Wednesday, September 28, 2016

College Football: The Week 5 er...FIVE.

Found out earlier this week that I had an inner ear infection. This is why I've felt like I've had vertigo and an upset stomach that's been getting progressively worse for a while now.  I'd like to blame my previous week's piss-poor FIVE results on this but then I wouldn't have an excuse should I be off again this week.

I just need to accept the fact that I'm in the mother of all slumps early-on this year and handicap through it. As is usual, I feel good about this week's FIVE. I think we might be onto something here.

Then again, if you're fading my selections so-far you're 20-5 so consider that. As always though, these picks are NOT representative of actual wagers I'm making and are for entertainment purposes ONLY. If you're using the analysis of an accountant as a means to determine your real-life wagering please go get some help.

Without further ado, this College football weekend looks tasty.

The Week 5 FIVE:

1. Stanford @ Washington (-3). I get why the Huskies are a favorite here. The public loves them and their coach, and they're playing at home.  While it's a good home advantage, and while I think UCLA last week proved how to contain Christian McCaffrey, I also think that Stanford showed they can still win a game if you shut him down. Stanford 24 Washington 21. Stanford win on the ML.

2. Toledo @ BYU (-4). How crazy is it that we're wondering if BYU QB Taysom Hill is still as good as he was after blowing out both knees?  Of course he's not, but he's still plenty good.  I think that Toledo is plenty good too but I think it's been against weaker competition. I think that BYU's losses against strong competition are better than Toledo's wins over cupcakes. Toledo 21 BYU 38. BYU to Cover -4

3. Northwestern @ Iowa (-12). This is a classic matchup of two teams that I feel get over valued each and every year. Of the two teams,the best win on either schedule is Northwestern's win over Duke. But they also have the worst loss against Illinois State. Iowa lost to the Bison of North Dakota State and then barely beat a hapless Rutgers squad 14-7. Northwestern 14 Iowa 17. Northwestern to cover -12.

4. Arizona State @ Southern California (-10). Pity the House of Troy. Coming in to week 5 they are 1-3 and seem to be nearing desperation. Meanwhile Arizona State, picked to finish last in the division, is 4-0 with an offense that looks to be pretty impressive, and a defense that appears to be total shit. USC can play some defense, but they are a poorly coached team that is self-destructing right now. ASU 38 USC 41. Arizona State to cover +10. (I would go ML but I can't stand that ASU defense)

5. Minnesota @ Penn State. (-3). The Gophers are 3-0 but haven't played anybody. The Nittany Lions are 2-2 and have lost to every good team they've played. The deciding factor here? I think Minnesota can rush the passer and I think Penn State's offensive line is garbage. Still, neither team can light up the scoreboard so I'm expecting a "classic B1G defensive battle"....or something along those lines. Minnesota 17 Penn State 14. Minnesota win on the ML.

Other games of note:

Texas @ Oklahoma State (-2.5). The loss to Cal took a lot of starch out of the "Texas is back" sails and OSU getting trucked by Baylor provided some clarity on the Cowboys as well.  As I see it, this is a pretty meaningful game for both of these schools because the loser finds themselves officially out of Big XII title contention. Although, in reality, neither is really in the conversation anyway because neither team is especially good.  Texas 27 OSU 28.

Virginia @ Duke (-3.5). This is a game that came REALLY close to inclusion in the FIVE. The problem is that, when running the numbers, I see the result being REALLY close to the line. Too close to have any confidence about. Virginia 17 Duke 20.

Oregon State @ Colorado (-18.5). I feel that I know who Colorado is right now, but I haven't seen enough of the Beavers to really have a grasp on them yet. This line feels funny to me, weighted a little too pro-Ralphie, but it could just be that I'm remembering the Rogers brothers' era. OrSt 24 RunRalphieRun 38.

