As some of you may know, yesterday was the anniversary of the passing of a legend, albeit a controversial one, the late, great O.D.B. In considering one of my favorite O.D.B. lines/quotes, as presented above, this led me to a conclusion on the direction of my article this week. As with the Wu-Tang, it could also be said that this article, and entire site for that matter, were contrived out of a goal and/or desire to do right by my ATLien brethren.
So to get this out of the way, I owe you all an apology. Last weeks picks we’re not good to us, and I provided you all with a total 5-5 week, with a miserable 2-3 in favorite picks. I blame myself for a lack of research and a very rushed effort at the last minute to put something out as my undoing. While I can never predict the future and/or guarantee results, I promise much more time and energy has been put into this weeks decision making, and we will continue to do so moving forward. Now that that’s out of the way…ON WITH THE PICKS!
Per usual, favorites are notated by Bold Titles. First up…
Florida St./Miami – Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL – PICK: MIA +2.5
Anyone remember those Mad Libs games we used to play as kids? Before the days of iPad’s and handheld video games, what better way to kill time in a long car ride, than to dig into one of these simple fill-in-the-blank puzzle books, and build out the most clever (or disgusting, whichever your prerogative) storyline you could. Those we’re the days right? We’ll let’s see how sharp you kids still are today.
Jameis Winston is a _________(noun). I would like to see FSU ______ (verb) this game. Jameis Winston is being investigated for ______________ (ridiculous violation that Jimbo Fisher conveniently wants to ignore).
I’m going to try and keep this as short and sweet as possible for this one. Mostly just to keep the vitriol to a minimum. While it may not be the smartest thing I’ve ever done,
although having a food fight on the roof of the restaurant I used to manage is up there too, I’ve been firmly on the other side of FSU for the past two weeks. That’s not going to change this week either. Miami has been improving as of late, they have a possible Heisman candidate in their backfield and this has always been one of the better in-state rivalries. I expect no different here, and with rumors (credible or not, they’re still out there) of Jameis now point shaving to help one of his scumbag friends win money, I’m for damn sure not about to take FSU giving points. Did I mention my feelings for Jameis? Okay, let’s just keep it moving. FSU has been starting slow on their own lately, lending more credence to the point shaving rumors, not to mention they don’t run the ball very well anyway and if I haven’t made this clear already, I’M NOT A FAN OF SHAMEIS JAMEIS. Give me Miami plus the points in the game AND in the first half. If this still doesn’t work out in my favor this week, you can go ahead and count me in for Blue Devil action when they play Duke in the ACC title game, because at this point I’m either going to keep trying until I’m right and can be obnoxious about it, or go down in a blaze of glory taking whoever is on the other side of that guy who steals crab legs.
Alabama/Mississippi St. – Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL – PICK: MSU +9.5
There are a couple of plays that I like on this game. On one hand you have the number one team in the country heading into a primetime matchup, where they will have no better opportunity to prove to the conference and to the rest of the country that they are deserving of their ranking and a playoff bid. They come in facing a vaunted opponent that could be a little banged up after surviving an old fashioned SEC brawl last week down in the bayou. Win this game, and you’ve got a fairly easy road to the SEC Championship, and presumably a playoff bid. Seems like this should be a no-brainer right? That’s the only thing that gives me heartburn here.
Enter Nick Saban and The Crimson Tide. Much like the team they beat last week, Bama is always scary in a night game at home. Add in the contributing factors about this game that go against most of my general betting principles, and I’ve found myself in quite the juxtaposition here. The number one team in the country opened as an eight point underdog to their crimson clad foes, and that number only continues to rise. Not to mention the public is firmly on the Bulldogs side by about an 80/20 split. A growing spread for the favorite and the public position on the opposing side tells me I should stay away, but I just can’t do it here. I may eat these words and regret this next week, but I’m going with my gut in this one and taking the road dog, at the biggest number I can find before kickoff. If you’re with me on the Bulldogs and are also more confident than I am (or just plain ballsy), I wouldn’t blame you for sprinkling the money line too, because there is good value there if the current number one team in the country can keep calm and fight off the rising tides in Tuscaloosa.
