It's Wednesday and you know what that means - it's time to make some college football picks, baby!!!!
But before we get there, a few things.
One, in terms of betting, you've definitely come to the right place. With last week's 5-2 run I'm now sitting at 16-5 overall on the season, good for a 71 percent win percentage. Not bad, my friends. Not bad at all.
At the same time, these picks also come with a caveat: This was by far, the hardest week for me to find winners. As the games go on and we get more information about these teams, Vegas continues to make these spreads tighter and tighter. I'm not saying that I don't plan on winning every pick this week. Just man, it was tough finding an edge.
Still, as the old saying goes - No excuses, play like a champion! Let's make some picks baby!
And as always, remember: Today's picks are brought to you by my friends at MyBookie. Right now MyBookie is offering an incredible sign-up to all first time users - if you use the promo code "TORRES" on your first deposit, they will double your money. So, if you want to bet $25 on Oklahoma to beat Texas, they will give you $50 to play with. It's the best deal going in sports. Again, MyBookie, promo code "TORRES" people!
Alright, enough small talk, let's get to the picks:
No. 19 Virginia Tech (+5) at No. 8 North Carolina: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ABC
Go ahead and raise your hand if you knew this weekend's Virginia Tech-North Carolina matchup was a battle of Top 20 teams.
Ok, let's move on then.
Starting with Virginia Tech, let me say this: The Hokies are quietly one of the best stories in college football right now. No, it's not that they're 2-0, but how much they've had to overcome to get there. They had a couple early season games postponed because of Covid, and then even when they took the field the last two weeks, were just insanely short-handed because of players testing positive. In last week's win against Duke, they were down 21 total players and two coaches - and still found a way to win on the road.
Talk about resilience, huh?
Then on the other side of the field is North Carolina. Look, this Mack Brown revival story is pretty cool, but there isn't a person on the planet who thinks North Carolina is the eighth best team in college football. I'll give them a little bit of a pass for last week against Boston College, since it had been 21 days since their season opener (the Tar Heels suffered through multiple postponements because of Covid) but even in their opener against Syracuse they just didn't look all that good. Yes they beat Syracuse 31-6, but the score was 10-6 going into the final quarter.
Clearly, the tools are there for North Carolina, but it just hasn't "clicked" yet. Because of it, I'll take the Hokies to go in and cover the five points in Chapel Hill. Sprinkle a little bit on the moneyline if you're feeling frisky.
No. 4 Florida at No. 21 Texas A&M (UNDER 57): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Alright, so I'm going to go ahead and throw out a stat here, and I know you're going to laugh, but let me explain. You're still allowed to laugh (you'll see why in a second). But hopefully you'll understand when you get the full explanation.
The reason I like the UNDER here is this: Since Jimbo Fisher got to Texas A&M, his defense has been really good against everyone other than Alabama and LSU.
I know, I know, what a dumb opinion, huh? That's like me saying "John Stockton and Karl Malone were good against everyone other than Michael Jordan."
I get why you think I'm an idiot, trust me.
But again, let me explain, and to do so, let's do what I said: Let's go ahead and take out the Alabama games, since Nick Saban owns his former assistants. And let's take out LSU. Of the two times that Texas A&M and LSU have played since Fisher got to Texas A&M, one had a final score of 74-72 (thanks to seven overtimes) and last year the Aggies played at LSU on Joe Burrow's Senior Night. And we all know damn well Joe Burrow wasn't losing on Senior Night.
Outside of those games, A&M's defense has been really good. And if you're still not sold, let me take it one step further: Even if you take out those Alabama and LSU games, since Jimbo Fisher got to Aggieland, A&M has played Clemson twice, Auburn twice and Georgia once. And they haven't given up more than 28 points in any of those games.
So on the one hand, I think that A&M will play sound, quality defense on Saturday afternoon. Two, I also think that Jimbo Fisher knows that the best chance to win this weekend will be to control the ball on offense, take his time, don't push tempo and keep it low scoring.