Tennessee (-3.5) @ Georgia. Finally, in the second half, last week the Volunteers looked like the team we thought they might be. And UGA looked like the team I thought they would be this year in their drilling at the hands of a really good Ole Miss team.  Plus, the Bulldogs are going to be missing Chubb it appears. Ouch.  Rocky Top 31 UGA 14.

North Carolina @ Florida State (-12). A lot of the analytical sites seem to think that this line is too pro-Seminal. My numbers tell me that it's very close to what this game should be. Too close, in fact, to merit it more than brief consideration. North Carolina 17 Florida State 30.

Oklahoma (-3.5) @ Texas Christian University. A road game to Ft. Worth is never a fun task, but this TCU team is struggling on offense and REALLY needs a win to convince folks that this year is not a rebuilding one. Kenny Hill Jr. is an undisciplined mess at the QB position. OU 31 TCU 17.

Utah @ California (-2). If Cal's season form holds then they'll show up to play this week, but this is the first REAL defense they're going to face all year. Utah is coming off of an emotional win, but they don't have look-ahead worries so this isn't really a sandwich game. Utah 38 Cal 31.

Western Michigan (-3.5) @ Central Michigan. My gut tells me that this is the week WMU seizes control of the MAC and we see just how good of a job PJ Fleck has done building this program. The problem is my stomach this year has been a little upset. Still. WMU 42 CMU 24.

Louisville (-2) @ Clemson. The "ACC Game of the year" for the second time this season as Lamar Jackson and Company head over to South Carolina to play the fighting Dabos. Either Clemson is going to figure it all out, or they are going to get trucked. I don't think a Seminole-level ass-whipping is on deck here. Louisville 38 Clemson 35.

Arizona @ UCLA (-13.5). Every week I want to select Arizona as my "upset special" and every week I shy away.  But RichRod is going to bag one of these teams eventually and it just might happen during this #PAC12AfterDark game that's sure to be an offensive showcase. BearDown 38 UCLA 42.

And finally......

Wisconsin @ Michigan (-10.5). This is the 3rd week that I've been worried the Wolverines are too big of favorites. The prior two weeks they proved me wrong.  But this week I think they're running teeth-into a Badgers team that's well coached, and really, really good. I'm expecting a game-of-the-year type tussle in the big house.  Wisky 24 Big Blue 27.

Monday, September 26, 2016

College Football: Goodbye Hat. (And other early season thoughts)

Knowing what we think we know about the goings-on in Baton Rogue the firing of Les Miles after a no-good, very bad loss to an Auburn team that's, at best, offensively challenged wasn't all that much of a surprise.  It was only the timing and suddenness of it that made it shocking.  Cam Cameron also being shown the door shouldn't surprise either.

In fact, Miles probably should have been let go at the end of last year. But LSU's AD is a weak sort and he allowed his decision to be influenced by emotion.

Speaking of which, here are a few (non-emotional) thoughts on what's happened over the first 1/4 of the college football season.

1. Be careful what you wish for..... you just might get it.  This holds true in the case of LSU and USC, two schools who have been used to startling success but who appear to be on the cusp of heading into dark water.  Firing a winning coach is a huge gamble, as Nebraska how that's worked out for them, and the next hire is insanely risky, especially if you select the wrong person.

2. My FIVE is worse than Florida International. Who also fired their head coach.  Of course, they went 0-4 and I've gone 0-4 in terms of winning weeks. Last week was 2-3 which, shamefully, represents a modest improvement.  I'm now 5-20 for the early season and need to start turning things around. Either that or, like a smart person, you could start fading my picks and probably do fairly well for yourself.

3. Whither the MAC? I had thought that the MAC conference would be better than it is. In fact, a LOT of my incorrect picks have been on the side of MAC teams.  Of them, only Western Michigan seems to have something resembling a top program this year. Head Coach PJ Fleck should be a hot commodity for B1G coaching positions that are sure to come up after year's end.

