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In the Air Tonight - Weekend Picks

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The buzz is building. More people are talking about Miami. Picks for UM UNC and other games across the country.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

"I can feel it coming in the air tonight."

I was out of town last week and was returning home to South Florida on Friday afternoon. There is one rule for college football fans when it comes to air travel - ALWAYS represent on Fridays during the season. Whether I'm traveling to a game or not, Canes gear is a must.

In recent years as I traveled through airports across the country, most people didn't seem to notice me. I'd get an occasional head nod, a rare Go Canes shoutout from a stranger, and too many of the dreaded "tough game last week." That's all starting to change. As I raised my hands in the security machine, the TSA agent sternly asked me to speak to him for a moment. He paused for a moment before saying "The Uuuuuuu" and raising his arms proudly. I was stopped by at least a dozen different people in Philadelphia.

"Good luck tomorrow"

"Amazing games the last few weeks. I hope you guys keep winning."

"Hey man, I love that turnover chain."

"The U is back"

"Beat Notre Dame"

"Are you flying for the game tomorrow?"

I'm not sure how to conduct a poll with accurate sample sizing, but with almost no margin of error I am ready to declare that the Miami buzz is officially back. Is the team ready to actually contend for a spot in the playoff? No idea. What I know is that the close finishes, the turnover chain, strong recruiting, and the power of the Canes brand have all combined to create a groundswell of excitement around this team.

After enjoying the Syracuse win at Hard Rock, I triumphantly wore Miami clothes to dinner on Sunday night. Someone from almost every table stopped me to talk about Miami. Winning is contagious and the crowds for Virginia Tech and Notre Dame will be electric. Miami will likely be favored in its five remaining games. November will be a month to remember.

MIAMI -20 at North Carolina - 12pm - ESPN2

Before the competition gets serious, North Carolina's dumpster fire is an opportunity for the Canes to improve on finishing drives and converting third downs. There's no need to prepare a dossier on the Tar Heels. UNC is 0-5 at home and has scored just 45 total points in its last four ACC losses. This game will be the blowout and revenge we've been waiting for since 2015. The NCAA refused to even slap UNC on the wrist - Miami needs to inflict some punishment. Take-home paper classes won't save Larry Fedora's team on Saturday afternoon.

The Tar Heels have no answer at quarterback - Chazz Surratt hasn’t been effective and Brandon Harris has been a turnover machine. UNC is 108th in the nation in scoring offense. Miami is 3rd in the nation in Tackles for Loss per game (8.67). Virginia Tech forced three turnovers and sacked UNC six times in a 59-7 win last week in Blacksburg. Expect a very small crowd in Chapel Hill on Saturday with the Miami fans in attendance making the most noise. Canes WR Ahmmon Richards was disappointed with his drops last week and should have a huge afternoon in a bounce back performance. Malik Rosier is improving each week and Travis Homer has been the unsung hero of this Miami winning streak. The Canes win by 30+.

Sitting at 6-9 on the week with five games remaining, it appeared mean reversion was finally going to stop my momentum. Not so fast my friends. Huge performances by Notre Dame, Washington State, and Georgia Tech helped me finish the night at 10-10. Sometimes Precise Mediocrity is a win. I haven’t had a losing week in months. Bring on Week 9.

RICHT PICKS

WASHINGTON -17.5 vs Ucla - 330pm

Washington is coming off a bye and eager to prove the loss to Arizona State was a fluke. UCLA has a terrible run defense and the Bruins have given up at least 47 points in all three road losses this season. This game won’t be close. I expect the Huskies to run up the score late and make a statement.

CLEMSON -14 vs Georgia Tech - 8pm

Clemson’s defense is one of the best in the nation and looking to reassert its dominance after the upset at Syracuse. The athleticism and speed of Clemson’s DL will make it difficult for Georgia Tech to execute the triple-option effectively. Clemson QB Kelly Bryant will be back healthy to spark the Tigers on offense. Dabo’s squad wins big at home.

Thursday

SOUTH ALABAMA -1 at Georgia State - 730pm

STANFORD -20.5 at Oregon State - 9pm

Oregon State is 101st in the nation in rushing defense, giving up 200 yards a game on the ground. In seven games, Bryce Love has 1387 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. Stanford will control the line of scrimmage easily and blow out the Beavers.

Friday

FLORIDA STATE -4.5 at Boston College - 8pm

This is a strange line with these two teams seemingly headed in opposite directions. FSU has been a disaster ATS all season - they have to win eventually. If the Noles lose Friday night they will almost certainly miss out on a bowl game this season. BC QB Anthony Brown and RB AJ Dillon have been impressive in wins over Virginia and Louisville, but I think this is the game James Blackman and FSU RB Cam Akers step up.

MEMPHIS -11 vs Tulane - 8pm

SMU -9 vs Tulsa - 9pm

Tulsa’s defense gave up 59 to OKST, 42 to ULL, 54 to Toledo, and 62 to Tulane. SMU QB Ben Hicks is having a nice season and has two very talented WR - Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn. SMU pulls away in the second half.

Saturday

WEST VIRGINIA +7.5 vs Oklahoma State - 12pm

ARKANSAS +3.5 at Ole Miss - 12pm

SAN JOSE STATE +12.5 at Byu - 3pm

San Jose State is horrendous, but BYU shouldn’t be favored by 12.5 against IMG Academy. The Cougars point totals in seven straight losses - 0, 13, 6, 24, 7, 10, 17.

NCST +7.5 at Notre Dame - 330pm

TCU -7 at Iowa State - 330pm

Iowa State has been a nice story this season, but TCU’s defense will be the best they’ve faced. Kenny Hill and the Horned Frogs offense will score a late touchdown to earn me a win.

NORTHWESTERN +3 vs Michigan State - 330pm

PENN STATE +7 at Ohio State - 330pm

Penn State was very impressive last week in a blowout win over Michigan. I’m still not sold on Ohio State. Easy wins over Nebraska, Rutgers, and Maryland aren’t enough to sway my opinion. I think Ohio State probably wins a close one at home, but this should be a close game throughout.

FAU -7 at Western Kentucky - 430pm

RB Devin Singletary is having an incredible season for the Owls. With Jason Driskel at QB, Lane Kiffin’s offense is dominating opponents, winning three straight games by large margins. I won’t be surprised if the Owls win out and finish 9-3 in the regular season.

UTAH -3 at Oregon - 545pm

MINNESOTA +7.5 at Iowa - 630pm

Iowa’s offense hasn’t been explosive and in three Big Ten losses the Hawkeyes scored a combined 39 points. Minnesota will have Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith back healthy at running back for this game.

TEXAS A&M +1.5 vs Mississippi State - 715pm

KENTUCKY -5 vs Tennessee - 730pm

Tennessee hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown in years and RB John Kelly, clearly the Vols best player, is suspended for this game. Kentucky will bounce back from a poor performance last week and win at home.

ARIZONA STATE +3.5 vs Southern Cal - 1045pm