After a successful weekend in the books and a successful dodging of Sandy a.k.a Frankenstorm, I’ve been able to crunch a few numbers on the games this weekend in hopes that I will find more treats than tricks. For the most part, the system was successful in Week 9, but I’ve noticed a few things I overlooked (e.g. total plays on a game, lines holding at certain numbers, et cetera) and I will implement them into this week’s picks. First, before I go any further, there is something I need to explain about this system. My picks are not solely based upon the outcome of some algorithm, I take certain things about the games into account, then I look at the teams and match-ups themselves before making my decision. The confidence points or stars I assign to each game is a mixture of the system, my gut feeling about the game, and recent performances of each team. Now that I have that out of the way, let’s get to the picks.
Record to Date: 62-71-3, +29.6 units
Saturday, 3:30 pm EST: Iowa Hawkeyes (4-4) @ Indiana Hoosiers (3-5); Indiana -2 (-110)
This is a fairly uninteresting game, but I think I’ve found some value here unless there is something I’ve missed completely. While the Hawkeyes have been bad as of late, they haven’t been as bad as the Hoosiers. Last week, Indiana was able to snap a 5 game losing streak, but it came against the hapless Illinois Fighting Illini. Over their last 6 games, despite a 1-5 record, the Hoosier Daddy’s have been a solid 4-2 against the spread. The public has begun to take notice of this trend and an overwhelming amount of the public is on Indiana in this one. This game has an unusual amount of action on it too, so I feel pretty confident going against public opinion. I think the Hawkeyes defense returns to form and they go on to win the game outright.
Pick: Iowa +2 (-110) for 1.5 units
Saturday, 3:30 pm EST: Pittsburgh Panthers (4-4) @ #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-0); ND -17 (-110)
The Irish are coming off of a huge win in Norman against the Oklahoma Sooners. They came into that game as 13 point underdogs, but managed to whip the Sooners by 17. Like I said, OU backs down when they get hit in the mouth. Anyway, I think there might be a little bit of a hangover in South Bend after such a huge victory. I usually like to fade teams after a huge win or a deflating loss, this week is no different. Like the game above, the public has really taken notice of the Irish and nearly 90% of the action is backing them. Even though this Pitt team has struggled in their first year under head coach Paul Chryst, I think they’re starting to turn it around. The Panthers have had two double-digit wins in a row, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking Notre Dame and laying 17 points to anyone. Their defense is great, but the offense leaves much to be desired. I’m taking the Panthers as I think this one has the potential to be a one score game.
Pick: Pitt +17 (-110) for 1.5 units
Saturday, 7:00 pm EST: #13 Clemson Tigers (7-1) @ Duke Blue Devils (6-3); Clemson -12 (-110)
So far this year I have not done very well when betting against teams from South Carolina. I don’t know, maybe that whole state is out to prove something to me, but I think their football teams have been overrated this year. Duke has taken strides under David Cutcliffe and has a wealth of senior leadership in the locker room. They have been flying under the radar so far this year, but I think this is a pretty solid football team. Clemson, on the other hand, is a very flashy team that the public loves. They have a high powered offense and explosive receivers – a fantasy football team’s dream. The public likes them so much that about 88% have backed the Tigers as they think this is still the old Duke. Well, I don’t think so and the reverse line movement – in favor of Clemson – tells me there is something fishy going on here. I’ll take the Blue Devils and the points. I don’t think they’ll win, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.
Pick: Duke +12 (-110) for 3 units
Friday, 9:00 pm EST: Washington Huskies (4-4) @ California Golden Bears (3-6); Cal -4 (-110)
The Huskies come into this game fresh off their second big upset of the year and look to continue the upward swing. Washington has been pretty solid when they are getting points on national TV, that is if you forget about the LSU game, but they’ve been terrible on the road this season. On the other side of the field, the Cal Bears have been pretty much terrible no matter where they’ve played this season. Their 3-6 record has placed head coach Jeff Tedford squarely on the hot seat, once again. I’m not sure how this guy keeps his job, I can’t remember Cal being relevant since DeSean Jackson was there. Anyway, if Tedford wants to continue his coaching career, this is a game he needs to win. I think his team will come out and perform well at home under the lights and this young Washington team will continue to struggle on the road.
Pick: Cal -4 (-110) for 3 units
Saturday, 12:00 pm EST: #12 Oklahoma Sooners (5-2) @ Iowa State Cylcones (5-3); OU -12 (-110)
Good morning, Ames, Iowa. Can you say hangover? I can. I like fading teams coming off a big loss, and I think this is a perfect spot to do so. It would be a different story if the Sooners had a bye week to prepare – like they did after the K-State loss – but Ames is a tough place to play and the Cyclones like playing solid defense at home. An 11 am local time kick-off doesn’t sound that great to any Sooner, as I’m sure they’ll have a hard time getting up for this game. Iowa State is not a team to be looked over, though. They were within a few plays of knocking off Kansas State in Ames a few weeks ago, and I think it is possible that they get a marquee win here. I’m not going to guarantee anything, but OU has had some trouble focusing against lesser opponents this year… remember that UTEP opener? I like where this line is and the lack of movement despite 81% of the public being on the Sooners. I’m taking the Cyclones and this is another game I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw the underdog win outright.
