doesn’t wanna be on an under in the 30s? You’ve got to have fun in life. Michigan State 23, Rutgers 7

You might be sick of all those unders, and hey, the under life ain’t for the faint of heart. If you are of the faint of heart, I’ve got quite the fix for you, #6 Oklahoma at #13 West Virginia (OVER 82). I just took an under in the 30s, and now, for the first over in the history of The Loaf, I’m taking an over in the 80s. I would not be surprised at all if the winner of this game is the first team to hit 60. Kyler Murray and Will Grier will both almost assuredly be in New York as finalists for the Heisman Trophy, and both of them are going to put up video game numbers in this game. It’s easy to assume that with Kyler Murray, simply because that’s who he is, and that’s what he does. No matter the venue, no matter the opponent, Oklahoma lights up the scoreboard and looks good doing it. Conversely, on defense, the Sooners are just hideous. Their inability to play defense is unbelievable. When you put that group of kids on the same field as Will Grier and David Sills V, the result isn’t going to be pretty. There’s no reason West Virginia shouldn’t score every single time it has the ball. The Kansas Jayhawks put up 40 on this Oklahoma team in Norman. What is West Virginia going to do to them on a Friday night in Morgantown with a trip to the Big 12 title game on the line? West Virginia 59, Oklahoma 55

And that’s what I’ve got for Week 13’s The Loaf. Enjoy Rivalry Weekend! As always,



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