Don't Call It A Bromance

Three amigos, one blog.

DCIAPC 4.6: Shipping Off To Tally

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 10.56.54 AMWelcome back to Don’t Call It A Picks Competition, our weekly column where Matt, Bob and I pick five college football games against the spread and make appalling jokes at pretty much everyone’s expense. As always, you’re invited to pick with us in the comment section and we’ll post the standings each week.

Happy Thursday, gang. Today commences the University of Miami’s fall break, which beautifully coincides with this weekend’s rivalry contest between Miami and Florida State in Tallahassee. I’m driving up tomorrow morning and I’ll run down my experience in next week’s column. For now, even though it’s not related to college football, enjoy this forever and ever:



In games we picked last week:

  • Northwestern (-5) shut down Minnesota 27-0 at Ryan Field, putting up yet another strong case to doubt the Wildcats at your own risk. (Note: That won’t stop Matt and I from doing exactly that later in this very column.)
  • Oklahoma (-7) made a statement of its own in Norman, blowing out trendy upset pick West Virginia.
  • Illinois (+7) beat Nebraska in a football game!!!!!!
  • Alabama (+2.5) rolled Georgia to prove that maybe you shouldn’t count the Tide out when their only loss came by six points in a game where they had a negative-five turnover margin and yielded the flukiest touchdown of the season.
  • Clemson (EVEN) tried their hardest to blow what appeared to be an insurmountable lead against Notre Dame in a hurricane, but in the end the lead was indeed insurmountable.

After a sizzling start, Bob and I are falling back to earth in the standings. Matt is somewhere beneath it tunneling around. [Ed Matt: Need I remind you who won the dang thing last year?]

Season Last Week
Harry 13-12 2-3
Bob 13-12 2-3
Matt 10-15 1-4

Here’s a look at the splits:

We All Agree  7-6
Bob Alone  3-0
Harry Alone  4-1
Matt Alone  2-2

And the peanut gallery, where a familiar face is now on top:

Winning Percentage Season Record Last Week
Creed Tucker .600 15-10 4-1
Andrew Kelley .560 14-11 3-2
Drew .520 13-12 2-3
Jeff .500 10-10 1-4
Julian .450 9-11 3-2
Bobby .440 11-14 2-3
Mike .400 8-12 0-5
Jacob Altstadt .333 5-10 2-3


Can Bob and I fight off a couple shaky weeks and remain above .500? Here is this week’s slate. As always, game times are eastern and on Saturday.

Illinois at #22 Iowa (-11), Noon, ESPNU

It’s Illinois and Iowa in…a game actually relevant to the Big Ten West title picture? What a time to be alive, folks.

Bob: I think Iowa is pretty good and I don’t think Illinois is that good despite their win over a ruffffff Nebraska team this past week. HOWEVA, this spread is kind of large for an Iowa team that only scored 10 points last week and is facing the #9 S&P+ defense. I feel dumb taking Illinois against a ranked team on the road, but here we go. Illinois +11


Harry: After consulting my non-existent gambling manifesto that I simply make up on the spot whenever I feel it’s convenient, I cannot break Section 3, Article 2: Never, ever, EVER lay double digit points with Kirk Ferentz. Illinois +11

#13 Northwestern at #18 Michigan (-8.5), 3:30, BTN

If you told me that the Northwestern-Michigan game would be between two teams legitimately deserving their spot in the Top 20 five weeks ago, I would’ve told you, “Eh, crazier things have happened, but that seems relatively unlikely.” What a time to be alive, folks.

Bob: Both defenses are amazing, both quarterbacks are okay, both teams have great runningbacks. People who follow me on Twitter or talk to me at all about Northwestern know that I think Northwestern has been overrated due to a bit of luck, but frankly, they are still a very good football team. Additionally, Michigan really has not done anything that Northwestern has not (other than lose a football game!), and both defenses are great and both offenses are not, so I think this spread is high. Northwestern +8.5

Matt: I’ve been about as skeptical of Northwestern as anyone you can find. It’s not too hard to find a way to explain away the wins over Stanford (stale offense, now revved up in recent weeks), Duke (Duke won the statistical battle in most areas), and Minnesota (Minnesota is playing like an FCS team on offense right now), but that these wins keep piling up means it’s becoming more and more difficult to doubt the Cats. They are certainly not the 13th best team in the nation, but they’re probably pretty good. I’m still waiting for Clayton Thorson and the offense to cost the team a game with turnovers or poor play in general, but Northwestern continues to find ways to improve upon its stellar defense and cover the mistakes of its counterpart. Because Michigan has a more impressive resume, a better coach, and more talent at most positions, I think I’ll take Michigan to cover what is a scarily huge line for what should be a defensive game. Michigan -8.5

Harry: I simply can’t see Northwestern scoring more than 14 points or so on Michigan’s unbelievable defense, so the Wolverines should win this one fairly comfortably, maybe in the 24-10 type range. Michigan -8.5

#11 Florida (-5) at Missouri, 7:30, SECN

I was really hoping Florida would continue to flounder for a couple years, but you can’t have it all.

Bob: Florida ranks 5th in S&P+. Missouri ranks 101st. Florida -5

Matt: How about Florida?! They’re doing the same thing Michigan is– profiting off of firing an incompetent coach who left behind plenty of talent for the new guy to mold. I don’t think Florida will remain a top ten team all season, but they’re probably co-favorites with Georgia to win the SEC East, they’re definitely better than Mizzou right now, and I think their defense does enough to win this game by a touchdown. Florida -5

Harry: So, in reality, how good is Florida? The Gators’ beatdown of previously undefeated Ole Miss last week was impressive, but how do you reconcile that with their narrow victories over the likes of East Carolina and Kentucky? Last week was either a fluke or a major harbinger of a dangerous young team coming into its own. I have no idea which side of that is correct, but I think they beat Missouri by more than five points regardless. Florida -5

Miami at #12 Florida State (-9.5), 8, ABC

Why does Al Golden still have a job?

