Well, well, well, look who finally recorded a winning college football weekend last time out. That’s right yours truly posted a minor profit by going 4-3 in week four. A few more weeks like that I will be moving from the park bench to government assisted living.
This week is the beginning of conference play, where we should get a truer line comparison from week to week. This should provide more value “plays” as the odds-makers are forced to adjust lines for over-reactions to weekly results.
Washington State @ Oregon (-31.5, O/U 74) – Oregon is fast, really, really fast. So fast that the Ducks could easily be up 35-0 by the middle of the second quarter. Plus, Chip Kelly coaches like he is getting paid by the number of plays run. Adding all that up we get a lighting fast Ducks team running plays at light speed that will leave the Cougars defense heads spinning.
An obvious Ducks blowout, right? Not necessarily, this line is highly inflated by the results of last week – Oregon dismantling the Arizona Wildcats, while the Cougs were cleaning their pants after soiling them against a very, very poor Colorado team. Of course, a closer look would reveal that the Wildcats could have been up 28 points in the first quarter against the Ducks, yet somehow managed to botch four possessions inside the Ducks 30. If the Cats managed to be simply below average last week, that would have been a different game.
And Washington State’s coach Mike Leach has treated the first four games of the season like the NFL pre-season, not showing much and not really caring. Expect a completely different team this weekend.
Play: Washington State +31.5
Oregon State @ Arizona (-2.5, O/U 60.5) – Yup, I am biting the hand that has filled my belly over the first month of the season. I have been all over this Oregon State as a surprise contender in the Pac-12. Don’t get me wrong, they still are contender, but this is a tough spot for them – a. back-to-back travel weeks to the South; b. upset wins over two ranked opponents, generally that third game is where we find a letdown; and c. the Cats are coming off a brutal loss to Oregon.
My biggest concern is the Oregon hangover for the Cats, but that’s why Rich-Rod gets paid the big bucks to overcome those issues.
Play: Arizona -2.5
Wisconsin @ Nebraska (-11.5, O/U 50) – Follow this logic with me: Nebraska was a three point favorite in the pre-season “games of the year”, meaning that with the standard four points for home field, the Badgers were, in the pre-season, considering to be slightly better than the Huskers; in week two the Badgers played Oregon State as a seven point road favorite, while the same day Nebraska played UCLA as a five point road favorite. Both BIG10 teams lost is a similar fashion, close but equally unimpressive. Oregon State beat UCLA last week in Pasadena as an eight point dog. So, we have a recent line comparison that should give us a very close number for this Badgers/Huskers game. Simple math tells us that Nebraska was graded nine over UCLA and UCLA graded as four points better than Oregon State, therefore, we should get Nebraska graded as 13 points higher than Oregon State. Right? Right. Now, Wisconsin was graded 11 points better than the Beavers, meaning Nebraska is two points over Wisconsin. Nebraska, with home field advantage, should be a six point favorite in this game. Hmmm.
Why is this line so inflated? Some of it is certainly due to the struggles of the Badgers against teams like Utah State and UTEP, while the Huskers have man-handled the traditional powers, Arkansas State and Idaho State. But that can only be worth a couple of line points at the most.
Could it be because Lincoln is one of the toughest places to play in college football? Not a chance. In fact, I would argue that Lincoln is one of the easier places to play, simply because the mantra “Best fans in the universe” is taken too literal by the old school, “blue hairs”. They won’t cheer loudly for fear that the mythically title mentioned above will be ripped off their paneled basement wall; they also won’t get out of their seat unless they filled their Depends and thus require a change; they also pressure other, younger fans into staying in their seats. Just one time I would like to see the opponent walk off the field at Memorial Stadium to a shower of half filled beer bottles and loud boos, as opposed to the golf clap they traditionally get after swift ass-kicking of the home team.
I feel very comfortable accepting the free points on this game and trusting the huge head coaching advantage for the Badgers. Yeah, Bielema leads Pelini in virtually every category expect for spitting when talking and ounces of snot running out of his nose.
Plus, I simply don’t trust Martinez in a big game against thoughtful, well prepared opponent. And the little known, dirty secret about this Husker team – their D-Line is horrible and will get pushed all over the place by the Badgers. Therefore, look for a close, low scoring game.
Play: Wisconsin +11.5 & Under 50.0
Louisiana Tech (-3.0, O/U 60.0) @ Virginia – Do you think Norte Dame was aware that one of their new pseudo conference mates would be a home underdog to Louisiana Tech. Louisiana Tech!!
Virginia can play a little bit of defense. That’s all I need.
Play: Under 60.0
Minnesota @ Iowa (-6.5, 45.0) – One of my biggest fears, as I watch the current irrelevancy in the middle of the country, is that Nebraska would become an Iowa. I just don’t know if I can stomach getting excited when the Huskers finish in the upper half of the “Legends” division and head to the “insert obscure lawn tools company name here” bowl before Christmas to play some up and coming team from the Sun Belt. That’s the life of a Hawkeye fan. I think I would rather be stung to death by Africanized killer bees than end up like that.
And what’s a bad season for the Hawkeyes? I think we’re finding out in 2012, as I witnessed a few weeks ago a gang of diehard Iowa fans hanging out at their pool in the middle of the thrilling victory over Northern Iowa. Yeah, right in the middle of the game, these four “fans” were out by the pool, meaning they were not watching the game. That’s what a 9-6 loss to Iowa State will do to you. But even a broken clock is correct twice a day. . .
Play: Iowa -6.5
Ohio State @ Michigan State (-2.0, O/U 41.5) – The BIG10 is about winning the BIG10! Let’s face none of these teams is going to sniff a BCS title game anytime soon. Nope, not even you, Ohio State! With that as the backdrop, I have to favor the team that actually has a chance to win the BIG10 this season and not the team that is being penalized for being cheating bastards.
Play: Michigan State -2.0