4. I missed on Texas aTm early. I thought, incorrectly, that aTm would lose to UCLA and Arkansas. This is because I underestimate their defense, and so far we've seen Good Trevor Knight. The problem for aTm is that the tougher part of their schedule is coming up once they get past South Carolina.  Good Texas aTm in September is something we've seen before. It remains to be seen whether or not they can remain Good aTm in October.

5. I didn't miss on OU. I still think OU is going to finish the season 10-2 and win the Big XII. Looking at early conference play you might say that Baylor is their toughest challenge, but the Bears only have a win over a mediocre Oklahoma State team as evidence they are still any good. TCU appears to be having issues defensively, and Kenny Hill Jr. is just as likely to do something bone-headed as he is to do something great.

6. Florida State has been hurt by injuries, but they lack overall team speed. This is another team that I over-estimated, putting them, along with LSU, in my projected pre-season CFP. The Louisville game exposed them, but I still think they have a decent chance to finish the season strong and end up in a Big Six bowl game. I also think that HC Jimbo Fisher might seriously consider making the jump to LSU in the off-season.

7. How impressive was Texas' win over Notre Dame? I think that's a fair question to ask because it's pretty clear the Golden Domers are not very good this year. Defensively they gave up 38 points to Duke.  Freaking Duke, and not in basketball. With Notre Dame's cupcake-laden schedule they should still be able to make a decent bowl, a better bowl then they should make based on their talent because of their fan-base.

8. Son of "Love Coach" is not the answer at USC. Helton is a good OC, but he's clearly in over his head as the head of the Trojan machine. Yes, I understand that from an administrative perspective USC is a nightmare, and that new AD Lynn Swann might be a train-wreck. But if you had to ask me my early pick for the leader in the Tom Herman Derby I'd say it was the House of Troy.

9. Speaking of coaching changes..... I'm not entirely sold that by simply moving to a Power 5 school Herman would be better off than he is at UofH. Excepting money, but when you think about it he's fairly well compensated already.  Yes, I could see him leaving for USC, but (stay with me here) would he really be in a better position at LSU or Mississippi State than he is at Houston? When I evaluate coaching jobs I rank them according to where a coach is most likely to win.  At Houston he doesn't have to play Saban and the SEC West every year, which is why I think going to big-fish USC makes the most sense.

10. The program that hires Art Briles deserves all that bad press they are going to get. Ken Starr's interview only made the program look worse. They still don't understand that there's a problem, or even what went wrong. Almost the entire fan-base of Baylor still believes that this is all an orchestrated attack because they got good at tackle football. It's a cult of derangement and I still say that if the program is not willing to self-police, and judging by the fact that all of the assistants are still there they aren't, then the NCAA and Big XII (especially) should do the policing for them. Yes, ejecting them from the conference would be messy, but I think it's a necessary step to protect them from themselves.

And finally.....

As is typically the case, there are some spectacular games on deck this coming week.

Connecticut @ Houston (-27.5) I realize that, on paper, this should be a blowout, but UConn and the fighting Diacos upset the Cougars last year. Revenge is a dish.

Stanford @ Washington (-3) An interesting Pac-12 battle that could go a long way toward determining who represents the North in the Pac-12 Championship game.

Texas @ Oklahoma State (-3) Is Texas "back"?  Beats me, but this game might provide us with a little bit of insight.

Buffalo @ Boston College (-17) The Eagles have not looked very good this year and Buffalo can at least play offense. They might not need much defense against BC's pathetic points-scoring unit.

Navy @ Air Force (-7.5) Two undefeated service academies going at it. I don't care who you are that's pretty awesome.

Tennessee (-3) @ Georgia The Bulldogs got housed last week against Ole Miss, and the Vols got a huge monkey off of their backs against Florida.

Tulane (-2) @ UMass Is it possible for negative points to be scored in a game? The total here would have to be remarkably low for you to not take the under.

Northern Illinois @ Ball State (-4) It's time to ponder the possibility that NIU is not good this year.