Ohio St./Minnesota – TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN – PICK: OVER THE TOTAL (54.5)
Another game with a couple of spots that I see value. As an SEC person, I’m obviously not a fan of Ohio St. They have one of, if not officially the WORST fan bases in the country. (On second thought, this season FSU fans have given OSU fans a run for their money on that title. But I digress..) Of late however, their offense has made some major strides, including last weeks 49-37 statement victory over the BIG10 golden child Michigan State. The bad news for OSU however is that they are seemingly on the outside looking in of the new playoff system, and the fact that they play in arguably the worst major conference in the FBS doesn’t help them at all.
Their opponent this week shares some of the aforementioned character traits as well, which is what points me in two directions for picking this game. Jerry Kill and his Golden Gophers dismantled Iowa last week 51-14, and have been trending upward as a program for most of the season. While no one in the BIG10 tends to play great defense, including both of these teams, the Gophers and the Buckeyes do know how to score and I think they will do plenty of that this Saturday. I am encouraged by the fact that this is the Gophers final home game of the season, and I think they will fight hard and play a close game. I won’t take the full spread however, as I see OSU pulling away late in the game and Urban won’t be likely to call off the dogs, as they need the style points to try and move up the rankings. Give me the over for the strongest play in this game, and if you like the Gophers, I suggest taking them in the first half (at the time of this writing +13.5 for the game) when the game should still be within reach.
LSU/Arkansas – Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, AR – PICK: ARK -1, or ML
Now for those of you that know my tendencies, I’m not a big fan of favorites. But in this case I’m going to make an exception, besides it’s only one point anyway. I’ve been expecting Arkansas to get their conference win for weeks now. Alas, after many close loses, and a surprising/relieving blowout from UGA, still no W for Pig Sooie. The most unfortunate part (IMO) is that we haven’t even seen a downtrodden, bitter team out on the field each week. I genuinely believe that Coach Bielema has that entire university all-in on whatever he is selling. And they have looked like a much better football team too, it just so happens that the two perennial sad sacks of the SEC West just happen to be pretty damn good this year, and the rest of the country still seems content to forget about that team that Bobby Petrino got fired from after his “motorcycle accident” and subsequent controversy. This week however, I think they are finally in position to get what they’ve been striving for so long. Unfortunately for Les Miles and the Tigers, I think they’re in for a rough game. They should still be plenty beaten up from the game against Bama, and without much for them left to achieve this season, that doesn’t bode well. Arkansas -1 or ML, whichever you can get better odds on.
Arizona St./Oregon St. – Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR – PICK: OR ST. -7
To be quite honest, I don’t know much about either of these teams. I’m not incredibly invested in either squad or their conference, I don’t know their coaches very well, and I’ve probably only watched one or two of their games this season. But after seeing that this game fit all of my standard criteria for a solid play, and looking a little further into each teams stats, I am confident it is the right side to be on. The one stat that stands out to me the most is that of Home Field advantage in the series. When played at AZ the Sun Devils are an impressive 20-4, and when played in Corvallis the Beavers are 9-6-1. To further that point, of those nine wins for the Beavers in Corvallis, those have all come in the last nine consecutive years the game has been played there. Give me the points and the Beavers at home.
Virginia Tech/Duke – Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC – PICK: Duke -4.5
This one won’t take long either, and to be quite honest, I think anyone reading this should probably fade me on this pick. I have been saying for weeks that Duke was underrated, by the polls and by Vegas, and they quietly kept winning and covering spreads, much to my enjoyment. So far this season Duke is 6-2-1 against the spread, and I have been riding them each week, hoping no one else would notice. Unfortunately, people are starting to take note. This is another situation that goes against most of my standard principles, but I said weeks ago I would keep riding them until I thought there was no more value. Well I think that time is now, and this certainly isn’t a value play. But in the words of the late, great Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over till it’s over”, and I’m hoping this Duke trend will last just one more week.
South Carolina/Florida – Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL – PICK: USC +7
Ah the Ol’ Ball Coach. As many reasons as he has given Georgia fans to hate him, I just can’t. The man is a walking soundboard, and even in a press conference where he says nothing and walks off the stage, I still thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. Enter his alma mater, whom was rumored to have asked him for an updated resume and for a formal interview while trying to court him back for a second coaching stint, and I only see one way for this to go down. Who knows when his last season might be before he decides to retire, and even with the dumpster fire his season has turned into, I can’t imagine him hanging up the visor at the end of this one without this W. While he may or may not get that W, that remains to be seen, but he’s going to keep it close. Speaking of dumpster fire, this Gator squad is quite an impressive one as well, regardless of the last two weeks. They’ve been riding high after an unexplainable upset of Georgia and a cupcake victory over Vandy, but I feel the dumpster fire will be rekindled after this week, and once again we’ll revisit Muschamp’s job stability. Give me the Ol’ Ball Coach in this one.
