Last Week: 5-4
Mortal Lock: 3-0
Nailed It: (Mortal Lock): Let’s just hope it doesn’t devolve into a one-score game late, because then you don’t like James’ chances of closing it out — he’s sort of a choker. But I don’t think it will. Bo Nix will ensure that.
Screwed the Pooch: “...That said, four touchdowns is too much for this hangover game. Michigan 42 NIU 17” — Final: Michigan 63 NIU 10. LOL.
Back for more, are we? This week, as opposed to last week, has quite a lot of lines that I like. The data are becoming a bit more stable now that each team has at least one “real” game under their belt (and usually two). But, to get there, we gotta’ stay away from those dudes offshore who want to reach their hands in our wallets.
So, best avoid these:
Not With a 10’ Pole and Stolen Money:
Cal +7 ½ at UW (46.5) – We tend to think of these two teams as playing very low-scoring, defensive contests, but they’ve gone over the number 4 of the last six meetings. In fact, UW’s lower scoring games have come on the road, not at home – their home games against P12 foes have totaled an average of 51.33 the last four years. If this were at Cal, I’d tell you to go under. But at home, I’m getting a weird score (Cal’s new passing attack may have something to do with that), 32 – 28 Huskies. Bad, gross, tossup game. Peace outta’ this one, both parts.
UAB – 3 ½ at Tulane – We still have no idea what Tulane looks like punching in their weight class. Roadies at two Top 15 teams, a hurricane, and now hosting C-USA co-favorite, UAB. You could say the same about UAB. What do you know about the Blazers from pasting an FCS team, and then turning around and getting smoked in Athens? Not much.
Your conclusions are only as reliable as your data, and these are garbage. There is too much noise in the signal chain here, and it’s leading to conclusions that I don’t trust. Worse, all the numbers are pulling within the error margin (composite score is UAB by 1.2, BTW).
My head (and the numbers) say the UAB defense travels better than the Green Wave’s offense shows up, and it’s a squeaker. But my heart says it’s time for Tulane to finally play a game it can win, and that’s where they’ve been very good of late. Sounds like a good game to watch though?
Go On, Take The Money And Run
Wisconsin – 6 ½ vs. ND – If you’re the Badgers, you have to be licking your chops at the prospect of an Irish team that don’t run the ball well, that have been hit on the ground by determined running games, and that leave ND’s fortunes in the hands of former UW QB, Jack Coan.
Coan has been a turnover machine his whole career, and last week versus a bland Purdue team, he again struggled. The 2021 Irish aren’t built to win games like this one; it’s a (dare I say) finesse team that must throw to win. If UW can harass Coan, and play solid in the back seven, they should stomp a mud hole in the Irish. On defense, where ND has prospered has been in getting after the QB; if Chryst has his way, this one will be decided up front in old Big Ten footbaw without tacky passing, and where the Badgers simply do everything better. Notre Dame’s offensive line is a tragic thing to behold.
So, it’s a bad matchup for ND if the Badgers can stay on the ground – the Irish secondary creates a lot of plays and that’s where UW will get in trouble. I suspect the Badgers won’t have to resort to distasteful forward passing.
The total on this one (+46.5) seem a bit off as well. The largest number I’ve generated so far is around 38, and no greater than 43. And that’s what roughly I’ve placed below. This won’t be a shootout, even by Wisco standards. I suspect even though one team vastly outplays the other, Wisconsin’s extra conservative road game plan makes this one closer and lower scoring than it otherwise would be in Madison. Chicago is going to be a ND home game for all intents and purposes. I’m still riding the matchup here, Badgers win and cover in a low-scoring one — single digits/low DD. Wisconsin 26 Notre Dame 17, and take the under.
MTSU at Charlotte (-3) — I can’t believe this number hasn’t moved much. The Blue Raiders aren’t particularly good on the road (and they’ve gone 0-2 ATS this season). The Miners have a similar problem, but they do play pretty well at home. All data indicates that UNCC should clear this one by 6-7 points...and that was before MTSU’s starting QB quit yesterday. Breaking in a new QB OTR against a conference team with roughly equal talent, that also happens to play inspired at home, is a bad bet for MTSU. If the Raiders pull this one out, it will be an actual upset. Given the circumstances, it would be greater one than the point spread indicates. Charlotte by 7-10 is the call. And if you can buy this at -6 or under before tonight, take it.