North Carolina @ Florida State (-12) We'll see about Florida State this week as they take on a decent Tar Heel team that desperately needs a win.

Oklahoma (-3) @ TCU If OU is to turn it around then they need to start here. If TCU is to win the conference they must look much better than they have.

Utah @ California (-1) A very, very interesting matchup in the Pac-12. I'm not sure if  Cal can stop Utah's offense.

South Florida @ Cincinnati (NL) Injuries could tell the tale in this game, but it's a key one for two teams with designs on bigger things later on, who both must win to keep those dreams alive.

Western Michigan (-3) @ Central Michigan. The Chippewas are coming off a horrible loss to Virginia, while Western Michigan is looking to prove it's the best team standing in the MAC.

Louisville @ Clemson (-2) The marquee matchup of the weekend could all but determine the ACC champion. This could be an outstanding game.  Or, yet another blowout.

Arizona State @ USC (-7.5) This would be USC's last stand IMO. IF the Sun Devils come out ans surprise everyone with a win here, watch out.

Wisconsin @ Michigan (-10.5) I expect this line to move toward Wisconsin drastically in the days leading up to Saturday. This feels like a FG game either way.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

College Football: The Week 4 FIVE (With trepidation)

At some point this has to turn around right?

When my numbers are correct it seems I'm unlucky as hell, and when my numbers are off it seems I've not luck then either.  At some point it becomes a mountain to high to climb but we're not near that point yet.  Everyone has slumps, it's just that the tout's refuse to acknowledge theirs.

Let's get to it.

The Week 4 FIVE:

1. USC @ Utah (-3). Last week I predicted Stanford was going to roll over a dysfunctional USC team and I was right. What kept the game from my FIVE was that I wasn't yet sure just how bad USC was. I think I have a pretty good idea of that now.  USC will be starting their Freshman QB but I think the problems with this team run much, much deeper than just Max Brown. Utah to Cover -3. USC 17 Utah 27.

2. Nevada @ Purdue (-6). Aw crap, Another road dog that I'm high on. The thing here is that Purdue is a genuinely awful team that might not win a game this year. Their coach is going to be fired and Nevada, while not all that good, is certainly not an easy out. Nevada to Cover +6. Nevada 27 Purdue 10.

3. San Jose State @ Iowa State (-7). Yet another road underdog. Suggesting that I haven't learned my lesson from last week. However, Iowa State is a pretty horrible football team with a coach who (like Purdue) won't be coaching there next year and SJSU is a decent team who, incidentally, gets their quarterback back healthy. Yes, SJSU's offensive line is an issue, but Iowa State is not a particularly strong team at rushing the QB. SJSU to cover +7. SJSU 24 Iowa State 17.

4. Central Michigan (-3) @ Virginia. Virginia is the worst team in the ACC and it's not really all that close. Central Michigan is the 2nd best team in the MAC (More on the best team later) and they've already played in front of a more hostile crowd in Stillwater, against a better team, than they'll face on Saturday.  Bronco Mendenhall has quite the rebuilding task ahead of him. Central Michigan to cover -3. CMU 28 Virginia 10.

5. Georgia Southern @ Western Michigan (-7). It's possible that this game is a matchup between two eventual Group of 5 conference champions. If any side let's the other down however I think it will be the Eagles. Broncos head coach P.J. Fleck has quietly built an impressive program which should have him jumping to a Power 5 school next year. Note to Fleck: RUN (don't walk) away from Purdue. Last year the Eagles whipped the Broncos 43-17 in a game where the WMU defense was helpless against the GSU run-game. Also, last year's GSU head coach Willie Fitz has moved on to Tulane.  Western Michigan to cover -7. GSU 13 Western Michigan 33.

