Picks! Picks! Step right up and get your picks! Phew, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to gamble…er write about gambling. For those returning starters who haven’t been suspended, you know the drill. For the replacement parts, dubbed Butch Davis’ squad, it’s fairly simple. Each week I go up and down the SEC picking each game against the spread, unless a team is playing a high school team (which is why there wasn’t a column last week — virtually every spread was 20 points plus). I usually toss in gambling tips here and there with rumblings that I hear from Vegas, friends and writers from around the SEC — and my own bias. Often times I’ll cheat and go with an over/under play to recoup my losses. Last years total ATS was…well I don’t remember. But I know I went 30-22 before the last week and that’s as far as the crack research team went back.
The Thursday games are one of the easiest games to bet if the right factors come into play. Auburn at Mississippi St. has most. First, the team on the road has a lot of hype coming in (Auburn has been a chic pick to upset ‘Bama this season). Second, the home team is a slight underdog (When I grabbed the line, State was a 2.5 dog). Third, inclement weather is not approaching (weather.com has given me the ok). The only discouraging factor is that it’s very early in the season and Auburn played a cupcake last week, meaning they could look ahead a bit and try out some looks for State. But that goes both ways.
Thursday games mean the stadium and players will be extra juiced up because the spotlight is on them. The road team always gets less time to prepare due to traveling, but it’s made exponentially worse when there’s just three days to solidify a game plan. Dan Mullen’s squad played in a lot of close games last season and will be looking to reverse that trend to open up SEC play. I’m taking the (get a new f*&%ing nickname) Bulldogs +2.5
On to the weekend games. (Note: my weekend has already started)
Florida looks to rebound form a horrendous start against Miami (OH) in a game they were outplayed offensively. They play South Florida in a game that somewhat irks me to pick: my high-school-team radar is buzzing in my ear. I know, they’re in a BCS conference but there hasn’t been a threatening team from the Big East since Pat White graduated and there’s no doubt next years Mountain West Conference will be superior and should take the automatic bid away from the Big Least. For now, I’ll keep picking Big East teams but only on a probationary period. If I keep seeing double digit spreads like this one (15), they’re out. This is a tough one to call. Florida is a “public team” meaning a team people will bet on just because it’s Florida. By that token, it also means people will definitely have seen Florida’s demise last week and would likely stay away. Ultimately I’m betting that Meyer will have ripped this team a new one and will be able to properly snap the ball this week. And despite looking like crap last week, they still won by a couple of scores. I’ll take Florida -15.
Last week Jason Templet from KLSU told me that if LSU lost to UNC last week, we’d be able to feel the heat on Les Miles’ hot seat all the way in Athens. As I was sweating my balls off (metaphorically) walking to class, I stopped and cursed Miles. Turns out, barely beating a team playing without 15 key players (from the ACC no less!) doesn’t help much. Now he’s got to get his boys excited to play on the road at Vanderbilt. Doesn’t exactly get the juices flowing. Vandy is now getting the same line than UNC got last week, +10 (red flag! red flag!) Plus, I really don’t like Jordan Jefferson. I’ll take the points, Vandy + 10.
Last weeks highlight film, the Oregon Ducks, travel east to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Barfighters (Cheap shot? Nah. Da’rick Rogers made fun of UGA for our DUIs on facebook yesterday).
Tennessee is usually the team I love to hate. But I just feel bad now. Lane Kiffin came and effed crap up, they had a decent recruiting class that all went to jail and when I spoke to Kevin Heuewgshman of the Beacon at UT, he was the most depressed sounding man in America. I can’t even pull the “SEC Defenses!!” card in this one because UT will likely be so pitiful this season. I really should be rejoicing, but it’s just kind of pathetic. Ducks -12
JOE PA! Alright. Not much for me to say here. This IS a case of SEC defenses messing with a team from a worse conference (though I do respect the Big 10 these days….seriously). ‘Bama runs all over them and forces turnovers from this young Penn St. squad. Sorry Joe, but your last trip to Tuscaloosa won’t be a fond memory. Alabama -12.
And finally, Georgia and South Carolina. This is a tough one to pick. Very even teams, both missing key guys due to NCAA rulings, traditionally close games. But the intangibles all lean towards the Cocks. They have experience at quarterback, home field, and as the Daily Gamecock’s James Kratch told me on the podcast, USC needs it more. From his interaction with fans and players, they’re taking this as a make or break game. Can’t say the same for Georgians, who are almost taking this one for granted. Almost. We don’t take many SEC games for granted, but a 46-14 record does allow for some breathing room. I’ll take South Carolina -3. To make up for picking another team, which I would never actually do except for in a column, I’m also going to take a lesson from last year and take the over of 47 points. Everyone and their mother hammered the under last season and was way off. With UGA’s ultra-aggressive defense leaving a gaping hole that even ULL managed to expose, I’m sure Stephen “I don’t suck anymore” Garcia will find a couple. Combined with a potent UGA offense and good special teams on both sides, I expect a higher scoring game than usual.
Until next time, Ball Hard.