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Week 9: Best bets for NCAA football
The picks continue to fight the good fight and meet with much resistance.
After nailing three of the five SEC upsets last week (Mizzou on the money line bet to win, Vandy against Georgia and Auburn on the road at Texas A&M) plus missing on South Carolina at Tennessee (despite saying for the two weeks prior that Tennessee was the bet before switching because I bought into the Gamecocks' destruction of an awful Arkansas team), I felt pretty good about things.
We were 4-2 rolling into LSU at Ole Miss and my most confident pick all weekend was LSU -8 and the over at 59.5.
Then LSU's offense completely vanished, killing me on the pick and on the over.
The result? A double loss in a game, which killed the weekend, knocking me back to 4-4.
So now we're sitting at 24-25 and what looked like a great weekend turned into a total push. But, never fear, like Sisyphus we keep pushing that great betting boulder up the hill.
Vanderbilt +18 at Texas A&M
Here's the deal, Texas A&M can't stop anyone. Plus, Johnny Manziel is playing hurt. What does that all mean?
Eighteen is way too many points to give to Vandy here.
My biggest concern on the Commodore side is that defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, while good against pro-style offenses, has not done well stopping spread offenses this year. I think that will be neutralized because Manziel won't be scrambling that much. Indeed, he hasn't run that much this year at all.
So take the 'Dores even with uncertainty at quarterback.
And if you want a play that could really pay off, take the 'Dores +600 on the money line.
Tennessee +28.5 at Alabama
Derek Dooley lost three consecutive games against Alabama by 31 points. All of them were sound beatings, but none of them were truly humiliating defeats.
Hence, my Nick Saban as a vampire theory: he wanted to take just enough blood from Dooley to keep him around as long as possible.
Thankfully, Derek Dooley is gone. The last two games Tennessee has played have been the best the Vols have looked since 2009, the year Alabama escaped with a miraculous 12-10 victory.
Tennessee's not great, but the Vols have markedly improved since early in the season. 'Bama wins by three touchdowns, but Tennessee covers.
South Carolina at Mizzou -2.5
And Maty Mauk is probably going to celebrate Mizzou winning the SEC East by getting arrested with three girls on the back of his scooter. God bless him.
Meanwhile, Steve Spurrier is going to take all three of his second-half timeouts on the Gamecocks' first drive of the third quarter leaving Carolina fans to wonder whether Spurrier has gone all John Nash in "A Beautiful Mind."
Kansas has not scored more than 19 points all year. So let's give the Jayhawks 21.
Do I think Baylor can score 56? Uh, yeah.
Baylor wins huge.
The only risk here is that Baylor has not played well on the road. But Kansas is not really a road game because only 25,000 or so people are showing up for Kansas football games these days.
Sooner or later Oregon is going to have a close game. But it will not be this week.
The Ducks win big, showing off an elite defense for a change.
Kentucky at Mississippi State -10
Nobody circles the wagons and beats bad football teams better than Dan Mullen.
This is the last game that Mississippi State wins all season and Mullen will win big to take the Bulldogs to 4-3 and instill false optimism in Bulldog faithful.
Because that's what Dan Mullen does.
"Hey," Mississippi State fans will all think, "maybe we aren't that bad after all!" Nope, you're that bad.
By the way, need a sign that your program isn't really clicking on all cylinders? You have a bye week before Kentucky. I know, I know, it's a Thursday night game. But still.
This will be the saddest SEC game of the year until Mississippi State and Arkansas play on Nov. 23 in Little Rock. Get your tickets now!
[UPDATE: Mississippi State failed to cover the 10-point spread in a 28-22 win.]
Here's my weekly TV viewer guide:
1. Start off your day with us on FOX College Saturday on FS1, the nation's second highest-rated college football pregame show!
I will be in a Mizzou and Ohio State jersey for part of the show, making me the most awkward looking man to wear a Mizzou jersey since Chase Daniel.
2. Vanderbilt at No. 16 Texas A&M, 12:21 p.m. ET, ESPN3
I have no idea what station this game is actually going to be on. Honestly, this is why the SEC Network is going to make so much damn sense next year.
Do you know how many stations have had decent SEC games this year? It's extraordinary.
Florida-Mizzou was buried last weekend. In fact, I think some Gator fans are still pretending this game was never played because they couldn't find it on television.
3. Tennessee at No. 1 Alabama, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Boy, there really aren't many good games early in the day, are there?
Might be a good morning to take the kids out to breakfast and then let them run around and get tired before naps.
Or, if you're without kids, to go out hard on Friday night and sleep until noon. Man, I remember those days.
4. No. 10 Texas Tech at No. 15 Oklahoma, 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Can Kliff Kingsbury really take the Red Raiders to 8-0? If so, does he suddenly find himself on USC's coaching list?
Oh, my, can you imagine the work Kingsbury could do in LA?
The guess here is he won't. Oklahoma wins by six.
5. No. 12 UCLA at No. 3 Oregon, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Win this game and the Ducks will vault to second place in the BCS, never to relinquish that spot so long as they keep winning.
Can UCLA slow down the Ducks? Will anyone in the Pac-12 all season?
Here's a bet for no.
6. No. 21 South Carolina at No. 5 Missouri, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Pretty crazy fact: Missouri was unranked until October, and now the Tigers are inside the BCS top five. Win in the SEC and you climb in a hurry.
Another crazy fact? Missouri has not beaten three ranked teams in a row since 1939.
Meanwhile, for all the mess at South Carolina, win and the Gamecocks just have to win home games against Mississippi State and Florida to post a 6-2 SEC record by Nov. 16. Georgia, also with two losses in conference, still has games against Florida and at Auburn. Meanwhile, Missouri would still have Tennessee, at Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
But if Mizzou wins? Well, the SEC East is pretty much decided before October ends.
7. Texas at TCU, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
Oddsmakers say this game is pretty much even.
Could Mack Brown really start 4-0 in the Big 12?
If so, will Terry Saban have to stop house hunting in Austin?
8. No. 6 Stanford at No. 25 Oregon State, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion is the best player in college football that no one has seen.
Please, I beg you, manage to stay awake for a late-night game — or at least set the DVR. Mannion has 29 touchdown passes and he's throwing to Brandin Crooks, the best wide receiver in the country that no one has heard of either.
Stanford's on major upset alert in this road game.
I promise you guys will love it.