Texas/Oklahoma St. – T. Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK – PICK: OK ST +2.5
Bread and butter, points and value here. Texas has looked much better of late, but I think Mike Gundy and his Cowboy squad are simply the better team,
plus he’s a man and he’s 40. Not to mention I feel this line is reflective of a lot of overreaction from Texas fans. Fans don’t typically move lines, the sharps in Vegas do. But from everything I’ve read most professionals haven’t made moves on this game yet, and the Cowboys have still gone from 1 pt favorites to 2.5 pt dogs, which tells me that proud Longhorn fanbase is high on this team after two straight wins and they’re willing to put all their winnings on them again this week. Stillwater, OK is another tough night atmosphere and although weather isn’t as much of a contributing factor to outcomes as some would think, I do think it can have some affect against two struggling teams. Finally, with the Cowboys coming off a bye with extra time to prepare for the Longhorns, and I’ll take Gundy’s squad plus the points.
Clemson/GA Tech – Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA – PICK: GT +3
This matchup looks to be a very good division game between two foes that are both vying to stay alive as second place teams in opposing sides of the ACC. The Jackets and Tigers both sit narrowly behind their ACC division leaders, Duke and FSU respectively, who both seem to barely escape losing their grip on their seats in the ACC title game. Where they differ, and what I think is the deciding factor here, is which team is stronger on each side of the ball. While I think Clemson maintains the edge of the two defenses, and despite Clemson getting back QB Deshaun Watson, I think the Yellow Jackets run game and time of possession is what keeps the game very close, if not an outright win for GT. If this line falls below 3, I would probably layoff, but as long as I can still get a whole field goal for the Jackets in Atlanta, give me that rushing attack and the points.
Missouri/Texas A&M – Kyle Field, College Station, TX – PICK: +4
Let’s revisit something I said earlier about the game in Stillwater. Generally, the public doesn’t move lines, sharps do. With Texas A&M opening up as a 6 point favorite, mostly due to the public overreaction to their upset of Auburn last week, the majority of the public betting is showing up for A&M. The difference here is that the line continues to move down to where A&M is now only a 4-point favorite. Dead give away that the big money is coming in on Mizzou, and my opinion leans the same way. Outside of the overreaction and possible hangover from last week’s A&M upset, the fact that Mizzou is currently in position to win the East is also important to consider here. If Mizzou can win out, they would find themselves in an SEC title game over the previous East favorite in Georgia. While I don’t think that will actually happen in the end (I think their ride to Atlanta ends in a much more disappointing style over the next two weeks, against one of their two remaining opponents with nothing to lose and a lot to prove in Knoxville, or versus Pig Sooie) I do think Mizzou pulls out a close one here and leaves College Station with an ugly W.
Iowa/Illinois – PICK: Illini +3.5 – The public is heavy on Iowa, but the line keeps moving down for the home dog. Bread and butter as far as my principles are concerned, but I’m not confident enough in either team to make a play.
Air Force/Nevada – PICK: Air Force -2.5 – Really depends on the line here, but I think this game is a prime spot for an upset. The line has now moved in favor of Air Force, so by vegas standards they are no longer the dog, however from what I’ve read online, the Nevada team is still treating this game as though they should be favored. That’s the easy way to fire up an opponent, and give them all the necessary ammunition to embarrass you and leave with the upset.
Washington/Arizona – Wash +9 – Washington comes into this game scuffling a little, but showing the signs that I’m sure the administrators we’re looking for when they brought previous Boise St. coach Chris Peterson in as head coach. On the other side of the field, you have another ballsy and unpredictable coach in Rich Rodriguez who similarly has his team trending in the right direction. Both of these teams have plenty of potential to make noise in the coming years of the PAC12, but I still find them too unpredictable to really trust with my money. Not to mention both coaches are ready and willing to pull out all the stops in any game, with some exotic bootleg/flea-flicker play scheme that can completely change the game. If I have to take a side, I’m with the Huskies, but I’d rather not have to stress over this one.
GOOD LUCK KIDS! AND AS ALWAYS THANKS FOR READING/FOLLOWING!!!
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