Welcome back! Last week I got a little carried away with the underdog money line plays, but I still wound up in the green despite a losing record. Anyway, I’ve learned from that, and while I may not be picking as many money line games, I will continue to pick a few. I felt really good about Texas Tech and they proved me right. Hell, Iowa State had a pretty good shot to do the same, but it wasn’t to be. Considering this a learning process, I feel I’ve been doing pretty well, but there is plenty of room for improvement. From here on out, I’m going to look to improve my record which means I won’t take so many wild chances. Right now I’m a little below 50% – pretty average – and I would like to get that up around 60% by season’s end. I’ll be looking to pick my spots a little more carefully, but still jump when I see a line that looks out of place. Let’s take a look at this weekend’s slate of games.
8:25 pm EST
NFL: Seattle Seahawks (4-2) @ San Francisco 49ers (4-2); SF -7 (-110), O/U 37.5
The battle for the NFC West takes center stage in this Thursday night broadcast. The Seahawks have been making a lot of noise this year, knocking off perennial Super Bowl contenders Green Bay and New England, with a sound defense and running game behind a rookie QB. Russell Wilson has looked great at times, but he has shown his rookie colors at times. This San Fran defense had been solid all year, except for last week when the Giants embarrassed them on their home turf. Ahmad Bradshaw was the first player to rush for over 100 yards against the 49ers at home in over a season. Who was the last player? Marshawn Lynch – Seattle’s RB. I think Beast Mode will get a huge volume of work against the 49ers because this is a defense that can make even the best QBs look back. I don’t think Pete Carroll will allow Russell Wilson to do much in this game, and I think the 49ers run defense returns this week. I’m looking for a very low-scoring game between these two with San Fran pulling away in the 4th quarter.
Picks: 49ers -7 (-110) for 2 units, Under 37.5 (-110) for 2 units
9:00 pm EST
NCAAF: #3 Oregon Ducks (6-0) @ Arizona State Sun Devils (5-1); Oregon -8.5 (-110), O/U 69
*All rankings according to the BCS
Chip Kelly’s Oregon Ducks suffered a drop in the rankings despite not even playing last week. I don’t expect that will have much to do with the outcome of the game, but it is interesting how that happens. The Ducks have looked lights out on offense this year, but they’re facing a team whose defense has only allowed 14 ppg. Do the Sun Devils have what it takes to slow down DAT Dude (DeAnthony Thomas – the other “Black Mamba”), Marcus Mariotta and Co.? I’m not so sure about that. The Sun Devils boast a 5-1 record and a solid defense, but they are a team that lost to Mizzou earlier in the year. Yeah, that Mizzou. Outside of that game, they haven’t really played anyone with much of an offense and Thursday night looks to be their first true test. To be fair, Oregon hasn’t really played anyone either, but early in the season they did shut out an Arizona Wildcat squad that lit up Stanford’s D for 48 points two weeks ago. That’s about their only solid defensive performance though. The Ducks are 2-4 against the spread while ASU is 5-1. Also, 63% of the public volume has come in on the side of the Ducks, but the line has dropped all the way down to 7.5 in some books. It opened at 10. I’m going to go against my gut and take ASU. The line looks too small and continues to drop, bets continue to pour in on Oregon, but the home team coming off a short week is looking to prove something in this one. I don’t think they win, but I’ll bet that they cover.
Pick: Arizona St. +8.5 (-110) for 2 units
12:00 pm EST
#6 LSU Tigers (6-1) @ #18 Texas A&M Aggies (5-1); LSU -3.5 (-110), O/U 52
Two very distinct cultures collide in this rematch of the 2011 Cotton Bowl. I guarantee the Crazy Cajuns will have infiltrated everything in College Station by the time this blog is posted; their tailgates, like their culture, is otherworldly. The Aggies will be busy “Whoopin'” it up behind their yell leaders – a rather peculiar institution. I always get the feeling those guys have some weird skeletons in their closet when I see them prancing around on the sidelines.
