Welcome back everybody, I hope y’all caught yesterday’s pick. I’ve been money in the middle of the week, but Saturday has given me some trouble. This weekend I’ll be straying from the norm a little bit as I like a lot more favorites than dogs. Usually, I try to find value with the dogs, but this week I think there are some teams that are undervalued even as favorites. When the public makes the shift from playing a lot of favorites to playing a lot of dogs, I try to make the shift in the opposite direction. Since I’ll be laying a lot of chalk today, I thought I’d start y’all off with one of my favorite clips from the HBO Series, Boardwalk Empire. Here’s Chalky White:
Yeah, Chalky is one BAMF. I’ll be trying to follow in his footsteps this weekend as I look to take the books to the cleaners. Before the picks, here’s the record… relatively unimpressive as it may be:
Record to Date: 75-87-3, +33.15 units
Weekend Record: 1-0, +2 units
Saturday, 12:21 pm EST:
Arkansas Razorbacks (4-6) @ Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-3); MSU -6.5 (-110)
Despite Arkansas being a huge disappointment this season, I think there is some value in this game. The Bulldogs have lost 3 in a row after a 7-0 start. The slide started when they were ranked #11 and took a trip down the road to Tuscaloosa. Well, the State fans left that game with their tails between their legs and it doesn’t look like Mullen’s squad has recovered since. I know they’ve played 3 very difficult games in that stretch, but the Bulldogs haven’t even cared to show up in any of those games; the average score of those three “contests” was 38 to 12 in favor of State’s opponent. Lately, Arkansas has been playing tough games, even though they’ve only won one out of three. In each of State’s losses, the QBs have done quite a bit of damage. I’m looking for Tyler Wilson to have a big day and keep this one close. Also, it helps that the line opened at 6 then quickly moved to 7 before the reverse line movement pushed it back down to 6.5. Most of the public still thinks Arkansas is shit, and they probably are, but I’m not sure Mississippi State looks much better. I’m taking the Hogs.
Pick: Arkansas +6.5 (-110) for 2 units
Saturday, 7 pm EST:
#12 Oklahoma Sooners (7-2) @ West Virginia Mountaineers (5-4); OU -11 (-110)
The poor Mountaineers haven’t won a game since October 6th. 5 weeks. That’s pretty bad for a team that is supposed to have the Heisman winning QB. Oh wait, where did Geno go in those games? He disappeared and quit?! You don’t say. Well, this week the Sooners come to town and it could be exactly what the doctor ordered for Coach Holgersen and Co. OU has won both games since their loss to Notre Dame, but the defense has allowed an average of 28 points per game over the last 3. Out of that crew, only Baylor has an offense that I would call decent. West Virginia’s offense has looked amazing against suspect defenses and I think they’ll catch a break here and get a chance to light up the scoreboard in front of their home fans. While I don’t think they’ll win, I think 11 points is a little bit too much to be giving up to a team that has the firepower the Mountaineers do.
Pick: WVU +11 (-110) for 3 units
Saturday, 3:30 pm EST:
Ohio State Buckeyes (10-0) @ Wisconsin Badgers (7-3); WISC -2.5 (-110)
Yes, you did read that correctly. Wisconsin is favored. The under-performing Badgers are favored over the undefeated The Ohio State Buckeyes. Sounds a little too good to be true if you were looking at playing Ohio State, doesn’t it? Well, I think it is. Wisconsin is the toughest place to play in the Big 10 even though it is not the biggest stadium by any stretch of the imagination. Let’s consider a few things, like, how has Ohio State done on the road this season. They’ve only played 3 road games, and they’re 1-2 ATS. That stretch included a 1 point win over Michigan State and a 3 point win over Indiana, two middle of the road Big 10 teams, if you can call Indiana that. This will be the first hostile environment the Buckeyes have seen this year, and Braxton Miller, even though he is playing like a Heisman winner, is still only a sophomore. He could get a little rattled having never been to Camp Randall. I’m going to look for a flat game from Braxton Miller and a solid game for Montee Ball, who has really gotten back to form lately. I think the Badgers pound the ball and disrupt OSU’s offense. I bet the Badger faithful will be jumping around quite a bit.
Pick: Wisconsin -2.5 (-110) for 3 units
Saturday, 12 pm EST:
Northwestern Wildcats (7-3) @ Michigan State Spartans (5-5); MSU -7 (-115)
Both of these teams enter this game coming off a tough loss, and it looks like this will be a matter of which team can respond positively following a defeat. Northwestern has yet to have back to back losses this season, but they are just 2-3 in their last 5 games. However, that’s better than Michigan State’s 2-4 in their last 6. The Wildcats have a high octane offense that centers around their mobile QB, Kain Coulter. He can do it all on the field, and most likely will. Also, the Wildcats are an impressive 9-1 ATS this season, but they haven’t really played anyone that plays the style of football Michigan State does. The Spartans rely on solid defense and heavy doses of their bell cow, LeVeon Bell, to bring them to victory. I think this could be a difficult match-up for an undersized Northwestern defensive front, and I like the Spartans in this one. Another reason I like the Spartans, most of the public likes the Wildcats and there has been a decent amount of reverse line movement. I think MSU will slow things down and grind out a win, pulling away in the 4th quarter.
