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Giving Away Money: Week 16 (I think?)

Football will never end.

Las Vegas

Last Week: 7-3
2020 Season: 127-79
Mortal Lock: 17-1 (Damn you, Michigan. I cannot reiterate that enough).

What Went Wrong: Mizzou broke my heart with an early missed XP. They won by 2...needed 2 1/2 . Wyoming outright losing to New Mexico. Yuck. Colorado State was covering all game and then gave up two late FGs in the last 4 minutes that busted the spread. CSU also gave up two returns for scores in the game. Their special teams are among the worst I’ve ever seen, etc.
What Went Right: Underdogs with the S/U winsCoastal and UCLA, hoorah; Clemson (within one TD no less, and nailed the exact points the Tigers would score!); nailed the Vawls-Gata (within one point on the MOV, too), and others. These are just the ones I’m bragging on.

This is last week of regular season college football. Make the most of it, folks! And by that I mean “gamble away Christmas money and regift that Flowbee.”

Here follows the picks for Week 16, beginning (as always) with some abominations that will steal your cash.

Not With a 10’ Pole and Stolen Money

FAU -8 12 at Southern Miss — The Golden Eagles are playing inspired defense of late, at least on the scoreboard. For as bad as this team started, they have been very competitive the last 4-6 weeks of the season. USM could just as easily be 5-4 as they are 2-7. I also simply do not trust this godawful FAU offense to move the ball, especially on the road. Willie Taggart hasn’t quite ruined the Owls yet, but this team should have one loss at best. Kiffin left the pantry loaded. But, as usual with Taggart, the FAU woes are traceable to the offense. Don’t overlook for one second the possibility of a straight-up USM win. In fact, I am counting on it and calling it, despite the fact that FAU should win by two scores.

Illinois +14 12 at Northwestern — The Wildcats turn it over too much for my taste. But when they hang on to the ball, they are a very good team. The Illini’s defense has too many lapses, and the offense can put up some times. But when they play a full 60 minutes, Illinois is a damned tough out. The problem is you never know which unit on which team is going to no-show. It will happen this week, count on it. And that will make all the difference in this game. But that’s too much uncertainty for my wallet, especially with two-plus scores, and doubly so when there are far better plays this week. Skip this stinker.

Oregon -3 at Washington — LOLNOPE.


For Your Consideration:

Oklahoma - 13 1/2 at West Virginia - Recall me telling you how bad WVU’s offense is, in predicting ISU to romp that team but still finish under 51? Enter our next contestant: the Dirt Burglars. We think of the Sooners as a team eager to win 51-48 shootouts, but those are increasingly rare occurrences, and none have happened this year. After a bumpy start, the Sooners have rebounded quite nicely on that side of the ball. OU is 3rd in the B12 in scoring defense (and within one point of both ISU and WVU); have the conference’s best rushing defense and yield under 3 YPC; and have improved its passing defense to middle of the pack. But, while OU has given up 10 passing scores, it’s also nabbed 10 picks. The TOM could be better, but the Sooners force them and they seem to have gotten the fumbles out of their system (they lost 3 of their 4 in the first two games). WVU leads the conference in passing defense, so OU will have to be careful with the ball, but I don’t know that the ‘Eers can score enough in this relatively low scoring one to cover the number. Tough road game, and you can be forgiven if you bail on it, but I’ll take the Sooners by less than two touchdowns. OU 34 — WVU 17

<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 16 West Virginia at Kansas State

Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ohio +4 1/2 at Kent State— This is the first real test for Kent State that doesn’t involve them punching way, way outside of their weight class — up or down. The Flash’s dual-QB scheme that makes fast-break basketball look stodgy is really hitting its stride in Year Two. KSU leads the nation easily in YPG, at 609. And even stout defenses have been helpless to stop them — Even Buffalo gave up 41 and nearly 600 yards. The Bobcats play very good defense, but those numbers have to be looked at through their competition: Akron and BGSU, two teams with one combined win. The one competent offense they played? They gave up 20 points and lost. Perhaps worse, Ohio has had trouble lighting up the scoreboard-friendly MAC, reaching 27+ points on just two teams. The rushing D is the worst aspect of Kent, but as we saw against a solid EMU team in their road win, they can bear down and win some slugging games...they just don’t want to. The data suggests a 36-28 Kent win. That’s fair, given the defenses in this one. Kent can play it, they just would prefer not to. And Ohio can, but can they play enough? They’ll have to in this game, and I don’t think the get there. Kent State 37 — Ohio 27

