This has been a great week for us here at Bench Points. We got the ball rolling on our NBA coverage, I eviscerated the committees rankings for the College Football Playoff, and I have officially finished with my picks for the games this weekend. What a great day! Last weekend had several pretty good games, as does this weekend. Some of the bad games are even good because they have implications for conference races. I’ve got more compound picks for you than ever before, feel free to parlay them into gold! You got your house back last week, so you’re welcome.
Let’s Bet the Board!
Baylor -17 vs Kansas State
I generally like to avoid if-then analyses and transitive properties in sports analysis, because that’s not how parity works. But, Baylor is firing on all cylinders and Kansas State just lost to Texas. The Wildcats are coming off a bye, as is Baylor. I just don’t think the Wildcats can hang with Baylor. Yes, the Bears lost their QB, but the backup, Jarrett Stidham, is very capable and now has two weeks of practice to get ramped up. I don’t think Baylor has a let down, especially after the release of the Playoff Poll. Lay the points. Baylor to cover.
Duke +8 vs North Carolina
So, I’m not even going to analyze Duke’s loss last week. Ridiculous and awful officiating was pervasive in that game from start to finish with most of the calls going the Blue Devils’ way. When you look at the unbalanced penalties, there’s no way the game could have ended any other way. Duke is going to come off that game pissed off and heading into a must-win rivalry game. North Carolina just beat Pitt to take control of the division. Both teams have a lot on the line in this one, I think the final is closer than a touchdown. Take the points.
Kentucky +14 vs Georgia
The Wildcats are two or three plane crashes from being in the race for the division. But seriously, Kentucky is a much better team this season than in the past and they get a Georgia team that is absolutely hobbled. Moreover, Richt’s seat is blazing right now and a loss to UK might do him in. He’s the best 9 win coach in college football, and Georgia fans want him gone. Nothing would be more entertaining than watching Georgia shoot itself in the foot by firing Richt. Georgia doesn’t have an identity on offense and they can’t really stop anybody. They are guilty of misusing Malcolm Mitchell. This game will be no different. Take the points, and maybe the Cats outright. Please UK, do it for the children.
Vanderbilt +21 vs Florida (under 37)
I’m taking sides against the family, and I’m not even kind of sorry. Vandy has been my rockstar pick of the season with the under. They have an incredibly talented and well-schemed defense, but a woeful and morbid offense. Now that woeful and morbid offense takes on one of the best defenses in the country. This isn’t going to go well for Vandy. Still, I like the points here because it is supposed to be a noon scorcher (thanks, Florida) and regardless of McElwain’s rhetoric, Florida will not be as motivated. I think the Gators cruise, but I’m not expecting a 21 point margin with Harris at QB. Take the points here.
NC State vs Boston College (under 38.5)
Boston College has been my other darling this season for the under. In fact, I only have the Clemson game as a loss as long as I’ve taken the under. BC quietly has the top defense in the country. Opponents average a paltry 3.68 yards per play against the Eagles. That’s an insanely low number this late in the season. NC State has nowhere near the team Clemson has, and BC on offense is like leaving in June on the Oregon Trail–2 minutes in someone dies of dysentery and then it only gets worse from there. Take the under, this game is going to be low scoring.
TCU vs Oklahoma State +5.5
All season I have been running my mouth about TCU’s insular existence and how atrocious the Big XII is. Recently, I’ve begun alleging that TCU will finish the season with 3 losses. I still believe that, so how could I pick anything else. Ever since escaping Texas, Oklahoma State has played lights out football. TCU has not, but they looked awful good against a bad Mountaineer team last week. Take the points on Pistol Pete here. Just don’t look too closely at him, he’s the stuff of nightmares. I say you take the money line too, I’m taking the Cowboys outright.
Florida State vs Clemson -12.5
Florida State comes into this game with a banged up stud running back and a bench quarterback who wasn’t all that good to begin with. Clemson enters with the best offense they’ve ever had and the weight of #1 on their back. The Noles would love nothing more than to KO the top team in the country. Still, with the disparity between them this season, a Clemson loss will be categorized as a choke. And, if Dabo wants people to stop using his school as a verb for choking, he has to win. Clemson knows the stakes and catches FSU at a good time. I think the Tigers cruise at home. Lay the points, the margin should be at least 14.
LSU +6.5 at Alabama
Oh, boy! Nothing excites me more than Gary and Verne after dark. Forget the line, what are the odds that Uncle Verne nods off before halftime? I’m guessing 3/2. I’m considering live tweeting this game with the hashtag #VerneAfterDark. I’m serious. Anyway, it’s no surprise that CBS broke its 3:30 seal for this game. Thanks to the ridiculous initial CFP Poll rankings, this is now a de facto elimination game for the Playoff. Alabama has played great since dropping a howler to Ole Miss, and LSU has cruised on the back of Fournette. I think this is going to be a hell of a ballgame and I’m thinking a 3 point margin. Take the points, it should be close. I’m also taking LSU outright because that feels less complicated and Alabama struggled against Tennessee. Make a point to watch this game.
Notre Dame vs Pittsburgh +8.5
Pitt lost a tough one against UNC last week in a game that could have put the Panthers in the driver’s seat for the ACC Coastal. They look to rebound against Zombie Notre Dame this weekend. It took a fantastic interception on the final drive to seal the Irish’s win over Temple. Notre Dame feels vastly overrated by the Playoff Committee, and Pitt is looking for redemption. I like the Panthers to keep the game close and play fiery football for four quarters. Notre Dame still probably wins this game on talent disparity, but not by two scores.
Arkansas +11 at Mississippi
Arkansas has had some rotten luck and been on the losing side of it all season. It’s time the Hogs caught a break, and it may well happen against Ole Miss this weekend. Arkansas has an offense that belies its record and they are now two weeks removed from the emotional win over Auburn. Sure, Ole Miss is a different team with Laremy Tunsill back in the lineup, but I like the matchup. I really like the 11 points too. Take the points as it won’t be a runaway, but I still think Ole Miss wins.
Michigan State vs Nebraska +6
Honestly, the smart money was probably on the cover here by Sparty. But, I think this is a trap game and Michigan State has eroded in terms of optics and impressive wins. Additionally, it’s at Nebraska and the Huskers would love nothing more than to spoil Sparty’s shot at the playoff. I took the points because I think this game is a lot closer than it should be. Hell, Nebraska is 3-6! But, call it a gut feeling about that Michigan State will lose this game. I don’t love this line, but we’re going with it! Take the points!
Two weeks in a row they go up to 11!
11-0 here I come!