Last year at this time, I was about to embark on a season long “slugfest” with a coin in a contest imaginatively called the Coin Flip Challenge. The rules were simple; we (the coin and me) picked every NFL game of the season against the spread (ATS). The results were not good for the coin. My domination forced the coin into early retirement. I have to say that I am quite relieved by these developments since the coin was due for a big-time comeback. This year, I’m going to try out something new. Instead of picking every NFL game each week, I’m going to pick games that I would bet on if I had an endless flow of money. Call it simulated gambling if you like. The good thing about simulated gambling is that you can’t lose money no matter how bad you do. The bad thing about simulated gambling is that you can’t win money no matter how good you do. Since gambling would ruin my life in the same manner that fantasy sports did, this is as close to gambling as I’ll ever get. I’ll be picking college and pro games alike. This type of contest more closely resembles real life as I (or anyone else) would never bet on every game. There are certain games that are just too unpredictable to have a good feel about.
I won’t be putting any limits on the amount of games I have to pick each week. If I don’t feel good about any games, then I won’t pick any games. I’m trying to set the conditions to be as similar as possible to what would really happen if I decided to become a gambler. My inclination is that I will fare better by being selective rather than just simply picking every game. By definition, picking a game ATS should be a 50/50 proposition. By picking every game, my results will probably be pretty close to 50/50. However, if I can find the few “mistakes” or bad lines that inevitably pop up from time to time, I should be able to take advantage and increase my chances for picking correct games. Time will tell. I obviously think I know what’s going to happen but I’ve been humbled by sports many, many times before.
Since college football starts a week before the NFL, I’ll only be picking CFB games this week.
Your answer key to riches……
(Home teams in CAPS; my picks in Bold)
Boston College -11 over CENTRAL MICHIGAN
I can’t believe the line for this game is less than two touchdowns. Did I miss something like Kelly Baraka and Agim Shabaj enrolling at CMU? This game should be a blow out. BC has been solid every season of Tom O’Brien’s tenure including six straight bowl wins. CMU has been bad every season of everyone’s tenure (or just about).
Minnesota -14.5 over KENT ST.
I’m a little uncertain about this game but I do know a couple things….1) Minnesota runs the ball down the throats of weak defenses and 2) Kent St. has a weak defense. Also, Kent St. is one of the worst teams in college football. Minnesota feasts on schools like that. I’ll take the Gophers.
Southern California -8 over ARKANSAS
This isn’t so much a validation of USC as it is a questioning of Arkansas. USC will score points and I don’t think Arkansas will. The Razorbacks should be better this year but it’s hard to get in sync when your starting running back is at half speed. Unless Mitch Mustain is the best true freshmen quarterback of all time, USC should run away with this one.
MICHIGAN STATE -29 over Idaho
If MSU doesn’t take its foot off the pedal, then this game will easily be a blowout by more than 29 points. I’m not thrilled about taking the Sparties by this much but they have proven that, with Drew Stanton, they can demolish bad defenses.
AUBURN -14.5 over Washington State
Oregon St’s near victory at LSU in 2004 makes me a bit “skittish” about taking Auburn since Wazzou is similar to that Beavers team. However, near the end of last season Auburn was killing teams. I think they’ll pick up right where they left off by handing the Cougars a beating.
FLORIDA -20 over Southern Mississippi
So much for respecting Urban Meyer, eh? In his second season at both Utah and Bowling Green, Meyer’s offenses were unstoppable. Now, he has twice the talent against a pushover. That should be good for at least a 28 point spread. I think the odds-makers missed the boat on this one. Florida should win big.
TENNESSEE -1.5 over California
I’m not sold on a Pac-10 team not named USC winning on the road against an elite SEC team just yet. Tennessee will bounce back with a power run game and a stout defense. Cal is always good under Tedford but it takes a different kind of good to beat a motivated Tennessee team at home.
INDIANA -4 over Western Michigan
I’m taking Indiana for one reason and one reason only; Blake Powers to James Hardy. That combination was good for 10 touchdowns in 2005. Hardy and Blake will both be better as Terry Hoeppner tries to revive the Hoosier program.
TEXAS TECH -26.5 over Southern Methodist
This is a vote of confidence for Texas Tech’s coach, Mike Leach. The Red Raiders kill teams that don’t have the word “Texas” or “Oklahoma” in their name. Last time I checked SMU had neither.
LSU -30 over Louisiana Lafayette
LSU almost always covers the spread against bad, bad teams. LLF fits the bill. My only concern is if Les Miles stays true to his Michigan roots and sits on the ball in the second half. He hasn’t shown that tendency yet so I’m guessing it won’t start now.
Texas Christian -7 over BAYLOR
Baylor could play TCU tough but I would take TCU in a line like this every time. The Horned Frogs have a dynamite defense and Baylor doesn’t have a defense. This game is no “gimme” but Baylor is never good.
PENN STATE -16 over Akron
I think the return of Derrick Williams to the Penn St. lineup will be the catalyst for a high scoring offense. PSU has a bunch of talent on “O”. Anthony Morelli’s inexperience shouldn’t be an issue until the Notre Dame game. Akron was the worst bowl team of all-time last season. I’ll take 2006 Penn St. -16 over the worst bowl team of all time any day of the week.
Army -5.5 over ARKANSAS STATE
I have a rule that I’m going to break. The rule goes: If Army is ever favored on the road by more than three points, I am going with the team that’s playing Army. But, the opposite of that rule is the corollary that if Army is favored by more than three on the road, there has to be a good reason for it. I would say that the fact that Army beat Arkansas St. 38-10 last season counts as a good reason. This one is for you, Bobby Ross!