Cincinnati entered the weekend as the highest ranked team among the Group of Five candidates, and they did nothing to hurt their chances with a 48-3 whitewashing of Connecticut. The Bearcats covered the 34-point number, their first cover outings after opening the season 5-1 ATS. … SMU was involved in another shootout, as they held off East Carolina by a 59-51 count in Dallas. The ‘over’ is now 9-0-1 in 10 games for the Mustangs this season. After opening the season 5-0 ATS, they’re just 1-4 ATS across the past five, including non-covers in the past three. … Tulsa entered Friday’s game against UCF with nothing to play for but pride, as they have been eliminated from bowl contention. They showed tremendous pride in dealing the Golden Knights a 34-31 loss. While the Golden Hurricane entered on a five-game losing streak, they’re now 3-1 ATS across the four outings. Looks like there will be no national championship claims this season in Orlando.
— Miami dumped Louisville by a 52-27 score, perhaps their most impressive showing of the season. The Hurricanes have won and covered a season-best three in a row after opening 3-4 SU/ATS, and they’re now bowl eligible. … Duke opened the season with a 4-2 SU/ATS mark, but they’re on a three-game skid after falling at home to Notre Dame by a 38-7 count. They’re also 0-3 ATS during the slid, and their offense has dried up. They’re averaging just 12.7 PPG across the past three after opening with 40.4 PPG in a five-game span from Sept. 7-Oct. 12. … Virginia held off Georgia Tech by a 33-28 score, as the Cavaliers moved to 7-3 SU. However, after opening 2-0 ATS, they’re just 2-5-1 ATS across the past eight. The Yellow Jackets opened 0-6 ATS, but they’re not quitting down the stretch, going 2-1 ATS across the past three. They’re a friend to total bettors, too, as the ‘over’ is 4-1 in the past five contests. … N.C. State has given Clemson some trouble in the past, including a straight-up victory at Carter-Finley Stadium back on Nov. 19, 2011, a game which I attended. The Pack won 37-13 that night as 7 1/2-point underdogs. There was no such trouble on Saturday. The Tigers mowed down the Pack 55-10 in chilly Raleigh. Remember when everyone was writing off the Tigers after their near-miss at UNC? Yeah, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
— Illinois looked like the same old Illini on Saturday – for three quarters. They entered the fourth quarter down 31-10 at Michigan State, but this installment of the Illini is different. They really do fight. They outscored Sparty 27-3 in the final quarter, earning bowl eligibility in style with a 37-34 win. Remember all of those calls for Lovie Smith’s job the past couple of seasons. He is safe now, and the calls are for Mark Dantonio’s job in East Lansing these days. … The big news in the Big Ten was the eligibility issue and suspension of DE Chase Young, the Heisman Trophy candidate. He reportedly took a small loan from a close family friend to fly his girlfriend out to the Rose Bowl to see him play. He paid the load back in the spring. Sounds harmless enough, but this is the archaic and selective punishing NCAA we’re talking about here. Was Ohio State distracted? Nah. They embarrassed Maryland by a 73-14 score, their second time hitting the 70-point plateau this season. They were ranked No. 1 in the first official College Football Playoff rankings released this past Tuesday, but likely will slip due to LSU’s win over Alabama in the SEC. … Another playoff hopeful likely to tumble is Penn State, as they were ranked No. 4. They went to Minnesota, a team which received knocks because they “haven’t played anybody”, and lost to the Golden Gophers by a 31-26 score in an entertaining game. P.J. Fleck’s rowed the boat at Western Michigan, and now he’s rowing it in the Twin Cities. The Gophers are 6-0 ATS across the past six.
— Iowa State gave Oklahoma all they could handle in a 42-41 loss in Norman. Inside the final minute HC Matt Campbell elected to go for two and the win after a late touchdown, but the attempt was picked off to avert disaster for the Sooners. The Cyclones have lost to both Oklahoma schools in the past two games, and they’re still not yet eligible for a bowl at 5-4 SU with three to play. … Texas held off Kansas State by a 27-24 score, although the Wildcats grabbed the cover. It was a rather curious line with K-State catching more than a touchdown against the skidding Longhorns. The Wildcats have covered four in a row, and the ‘under’ is 5-1 across their past six, as they have been a friend to bettors. Overall they’re 7-2 ATS in nine outings. … Baylor won a crazy game in TCU, 29-23 in overtime. This was not just a bad beat, but perhaps the worst one of the 2019 season (see below). The Bears improved to 9-0 SU, but they’re just 5-4 ATS, while the ‘over’ is 3-1 across the past four. The over is 6-1 in TCU’s past seven, too, although it probably shouldn’t have hit. Again, see below.
— Florida Atlantic won the Shula Bowl, which is the annual meeting with South Florida rival Florida International. The Owls won 37-7, topping FIU for the 13th time in 17 meetings. More importantly to bettors, Lane Kiffin’s Owls are 7-3 SU heading into a bye, temporarily in sole possession of first place in the East Division of C-USA. They’re 7-1 SU across the past eight, and 5-1 ATS over the past six. They’re still the only team to cover the spread against No. 1 Ohio State, too, and only team to score more than twice against the Buckeyes in a game this season. … UAB is suddenly in freefall, as they were blasted 37-2 by Southern Miss. The Blazers opened 6-1 SU/5-2 ATS, but they’re 0-2 SU/ATS over the past two with the ‘under’ hitting in both since they’re averaging 4.5 PPG during the skid. … Texas-San Antonio stole one at Old Dominion, winning 24-23. The Roadrunners are now 3-0 ATS and they have hit the ‘over’ in three straight, too. … Louisiana Tech spanked North Texas, 52-17, as the Mean Green slipped to 4-6 SU, needing to win both of their final games to become bowl eligible. They’re just 1-5 ATS in the past six, too.