Picking football games is a lot like being a baseball coach – you study your opponents, pick your batting order and starting pitcher, run the team onto the field and hope for the best. Every game can’t be won but you have to improve week to week, game to game in order to win the big prize.
Last week started off rough with West Virginia flat out losing to USF on the road. A little defense would’ve been nice, but like a bad pitch that gets knocked out of the park you have to shake it off and get ready for the next batter.
The next four games had the potential to run the table with Indiana up big on Iowa, Cincinnati burying the ‘Cuse, Arkasas trouncing EMU at the half 42-0 and Northern Illinois up on Akron. But like most no-hitters, the thought of running the table had to come to an end. Indiana was absolutely robbed by an overturned touchdown call that sent Iowa on a huge run and eventual covering of the 17.5 point spread by .5 points. A putrid EMU offense remarkably scored 21 points in the third quarter after being completely shut down in the first half to make the Arkansas drubbing a push. After those two games my first week ended in a draw at 2-2-1. After feeling like we took one high and inside we’re getting up off the dirt, dusting ourselves off and stepping back in the batter’s box.
This week’s picks feature a mix of some high profile games and some smaller diamonds in the rough that’ll pay off. I’m adding a confidence score between 1-10, with 10 being the highest, for each pick to help you decide how much to wager on each game. Let’s get to it:
Furman (-38) at Auburn: I love the Paladins but they have no business playing Auburn this weekend. Furman’s about to get about five times worse of a beating than EMU took at Arkansas. Give up the 38 points as it’s going to be a 60+ victory for the Tigers. Confidence: 10
No. 9 LSU (+7.5) at No. 3 Alabama: We’re staying in the great state of Alabama on this pick, and while I like the Tide to pull a victory after a bye week their lack of a passing game tells me it’s going to be a one FG or TD win. LSU has been on a roll on defense as well, so don’t expect a high scoring affair. You’ll earn a few bucks but it’ll be close. Take LSU and the points. Confidence: 5
Washington State at No. 19 Arizona (-32): Common sense tells me that Arizona’s going to roll over Washington State, just like everyone else has this year. But check this out: Arizona gave up 17 points and only won by the same margin to dreaded in-state rival Northern Arizona. They can’t blow anyone out and haven’t put up a margin of 32 points against anyone this year. Washington State is god awful this year but it’s rare to see such a huge loss inside of a major conference. Take Ryan Leaf’s alma mater and the 32 points. Confidence: 7
Troy at Western Kentucky: I’ll keep this short and sweet: Neither team can play defense and both can score. WKU typically ends up on the losing end of these score-fests but beating a 64.5 over isn’t out of the question. Take the over in a Troy victory. Confidence: 8
Connecticut (+17) at No. 5 Cincinnati: I love the Bearcats in this game at home but UConn is only losing on average by 7 points this season, including a tough loss at Pitt. Cincy is in a league of their own in the Big East but look for UConn to cover the 17 point spread. Confidence: 8
Bonus Pick: Duke (+10) at North Carolina: Nope, we’re not talking hoops here – we’re talking about a Duke team that has put up 3 consecutive wins in the ACC and has a great passing game and with one win is bowl eligible. North Carolina is playing at home but is susceptible to the pass. Hmm…. I smell an upset in the making. Take the Blue Devils and the 10 points. Confidence: 9