Then on the other side, there is Florida. And look, I know everyone wants to throw a parade in Gainesville because the Gators are 2-0, but how much do we really know about them? Sure, they put up a bunch of yards and points against Ole Miss, but, spoiler alert, everyone is going to put up big yards and points against Ole Miss this year. Last week they played well against South Carolina, but they didn't exactly light the world on fire. In total, Kyle Trask had 268 yards passing and were outgained on the ground by the Gamecocks. For comparison's sake, Tennessee had more yards of total offense playing South Carolina at South Carolina than Florida did playing at home against those same Gamecocks.
In the end, I don't trust A&M enough to cover the touchdown spread - although that would be my lean. But I trust them to keep it low scoring enough where the UNDER hits.
No. 17 LSU at Missouri (+14.5): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, TV TBA
This is the game that was obviously moved from Baton Rouge to Missouri because of Hurricane Delta. So before we go any further, let me start by saying, to everyone in Louisiana, please be safe. Obviously, in the big picture, that is the first and only priority right now.
However, this game will be played. And in terms of the actual football stuff, I can't lie - I like Mizzou.
Part of it is of course the emotional turmoil of it all, LSU going from preparing for its first night game of the season at home, to now having to travel to Columbia and play an 11 am local kickoff. You could forgive LSU for being a little flat.
Beyond that, there are actual football factors too. For starters, I just don't know how good LSU is. Yes, they beat Vanderbilt soundly last week, but even in that game, there were some red flags. They were wildly inconsistent on third down, and the offense was helped quite a bit by the special teams. Which of course is a credit to the special teams. But probably not something you can rely on week to week.
Missouri also wasn't quite as bad as the final score looked at Tennessee, something I'll get into below in the Tennessee-Georgia preview. Plus, it's not like Missouri hasn't been challenged early this season - after all, playing Bama and at Tennessee is a heck of a way to start the season. And I expect them to be prepared for this one.
In the end, you can forgive LSU if they play a sloppy low-scoring game but still pull out the victory. Which is what I expect to happen Saturday in Columbia.
No. 17 Tennessee at No. 3 Georgia (-12.5): Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Now before I get too deep into the analysis here, let me start by saying that I already know what you're thinking Tennessee fans: "Torres, you hate our team! You picked against us last week and we shoved it in your face! GBO!!!"
And to a degree, you're right. I did pick Missouri to cover the points, and it was - by far - my worst prediction of the season. Shout out to Tennessee. Heck, if you listen to the podcast this week, you know I gave them their credit - I haven't seen the Vols physically dominate an opponent like they did against Missouri in a long, long time. This also isn't about the lame narrative of "Oh, Tennessee hasn't beaten anyone during the win streak either." Whenever you win eight in a row, that's impressive.
Still, there are a few things that concern me here against Tennessee.
One, yes, Tennessee was physically dominant against Missouri last week. And yes, it seems unlikely that they will be able to replicate that against Georgia this week. That's obvious, but it will also completely alter Jeremy Pruitt's game-plan in this one. Remember, Tennessee scored a bunch of points early last week because they successfully converted a bunch of fourth downs. You think Pruitt will be as aggressive on the road at Georgia as he was at home against Missouri? I doubt it.
The second thing is Jarrett Guarantano. Like, I know he was fantastic last week against Missouri, but he also had all the time in the world to throw in the pocket. Clearly he won't have that same luxury this week against Georgia - which is concerning to me. Because as we saw in Week 1 against South Carolina, when he is pressured he still makes bad decisions, throws poor balls and makes mistakes. Mistakes Georgia will capitalize on.
In the end, I think Tennessee is able to keep things close in this game early - and if anything, feel free to take the Tennessee first half line.
But in the end, I like Georgia to pull away late and cover the two touchdowns.
Arkansas at No. 13 Auburn (UNDER 48): Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network
When I was young, my parents taught me that sometimes in life you have to take a stand - to speak up when you truly believe in something. Which is exactly what I will do today.
So here goes: Bo Nix isn't a good quarterback.
Phew do I feel better.
In all seriousness, I hate bashing college kids, but I just don't think he is good. And it isn't just what happened last weekend against Georgia, but the week before against Kentucky too. In that game, Nix was bailed out by a couple of late turnovers by the Wildcats that made the final score look more one-sided than it actually was. The numbers reflect that I'm onto something here, as Auburn actually has the second worst offense in the SEC right now, behind only Vanderbilt.
