Last Week: 7-6
Another not-too-bad, not-too-great week. Expected as the season starts; the trick is not to fall in too deep of a hole early in the season. Like the stock market, this is an investment and you play the long game, rarely overreacting or basing things upon emotion.
Besides, we’ll get ‘em this week! (gambler’s fallacy, y’all)
Told you to stay away from: Alabama -25 — The Tide have been backdoored twice now in three games, and almost got it in the opener against Duke too. Stanford +7.5 — that’s just a bad, bad team. And, no, they have no answers either. FSU +7.5 — nothing like blowing another late lead and then losing by seven!
What Went Right: Duke, Okie Lite, Navy, SDSU (my mortal lock of the week), K State, Auburn, Southern Miss
What Went Wrong: NC State (what a bad, bad loss in Morgantown. Yuck), Buffalo (even worse loss at Liberty), Sparty (dominated the game, loses. So Dantonio), TTU (got shut down...by a Kevin Sumlin defense. LOL), Iowa — yes, I was right they’d win by one score. But El Assico delivered a 1 point win needing 2. Cyhawk lives and reigns. Wazzu — still won, still didn’t cover a/k/a the Mike Leach road specialty.
Without further preamble, here are a baker’s dozen of what you should ride, what you should avoid, and games to ponder this week. Composite odds via SportsLine.
Not with a 10’ Pole and Stolen Money:
Alabama -39. The Eagles have the No. 8 defensive line in the game, a Top 15 explosive offense, and they’ll throw it all game. Where they especially struggle is against the run. And Alabama seems to be salting games away with that facet rather than tenderizing opponents early. Even if Alabama gets up by half a hundred (and they won’t), do you have faith in the Tide winning by 40 at the end of the day...with the second team defense?
Air Force +8 at Boise State. There is one team that consistently gives the Broncos trouble even on the smurf turf, and it’s the Falcons. Triple-option teams have that effect. Boise should win at home, but that’s no guarantee. Two scores? Miss me with this one.
Miami 31 1⁄2 vs. Central Michigan. With UM’s offensive line, I don’t trust them to win by 31 against anyone else on their schedule. However, this bad Chips team may be the one exception. But do you trust a first year HC? I don’t.
Michigan +3 1⁄3 at Wisconsin. Outside of OSU, the Badgers have looked to be the best of the bunch in the Big 10. They’ve at least been the most consistent. But Wolvie is better-conditioned for this kind of paleoball than the modern game. I don’t trust either of these perpetual disappointments with my money, frankly. This is an early season weedout of overrated teams (don’t worry, Penn State; you’re coming soon).
Staying in the Big 10, that Sparty (-10) line in Northwestern is toxic. Bad things happen in conference play in Evanston. The Wildcats could even win S/U.
Florida -14 vs. Tennessee. Tennessee isn’t that bad, and Florida isn’t that good — not with the Gators down their top QB, top RB and top WR. This is going to be an ugly game and Pruitt is going to make Trask’s life a living hell to boot.
LSU -24 at Vanderbilt. I want to see some more from LSU against a team that they don’t have all summer to prep for. Conference road opener is a good start...even if it’s just Vandy.
Bet The House, Baby!
Georgia -14 vs. Notre Dame. The Bulldogs are going to do criminal, pornographic things to the Irish at home. Heat index will be 100ish at kickoff, swirling wind is expected, and none of that will matter. UGA lines up and dominates both lines. If this is within 21 points, I’ll be shocked.
Oregon -10 at Stanford. The Ducks are touching themselves after watching what spread teams have done to the Tree this year. Bad news too. The rival coming to town has the most talent of any team they’ve played to-date. Oregon remembers 2012 and runs it up.
Arkansas -21 vs. SJSU. You do realize how crappy the Spartans are, right? Even facing a middling-to-bad SEC team, it’s a bad matchup. Hogs roll big-time. If not, then fire that whole staff now.
Washington State -19 vs. UCLA. At home, the Cougs are a different team. And it doesn’t particularly matter where the Bruins play, they’re godawful. Wazzu humiliates Chip Kelly because Leach is a heartless bastard...in a charming way. New standing rule: Bet against UCLA until proven otherwise.
Boston College -7 at Rutgers. I don’t know that Rutgers can keep any D1 team within a touchdown — and especially not with the 107th rushing defense vs. Dillon. An embarrassed Eagles team takes it out on the Scarlet Knights in manball fashion.
Clemson -41 vs. UNCC. All week the headlines have screamed about what’s wrong with Sunshine. That won’t be the headline on Sunday. Dabo is going to blow the doors off this hapless team and pad Sunshine’s stats along the way this week. I doubt the 49ers keep this within 56 points. Clemson huge, huge at home.
Long Shots Worth a Shot
Nevada +14 at UTEP. I ordinarily wouldn’t trust the Wolfpack with a two-touchdown margin, and, yes, UTEP has improved. But none of the things the Miners do well (for them) matches up with a superior Nevada team. Wolfpack comfortably, but not a blowout either. Maybe 38-17ish
South Carolina +9.5 at Mizzou. Wait, the Mizzou team that got dominated by Wyoming? DYK: Muschamp has never covered a line as a 10+ point underdog at USC? Good thing this is 9 and a hook. USCe can even win outright, if last week is any indication.
Kansas +5.5 vs WVU. I don’t see a rebuilding ‘Eers team going on the road and figuring out a Les Miles defense. You have to be able to run the ball. BC could not against the Jayhawks and they got blown out. The ‘Eers are among the worst rushing offenses in the country. This is a weird, bad matchup for WVU, and it even seems the wrong team is favored. Jayhawks cover at home; likely win straight up.
Cal +2.5 at Ole Miss. There’s no SEC home field advantage here, not against this team. The Bears are a pain in the butt to play against: they will stymie offenses, muck it up for 60 minutes, are mentally tough, and then physically beat you up. It’s the formula that won at U Dub, the formula the Memphis used to beat the Rebels, and the formula that will be used to get the Bears a road win.
Texas A&M -4 vs. Auburn. I don’t think either team will run the ball very well, but I do like Aggie to do it a little better. And I really don’t like Bo Nix yet either. The difference will be Kellen Mond’s legs, as A&M wins by a touchdown. And, there are few places more miserable than College Station at 2:30, even for Southerners — that can’t be overlooked.
Ohio State -39 vs. Miami (OH). The Buckeyes love rubbing it in the face of in-state schlubs. And the Red Hawks qualify, having lost to Iowa by 24 and Cincy by 23. Worse, they didn’t generate much offense along the way. And you saw what the Buckeyes did to the Bearcats. Like Clem, this’ll be a rout.
Utah -4 at USC. The Utes are a much better team at home, with the altitude. But, they probably won’t need luck. You couldn’t help but watch Slovis and fear for his life against a physical BYU defense. If the Trojans thought that was bad, wait until they see what’s coming this week. Not a straight beatdown, U of U is a vastly different team away from Rice-Eccles, but Utah does enough. 24-13ish, right?