Bob: Miami is not very good, and Florida State is not very good for a team considered as a top team. This could be close for a while, but I like Florida State to pull ahead. It’s just hard for me to see a Golden-led Miami team go into Tallahassee and pull this one out, and the line is not too high. Florida State -9.5

Matt: Miami is gonna win. Miami +9.5

Harry: I have no idea what Al Golden put in Matt’s coffee. Florida State -9.5

#23 Cal at #5 Utah (-7), 10, ESPN

What a match-up we have in this week’s #Pac12AfterDark game. Stay up for this one; Cal quarterback Jared Goff is easily one of the top five most fun players to watch in the country.

Bob: Cal is fun and all, but they really ain’t that good. Cal’s defense is awful. Utah has been pretty good both ways. Utah -7

Matt: Cal’s defense is still a tire fire. Utah is solid on both sides of the ball and should be able to pull out a nice victory in a high-scoring game. And then Cal will fall out of the Top 25 for some reason, despite losing by 2-4 scores on the road against the #5 team in the country. Yay polls! Utah -7

Harry: It makes me happy to see a plucky team like Cal be 5-0 and I hate to rain on the parade, but the Golden Bears just beat Texas, Washington and Washington State—not exactly a murderer’s row—by a combined 12 points. Also, have a gander at Cal’s remaining schedule. Quite frankly, I’d be surprised if they finish the year any better than 7-5, but I would love to be surprised. Prove me wrong, Jared Goff. Utah -7

DCIAPC 4.5: Groundbreaking Column Everybody Check It Out

9/15/14 3:27:56 PM -- Washington, DC, U.S.A -- Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., meets with USA TODAY Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page for a Capital Download segment. Photo by H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY Staff ORG XMIT: HB 131630 CAPDOWN SANDERS 9/15/2014 [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

Welcome back to Don’t Call It A Picks Competition, our weekly column where Matt, Bob and I pick five college football games against the spread and make appalling jokes at pretty much everyone’s expense. As always, you’re invited to pick with us in the comment section and we’ll post the standings each week.

No column this week because Bernie Sanders swiped it from us and redistributed it to a poor blog. (Surprisingly, this is Bob, not Harry.)


In games we picked last week:

  • Middle Tennessee (+6) covered against Illinois, but lost due to some curious clock management leading to a missed field goal at the buzzer.
  • Texas Tech (+7) lost on an insane tip drill play to TCU that I thought was hilarious until my fraternity’s flag football team lost a double-overtime contest the exact same way two nights later. Phooey.
  • Ball State (+20.5) kept things close at Ryan Field against Northwestern, though it never really felt like they had a serious chance of winning that game.
  • UCLA (-3.5) went on the road and beat the tar out of Arizona in what was billed as a colossal Pac-12 showdown. It wasn’t.
  • Utah (+11.5) hungrily ogled the quacks in Oregon’s facade and blew them wide open in an astonishing beatdown at Autzen Stadium.

After Week 4, we’re once again tied at the top. Matt is also partaking in the picks.

Season Last Week
Harry 11-9 1-4
Bob 11-9 2-3
Matt 9-11 2-3

Here’s a look at the splits:

We All Agree  6-4
Bob Alone  2-0
Harry Alone  3-1
Matt Alone  2-2

Like with us, it was a rough week for the peanut gallery as well. Congratulations if you even got two picks right this week.

Winning Percentage Season Record Last Week
Jeff .600 9-6 2-3
Andrew Kelley .550 11-9 1-4
Creed Tucker .550 11-9 1-4
Drew .550 11-9 2-3
Mike .533 8-7 2-3
Bobby .450 9-11 2-3
Julian .400 6-9 1-4
Jacob Altstadt .300 3-7 1-4


This week, we have what feels like our first HUGE week of games this season. There’s a lot to choose from and we’ll get three national games this week because Miami plays Cincinnati tonight. As always, game times are eastern and on Saturday. Here’s the slate:

Minnesota at #16 Northwestern (-5), Noon, BTN

The Wildcats open conference play with a very winnable game, but a classic TRAP GAME with a trip to the Big House against the surging Wolverines coming next week.

Harry: I struggle every week to decide what I think of Northwestern and whether I buy them as a legitimately good team or not. However, I do at least buy them as a team that can beat Minnesota by more than five points at home. Northwestern -5

Bob: As I have been endlessly saying for a few weeks, Northwestern fans need to carefully manage expectations heading into Big Ten season, as play-by-play performance falls far behind early results. On the other hand, Minnesota does not even have impressive early results, winning each of its last three games by three points against weak opponents. Yet, S&P+ actually puts Minnesota as six points ahead of Northwestern on a neutral field. Regardless, I think Northwestern is overrated but Minnesota is bad, so I think the Wildcats will improve to 5-0 this weekend. Still, there is a big chance that 1) Minnesota wins and 2) the game finishes close, as it has in recent matchups and likely will this year with both defenses ranking in the top 11. Minnesota +5 

Matt: Not one year ago, we were all witness to one of the greatest physical achievements in the history of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. A line was drawn in the sand of athletic competition on that day– henceforth this game of football would become a gold standard exemplifying the core values of collegiate sport. Sportsmanship, integrity, and the universal pursuit of excellence were observed in awe by the eyes of the world as two football teams achieved peak excellence in competition. Behold:

#M00N. And part two will be this Saturday when Minnesota takes on Northwestern in a 9-6 thriller. Minnesota +5

#23 West Virginia at #15 Oklahoma (-7), Noon, FS1

We check in with the Big 12 for another round of POINTSPLOSION, with a pair of undefeated teams doing battle in Normon.

Harry: West Virginia is a team that the advanced stats absolutely love and the eye test on their recent performances backs that up. Couple that with the fact that I’m far from sold on the Sooners and I’m getting a full touchdown and I’ll happily take the underdog. For the record, I like the Mountaineers outright. WVU +7

Bob: I agree with everything Harry said. Three really impressive results from the Mountaineers coupled with Oklahoma’s big win over Tennessee getting somewhat tainted by last week’s Tennessee loss to Florida makes me confident in this one. West Virginia +7

Matt: Oklahoma hasn’t proven much of anything yet and West Virginia is methodically kicking the crap out of every team in its wake. By the way, how incredibly strange is it for a West Virginia team to have an all-world defense and a somewhat questionable offense? We’ve entered the Holgorson twilight zone, y’all. West Virginia +7

Nebraska (-7) at Illinois, 3:30, BTN

The Huskers come calling in Champaign this weekend. Last year, the game between these two resulted in Matt writing this. What could possibly go wrong here?