*(Thanks shaggybevo.com – this is gold)
Maybe they’re no longer in the closet…hmm. Back to the game. LSU is coming off a huge home win against last week’s media darling, South Carolina, while the Aggies just gave all of their fans a heart attack in a late night thriller against Louisiana Tech. La Tech is a solid squad that won’t get much press throughout the year, but the Aggies just beat a worthy opponent. I have a feeling the public is downplaying that win, as 59% of the volume of bets are coming in on the side of the Tigers. LSU was able to mask some of their glaring holes against the ‘Cocks, but that was at home. I think Kyle Field will be rocking for this one, and the Tigers might get tired of chasing Johnny F-ing Football around all day. I’m going to take the points in this one and I feel pretty good about it. I think LSU is still overrated and they will end the year with about 3 losses. I will not be surprised if this is one of them. That offense is too bad to beat many people on the road.
Picks: Texas A&M +3.5 (-110) for 3 units, Texas A&M ML (+145) for 1 unit
Virginia Tech Hokies (4-3) @ #19 Clemson Tigers (5-1); Clemson -8 (-110), O/U 62
At the beginning of the season, many of those making predictions about the ACC pointed to this weekend as a potential preview of the ACC Championship. Since then, the Hokies proved that they were very overrated and have gone 0-3 on the road this season. Meanwhile, Clemson has only 1 loss and that was on the road to Florida State. For a little bit, FSU was looking like a National Championship contender, but they reminded us they were just pretenders, per usual. That being said, I think Clemson is an even bigger group of pretenders. They have a flashy, up-tempo offense and a fiery young coach that the media loves to put on TV. The public loves Clemson. They’re fun to watch. Virginia Tech is pretty boring and their defense, which was supposed to be their calling card this season, has been exposed. However, I think Frank Beamer is a good coach and he won’t let the team quit. This is still a very talented squad that can match up well with the athletes on Clemson’s team. I have a feeling the Hokies might come back from the dead and surprise the 60% of the bettors that are on the Tigers this weekend. Also, the line has moved a full point in just under 12 hours. That may be a good indication of which side the books want bettors to play.
Picks: Virginia Tech +8 (-110) for 4 units, Virginia Tech ML (+260) for 1 unit
(Okay, I know I said I was going to cut down on the money line plays and I have made 2 in my first 2 Saturday games, but I am pretty confident about these. I’m not just making the play because I think they have a shot.)
Iowa State Cyclones (4-2) @ Oklahoma State Cowboys (3-2); OSU -14, O/U 60
Now this line doesn’t really make too much sense. Oklahoma State has shown that they are vulnerable on D and have a tendency to make mistakes on O. On the other side, the Cyclones just came off of a solid performance against Kansas State, a game where they had a solid shot to win. The Cyclones were only a 6.5 point dog to KSU, so why would they be a 14 point dog to the Pokes? This looks like it should be a lay up for ISU, at least that’s what I’m reading on the message boards. When I read “sure things” on message boards, I get very excited because I don’t think most of those guys have a clue. “Sure things” make the opposite side look really attractive to me, especially when the favorite is coming off an underwhelming performance against the Fighting Fried Mayonnaise Eaters in Lawrence, Kansas. I think the young Pokes saddle up and put some points on the scoreboard in this one.
Pick: OSU -14 (-110) for 2 units
3:30 pm EST
Michigan State Spartans (4-3) @ Michigan Wolverines (4-2); Mich -9, O/U 42.5
The Battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy pits a pair of teams who have failed to live up to potential this year. Lately, Michigan State has looked pretty rough with a loss against Iowa and a close win in Indiana. However, Sparty has won the last 4 of these meetings and I think Michigan is tired of little brother winning this battle. Michigan’s offense has looked great lately, but it always does when they play a mediocre defense. Despite being 1-6 against the spread, Sparty has a solid D and will look to slow down Denard Robinson and make him throw. The public is loading up on MSU in this one, and that gives me some hesitation because I liked them initially, but there hasn’t been any reverse line movement and I think the books are trying to buy some Michigan bettors to even out the juice. I think Michigan wins this one, but I think it will be a very close game and Sparty will run the ball and play defense. I’m going to take the points.
