So, we’ve had a messed up few weeks here at Bench Points, not the least of which involved issues I faced with getting content posted timely. That’s on me. I’m very thankful for Aaron’s weekly NFL column that has kept us all afloat in the past few weeks. That said, BTB is back for hate week and it’s on like Donkey Kong. A subtle note to my readers, I have a couple of homer picks in here. It’s not my fault that Vegas Insider did a great job picking lines this week. We watch football for these storied rivalries. Hopefully, the games don’t let us down this weekend. As always, the visitor is on the left, the picks are bold, and the spread is set in context of the pick.
Let’s Bet the Board!
LSU vs. TAMU +7.5
LSU was dealt a pretty rough road loss at home last weekend. The Tigers were in a knockdown-drag out and lost the game by less than a yard. All told, LSU outplayed Florida statistically in that game. Unfortunately for Coach O and crew, several high leverage miscues were the difference in the final score. Now, LSU is going on short rest against a good, not great Aggie team who gets gets QB Trevor Knight back. Additionally, the Tigers are expected to sit Fournette with an ankle injury (you know, unless he shoves an assistant coach and then lies about it to dress out and play). The swing between these two players is too substantial to ignore the points. Over a touchdown is still available and I’d hit it hard. LSU may still win this game, but I don’t think there’s any way they cover 8.
TCU vs. Texas -3
So, I will try to contain my rage on the whole Charlie Strong situation and the sheer and utter failure–or should I say udder?–of the administration to behave like adults. We have been stringing along this coach for weeks now, and forcing him to answer questions about his future. Meanwhile, the vapid idiots running Texas’s front office have said they plan to wait until after the TCU game to make a decision. This is a joke, because there is no way Charlie gets a chance. The mob that was out for him Day 1 will claim its scalp. If you purport yourself to be a fan of integrity in the collegiate coaching profession, I implore you to go all in on Texas this weekend. While it may not save Charlie’s job, it will create a meltdown so immense that 3-mile island looks like a malfunctioning microwave by comparison. My actual analysis of this game would ordinarily favor taking the points in what appears to be an even game–you do get 3 points for home field, after all. However, the intangible motivation of the Texas players against the lackluster play of TCU is enough for me lay the points both realistically and optimistically. I don’t want to be misunderstood at all; I hope the ‘Horns run the Frogs out of the stadium.
Washington -6 vs. Washington State
So, this game is intriguing for me. On one hand you have the Huskies who are seeking redemption after getting smashed by 3-loss USC, but on the other you have a crazy person with a sneaky good team. I don’t necessarily think Washington State can stay on the field with a Huskies team that is firing on all cylinders, but I’ve been wrong about Mike Leach before. Still, given the implications, the rivalry, and the coaching ability of Chris Petersen, I do not believe Washington will have any trouble with their cross-state rival. Lay the points, I think this may end up a runaway. The total is set at 64, and that’s a fairly attractive over bet as well, if you’re so inclined.
Baylor vs. Texas Tech +5.5 (Over 86)
Welcome to Whose Conference is It Anyway? where the defense is made up and the points don’t matter! No, seriously, defense is completely optional for these two teams, as we have seen. After TTU was recently demoralized by Iowa State 66-10, I though the world was ending. Ryan Gosling’s recurring role as coach of the Red Raiders may finally be coming to an end. However, that loss was so bad it can almost be removed from the sample as an outlier. Based on what I have seen in TTU and Baylor, I know these teams can score points–especially when you consider there’s no one on the defensive side of the ball on scholarship. Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the Big XII is a video game offense conference that does not care about defensive schemes or success. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to find that some defenses let teams score to get the ball back on offense sooner. Either way, 86 feels high, but this game got over 100 total last year. Take the over, neither team has anything to play for so they’ll be out there pulling all sorts of crap. Additionally, Baylor is pretty terrible, too. I don’t think I can lay points on anyone this game. As even as I expect this barnburner to be, I will gladly take points on the home team.
