By Tom Z
11:58 AM EST, November 22, 2013
Today marks the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. It was a landmark event, one that changed the course of history and left a nation forever shaken. The assassination was one of those events where you’ll never forget where you were, like 9/11, the O.J. Bronco chase, or the Boise State-Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl.
1963 was a strange time, when the President was a universally beloved figure and Notre Dame football didn’t suck. There was no Snapchat and a mass text was something the priest handed out after church. The Internet was just an idea in Al Gore’s spiral notebook. TV had three channels, and everyone was forced to watch the team in their region, even if you liked someone else. (It was sort of like the NFL in 2013.)
But then Lee Harvey Oswald changed everything. Americans, once known for eternal optimism, had lost their innocence. We used to believe in the American dream, now we claim that the BCS is an Illuminati conspiracy. We used to discuss the spirit and grit of Bear Bryant, now we try to figure out whether Tropical Storm Melissa will prevent Alabama from covering the 49-point spread against Chattanooga.
Speaking of covers, let’s get into the lines. Wait, you were expecting some kind of valuable lesson here? Ha. Go to the History Channel for that shit. This is a football column.
Duke -5 over Wake Forest
Duke upset Virginia Tech, beat Miami by a resounding 18 points and is on track to face Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. They've even snuck into the AP Poll's top 25. Now they're favored by just 5 over lowly Wake Forest? That's a serious lack of respect. Yes, I know this game is at Wake Forest, but keep in mind, Wake plays at BB&T Field, the smallest venue in the ACC with just 31,500 seats. (It's not even big enough to be called BB&T Stadium.) I know four things about this game: 1) Duke has a good rushing attack, 2) Wake can't handle the run, 3) Wake can't handle anything, and 4) this game will feature the highest percentage of students who choose studying over football in the history of the NCAA.
Pitt -1 over Syracuse
At 5-5, neither of these teams is very good. But at least Pitt has wins over Duke and Notre Dame. Syracuse has wins over... umm… I don't know, Wagner? We can also use the Florida State test. Pitt lost to Florida State 41-13, which compared to the rest of FSU's opponents actually seems like a good showing. Cuse lost 59-3 and it was only that close because Jimbo Fisher decided to put on the brakes. Advantage Pitt.
Florida State -57.5 over Idaho
I'm only including this so everyone sees how comically lopsided this line is. Idaho has had 13 weeks to hone their skills and they're still a 57.5 point underdog! Might be time to give up football and focus on potatoes. I doubt I’ll actually bet this game, because laying 58 points is insane, plus you can’t get this line on many sportsbooks. I'm sure that FSU will cover though. Infamous Jameis is going to have a field day.
Oregon at Arizona - STAY AWAY
Word on the street is there's an 80 percent chance of rain in Tucson this Saturday. That could mean a sloppy, low-scoring game. It could mean that defenders are slipping and Oregon's receivers are cruising in for half a dozen easy touchdowns. It could mean that the Arizona student section turns into the biggest wet t-shirt contest of all-time. There are many possible outcomes.
UConn +8.5 over Temple
We live in difficult times. Sure, football is fun, but all around the globe, people are struggling. As you probably know, a recent disaster has turned many people's lives upside-down. Our fellow humans are struggling, and they need your help. So, to all my readers, I implore you, please text DONATE to *06118 to help the victims of UConn football. Your small act of kindness can make a world of difference for these poor families.
But wait... there's hope! They say that the smallest lights shine brightest during the darkest hour. Well UConn's in luck, because his week, they face one of the dimmest programs in the AAC, the 1-9 Temple Owls. Up until last Saturday, I was all set to make this my upset of the year pick, but after Temple gave Central Florida a scare, I think UConn might have to wait until their final game of the season against Memphis to get their one token win of 2013. Either way, I'm taking the Huskies and the points this week. And FYI, it's going to be great when UConn finally wins a game against some Busch-league AAC team and celebrates like they've just won the Super Bowl. "We're going to Disney World! Wait, we're not? How about Disneyland? Oh, no? Fuck it, we're going to Rocky Hill Dinosaur Park!!!"
Arizona State at UCLA - OVER 62.5
Arizona State is quietly a very good team. They’ve somehow snuck into the PAC-12 championship conversation, much in the same way that ESPN quietly sneaks their “ESPN Power Rankings” into their standings page, right next to the BCS and AP polls. C’mon, ESPN. I don’t even recognize the Harris Poll as a real thing, you think I’m going to take your homemade poll seriously? The only way that could be self-promotional is if Stephen A. Smith screamed the rankings at me. “TEDDY BRIDGEWATER IS A DEAR, DEAR FRIEND, BUT THE LOUISVILLE CARDINALS ARE TERRIBLE!!!!!” Anyway, about this game. I think ASU goes into Pasadena and comes away with a victory. I also think we're due for a classic 38-34 defense-optional PAC-12 game. Lay the -1.5 or take the over.
[*Truthfully, the ESPN rankings seem more accurate than any of the so-called legitimate polls. But still.]
Texas A&M +4.5 over LSU
I have no clue what's going to happen in this game. Alright, let's be honest, I have no clue what's going to happen in any game, I'm just usually better at pretending. Few can win in Death Valley, but if anyone has the skills to do so, it's Johnny "I Know You All Hate Me, But I Didn't Sexually Assault Anyone, So C'mon, Vote Me For Heisman" Manziel. At the same time, it doesn't seem like the Aggies D can stop anyone. I think this one could get wild, maybe 43-40 in triple OT or something like that. I'm torn on this one, and you know what that means. TTP.
Oklahoma State +9.5 over Baylor
I like Baylor a lot. I really do. Art Briles is Coach of the Year, and the Bears should be ranked ahead of Ohio State. But at some point, they have to lose. Not every team can go undefeated, and Baylor has the misfortune of being one of the two undefeated teams that actually has to play someone. So, I'm taking the resilient Oklahoma State in an upset. Let us not forget that this game is for the Big 12 championship. Baylor gets all the attention, and with good reason, but the Cowboys are ranked #10 in the country, they're playing well since making the switch to QB Clint Chelf, and there's a BCS bid on the line. Plus the game is in Stillwater, to boot.
How do you stop Baylor, you might ask. Simple. You don't. You just have to slow them down a little, force a couple field goals, maybe a couple turnovers, and hope your offense comes ready to play. Oklahoma State doesn't have to be a better team than Baylor. Which is good, cause they're not. They just have to play a better game on this specific Saturday. The formula is simple. Come out and get a couple quick scores, while the intense home night crowd causes Baylor to get off to a slow start. Then, apply pressure to Bryce Petty all night and hopefully get a couple big turnovers. After that, it's all about scoring points and holding off Baylor's inevitable comeback run. That's the path to success. Now, can they actually do it? We shall see.
And to Baylor and all the Bears fans out there: If you win this one, you are officially the coolest. You're the Oregon of the South, and I'll be rooting for you to finagle your way into the National Championship Game. So best of luck. My wallet may side with Oklahoma State, but Baylor will always have my heart.
PS - By "always," I mean until Art Briles leaves or until you stop scoring 70 a game. After that, you're on your own. What do you want from me, I'm not from Texas.
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