The Skinny had a damn near perfect card last week, vaulting into the lead. I suspect the chances of him keeping up this hot streak are about as slim as him passing by an episode of Bridezillas on a Sunday afternoon.
WEEK THREE–The Skinny
(Last Week: 5-0-1; Overall: 7-3-2)
The prevailing wisdom in football tells us defenses are generally ahead of offenses early in the season. I’m no football genius but that seems to make sense. It takes time for an offense to gel and develop its timing and coordination.
However, in this era of “exotic” offensive systems ranging from Army’s triple option to Texas Tech’s spread to Boise’s multiple sets, it seems defenses have some catching up to do. Watching football, both college and pro, in the opening weeks of the season has been like watching one of your buddies play Madden – you know, the one that thinks he’s good because he throws deep to Calvin Johnson every play. If you don’t believe me check out the stats from the NFL (or college) from this past weekend.
Following this new theory has resulted in big money at the sportsbook. Micah Roberts from VegasInsider.com does a great job of breaking down this year’s trend. Through the first two weeks of the season, heavy favorites have covered and covered easily – generally the teams with the highest-powered offense.
Will this trend continue to play out through the season? I doubt it, but it is not a bad place to focus your attention for Week 3.
Oklahoma State (-13.5) at Tulsa
OSU is definitely a team I will have my eye on for the next few weeks. The Cowboys might be a team to ride as a heavy early season favorite. (As I review this, definitely not the best choice of words). I don’t think Vegas is showing the Cowboys the respect they deserve. Mike Gundy might have the best offense in the country, and the Cowboys’ defense is better than people think.
On paper this certainly isn’t a gimme for the Pokes – on the road against a solid “mid-major” team after a big game against Arizona with a date in College Station looming next weekend. This contest has plenty of red flags for the “sharps” in Vegas to keep this line under two touchdowns. No doubt, Tulsa is a nice team, but I grew up in the shadows Skelly Stadium, and I can tell you this isn’t your garden-variety road game. A 90-minute drive to play in a stadium full of your fans is not a road game.
Pound for pound is there a better state for college football than Oklahoma lately?
The Skin says: OSU wins big! Lock of the year!
Lee Greenwood Special: Navy at South Carolina (-17.5)
I really do not like either of the LGS options for this week, but if you made me pick I will take Navy. I paid the price for picking against the Gamecocks last week, but for what it is worth, I still think I had the correct read on that game. I am still not overly impressed with USC. This could be a tough spot for the Gamecocks this week.
Skinny says: I’ll take Navy, reluctantly.
UCF (-5.5) at Florida International
FIU made its first splash on the national scene last weekend courtesy of a nice win at Louisville. I don’t believe that was a fluke, either. I caught a little of the game against Louisville, and FIU has built a respectable program. But, this is still Florida International.
I don’t know what it is about UCF, but they are my perennial sleeper against the oddsmakers. Good defense and a sound run game is generally a decent formula for success in college football, and the Golden Knights execute this formula as well as anyone.
The Skin says: I’ll take UCF over the upstart Golden Panthers.
Eastern Michigan at Michigan (-30)
You know I am a believer in the heavy favorite trend (see above) we have seen thus far this season. But you have to pick and choose your shots when riding a trend, and this line might be taking it too far. I love Denard Robinson, but he is pretty limited as a passer beyond chucking it down field. As explosive as he is carrying the football he only has 154 yards on 24 carries so far this season, not bad but far from numbers he racked up in RichRod’s offense.
Defensively, Big Blue is bad. UM is in prime position for a letdown game this week. This is not a spot where I am comfortable laying 30 points.
The Skinny says: I will take my chances with Eastern Michigan.
Tennessee at Florida (-9)
Other than Oklahoma-Florida State, this is game of weekend for me.
We haven’t learned much about Florida in the first two weeks of the Will Muschamp era. Sure, the Gators have blown out FAU and UAB by a combined 80-3, but I still have my concerns about the UF offense under John Brantley.
I think the Vols could be a sleeper in the SEC this season, although Tyler Bray won’t be able to dissect the Gator defense in the same fashion he has Montana and Cincinnati. I think this is a pick ‘em with a slight edge to Florida and home field advantage. Nine points provides a nice margin of safety for Tennessee.
Skin says: I like the Vols.
Stanford (-9) at Arizona
I have successfully fought the urge to pick this contest through five games and, after much deliberation, I have given in to the urge. This line seems to be begging you to take Stanford, which worries me considering Vegas apparently got hammered by the action on Stanford last week. In the end, I simply like Stanford too much in this game not to take the Cardinal.