Pick: MSU -7 (-115) for 4 units
Saturday, 7 pm EST:
Syracuse Orange (5-5) @ Missouri Tigers (5-5); Mizzou -5 (-110)
The Orange come into this game coming off a huge victory in the Carrier Dome over previously unbeaten Louisville, and the common fan would think they have all the momentum. Well, I want to look at this for a second because it seems like the best teams Louisville had played up to that point were Pittsburgh, who put up a solid fight against ND, and Kentucky, who is awful, but they get some respect for being in the SEC. Last week’s game was Louisville’s first difficult road test, and the ‘Cuse jumped up and bit them. On the other hand, Mizzou, who blew out Kentucky a few weeks ago, is also coming off a big win against Tennessee. Sure, Tennessee isn’t very good and their coach is probably gone after this year, but it was a big monkey off Mizzou’s back – their first SEC win. Syracuse has shown that they will give up quite a few points, and I’m thinking the Tigers will get back on track against the Orange.
Pick: Mizzou -5 (-110) for 4 units
Friday, 9:30 pm EST:
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (1-8) @ Air Force Falcons (5-5); Air Force -21.5 (-110)
First of all, I apologize for picking this absolutely horrid game, but I think there is value here. In a game like this I would normally be picking the dog because of a number of factors. The public is overwhelmingly on Air Force, there is reverse line movement, Hawaii hasn’t defeated a single D-1 opponent this year, and they’ve only covered the spread once, but that was only because USC was tired of scoring (the line was 44.5 – Hawaii lost by 39). Hawaii has given up a ton of points, and I don’t see that stopping any time soon. I think the Falcons will get up early and continue to run the ball down the Rainbow Warriors throats – with a name like that, who knows, they might like it – and cruise to victory. I have the feeling that Hawaii could keep it close in the first half, as Air Force has been prone to giving up yards, but I think they’ll have some unforced errors that lead to this one being a blowout.
Pick: Air Force -21.5 (-110) for 5 units
Thursday, 7:30 pm EST
North Carolina Tar Heels (6-4) @ Virginia Cavaliers (4-6); UNC -3 (-115)
Usually when UNC is a favorite on the road, I’ll go with the other team. The trend had been hit them at home, fade them away, but last week the Tar Heels broke that trend and got blown out by GT at home. So why would I hit a team coming off a big loss in a short week? Good question, but I think Virginia lays an egg on national TV and Gio Bernard turns his swag on hard. The 68 points allowed to GT last week was an anomaly, and the Heels D allows 26 ppg with that total thrown in there. There won’t be much defense played in this one, but UNC has an opportunistic D and the Cavs use two QBs. I know it has worked pretty well so far, but UNC doesn’t have a bowl game to shine in the national spotlight. I think they’ll take a page out of Petey Pablo’s book and raise up!
Pick: UNC -3 (-115) for 5 units
Saturday, 3:30 pm EST
North Carolina State Wolfpack (6-4) @ #11 Clemson Tigers (9-1); Clemson -16.5
I’ve been pretty hard on Clemson all year and they’ve done nothing but prove me wrong. Consider this a change of heart. The Wolfpack enters this game after a blowout win over Wake Forest as they hope that momentum will carry them forward in Death Valley. Simply put, I don’t think it is going to happen. While NC State’s defense looked solid last week, I don’t think they’re anything a good offense can’t exploit. They’ve allowed 35+ points in 3 games this year, and are giving up an average of 38.8 points per game in their 4 losses. If we know anything about Clemson, it is that they can score – they average over 43 points per game. I think the crowd will be rocking in Death Valley and that Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd will be too much for the Wolfpack to keep up with. Lay the points as long as it is under 17.
Pick: Clemson -16.5 (-110) for 6 units
Saturday, 8:00 pm EST
#13 Stanford Cardinal (8-2) @ #2 Oregon Ducks (10-0); Oregon -20.5 (-110)
The Cardinal look to be a major bump in the road for the Ducks road to the National Title, but there are some interesting things about this match-up. In the last 10 meetings between these two schools, Stanford has only covered twice. That’s right, they’re only 2-8 ATS. Also, in their last 7 meetings, the total between the Ducks and the Cardinal has gone OVER all 7 times. That should give the trend followers a nice little feeling in their trousers. I could go on and on about Oregon’s offense and how I think Chip Kelly is changing the face of football – not just college football, but the whole sport – but I’ve done that already. To their credit, Stanford has had a really solid defense all season long, but when they faced a team that runs the hurry-up/spread and runs the ball a lot out of it (Arizona), they really struggled. The Cardinal won that game by a FG in overtime. Oregon dropped a 52-0 whooping on the Desert Kitties and when about their business like nothing happened. I’m going lay the points with confidence. Go Ducks!
Pick: Oregon -20.5 (-110) for 6 units