Welcome back, folks. Last week was a sad week. I have been too critical of my Oregon State Beavers, and it cost me an 8th consecutive winning week. I went 2-3 last week, so it wasn’t terrible for my season record, but it was my first losing week since my disastrous data-point-free week one where I just had to guess on picks.
I’m now 30-13 since week two.
Let’s get back in the win column this week! Coincidentally, my favorite bets are mostly all high profile games that will be on national TV. Enjoy!
Remember to follow me on twitter @TheBench___
Michigan State -2.5 (@ Maryland)
Maryland is a mess, and it’s not a messy situation where the team could galvanize and come out strong against Michigan State. There are Maryland players fighting each other at practice, there are whispers that they may refuse to play. It’s a nightmare. Maryland will not have their heads in the game. Look up Maryland’s issues if you aren’t familiar, I won’t try and explain it.
The numbers and common sense, regardless of Maryland’s issues, back me up as well. Michigan State is seemingly coming into their own, heating up at a good time with recent wins over Penn State and Purdue. ESPN FPI gives Michigan State a 62% chance of winning, so that usually results in a 3 or 4 point spread. If you can find this at 2.5, there is some value.
Maryland has seriously struggled to run the ball against good defenses this year, and Michigan State qualifies as a good defense. Maryland needs to run it effectively to win any game. Michigan State is only giving up 21 points per game, but more impressively they’re holding their opponents to 77 yards rushing.
Michigan should shut Maryland down pretty easily and blow them out with what is going on.
Florida -6 (vs. Mizzou)
Even in a loss last week to Georgia, Florida’s defense looked incredible. At one point they stopped Georgia seven times in a row on the goal line (because of a penalty). They have some serious talent on the defensive side of the ball. This leads me perfectly into the point that made me pick Florida here…
In Mizzou QB Drew Locke’s career, he has more interceptions than TD passes against teams that are bowl eligible at the end of that season, and only a handful of wins. In games against non-FBS teams and FBS teams that do not make bowl games, he has a very good TD/INT ratio, something like 60/8. That is where he pads his stats, and then he crumbles and loses to good teams.
Florida is one of the best defenses he’ll ever play against in college. I fully expect him to continue to struggle, and fail to score more than 17. Florida can surely score 24 or more at home. Hell, their defense and special teams may score 14 for them.
Florida has only allowed 170 passing yards per game, and that’s where Locke will need to beat them for Mizzou to cover. Florida has NFL talent all over the place. The front seven is good. The secondary is good.
This is just a common sense pick.
Georgia -9 (@ Kentucky)
Look, I’ve watched both teams a bunch, and Georgia is just a better team. Period. This was my exact feeling as last week when I picked Wazzu over Stanford.
Georgia is coming off of a huge win over Florida, and they have Auburn next week. This isn’t really a trap game, since beating division rival #9 Kentucky is much more meaningful than the usually-important Auburn matchup. Georgia will be ready, and hyped up to all but lock up the SEC East with a win on Saturday.
ESPN FPI is gives Georgia an 81% chance of winning, and the projected spread on my system is 15. Way more than 9.
Georgia has great athletes on offense, and Jake Fromm is finally looking like Jake Fromm from last season. Kentucky has been winning games with defense, but this week they’re running into a freight train. Georgia just scored 36 on Florida, and it wasn’t because Florida struggled. Georgia has a good offense. They are physical, with some freak athletes on the edges.
On top of that, Kentucky has been overly-reliant on their running game to win, and such a limited game will not go over well against a good Georgia defense. They aren’t as good as last season, but they’re still really good. They will have no problem shutting down Kentucky’s offense that is only scoring 25 points per game against lesser opponents.
This game will go fast since both teams will be running a lot, but the talent difference will surely show this week. Georgia should win by 17 or more.
Penn State +10.5 (@ Michigan)
10.5 instantly seemed like a lot of points for a Penn State team that plays really well in huge games like this. Coach James Franklin, as I’ve said before, is a master motivator. Add that to the fact that Michigan does not have the best offense in the world, and I’ll take 10.5 easily.
Teams have easily scored in the high teens and twenties against Michigan’s really good defense, and Penn State has a better offense than all of them. Struggling Wisconsin scored 13, Maryland scored 21, Northwestern scored 17, SMU scored 20, and Notre Dame scored 24. You have to think that Penn State can scratch out 21 or more against this team, led by experienced QB Trace McSorley. That kid is a dog, and always finds ways to grind out points. He is fun to watch.
If Penn State can score a little, will Michigan score 33+? I don’t think so. They have predictably put it on bad teams, and struggled to blow out good teams with some scores in the twenties. Penn State may be the best team they’ve played outside of Notre Dame week one.
The system I use projects this spread to be 7, not 10.5, so there is a lot of value there. Furthermore, ESPN FPI only gives Michigan a 68% chance of winning. That suggests a spread of 6-7, not 10.5. Compare that to my Michigan State pick above, where they have a 62% chance of winning and the spread is only 2.5. Something is off there, and I think this spread is way too big.
Michigan will win 28-24, or something in that ballpark.
Alabama @ LSU OVER 54 Total Points
I don’t care that Bama is playing in Baton Rouge at night in a huge rivalry game. I promised to bet every Bama over if the number was under 60. They still have Tua at QB and those amazing receivers, right? Okay. They’re gonna score.
I’ll give one stat, and that’s all I’m gonna say. This pick is on principle alone.
In Alabama’s last two road games, they let Arkansas score 31, and Tennessee score 21. I don’t care if they were scores in garbage time. Points are points, all tickets cash the same. LSU is much better than both of those teams. If they score 20, the over easily hits. They may not even need to score 20 for the over to hit.
Mike The Tiger and Coach O are still my favorite two people in college football, but this Bama team is special.
Edited at end of week: I went 2-3 this week. I shouldn’t have picked anything in the LSU/Bama game. I tried to please the listeners of The Sports Antidote podcast that I was a guest on, and it cost me a losing week. Next, week, back to following the numbers. I’m now 32-15 on the season