Check out our NCAAF Best Bets in this week’s Fab 5:
Colorado at California
When and Where: Saturday, Nov. 24, California Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, 7 p.m. EST.
Colorado has one last chance to become bowl eligible, needing a win in its season finale Saturday at California in a crossover clash of Pac-12 teams.
Free-falling Buffs try to move on from MacIntyre firing
Colorado (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12 South) has come completely undone since its 5-0 start that briefly propeled it into the AP Top 25 and is now mired in its longest losing streak since losing the final eight games of the 2014 season that came in former coach Mike MacIntyre’s second season.
The word “former” became official for MacIntyre as he was fired Sunday following a 30-7 loss to South Division champion Utah, just two years after the Buffaloes themselves reached the Pac-12 title game.
“I want to thank Mike for six seasons of hard work and dedication to the program, both on and off the field,” athletic director Rick George said in a statement. “There’s no doubt that the 2016 season was magical, and it appeared we were headed back to taking our place among the nation’s elite. However, analyzing the direction of the program over the last two years, I felt this is the necessary time to make a change.”
Co-offensive coordinator Kurt Roper will lead the team as interim head coach. He helped scheme for a team that averaged 32.2 points in the first nine games before falling off the pace.
— Colorado Buffaloes Football (@RunRalphieRun) November 20, 2018
Though Colorado has lost six straight, it was barely competitive in the last two, totaling just 493 yards while being outscored 61-14. The Buffaloes were held to a season-low 196 yards by the Utes and have averaged 49.7 rushing yards in the last three games.
Despite the slowdown in the running game, Travon McMillan is still just 49 yards shy of his second career 1,000-yard season, with the other coming as a freshman at Virginia Tech in 2015. On the receiving side, freshman Laviska Sheanult Jr. is 54 from the milestone, an impressive achievement considering he has missed three games due to injuries.
“It would be great to get there,” Shenault told the school’s official website. “Growing up, you see all these receivers put up 1,000-yard seasons, and they would do it back-to-back-to-back. Now I’m living that, and it would definitely feel good if I could get that first 1,000-yard season.”
A loss would mark the 10th time in 11 years the Buffaloes have missed out on bowl season.
Bears bowl eligible, looking to enhance attractiveness for suitors
California (6-4, 3-4 North) could finish as high as third in the North Division and will make up its postponed game against archrival Stanford on Dec. 1 after the Pac-12 title game next week. The game was moved from last weekend due to the poor air quality resulting from the wildfires that have plagued the state.
🗣️ Statement From Coach Wilcox pic.twitter.com/mQasLnfGPM
— Cal Football (@CalFootball) November 16, 2018
The Bears have won three of their last four games following a three-game losing streak and became bowl eligible with a 15-14 victory at Southern California on Nov. 10. Chase Garbers threw a touchdown pass and ran for another in the third quarter as Cal erased a 14-point halftime deficit and shut out the Trojans in the final two quarters.
Garbers, who was splitting time with Brandon McIlwain, has thrown for 1,100 yards and 11 TDs with just five interceptions in 170 attempts compared to McIlwain’s eight picks in 129. Both quarterbacks, though, are threats to run the ball and have combined for 709 yards and five scores.
Patrick Laird leads Cal’s ground attack with 773 yards and five TDs as he looks to move closer to his second straight 1,000-yard season.
“As a team, I think we’ve handled it all really well,” Laird told the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s an emotional preparation for something like that, so for me, there was a little bit of a letdown. But once you start to have perspective on the whole situation, you think about all the people affected by the fires.”
- 13-3 ATS in its last 16 games after allowing fewer than 20 points in its previous game.
- 7-2 ATS in its last nine games following a straight up win.
- 4-0 ATS in its last four games vs. Colorado.
- The under is 6-0 in its last six games.
- The under is 10-4 in its last 14 home games vs. teams with a sub-.500 road winning percentage.
- The under is 11-1-1 in its last 13 games after scoring 20 or fewer points in its previous game.
- 0-6-1 ATS in its last seven games in November.
- 2-7-1 ATS in its last 10 games vs. above-.500 teams.
- 0-4 ATS in its last four games vs. Pac-12 teams.
- The under is 9-3 in its last 12 games.
- The under is 18-6 in its last 24 games vs. sub-.500 teams.
- The under is 7-2 in its last nine games vs. Pac-12 teams.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
While it is challenging to lay so many points with Cal given its inconsistent offense, this is more reflective of the expectation Colorado will not put up much resistance after the first sign of adversity in this game. The Bears will be well-rested and ready to face what will likely be a distracted team dealing with the firing of MacIntyre.
Prediction: Pick: California -12.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Both teams have struggled offensively — Colorado has scored just 14 points in the last two games while California has been held under 20 points in five of its last six. The Bears will likely get back to 20 points and slightly above while covering, but the expectation is these teams will not crack 40 between them.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 43 points
Half-Time Side Pick
The chance to get the Bears giving less than a touchdown against what could be a Colorado team eager to simply get the season done is too good to pass up. Despite the fact Cal has not led at halftime in any of its last three games, the expectation is they will come out of the blocks strong after their unexpected off week and grab an early lead.
Prediction: Pick: California -6.5 (-110)
Half-Time Total Bet
Cal has not had a first half exceed 24 points in its last six games, and that includes contests against ranked foes Washington and Washington State. Colorado has been under 20 in the first two quarters of its last two games, and its sputtering offense likely will not get much traction against a sturdy Cal defense.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 22.5 points