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College football picks: Cincinnati can make statement at Indiana

If you like chaos in college football, pay attention to Cincinnati as it travels to Indiana.

With Notre Dame and Central Florida still on the schedule, Cincinnati can start to build a case that it belongs in the College Football Playoff.

Indiana, with an offensive line that finished 62nd in line yards last season, was fortunate to go 6-1 in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers rushed for 3.6 yards per carry against Idaho last week and got bullied in the trenches against Iowa.

Cincinnati is Iowa with a more dynamic quarterback in Desmond Ridder, who has played in 38 games.

Ridder has faced Georgia, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Boston College, UCF and Memphis. Indiana is not going to intimidate this team. Take Cincinnati -3½.

Four more plays (home team in CAPS):

Virginia Tech (+2½) over WEST VIRGINIA: I have Virginia Tech power-rated 17th and West Virginia 51st. The wrong team is favored. West Virginia labored on offense against Maryland, gaining 3.7 yards per play and turning the ball over four times. The Hokies held Sam Howell and North Carolina to 6.3 yards per pass and forced three interceptions. According to the 247Sports Talent Composite, Virginia Tech’s roster ranks 39th and West Virginia’s 58th.

LIBERTY (-27) over Old Dominion: Are college football coaches aware of the point spread? I can’t say for sure. Has Liberty demolished the spread in almost every game under Hugh Freeze? Yes. The Flames are 15-3 ATS since Week 10 of Freeze’s first season as coach, covering by 7.2 points per game. Old Dominion, which sat out the 2020 season, has not beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision team since 2018. Liberty is 4.1 points better than Wake Forest according to SP+. The Demon Deacons were 32-point favorites against Old Dominion and won 42-10.

Michigan State (+6½) over MIAMI: Hopefully the Spartans will be able to handle a heat index of 98 degrees. According to Pro Football Focus, Miami quarterback D’Eriq King has an average depth of target of 6.8 yards. Among the 147 quarterbacks with at least 20 dropbacks, that ranks 132nd. King, coming off an injury, has also managed just 3.2 yards per carry. Miami took a major downgrade at defensive end and has had trouble setting the edge. Kenneth Walker III, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry at Wake Forest, sits at 10.7 ypc in two games for Michigan State. That has allowed QB Payton Thorne to play steady, mistake-free football.

Florida State (+4½) over WAKE FOREST: Florida State allowed a 59-yard touchdown pass to Jacksonville State on the final play because it didn’t play prevent defense in last week’s stunning 20-17 loss. The Seminoles got a moral victory in an overtime loss to Notre Dame and didn’t play with discipline. But Jashaun Corbin and Treshaun Ward have rushed for a combined 7.6 yards per carry. This spread would have looked drastically different last week. Expect an angry Florida State team to pound the ball against Wake Forest.

Last week: 2-3

Season: 6-4

Christopher Smith of AL.com is providing college football analysis for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Follow @CFBlocksmith on Twitter.

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