James Brown got soul! That’s right, I’m calling upon the godfather to help me with this week. There are plenty of big games this weekend and I think I’ve found some solid plays. I’m sticking to my guns and going against the conventional picks by acknowledging that if a game looks too good to be true, it probably is. Last week, there were quite a few units won on games like that and I’m looking to continue the trend.
This week, I’ll be ranking my picks into three categories: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. The Bronze picks will consist of the games worth 2 units and they will be those in which I fear the common assumption has a good chance to be the correct one. The Silver picks will be worth 4 units, and the Gold picks will be worth 6 units. The Silver and Gold picks will be a little more difficult to call, but I think there is a lot to be made on these games. Anyway, they all look good at first, but they all have the potential to turn into crazy bitches and take you for all that you’re worth. Saddle up, partner. We may be in for a ride this week!
NFL: Arizona Cardinals (4-0) @ St. Louis Rams (2-2); AZ -1 (-110), O/U 39
Arizona comes into this game fresh off an overtime win at home against the Miami Dolphins. While the Dolphins aren’t a top tier team by any stretch of the imagination, they have shown flashes. The most surprising thing from that game was how well QB Ryan Tannehill looked against a very solid Arizona defense. I know the Cards offense isn’t great, but the D is supposed to be their calling card, or at least it was in their victories over the Patriots and Eagles. Meanwhile in St. Louis, Sam Bradford has not looked as good at the beginning of his 3rd season as the Rams had hoped. Also, Steven Jackson, the do-it-all RB, looks like he has lost a step or two and is constantly battling hamstring injuries. I get the feeling SJax was tired of being on a crappy team and has let himself go a little, hence the muscle strains. All of that aside, Jeff Fisher has this team looking a little better than most people expected. Also, most people didn’t expect the Cardinals to do anything this season, but here they are at 4-0. 60% of the public thinks the Cards will continue their winning ways. I’m a little more skeptical. The Rams just took down another team with a solid D, Seattle, in St. Louis. I think we’ll get to see how much this team has improved under Jeff Fisher, and I am taking the Rams.
Pick: Rams +1 (-110) for 2 units
NCAAF: #12 USC Trojans (3-1) @ Utah Utes (2-2); USC -14.5 (-110), O/U 48
Earlier this afternoon, this game was a Bronze level play for me, but that was when the number was 14. There are some numbers that are much more expensive than others in gambling, and 14 is one of them. Now, I recognize the possibility of this line change being an attempt to buy some bets on Utah, but the line started the day at 13.5 and I get the feeling the books didn’t really want to come off of 14 so quickly. I’ve been thinking about this game for a while and I’ve had it pegged as a difficult game for the Men of Troy since the beginning of the season. Also, USC has not looked like the world-beaters they were hyped to be prior to the season. It also helps that Utah has had their QB knocked out of football completely. How does this help? Well, to the casual sports fan with that knowledge, this might look like a steal. The way that 61% of the volume of bets have poured in on the side of the Fighting Kiffins grants a feeling of affirmation that the average Joe has found something he likes. I like betting against the average Joe. Let’s go Utes!
Pick: Utah +14.5 (-110) for 4 units
12 pm EST: #22 Northwestern Wildcats (5-0) @ Penn State Nittany Lions (3-2); PSU -2.5 (-110), O/U 48
Pat Fitzgerald has done an amazing job since taking over at Northwestern, and has his team overachieving so far this season. The Wildcats are 5-0 and looking for their first 6-0 start in decades, but I think Ped State still has the better players in this match-up. The public has had an aversion towards the Nittany Lions all year, as expected, and that has allowed people to pick against them with their emotions, especially after opening 0-2. With 58% of the volume on the Wildcats, it seems a little odd that the line would move in favor of Penn State, doesn’t it? Well, if you’ve been following the blog for a little while, you know that is a possible indicator of a trap. I think Bill O’Brien is going to do a good job steadying the ship in Happy Valley. (Insert obligatory Sandusky “rocking the boat” a little too much comment here…). It looks like Matt McGloin is starting to grasp O’Brien’s offense and the defense has been playing very well all season. I’m looking for Penn State to cover in a close one, and I’ll take the under also.
