And we’re back! After 3 consecutive weeks in the green, this week looks like she is going to be ugly. Good, that means more for me. There are plenty of games on the board this week that look like they should be very easy covers for the favorite, but I have the feeling that it’s about this point in the season where the books look for the ultimate screw-job. Not just one big game, like the Clemson/FSU bout, but the whole weekend. It could be a blood bath, so I’m going to look for the games that are so attractive it seems wrong and then hit the other side. By now, I’m sure some of you are wondering what the acronym “HFFA” means, if you don’t already know. HFFA – Hot From Far Away… but up close, she’s ugly! Let’s go ladies!
Oh man! It gets ugly quick this weekend. As always, let’s take a look at both the NFL and NCAA games.
NFL: Cleveland Browns (0-3) @ Baltimore Ravens (2-1); Ravens -12 (-110), O/U 44
Let’s start with the home team. The Ravens are coming off a huge and emotional win over the Patriots on Sunday night. M&T Bank Stadium was rocking and revenge was served with a questionably good field goal as time expired. Also, the Ravens young star WR, Torrey Smith, had lost his younger brother earlier that morning. What did Torrey do? He just came out and had a huge game with over 100 yards and 2 tds, earning player of the game honors. It was a truly inspiring performance. Lately, the Pats had owned Baltimore and the most recent defeat came in last year’s AFC Championship game, a game which the Ravens should have won had it not been for both a dropped pass in the endzone and a missed chip shot of a field goal as time expired. Meanwhile in Cleveland, the town continues to rust away next to a river that catches on fire, but that won’t deter the Browns as they attempt to rebuild around their two 1st round draft picks, RB Trent Richardson and QB Brandon Weeden. So far this year, the Browns have compiled an 0-3 in relatively uninspiring and ugly games. However, the first two games were against decent teams, Philly and Cincy, and the Browns covered the spread and brought it to a push, respectively. One thing I noticed about the Browns, while Brandon Weeden has looked like Chris Weinke 2.0, Joe Haden is a legitimate shutdown corner in this league. Trent Richardson has the ability to have a solid game tomorrow night, as the Baltimore D has not yet lived up to their name. I’m taking the Browns and the points. I feel like the fans and the team will find it hard to get amped up to play the Browns following the big win.
Pick: Cleveland +12 (-110) risking 2 units
NCAA: #9 Stanford (3-0) @ Washington (2-1); Stanford -6.5 (-110), O/U 47.5
Stanford enters this Thursday match-up coming off a bye week preceded by a huge victory over the then #2 USC Trojans. One thing I’ve noticed about USC all year, the defense really isn’t all that good. Maybe this is a product of the recent NCAA infractions (lack of depth), or maybe they were just over-hyped all along. It is USC by the way. However, the Cardinal will not let that take away from their victory as they look to prove themselves worthy of their top-10 ranking on the national stage. Stanford has been able to play solid D and is holding opponents to just over 14 points per game. That being said, it doesn’t really follow why they aren’t a larger favorite than 6.5 points against a team whose 2 wins have come against San Diego State and Portland State. The Huskies have a very young and talented signal-caller, Keith Price, who was able to go toe-to-toe with RG3 in their bowl game last year. There was a lot of hype surrounding the youngster entering the 2012 campaign, but a 41-3 drubbing at the hands of LSU has since quieted those enthusiasts. 66% of the volume of plays have been on the Cardinal, and personally, I don’t blame them. This line looks too good to be true, which means it probably is. Gimme the Huskies! Mush!
Picks: Washington +6.5 (-110) risking 2 units
12 pm EST: #24 Baylor (3-0) @ #7 West Virginia (3-0); WV -13 (-110), O/U 81.5
Wow, that is a high over/under. It makes sense though. Neither one of these teams likes defense much, and the Big 12 has been transforming into what the Pac-10 used to be: a bunch of overrated teams that score points and don’t play defense. Well, I guess there is one team that kinda plays defense, but we’ll get to them later. West Virginia is led by their Heisman frontrunner at QB, Geno Smith, and his dynamic WR, Tavon Austin. You may remember these two from last year’s Orange Bowl… Clemson certainly does. Both of these teams enter boasting 3-0 records and big offenses. It doesn’t really matter who Art Briles has at QB, they’re going to put up some insane stats. The same goes for Dana Holgerson. It just so happens that Geno Smith is much more talented than anyone he had at Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers have been heavily favored, as expected, in every game thus far, but they are only 1-2 against the spread. That back door stays open a long time when you’re only worried about one side of the ball. The same goes for Baylor, the only real difference is West Virginia is the brand name this year. I look for this to be a wild one, and I won’t miss it for the world, but I think it is closer than most people think.
