By Tom Z
1:00 PM EDT, October 12, 2012
Before we get into the picks this week, I just want to take a quick moment to acknowledge the death of Beano Cook.
I really appreciate it when an analyst is devoted to the sport they cover. People talk shit about Dick Vitale, but no one can argue that he loves the game of college basketball. The same goes for Lee Corso (replace basketball with football, obviously). As a matter of fact the entire College Gameday crew has a clear dedication to college football. These guys aren't using college as a stepping stone to the pros. I enjoy the pro game as much as anyone --well, as much as any Buffalo Bills fan can enjoy it -- but I hate when people look at college football as nothing more than a development league for the NFL. The difference is clear when you compare someone like Kirk Herbstreit to the average Sportcenter anchor. The SC anchors can memorize names and statistics, but they never display the same passion that a true college football fan like Herbstreit possesses.
Beano Cook was a character, that's for sure. I'm not gonna lie, I've made fun of the guy many times for his turkey-like neck and his over-the-top homerism for all Pennsylvania teams. But that guy loved college football. Here's a fantastic quote from Beano Cook:
''On Sundays they play for money. On Saturdays they play for passion, for the love of the game. I think that's why it's our greatest sport.''
That perfectly sums up the beliefs of every college football fan. College football isn't a minor league for the NFL, or a 5-month tryout to get on Todd McShay's draft list. College and the NFL are totally different sports. The quality of play is much better in the NFL, but the excitement, passion and atmosphere of the college game can't be matched.
Beano Cook loved college football, he was a major advocate for college football, and he dedicated his life to the game. He'll be missed.
Now, allow me to promptly dishonor his memory by turning his life's passion into a money-making pursuit. Here are my week 7 picks…
Syracuse +7.5 over Rutgers
Syracuse is one of the best bad teams in the country. Their record is 2-3 but they hung with USC for most of the game and they should have beaten a solid Northwestern team. (I don't know what happened against Minnesota, that was a poor showing.) Furthermore, Rutgers is no powerhouse. They're the second-best team in the Big East, but then again, they're the second-best team in the Big East. Cuse can hang with the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers 23, Cuse 19.
Texas +3.5 over Oklahoma
This is a hard one. These teams are very evenly matched. In fact I would go as far to say that if you switched their uniforms, no one outside the states of Texas or Oklahoma would notice. I'm taking Texas because I think this will be a 3-point game, and with the line currently at 3.5 that's a win for me regardless of which team emerges victorious. By the way, this may be an obscure reference for you kids out there, but with his long hair, David Ash looks like a young Daniel Johns of Silverchair. Google it. If this football thing doesn't work out, he should start a band. He's already in Austin, getting into South By Southwest shouldn't be that difficult.
Kansas State -7 over Iowa State
I'm a little worried about this game, since Kansas State plays West Virginia next week and could potentially be looking ahead. (That's what happened the week before they played Oklahoma, and they were not sharp.) Still, there's a big talent gap between these teams, and if the Wildcats show up to play, it shouldn't be close. When it comes to gambling, you rarely want to go against the hot hand. Plus, do you want to bet against a guy nicknamed Optimus Klein? I didn't think so.
Michigan vs. Illinois OVER 49
Michigan will cover this by themselves. And they might have to.
Alabama / Missouri OVER 43.5
As I've mentioned many times before, I have a team of "experts" who I confer with each week before writing this column. One of those so-called experts is my friend Dan P. I'll let him take this one.
Dan P says: "Rule #1 of the 2012 College Betting Manifesto. Either you bet on Alabama or you don't bet at all. I really don't like laying that many points on the road. If you have to bet it, I'd parlay it with SU for a nice payoff. Two birds, one stone."
Dan is correct. The line for this game is -21.5 in favor of Bama. If that would just drop one point, I'd be in, but I don’t like the idea of my team having to win by four scores in conference play. Instead I'll be taking the over. Bama scores 30-40 points every game, so the question is, can Missouri put 10-14 points on the board? I think so. Don’t blow this, Missouri.
Now that that’s settled, let’s get into some Heisman talk for a second. I don’t want to take anything away from Geno Smith, who has put up amazing numbers thus far. Geno belongs at the top of the list, that’s for sure. But how come no one is talking about A.J. McCarron as a Heisman frontrunner? He might not have the numbers that Geno has, but he’s the best player on the best team. And when I say Alabama is the best team, I mean they’re the best team by a country mile. Wait, is a country mile shorter or longer than a regular mile? Whichever mile is longer, that’s where the Tide are. Bama lost half their team to the NFL draft, and yet McCarron has held them together in championship form. It also should be noted that we are headed into week 7 of the season and McCarron has thrown zero interceptions. That’s a Heisman-caliber number right there. If I had a Heisman vote – which God-willing I will one day – my current rankings would have Geno at 1A and McCarron at 1B.
