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Still struggling to gain traction after another 3-3 week vs. the spread. But the Locksmith's best bets, given out on our weekly podcast, are 4-0.

It's an excellent schedule to kick off October, with key games in the SEC (Alabama at Arkansas, Texas A&M at Mississippi State and Kentucky at Ole Miss), in the Big Ten (Michigan at Iowa and Purdue at Minnesota), in the Big 12 (Oklahoma State at Baylor and Iowa State at Kansas) and in the ACC (Wake Forest at Florida State and North Carolina State at Clemson).

Translation: It's time to start sorting out the contenders from the pretenders.

On to the games.

KANSAS STATE over Texas Tech, giving 8

It's remarkable to see what getting away from Scott Frost has done for Adrian Martinez' career. The senior QB was at his best in last week's win at Oklahoma and K-State's defense looks to be solid. Wildcats also have an effective running game beyond Martinez with Deuce Vaughn. Red Raiders pulled their annual upset of overrated Texas -- but how far can they go with an offense that is 109th nationally in rushing and a QB (Donovan Smith) who has already thrown five interceptions?

Lsu at AUBURN, giving 9

Surely it's too big a number to be giving to Auburn at home, right? See the Penn State game for an answer to that. Brian Kelly has the Tigers playing with energy again and QB Jayden Daniels has been solid all season. LSU's defense held Mississippi State QB Will Rogers to 214 passing yards in a win, too. Auburn keeps fighting for Bryan Harsin's job each week and would have lost last week in OT if Missouri didn't fumble into the end zone going in for the winning score. Now without QB T. J. Finley due to an injury Auburn will struggle to win many games going forward.

Louisville over BOSTON COLLEGE, giving 15 1/2

This is not as much an endorsement of Louisville as it is an indictment of the offense-challenged and uninspired Eagles. BC is 0-4 vs. the spread this year, has only beaten Maine (and lost at home to Rutgers!) and QB Phil Jurkovec looks lost behind an offensive line that is a sieve. The unit can't pass block or run block. Cards can feel a little better that their two losses (Syracuse and Florida State) have been at the expense of a pair of unbeaten teams. QB Malik Cunningham is a dynamic athlete but his consistency as a passer leaves a lot to be desired. But he is the most explosive player in the game.

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MINNESOTA over Purdue, giving 12

Let's start rowing the boat. Golden Gophers have emerged as the leading contender in the Big Ten West thanks to a defense that is ranked No. 1 nationally overall and an offense that ranks No. 3 in the country. Tanner Morgan's solid play at QB and the return of Mohamed Ibrahim (567 rushing yards, eight TDs) from injury has made this a dynamic offense. No word yet whether QB Aiden O'Connell and five other starters who missed last week's two-point win over FAU due to injuries will be back. But if Austin Burton has to fill in at QB again the Boilermakers are in trouble. He threw for just 166 yards last week, Purdue's lowest output in three years. 

 

West Virginia over TEXAS, taking 10

Isn't it starting to look like that one-point home loss to Alabama to start the year was simply an isolated inspired effort by Texas? Longhorns have only beaten Louisiana-Monroe and UTSA and continue to have to rely on backup QB Hudson Card. Defensively, Texas breaks down too easily. Mountaineers seem to have righted things with two straight wins, routing Virginia Tech last week, and can take solace knowing that their two losses (Pitt and Kansas) were to Top 25 teams. JT Daniels finally seems to be settling in at QB and frosh RB CJ Donaldson looks like a star already. WVU's defense held Virginia Tech to 228 yards last week. 

MISSISSIPPI STATE over Texas A&M, giving 3 1/2

A missed late field goal enabled the Aggies to escape Arkansas last week, and now an offense that is already one of the nation's least effective units will be without game-breaking WR Anias Smith, who is lost for the season due to an injury. Hard to put a lot of faith in any Mike Leach team, since they have wild fluctuations in play, but QB Will Rogers has been terrific all season, with 1,386 passing yards already and a 16 to 3 touchdown to interception ratio. He threw for 406 yards and six TDs last week. Bulldogs at home against an offensive-challenged A&M looks like the best bet of the day.

Last week vs. spread: 3-3

Season to date vs. spread: 11-13

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