GT +4.5 vs UGA
Clean, Old Fashioned Hate usually turns into a messy, old fashioned beating of my alma mater at the hands of the superior athleticism of Georgia. It’s no secret that Georgia Tech (and Paul Johnson) cannot recruit talent on the same level as Georgia. What inevitably results is an undersized Tech line getting pushed around by the Dawgs. Georgia has better running backs, a stellar quarterback in Eason, and the help of Brian Vangorder this week. As he has been recently relieved of his duties by the megalomaniac, Brian Kelly, Vangorder has an opening in his dance card to consult the Dawgs. Keep this in mind. The beginning of Tech’s downward spiral came at the hands of Notre Dame last year when Brian Vangorder schemed a sellout defense engineered to stop the triple option and force Tech to win by passing. In analyzing Tech’s passing attack, well, let’s just say GT couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with instructions on the heel. Now, the Jackets have improved down the stretch and the offense has taken on a far more balanced approach. Meanwhile, Georgia lost to Vandy, a team Tech beat by 31. Granted, that was ages ago and I don’t believe Tech would beat Vandy this weekend by 31. Still, I like the points here because the Dawgs are wont to implode at home in this game. Moreover, I think the chances of a close loss for the Jackets are better than getting blown out based on what I’ve seen in Georgia this season. Don’t be too optimistic, fellow Jackets. But, taking the points is not a fool’s errand this year.
Kentucky +25.5 vs. Louisville
So, I know this looks bad that I’m betting on Kentucky here. Yes, I am aware this isn’t basketball season. Yes, I know Louisville has a Heisman finalist for a signal caller. Quick rebuttal: Twenty. Five. Points. This spread overvalues the crap out of a Louisville team with a trash offensive line and pedestrian defense at best. Sure, Petrino is a jerk and will try to run up the score, but Kentucky has been surprisingly scrappy this year. I expect Kentucky to lose (but I might die if they win), but asking Louisville to spot the Wildcats 26 points in the closest thing either school has to a rivalry game is just more than I’m willing to do.
Michigan State + 12 vs. Penn State
So, I really hate whole point spreads. Push lines are the worst. That said, I’m 100% unwilling to lay 12 points on Penn State in this game. Michigan State still has talent. I mean, sure, this year hasn’t worked out quite like they had hoped, but Penn State is punching well above its weight right now and there’s a chance that comes crashing down in this one. Winning in Happy Valley is hard to do, and with a spread this big, I’m not sure that’s what you expect here. But, Sparty is fundamentally sound and played quite well last week. I even liked the ballsy 2 point conversion that ultimately failed and lost them the game. Sparty isn’t going to the playoff or the Rose Bowl, so who cares?! I don’t think Penn State can afford to give anyone 12 free points. The factor is Sparty’s moribund offense; if they can get something going, there’s no way Penn State can cover this spread.
South Carolina +24 vs. Clemson
If I have a flaw in my method, it’s that I pile on huge spreads like crazy for no other reason than I like my chances. Sure, there are plenty of ways that Clemson can win by 24+, but I like Muschamp in rivalry games that literally mean nothing for his team–see also: his entire tenure at Florida. In this case, Clemson can back into the playoff with two more wins against two of the easiest opponents they will face all year. While it is hate week and emotions run high, it’s important to note that skill and execution are the most important things. I don’t think Clemson will lose. I don’t think the game will be close. But, 24 is in “running up the score” territory, and Dabo is generally not that kind of guy. Unless Clemson puts up 35 by halftime, I think this is an easy cover for South Carolina, especially since they’ll look to rest their starters as soon as feasible in this game.
UF +7.5 vs. Florida State
I hate this line, it’s very good. Florida is hobbled by injuries and is coming off a tough fight against LSU last weekend. Florida State is injured, but less so, and is coming off a refresher win against a terrible Syracuse team. Additionally, FSU may face distraction issues as Jimbo’s name is being tossed around regularly for the LSU job. That said, here’s what you’ll see this weekend. Florida State’s bread and butter is its offense, specifically Dalvin Cook. Florida’s best team is the defense, and they are all world even with the backups. When these teams are on the field, I expect us to see some of the best football of the weekend. However, flip the coin and you have the abysmal comedy of errors that is the Florida State defense and the gangrenous Florida offense facing off. With these teams on the field, you’ll wish you had something, anything else to do instead of watching the Gators offense and Noles defense compete for Worst in Show. The key to this game, whether you are a Nole fan or Gator fan, is the Gators time of possession per series. Florida’s defense will stop Cook and Francois regularly at the outset; however, if FSU dominates the time of possession because the Gators can’t sustain drives, Cook and the FSU line will eventually wear Florida out. Once that happens, it’s over. While FSU may still end up covering this spread late, this game could go Florida’s way as long as the defense can stay rested enough to play the whole game. Consider the keys to the game and pick the outcome you think is most likely, this one is really a toss up.
On a final note, as it is Thanksgiving, I am thankful for all of you and for the ability to continue to do what I enjoy in writing this blog. We have undergone many changes this year already, some good, some bad. Still, I believe a resounding thank you is in order.
So, from all of us here at Bench Points, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.