Welcome to The Old College Try. Each week, I’ll be here, attempting to grow a starting bankroll of $1,000 by making picks on NCAA football games. To see previous weeks’ picks, click the links below. All lines accurate as of Tuesday, 11/27.
Another 3-3 week has come and gone (39-31-1 on the season, 55.7%), and I’m looking for a Turkey Day bump to get me out of this .500 slump. Win or lose, though, I am refusing to have another 50% week, so we’ve got an odd number of games on hand. Can’t wait for one game to push and bring me to 3-3-1.
The Week 13 losses were mostly deserved. I’m still upset about ECU letting me down after I included multiple pirate gifs, but I deserve to be punished for ever expecting a Mike Leach team to play defense.
With the bankroll down to $863.47, there’s still a shot to enter conference championship week in the green if we can end regular season on a high note. This week, in the spirit of Thanksgiving and Rivalry Weekend, I’d like to share a few things that I’m thankful for as we go through our best bets:
For a Game to Turn to When the Falcons Start Losing
Ole Miss + 2.5 at Miss St (-110)
Bet: $80 to win $72.73
When is Vegas going to stop sleeping on the Rebels? Ole Miss has covered six of their last seven games. The one they didn’t? A 7-point loss to Texas A&M as a 6-point dog. Ever since Freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee has started to get snaps, the Mississippi ground game has been on a serious roll, and it has seemingly improved with every game. Over their last three contests (against Auburn, New Mexico State, and LSU), Ole Miss has averaged 338.7 rushing yards – 3rd in the nation over that span.
Anyone that can make the Rebels throw the ball to pick up first downs should have a pretty good day against this Ole Miss team, but that is a tall task. They have several explosive ball carriers, and even the best teams in the SEC West have been gashed by the Rebels’ QB run game. I don’t think Mississippi State can stand up to the Ole Miss ground attack, and I’m not sure they have the firepower to keep up on the offensive side. I think the Rebels win here and the Golden Egg Trophy will switch hands for the fifth consecutive year. Just a heads up – a lot of power ratings systems disagree with me here, so know that you are going against some of the more number-centric gamblers if you follow this pick.
For Directional School Showdowns
Western Kentucky -8.5 vs Middle Tennessee State (-110)
$60 to win $54.55
Get ready for a clash of styles in this Conference USA showdown, with a vicious Western Kentucky defense lining up against a solid MTSU offense. The Hilltoppers have been a reliable squad for bettors all year, going 8-3 against the spread so far, and I think that trend continues on Saturday. Western Kentucky won’t rack up the yards, but I think their defense will put them in plus field position often enough for the Hilltoppers to put a decent number on the scoreboard. I see this game around 28-17 and fully expect a double digit WKU win.
For The Midweek Football Blessing that is MACtion
Miami University +3 at Ball State (-110)
Bet: $80 to win $72.73
Yes, this game is played on a Friday, but shoutout to the MAC for giving us something to watch on random Tuesdays during the college football season. I can’t quite figure out how Ball State is favored by a full field goal here. Yes, they are at home, but Miami is a pretty legit 7-4 (losses to Iowa, Cincinnati, Ohio State, and Western Michigan) team. This seems to be an overreaction to Miami looking sluggish against Akron last week and failing to put up points against a very bad team.
It’s also fair to point out that Ball State is probably not as bad as their record indicates. They have lost three straight very close games, and you might be wondering if this is the week their luck will turn. I don’t see it, though. For my money, Miami is one of the best teams in the MAC this year, and maybe the most balanced. Plus, since their game against Akron was played on last Wednesday, they have had an extra three days to prepare. I think they have enough to go into Muncie and grab a win, but if you’re going to give me three points, I’ll gladly take the extra wiggle room.
For Teams That Don’t Like to Score, and for Teams That Can’t
Maryland at Michigan State Under 48.5
$60 to win $54.55
Two strong 2019 principles are at play in this one: Maryland can’t score against a decent defense, and Michigan State doesn’t play offense period. In their last four games, Maryland has put up 10, 7, 14, and 7 points. Michigan State couldn’t even hit 30 points while blanking Rutgers last week.
So, if we think the most likely outcome is Maryland scoring 14 or less, do we think Michigan State is going to get to 35? That seems like a lot of points to me for this Spartan offense. Yes, we got burned on the Michigan State under two weeks ago, but that was because of dominant effort from Michigan. I expect the Spartans to win this game, and Michigan State wins rarely involve a lot of scoring. I wouldn’t be surprised if these two teams struggle to make it to 40 total points.
For The Continued Failure of Syracuse Football
Wake Forest -4 at Syracuse (-110)
Bet: $80 to win $72.73
We’ve been on the fade Syracuse train for a while now and it has been a profitable ride. So far this season, the column is 2-0 when betting against the Orange and 1-0 when betting on the under in Syracuse games (which was mostly a play against the Syracuse offense).
Well, we’re coming back to the table for an extra helping of the good stuff. Wake Forest lost a lot of its offensive firepower when Sage Surratt went down for the season, but I think they still have plenty in the tank to beat this lousy Syracuse team. I would have taken Wake anywhere under a touchdown, so I’m happy to bet them at -4.
For the Chance to See Another Auburn Loss
Alabama -3.5 at Auburn (-110)
$80 to win $72.73
Yes, Tua is out. Yes, Alabama’s defense has been a bit shaky. Yes, this game is played in Auburn, and yes, you can generally count on Auburn, Agent of Chaos, to ruin at least one team’s season each year. But do we really trust Bo Nix to cover 3.5 against Alabama, regardless of who is starting at the quarterback position? I certainly don’t. The Auburn defensive line is great, but a good pass rush doesn’t prevent Jerry Jeudy from turning a seven yard slant into a 75-yard touchdown.
With another Oregon loss opening the door just a crack for a potential Alabama appearance in the playoffs, Saban will be doing everything in his power to make a statement in the Iron Bowl. You may want to buy the half-point to bring this down to -3, but I’ll lay the 3.5 on the road with the Tide.
For Another Week to Bet on the Dawgs
Georgia -28 at Georgia Tech (-120)
Bet: $60 to win $50
Ah screw it, we might as well. I’m a little hesitant to bet on UGA as a four touchdown favorite against anyone, but Kirby seems to have a bit of extra motivation for this game since he took an embarrassing loss against Tech in his first season as a head coach. If you’re a Georgia fan, you are hoping that the Dawgs use this game as an opportunity to fix any issues in the passing game, which should lead to a higher scoring affair than we have seen in recent Georgia games.
The defense should be able to shut down the GT offense, and this is the last chance for Georgia to get back on track offensively before the SEC championship game. It might take 38 points to cover, which is a bit scary, but I think the Dawgs can do it.
Among the many gambling related things that I have to be thankful for, I’m most thankful for everyone that has stuck around to read 14 weeks of gambling picks. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride, and I hope you enjoy a long weekend filled with family, food, football, and gambling fortune. I’ll see you on the other side of your stuffing-induced nap with picks for Championship Weekend.
Total Bets: Risking $500 to win $450.02