Last week: 9-7
In a week where upsets of minor degree dotted the landscape, GAM was not immune. It wasn’t as bad a week as it could have been for you, gentle reader — any week above .500 is a good one — but it could have been more lucrative.
All composite spreads via Sportsline.
Without further ado, here are this weeks picks. And like the quality of the on-field games this week, the pickings are slim with the books too. We’ll begin with the ones to steer clear of — knowing what you hate is as good as knowing what you love, right?
Not with a 10’ Pole and Stolen Money:
Miss me with Alabama -32 against one of the most inept Arkansas teams you’ll ever see. Especially when that Hogs team plays better on the road and the home team is still trying desperately to find answers...75% into the season. Sigh.
Oklahoma could roll K-State (-24.5)...but only if they take the ball out of Jalen Hurts’ hands and put it on his legs. I think the Sooners will do that on the road, but not before the Wildcats force some turnovers and bad drives. And it leaves open the question of whether OU does it consistently enough to get the cover. I hate the hook here.
Speaking of hooks, Ohio State is the better team when they host the Wisconsin Badgers. But Wisco has done a good job traditionally of bottling up the Buckeyes. -14.5 is just too much.
Western KY (+5.5) at Marshall is more of a tossup than the spread, one that dictates you sheathe your money clip. That goes doubly when the Thundering Herd are coming off one of their biggest wins of the season. Hangover central, anyone?
Bet the House, Baby
Okay, fine. I’m a believer now, Mustangs. The Cougars are trying their damnedest to tank, and you’re at home, sporting your best record and highest ranking since the days of the Pony Express. If Houston wants to put its season down like Ole Yeller, then as an old SWC rival, you have the duty to make it so. It’s a favorable line (SMU -14) for a team with all the energy and holding all the cards.
When Illinois has struggled this year, it has been as the offense ran into more physical teams. Even then, the offense managed to put up some points. The defense has been an issue since Lovie got there, but the Illini are healthy on both sides of the ball now and it showed last week. Yes, it’s a road game after a program-defining win, and yes, IU is on hangover watch. But, the Boilermakers defense may be one of the few in the B1G as bad as Illinois. I really don’t like Purdue -9 vs. anyone this year, especially against a potent IU team still playing for a bowl bid. I love over 60.5, FTR if the weather holds. Expect a shootout if the clouds stay away.
USF -2 at ECU — The Pirates haven’t done anything this year to warrant such optimism, nor have Bulls stunk bad enough to be punished this badly. There’s a deceptive 2-4 a la USF and then there’s a deserved 1-5, like ECU. Yep, it’ll be close, but not that close, and not within a field goal. Take Charlie’s team on the road.
If Maurer weren’t in the concussion protocol, you’d like Tennessee (+4) to cover at home versus an up-and-down South Carolina team that needs to win every game to get bowl eligible. But Guarantano is the one of the three or four worst starters in the SEC and he has zero incentive to play for a dude who threw him under the bus after the staff botched a goal line series. That kind of stuff sticks with you, so do the years of boos from the hillbillies. The Gamecocks front seven gets it done on the road.
Is there a mortal lock this week? There may be two — see below: But Aggie at home (-10) with a favorable spread against a god-forsaken bad Mississippi State team that may also be losing its coach? Yeah. That’s it. If the Bulldogs wanted to chase JoMo back to New Jersey and exile in Rutgers, then laying a turd in College Station is just the way to do it. Guess what? They will do exactly that. MSU is going to stink up the joint. Aggies yuge.
Why is Notre Dame (PK) even money against this Michigan team? Road rivalry and the helmets are about all I’ve got. It’ll be close — this one usually is. But Shea Patterson is going to do enough dumb stuff to earn a loss, while the Irish are going to abuse the Wolverines from the slot: a Don Brown specialty. Love the Irish here.
No snark; no agonizing breakdown; no date-driven analysis; just the facts. Fresno State (-14) is going to do filthy, criminal things to Colorado State. The Rams are somehow worse than their 1-5 record. The central valley Bulldogs roll big time and the administration in Fort Collins starts looking at its options for 2020 (cough, Bill Clark is just sitting there, yo.)
Long Shots Worth a Shot
The Hawaii Warriors (-10) have to be licking their chops against New Mexico’s 5th-worst secondary in college football. For that matter, the Lobos have to be relishing a chance to run the ball against UH’s woeful front four. But talent outs eventually, and generally the more explosive group gets it done in 2019, esp. since UNM”s offense is pretty terrible in their own right. Ride with Hawaii.
Mother of trap games, Batman. The week before their bye, the LSU Tigers get to face an Auburn team coming off their best 60 minutes in 2019. Bo Nix still isn’t going to wow anyone, and the rushing offense is still pedestrian. But LSU’s defense ain’t exactly great this year. Meanwhile, the Auburn defense has been its usual outstanding self. If AU can hook, hold, grab and obstruct receivers and shut down the zero-step passing game, its front four can shut down an ordinary running game. In that case, it could go down to the wire. With LSU facing Bye and Alabama over the next two weeks, you get the sense this one devolves into a scrum. Bit of a risk, but take the Barn.
See above: IU o/u 60.5 at Purdue — this game is going to make the Ghost of Joe Kines weep. I’m thinking a 42-35ish final score with special teams playing a role. Purdue’s special teams make Alabama look awesome. If you take one play on this one, I like the totals better than the points.
Tulsa has improved a lot the past two years, though it has not yet been rewarded on the scoreboard. But, the Memphis Tigers are just playing a different game at the moment. Laying 10.5 on the road isn’t too much to ask for UM team with its eyes on a huge showdown next week at SMU. It won’t be pretty, but the Tigers’ defense is the difference. Memphis (-10.5) gets the cover in a game lower-scoring than you’d guess from the jerseys.
I hate this iteration of the Washington State Cougars. And I’ve always hated the way Leach’s teams play on the road. After smacking around the Doogs last week, you’d be wary of the home team laying a bigger number. But the Ducks are going to blast Wazzu in Autzen, and not even Cristobal’s 4th quarter choke-jobs will matter too much. The season’s heavy lifing is over for the Ducks; they’re now playing to get into playoff contention. They need to light up the scoreboard and impress voters. They will. Ducks big, big at home and they cover -14.
SDSU (-13) at UNLV. Be ready for another workmanlike effort in the desert from the Aztecs. To beat SDSU you have to throw the ball and be able to stop the run. The Running Rebels can do neither. SDSU has a habit of playing it close to the vest on the road, but that’s just what this game demands. SDSU covers.