Navy +20 at Houston – I know Holgo couldn’t cover his junk in a bathhouse if you spotted him two fig leafs, but this is as terrible a Navy team as I have seen in the last decade. I think you have to go back to the late 2000s, and those Charlie Weiss Notre Dame squads that lost to them, to find a worse one. The Middies can’t move the ball. They certainly can’t defend a forward pass. They get rang up on the ground. They turn it over a whole bunch. Even the punting has been spotty. And that’s at home. Houston better win this game big, or the Oil Money are gonna’ fire Dana 30 minutes after the final whistle. Numbers suggest they will. Houston 38 Navy 13
Michigan -20 vs. Rutgers — The Scarlet Knights have been winning against some very bad teams, while not moving the ball very well themselves. They go to Ann Arbor to face a very good one for a change, that seems to finally have sorted out its quarterback mess. I don’t know how Rutgers scores here. And despite a very valiant effort by Schiano and crew, the Wolverines Death Plow of Grim Destruction continues. It won’t be pretty. It will be effective. It will be doubly effective now that Rutgers suspended its top two corners today. Michigan 34 Rutgers 10
Nebraska +5 at Michigan State – Want to know a dirty secret? After gacking it up a few times at Illinois, the Huskers haven’t actually been that bad. You can see the improvement from Game 1 to Game 4, and certainly from Year 1 to Year 3. Want to know another one? What Mel Tucker has done from Year One to Year Two in Lansing has been even better – spectacular, actually.
This Sparty team is playing out of its mind, well above its head and talent level, forcing mistakes, exploiting them, getting after quarterbacks, stretching the field, winning ball games...and importantly for us, covering the spread. A perfect 3-0, in fact. Make that 4-0 after this week.
Nubber will be a tougher out than the sad sack unit we’ve come to expect. But they simply make too many mistakes, and its OL is too porous, playing on the road against a team that lives and dies by pressuring the passer and forcing mistakes. That pattern repeats itself on Saturday. Michigan State 30 Nebraska 20
I Heard You Like Underdogs
Want a pick based solely on speculation? Here it is: Kansas State (+6) gets the cover in Stillwater, and very well may win outright. The last time Oklahoma State covered at home, my balls hadn’t started sprouting gray hair. I’m not even going to look at the numbers; I’m going to Dunning-Kruger this one and confidently assert in the face of no evidence whatsoever (or even conflicting evidence), that the Wildcats cover this six points and may even win outright in a low-scoring defensive slobberknocker. In fact, I’m doing exactly that: Kansas State 23 Oklahoma State 20
Tennessee +18 ½ at Florida – The Vols defense has actually been fairly decent, especially the DL. You can bet no one is going to be surprised by the UF triple option now, and that’s going to make Gata throw the ball. (Well, it will make Florida throw if the Vol front seven can remember Pop Warner days and play the pitch man properly, something Alabama apparently no longer coaches).
The Florida secondary is ripe for tjhe plucking, and UT will fling a bunch, even if they turn it over a bunch as well. What they lack in talent, they make up for in exuberant ballsiness. This is a much more attainable shot at a rival for that Tho’ Up Orange than someone like Alabama or Georgia is. And you have to think last week’s game was mentally and physically exhausting for UF, while the Vols got an FCS tuneup.
Tennessee still isn’t a good team by any stretch. It’s not a very talented one either. But I suspect they acquit themselves well enough here. Numbers call for a 34-21 Florida win, and that sounds A-Okay to me. I hate to give money to Tennessee, but this number is too high. And don’t be surprised either if all of the turnovers we’re bound to see, and some suspect secondaries, make this one go over the totals of 62.5.
Ridiculously Large Spread I’m Taking Anyway
Coastal Carolina -36 vs. Umass – The Chanticleers have but one weakness; a defensive line that can be overpowered by superior running games. Just one team has been able to really do that, Liberty last year. Guess what Umass can’t do: You got it. They can’t run the ball worth a crap. Guess what else Umass does? They turn it over a bunch, an average of -2 per contest. I suspect they go higher than that this week.
Know what else Umass can’t do? Play defense at all. They give up almost 7 yards a play and 560+ YPG – and neither Eastern Michigan nor Pitt are as good as this Coastal team.
Finally, do you know what Chadwell does? Cover spreads...at home, at least. This is the first of two easy games for the Chanticleers, and it’s time to polish up any rust on the machine. Coastal loves to hit the number at home, as I suspect they will again. The data suggest a 54-13 rout. And, hey, why not?
Georgia -34 1⁄2 at Vanderbilt — The Commodores are going to get meticulously chopped up and ground into a fine paste and then snorted off a mirror. This team sucks so very bad, not even Road Kirby can screw it up. Georgia 51 Vanderbilt 3
Mortal Lock of The Week
BYU -23 vs. USF
Ah, yeah. This is the good stuff. An offense that can’t score and that can’t stop the run or pass, on the road in Provo, where the Cougars are a spread-covering machine. And the Bulls are undersized.
BYU finally gets a breather after opening its season with a three-game P12 slate, and it’ll show. Data says: BYU in a romp: 42-10. And I think that sounds just about right. Ride the hot hand, and the Cougs are 2-0 ATS at home for a reason, and the Bulls are 0-3 ATS for an equal reason. The Cougars are going to do criminal things to this undersized, taffy-soft team at home.
The Mountain Meadows Massacre was the last time Southerners suffered such a wholesale slaughter in Utah at the hands of angry Mormons.
I love this game. And you should too.
Want some more of these? I’ve got you covered at my companion site, (Almost) Giving Away Money. There are about another dozen picks over there for this week, including the rest of the weeknight games, Arkansas-Aggie, and another Mortal Lock.
Plus cheerleaders and dick jokes.