There will be no FIVE next week. I am taking a week off.
Now, for week 8 I'm including a pick that is a sea change for me. Over the past few years I've refrained from including the University of Houston in my picks because I was a graduate of the UH System. My rule is to not include teams in my picks for which I have a rooting interest. This means that Michigan, UNLV and Houston will not appear in the FIVE.
That changes this week because I watched Houston lose to Tulsa and I didn't care. Not that I was rooting for them to lose, I just didn't care that they did so. Because of that I'm including their Thursday night game in this week's FIVE and will continue to include them if I believe the lines are correct.
Let's get to the games.
Standard Disclaimer: The lines are as accurate as I can get them at the time of publication. I pull my lines from the Westgate Superbook when available. If they are not available I use OddsShark. These may, or may not be games that I'm personally playing. You get what you pay for (the picks are free after all) and if you choose to follow an accountant from Houston in respect to game picks you might want to get some professional help.
1. Memphis @ Houston (-3) T: 60.5
On paper, Houston's 17-45 loss to Tulsa last week looks horrible. But the game was much closer than the score suggests and Tulsa is much better than their now 2-5 record suggests. That said, the Golden Hurricane are NOT among the top teams in the American while Memphis is. In fact, the only game that Memphis has lost is on the road to UCF, a team that I'm currently ranking at #10 in the country. Thursday night road games are notoriously tough on the visiting team, but I think this Memphis team is head and shoulders better than a Cougar team that seems to be reverting to Tony Levine form under Major Applewhite. Pick: Memphis to win on the M/L.
2. Air Force (-6) @ Nevada-Reno T: 67.5
The problem for Air Force has been their schedule. They've been in tough against Michigan, Navy, New Mexico and San Diego State. They played a horrible half of football against the Desert Rug Rats before the latter tired and they pulled off the win (at home) against a UNLV team that I think is better than their record suggests. The problem for Nevada-Reno is that they are NOT a good football team. They only have a home win against a Hawai'i team that travels poorly. Blowout coming. Pick: Air Force to cover -6.
3. University of Central Florida (-7.5) @ Navy T: 66
I have UCF slotted at number 10 in my 2nd top 10 and I don't think their being there is a fluke. They won at Maryland, versus Memphis and they have a home win over a FIU team that we're finding out is pretty good. Navy barely beat Air Force at home, and lost to the only good team they played in Memphis. UCF has one of the best offenses in college football, I foresee that being a central factor in this game. Pick: UCF to cover -7.5 (I think this number moves toward Navy in the coming days, patience could be a virtue here as you might get under a touchdown)
4. North Texas @ Florida Atlantic (-3.5) T: 65
In a match-up pitting the two first place teams in the C-USA I like the Mean Green's chances here. Florida Atlantic hasn't beaten anyone of note, while North Texas has already notched wins over UTSA and a surprisingly good UAB team. Seth Littrel doesn't get half of the press as Lane Kiffin, but he's likely the better coach, and has the better team, at this point in time. Pick: UNT to win on the M/L
5. Southern Miss @ Louisiana Tech (-2.5) T: 55.5
At the beginning of the season I was very high on the Bulldogs. I thought they had ample talent to win the C-USA and I still stand by that assessment. I thought Southern Miss was going to be hot garbage on the field and I was wrong there. They're not as bad as I thought. If head coach Sonny Dykes can't pull this game out of his hat then he won't be long for LaTech. This is a must win for the Bulldogs if they want to stay in the conference mix. Pick: Louisiana Tech to cover -2.5
Unlike previous weeks, there's no Wednesday night #FunBelt action to divert your attention from either the baseball playoffs, or the snooze worthy NBA regular season (that said, get well soon Gordon Hayward!) so there's no bonus pick this week.
Enjoy the games.