Harry: I can’t believe this line isn’t higher. I would need AT LEAST 10.5 points to consider taking Illinois here. Nebraska -7

Bob: Yeah, Illinois has had some horrible results the last couple weeks, and Nebraska is not horrible. Nebraska -7

Matt: These jokesters seem to be forgetting that Illinois is ranked THIRTY-FOURTH IN S&P! WHAT KIND OF NUMERICAL CATASTROPHE HAS BEFALLEN MY FAVORITE ANALYTICAL RANKINGS METHOD. The performance last week was disappointing for Illinois, but they would have blown out MTSU if not for an inability to finish drives. The offense has moved well enough to the opponent’s side of the field, but when that halfway line is crossed it seems the receivers lose their ability to catch footballs and Wes Lunt’s eyes are replaced with those stick-on googley eyes that rattle around randomly. If Illinois can figure out its red zone and wide receiver issues a bit this week, then I think this is a winnable game. That said, I can’t possibly trust Illinois to do anything it is supposed to and so I’m picking the Huskers. Still– just keep an eye on this game. Do it for me. Maybe Illinois can keep it close. Not really, but please just keep an eye on it for me. Nebraska -7

#13 Alabama at #7 Georgia (-2.5), 3:30, CBS

Hey guys, did you know that Alabama is an underdog for the first time since the 2009 SEC Championship game. Just making sure in case you haven’t heard, but Alabama is an underdog for the first time since the 2009 SEC Championship game. I don’t think that the media has dedicated enough time to letting us all know that Alabama is an underdog for the first time since the 2009 SEC Championship game. I’m glad we all know now that Alabama is an underdog for the first time since the 2009 SEC Championship game.

Harry: Getting to bet on Nick Saban as an underdog is a gift from the gambling gods. Alabama +2.5 (Wow, considering we started doing this in 2013, that is the first time in two and a half years of doing this that I typed “Alabama” and then “+”.)

Bob: Despite their being at home, picking a seemingly cursed Georgia here against the best team of the last decade is taking a big leap of faith. Also, Alabama is not just #1 in F/+ and S&P+, but its F/+ percentile above second-place Ohio State is greater than the gap between Ohio State and Michigan. That is stunning. Alabama +2.5




Alabama +2.5

#6 Notre Dame at #12 Clemson (EVEN), 8, ABC

Oh goodie, it’s this year’s first nationally hyped Are Either of These Undefeated And Highly Ranked Teams Actually Good? Bowl. Check in next week for the new installment when Miami heads to Tallahassee and ESPN cranks up the hype machine because there are no other compelling games! 

Harry: DeShawn Watson is legitimately good, but so is this Notre Dame defense and they’re far more proven. In a game where we’re not sure if we can trust either of these teams, I trust Notre Dame a little more. Notre Dame

Bob: I’ll take the team getting more advanced statistics love, is healthier, has played more consistently quality football, is coming off a bye week, and is at home. Clemson

Matt: I’m tempted to protest this game because Gameday absolutely should have gone to Indiana for the first time. If you don’t know of the #iufb4gameday movement that swept across twitter this past week, then I highly highly suggest you get to edumacatin’ yaself. It may be too late for it to happen this week, but the work put in by Indiana-centric SB Nation blog Crimson Quarry was both impressive and hilarious. Go click that link I posted. Now. And also watch these.

Notre Dame is my pick, but screw this game.

DCIAPC 4.4: Alabama Lost. Let’s Celebrate Sad Bama Fans.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 9.15.57 AM

Welcome back to Don’t Call It A Picks Competition, our weekly column where Matt, Bob and I pick five college football games against the spread and make appalling jokes at pretty much everyone’s expense. As always, you’re invited to pick with us in the comment section and we’ll post the standings each week.

What a night of college football last Saturday, gang. Matt, Bob and I returned from Sun Life Stadium after a full day of tailgating and watching Miami nearly lose in historic fashion to a not-all-that-good Nebraska team on the hottest day that I’ve ever attended a football game in my life to relax and watch football at my fraternity house and the games did not disappoint.

From watching Texas lose on a missed extra point to salivating as USC imploded against a terrible Stanford offense to seeing UCLA pull one out of the fire against a plucky group of Mormons, the best sport on earth delivered non-stop entertainment from the start of the night games to well into early Sunday morning.

But by far the best part of night happened to be The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year: when Alabama loses a football game! The holiday season came early this time around, with the Tide falling in particularly excruciating fashion AT HOME to Ole Miss. Sure, the Tide were clearly the better team, losing by only six points despite FIVE turnovers to Ole Miss’s zero and allowing one of the most flukey touchdowns I’ve ever seen in my life. But that only makes it all the more fun, folks.

Alabama losing brings with it a special joy that simply cannot be obtained by watching any other team lose. (Yes, even Ohio State and USC. But seriously how much fun was it to watch the Trojans make freaking Kevin Hogan look like John Elway? As our good friend Bret Bielema—more on him later—would say, that was borderline erotic. But I digress.) Bama fans simply cannot handle losing in any way, shape or form. While most schools have something else to fall back on when their team loses (Oh, Miami plays at Florida State in three weeks? Hey look, the beach!), all Alabama fans can really do is head back to their trailer parks and [redacted tasteless incest joke here].

So, in celebration of such a glorious holiday, let’s run down the Top 5 photos of Sad Alabama Fans (TM) from the weekend:


Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 9.02.52 AM

The anguish here is palpably hilarious, but it only comes in at number five because it was done literally one week before by a sad Virginia fan in the wake of the Hoos’ gut punch home loss against Notre Dame. Look, you can’t deny that there are few better fan bases to teach another how to lose than Virginia’s, but let’s go for some originality here, Alabama.


Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 9.07.47 AM

“Shit, I totally left my Bagel Bites in the toaster oven before I left for the stadium today. There goes my one high class meal of the year.”


Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 9.09.29 AM

So much irony here. Even if Alabama won by 50 points, claiming that the “BEST HONEYMOON EVER!” could possibly be spent in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is like saying Caitlyn Jenner is the “BEST DRIVER EVER!” [Matt: The best part of this is definitely her expression. She looks like she’s watching a live demonstration of ISIS torturing methods, but darn it if she isn’t still holding up that sign.]


Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 9.11.48 AM

When your wife of thirty years dies right next to you but you’re too upset about the big game to notice.


Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 9.13.30 AM

I would call this “The Thinker”, but I’m pretty sure critical thought has been outlawed in the state of Alabama since its founding. Roll Tide.


In games we picked last week:

  • North Carolina (-9.5) took the wood to Illinois and somehow beat the Illini by 34 points in a game where they only out-gained them by 72 yards of offense. Football is weird sometimes.
  • It’s too early to definitively say that Northwestern (+3.5) is for real, but this week we gained two big pieces of evidence indicating that they are. The Wildcats picked up a road win over a decent Duke team and Stanford won on the road at USC, a Cardinal team that the ‘Cats beat handily in Week 1.
  • Nebraska (+3.5) somehow covered this spread in an overtime loss against Miami where the Huskers trailed 33-10 with under nine minutes to go in the game.
  • Notre Dame (+2.5) continues to shrug off season-ending injuries to major contributors and win football games, this one impressively so against Georgia Tech.
  • BYU (+17) proved this line was just as ridiculous as the three of us said it was in a one-point loss at UCLA.

Here are the standings after Week 3. My winning will surely hold up for the rest of the season. (Note: It will not.)

Season Last Week
Harry 10-5 4-1
Bob 9-6 3-2
Matt 7-8 1-4

And the splits:

We All Agree  5-1
Bob Alone  2-0
Harry Alone  3-0
Matt Alone  2-2

Let’s move onto the peanut gallery, where it was a pretty rough week for some folks. Next week you’ll need 10 picks to stay on the board. (Not ten correct picks, ten picks total. This is simply because the table takes more time to put together than you would think each week.)

Winning Percentage Season Record Last Week
Jeff .700 7-3 2-3
Andrew Kelley .667 10-5 3-2
Creed Tucker .667 10-5 3-2
Drew .600 9-6 1-4
Mike .600 6-4 3-2
Julian .500 5-5 2-3
Bobby .467 7-8 1-4
Ben Hoffman .400 2-3 2-3
Jacob Altstadt .400 2-3 2-3


Let’s get to this week’s games. All game times are eastern and on Saturday and lines come from Vegas Insider. Miami has a bye week, so we’ll pick three national games.

Middle Tennessee at Illinois (-6), 4, ESPNews

Illinois looks to bounce back from a road beatdown at the hands of UNC by welcoming the potentially frisky Blue Raiders into Memorial Stadium. What could possibly go wrong?

Harry: This line seems like a huge overreaction to an Illinois game last week that doesn’t seem to be nearly as bad as the final score indicated. (Then again, I’m proud to say that I didn’t watch a second of it; I’m just looking at stats.) Illinois beat the pants off of two cupcakes in the first two weeks of the season. While Middle Tennessee is a step up from those squads, I’m happy to lay less than a touchdown with the Illini. Illinois -6

Bob: Middle Tennessee isn’t bad, but I agree with Harry about the line overreaction. Illinois should win this without too much trouble, and I’ll happily drop the six points. Illinois -6

Matt: IMG_3185

Illinois -6

#3 TCU (-7) at Texas Tech, 4:45, FOX

After beating down college football’s biggest asshole Bret Bielema and then—to the joy of myself and college football fans everywhere—merrily pissing on his grave, Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury will try to pull off a massive upset in Lubbock to push the surging Red Raiders to 4-0.

Harry: While Tech has looked surprisingly feisty this year, this line really should be about three points higher. I feel quite comfortable taking the Horned Frogs. TCU -7

Bob: TCU won this game 82-27 last year. Last year, TCU scored 82 points against Texas Tech. Texas Christian University scored almost 12 touchdowns in a conference game last year, against this same team. 82 Christians scored Texas University. TCU has had a number of defensive injuries but is effectively the same team, while Tech is maybe better? Easy pick.  TCU -7

Matt: Why can’t this line be 10.5? It’s tough to pick against a TCU team that has demolished everybody in its path over the last couple seasons, save for Baylor and Minnesota’s weird Jerry Kill voodoo magic that causes good teams to forget they’re good at TCF Bank Stadium. Still, Texas Tech is coming off an 11-point win over the Razorbacks in impressive fashion and there’s a good chance Kingsbury’s offense is going to put up some points against a depleted TCU defense.

Still, Trevone Boykin appears to be rounding into Heisman form after a tough start to the season. I’m not going to pick against TCU in a toss-up spread until they prove they won’t win this game by two touchdowns. Yeah, it’ll probably be like 56-42, but still. TCU -7

Ball State at #17 Northwestern (-20.5), 8, BTN

Northwestern finishes off its non-conference slate with a contest against a MAC cupcake at Ryan Field that should see them easily get to 4-0. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, but could the Wildcats get to 10 wins this year? If you look at their remaining schedule, it’s in play.

Harry: As far as cupcakes goes, Ball State is a pretty competitive one, ranked 67th in F/+. Couple that with Northwestern’s offensive struggles so far this year an this line is a bit high for my liking. The Wildcats are far from being put on UPSET WATCH (TM), but a three-touchdown victory may be a bit of a tall order. Ball State +20.5

Bob: This line echoes the general sentiment around this game. People see a non-power-five school with a weird name and assume it has a total scrub football team, but Ball State is a pretty good program in a pretty good conference. My calculation of S&P+ margins adjusted for home-field puts this spread at around 12, more than a touchdown below the real spread. Basically, there’s a good chance this game ends up pretty close, and it will be interesting to see the #119 Northwestern offense take on the #105 Ball State defense, with NU’s 7th-ranked defense on the other side of the ball. It could be a decently close game and end with a 21-point result, but I still think this spread is a bit much. Quite simply, it’s too many points to give up from an offense that has been atrocious against a team that isn’t terrible. Ball State +20.5

Matt:  What they said. I’m gonna be betting against Northwestern a lot this season, especially if they keep winning and the hype train keeps rolling. Ball State +20.5

#9 UCLA (-3.5) at #16 Arizona, 8, ABC

I’m pretty fired up for this one. It’s the first major test of the season for a pair of supposed College Football Playoff contenders out west. There are many intriguing storylines to comb through here, but I can definitively say that one of them is not “Is Arizona an academically rigorous university?”

