Three Ranked Teams in Action & 3 Picks for Friday's Action

USC Trojans players celebrating

Jay Pryce

Thursday, September 28, 2017 3:34 PM GMT

Thursday, Sep. 28, 2017 3:34 PM GMT

Three ranked teams are in action Friday night with No. 14 Miami (FL) traveling to Duke and No. 16 Washington State hosting No. 5 USC in Pullman. Each contest is featured in our NCAAF picks of the day.

No. 14 Miami (FL) vs. Duke

Duke is off to a surprising 4-0 start, winning all its games by double digits. Three have come against Power 5 opponents, including a hard-fought 27-17 win at UNC last time out. A strong defense is fueling the hot run, the Blue Devils holding each opponent to 20 points or less. The unit is stifling opponents for a 13.2 percent third-down conversion rate, tops nationally. 

Miami’s best weapon on offense is running back Mark Walton. The junior has 3 TDs and 352 rushing yards on 27 carries through two games. The Blue Devils stuffed him in the 40-21 regular-season finale at Miami Gardens last season for 60 yards on 13 rushes. Look for a strong effort here.

The ‘Canes have put up 40 points or more in four of the last six meetings, but are not as dangerous in the air this time around. Under head coach David Cutcliffe, the Blue Devils have yet to let a ranked opponent score more than 30 points in six games at Wallace Wade Stadium when kicking off with a line under 13 points.

Miami’s defense will be even better than Duke’s will. In four games as road chalk last season, it allowed 10, 21, 14, and 13 points respectively. Three were against conference opponents. Expect the Blue Devils to have difficulty passing, their receivers overmatched by the athletic Hurricanes secondary. ‘Under’ 56 points is the college football pick for this game.

 

Free NCAAF Pick: Under 56Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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Nebraska vs. Illinois

Illinois’ offense is atrocious, ranking 119th out of 128 teams nationally with 290 yards per game. Quarterbacks Chayce Crouch and Jeff George Jr. have split time under center, and neither has been able to jumpstart the unit. The team is young, too. Head coach Lovie Smith started 10 true freshmen last week in its 47-23 rout at the hands of South Florida last week. Their first Big Ten test will be telling.

Nebraska football is in all sorts of disarray. Administrators fired former athletic director Shawn Eichorst last Thursday following a 1-2 start and a stunning 21-17 loss at home to Northern Illinois. The Cornhuskers kicked off 11.5-point chalk in the contest. Miscues, errors, injuries and a host of other issues have plagued the team dating back to October 2016. Nebraska is 4-9 ATS in this span, playing 8.1 points below a -3.3 average spread.

The Cornhuskers went to the ground game last week in a 27-17 win over Rutgers. Wide receivers Stanley Morgan (neck) and Bryan Reimers (hamstring) are questionable for this matchup, and two interception returns for touchdowns doomed them in their Huskies defeat. Expect another heavy dose of the run in this one, which should keep the game competitive. The more the Illinois defense is on the field, the better it's chances. Take the points with the Fighting Illini.

 

Free NCAAF Picks: Illinois +5.5 Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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No. 5 USC vs. No. 16 Washington State

Washington State played in two ranked matchups against conference foes last season and was absolutely walloped. Colorado bested the Cougars 38-24 as 6-point favorites in Boulder in Week 12, while rivals Washington dominated as 6.5-point chalk 45-17 the following Friday night at Martin Stadium.

The point is, the market tends to overvalue Washington State in a game like this. Under head coach Mike Leach, the Cougars are 1-6 SU and ATS as a single-digit home underdog versus Pac-12 opponents. On average, they’re losing by 17 points per game versus a +4.4 average line. The talent disparity between teams like USC, Oregon, and others has proven too great in Leach’s tenure.

The Cougars rolled out a surprisingly good defense last season, but it doesn’t appear to have the same swagger in 2017. In its only two somewhat-competitive games this season, the unit allowed 44 points to Boise State and 23 to lowly Oregon State, each at home. Both opponents went over their projected team total by 10 points on average. USC will score in bunches.

Since the start of last season, Washington State is 3-4 SU and 2-4-1 ATS against teams allowing fewer than 30 points entering a matchup; it is 8-0 SU and 6-2 ATS against those surrendering more. The potent Air Raid offense is slowed to just 28.2 points per game in this situation. The Trojans enter gifting 24.8 per tilt. Lay the points with USC for your pick of the day. 

 

Free NCAAF Picks: USC -3.5Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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