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.
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.