UAB -7 1/2 at Rice— What was it Admiral Ackbar said? Yeah. That. This is very much a trap game. The Owls so far have been the better team this season, and their secondary is a no-fly zone that forces tons of turnovers. UAB is going to be hard pressed to move the ball here consistently. But, it’s Rice, so the Owls will as well. Still, the more I look at it, the more this actually looks like the wrong team is favored, esp. since the Red Hot Hooters are at home. Close game, but gimme Rice in the “upset” 24 Rice — UAB 20

NIU +6 at Eastern Michigan — Recall two weeks ago when I said that EMU is so close to breaking through? They’ve dropped very close games against quality opponents. But last week they finally put it all together, held on to the ball, and then smashed WMU on the road in a game that wasn’t as close as the final. This one looks to be a fairly close game (<10 points), but NIU’s inability to get off the field on 3rd down and EMU’s superior defense (in practically every category), is going to matter the most here. Modeling suggests an 8.5 point EMU home win, so I’ll ride with that. Eagles 28 — Huskies 20

Colorado -2 vs. Utah — We have Road Utah rearing their ugly heads again against the team that is playing the best overall football in the P12. It’s Karl Dorrell, so I don’t know how much to believe just yet in CU. But given the Utes’ propensity to gack it up, and have defensive lapses in the passing game, a field goal W for the home team is not too much to ask. And let’s not forget, CU has everything in the world left to play for. McIntyre left the Buffs with a load of talent, while the Utes are still retooling. Talent wins out in this one. Colorado 31 — Utah 27

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 05 Cal at Oregon Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Auburn -6 12 at Mississippi State — These two should get along fabulously, Gus and Dread Pirate. For offensive minds, this game is going to set quarterbacking back by almost 20 years. Intellectually, I have no reason to bet against Auburn. Modeling suggests Auburn by 8. But how many times have we seen this ‘Barn team under Gus, with nothing worth playing for, just fold up like a dead spider and blow away? To State’s credit, they’re still battling. Whatever midseason dysfunction they were suffering seemed to get corrected once Will Rodgers was named starting QB and that probably makes all the difference...that and State’s willingness to attack those trash corners. I just get the nagging feeling that here’s your upset of the week in the SEC. Moo 26 — Auburn 24

LSU +23 12 at Florida — The LSU offense will have some success on the wretched Gata defense, but I don’t know how on god’s earth the Tigers are going to get any stops. They will face a far more inhumane coach this week than they did last — Alabama could have hung 70 on LSU and not broken a sweat. I think Florida gets pretty damned close, TBH. Final home game in the Swamp? Wanna impress the Heisman voters? Bo Pelini is just what the doctor ordered. Florida 63 — LSU 31

Nevada + 2 1/2 at San Jose State — This is going to be a great game, but the Spartans are favored for a reason: it is going to come down to two factors in the passing game: Nevada’s great passing game vs. SJSU’s very good secondary that leads the MWC in PBU and has allowed just 6 TDs through the air, and SJSU’s very good passing game versus a below-average Wolf Pack secondary that has forced just 2 INTs and allowed 9 TDs through the air. Nevada, in fact, gets after teams on the defensive line but hasn’t been able to generate many TOs. That has led to a -2 TOM for the ‘Pack. The Spartans have converted those pressures though, and as a result lead the MWC in turnovers forced and in TOM. The one wildcard here, between two mirror-image clubs, is that SJSU has been outstanding in the RZ. They turn their trips into touchdowns. Nevada has been forced to kick 7 FGs from inside the 25. Combined with the marginally more sloppy offense, inability to force TOs, and that swap of 6-for-3 is going to matter on the road. SJSU 33 — Nevada 27

Tennessee -15 at Vanderbilt — Need to save your job? QUICK, CALL VANDY! This game is going to be a donkey-punching. I’m not even bothering running the data on it. Tennessee is better than their record, and somehow, improbably, Vandy is even worse. Take the Vawls and then take a shower later to wash off the filth. Tennessee 37 — Vandy 6

San Jose State v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Mortal Lock of the Week

Texas -29 12 at Kansas — DYK that in 4 of the last 6 outings, KU has lost by 40+ points? And that their opponents have failed to cover only twice? Texas is going to molly whollop this trash team. Tom Herman wants style points for the Boosters because, as Bear Bryant knew (and as all coaches at football powers know), you cover the spread to keep the guys with the money happy.

The ‘Horns will.

Texas 62 Kansas 20

Want some more like this? That’s cool, because I want your money.