Pick: Baylor +13 risking 2 units
12:20 pm EST: Arkansas (1-3) @ Texas A&M (2-1); Aggies -13.5 (-110), O/U 65
Arkansas has been the most disappointing team in college football this year and the Aggies are young and exciting. Led by their freshman QB, Johnny Manziel, the Aggies are looking for their first SEC win while Arkansas is desperate. Well, 59% of the public plays think that Arkansas is dead in the water, and they might be after last week’s loss to Rutgers (who is better than people realize). I don’t think so. Their QB, Tyler Wilson, entered the season as a potential Heisman candidate and has tried his best to fire up his squad through the media. It hasn’t worked yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t. Well, at least if it doesn’t this week, then everyone knows the Hogs have been led to the slaughterhouse. The Aggies, on the other hand, showed some promise against Florida. They wore down in the second half, and I’m not sure if Kevin Sumlin has fixed that conditioning problem that has plagued them for a while now. I think this game looks a lot more like a toss up than people think. Wooooooooo Pig Soooieee!
Pick: Arkansas +13.5 (-110) risking 3 units, Arkansas Money Line (+400) for 2 units
3:30 pm EST: #16 Clemson (3-1) @ Boston College (1-2); Clemson -9 (-110), O/U 60.5
Why is Clemson, with their explosive offense and loads of talent, only a 9 point favorite against a team whose only win is against FCS Maine? I don’t really know. Clemson should be looking for a bounce back game against BC after they were dominated by Florida State, but maybe the Tigers are still licking their wounds. It is possible that they aren’t very focused on the Golden Eagles, and honestly, I don’t know how you could be after a loss like that. They really thought that they could beat FSU. Well, the Seminoles woke up and steamrolled the Tiggers. As for BC, I don’t know much about this team except that only 26% of public plays have been on their side. Looks like it is ripe for the pickin’!
Pick: BC +9 (-110) risking 2 units
3:30 pm EST: Ohio State (4-0) @ #18 Michigan State (3-1); Mich. St. -2.5 (-110), O/U 42
It’s the Gameday game and everyone is pretty evenly split on this one (51% OSU, 49% MSU). The bookies think this one will be a low-scoring affair, probably 20-17, won with a field goal at the end. So far, it looks like Michigan State has a solid D, but they don’t have much offense outside LeVeon Bell. He’s a hoss. However, I think the Buckeyes might be able to slow him down a bit. Speaking of offense, all Urban Meyer has done up there is score. His offensive plan has catapulted sophomore QB Braxton Miller into the middle of the Heisman discussion. I think the young star is ready to prove himself, and I think the Buckeyes win outright. So long, Sparty!
Pick: Ohio State +2.5 (-110) risking 2 units, Ohio State Money Line (+120) risking 2 units
3:30 pm EST: Tennessee (3-1) @ #5 Georgia (4-0); UGA -13 (-110), O/U 60
Unfortunately, it is time. I’ve been saying it for two weeks, and ‘Prime’ has been saying it for months. If you’re going to fade the Dawgs this season, this is the game. This is a great rivalry and both teams look to have plenty of offense. Thus far, Georgia’s D hasn’t really played up to standard outside of star LB Jarvis Jones. I don’t want to say too much about this because it stings just a little to write against one of your teams. That being said, I think they’ll hit the over too.
Pick: Tennessee +13 (-110) risking 3 units (potentially more, for insurance… you know), Over 60 risking 3 units
8:oo pm EST: #23 Wisconsin (3-1) @ #20 Nebraska (3-1); Nebraska -11.5 (-110), O/U 51
Why is Wisconsin still rated? They have looked underwhelming in every single game this year. I don’t care if they’re 3-1, they’ve been gold to bet against. The Huskers haven’t really played anyone, UCLA certainly doesn’t look like much anymore. Either that or Oregon State is for real. Oh wait, didn’t the Badgers lose to Oregon State? They sure did. And Nebraska lost to UCLA. Hmm, that’s interesting. I don’t really care, though, at least not until Wisconsin proves me wrong.
Pick: Nebraska -11.5 (-110) risking 2 units
That’s all for now, folks. However, I will be picking the following games: FSU @ USF, Texas @ Ok. St., and Ore. St. @ Arizona. Look for the write-up to come on Friday and I’ll keep y’all updated through Saturday evening with any late plays I may have. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and best of luck!