Picks: PSU -2.5 (-110) for 2 units, Under 48 (-110) for 2 units
12:30 pm EST: Virginia Tech Hokies (3-2) @ North Carolina Tar Heels (3-2); UNC -5.5, O/U 50.5
Previously ranked Virginia Tech enters this game following a tough loss to Cincinnati. To say that the Hokies have been an early season disappointment is an understatement. Picked by many to contend with FSU and Clemson for the ACC crown, Frank Beamer’s squad has a pair of losses to teams they should have beaten. Maybe this season is part of the learning curve for their young QB, Logan Thomas, but the schedule doesn’t get any easier this week. The Tar Heels are undefeated at home this season, they haven’t really played anyone though, and they have the talent to match up with the Hokies. The Heels have a couple of losses of their own this season, to Wake Forest and Louisville, but I think they’ll be able to get it done. Most of the public plays have been on the Hokies, 58%, yet the line has moved from 4.5 to 5.5 in a day. That’s the type of reverse line movement that I like to see. Give me the Heels.
Pick: UNC -5.5 (-110) for 2 units
3:00 pm EST: Arizona Wildcats (3-2) @ #18 Stanford Cardinal (3-1); Stanford -9 (-110), O/U 54.5
The Cardinal squad is coming off of a deflating loss last Thursday at Washington. They were briefly in the top ten after a win against USC, but it was not to be. On the other sideline, Rich Rod continues to have his struggles with early PAC-12 play and is in dire need of a solid conference win. Well, here is your shot. On the road against a ranked squad, the Wildcats need to take this one or else deal with the consequences of a 3 game losing streak. Last week against Oregon State, the Wildcats were favored and they looked pretty good facing a tough defense. That’s good news because they’ll be facing another solid defense this week. If the ‘Cats can get an early lead, I have trouble seeing the Stanford offense matching them point for point, and I think Arizona could steal one on the road. However, the real reason I like the Cats so much is the line movement that occurred yesterday. Despite the volume of bets being split 50/50, the line moved 2 whole points in 2 hours in favor of the Cardinal. I think there might be some “smart” money on the side of the Cats, I’ll take it.
Picks: Arizona +9 (-110) for 4 units, Arizone ML (+290) for 2 units
3:30 pm EST: #14 Oklahoma Sooners (2-1) @ #24 Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-0); OU -5.5 (-110), O/U 59
The Sooners have had a long time to think about that disappointing loss to Kansas State, and they should be very motivated against the Techsters. Entering the season, OU was a favorite to win the Big 12 and play in a BCS game. That is still a possibility, but the Sooners have been less than impressive so far this year. Last year, Texas Tech ended OU’s undefeated season and quest for the National Championship in Norman. So, one would think the Sooners will be out for revenge in this game. Also, to the casual fan, this line looks ridiculous… like a steal. 65% of the volume is on OU, but here is a little known fact: the Red Raiders actually lead the FBS in total defense. This will be the game that we get to see how good the Red Raiders D really is. I don’t know much about the team, but I know I don’t want to be on the side that looks like a steal. Wreck ‘Em Tech!
Pick: Texas Tech +5.5 (-110) for 4 units
3:30 pm EST: #4 LSU Tigers (5-0) @ #10 Florida Gators (4-0); LSU -2.5 (-110), O/U 42.5
LSU is coming into this game following a couple of lackluster performances against Auburn and Towson. What is Towson? Not sure. Not a football school. The Tigers came in as one of the odds-on favorite’s to win the National Championship. However, I get the feeling that they have been exposed up front on the offensive line. In their last 2 games, the LSU O-line has really struggled picking up stunts and crossing blitzes, and Will Muschamp likes to lower the BOOM! I have not been impressed with the LSU offense at all this year, but I have been very impressed with Florida’s defense. This could be a marquee win for Muschamp as he attempts to silence the haters who say he is “Ron Zook 2.0”. I think the Gators keep the crowd in this throughout the game thanks to a few early turnovers by LSU. The Swamp is never an easy place to play, either. I’m taking the Gators and I’m going to dabble on the money line too.
Picks: UF +2.5 (-110) for 2 units, UF Money Line (+120) for 2 units
4:oo pm EST: Michigan Wolverines (2-2) @ Purdue Boilermakers (3-1); MICH -3, O/U 58
At first, I had zero interest in this game, mostly because I find Big Ten football more boring that watching paint dry. Hell, every once in a while you might even be blessed and get some lead-based paint, inhaling those fumes might make for an interesting day. Why am I bothering with this game? Because I’ve seen so many money bags emoticons next to Michigan on various gambling threads throughout the week. Phrases like “Michigan takes this easily” have been very common as well. You know what, Denard is turning the ball over like it is his job, while Purdue has been scoring points at will. The Boilermakers also put up a hell of a fight against ND, probably a game they should have won. Michigan turned the ball over 5 or 6 times against the Irish. I’m not sure of the exact number, but it was enough that Denard Robinson apologized to his teammates for his performance. I bet he felt sick to his stomach, and I’m betting that 63% of the public will too. Let’s do some Boilermakers!
