Scully’s NCAAF Week 9 picks: Four home teams

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October 24th, 2019

After a tough week with college football selections, it is time to put the nose to the grindstone and give out some winners. We're excited to play four home teams in Week 9 (all games Saturday).

Texas (-2) at TCU, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX

TCU always plays Texas tough at home and has outscored the Longhorns by a 74-14 margin in their last two meetings in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs will run wild on a sagging defense that would struggle to stop a chair with wheels. Texas was lucky to escape on the road last week. The Longhorns surrendered 569 total yards and 31 second-half points to Kansas and won’t be able to stop the nation’s ninth-best rushing offense before a much-needed bye week.

TCU is averaging 247.4 rushing yards per game and returns home off an encouraging performance at Kansas State, in which they enjoyed a sizable statistical advantage but lost a tough one in the final seconds. Quarterback Max Duggan is starting to make more plays with his arm, with 132 passing yards and 115 rushing yards last week, and should enjoy a career day Saturday, as TCU will control the clock with time-consuming drives.
Texas puts too much pressure on quarterback Sam Ehlinger (sacked 12 times the last two weeks), and TCU will frustrate him at times with a secondary ranked a respectable 30th against the pass (194.4 yards per game).

Pick: TCU +2

Tulane at Navy (-3.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN

This is an important AAC West matchup, and kudos are deserved for Willie Fritz for the turnaround he has orchestrated at Tulane. However, Tulane is licking its wounds after being blown out at Memphis and will be unable to match points with Navy on the road.

Navy is starting to play its best football, has scored 114 points over the last three weeks, and has run its record to 5-1. The Midshipmen may be a tough out the rest of the year. They are 4-0 ATS at home this season and easily lead the country with 328.8 rushing yards per game. They take no prisoners with their outstanding triple-option attack, and an improved defense makes them legitimate. This is clearly the best stop unit in the 12-year tenure of Ken Niumatalolo, with Navy ranked 15th in points allowed (18 per game) and 17th against the run (103.8 yards per game), and defense will be the difference as the Midshipmen draw away from Tulane.

Pick: Navy -3.5

South Florida (-2) at East Carolina, 3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU

This is a winnable home game for East Carolina, which exits an encouraging second-half performance against Central Florida (the Pirates outscored UCF 22-6). Sophomore quarterback Holton Ahlers continues to develop, recorded his fourth consecutive 200+ yard passing game with a season-high 313 yards last week and the lefty is always a threat to run (he had 47 of East Carolina’s 170 rushing yards last week). Defensive end Kendall Futrell enters on the upswing, with seven sacks in his last four games and a forced fumble against UCF, and is likely to be a major factor Saturday.

South Florida exits a dreadful 35-3 loss to Navy last week, and the quarterback situation isn’t pretty. Blake Barnett is out, and Jordan McCloud is banged up with wrist and shoulder injuries, which leaves walk on Kirk Rygol likely to run an anemic offense.

First-year coach Mike Houston is starting to turn things around at East Carolina, while Charlie Strong appears on his way out at South Florida.

Pick: East Carolina +2

Notre Dame (-1) at Michigan, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Michigan’s offense has not been able to get out of its own way most of the year, but the light bulb finally came on last week, and Notre Dame has gone too conservative in recent outings against competitive opponents.

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book threw for only a combined 330 yards against Virginia and USC, despite both games being in the balance during the fourth quarter, and I don’t like how the Irish nearly squandered a 20-3 advantage by allowing USC to score on every second-half possession last week.

After Michigan fell behind 21-0 to Penn State, the Wolverines were finally able to get the ball outside to receivers, with Ronnie Bell and Nico Collins providing necessary balance, and quarterback Shea Patterson threw for 276 yards against a good Penn State defense. Running back Zach Charbonnet (5.4 yards per carry and two touchdowns last week) will do some damage with a viable passing game, and Michigan’s defense finally lived up to expectations by keeping Penn State mostly in check over the final 2 1/2 quarters.

The Wolverines can reverse their slide against ranked opposition with a strong showing in the Big House.

Pick: Michigan +1

James Scully’s 2019 NCAAF record ATS on BetAmerica heading into Week 7: 17-17 (0-4 last week)