Week Zero: 5-2
Sorry for the delay folks. All of my data sets are on the cloud, and I didn’t have access to #online until yesterday — and then I had a ton of stuff to crank through to try and sort the wheat from the chaff. It’s time to make a little cash, isn’t it? So, away we go.
We begin as always with games to avoid. Vegas is baiting you, and we frankly needn’t make them any richer
Not with a 10’ Pole and Stolen Money:
ULM +31 at Kentucky – I’m going to need to see evidence that UK can beat anyone on the schedule by five scores, even one of the 3-4 worst teams in the country. Can UK win by 31+? Sure. And last year, I’d have jumped on this. But it’s a Wildcats team with roster holes, and Terry Bowden is chillin’ in Monroe this season. He turned it around quickly in Akron, and led one of the nation’s most historically awful programs to two bowl games (and its only bowl win in history). Bowden was also a spread covering fool: 20-12 ATS at Akron as a road ‘Dog. If you take anyone, take the Warhawks. But I’d stay well away from this one...just in case UK decides to remember it’s an SEC team.
Texas -8 1⁄2 vs. ULL — The Longhorns should frankly smoke a Sun Belt Team, even a very good one like the Ragin’ Cajuns. But a few things give me pause here: DKR is hardly an intimidating road environment; this game is a job interview for Billy Napier — Sark will have his Alabama interview in the Red River Shootout, but this is Napier’s chance to shine on the big stage; Texas was simply ghastly against teams bound and determined to win the line of scrimmage last season; Sark was never particularly good covering as a home favorite at UW and USC (3 games below .500).
Like I said should win. That’s not a guarantee. Let’s see what the ‘Horns produce first with Sarkisian as a head coach, shall we? Alabama’s talent pool makes a lot of coaches look like Broyles winners, very few become Eddie Robinson winners.
Large Spread Worth Your Consideration:
Wake Forest -31 vs. ODU: the Monarchs are another one of 2020’s COVID casualties, missing the whole season. And it’s not like they were a quality program to begin with. New head coach, on the road, with just 10 starters back from a team that hasn’t played in two years. ODU was passing decent at covering against ACC teams, but they’re 2-5 ATS in road openers...and trot out an OL with four underclassman. Rough, rough opener against a quality, loaded Wake team that is one of the ACC’s better squads as a home favorite, and Clawson’s best in his 8 years. Iffy, but I’ll ride it. Wake 54 ODU 20
Go On Take the Money and Run:
USC -13.5 vs. SJSU: I really do like SJSU, trust me on this. But there’s a world of difference between the speed and size of Nevada and that of the Trojans. Every game is a statement game for Helton’s beleaguered USC fortunes. Dicking around with an in-state G5 team isn’t how you keep a job. And despite the outstanding job SJSU did last year, the talent still isn’t there. If USC focuses, it’s a solid beating. USC 39 SJSU 20
Alabama -19 1⁄2 vs. Miami: I’m not going to paraphrase what I wrote this morning, the original suffices:
Diaz’s teams have been simply awful getting off to good starts against quality teams, and then they slap get the doors blown off them. The corners lose a lot of one-on-one battles from the aggressive style of defense they play. The linebackers are fast but tiny and forgettable — just another group of guys. And D’Eriq King is a turnover machine. He always has been, and that is especially the case against good teams. Big Lots Lamar Jackson signed with Houston for a reason, y’all.
Way, way too much Alabama: too much talent, too much defense, too much speed, too much Nick Saban. I think Alabama harasses King all night, forcing dumb turnovers (we’re not ruling out a NOT), and the Alabama offense plows over this undersized front seven. Bryce Young gets to see some corners being greedy and cheating, hitting a few deep shots to ease him into the starting job.
Alabama wins (and covers) easily, and it may not even be competitive.
Alabama has beaten Non-Con foes by an average MOV of 27.2. That sounds about right. Roll Tahd. Alabama 44 Miami 16
UTSA +5 at Illinois: Man, I love UTSA to win CUSA this year. And the Roadrunners aren’t going to be scared of anyone. But I think BERT knows there’s a lot more work that needs to be done here. The Illini pass rush and balanced offense gets it done in a surprisingly competitive game. Illinois 31 UTSA 20
LSU -3 at UCLA: Trust your eyes here. The Tigers are loaded, especially on offense. Even if the defense takes a while to untangle its orgy of coat hangers, the offense isn’t going anywhere. Tigers travel well, and O doesn’t want to inherit Malzahn’s mantle of permanent hot seat. LSU 37 UCLA 31
Nevada +3 1⁄2 at Cal: Another one of those quality G5 vs. Power 5 matchups. And likely with the same result. The Wolfpack have a penchant for derping it away inside the opponent redzone, and that even assumes they’ll see it often vs. a Golden Bears team that strangles opponents in the cradle. Ole’ Tim puts out some ugly teams, but he knows his defensive bid’ness — he’ll handle it fine on Saturday. Cal 24 Nevada 10
I heard you like Underdogs?
Notre Dame -7 1⁄2 at FSU: One bright spot in Norvell’s disastrous first year in Tallahassee was covering the spread as a home underdog (4-2), including an outright W vs. UNC. What do we know about Notre Dame this year, really? With Ian Book’s departure, it will lean on the run and try to play keep away on defense. For that matter, what do we know about FSU? It is a team stacked with transfers, since Jimbo and Willie Taggart both decided to not do their jobs. And we can guess that it will be much improved, though not yet an ACC player. For all that, take what we know as given: Mike gets his team up in these “disrespected, vs. the world” games. The humidity is going to matter a whole lot too. Outright win? Probably not. Cover a touchdown? Why not. ND 33 FSU 27
Arizona +13 vs. BYU: I just do not like this many points on the road against a Power 5 team for an offense that has to be rebuilt from scratch, and that was always susceptible to being slowed down once the big play is eliminated. The Wildcats aren’t world beaters, no. And an outright win by the Cougars should be expected. But not by two touchdowns for a BYU team that just doesn’t cover the spread well on the road. BYU 34 Arizona 24
Ole Miss -9 vs. Louisville:
Just when Satterfield gets the offense somewhat in order, the defense falls apart...and vice versa. This year is no different, as the Cards will just about have turned the corner on a competent offense, when their terrible defense needs a sudden rebuild. And it does. Good luck trying to stop the SEC’s most dynamic proven returning offense, and one that goes vroom vroom for 60 straight minutes, with 4 returning starters — against Lane Kiffin.
Ole Miss’ defense does give you pause, but one thing they were very good at is generating turnovers. And the Cardinals give it up like [ANALOGY CENSORED]. If UL hangs on to the ball, we may have a fun little shootout...for about a half. One can say the same for the error-prone Rebels. But I don’t know that UL has the horses in a rebuilding year to play catchup for a full 60 minutes. And buddy, the Rebels aren’t letting their foot off the gas either. Ole Miss 48 Louisville 34
Buckle up. It’s going to be a very wild ride, especially in the first 2-3 weeks as we get some data points to plug into ole’ machine. And if you’d like more of these, I’ve got you covered over here.
Best of luck and may the odds ever be in your favor.