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Giving Away Money: 2019 Week Zero Kickoff — Picks against the spread to enhance your filthy lucre

FOOTBALL IS BACK! (And you can even gamble legally now!)

Birmingham Bowl - East Carolina v Florida
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

2018 Season ATS: 87-58-2 (61%)
Bowls/Playoffs ATS: 16-10 (62%)

Last year we had a profitable campaign. And, had you listened to ole’ Uncle Erik, you’d be swimming knee-deep in that blogger money just like we are (except disregard that whole CFP Championship game, where we took a bath. But, hey, 24 hour rule. New year, new you.)

The 2019 kickoff does not feature a must-see slate of Week Zero games — just two in prime time. I’m not convinced that either are going to go down as games of the year or anything, but soldier on we must. And as this is the slate the ADs have given us, it’s up to us to make chicken salad from it.

Who cares? Football is back, and we couldn’t be happier.

Florida -7 vs. Miami (neutral) O/U 47.5

This spread has to be a misprint; it simply must. I know it’s a rivalry, and Miami has talent, but Manny is facing a deep hole in his virgin outing as a first-year coach: starting a 50% So. QB, lack of depth at RB, nothing special on the outside, completely retooled kicking games, one of the weakest secondaries in the ACC, and an OL with four Fr/So. and almost no starts under their belt. The front seven is going to be quite good though, esp the linebackers. And that is the ‘Canes best hope for success, since that strength plays perfectly to the Gators’ weakness: an offensive line with a lot of questions to answer.
In all other respects, from coaching to quarterbacking to special teams to butts in seats, this one favors the Gators handily. The animus will be there in a super-chippy affair, and this one is probably a lot closer if played in November. But in September? Nah. Gators should roll, even if it won’t be an offensive masterpiece. Let’s call it 27-13 Florida.

Arizona (-11.5) at Hawaii (O/U 74.5)

The hardest road trip in America, one that is nigh impossible to foster player concentration with an awful time differential to boot? Meet the least disciplined coach in the country with a penchant for playing terrible on the road and having taffy soft headcases dotting the roster. Arizona dropped a Tucson-sized turd in Kevin Sumlin’s first campaign. But it has something the Warriors do not — a legitimate dark horse Heisman candidate at quarterback. Last year Khalil Tate struggled to master the offense, but in Year Two, he should get back to being one of the most dynamic players in the country. A very generous Hawaii defense will jumpstart his 2019, for sure. Unfortunately, the Wildcats have to play defense. And, buddy, was that a terrible unit last season. They got rang up by every team capable of completing a forward pass, particularly on the road — including allowing 45 to Houston, 69 to Wazzou, 31 to Colorado, and 42 to Utah.
The Warriors aren’t as talented as those team, but they should be able to score on a truly abysmal coaching staff that simply doesn’t care about that side of the ball. The UH defense was much-improved too...sneakily so. Plus, this is their Super Bowl with a whole offseason to prep. A win here gives Hawaii a lot of momentum and recruiting muscle in the Mountain; they’ll play like it. I’m not ready to call for an upset, especially with UH’s porous run defense, but I don’t like the ‘Cats as a road cover either. In terms of watchability, this one will likely be more fun than Miami-Florida. Take the Warriors +11.5 at home.