Games considered, but not included (In other words, the games I'll be telling you I should have chosen sometime on Sunday)

Georgia @ Ole Miss (-7) I want to be a believer in Ole Miss, I really do.  But history says that the week after Alabama teams struggle. I like Ole Miss here because Georgia has looked pretty pedestrian this season but I'm not willing to go all-in.  Maybe a min-bet in? 1/2 a min bet in?  UGA 17 Ole Miss 27.

Florida @ Tennessee (-7). An SEC team that I think is decidedly mediocre playing still another SEC team that I think is mediocre. The difference is the 2nd SEC team is going to be missing their best offensive player, QB Luke Del Rio. Florida 10 Tennessee 27.

Pitt @ North Carolina (-7). All these touchdown spreads and not a good team among them. Head Coach Larry Fedora of the TarHeels needs a signature ACC win. Is Pitt that win? I really don't have much of a feel for this game after what Oklahoma State did to Pitt.  Pitt 23 UNC 24.

Louisiana State (-3.5) @ Auburn. S-E-C (struggles on offense). This game could be so boring that if Musberger was on the call he'd be telling Vegas stories starting midway through the 2nd quarter. Of course, the media will term it "another thrilling SEC defensive battle". LSU 13 Auburn 10.

Houston (-34.5) @ Texas State. I'm never a fan of betting games like this. Houston is coming off of an emotional win over Cincinnati, but has a QB whose shoulder is probably hurt worse than they're letting on. I expect a grind it out type of game that Houston wins by something near the spread. UH 35 Texas State 0.

Army (-14) @ Buffalo. I love this. 3-0 Army has beaten better teams by bigger scores than this. Since you probably don't read down this far you might not know this. Which means you might think this line is out of whack.  It's not. Army 38 Buffalo 3.

Okahoma State @ Baylor (-8). The Bears have not looked good offensively and Oklahoma State's defense showed signs of life against Pitt. The issue? Baylor is balanced while Pitt wasn't. first one to 70 wins.  OSU 63 Baylor 69.  (Take the over)

S. Carolina @ Kentucky (-2). Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops is probably looking forward to the day he can get back onto brother Bob's coaching staff. S. Carolina 17 Kentucky 10.

Stanford (-3) @ UCLA. I think this might be looked back upon as the last stand of the Bruins. I was high on them at the beginning of the season but I clearly neglected to take into account the Mora factor. Stanford 33 UCLA 20.

Arkansas @ Texas aTm (-5.5). I'm still not a believer in the fighting Sumlins, but I have a hard time believing in a team full of "karma" either. Rooting for the ground to open up and swallow both teams in this one.  Arkansas 21 Texas aTm 20.

California @ Arizona State. First one to 100 wins. Cal 68 ASU 70.

Air Force (-3) @ Utah State. The service academies are a combined 8-0.  Let me repeat that: The service academies are a combined 8-0. The 0 has a chance to go here. Air Force 14 Utah State 17.

And finally........

Penn State @ Michigan (-19). The bloom fell off the Harbaugh rose last week against an improved Colorado team.  Can the Wolverines get their mojo back?  Good teams win, great teams cover. I think Michigan is a good team that has the potential to be great, but needs better offensive production, especially from the run.  Penn State 7 Michigan 23.

Good luck this weekend regardless of whether or not you are following or fading. (To be honest, I'd fade a bit until I get back on track.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

NFL Week 2: Being on the right side, with the wrong result.

After taking a whipping Saturday in my FIVE I decided that Sunday would be a good day to take off. Going 0-5 will do that to a person. Still, there's something to be said for just being a fan.  When I considered that I'm traditionally, although not this year, better at college football (3-12 this year) than NFL football (7-5 this year) it seemed the smartest thing to do.

So I spent Sunday watching as a fan.  No picks, no fantasy football this year. Just watching the games for the entertainment factor.

And it sucked.

In fact, unless you have something riding on the games the NFL is one of the more boring sports leagues out there. People say that the NFL is "football at the highest level" and, in terms of on the field talent, this is probably true.  But from a coaching/game flow perspective everything is so risk-averse as to be sleep inducing.