West Virginia -4 over Texas Tech
For some reason, Las Vegas isn't giving the Mountaineers the credit they deserve. They beat a good Texas team and have earned their spot in the top 5. Yet they're barely favored against the unranked Raiders. Am I missing something? Is Michael Crabtree going to sneak back into the Texas Tech lineup? This line should be at least 7. But hey, if Vegas wants to keep handing out free money, that's cool with me. One of my life policies is that I don't question things when they're working in my favor. Boss says to go home early? Alright, see you later. Bank sends me a check for no apparent reason? Cool, no questions from me. Hot chick wants to hook up with me? Awesome, not gonna question that. Of course we're talking pre-2009 here. I've had a GF so long now that I am now physically incapable of picking up girls. Me trying to successfully get a girl is like a Big 12 defense trying to keep an opponent under 40 points. Not gonna happen.
Baylor -7 over TCU
TCU is done. Period. But sooner or later their backup QB will learn the trade and become capable enough to cover spreads. Before that happens, you need to cash in.
While we're on the topic of TCU's quarterback, what is Casey Pachall doing driving drunk? I don't mean that as a moral question. I mean, literally, why is driving at all? Almost every college has cheap accessible cabs, or bars and parties in walking distance. I never once drove drunk in college, not because I'm a good human, but because there was no need. In fairness, by the time we were headed out for the night, I was usually too drunk to find my keys or even open a car door. Speaking of Pachall, you know how every college football star ends up doing local commercials? I’m sure somewhere in Nebraska right now, Tommy Frazier is telling people to come on down to Lincoln Hyundai for “runaway bargains.” And in Gainesville, Danny Wuerfful is encouraging people to head to Larry’s Laugh Riot for their “Gat’r Done” Comedy Night. If Casey Pachall is smart, he can parlay this DWI incident into a series of ads for a local rehab center. “Hi, I’m star quarterback Casey Pachall. Are you addicted to drugs or alcohol? Trying to get clean on your own is like throwing up a Hail Mary. So come on down to Promises of Fort Worth and score a touchdown for inner well-being!”
South Carolina +2.5 over LSU
Our game of the week. Let's start off with some more wisdom from Dan P. Dan correctly picked the NC State/Florida State upset last week, so listen closely to what he has to say.
Dan P says: "I like South Carolina but LSU never, ever, ever, loses at home during a night game. It's some absurd stat like 45 in a row at 8PM. Bet the under only. First team to 13 wins."
Dan's right, even if he did just unintentionally quote Taylor Swift. History is on the Tigers' side. LSU hasn't lost a home game since September of 2009. That's 21 straight home wins. Their night game winning streak is even more impressive. They’re 35-1 in home night games since Les Miles took over the team in 2005. And Tigers rarely lose back-to-back games. Under Les Miles the team is 17-1 following a loss.
All of that history makes this game a really tough pick. I'm of the mind that South Carolina is clearly the better team here. LSU has a stellar defense, but is woefully inept on offense, as evidenced in last week's game against Florida.
I thought this one through a lot. Let's address the over/under first. Dan sent me this advice before the over/under was released. I don't think either of us expected it to be as low as 39 points. These two teams are defensive powerhouses to the point where it's actually refreshing to watch. Defense is a lost art in college football and most teams can barely even tackle these days. I give the SEC great credit for keeping defense alive. However, a 39 point over/under is too low for any college game. Stay away from that bet.
As for the line, that's a trickier one. LSU is incredible at home. We know this. And South Carolina is riding high after pounding Georgia last week. They're primed for a letdown. But the one thing I can't get past is LSU's offense. It’s non-existent, like unicorns or leprechauns or Louisiana Rhodes Scholars. Against South Carolina's stout D, it's hard to picture LSU putting up more than 14 points. And when I say 14 points, I'm talking 3 field goals and two safeties.
History is like an iPhone, it was made to be broken. You see, what happened to LSU last week wasn't luck or a bad performance. That's what they are. I've watched every LSU game this season and that game against Florida was indicative of this team's ability. Les Miles is a great coach and recruiter, but every team has their down years. This is what an LSU down year looks like. I said a few weeks ago that the Tigers would lose at least 2-3 games this season, and I stand by that today. South Carolina, on the other hand, is the real deal. They're a talented squad that's been improving steadily over the past few years. History be damned. South Carolina 13, LSU 12.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @thefaketomz
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