Beyond that, Auburn is going up against a suddenly resurgent Arkansas defense that has looked fantastic in both games so far. And again, it isn't just the Mississippi State game either - the Hogs were awesome against Georgia before they got worn down late. Seriously, Barry Odom come on down! You've earned a raise after just two games.
Add in the fact that this game marks a pseudo-Chad Morris revenge game (the former Arkansas head coach is now Auburn's offensive coordinator) and I think the Hogs come out focused and fired up.
It's low scoring, with the UNDER the play to make.
Ole Miss (+23) at No. 2 Alabama: Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Admittedly, this is probably my favorite play of Saturday. To be blunt, I just don't see any way Ole Miss doesn't cover the points.
There are so many reasons why, let me just lay them out:
Alabama is a very public team, and I'm sure the books got crushed by their cover last week against Texas A&M. They probably want to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Lane Kiffin knows that the only way he'll be able to win games this season is to score a lot and keep on scoring - he isn't letting his foot off the pedal no matter what the score is.
Lane Kiffin is also going against his former boss Nick Saban, a former boss who fired him just days before the national championship game. Do you remember that? It's insane. You think Kiffin doesn't want revenge? Remember what he did to USC the first time he played them with Bama?
Matt Corral is a quarterback who can make plays with his feet - which is something that has always given Alabama trouble
Even if Alabama gets up big, Nick Saban will want to get his back-ups some reps, especially with Georgia coming up next week - leaving the backdoor open for a cover for the Rebels
Again, Bama has Georgia next week. Think there's a chance they might be looking just a tiny bit ahead?
I could go on and on and on, but I'll stop here.
This is the "Bet your children's braces money" lock of the week.
Yes, I just made that up, but don't worry, their smile isn't going to be crooked forever.
I love, love, LOVE this line. Hotty Toddy!! Take the Rebs!
No. 7 Miami at No. 1 Clemson (-14): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
This article is running a little long, so let me just say this really quickly: One, the Miami story is awesome. It's always more fun in college football when Miami is good, and the Hurricanes are, I believe, the second best team in the ACC right now. Which is awesome for Miami, awesome for its fan-base and awesome for college football. I'm legit happy for them.
At the same time, just because they are the second best team in the ACC, doesn't mean they're in the same stratosphere at Clemson right now.
Look, for as awesome as the Miami story is, their three wins have come against UAB, Louisville and Florida State. UAB is UAB (in other words "Miami should beat them by 17), Florida State is legit the worst team in the ACC and Louisville, for all the excitement of that game, is just 1-2 this season. And on top of that, Louisville actually outgained the Hurricanes in that game, despite Miami winning the game. On top of that, two of Miami's scores came on busted plays of 75+ yards. Call me crazy, but I just don't believe that Clemson is going to let Miami rip off 75+ yard touchdown plays on them like the Cardinals did. Hot take, I know.
I could go on and on, but just know this: This is the first time in a long time that Dabo Swinney can legit go into an ACC game and tell his team: "People think you can lose this game." At home, in front of a small, but fired up crowd, I like Clemson to roll late.
No. 22 Texas vs. Oklahoma (-2.5): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX
When the lines first came out this was actually one of my favorite bets of the week, but the further we've gone along this week, the more I think I'm just going to stay away. Just looking at these two teams objectively, as easily as Oklahoma is 1-2, they could be 3-0. And as easily as Texas is 2-1, they could be 1-2. Part of me thinks Oklahoma stinks, which is why I would take the Longhorns. Part of me thinks the players in the program have too much pride to lose three in a row, which is why I like Oklahoma.
Gun to my head I'd lean Texas, but again will just stay away.
Mississippi State at Kentucky (-2): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network
I did a big write-up on Kentucky yesterday, but just know: The Wildcats aren't as bad as their 0-2 record would indicate. Clean up the little things (penalties, unforced turnovers etc.) they'd be in much better shape.
With that said, the idea of betting against Mike Leach in a game that is essentially a pick 'em makes me want to puke.
I'll just stay away here.
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