Then, there's this.  On Saturday you have your pick of dozens of games. On Sunday you're stuck with the one game that the NFL feels you should care about.  Since I live in Houston that game was the Texans/Chiefs and it was awful.

In the afternoon window I had a choice of either the snooze fest that was the Rams/Seahawks (9-3 final score Rams) or listening to Jim Nantz call a golf match during a football game while Phil Simms just shouted random things at the viewer all game, whether they were related to the action on the field or no.

Why is fantasy football exploding in popularity?  Why are thousands of people openly ignoring the federal ban on sports gaming?

It's because the hard product on the field, for the NFL anyway, is borderline unwatchable.

I didn't even make it through the Sunday night game. I went to bed at halftime.  Monday, however I decided I was going to get back into the picking business.  So I looked at the lines, examined what people were saying, and threw out a couple of plays for the game.

Philadelphia @ Chicago (-3)  O/U 42.5.

My pick was Philly to cover, and the game to go under. Judging by chatter most of the sharp money was on Chicago and the over, and most of the public money as well. At one point I saw that 65% of all money was on Chicago, and 70% was on the over.  I was clearly in the minority but I was OK with that.

Because I trust my numbers.  And my numbers told me that both offenses were going to be mostly overmatched by the defenses, but that Philadelphia had a better chance to score than did Chicago.

And, I was right. Even though I lost on the total bet.

Because mid-way through the 4th quarter the game was well under and only went over because of two silly plays, a pick-six by Jay Cutler, and a punt return for a touchdown by Eddie Royal to bring the final score to 29-14 Eagles. 43.

There will be a lot of touts today talking about "Boom!" and other crap because of those two plays. Acting as if the push they received because of it negated their loss on Chicago, if they don't ignore being on Chicago all together.

The fact is a LOT of people pushed last night, including me. I had a hit with the Eagles plus-3 but gave it back when the extra point was kicked through (barely) after the Royal TD return.

If something like that ever happens to you the important thing is to not get frustrated. You were on the correct side, you just had a bad result.  It happens, don't revamp your handicapping because of it. Alternatively if you're off (as I am now in college football) and it is becoming a trend then you need to take a hard look at your algorithm and see if you're over-weighting something or omitting information.

Also, if you're trusting ESPN's FPI rankings, don't. They have LSU number one and OU number 3. They clearly have a rather large maths error in their formulas. Although, to be fair, I'm not one to talk, because there's an error in mine as well.

Need to fix that.

Monday, September 19, 2016

College Football (Week 3). Recapping an awful, horrible, very bad, no good FIVE

Last week's FIVE  was awful.  We will just admit that the 'road dog' method of including games was wrong and never speak of it again.  I am now officially mired in my worst start to a FIVE season EVER.

The brutal numbers:  0-5 (now 3-12 overall)

Two of the FIVE were missed by a single point, 4 of the 5 were on the correct side of the ledger heading into the 4th QTR, and all of the FIVE were correct at halftime. It was that kind of Saturday.

Once again however I did an OK job picking ALL the games, but the games I selected for my FIVE were a gigantic dumpster fire.

If you're fading these picks (and you probably should be right now) you're killing it.

I however fully plan on turning this mess around.

Here are some games that I'm eyeing for next week:

Nevada @ Purdue (-3) Purdon't is pretty awful, as it's pretty clear that their HC is nearing the end of his tenure after what will be four seasons where they've gotten progressively worse. Nevada isn't what they were a few years ago, but they still have some talent. Not sure I'm keen on ANOTHER road dog though after the mauling I took last week.

Florida State (-6) @ South Florida. The Bulls have a good team, and I expect them to be UH's opponent in the AAC championship game.  Florida State is smarting from the 63-21 shellacking laid on them by Louisville.  Plus, the 'Nole's are banged up. I doubt this one makes the cut but it's a very interesting game.

