Last week was a good week for the Take Five column again as the picks went 2-1 and the quick hitters went 4-1. Collectively it was a strong week for me and now we enter into Week 15 of what has felt like a never-ending college football season.
As of now, there are 17 games already canceled for the week and it sounds like there will be many more. Hopefully, I’ve picked some games that won't be, but we’ll have to wait and see. Anyway, let’s hop into Week 15.
Coastal Carolina @ Troy (+14)
Lord almighty the Chants surprised me last week as they took it to BYU in a game where they were outclassed at nearly every position on paper. Coastal lived up to their reputation and are riding high in a lot of people’s eyes currently. For me though, this looks like a really tricky spot for them in this contest.
You just hosted ESPN’s College GameDay and took down BYU in the limelight. You’re in the Sun Belt Championship next week. All is good right? All you’ve gotta do is go on the road to take on a Troy team that is a measly 5-5...not so fast my friend.
This is the definition of a sandwich spot. I don't really love anything about this Troy team that lost a lot of personnel from last year and got wiped by a common opponent in BYU, but I do love them catching 14 as a home dog. I don’t know if the Chants lose this game, but I think they’ll struggle to cover in this spot.
Army vs. Navy: Under 38
Normally Week 15 is a standalone week reserved just for these two service academies. It’s an awesome tradition, but given COVID, these two teams will not get the same limelight they deserve. Despite that, the tradition will live on on the field and so will my tradition of taking the under in this contest. Since 2005 when two service academies get together the under is 36-9-1 in those games. Oddsmakers adjust down, and these teams still find a way to get there.
This total is very low, the second-lowest of the season, but I still have to play it until I am proven otherwise. The clock just melts off in these contests, and both defenses have such a familiarity with the opposing offenses. I know it seems scary as it is veryyyyyyy low compared to past years, but I still like it in this contest.
Illinois (+14.5) @ Northwestern; Under 40.5
Speaking of unders we have some serious weather coming through the midwest this week that has me licking my chops to play. One of those games is in Evanston as the Illini travel north to take on the Wildcats. The forecast for that game is calling for 23 miles per hour crosswinds in the contest which decimates any decent passing game. Add in the fact that both of these offenses aren’t very good already and you have a strong case for the under here despite it being so low.
I also like the Illini in this spot. The service academies unders are a strong system play, as are road underdogs with low totals. According to the action network’s database, this system is hitting at 59% since data collection began. With games having very low points expected it’s just plain harder to cover the spread. Add in that it’s a rivalry game and the weather will be a factor and I think 14.5 is wayyyyy too many points for the Wildcats to cover in this spot.
Wake Forest (+1) @ Louisville: The wrong team is favored, I’ll take the Deacons here.
Minnesota @ Nebraska, under 59.5: 14.5 MPH winds here and Minnesota coming off a COVID layoff. Seems like a lot of points.
Western Michigan @ Ball State, under 68: 20 MPH winds with a total in the high 60’s?!?!? No way.
Michigan State (+14.5) @ Penn State: Oh baby the Spartans are calling me back to them. Seems like a lot of points and with a low total it fits the system.