Harry: Wait…UCLA is a favorite in this game? BY MORE THAN A FIELD GOAL? Since his coming out party in Week 1 against Virginia (VIRGINIA!), UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen has looked every bit like the true freshman he is. Add in that this is going to be on the road in primetime and I can’t possibly lay 3.5 with UCLA. That doesn’t mean that the Bruins won’t win; I just can’t believe this line. Arizona +3.5

Bob: Looking at my favorite table and my other favorite table, the word “Arizona” comes below a lot of bad teams (including Miami!!!), while the acronym “UCLA” comes above Baylor and other top teams. I generally use those as no more than reference points, but the combination of the egregious gap between the two and the fact that an arguably relatively weaker UCLA team won this game 17-7 last year makes me feel reasonable about taking a road favorite. UCLA -3.5

Matt: Look at Arizona’s wins this season:Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 9.41.09 AM

This team has done nothing to deserve the hype except be good last year. We still don’t know if Arizona is good this year, and we’re almost positive that UCLA is. That’s enough for me to give up some points on the road. I’m a little worried about Rich Rodriguez’s ability to game-plan against the best teams on his schedule (see: Arizona-Oregon 2014), but overall I like the Bruins to take this one by a touchdown. UCLA -3.5

#18 Utah at #13 Oregon (-11.5), 8:30, FOX

Now here’s another Pac-12 game between two ranked opponents tha—YAAAAWWWNNNN. Okay, sorry, this is really a game that should excite me and I’ll give it the respect it deserv—YAAAAAAWWWWNNNN. Pac-12 football is relevant outside of the West Coa—YAAAAWWWWWNNNN. Okay, fine. Fuck this game, but it’s one of two games between ranked opponents this week, so we feel obligated to pick it.

Oregon -11.5

Bob: Looking at my favorite table and my other favorite tablethe word “Utah” comes below a lot of bad teams (including Miami!!!), while the acronym “Oregon” comes above Baylor and other top teams. The problem here: The spread is pretty large, and no one knows whether Vernon Adams will play. HOWEVA, Vernon Adams hasn’t been that good, and recall that Jeff Lockie almost won the starting job anyway. With the obligatory qualifier that this Oregon team is a lot different than last year’s, I will also add that Oregon won this game 51-27 in Salt Lake City last year. Oregon -11.5

Matt: Utah is pretty good this season. I’m pretty sure I say every year that one should not bet against the Ducks, even if the line seems a bit crazy. That mantra doesn’t apply if Oregon is playing a top team, but Utah is not a top 15 squad. I’ll take the Ducks by two touchdowns in Eugene. Oregon -11.5

DCIAPC 3.3: Yeah, I Mailed This One In


Welcome back to Don’t Call It A Picks Competition, our weekly column where Matt, Bob and I pick five college football games against the spread and make appalling jokes at pretty much everyone’s expense. As always, you’re invited to pick with us in the comment section and we’ll post the standings each week.

Hey all, no column this week because I am eagerly preparing for MATT AND BOB’S VISIT TO MIAMI FOR THE NEBRASKA GAME LFGGGGGGGGGGGG. A full write up will come next week. Until then, here is “We Are ND”. You’re welcome.


In games we picked last week:

  • Miami (-17.5) found itself in a dogfight through 2.5 quarters but woke up in time to cruise to a 24-point win over FAU and cover the spread.
  • Virginia (+12.5) gave Notre Dame all that it could handle before ultimately losing in heartbreaking fashion.
  • Still not sure how Oklahoma (-1) beat Tennessee, but the Sooners capitalized on an epic collapse and pulled out a double overtime victory.
  • Michigan State (-1.5) picked up a statement win by the skin of its teeth against a Ducks offense that proved pretty dynamic despite their starting quarterback playing through a broken finger.
  • Mississippi State (+4.5) can take solace in covering the spread despite a narrow home loss to LSU.

After another solid week, the standings are all knotted up:

Last Week Season
Matt 3-2 6-4
Harry 3-2 6-4
Bob 4-1 6-4

And the splits:

We All Agree  4-1 (Suck it, Creed Tucker.)
Bob Alone  1-0
Harry Alone  1-0
Matt Alone  2-1

And the peanut gallery! Next week you’ll need 10 picks to stay in the running.

Winning Percentage Season Record Last Week
Jeff 1.000 5-0
Drew .800 8-2 4-1
Andrew Kelley .700 7-3 3-2
Creed Tucker .700 7-3 3-2
Bobby .600 6-4 3-2
Mike .600 3-2
Julian G .600 3-2 3-2
Ben Hoffman .400 2-3 2-3


Let’s get to this week’s games. All game times are eastern and on Saturday and lines come from Bovada. For the first time this season, all three of our teams are in action against FBS opponents, so enjoy picking all three of them!

Illinois at North Carolina (-9.5), Noon, ESPN2

In the first of a couple intriguing Big Ten-ACC clashes, Illinois heads to Chapel Hill riding high off a couple dominant beatdowns of inferior opponents. The Illinois look MUCH improved over the past couple of years and now we get to see if that will translate to a step up in competition.

