2020 Season: 70-45
Last Week: 14-9
Mortal Lock of the Week: 7-0 (Was there ever any serious question that the Vols were going to lose by more than 20 points?)
What Went Wrong: THE BIG TEN IS ON FIRE! Seriously, what the hell, Michigan? Where was that team the last decade? THE ACC IS ON FIRE! Clemson sucked straight up. Justin Fuente is a fraud. So is Miami for that matter. Texas and Oklahoma looked like Texas and Oklahoma, etc.
What Went Right: Told ya’ to stay away from that Penn State game (“Road Franklin is in play”). Ole Miss was cheesed out of a W — the SEC owes me money for screwing me over on three occasions now. Outright win for the Red Raiders. BYU blasting another squad. San Diego State damn near hit my exact score projection. Kansas State beat the Jayhawks like a stepchild with D’s on his report card. Kentucky got whipped by Mizzou on the road. Tulane covered that redonk 18 1⁄2 points against the barbaric UCF defense — and, yes, the Green Wave did allow almost 500 yards passing as predicted, etc.
Last week we just dumped all the games we could find — about two dozen or so. That’s ordinarily not how we do it here. We usually try and give you the best 13 or so games on the board. While we had a decent week, that’s just way, way too many. It was a one-off to celebrate CFB almost being back at full strength, and it won’t be done again.
That said, here’s this week’s 14 best picks (with a bonus total for the UGA/UK game!)
Not With a 10’ Pole and Stolen Money
Alabama -31 vs. Mississippi State — State’s offense has been ghastly, but Leach loves putting Kylin Hill in space and throwing to him. Hill may or may not be suspended, but he was not going to play last week even before the Wu-Flu cancellations and has been unavailable this week. Who knows if Leach blinks here or if KH has quit on the team. I must assume not, at least for purposes of wagering. In which case, that is a mismatch favoring the Bulldogs. Need we mention the safeties that will be attacked all game? This defense is going to see at least 60 passes. Also lost in their awful season is that CLANGA has actually played pretty good defense. Something like 52-24 seems right: still a beating, probably not a cover.
Boise State -14 at AFA — Boise State has lost like 97 of 100 at Air Force (citation required). Stay away, no matter how good BSU looked last week and how suspect the AFA secondary appears. Boise for whatever reason just winds up finding a way to play razor-thin games at AFA...and outright losing this game on the road far more often than they should.
Arkansas +12 at Texas A&M — The Hogs love forcing turnovers, and Aggie can give them over in droves. This is Arkansas’s first real test since seeing UGA pull away in the season opener, but it’s a better team than it was a month ago...so is A&M for that matter. 31-21 Aggie sounds reasonable.
Jawjah at Kentucky +14 — This game is going to be a rockfight. The conference’s two best defenses, particularly against the run, and both with questionable passing games. I haven’t seen the totals, but if it’s 45 or so, take the under (P.S. it’s 43 1/2; I actually will take that). That’s literally the only play to make on this game. My gut says UGA is shot out of a cannon after getting stomped by ‘Bama, but I don’t know that this squad can just turn it on. Would a 20-9 sort of final score surprise anyone? Prepare for all the turnovers.
Va. Tech -4 1⁄2 at Louisville — If you think you know what either one of these teams will do from week to week, go buy a lottery ticket. I’m giving up on both of them.
Ridiculously Large Spreads We’re Still Gonna’ Roll With
App State -32 at ULM — This is the worst Warhawks team I’ve seen in 20 years. I didn’t think they could be worse than last season. I was wrong. They are last or next-to-last in every metric of appreciable merit in the SBC, are winless on the year for a reason, and have only been competitive in one game — hell, they lost at home by 25...to UTEP! ASU routs the home team and may not allow a point along the way. Appie 56 ULM 2
BC + 31 1⁄2 at Clemson — I expect Dabo to run it up after a lackluster performance last week. The problem is, I’m not sure that even trying they can get a 5-score win against one of the conference’s more uptempo offenses and sounder defenses. Clemson still rolls; the starters stay in longer than usual; but the Eagles get the backdoor ‘dog cover late. Clemson 56 BC 27
Iowa State -28 1⁄2 at Kansas — I’m ready to declare the Les Miles experiment a failure. This team can’t run or stop the run; can’t pass or stop the pass; can’t force turnovers and can’t stop giving it away. It’s an antiquated scheme being played with little D1 talent. ISU angrily avenges last week’s road loss to OSU. Cyclones 48 Kansas 7
Notre Dame -20 at Georgia Tech — This is a bit of a trap game for the Irish, as they prepare to enter their swing against UNC and Clemson. But, look at it as a tune-up. This is the last chance to get that underperforming offense back on track. Even if ND plays another snooze-n’-snore game in Atlanta, I just don’t see where the Yellow Jackets are going to find success against the ACC’s best defense. I suspect Notre Dame will look crappy again but still pretty comfortably cover. ND 31 Ga. Tech 6
BYU -28 vs. Western Kentucky — Another week, another soup can. The difference this week is that ESPN has begun pimping the narrative that the Cougs can be a playoff team. Even if they’re not (and for now, my vote would go to Cincinnati outside of the Power 5), that still means they can’t afford to fail the eyeball test on the scoreboard. I fully expect that a janky secondary and a turnover prone offense gets WKU ran out of the building. The dry, mile-high climate is a monster for visitors too, especially those from a humid delta like the Mountaineers. BYU 52 WKU 17
