In honor of my trip to Vegas this weekend, I will actually pick against the spread. Spread values are as Friday morning, Pacific time. I should note that I probably won’t actually bet on any of these.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong:
- Air Force @ Navy (-3.5) (CBS): 3.5 points doesn’t seem like nearly enough, as I really like Navy here.
- Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (-2.5) vs. Arkansas (@Arlington, TX; ESPN): Both these times withered in their first real tests of the year, though I suffice to say I think Arkansas’s was a little tougher than TAMU’s. I like Arkansas to win outright, actually.
- Northwestern @ Illinois (-10) (ESPN2): Northwestern gets their offense back in the form of Dan Persa this week, which is good for a team that lost to Army. Meanwhile, Illinois didn’t lose, but they sure tried to in a 23-20 win over Western Michigan. If I were to bet on this for some reason, I’d take the points.
- Texas Tech (-6.5) @ Kansas (FSN): I know Tommy Tuberville is at TTU and not Leach, but geez. I like Tech to cover.
- Pennsylvania State (-15.5) @ Indiana (ESPNU): My only reservation about picking Penn State to cover here is that I’m not entirely sure they can actually score 16 points.
- Tulane @ Army (-7) (CBSS): I think betting on this game would probably be a sign that you need help. Tulane has shown some ability to score this year, so I actually like them to win outright.
- Minnesota @ Michigan (-20) (BTN): Yes, Minnesota really is that bad. Michigan should cover.
- Mississippi State @ Georgia (-7) (SEC/FSN): I’m not sure which of these teams is a less inspiring 2-2. I would stay far away from this one, but if you can’t for whatever reason, I would take Miss State and the points.
- Kentucky @ Louisiana State (-30.5) (SEC): Kentucky is awful and all. I mean, really awful. But 30 points to LSU awful? Oh, right, they did beat WVU by 26. But still! 30 points in a SEC game! I would, very hesitantly, take Kentucky and the points.
12:30: Wake Forest @ Boston College (-1) (ACC): A person who is nominally a Boston College fan wrote the following sentence a couple weeks ago: “Duke was simply the better football team today.” I’ll take Wake outright.
2:30: Nevada @ Boise State (-27.5) (Versus): Nevada gave TTU all they wanted last week despite not really being the squad that upset Boise last year. Oh, right. Yeah… Boise might cover after all.
- Michigan State @ Ohio State (-3.5) (ABC/ESPN): Neither of these teams has really played anyone to this point. Ohio State’s best win is a 37-17 evisceration of a not-very-good Colorado team, while Sparty’s best win to date is probably Central Michigan. So, uh, stay away from this one. Unless you want to take Ohio State to cover.
- Georgia Tech (-10) @ North Carolina State (ESPN/ABC): This will be GT’s first real road test, though as far as I can tell the only thing really going for NCSU at this point is a blogger with a good sense of humor. Personally, though, it always makes me kind of nervous when the opposing fanbase is preparing for a massacre. I’ve been a GT fan long enough now to know that nothing is a gimme, having seen losses to the Dukes, (bad) UNCs, and Kansases of the world. Oh, and we lost to NCSU last year, at home, 45-28. In other words, I generally expect the worst. That said, it’s not like we don’t have issues of our own. Defense is still sketchy and seems to disappear for halves at a time, with good performances the 2nd half against Kansas and the 1st half against UNC, but then allowing UNC to get back in the game. Special teams remain… special, as we miss Scott Blair on place kicks and seem to be lacking answers on kickoff coverage, kickoff returns, punting, and punt returns. To this point, we’re basically some sort of anti-LSU, basically.
For NC State, they miss Russell Wilson but Mike Glennon actually isn’t terrible, but they have lots of issues running the ball and on defense. That said, if the GT defense disappears for a half again their rushing attack could suddenly look very potent.
- Baylor (-4) @ Kansas State (ABC): This game will likely be loaded with offense, with K-State piling 28 on in their win at Miami and, well, let me tell you about Robert Griffin III, Baylor’s soon to be all-everything quarterback. Actually, whole articles could probably be written about him, so I will just state this: Robert Griffin III has more touchdown passes (13) than incompetions (12). That’s not a typo. That’s not TD:INT. His TD:INT is undefined, actually. So, yes, after 82 attempts, he has more touchdown passes than incompletions. Amazing. I like Baylor to cover. Well, Robert Griffin to cover, anyway.
- Arizona @ Southern California (-12) (FSN): Arizona’s not good and all, but this isn’t the USC juggernauts of the past, either. I’ll take the points.
- Bethune-Cookman @ Miami (ESPNU): Some books have lines on these games, but many don’t. I won’t either. Miami all the way.
- Southern Methodist @ Texas Christian (-13) (CBSS): This isn’t last year’s TCU, but I still like them to cover against a SMU team that got blown out by the only other good team they’ve played this year (TAMU).
6:00: Clemson @ Virginia Tech (-7) (ESPN2): I like the building narrative of Clemson as a cheap knockoff of Auburn from last year. Basically, the narrative is something like this: powered by a singular talent on offense (well, and a good WR) plus a sketchy defense that makes 1 or 2 plays when it has to. Virginia Tech has mostly done its thing against lesser competition so far, but it also gets the Tigers in the infamously difficult environment at night in Blacksburg for their first road game of the year. Also, one of these teams is coached by Dabo Swinney and it isn’t VPI. I think VPI will cover the 7 points.
- Texas (-9.5) @ Iowa State (FX): Iowa State is 3-0, including what has to be a freak victory over in-state rival Iowa. That said, Texas got into a groove against UCLA on offense, so I think they will cover.
- Washington @ Utah (-10) (FSN): 10 seems awfully high for this group of Utes. Yes, they did demolish BYU. No, Washington isn’t that good this year. And yet, I feel one should take the points here.
- Duke @ Florida International (-3.5) (ESPNU): FIU is decent and stuff, but I still think Duke should win outright.
- Alabama (-4) @ Florida (CBS): I feel like this should be about Alabama by 7 or so, I think you can infer the rest.
- Nebraska @ Wisconsin (-10) (ABC): I think I would take the points here. Wisconsin has played no one so we don’t really know if their defense is really all that. I think this could be high scoring for both sides, a situation that has to favor Nebraska at least getting within 10.
- Notre Dame (-12) @ Purdue (ESPN): Meanwhile, if Notre Dame can get out of their own way they should be able to cover against a bad Purdue team.
- North Carolina (-7) @ East Carolina (CBSS): UNC should cover pretty easily. ECU is good and stuff, and sure they hung around with VPI, but everyone hangs around with VPI – it’s what they do. Meanwhile, UNC has some real talent on both sides of the ball and should dominate both lines of scrimmage.
9:15: Mississippi @ Fresno State (-4) (ESPN2): Really, we should be placing bets on when Houston Nutt gets fired. Fresno covers.
10:30: California-Los Angeles @ Stanford (-21.5) (FSN): UCLA held on to beat a very depleted Beaver squad. Stanford is not depleted. Stanford should cover.
All right, folks, good luck and enjoy the weekend!