It’s Thursday and you know what that means: It’s time to make some college football picks!
After an absolutely abysmal Week 9 where nothing went right, we bounced back nicely last Saturday. Overall, we finished 3-4, which admittedly isn’t great. But still, in a slow week where there weren’t a lot of marquee games, we were a safety in the final minutes of UCF-Houston from having a winning week. Which would have been our eighth winning week of the season.
So yeah, life is good. And it’s about to get even better this week.
That’s because after a few weekends of lackluster games, this… is… the weekend… we’ve been WAITING FOR. LSU-Bama. Penn State-Minnesota and so much more.
So with that, let’s get to the picks.
As always, they are brought to you by my friends at MyBookie. Remember, if you’re gambling this weekend go to MyBookie and use promo code “TORRES” at checkout to receive a 100 percent sign-up bonus. That’s right, for every dollar you spend, MyBookie will match it.
No more waiting. Let’s get to the picks!
Maryland at No. 1 Ohio State (UNDER 64): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX
The focus in this game will be on Ohio State, but it’s actually Maryland that makes me so confident in this pick.
Why? It’s because as I told you last week, Maryland’s offense is absolutely putrid.
That’s right, after lighting the world on fire in the first two weeks (incredibly, they scored a combined 142 points in the first two games) Maryland’s offense has completely fallen apart. If you take out the Rutgers game (because everyone beats up Rutgers) here are Maryland’s point totals in their last six games: 17, 0, 14, 28, 10, 7. That includes zero combined offensive touchdowns against Michigan and Penn State.
Therefore, I honestly think it’d be kind of a miracle if Maryland scored more than seven points in this game, which raises the question: Will Ohio State score more than 56? Well, one, they have only done it once this season, so the chances aren’t great. Two Maryland’s defense isn’t that bad and three, is running the score really Ryan Day’s end game here? Or is it to get out to a big, comfortable lead, and then get his starters out and rested with Penn State and Michigan on the schedule in the coming weeks.
To me it’s absolutely the latter, which is why I like the UNDER.
If you’re betting the UNDER, you’re basically betting that Ohio State can hold Maryland to seven points or less (which I believe they can), and that Maryland can basically force one, maybe two punts all game.
Do that and the UNDER will hit with ease.
No. 4 Penn State at No. 17 Minnesota (+7): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC
By the way, speaking of Maryland, you know what first tipped me off that they are truly a terrible team? Because I bet on them a few weeks ago against Minnesota – and they absolutely got stampeded by the Golden Gophers. Seriously, Minnesota kicked their ass up and down the field from the opening kickoff to the final whistle.
Now admittedly, part of that might be that Maryland is bad. But it also taught me that Minnesota is actually pretty freaking good.
More importantly, you know what I really like about Minnesota? They know who they are. PJ Fleck understands that they’re a cold weather team, and they play to that profile. The Gophers run the ball well behind a massive offensive line and play elite defense, ranking 13th nationally in that category. More importantly, they control the clock – currently ranking sixth nationally in time of possession and will keep the ball away from Penn State.
Point being, I think they keep away the ball away from Penn State and keep this game low-scoring all afternoon. They do enough to cover the seven points as a home dog. And honestly I think they just might be able to do enough to pull the upset.
No. 2 LSU at No. 3 Alabama (-6) (UNDER 64): Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
CBS only gets to broadcast one primetime game a year. And while I’m not sure who is responsible for choosing Notre Dame-Georgia over this game, I am positive that that person should be fired. Or at the very least, reprimanded via a very strongly worded e-mail.
Yup this is the biggest game of the season and we get it in a 3:30 timeslot. Here is my question though? Will it really live up to the hype?
I’m not sure.
For starters, let’s get one thing out of the way off the top. Tua Tagovailoa is going to play in this game. Vegas wouldn’t have put out a point spread, let alone one where Alabama is favorite, if they didn’t have very good belief that he will be on the field.
And if/when Tua plays, I can’t lie, I like Bama.