Central Michigan (-4) @ Virginia. I keep thinking Cavalier's head coach Bronco Mendenhall is going to turn it around. Then I take a look at Virginia's roster and I can't help but think it's going to be a long, long year for the Cavs.

Clemson (-10) @ Georgia Tech. I'm not entirely sure what's wrong with Clemson's offense, but I've a suspicion it's got something to do with bad offensive line play. IF head cheerleader Swinney can fix that....look out.

Florida @ Tennessee (-7.5). With Del Rio potentially out this could be the offensive offense game of the week.

LSU (-3.5) @ Auburn. Auburn at home is not a good thing. Not a good thing at all.

Army(-14.5) @ Buffalo. This is not your father's Army team. They're 3-0 and beating the crap out of teams they used to lose to.

Penn State @ Michigan (-18) There's a lot in this game, none of which I think is all that good for Penn State. Michigan got a wake-up call last week against Colorado. Be interesting to see if it sticks.

Eliminated from Playoff contention:

1. Florida State.
2. Notre Dame
3. The Entire Big XII conference.
4. University of Houston.
5. OU

Things couldn't have gone worse for UofH as they struggled against Cincy, and then their best win finished the evening by looking a whole lot less impressive. Plus, Louisville looks as if it's going to be a tough, tough game. Herman won't have months to prepare for this one.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

College Football: The Week 3 FIVE (Road Dogs Represent)

It's been a suboptimal start for the FIVE this year. But my problem has not been picking games, in fact, I'm up for the year overall, it's been picking the WRONG games to put into the FIVE that I'm counting on for the yearly challenge.

But I've got a good feeling about this week. Hope springs eternal and what not.  To recap, last week I went 2-3 which leaves me 3-7 overall.  As a reminder, the FIVE are not necessarily games I would lay a bet on, but picks in which I have some level of confidence that I've handicapped correctly.

If you're looking to this blog for betting advice you should probably get some help.  This is for my, and hopefully your, entertainment only.

OK, enough preliminaries.....

1. Eastern Carolina @ South Carolina (-3). ECU is coming off of a win against NC State. South Carolina is coming off a loss to a Miss State team that lost to S. Alabama the week prior. The game being played in Columbia makes this interesting, but I think ECU is the better team. ECU 27 SCU 24. Eastern Carolina to cover. (no ML bet because of the game being at SC).

2. New Mexico @ Rutgers (-5.5). This feels like a trap line. There's no way Rutgers should be favored over air right? The Scarlet Knights got whipped by a good Washington team and then beat up on FCS bottom-dweller Howard.  New Mexico beat FCS South Dakota, before losing to in-State rival New Mexico State. This feels like a pick-em pillow fight. NM 17 Rutgers 20. New Mexico to cover.

3. UNLV @ Central Michigan (-13). Again, my thought is that this could be a trap line. This is another case where I think the road dog is in with a chance for the win. CMU should be 1-1, save for a brain fart by officiating and replay crews, and an Okie State team that was way overrated this year. UNLV hung tough with UCLA before lack of depth tired them out. I don't see this as a two TD game. UNLV 24 Central Michigan 27. UNLV to cover.

4. Pitt @ Oklahoma State (-6). If you're sensing a trend this week you'd be right. My play is road dogs. Pitt is going to run the ball down the throat of a porous OSU defense. They're going to control the clock, and struggle defensively to keep up with OSU. All of this makes for a close game. Pitt 27 OSU 30. Pitt to cover.

5. NMSU @ Kentucky (-19.5) Let's just go ahead and make this a road dog sweep. Kentucky has more talent, plays in a better conference, and is playing at home. They have almost all of the advantages they need to make this a blowout.  Their problem? Coaching.  UK is one of the worst-coached teams in the FBS. NMSU 17 Kentucky 27. New Mexico State to cover.

Unlike week 2, on paper week 3 has a bunch of games that look interesting on paper. Here's a rundown of the other games....