Underdogs With Bite
Rutgers +12 1⁄2 vs. Indiana — I guess we’re gonna’ forget that Indiana’s offense looked pretty terrible last week, huh? Penn State will do that to the B1G’s lessers, sure. But they were also badly outgained by a really vanilla PSU scheme absent a lot of talent. The way Rutgers controlled the lines against Sparty, forced turnovers, and then efficiently moved the ball with its spread last week, leads me to think this isn’t a two-score game. Indiana 31 Rutgers 24
Kansas State +3 1⁄2 at West Virginia — Tough road trip to Morgantown for a squad that many see as perhaps overrated. And, hey, they could be. But the nature of Mountaineers football in 2020 is to play it close to the vest in defensive struggles. Given that the Wildcats are an unreal +9 in TOM, that really does favor the visitors. Let’s say that those who know this team best are right — that KSU is a bit overrated — and we’ll give WVU a huge home win. It’s still the hook that matters here. West Virginia 24 KSU 23
Texas +4 1⁄2 at Oklahoma State — There’s something about UT that gives Okie Lite fits. And the more high-profile the OSU team the worse it is. I would not at all be surprised to see them outright lose this game. UT is 33-8 in this series, and only three of those Oklahoma State wins were even at home. Worse, they’ve not beaten the Longhorns here in 33 years. It’s a tradition in Stillwater. Call it a hunch that the trend continues. Longhorns 31 Oklahoma State 28
Bet the House, Baby
Duke -9 1⁄2 vs. Charlotte — I like the Miners, I really do. But they’ve had problems adjusting to teams with speed on the offensive end. And despite playing solid enough defense, they face a tremendous step up in athleticism when they travel to Durham. Barring a complete Blue Devil collapse, this should be a 14 point game or so. Duke 30 Charlotte 10
UNC -6 1⁄2 at Virginia — The Tarheels have to just be somewhat competent to squeeze out a touchdown win on the road against the reeling Cavs. I don’t think they’ll play great — they’ve not been very good away from Chapel Hill all year, but I figure its enough. Led by its defense, the Tarheels get it done. UNC 33 Virginia 24
Georgia Southern -4 vs. South Alabama — I really like how the Jags have rebounded this year, particularly on defense. They are holding opponents to right at 4 YPC. But, take a closer look at the schedule — three of those games are against woeful squads: Texas State, UL-Monroe, and Southern Miss. When they bodied up against a team comparable to the Eagles that likes to pound the rock, UAB, they got blown out of the water on the ground. GSU’s defense is also highly underrated. The Eagles triple-option attack is too much for the road Jags. Take GSU by 7-10 points here in a likely low scoring tiff.
Ohio State -11 1⁄2 at Penn State — When Vegas wants to give you money, take it. Ohio State hits the road just an -11 1⁄2 point favorite against Penn State. And, while the Buckeyes offense looked great last week, its defense looked a little soft. It won’t particularly matter, I don’t think. The new-look Nittany Lion offense is pretty bland, pretty conservative, and not dynamic or tempo-driven enough to overcome the talent gap or do the things that Nebraska’s does under Frost. Franklin is also a buffoon — though less so at home. PSU is without its best defender, its best offensive player, and though this one has been circled for months, the talent and superior coaching from Columbus matters. Ohio State 33 Penn State 20
LSU -3 vs. Auburn — It’s a roadie for the French Patois Tigers, which means SEC f*ckery is in play. The only way to ensure that is not an issue is if the visitors come out and attack those corners for a full 60 minutes. Sure, Bo Nix can have some success against this secondary, but don’t overlook that 1. he’s mistake prone, even against garbage teams, 2. the AU DBs are just as trash-ass as LSU’s, but they have a worse offense to back them up. This spread seems far too low given the trajectories of the two squads. Auburn’s luck runs out, and all the SEC favors in the world won’t matter. LSU 38 Auburn 24
Mortal Lock of the Week
Cincinnati -6 1⁄2 vs. Memphis
On paper this should be a great one...but in reality that probably will not be the case.
The Tigers offense should be able to have some success here and there, but not enough and not consistently, certainly not against one of the nation’s Top 10 defenses. But the greater issue for the Tigers is its defense — they are simply lost. UM has given up well over 500+ yards and 33 points per game. Toss in UM’s traditional underperformance away from the Bluff City, Brady White’s penchant to get careless with the ball, the best top-to-bottom Cincinnati team in over a decade, and a veteran Bearcat defense and quarterback, and I think this one is closer to two scores for the home team. The other dirty secret is that this is also the best Bearcat offense that Luke Fickell has had too.
Last year, Memphis’ best team in school history had problems with a weaker Cincy team twice at home, winning both by less than a score. But, it’s 2020, and a much stronger Bearcats squad awaits UM on the road. That’s too much for the Tigers to handle.
Skyline Chili for everyone! Celebrate our Large Adult AAC son in a double-digit win that probably isn’t as close as the final — Cincinnati 35 Memphis 24