First off, there isn’t a single coach in college football who is better when he has extra time to prepare for an opponent more than Nick Saban. Overall, he’s won his last eight games after a bye (the last loss was against LSU in 2011) and he has also won his last four bowl/playoff games when he’s had more than a week to prepare.
Let’s also not forget that for all the hype about LSU, this is the same team that lost 29-0 to Alabama last year in Baton Rouge. Now admittedly, the offense has completely evolved under the direction of new coordinator Joe Brady. But are we really to believe that things have changed so much between these two programs that LSU is going to go from losing by 29 points a year ago at home, to winning on the road? It’s certainly possible. But that’s a swing of 30+ points. And I’m not sure I’m buying it.
That’s especially true when you consider that LSU’s defense has taken a step back this year. And really, that’s my biggest concern for this team. Specifically, they struggle against the pass, ranking just 60th nationally in that category. And you mean to tell me that defense is going to slow down Tua and all those Bama wide receivers?
In the end, I do believe LSU is a good team. And I do believe they deserve serious consideration for a spot in the final four even if they lose here.
What I don’t believe is that they’re going to go to Alabama and get a win against the Tide.
Final score, Alabama 31, LSU 20.
Missouri at No. 6 Georgia (UNDER 47): Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Yeah, I’m taking a lot of UNDERS this week. So what, sue me. A winner is a winner, no matter how ugly it is, baby! There’s a reason they call me “AT UNDERS!”
In all seriousness, let’s give credit where it’s due: I think Georgia found a little bit of its mojo last week. Not it’s “We’re going to beat Bama and win the natty” mojo. But more so the “we’re going to play elite defense and dominate the line of scrimmage with our run game” mojo.
Which is what would scare me if I’m a Missouri fan.
The bottom-line is that the Tigers have been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde this year, sitting at 5-0 in games at home, but just 0-3 on the road. Even worse, not only are they 0-3 on the road, but they now head to Athens with a banged up Kelly Bryant. Bryant suffered a hamstring injury a few weeks ago and it sounds like he might not play this weekend.
So take a banged up Missouri offense and put it up against a peaking, lights out Georgia defensive attack? You don’t need to be Bill Belichick to know that that team might struggle to score.
The only thing keeping me from taking the Dawgs and the points is the fact that with Auburn next week, I don’t think Kirby Smart is going to do anything too creative offensively. Like Ryan Day above, he’s just going to get a get a comfortable lead, run the ball and run the clock out.
Therefore, I believe Georgia wins something like 20-7, with a comfortable UNDER hit.
Tennessee (-1 ½) at Kentucky (UNDER 41 ½): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network
A few weeks ago on the Aaron Torres Pod, I spent some time raving about the work that Mark Stoops has done this season. And I made the case (I think legitimately) that if Stoops can get Kentucky to bowl eligibility, he should win SEC Coach of the Year. I’m not even kidding. This is a team that is down to their fourth string quarterback, who is actually a wide receiver, and they are winning SEC games.
The Wildcats are 2-1 since Lynn Bowden Jr. took over at quarterback, with the sole loss, a game where they played Georgia tough.
So what I’m about to say next isn’t to discredit Kentucky, Bowden, Stoops or anyone else. But at some point, this all has to catch up to Kentucky, right? They can’t keep expecting to eek out SEC wins without a real, downfield passing threat, can they?
It feels like the answer is “no” and I think this is the weekend it catches up with them. Mainly because Tennessee is playing really well. it’s incredible really. The Vols have won three of their last four, and all of a sudden, are very much in the conversation to eventually get to a bowl game.
What might be even more incredible is that all this is happening when Tennessee itself is going through quarterback issues. The Vols have ping-ponged between Brian Maurer, Jarrett Guarantano and JT Shrout while battling injuries and inconsistency under center.
Therefore, while I do think that this is the week that Kentucky’s offense stalls, I also believe that their defense will do enough to keep them in this game against a Tennessee squad which has its own issues on offense.
I’ll say something like a 19-13 Tennessee win, with both the points and UNDER hitting.
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