Houston (-7.5) at Cincinnati. Coach Tom Herman rested most of his key players last week in a walkover against Lamar (42-0) while coach Tuberville had to play his starters against Purdue. Houston has more talent, is better coached but is playing on the road against a team that's played them close in the past. Houston's defensive backfield will need to contain Cincy's running game and an improved offense. Cincy is going to need to contain Greg Ward Jr. This should be a great game. Houston 35 Cincinnati 20.

Florida State (-2) @ Louisville. On paper, this is the game of the week. Both teams have explosive offenses and FSU is ranked #2 in the country in most polls. But Louisville QB Lamar Jackson has been the breakout star of the early season.  One caveat, Louisville hasn't played anyone good yet. And I think Jimbo Fisher is a better coach than Bobby Petrino.  FSU 28 Louisville 24.

Miami(FL) (-3.5) @ Appalachian State. I'm going to go ahead and put the Canes on upset alert here, because I think the Mountaineers are in with a very real chance to win considering this game is being played in Boone North Carolina. This is a team that ALMOST beat Tennessee, who I think is much better than MI(FL). The U 17 Appalachian State 20.

Oregon @ Nebraska (-3). This one is pretty simple. I think Oregon is on the way down and I think Lincoln is a tough place to play again. UO 27 NEB 30.

Alabama (-10.5) @ Ole Miss. The Rebels have beat the Tide the last two years. But I think the ascension of Hurts to the starting QB role makes Bama's offense way less predictable, as does the play-calling of Layne Kiffin. Should be another good game for Verne Lundquist to call in his farewell season. Bama 24 Ole Miss 20.

Louisiana Tech @ Texas Tech (-10.5). I'm not sure if there is a worse defense in the country than the Red Raiders right now. La Tech 35 TTech 38

Texas aTm @ Auburn (-3.5). I have a hard time picking Auburn to win anything given the awfulness of their QB situation. But I have a hard time picking the Aggies because I don't trust their coach. This one's a push. Texas aTm 17 Auburn 16.

Michigan State @ Notre Dame (-7.5). Here we go with another year where the Irish are overrated. Offensively they are just not an especially dangerous team. Michigan State isn't either, but they still have a solid defense. That said, I don't think they have enough at QB to seriously threaten ND in the way they are going to need to. Michigan State 20 Notre Dame 27.

Ohio State (-2) @ Oklahoma. This would have been the game of the week had OU not lost to Houston to open the year. I think the Sooners are going to be OK once they get to conference play, but I think tOSU is too much for them here. Ohio State 28 OU 17.

South Alabama @ Louisiana-Lafayette (-3). A lot of people are going to get this wrong due to the fact that USA beat a bad Miss State team in week one. U La La is decent and has an outside shot at winning the SunBelt conference. USA 10 U La La 30.

Southern California @ Stanford (-9). We are about to see just how deep the USC dysfunction really is. USC 10 Stanford 31.

University of Texas at Austin (-8) @ California. This is not your last year's Cal team. This Cal team is struggling to find itself, play defense, and develop it's new QB.  Head coach Dykes is someone who everyone seems to think will be the next HC at Texas Tech.  I ask you this: Why would Tech be interested in hiring a slightly older, slightly less interesting, slightly less good looking copy of Kingsbury?  UT-A 23 Cal 3.

And Finally......

Colorado @ Michigan (-20). So much talk this week about Kordell Stewart and the answered prayer. So little talk about how 1. That throw should have never been made because Colorado fumbled the ball on a previous play in the drive but was called down. (in the dark days before instant replay). 2. Michigan is much better this year, Colorado is much worse (albeit, improving). Coach Harbaugh remembers that game in '94 although most of the players on the current roster don't. I think this one is going to get ugly.  Colorado 7 Michigan 42.

If you're thinking this college football season keeps getting better and better you're right. Strap in and buckle up, it's going to be another roller coaster of a weekend. 

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