We were 1-2 with our straight up upset calls for the second straight week in Week 4 as Rutgers got the job done against overrated Arkansas. Let’s shoot for a breakthrough week in Week 5 with at least two winners.
Minnesota (+6½) +210 at Iowa – In a year where the Big Ten did not look good out of conference, Minnesota was an exception going 4-0 straight up and 3-1 ATS. The Gophers enter this conference opener averaging 406.0 yards per game including a nice 183.7 rushing yards. Iowa defends the run well, but Minnesota quarterback Max Shortell is averaging 9.3 yards per pass attempt, so the Gophers can employ a “backwards” game plan by passing effectively early to open up some running lanes later on. Iowa is only 2-2 and could easily be 1-3, as the Hawkeyes barely got by Northern Illinois 18-17 opening week. They are coming off of a shocking home loss to Central Michigan where they surrendered 283 passing yards, a prospect that may have Shortell drooling. If he is successful attacking the Iowa secondary, the Hawkeyes are in trouble as their quarterback James Vandenberg is averaging just 6.3 yards per pass attempt and has one touchdown pass through three games.
Cincinnati (+7) +225 vs. Virginia Tech (at Landover) – The 3-1 Hokies may have been overrated to start the year, as they barely got by Georgia Tech in overtime 20-17 at home in Blacksburg opening week while rushing for only 96 yards on 35 carries, and even more disturbing was the 35-17 loss at Pittsburgh to a team that looked dreadful while losing its first two games before that shocker, first losing to an FCS team and then losing big to Virginia Tech’s opponents here, the Bearcats. Pitt outgained the Hokies by 213 total yards two weeks ago, and a 37-0 blowout of Bowling Green last week really changes nothing. Virginia Tech ranks just 83rd in the country in rushing, putting added pressure on quarterback Logan Thomas, who has completed a lousy 51.7 percent of his passes. Cincinnati has played only two games (2-0), and one of them was vs. Delaware State of the FCS, so the Bearcats are a bit hard to gauge. Still, the fact that they had an easy time in a 34-10 win over the same Pitt team that beat the Hokies is very encouraging in regards to this game.
Oregon State (+3) +123 at Arizona – We thought Arizona was a bit of a fraud at 3-0 and the Wildcats were exposed in a 49-0 loss to Oregon last Saturday. Granted, Arizona committed five turnovers including two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns to make the final score deceiving, but the fact remained that the Wildcats were outgained by 163 total yards. Now it is Oregon State that is the undefeated Pac-12 team that has climbed into the rankings after a 27-20 road upset of UCLA, the Beavers’ second straight upset win after beating Wisconsin the previous game. Oregon State has been strong defensively so far, allowing 13.5 points per game and an outstanding 2.1 yards per rush, which is eighth best in the nation. Ultimately, we think that the difference in this game will be Beavers’ quarterback Sean Mannion, who passed for 379 yards and two touchdowns in the upset of UCLA.