Harry: Admittedly, the Illini have looked much better than I expected this year and North Carolina has hardly looked like a world beater, but I still need a good performance in a meaningful game before I trust Illinois. UNC -9.5

Matt: The key match-up in this one is going to be the Illini run defense, which has really struggled in non-cupcake games the last couple years but looks great this season, against Elijah Hood and the fantastic UNC offense. Is Illinois a classic case of a team undervalued by Vegas because of history and easily disregarded dominant victories over terrible opponents, or are they just a bad team off to a lucky start because of the poor competition? I have no idea, but I’ve watched this team and something just feels different than the last two years. That’s probably just confirmation bias showing me what I want to see, but I’ve watched as much Illini football this season as anyone and I just can’t fight this feeling anymore. Illinois +9.5 – Illinois 28, UNC 27

Bob: No one knows what’s up with either of these teams. Illinois has destroyed two bad teams, which is a step up over recent seasons, though it still doesn’t necessarily mean much going forward. North Carolina preceded destroying a bad team by losing narrowly to South Carolina, who looks to be SEC-bad this year, because of a 2014 Stanford level of subpar drive finishing. In the end, I’m with Harry here in that I like North Carolina to win. HOWEVA, I can’t allow myself to give up so many points in a game in which we know little about either team and a game in which I expect the score to be on the lower end, much like the Carolina Derby. Illinois +9.5

#23 Northwestern at Duke (-3.5), 12:30, ESPN3

Hey look, Northwestern is ranked! The Wildcats have earned the national attention with two convincing victories, the first of which came against Stanford. Duke isn’t particularly good, but no road game against a Power Five opponent is easy. Alright, a road game at Purdue or Wake Forest would be pretty easy. 

Harry: The public is heavily going with the ‘Cats, and I never mind going against the popular pick. I see these teams as relatively even, so I’ll gladly take the Blue Devils at home. Duke -3.5

Matt: I am really excited to see what happens in this game. I want to see how the Wildcats defense holds up against an offense much more difficult to defend than they’ve faced thus far. I promise – if Northwestern wins in a non-fluketastic way this weekend, I will relent and admit that it’s a good team. But for now, I remain a DOUBTER. Duke -3.5

Bob: Duke has killed two irrelevant teams but comes off two strong seasons. Northwestern just shut one out after convincingly beating Stanford. I believe. Northwestern +3.5

Nebraska at Miami (-3.5), 3:30, ABC/ESPN2

Big measuring stick game for Miami here. If the Hurricanes can’t beat Nebraska, let’s just say that doesn’t bode especially well for the rest of a challenging schedule. 

Harry: No idea, man. Neither of these teams have particularly impressed me this season and quality-wise it’s very difficult to separate them. The inevitable Miami humidity and home crowd will work in the ‘Canes favor, so they could very well win, but I have a difficult time giving up more than a field goal either way here. Nebraska +3.5

Matt: I’m with Harry. I would avoid betting on this game at all costs if I could. As the old adage says, trust the used car salesman in the big game, not that dude your grandma divorced before she bought ten cats. Miami -3.5

Bob: These teams both lie in the 78th percentile of S&P+ (a.k.a. advanced statistics say they look dead even early on), and last year’s matchup in Lincoln was essentially a toss-up. Even though I see Mike Riley as a downgrade from Bo Pelini, I still trust Nebraska more than I do Miami right now. The disastrous loss to BYU in the opening week is starting to look more impressive after Tanner Mangum led the Cougars to victory over Boise State, so Nebraska may actually be a decent team. We shall see in South Florida this Saturday. Nebraska +3.5

#14 Georgia Tech (-2.5) at #8 Notre Dame, 3:30, NBC

There isn’t much time for new Notre Dame starting QB DeShone Kizer to get acclimated as a huge challenge awaits the Fighting Irish in South Bend. Luckily for Kizer, Georgia Tech’s defense is not the Yellow Jackets’ most feared unit.

Harry: Georgia Tech’s defense is not particularly fearsome, so the prospect of DeShone Kizer starting for the Irish doesn’t scare me too much. I frequently warn others to bet against Paul Johnson at their own risk, but Notre Dame’s defense is fairly staunch and they’ll be ready for the Jackets. Add in that the Irish are a home ‘dog, and I’ll ride with them. Notre Dame +2.5


Bob: After snagging Virginia and the points last week, I’ll pick against Notre Dame again in more or less a pick ’em, particularly since they face a superior team to Virginia and now without Malik Zaire. Georgia Tech -2.5

#19 BYU at #10 UCLA (-17), 10:30, FS1

Will UCLA be able to dislodge the massive horseshoe stuck up BYU’s ass for the first two weeks of the season? 

Harry: BYU is incredibly lucky to not be 0-2, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a solid team. This line is insane. UCLA should win, but you can’t give up this many points. BYU +17

Matt: …OR CAN YOU?!?! UCLA -17 OH YEAH!… Aw man, I can’t do it. This is so many god dang points. BYU +17

Bob: This line is redonk. BYU +17

DCIAPC 3.2: Shut the Hell Up About Ohio State’s Schedule

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 6.27.48 PM

Welcome back to Don’t Call It A Picks Competition, our weekly column where Matt, Bob and I pick five college football games against the spread and make appalling jokes at pretty much everyone’s expense. As always, you’re invited to pick with us in the comment section and we’ll post the standings each week.

While college football is unquestionably the greatest sport in the world, nothing is perfect. There are many issues with college football and collegiate athletics in general that are far too numerous to get into in this space, but let’s discuss a (mostly irrelevant) one very quickly: The coverage around the sport.

Every single year, there are a handful of grating media and fan fixations that serve only to make me try to hate the only thing in this world I am capable of truly loving. The first one that everyone seems to be kvetching (there’s your yiddish word of the day) over this year is Ohio State’s schedule. And yes, calling it a cakewalk would be deplorable hate speech against cakewalks. I mean look at this damn thing:Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 5.53.18 PMIt’s stupid easy. No argument from me. But does that matter? To answer this question, I’m going to use that dumb gimmick bad writers like myself lean on when they can’t simply let the quality of their writing do the talking—the bolded straw man to set up your arguments. Take it away, Straw Man!

Come on, Harry. You can’t seriously argue that any of this is fair. Ohio State’s schedule is such a joke!

Okay, Straw Man, it is a joke, but that’s not really Ohio State’s fault. I’ll address this on two fronts: the non-conference and the conference schedules. Beginning with the non-conference, keep in mind that these are scheduled years in advance and it’s impossible to predict year-to-year how good each of your opponents will be beyond scheduling Nick Saban (which is just not a good idea for entirely different reasons).