Pick: Iowa State +12 (-110) for 4.5 units
Saturday, 3:30 pm EST: #23 Texas Longhorns (6-2) @ #18 Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-2); Tech -6.5 (-110)
The Texas Longhorns could not look worse in the eyes of the public than they do right now. After crushing losses to West Virginia and OU, the ‘Horns have won 2 in a row in lackluster fashion. They haven’t covered the spread in their last 4 games and they have been on major fade alert as of late. At first it looked like the defense was the real problem, but last week in Lawrence, the defense showed up (kind of) while the offense looked atrocious, but they managed to steal a victory. Meanwhile, Texas Tech has been making a lot of noise lately… until they played K-State. The Red Raiders ran into a buzzsaw named Optimus Klein last week and are still licking their wounds from the 55-24 shellacking. Historically, Lubbock has been a very difficult place to play for the Longhorns, but I really like them in this position. Maybe I’m the eternal optimist, or maybe I just really like reverse line movement when 87% of the public is on the Techsters. Either way, I’m taking the ‘Horns. I think the defense will actually show up this week while the offense gets back on track.
Pick: ‘Horns +6.5 (-110) for 4.5 units
Saturday, 3:00 pm EST: TCU Horned Frogs (5-3) @ #19 West Virginia Mountaineers (5-2); WVU -6.5 (-110)
Man, I really enjoyed fading the Mountaineers in the past couple of weeks when they played K-State and Texas Tech. Those plays alone brought me over 20 units, which turned out to be a great thing because those plays were the only things that kept me afloat in their respective weeks. Now that the Mountaineers have had a week to heal up and go back to the drawing board, I think we’ll see the explosive offense of West Virginia return against a very suspect defense for TCU. Normally I would like to get any points I could against the Mountaineers, but this is different. The Horny Toads lost their starting QB and their backup is questionable. So, if you’re telling me I would be betting on Geno Smith to outpace a 3rd string QB by a TD, I will take it every time. I think the Mountaineers get back on track this week and put up a lot of points.
Pick: WVU -6.5 (-110) for 6 units
Thursday, 7:30 pm EST: Virginia Tech Hokies (4-4) @ Miami Hurricanes (4-4); VT -1.5 (-110)
The Hokies have been absolutely awful on the road (0-4) and it is a wonder that they are favored in this game after a demoralizing loss on the road in Death Valley B (Clemson). The ‘Canes have a very young squad that has played much better at home than on the road, even though the record doesn’t reflect this. They are 3-1 against the spread at home and 80% of the public volume has been on the side of the ‘Canes. Despite the heavy public play, there has been some reverse line movement in favor of the ‘Canes. While Virginia Tech has been a troubling team to get a handle on this season, I believe they are due for a solid win on national TV. The Hokies came into the season as likely frontrunners for the ACC title and they have failed tremendously. However, this is still the same team that made it to a BCS bowl last year, and I have a feeling they will show that on Thursday night.
Pick: Virginia Tech -1.5 (-110) for 6 units
Saturuday, 8:00 pm EST: #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0) @ #5 LSU Tigers (7-1); Bama -9 (-110)
The Tide look unbeatable this year and LSU is lacking the swagger that we’re accustomed to seeing from Les Miles’ teams. Just about everyone has already given the Tide the National Championship, and they haven’t done anything to prove those people wrong. LSU has some serious issues on offense, and the Tigers will look to use their stable of 4 running backs to keep the Tide offense off the field. If they can do this, LSU has a shot to win the game. The Crimson Tide defense doesn’t allow much on the run, or much of anything from opponents for that matter. I think this could be the best Bama team since Saban has been there and that includes 2 National Championship teams. However, the game will be decided in the trenches. LSU has the most talented defensive line in the country and Alabama has the most talented offensive line in the country. This is where I think the crowd noise comes into play. The Tigers haven’t lost a game in Death Valley since 2010, and I think anyone who says the Tide will have an easy time down there may be mistaken. I think the Tide will win, but I really like LSU getting a large number of points at home. This will be a close one.
Pick: LSU +9 (-110) for 7.5 units
Saturday, 7:00 pm EST: #4 Oregon Ducks (8-0) @ #17 USC Trojans (6-2); Oregon -8.5 (-110)
The Trojans are in the midst of a very disappointing season in L.A. while Chip Kelly is busy proving the country his team is the class of the West. USC is coming off an unexpected loss to the Arizona Wildcats and I have a feeling that will cause this game to be more of a rout than it was already going to be. The simple truth of it is USC lacks the coaching, intangibles, and depth to compete with Oregon right now. They had huge media hype entering this season, but they were doomed to fail from the get-go. I think Chip Kelly puts on a show under the national spotlight in the Coliseum and the Trojans are left pissing into the wind. Chip Kelly is a genius, a game-changer, and he is transforming the landscape of college football. Get your popcorn ready, this one is going to be fun.
Pick: Oregon -8.5 (-110) for 10 units
*That’s all for now. Be sure to check back on Saturday morning as I add my 3 “source” plays and post the full sheet. Hope you enjoyed. BOL!