The Skin says: I will go to the well again this week and take the Cardinal laying 9.
WEEK THREE–Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 6-5-1)
By Week 3 of a college football season, you’re finally starting to see some enticing trends emerge for both the books and gamblers. Now that everyone has had a chance to see most teams play two games, we have a little bit better idea of who’s good, who’s bad and who’s going to cash some tickets.
Also, if you haven’t been slammed over the head with it yet, ESPN’s marketing department has dubbed today “Road Test Saturday.” I guess there are no tests for any home teams out there this week.
Personally, I can’t wait for “Craig James’ Contract Has Been Terminated Saturday” and “Charlie Weis in a G-String Saturday.”
Anyway, with all those road tests out there, we’re bound to have some opportunities to take advantage of fading frauds, right? Plus, plenty of young QBs making their first starts away from the friendly confines.
Troy (+23) at Arkansas
Looking for a classic situational play? Then you’ve come to the right place.
The Trojans show up so often for body bag games like this one so often that it’s easy to overlook that Troy is the best program in the Sun Belt Conference year in and year out. Longtime head coach Larry Blakeney is now in his 21st season at Troy – stop snickering, Coach Petrino – and has had an extra week to prepare for the Razorbacks. An old dude with extra time is always a plus in just about anything.
Meanwhile, Coach Itchy Feet on the opposing sideline is probably already looking ahead to what’s next. Arkansas is going on the road next week to face Alabama in the conference opener. After last season’s near upset of the Tide, Bobby Petrino and his squad will be pointing to that one. So, yeah, don’t count on Arky’s best here.
BH says: Troy puts a scare into the Hogs before succumbing late – Ark by not nearly enough.
Texas at UCLA (+4)
Remember the days when a team like BYU would have left DKR the victim of a sound whooping at the hands of Bevo? I mean, that was a decent squad, but the Cougars aren’t anything to get too excited about.
Nowadays, the Longhorns are thrilled with gutting out a comeback sealed by dipping down deep into offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin’s bag of tricks.
UT’s freshmen quarterbacks Case McCoy and David Ash will be seeing their first-ever road action in one of college football’s most venerable settings, which is never favorable. They’re facing a UCLA team that has some solid talent, even if its coach apparently bites the big one.
Sounds like a play against Texas.
BH says: UCLA, 20-17.
Auburn at Clemson (-3)
Yet again, a quarterback making his first road start. This time it’s ‘stache-laden Barrett Trotter, who has acquitted himself pretty well in his first two starts.
Trotter better come to play in this trip to Death Valley, because opponents have pushed his defense around in the season’s first two games. Auburn currently ranks 118th in the nation in run defense and have allowed an average of 36 points per game.
While Auburn was duking it out with Mississippi State last week, Clemson was messing around with Wofford. Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris is an up-and-comer among practitioners of the spread, and he’s bound to have a few good ideas on ways to attack Auburn’s soft D, especially with what amounts to two weeks to prepare.
BH says: Gimme Clemson by double digits.
LGS: Navy (+17.5) at South Carolina
Am I thrilled about this pick? Absolutely not. However, the Lee Greenwood Spacial waits for no one, including its creator.
From a physical standpoint, this game looks as one-sided as the reviews on Bucky Larson. Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingarm – did you see those guys last week?
Yet, even though the Gamecocks pulled out a wild win at Georgia last week, something about this team just doesn’t feel right. I mean, without big Melvin Ingam around to capitalize on all of the Bulldogs’ flubs, Mark Richt isn’t getting the dreaded vote of confidence this week. (Smooth move, Mel. In case you haven’t heard, Richt is a class act.)
I’m looking for South Carolina to continue muddling through, with Navy giving the ‘Cocks all they can handle until early in the fourth quarter.
BH says: Soutch Cackalacka by a margin less than 17.5 points.
Ohio State at Miami (-2)
Ten years ago, we’d be talking about this one as the biggest games of the year. Now, the general reaction is “meh.”
Non-Buckeye fans – the chances a Miami “fan” even knows there’s a game today are slim – may tune in here to rubberneck at the site of two skeleton crews going at it. Otherwise, I’m guessing your attention will be turned north in the state of Florida.
Why play Miami here? Luke Fickell.
BH says: The U, 21-15.
Kent State at Kansas State (-14.5)
Beyond The Bets has made this the lock of the week. Good enough for me. (He’s right, too, that this is probably the most boring match-up of the day.)
This is the kind of rigorous analysis y’all are paying the big bucks for.
BH says: Wildcats in a laugher; just don’t expect Bill Snyder to join in.