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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.

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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

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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

Matt: BET AGAINST PAUL JOHNSON AT YOUR OWN RISK! Georgia Tech -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

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