Welcome to the second season of The Old College Try. I’ll be here each week, trying to beat the book by betting on college football. All lines accurate as of Thursday, 10/23. Picks appear in bold.
Go ahead, I deserve it. Like Charlie Brown and the proverbial football, I once again trusted my beloved Georgia/Atlanta area sports teams to bring joy into my life rather than the crushing despair and defeat I should be expecting by now. How did that end up?
About the same as it always does. Anyway, that was the game that broke our tie on the week, as the column ended up 1-2 for a $110 loss. That brings us down to 15-9-2 with a $400 profit on the season.
We’re coming back with a much bigger card and much more confidence in Week 7, with seven locks on our board. So let’s skip past the doom and gloom of a very unhappy Week 6 (more gloom later) and get straight to our best bets of the week.
The “If You Can’t Beat ’em, Join ’em” Evil Empire Eradication of the Week
Alabama -21 at Tennessee (-120)
Bet: $120 to win $100
The best offense in college football rolls into Neyland stadium to take on a Tennessee team that has lost in back-to-back weeks by 27 (to Kentucky) and 23 (to Georgia). The spread is 21. Is everybody else having as much trouble understanding this as I am?
Sure, Alabama is coming off a big win and going on the road. With some teams, you might expect a let down game here. I just don’t think Tennessee has the right pieces to take advantage even if Bama has that letdown game. I can’t see the Tide putting up less than 42 in this game. Are the Volunteers going to score three touchdowns? I don’t know where those points are coming from with a team that doesn’t really have a passing game at the moment.
Ole Miss moved the ball against Alabama and pushed them to the brink. This Tennessee team, while it might be as good as the Rebels, is not Ole Miss. They don’t do any of the things that made Ole Miss a nightmare match-up for this Alabama defense. On defense, they don’t create enough pressure to trouble the Alabama offense. The Tide will roll in this one, and the only danger is a backdoor cover. I don’t think that happens, though. Bama rolls into Knoxville and takes this one by 30.
The Big 10 Beatdown of the Week
Penn State -6 at Indiana (-110)
Bet: $110 to win $100
A lot of smart money is on the other side of this one, and I get that. Indiana is likely to be underrated by the public this year, and they may have the advantage at quarterback. I still think there’s too much talent on this Penn State team for the spread to only be -6.
These two teams have different goals. Penn State thinks (incorrectly) that it can compete for the B1G title. Indiana’s just hoping to end up in a bowl game and maybe spoil the season for a couple of conference opponents. They might have a chance at both of those goals this year, but I don’t think week 1 is the time for a big Hoosier win. Penn State’s defense gets enough stops here for both a win and a trip to Covertown.
The Harbaugh Hot Seat Warm Up of the Week
Michigan at Minnesota +3 (-110)
Bet: $110 to win $100
This could go very wrong. Michigan is the more talented team and we haven’t seen anything from these two (or any of the B1G teams) yet. I just trust the Gophers’ offense more than I trust the Wolverines’, who will be replacing a quarterback and most of their receiving talent. New quarterback Joe Milton is somehow the first Michigan starting quarterback (in a season opener) to be recruited by Harbaugh during his time at Michigan despite the overwhelming feeling that Harbaugh stint at Michigan has already lasted longer than that Delbert Grady’s stay at the Overlook Hotel. Unfortunately, no one’s been able to “correct” Michigan’s offense during the Harbaugh era.
So despite some new blood, we look forward to another year of Coach Harbaugh coaching a plodding offense, drinking milk with dinner, and losing yet again to Ohio State. As he continues to be the most Michigan of all coaches, Harbaugh will not be on the hot seat this year. But I forced a fellow Sideline Warning Contributor to make a flaming khakis picture last year and it’s too good not to share.
This will be a big game for Minnesota coach and noted boat rower PJ Fleck as he tries to prove that his team’s ability to hang with the big boys of the B1G (well, the ones that aren’t Ohio State, anyway) wasn’t just a one year fluke. I’m not sure if Minnesota can stick with those teams from a recruiting standpoint year in and year out, but I would give Fleck an X’s and O’s advantage over Harbaugh. I think the Gophers have what it takes to win this one straight up at home.
The Clawless Catfight of the Week
Kentucky -5.5 at Missouri (-110)
Bet: $110 to win $100
Despite a bye week between games, I’ll bet Missouri is riding high after their win over LSU two weeks ago. They got their big W, and I don’t think they have another one in them. On the other side, Kentucky is playing with a bit of desperation despite a big win over the Volunteers last week.