Let’s look at what Ohio State scheduled: a program at the time that was perennially good and a challenging opponent (Virginia Tech) [Bob: On the road in a standalone night game, I would add], a very solid mid-major that was just three years removed from a 10-win season when the game was scheduled (Hawai’i) and two consistently competitive MAC teams (Northern Illinois and Western Michigan) [Bob: Recall that Northern Illinois is entering just its third season since making the Orange Bowl following an undefeated regular season]. There are no FCS teams on here. The Buckeyes didn’t even dip into the Sun Belt! It’s certainly not their fault that VT slipped into mediocrity after they scheduled a game with the Hokies. Hard to fault Ohio State for their scheduling here.

In the conference schedule, it’s not Ohio State’s fault that the Big Ten expanded to include Maryland and Rutgers and then stuck them in the Buckeyes’ division. Ohio State can’t control that they have a cross-divisional game against Illinois as opposed to Nebraska. It’s also out of their hands that traditional divisional powers Michigan and Penn State are down. At the end of the day, holding Ohio State’s schedule against it is unfair.

Okay, but life isn’t fair. It’s still an awful schedule. 

Fine, so maybe fairness doesn’t matter to you and maybe it shouldn’t. But at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter WHO you play, but HOW you play them. If Ohio State goes undefeated with four wins by three points against Indiana, Maryland, Penn State and Illinois, then you can knock their performance and question their legitimacy. However, if (perhaps “when” is more appropriate here) they go undefeated with convincing wins in nearly all of their games, then the Buckeyes should be lauded for that. The opponent doesn’t determine whether a team plays at an elite level; the team’s performance RELATIVE TO THAT OPPONENT does.

I’m still not convinced.

If you still want to have this debate, here’s what should have ended it before it started: in 2014, an Ohio State squad that was markedly worse than this year’s outfit beat Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon all in a row by a combined score of 143-55. These guys are the DEFENDING NATIONAL CHAMPS and they’re better than they were last year! What does Ohio State need to prove? College football is weird and there are no guarantees, but chances are the Buckeyes will be in the playoff and—despite what SEC fanboys want you to believe—that will be perfectly fair.

These assholes better never make me defend Ohio State ever again. I’m going to go throw up.


In games we picked last week:

  • Illinois (-14.5) impressively put the turmoil of their coaching situation behind them for a day and obliterated an overmatched Kent State team 52-3. [Matt: I am absolutely stunned that this didn’t contain some sort of joke in any form. Weird.]
  • Northwestern (+12) put college football on notice with a fairly commanding 16-6 win over Stanford that could have been 23-6 if they wanted it to be. What a difference a year makes for the ‘Cats.
  • Louisville (+11) covered the spread but lost to a shaky Auburn outfit that has a lot of work to do if they want to fulfill the massive hype that’s been heaped upon them this year. [Bob: If you like watching amazing athletes who suck at quarterback play quarterback, this game was an all-timer.] [Matt: I’ll just watch some Northwestern games this year instead.]
  • Alabama (-11) commenced the season—just like every other season— with an utter spanking of a decent but not great Big Ten team.
  • Ohio State (-11) might be pretty good, you guys. Especially if Braxton Miller is now the best wide receiver in college football.

Here’s a look at the standings after week one:

Season Last Week
Matt 3-2 3-2
Harry 3-2 3-2
Bob 2-3 2-3

And the splits:

We All Agree  2-1 (winning record!!!!)
Bob Alone  0-0
Harry Alone  1-0
Matt Alone  1-0

It was a really good start to the season for the peanut gallery:

Winning Percentage Season Record Last Week
Jeff 1.000 5-0 5-0
Drew .800 4-1 4-1
Creed Tucker .800 4-1 4-1
Andrew Kelley .800 4-1 4-1
Mike .600 3-2 3-2
Bobby .600 3-2 3-2



Let’s get to this week’s games. Because Illinois and Northwestern both play FCS opponents this week, we have four national games. All game times are eastern and on Saturday (unless otherwise noted) and lines come from Bovada.

Miami (-17.5) at Florida Atlantic, Friday, 8, FS1

Miami takes on an FBS opponent for the first time this year after dispatching Bethune-Cookman 45-0 in a rain-shortened affair last week. This one is on the “road” for the Hurricanes, as they travel 50 or so miles north to Boca Raton to take on the Owls.

Harry: FAU is a legitimate offensive threat, as the Owls showed last week in a wild 47-44 loss to Tulsa. While Miami projects to be very solid defensively, the Hurricanes are still largely an unknown on both sides of the ball and even a dominant win over Bethune-Cookman last week obviously doesn’t provide many relevant answers. Add that all up, and I’m going to venture a solid *shrugging emoji* here. Because I think the Hurricanes are slightly undervalued by Vegas in general this year, I’ll pick them. Miami -17.5

Bob: Florida Atlantic appears to be a bad football team. The C-USA team went 3-9 last year, including a 55-7 opening week loss at Nebraska followed by a 41-0 blowout in Tuscaloosa. Obviously, those games are not easy for any side, but they proved (in a small sample, yes) that hanging with big teams is not exactly in the cards for them. Combine that with a 118-ranked S&P+ defense, and I think the Hurricanes can win this by at least three touchdowns. Miami -17.5

Matt: After watching Illinois completely dismantle an un-athletic Kent State team, it’s hard for me to pick an underdog that will be as outmatched physically as FAU when it plays Miami. Not exactly sure why Miami would even go on the pseudo-road for this, but Michigan State played at Western Michigan last Friday so sometimes weird things just happen I guess. I agree with Harry– Miami seems to be a bit undervalued. They have a quarterback primed for a second-year leap and your typical world-beating Florida recruits. I’ll take the Canes to blow out Florida Atlantic. Miami -17.5

#9 Notre Dame (-12.5) at Virginia, 3:30, ABC

Man, Virginia has a tough non-conference schedule. [Bob: They also host Boise State in two weeks.] Just a week after getting Josh Rosen’d in Pasadena, the Cavs have to travel all the way across the country to host the owner of Week 1’s most impressive performance, Notre Dame.