Pick: Purdue +3 (-110) for 4 units
7:00 pm EST: #5 Georgia Bulldogs (5-0) @ #6 South Carolina Gamecocks (5-0); SC -1, O/U 53.5
I hate betting against the Dawgs and I said I wasn’t going to fade Carolina anymore. Well, that means we’re in a predicament. This is a huge game for both teams as the road to Atlanta for the SEC Championship continues to be defined. South Carolina beat the Dawgs in Athens last year, but they dropped a game to Auburn later in the year and the Cocks were left out of the SEC title game. Georgia has a stable of freshman running backs who love to make HOUSE CALLS! The offense has looked very balanced so far this year, but the defense has not come together quite yet. On the other side, the Ole Ball Coach has himself a defense and a running game. Maybe it is true that you get more conservative as you get older. Anyway, the Cocks don’t want to try to go point for point with Aaron Murray and the Dawgs offense. DE JaDeveon Clowney and company will look to hit the Dawgs in the mouth and see how they respond, and even after that terrible performance against Tennessee, I think the Dawgs will prove something on Saturday. Who the hell needs the point? Buy it back for even money. Gooooo Dawgs, Sic ‘Em!
Pick: UGA to win (+100) for 2 units
7:oo pm EST: #8 West Virginia Mountaineers (4-0) @ #11 Texas Longhorns (4-0); Texas -6.5 (-115), O/U 74.5
That’s right, I wanna know where tha gold at!
Thank you to the people of Mobile, Alabama for making that video possible. If you haven’t seen the original video, here it is:
Well, that’s enough of that. Coming into this match-up, West Virginia QB Geno Smith is everyone’s frontrunner for Heisman, and he should be. He’s put up ridiculous stats on an undefeated top ten team. The Mountaineer offense was hitting on all cylinders against Baylor, but that was Baylor, a school that places all of their best athletes on one side of the ball. Texas has athletes all over the field, offense and defense. Two of their most recognizable players are the pair of All-American defensive ends, Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat. If the Horns can get pressure and force Geno to step up in the pocket, I think they can come away with a few turnovers. Remember, Geno is always looking to pass first and at times he has been a little reluctant to run. To slow down the pass rush, West Virginia will have to run a few screens and draws, which they do quite well. However, to really slow down the rush, I think Geno Smith needs to make plays with his legs so that the Horns have to leave a spy on him. The Texas secondary is good enough to cover the WV’s athletes man to man, if they get a consistent pass rush. When Geno is rushed, he tends to throw behind covered receivers. While he hasn’t paid for it yet (he hasn’t thrown an INT yet this year), I think he will pay a couple of times this game. The Mountaineers run a lot of timing routes on offense and to counter that the Horns need to do 3 things on defense: create an effective rush with the front 4, play press man coverage and knock these WRs off of their routes, and wrap up in the open field. So far, the Horns have been able to do the first two, but they have struggled with tackling. That cannot happen in this game if they expect to win. Also, a few things before I finalize the pick: Remember what I said about Baylor and their athletes? I think the same holds true for West Virginia. Their defense has been terrible. RB Malcolm Brown will be out this game, so it will be up to Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray to pick up the slack. Bergeron has been very solid and Gray was hyped to be an all-world RB. It is time for him to prove it. Also, it is important to remember that Texas played the #1 offense in the nation last week, Oklahoma State. They were able to make the necessary stops to win a tough road game. I have a feeling the defense will come up with a few big plays early and Texas will be able to control the ball with their running game while keeping the Mountaineers up-tempo offense off of the field.
Lastly, 61% of the public volume is on the Mountaineers because who in their right mind would spot them points right now? Honestly, I think this has all the makings of a perfect storm for the bookies. WV and Geno Smith have been all over ESPN all week, David Ash grew up big time last week, and the line continues to move in favor of the Mountaineers despite the wave of bets coming in on their behalf. Hook ‘Em.
Picks: Texas -6.5 (-110) for 6 units, Under 74.5 (-110) for 2 units
That’s all for this week, I hope everyone enjoyed the write-up and I wish all of you the best of luck. I’ll post an updated full sheet on Saturday morning and will continue to update throughout the day.