When the lines came out for this week’s games, you could almost hear college football bettors around the country go: “Hmmmm.”
Everything in the college football landscape has changed after five of the top 10 teams in the USA Today poll were upset last week. It took me two girly flavored grande coffees from Fivebucks, a Rock Star Burner energy beverage and a lot of contemplation time on the throne just to get through my Power Rankings this week.
I’m still not sure they’re right but I can say I like them better than the AP rankings. Kentucky at No. 8 was ridiculous – I had them at 14. Oregon should not have dropped all the way to 14th after losing by half of a football’s length to Cal, my No. 3 this week. And what in the holy hell is Hawaii doing at No. 16?
You can’t even rely on the Rainbows for a good over anymore, which is now 1-2 in their games this season.
But that’s why you’ll almost never see me writing about the polls. They are out of whack more often than they make sense and every oddsmaker from London to Las Vegas will tell you they ignore them.
Hopefully what you did not ignore though, was the advice I gave you last week in CFP when I told you to forget everything you thought you knew about college football. It usually takes about four or five weeks for teams to sort themselves out in college and I always start wagering smaller amounts around this time of year.
Just to prove my point, I proceeded to go 1-3 with my picks for the week which was the first time this season I’ve gone worse than .500. I’m now 11-9 on the season as we head into a storm of monster conference games this week.
With that, let’s not waste any more time.
Oklahoma vs. Texas (+12, 55)
I’ve read a lot about the Red River Shootout this week but have yet to read what needs to be said most about it.
This game has become the most boring, overblown, overrated channel changer of the football season since I started writing about college ball five years ago. The only thing that was remotely close to a good game was the 12-0 Oklahoma victory in 2004 and the only reason that was kind of worth keeping an eye on was because we were all interested to see how many more yards Adrian Peterson could run for on what ended up as a 225-yard rushing day for him.
Every year there are a million columns and stories written about this game. Musburger usually makes the call from the booth. Celebrities stroll the sidelines. And then the game ends up smelling worse than Matthew McConaughey, who once told Barbara Walters he doesn’t wear deodorant.
This year could finally be different for reasons we probably didn’t expect coming into the season. Both teams are coming off humiliating losses and their stocks have dropped. There are two young quarterbacks at the helms of both sides, who have suddenly become prone to giving the ball away. And whoever loses this game is going to drop to a tie for last place in the Big 12 at 0-2.
I think whoever wins this game will be the team that makes the fewest mistakes in a game full of turnovers, broken plays and maybe even a blocked kick in there somewhere. In short, its ugliness will be what makes this game worth looking at again.
Well that, and the cheerleaders.
Pick: Texas +12
Wisconsin at Illinois (-2 ½, 51 ½)
There is a lot being said about what a terrible top five team Wisconsin is this season. The Badgers have dropped three straight spreads this season against mostly mediocre opponents and they would have dropped four straight spreads if there was a line posted in their narrow victory over The Citadel.
It’s tough to argue that Wisconsin doesn’t much look like a No. 5 team, save for its 5-0 straight up record. But sometimes teams just have an ability to find ways to win no matter who they’re playing. I think Wisconsin might one of those teams this year.
When you’ve got a back like P.J Hill, who ranks sixth in yards and second in touchdowns amongst rushers this season, you can afford to not be at your sharpest at times and still pull out the victory.
Illinois, meanwhile, is having a great season so far but the Illini are facing some instability at quarterback which I also touched on last week. They beat a Penn State team last Saturday that I was guilty of over-valuing and I don’t think they have enough to beat a hard-hitting Wisconsin squad this week.
Georgia vs. Tennessee (+1, 56 ½)
Georgia happens to be a pretty good road team with a 23-3 record under Mark Richt. Nobody knows that better than Tennessee, which has watched the Dogs snatch three straight games from it in Knoxville.
That streak is about to come to an end. The Vols are coming off a much-needed rest week which gave them a chance to heal some key injuries including quarterback Erik Ainge’s broken finger of his throwing hand.
Tennessee is 2-2 but the losses came against Cal and Florida, two teams that have been ranked in the top three this season. The Vols are also seeing some new life in the SEC East after Florida lost to Auburn last week and a victory over Georgia would go a long way.
The key for Tennessee is finding a way to stop the run early in order to put pressure on the Dogs’ passing game. Georgia receivers have had struggles with dropping balls over the past two seasons and Rocky Top is not the place you want any confidence issues to resurface.
Florida vs. LSU (-7 ½, 46 ½)
I’m not ready to write off Florida just yet just because of a last-play loss to Auburn last Saturday. The Gators ran into a team that needed some games to get its offensive line in order and was undervalued going into it.
Death Valley at night is about as tough as it gets but giving away a touchdown in a game between SEC giants seems like a lot. I’m going to take a wild stab and predict we might even see overtime in this one.
If you want to play the total, you should know that under players have collected in nine of the last 10 meetings in this series.
Jon Campbell is the senior editor for Covers.com and he watches and wagers on enough college football to make any degenerate proud. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.