Week 5 Picks: Making Sense of Alabama and Texas, and Weighing Oregon vs. Stanford
Were they merely looking ahead to Oklahoma, or are they just a mediocre team? Right now I’m leaning towards the latter. A good team doesn’t get blown out at home by a UCLA squad that got blanked by Stanford, even if they’re not 100% focused on the game. A bad loss to Oklahoma this weekend might put Texas out of the AP top 25 — somewhere they haven’t been in over 10 years.
On the betting front, I had a week in which you know it’s a bad sign when you’re winning the games that you don’t feel super confident in and losing the ones that you think are locks. If this continues, I might wind up looking like the guy in the video below. FYI, that was recorded by a friend of mine on his phone, and he says the video didn’t even come close to depicting how absurd the guy’s condition was. These are the kinds of things you see around New York City in the early afternoon on a Thursday. Great town!
We’re plowing ahead, though, regardless so let’s get to it. As always, lines are via BoDog.com, asterisks denote how many units I’m playing, and watch out for late developments via Twitter @Michael_J_Cox.
What the Top 5 are Doing
#1 ALABAMA -8 over Florida
This line is 5 points higher if the game was played last weekend, and as much as it pains me to say it, the Gators have shown me nothing so far to indicate that we’re ready to win this game. There’s no doubt that we can hold our own defensively against ‘Bama, but unless there’s a big change for the Gators offensively, I don’t know where the points come from.
I flushed this one down the toilet as soon as I watched our games against Miami (Ohio) and USF and am honestly too depressed to write anymore about it. 24-10 Alabama and a historic hangover for me on Sunday morning.
#2 Ohio State -17 over ILLINOIS*
Illinois is -115 on the spread here and I can’t figure out why. They’ve been consistently bad ATS at home recently (2-8 over their last 10) while OSU is 21-5 ATS over their last 36 road games. Sure, the spread is pretty high given that both teams have winning records, but OSU is also 9-1 ATS over their last 10 against teams with a winning record. Of course Ron Zook is prominently involved here and this is the kind of game he can figure out a way to keep interesting. His time is quickly running out in Champagne, though, so this should just be one more nail in the coffin.
#3 Boise State -44.5 over NEW MEXICO STATE
New Mexico State has routinely been getting blown out this year by far lesser teams than Boise State.
#4 OREGON -7 over #13 Stanford
I’m definitely not as confident in Oregon as I was going into last week, but I do think that they’re a notch better than Stanford, so 7 points is too low here at home. After all, they’ve beaten Stanford by an average of 26 points per game the last four years. Stanford has made exactly one Rose Bowl appearance since 1975, and a win here would put them in the driver’s seat for #2. I don’t see that happening.
All of that said, ASU exposed just enough chinks in the Oregon armor last week to make me nervous about seeing Andrew Luck and the potent Stanford offense rolling into town. I like Oregon here, but it’s a stay-away game betting wise.
#5 TCU -33.5 over COLORADO STATE
Apparently the top 5 are all covering this week.
Games of Note
#8 Oklahoma (-3.5) OVER Texas
There’s just no way to stake cash on UT after that pathetic performance last week. The problem is that Oklahoma hasn’t exactly impressed thus far either. If you put 50 games in front of me this week and had me rank them in terms of confidence, this would be #50. I’m staying so far away from this game that I might not even watch it for fear of getting drawn into a second-half bet.
The offensive spark that Texas had with Vince Young and Colt McCoy looks completely gone. Garret Gilbert is serviceable, but you just don’t get the sense that he inspires the same level of confidence among his teammates. Oklahoma essentially has the exact opposite problem. Their offense looks fine, but the defense isn’t able to give them four full quarters of decent play. You’d think that would favor Texas in this one, but I’m not convinced. Expect a strange one here.
#9 Wisconsin -2 over MICHIGAN STATE**
Another year, another vintage Wisconsin team: top 25 in the nation in rushing offense, rushing defense, passing defense — and an abysmal passing attack. Still, they do all of the things well that a team like Notre Dame does badly, and Michigan State struggled to get past ND. This is undoubtedly my favorite game of the week from a gambling standpoint.
IOWA -7 over Penn State
Iowa and USC are quickly becoming my two biggest stay-away teams in 2010. Just when you think you've got them pegged enough to load up on them they come back and crush you. Even so, I really want to play Iowa here. The Arizona loss was tough, but the Pac 10 may be stronger than expected this year. Also, Penn State looked predictably shaky last week and still doesn’t look like they’ve completely figured it out on offense. I want to see a little more Big Ten conference play before I start getting into heavy betting on these games.
#17 Miami -3.5 over CLEMSON**
Miami got absolutely killed by CJ Spiller in this game last year and should come in with a little extra motivation this time around as they look to cement themselves atop the horrendous ACC. Let me make this clear, I will never recommend teasers and parlays, but this game and Wisconsin set up pretty well as the first two legs of a three-team teaser if you like to bet that sort of thing.
N.C. STATE +3.5 over Virginia Tech**
I looked this one over a few times trying to figure out how VaTech could possibly be favored here. Whenever that happens it usually signals a stay away for me because if I don’t immediately pick up what Vegas sees then I’m probably the sucker. Still, what have the Hokies showed us to indicate that they’re capable of going on the road and beating a good conference opponent? Nothing as far as I’m concerned. This seems like an easy one. Famous last words…
Tennessee +16.5 over #10 LSU*
LSU is easily one of the most overrated teams in the country right now, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving them more than two TDs in any conference game. They remind me a lot of the teams that Auburn has been throwing out there the last few years: just good enough to be frisky in the big games, but also shaky against teams they should hammer. I see them playing lots of close games this year.
BOSTON COLLEGE +3 over Notre Dame*
ND is 1-3 ATS this year and 4-11 ATS over their last 15. That’s enough to get me onboard with whoever they’re playing against for another week. Also, how much more mileage does Notre Dame have with that NBC contract? I get that they’re nationally relevant, etc., etc., but doesn’t that start to erode at some point when you’re bad for an extended period of time?
Money Plays: 2-5
Money Plays: 14-17