Harry: Texas is far from a juggernaut and since Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh, they have the newly acquired honor of the traditional power with the most laughably pathetic offense in the country. That said, it’s hard to argue that the Longhorns are anything worse than decent, and Notre Dame made them look like an FCS team. The Irish could have won by much more than 35 points if they wanted to and I’m worried about what they’re going to do to Virginia this week. Notre Dame -12.5

Bob: This is a tough line. As Harry mentioned, Texas’s deplorable offense clouds any judgment we can make regarding Notre Dame’s defense, and on the same side of the ball, advanced stats disagree with traditional stats, which disfavor Virginia’s offense. This pick here relies on some combination of the following: 1) Notre Dame is slightly overrated because it always is; 2) Notre Dame is slightly overrated because it beat a terrible team; 3) This is a lot of points to give up on the road; 4) Virginia did a great job of hanging in there with good teams throughout last season; 5) Virginia only lost by 18 on the road to a team that appears about as good as Notre Dame, so I’ll take Virginia to cover, though I would love for the line to push above two touchdowns. Virginia +12.5

Matt: At least for now, I’m buying what Notre Dame is selling. Malik Zaire can get it done through the air or on the ground, and the defense looked monstrous against Texas. The Longhorns are destined for a terrible year, as Charlie Strong implements the classic “play a bunch of crappy freshman and sophomores and hope they turn into something good a year or two from now” strategy (which looks like it’s working a little bit for Illinois, by the way), but a complete obliteration like that of any Power Five team is not to be taken lightly. This is sooooo many points for a road game against a team that likes to play weird games and randomly win things, but I’ll grab Notre Dame here. Notre Dame -12.5

#19 Oklahoma (-1) at #23 Tennessee, 6, ESPN

Tennessee has recruited like an elite program for a few years, but now’s the time that head coach Butch Jones needs to prove Tennessee can be an elite program on the field. Does that start this week against a Top 20 Oklahoma outfit?

Harry: I’m not sure I buy what Butch Jones is selling. Through what I’m sure are less than ethical recruiting benefits and massive oversigning, there is talent in Knoxville. But Jones is going to have to prove he has in-game coaching skills to match his recruiting before I take the Vols in a Top 25 matchup. Oklahoma -1

Bob: Scroll through any college football website, and you’ll see guys hyping up Oklahoma as the Big 12’s dark horse. Turn on Paul Finebaum, and you’ll hear why Tennessee will finally win the SEC East. Both these teams have been talked up a lot, and this matchup will have a lot to say regarding their respective seasons. Much of the chatter surrounding Tennessee relates to their improvements after Joshua Dobbs took over the quarterback spot, but the results really are not that impressive. Couple that with the dismantling that took place in Norman last year, and I like the Sooners to win what could be a huge game for both programs. Oklahoma -1

Matt: These two summed it up pretty well. Tennessee has a bunch of blue chip recruits who’ve survived the oversigning cuts and Oklahoma has a bunch of blue chip recruits who’ve survived having to live in a crappy state like Oklahoma. It’s hard to imagine living in that place for any amount of time. Somebody should advise Kevin Durant to move to, oh I don’t know, perhaps the D.C area. That seems like it’d be a huge upgrade. Oklahoma -1

#7 Oregon at #5 Michigan State (-1.5), 8, ABC

Here is 2015’s first Top 10 showdown, and it’s a good one. One year after getting rolled by eventual Heisman-winner and NFL washout Marcus Mariota, the Spartans look for revenge on their home field against Vernon Adams and Co.

Harry: Coming into the year, the two teams that jumped out to me as overrated due to previous performance that was irrelevant to this year’s teams were Stanford and Michigan State. One down, one to go. Oregon +1.5

Bob: Both teams had pretty discouraging opening games in my mind. Oregon gave up 42 points at home to an FCS team, while Michigan State won by just 13 to a dead-average Western Michigan team. Looking at the quarterbacks, Michigan State’s Connor Cook is a top draft prospect, while the talented Vernon Adams plays just his second game for the Oregon Ducks. Honestly, I don’t know with this one. My head likes the home team that only lost to the two finalists last season, returns its star quarterback, faces a possibly shaky defense, and a team that lost its best offensive and defensive players, but my gut says Oregon is a superior football program. Oregon +1.5

Matt: I’ve picked this game four or five times this week, in various ESPN games and TCR posts and whatnot, and for the first time I’m going to take Michigan State. This is admittedly mostly because the other two picked Oregon and the chance of gaining a full win on each of them is enough to get me to switch my pick to the Spartans. And there’s plenty of reason to believe in MSU. Michigan State has a terrorizing defensive line full of top tier recruits just starting to round into form after the Spartans’ recruiting prowess increased a few years ago. Connor Cook is a good-to-great college quarterback who will suck in the NFL just like all other MSU quarterbacks of recent memory. The Oregon defense gave up 42 points to an Eastern Washington team that doesn’t have Vernon Adams anymore. Again, and I cannot stress this enough, 42 points to a crappy Eastern Washington team without its good quarterback. Michigan State has the chance to put up some big numbers here, and I don’t quite trust Vernon Adams against a defense like the Spartans’ just yet. Michigan State -1.5

#14 LSU (-4.5) at #25 Mississippi State, 9:15, ESPN

For the first time at LSU, Les Miles has some tangible heat coming from his seat as the Tigers look to compete in a hyper-competitive SEC West. The gauntlet starts Saturday as the Tigers head into Starkville in primetime.

Harry: When I pick NFL games, I make my living picking home underdogs. While I like to be a little more nuanced with my collegiate picks, I’m returning to my roots here. Mississippi State +4.5

Bob: I should note that Harry picked road teams in each of the first four games, three of them being favorites. LSU has a big leg up in advanced statistics, but Mississippi State did not lose a home game last year. LSU also doesn’t have a quarterback, but that’s nothing new. Both these teams are good, but I’ll take the Bulldogs as a home ‘dog before I pick against them against a team that we aren’t sure is that great. Mississippi State +4.5

Matt: Do we still think Les Miles is a good coach? I feel like this is an actual question worth discussing, which is pretty indicative of the last couple year or two of LSU football. I’ll open it up to your thoughts in the comments. In any case, Leonard Fournette is going to run for 1,600 yards in this game alone and LSU is going to pull out an early season victory that will vindicate the dumb people who ranked them as high as #14 after they sucked last season. Later this year, LSU will finish 8-4 (4-4) and everybody will wonder why the Tigers were ever in the Top 25. So it goes. LSU -4.5


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