Kentucky is hard to pin down at the moment because their scores have been so misleading. They were basically even with Tennessee in total yards last Saturday but ended up dominating the game anyway, thanks to Volunteer quarterbacks spotting them 17 points by throwing three interceptions, including two pick-sixes, in the first quarter. On the flip side, they were probably the better team in both of their first two games, and they lost both.
Missouri’s scores haven’t been misleading, but they might be overvalued here after beating an LSU team that might just be really bad. Both of these coaches are great, but Kentucky has a better defense and should control both lines of scrimmage. They’re predictable on offense, but that shouldn’t matter this week. This line should be closer to 10 points, but I’m happy to take the Wildcats as 5-and-a-half point favorites if the book will give it to me.
The “Kansas Still Sucks” Big 12 Principle Play of the Week
Kansas at Kansas State -20 (-110)
Bet: $110 to win $100
Whew. I hate Kansas State as a 20-point favorite as much as the next guy (Klieman is great, but I’d rather back him as a dog or at least in a close game), but you all know how I feel about their in-state rivals. Despite the Jayhawks potentially covering last week depending on where you got that line, Kansas still stinks.
West Virginia beat Kansas by a measly 21 points last week, but I think this Kansas State team is a lot better than the Mountaineers. Even with a slower pace, I think the Wildcats win this one by four touchdowns. The Wildcats should rack up yards on the ground, led by Deuce Vaughn, and they won’t have any trouble stopping the Jayhawks on the other side.
The Schadenfreude Special of the Week
Auburn at Ole Miss ML (+145)
Bet: $100 to win $145
So, Auburn hasn’t shown that they can do anything at all well so far this year. Not one football related thing. And we’re supposed to trust them as a three-and-a-half point favorite over Ole Miss? Granted, Ole Miss does the whole “defense” thing very poorly, if at all, but they’re also elite on the offensive side of the ball. Don’t let a bad result against Arkansas last week fool you, Ole Miss can still put the ball in the end zone, and one bad week does not mean the SEC has figured the Lane Train out.
I expect this one to be high scoring because Ole Miss can score on just about anyone and Ole Miss can’t stop anyone else from scoring. Their two units are so far on opposite ends of the quality spectrum that opposing teams’ philosophies rarely even matter. With that being said, I’ll forego the 3.5 points here and just take the Rebels to win straight up. I may regret that move next week, but I think the juice is worth it with Ole Miss at home. Also, let’s be honest, I’d just really enjoy Auburn losing this game.
Injured Tiger, Feisty Gamecock
South Carolina at LSU over 55 (-110)
Bet: $110 to win $100
How many points is a quarterback worth? Because Myles Brennan going down has massively affected this total. The spread, on the other hand, has not swung as hard as I would have expected (currently LSU -6).
LSU games against non-Vanderbilt teams are currently averaging 82 total points. South Carolina, despite an offensive coordinator who likes to play at a more leisurely pace, has scored at least 31 points in every game. If Brennan was playing, I’d expect this total to be a full 10 points higher.
Even with a true freshman quarterback and a heavier reliance on the run game and John Emery Jr. for LSU, I think this number is too low. LSU hasn’t been able to stop any offense with a pulse so far, and I see both teams in the 30’s here, so here’s to hoping we cash this one in the 3rd quarter and avoid a late game sweat.
Can We Bet on the Dawgs this Week?
No, we can’t bet on the Dawgs because they don’t play. And honestly, thank God.
Last week was a tough one. Sure, the column had a losing week, but more importantly, the whole city of Atlanta did too. Luckily, the Dawgs get a week off to lick their wounds and I get a week free of bitter disappointment, at least until my first bet of the week loses.
Last weekend felt like the one we’ve been training our whole life for as Atlanta sports fans. The Dawgs lost yet again to Alabama despite leading after the first half. The Braves managed to lose three straight games on the weekend, falling to the Dodgers despite a 3-1 lead entering Friday. The Yellow Jackets, for the Atlanta denizens with that particular affliction, managed to lose by 66 whole points and their fans seem to be handling that loss better than any of the other outcomes. The Falcons, meanwhile, were the only team to win, making their annual trip to 6-10 and a mid-round draft pick all the more likely.
You lived all of this, so you probably don’t need to hear about it yet again. But I’m not over it so you don’t get to be either.
Thanks for reading the Old College Try once again this week, and let me know which picks you like here in the column or on twitter (@slapnslide). As always, if you enjoyed the picks this week, feel free to share with anybody else that might like the site. You can also follow Sideline Warning through Twitter, Facebook, or email. Links to the right and below this article. And while you’re on the site, check out our weekly DFS picks by new contributor Tyler Badger. A Sideline Warning reader took home the jackpot in a Draftkings tournament last week using Tyler’s picks. Best of luck!