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Any lifelong college football fan can tell you that there’s nothing quite as depressing as that first loss of the season. Most Gator fans realized after our first few games that we didn’t have it this year, but there’s still that inkling of hope that you’re holding onto that your team will come up big and surprise you.
Then ‘Bama bends us over and give us the “Shawshank” treatment.
I’d been telling everyone I knew that we were going to get killed in Tuscaloosa. I was sure that I was mentally prepared for it on Saturday. Turns out I was still homicidal during the first half. By the second half I was too drunk to care. Ladies and gentlemen, the 2010 Florida Gators season. Can’t say it was even fun while it lasted.
The larger college football picture is about to get seriously interesting, though, and there’s a reasonable chance that we could finally have a scenario unfold that is so absurd that not even the BCS folks can make a coherent argument against a playoff. Three major conference teams (‘Bama, OSU & Oregon) are looking like strong possibilities to remain undefeated and TCU & Boise State are virtual locks to do the same. Based on recent history, it’s pretty unlikely that all five would remain undefeated, but regardless we’re almost guaranteed to be headed for some kind of ridiculous scenario here. Anything that gets us closer to a playoff is fine with me.
The betting picture this week is looking pretty brutal. My initial look at the slate yielded precisely one game that I was even mildly interested in and a number of games that I crossed off straight away. As a result, I’m prepared to stay pretty light this week, but I’m still looking over a few out of the way games that I might pull the trigger on tomorrow morning. As always, lines are from Bodog.com and asterisks denote where I’m laying cash.
Also, my BlackBerry had an unexpected journey down my apartment’s marble staircase last Friday night, which killed my weekend Twitter situation, but I should be back in action this weekend @Michael_J_Cox.
What the Top 5 Are Doing
#1 Alabama -7.5 over #20 SOUTH CAROLINA
Even though the Gators did everything they possibly could do to lose last week, and Vegas is begging and pleading for money on ‘Bama here with a -105 line, it’s hard to shake the feeling that more than a touchdown separates these two teams, even in Columbia. The only reason not to like ‘Bama here would be that it’s their third really tough conference game in a row and that means more in the SEC than it does in other conferences. It’s a stay-away game for me from a betting standpoint, but I do like the Tide here.
#2 OHIO STATE -22.5 over Indiana
Ohio State has been a bit of an enigma ATS this year. Just when you think they’re going to go on a roll covering games they start to let inferior teams hang in there. That said, their defense is light years better than Michigan’s and should be able to shut down Indiana and roll in this one.
#3 Oregon -36.5 over WASHINGTON STATE
Oregon is another team that has been tough to figure out this year. While they were generous with easy covers early in the season, they’ve fallen into a habit of trailing early in games the last few weeks, which will eventually bite them. Not against Washington State though.
#4 BOISE STATE-39 over Toledo*
Boise State has been great ATS this year. The only problem is that now everyone knows that and the public is now all over this one to the tune of over 70%. Not enough to get me off the bet totally, but I’m going light…
Wyoming +34 over #5 TCU
TCU has been a betting black hole for me so far this year. They’ve struggled against inferior opponents at times, but looked fantastic against their tougher competition. That’s frustrating from a wagering standpoint to say the least and I’m going to take a week or two off from them to see if I can figure them out a little more before betting their games again.
The Rest of the Picks
#12 FLORIDA -6 over #9 LSU
A situation at work is forcing me to miss the trip I’d planned down to Gainesville, and it’s just as well since John Brantley is dead to me after that debacle last weekend in Tuscaloosa. The Gators have so many problems on offense at this point that, beyond having already given up on this season, I’m starting to seriously worry about next season. At least the Gators’ second-half schedule isn’t looking quite as tough as it did at the start of the season, which might be a blessing and a curse as we’d no doubt be humiliated again in Atlanta against ‘Bama.
Vegas has clearly cooled on LSU, and for good reason. They have a knack for letting inferior teams hang around, and Les Miles looks like he’s gunning for valedictorian at the Andy Reid School of Clock Management. The Tigers have some seriously tough games looming the rest of the season and I expect that their season will start to unravel this weekend in Gainesville. Gators bounce back.
#14MIAMI -6 over #24 Florida State
Tough one here. There’s also no line up on Bodog for this game right now and I’m not sure why, but will see if I can get to the bottom of it. Jacory Harris is turnover prone enough to lose this one on his own, but FSU hasn’t really shown enough consistency yet to inspire confidence in backing them. Plus, the bad loss to Oklahoma is still looming out there and would make it pretty tough for me to pull the trigger on a bet here. At gunpoint I go with Miami, but like Texas/Oklahoma last week, this one is a definite stay away.
#16 Michigan St. +4.5 over #17 MICHIGAN*
A big Michigan fan friend of mine circled this game before the season and said it might be their most important matchup of the year. I don’t think anyone in Ann Arbor expects to take down Ohio State this year, but a third straight loss to their lesser in-state rival would be seriously hard to swallow in the Big House. Michigan has looked ripe to stumble against their first opponent who can even play marginal defense, and Michigan State’s performance last week was enough to reinforce that for me.
#13ARKANSAS -6 over Texas A&M***
One of a few lines this week that has moved quite a bit since it opened. This line made it up to 8.5 at one point, which makes sense given how much more talent Arkansas has, but then moved down a whole 3 points after that. I understand not liking Arkansas as much at -8.5, but not enough to bet the line down to 5. It seems to have settled down a little but could move back up closer to kick off. I’d realistically bet Arkansas here at anything under 10 and love it at 6.
#18 STANFORD -9.5 over USC
You’ve gotta think Stanford plays one of their best games of the season here, right? They’re coming off a tough loss and playing a major conference rival in a down year with a rare chance to give them a serious stomping. USC has to be reeling a bit from a heartbreaking loss to former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and the Washington Huskies last week. Something tells me that Lane Kiffin isn’t the guy you want righting the ship after something like that.
GEORGIA -11 over Tennessee
When I first looked at this line and saw Georgia -10, I thought it was a few points too high. After all, the Dawgs had just come off a somewhat pathetic loss to Colorado. Then the line actually went up and I was sufficiently intrigued to dig in a little further. The conventional thinking here is that Tennessee was pretty fortunate to keep it close with a vastly overrated LSU team, and Georgia is the best 1-4 team in college football. I can get onboard with all of that, but I’m not sure it’s enough to pull the trigger on a bet here.
On a side note, is the Colorado program really in such shambles that they need to rush the field when beating an unranked Georgia team? Apparently so.
Money Plays: 2-3
Money Plays: 16-20
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