By Tom Z
12:59 PM EDT, October 25, 2013
Last week we witnessed a crazy barrage of upsets. Clemson, LSU, Texas A&M, Louisville, UCLA, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida all fell to supposedly inferior opponents. That Florida State-Clemson game was especially insane. All week long I’ve been trying to process how Clemson could perform so poorly in such an important game, but my brain’s just been spinning around in circles like that rainbow-colored wheel that pops up when your Macbook is trying to load too many YouTube videos. I’ve decided to treat week 8 the same way I would a shredded tire on the side of the highway. Don’t try to figure out what happened, just keep your distance and go about your way. In fact, let’s get right to this week’s picks...
UCF -22.5 over UConn
The good news for UConn is, they've got Temple and Memphis coming up on the schedule. That's two winnable games. So maybe, if things shake out the right way, the Huskies could end the season 2-10. The bad news is that I'm stretching my brain for compliments and 2-10 is the best I could come up with. I'm picking against UConn the rest of the way. They're the anti-Alabama. You always feel safe going against the Huskies. It's like betting that a new Rihanna song will be repetitive and annoying. You could be wrong, but you probably won't be. And we haven't even mentioned how the #23-ranked Central Florida is now leading the AAC. This could get ugly.
Auburn -23.5 over Florida Atlantic
Auburn's on a roll. The Tigers finished with an embarrassing 3-9 record last year, and I think this year's team is playing their asses off to make up for it. They're not the most talented team around, but they give an incredible effort week after week. That's why I like Auburn to avoid a post-A&M letdown and win big against FAU. Plus, I don't think Florida Atlantic is a real team. They're just some school that got added to video games in order to flesh out the schedules. In fact, I don't think this is an actual football game, it's just Gus Malzahn playing some kid in NCAA Football 2K.
Duke +13.5 over Virginia Tech
I know what you're saying. Duke beating Virginia is about as likely as a TV station making a show about a crime-fighting cop in a wheelchair. Well for starters, you obviously haven't seen the NBC drama "Ironsides," in which Blair Underwood stars as New York City's most handi-capable police officer. Oh sure, he might not be able to move his legs, but he stops criminals using the most important muscle of all... his dick. Yeah, I know, it's weird, I thought it would be his brain, but no, he just smacks criminals with his giant dong until they're incapacitated. I'll be honest, it's not a very good show.
The point is, don't judge a book by its cover. Duke is the same rich douchey popped-collar-wearing white kids you hated in high school, but this year, they're pretty good at football. They're 5-2, they're getting good play from the quarterback position, they're scoring points, the defense is playing better than ever and they handled Virginia pretty easily last week. Plus they have a good young stable of running backs, including two guys named Shaquille and Juwan, whose parents obviously liked to have sex while watching early '90s basketball. Meanwhile Virigina Tech is a staid, boring team that has no pop on offense. This game should be close. The only reason this line is so high is because it sounds weird to say "I'm taking Duke." Take the points, pop your collar, and if you win, be sure to tip the Mexican fella who washes your yacht.
Clemson -14 over Maryland
Classic bounce back game. Clemson will take out a week's worth of aggression from the Florida State loss on the inferior Maryland. Unfortunately for Clemson fans, it's too little too late. Even a 70-0 win in this game won't ease the pain of knowing that your team gave the worst effort by a top ten team in modern history during the school's most important game of all-time. They'll have to live with the ennui of realizing that the best team that Clemson will probably ever have failed them when it mattered most. They'll be tortured by the understanding that Clemson's championship hopes are an hourglass and the last grains of sand have just slipped down into oblivion. They'll leave the state of Maryland knowing that they came ever-so-close to tasting the nectar of the Gods, only to fall headfirst into the darkest pits of hell. So there's that. But hey, enjoy the crab cakes!
North Carolina State +32 at Florida State - STAY AWAY
Remember last year, when Florida State blew out a bunch of middle school teams, dominated Clemson, garnered speculation of a National Championship, and then lost to a mediocre NC State team? That's probably not going to happen this year. But I still wouldn't lay 32 points here, no matter how impressive Jameis Winston looked last week. This has potential to be one of the biggest letdown games of all time. At the same time there's a revenge factor at play. This game could go any number of ways. Stay away.
Baylor -34.5 over Kansas
This game is either going to end 90-0 or 90-3. I'm not sure. Jacques Vaughan might show up for Kanas and drill a 3 at the end. But considering that Baylor beat Iowa State by 70, and Kansas is somehow worse than Iowa State, there's really only one option.
Utah +7 over USC
I've been trying to think of one reason to bet on the 2013 USC team, and here's what I came up with...
Texas +2.5 over TCU
TCU isn’t very good this year, and Texas is slightly above average. Take the points. Now let’s talk about Mack Brown. The guy won Texas a National Championship and made them a top-tier team for two decades. But after three mediocre years, everyone wants his head. No respect for his legacy. So here’s what I would do if I was Mack: Start by winning out the rest of the year and pulling off an amazing victory in the Cotton Bowl. Tough, but doable. Then, after the school has agreed to give you another year on the job, tank the recruiting process. Tell 5-star recruits to fuck off and go interview guys from the math league. The day before the 2014 season, quit and go become an analyst for ESPN. The Longhorns will be screwed for years to come. And in 2015, Mack can take the job at Texas A&M when Kevin Sumlin leaves to coach the Tampa Bay Bucs. Or, you know, he can be a professional and try his best. Whatever.
Ohio State -14.5 over Penn State
I've been a Penn State fan for 32 years -- a little more quietly for the past 2 years -- and I can say without hesitation, Ohio State has their number. 14.5 is a tough line for any Big Ten team, but I can't in good conscience advise you to bet on the Lions in a hostile environment against a team that always beats them. Christian Hackenberg will make mistakes, the OSU defense will come up with a score, Braxton Miller will pull off some ridiculous falling-backwards touchdown pass and the Buckeyes will take this one, 31-14.
UCLA at Oregon - OVER 70.5
As I write this, Oregon is favored over UCLA by 23.5 points. I know the Ducks are great, but let us not forget, UCLA was a top ten team just seven days ago. That’s the thing about Upset Saturday. It’s followed by overreaction Sunday. This line would have been 8-10 points lower a week ago. I’d be afraid to lay 23.5 points with Brett Hundley and the high-scoring Bruins offense involved. Then again, I will not bet against Oregon until they give me a reason. Betting against Oregon is a form of masochism. If you like putting yourself in that kind of danger, there are plenty of other options: base jumping, free solo climbing, illegal underground Muay Thai fighting. At least with those activities, when you fail, you die. When you bet against Oregon, you have to live with the knowledge that you’re a fool who bet against a team that scores every third play. You’re no fool, are you? I didn’t think so. Make the smart move and bet on points.
Take the Points: @take_the_points
Tom Z: @thefaketomz
Take the Points Podcast
Copyright © 2014, WTXX-TV