By Tom Z
10:51 AM EDT, October 4, 2013
Bad news. Due to the government shutdown, I am forced to keep this intro to a minimum. You see, in order to focus on my picks, I hire government employees to write these snappy intros for me. It takes them 3 months and it costs me $4,000 a column, but I think the end result is pretty good. With the shutdown, however, you're stuck with just my picks. But don't worry, these will be good. Because as a gambler, when I'm short on funding, I have to work twice as hard.
Michigan State at Iowa - Pick 'em - STAY AWAY
Don't bet on this game. Don't watch this game. Don't even acknowledge that this game exists. I include it here for one reason and one reason only: To show you that you should never bet on any game involving Michigan State. I have a "no fly list" for college football gambling each year, which includes inconsistent teams that can't be trusted from week to week. This year's USC team is a good example. They're loaded with NFL talent, but they only beat Utah State by 3. That's not a team you can trust. Michigan State has been on my "no fly list" for about ten years straight. Their roster always has future pros, but they're wildly inconsistent from week to week, and they always have a stiff white guy quarterback who can't get the ball to his playmakers. After being a consensus top 25 team in the preseason, the Spartans are a pick 'em against Iowa in week 6. There are only two possible explanations here. Either A) Vegas figured out that the Spartans are not very good, or B) Tim Tebow has secretly joined Iowa under the pseudonym Elijah Q. Prayerman. Either way, this is a total stay away game.
Florida State -14 over Maryland
Tough game to pick. Vegas really nailed the lines this week. I'll take FSU at home over the upstart Terrapins. Florida State is a better team, they have home field advantage and they'll be fired up to play a 4-0 team. I know the Seminoles struggled against Boston College last week, but that's not a fair comparison, because it was on the road against a team that FSU didn't respect. Plus, BC is a bunch of smart kids, so they probably messed with Florida State's head using math or something.
Miami -5.5 over Georgia Tech
This line has shown some movement over the past couple days. I like it at -6 or less, not so much if it gets up to -7. Miami's a very good squad with some real NFL talent. I think they have the size and speed on defense to slow down the Yellow Jacket attack. I also think the Canes' offense will be able to run against the Georgia Tech D. Miami is better than Georgia Tech in pretty much every phase of the game. The Yellow Jackets are a proud team, though, and I think they'll keep it relatively close. Miami 27, Georgia Tech 20.
Clemson -14 over Syracuse
Another line that keeps slowly creeping toward the underdog. I think Clemson blows out the Cuse, 59-17 or something like that. Clemson is ranked #3 in the country for a reason. They're a legitimate powerhouse this year. Syracuse is in a rebuilding year -- aren't they always? -- and doesn't have the firepower to keep up with Tajh Boyd & Co. Lay the points and bet on the talent.
I should note, there is a 15% chance that Syracuse keeps it close. Syracuse football is like genital herpes. Most of the time they're nowhere to be found, but then when you least expect it, they show up and burn you. Now, I want to make it clear, I'm just relaying what I've heard. I don't actually watch Syracuse football. God, that would be embarrassing. Plus I don't have time since I'm always taking my herpes medication.
LSU -10 over Mississippi State
Bounceback game for LSU. The Tigers have to be frustrated after playing their hearts out in last week's loss to Georgia. Look for them to exert their will on the Bulldogs. This week, Les Miles is Walter White and Mississippi State are the neo-Nazis.* It's going to end badly.
*I don’t want to imply that people from Mississippi are Nazis. They're just normal racists.
New Mexico vs. New Mexico State UNDER 60
Speaking of "Breaking Bad," it's the battle for New Mexico! However, unlike the final season of "Breaking Bad," this will not be good in any way. I have to give a hat tip to my Take the Points co-host Dan P for this pick. His "Lock of the Week" picks are 3-1 so far this season. This is his lock for week 6. New Mexico and New Mexico State are the two worst D-I programs of the past decade, and when they get together, it's like… umm… what's the opposite of a heavyweight prize fight? It's like a dwarf vs. a raccoon in a tickle fight. Forget a TV blackout. This game won't even make the cut for the WatchESPN app. (If you want to watch it, New Mexico pre-frosh Trevor Stevenson will be hosting a Google Hangout from the corner end zone 200 level.) It's pointless to try and learn anything about these teams, but I'll let you know anyway: New Mexico State is 0-5 and most likely the worst team in Division I. New Mexico is 1-3, fresh off a scholarship-limiting probation, ranked #108 in College Football Universe's season preview and earlier this year lost by 8 points to the mighty University of Texas San Antonio Roadrunners. Don't watch this game, don't even check it on the ScoreCenter app. Just bet the under on Saturday and look at your account balance on Sunday morning.
Northwestern +7.5 over Ohio State
History and common sense says that Ohio State has to have at least one challenging game this year. Wisconsin gave a good effort, but could never get close enough to make it truly interesting. Penn State is in a rebuilding year. Michigan looks awful. And that's it. There's no Michigan State or Nebraska on the schedule, just a bunch of Middle America doormats. My hot tub is deeper than the Big 10, and has more team speed. I refuse to believe that Ohio State will cruise through the year without one solid test, so it must be this weekend against Northwestern. The Wildcats are headed toward a 10-win season and a respectable bowl game. They have playmakers and can score points. They have home field, an extra week of practice and the added advantage of catching the Buckeyes after a high-profile Wisconsin game. I think Northwestern falls short of the upset, but I'll take the points. OSU 31, Northwestern 27.
West Virginia at Baylor OVER 71.5
Fuck it. YOLO. I love this year's Baylor team. They're Oregon Junior. I've gone from rooting for them to win the Big 12, to actually believing that it can happen. They're as talented as anyone in the conference, it's just a matter of negotiating their challenging second half of the season. If they can beat Oklahoma in a head-to-head match-up, I think a Big 12 title and BCS game is well within the realm of possibility.* Plus, Baylor just had a player arrested for assault, so you know they're starting to become a big-time college football program. Against the suspect West Virginia defense, they could put up 60. The Mountaineers, meanwhile, are fresh off a big win against Oklahoma State, and might be inspired to start playing like a Division I team. (As opposed to the middle school-level effort they displayed during the first four weeks of the season.) If WVU can pull their weight even a little bit, this bet comes in easily.
*If there's a God, we'll get an Oregon-Baylor Fiesta Bowl, with 215 total plays and a final score of 97-90.
TCU at Oklahoma OVER 47.5
It's the Big 12, where defense is optional! Yes, I know, this is where you tell me that TCU and Oklahoma are the best two defensive teams in the Big 12. And that's when I respond that being the best defensive teams in the Big 12 is roughly the same as being the most conservative girls in Kappa Kappa Gamma. So let's stop arguing. Catelynn and Mikayla are still doing Jager shots off the ice luge, and the Sooners and the Horned Frogs are still giving up a lot of points. This is an NFL over/under. I'll tell you the same thing that Kappa Kappa Gamma tells its new recruits. Stop asking questions and just do it.
Washington +8.5 over Stanford
This line started at 7 and has shifted a point and a half toward Washington in the past twenty-four hours. This week's lines are like Michael J. Fox on three Red Bulls, they're moving all over the place. Washington has gone from being an up-and-coming team the past couple years, to a real threat this season. They're a tough, tough draw for anyone. I think Stanford, at home, wins this game. But don't expect it to be easy. You know the motto. Take the points. And hey, enjoy this game, it should be a good one.
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