Alright, Week Four and you know the drill by now.
Half a dozen games to go through today: One we like, one we love, an underdog to consider, one to steer clear of, a ginormous spread worth your time, and a mortal lock. And, with the exception of the bloodbath in Week 2 (where 37 of 50 favorites lost and a lot of statisticians in Vegas have new winter homes in Aruba,) we’re killing it so far: 5-0 in Week One; 5-0 in Week Three.
Want some more of these? I crank the data every week, for every single game over at my companion site: (Almost) Giving Away Money. Check it out, and prosper.
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Not With A 10’ Pole And Stolen Money
FSU -17.5 BC
Take this off your board this week for the simple fact that FSU’s two-deep looks like a MASH unit. Three of its top four players are hurt. Another could be lost for the season. And frankly all of the data that go into making the algorithmic picks, those numbers rely on that production.
Personally, I don’t think FSU covers it, though a two-score win seems likely. The resilient Noles have had a lot of emotional games to open the season, and can be forgiven for struggling against a garbage squad. It’s okay to have a letdown week, provided you win. That hook is screaming out for a 34-17 kind of final, isn’t it? #GoACC is gonna’ bite someone in the ass this week. And this one is just as likely as any other.
But, if you want a point spread-type game? Here ya’ go:
UConn +38.5 at NC State
I don’t care what the data says this week on either of these teams. Next week NC State travels to play Clemson, while the Tigers have to go to Wake this week and their focus is on one of the few decent teams CU plays. That means this week in Raleigh is spent on Clemson. Their mind is on Clemson. The bench will be lengthened to save starter for Clemson. Students will be pre-gaming a solid week for Clemson. Doeren will be taking notes on Clemson. The scout team will be in Orange Britches all week to practice for Clemson. You can take absolutely nothing away from this game, nor will NC State be putting very much be put into it.
I positively cannot think of a more toxic line on this week’s board. Not even Alabama.
One We Like:
Cal -3 vs Arizona
The Wildcats have been one of the surprises of the year out west. So too have the Bears, which — for all their usual low Justin Wilcox scoring — have a Top 30 passing offense efficiency. It’s not pretty, but it’s the same formula being used at Oregon State and Wazzu, who sit at a combined 6-0 as well.
As for the Cats, taking a defense on the road that surrenders 5.04 YPC is not very conducive to pulling out a dub against a ball control team. And pairing their one-dimensional passing offense against a Top 10 pass defense isn’t great for moving the ball either. Bears win and cover is what is the Machine predicts.
Justin Wilcox’s Walking Quaaluudes at Cal get it done by a touchdown -6.65
One We Love:
UTEP +15.5 vs. Boise State
Machine really likes Boise here. -18.25 to -21.92. Miners are absolute trash ATM. They turn it over too much and have issues getting bullied up front. If Boise keeps the ball out of Bachmeier’s hands, and on the ground where Bear intended, Broncos should romp, but mercy that quarterbacking is brutal. BSU 37 UTEP 17
Underdog With Bite
Vandy at Alabama -40.5
This is just plain disrespectful. Clark Lea’s group were far more competitive last year than scores suggested at times. This year is no different, only they have the analytics and record to back it up.
Alabama is going to romp, no doubt. VU’s defense is execrable. But the offense has a little spunk to it, the ‘Dores compete for 60 minutes, Alabama has had distractions this week, BoB still can’t scheme a man open against air, the wide receivers still don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground, it is not forcing TOs, and they’re still sorting out an OL rotation.
And all that stuff above about NC State - UConn? Apply a great deal of that to Alabama, as the Tide travel to Arkansas next week for what is going to be one of the 2-3 toughest contests all season
Vandy gets beat handily, but covers this stupid spread. VU +31.44 (Something like 45-13, Alabama).
Ginormous Spread Worth Your While
Georgia -45 vs Kent State
One of these days, UGA will play a team with a pulse (and, no, a depleted Oregon team with 9 months to prepare doesn’t count either). That is not this day. This day, there is a heapin’ helpin’ of MAC #butt.
UGA -50.80. In fact, let’s call it 54-3. #WhiteFullbackSZN
No. 21 Wake Forest +7 vs. No. 7 Clemson
The Demon Deacons couldn’t run on Liberty, got the ball shoved down their throats for four quarters, were gifted four free turnovers and a dozen penalties. Even then, Wake barely won...over an FBS independent...at home...by one point.
Clemson is not Liberty.
In fact, of all the ACC teams that Clemson routed under Swinney, Wake has matched up the worst by far. He’s never won by fewer than 14 points in Winston-Salem. He’s never lost to them, period. In 11 of 13 meetings, he’s won by at least 20. And in four of those, he’s beaten Wake by seven touchdowns or more. Even last year, when Wake won the Atlantic going 11-3, and Clemson’s passing game couldn’t hit water from a boat in the middle of the Pacific, the Tigers breezed to a 21-point home win by lining up and running over their ass.
There is a reason the modeling loves Unca’ Clem here by double digits, even with that trash quarterback. Clemson is just too physical. Running game is too much. Wake is too undersized. The Demon Deacons feast off of a quick strike offense that then forces opponents to get into must-pass positions. But what happens when the other team just flat steamrolls Wake and doesn’t stick to the script? You get what has happened to Wake when they meet Clemson. And Dabo is just fine to play that kind of a conservative game. Hell, he may just run the wishbone.
It’s hard to bet against a coach that covers almost 70% of his road games in a landfill-tier conference, in such a one-sided series where the most talented team sucks out the oxygen out of upsets by refusing to play along...Especially when Vegas is spotting you a meager touchdown.
We’ll give Wake a Big Game bonus, but there’s no reason to argue with the numbers that see an 11-13 point Clemson win.
Alabama -40.5 vs Vandy
Dumb, Alabama isn’t covering that.
I’ll take it. It’s still just Vandy