Pick: MSU +9 (-110) for 2 units
#7 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-1) @ #2 Florida Gators (6-0); Florida -3.5 (-110), O/U 41
Once again, South Carolina burned me this past weekend. The Gators just had a huge win in the Swamp against LSU, but LSU followed that up by beating South Carolina. This is a very tricky game to read, especially with the line movement. Almost 60% of the public volume is on the Cocks, but the line has moved in favor of South Carolina in past few hours. South Carolina is a little banged up and Florida came out a little flat against Vandy before they pulled away at the end. Is this where South Carolina proves to be the team I’ve thought they were all season? I don’t know. I’ve been burned by the ‘Cocks all season… the Ole Ball Coach has my number like I’m the Georgia Bulldogs. Everything in this game is pointing me towards Florida, but I can’t root for these people:
I’m going to make a small play on the ‘Cocks. …Um, phrasing?! I’m counting on the hook to pull me through.
Pick: South Carolina +3.5 (-110) for 2 units
7:00 pm EST
North Carolina Tar Heels (5-2) @ Duke Blue Devils (5-2); UNC -10.5, O/U 63.5
Both of these teams play much better at home than on the road. For whatever reason, despite their talent, UNC can seem to get it together on the road and they haven’t covered away from home yet this year. Could this be the game to break the spell? Duke has much less talent than UNC and I think Bryn Renner and Gio Bernard could be in for another huge game. However, this game is on the road – kind of. I’m not sure how great of an environment there is surrounding the Blue Devil football team, but I’m thinking they are just a little bit overshadowed by the basketball team. In this showdown of Tobacco Road, I think each team has the potential to put up a lot of points. A lot of the message boards have been picking up on the Tar Heels woes away from home, and the public has showed a slight favoritism towards the Blue Devils in this game. So, what am I going to do? Yesterday I said I would play and fade the Heels accordingly, and I’m going to make them prove me wrong until I change my stance. I’m taking the points and the over.
Picks: Duke +10.5 (-110) for 2 units, Over 63.5 (-110) for 3 units
#4 Kansas State Wildcats (6-0) @ #13 West Virginia Mountaineers (5-1); WVU -2.5 (-110), O/U 73.5
Last week was a very interesting week for both of these teams. The Wildcats travelled to Ames and won a hard fought game against an underrated opponent. They looked a little flat in the beginning, but they picked it up and closed the door at the end of the game. Sure, they might have been looking ahead a little, but they didn’t completely disregard their opponent. West Virginia, on the other hand, thought they would just waltz into Lubbock and beat the Red Raiders with ease. That didn’t quite come to fruition as the Mountaineers got stomped 49-14. West Virginia really needs this game and it helps that they are at home. Many people think this should be a big bounce back win for the Mountaineers, but I’m not sold on that. I think the real difference in this game comes down to two things: defense and coaching. I give the edge to Kansas State in each of those departments. Bill Snyder probably knew last week was going to be a tough game and that his team might come out a little flat, but he didn’t let them lose. The defense stepped up and made a stop late in the game to seal the deal. Dana Holgorsen saw his team get down and quit. They looked absolutely awful when things weren’t going their way. I think he’ll have the team ready to go this week, but I don’t know how much that will matter until his defense decides to show up. I’m taking K-State. This game has the potential to be close, with the Mountaineers edging out a win, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Wildcats won by a TD or more. Big play with the points.
Pick: KSU +3.5 (-110) for 7 units, Over 73.5 (-110) for 2 units
East Carolina Pirates (4-3) @ Alabama-Birmingham Blazers (1-5); ECU -3, O/U 55.5
This last pick comes to me from a source. Admittedly, I know very little about either of these teams, but ECU only being favored doesn’t look right at all. UAB has won only one game, against SE Louisiana State. So, they haven’t beaten a single FBS school and they’re only getting 3 points at home? Looks like a trap. Both of these teams have one common opponent, South Carolina. The Pirates and the Blazers were both blown out, but by very similar margins. Looking at that, and the 64% of public plays on the Pirates, I’m liking what the source is telling me. I’m going to put my faith in him and make a big play on UAB.
Pick: UAB +3 (-110) for 2 units
That’s all for now, but look for updates and late game plays on Saturday. I hope y’all enjoyed the read. BOL!