(Editor's Note: This article was published before the news that Alabama head coach Nick Saban had tested positive for Covid-19 and that the Florida-LSU game had been cancelled)
It's Wednesday, and you KNOW what that means - time to make some college football gambling picks.
If you've been following the picks (and if you haven't, shame on you) you should be feeling really good going into the week, as the picks are sitting at 67 percent on the season - with five straight winning weeks to open the season up. That's right, five straight winning weeks.
And I'm especially proud of last week. Not only did we nail all the biggest games (I basically told you exactly what would happen in Tennessee-Georgia, Miami-Clemson and Alabama-Ole Miss - seriously, go read the preview here) we also got royally screwed on the Virginia Tech-North Carolina game, where Virginia Tech said all week that they were Covid free, only to have several players ruled out right before kickoff. Considering we basically started in an 0-1 hole, I'll gladly take the win-loss total a week ago.
Anyway, enough rambling on my end, and let's get to this week's picks. As always, the point spreads are presented by my friends at MyBookie - if you're planning on gambling this week, go ahead and use MyBookie, promo code "TORRES" - and MyBookie will double your initial deposit. So if you want to put $50 on Alabama, MyBookie gives you $100 to play with. It's the best deal going in sports gambling.
Now, let's get to the picks.
No. 1 Clemson at Georgia Tech (+14.5 - first half): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC
Quick shoutout to me, who, as mentioned above, nailed all the big games last week - including Miami-Clemson. I told you that after years of having to fake-psyche themselves up for big games, Clemson would be licking their chops coming into the Miami game. How could Clemson not be focused at home, with some people believing Miami could hang close?
Well, safe to say the were fired up.
Also, safe to say this: You know what the exact opposite of a big home game at night is? Playing Georgia Tech in a noon kickoff in front of limited fan capacity.
Because of it, I like the Yellow Jackets getting two touchdowns in the first half at home here.
This is clearly strictly a situational play, but as mentioned, not only did Clemson put together their best win of the year and not only will they have trouble getting fired up for this one - but even in the win last week, they were sloppy. The offensive line had a couple holding penalties (one that took a touchdown off the board) and obviously there were the three blocked kicks that need to get cleaned up.
If Clemson was making dumb mental errors in the biggest game of the year, think they could make a few here as well?
Admittedly, the four touchdowns for the full game feels a little rich for my blood. But again, take the Yellow Jackets in the first half at home.
Pitt (+6 - first half) at No. 13 Miami: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ACC Network
I already know what you're thinking: "Another first half bet? AT... YOU SO CRAZY!!!"
First of all, I love your energy, but secondly, I love this bet, for the same reason I like the Clemson bet. I just find it hard to believe that coming off their biggest game of the season, in a noon kickoff, against an unranked team, that Miami is going to come out fired up.
Furthermore, let me add this: I also think Pitt is a bad matchup for Miami here.
Yes, the Panthers are just 3-2 on the season, but their two losses have come by a combined two points the last couple games. Just as easily as they are 3-2, they could be 5-0.
Beyond that, stylistically, I also think they could give Miami trouble if the Hurricanes come out flat. The reason being, Pitt is legitimately spectacular on defense, specifically against the run. As a proof of concept (great "Shark Tank" term), here is a full list of teams who have played more than one game and have given up fewer yards per rush than Pitt has.
That's it. That's the list.
Now, do I have worries about Pitt over a 60-minute game? I do, specifically, whether Miami can break a big play or two, to pull away late.
But for a half? I expect Pitt to have early control, in a lifeless Hard Rock Stadium. Take the Panthers and the points in the first half.
Kentucky at No. 18 Tennessee (-6): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network
So look, I know last week wasn't pretty for the Vols - but I am a glass is half full guy. And as a glass is half full guy, let me put a little spin on that Georgia game.
Here are a few reasons why I don't think it was as bad as the final score would indicate:
First off, Georgia is really damn good. I'm not sure if they beat Alabama this weekend (more on that coming) but there is no doubt that of the teams that have actually played this season, Clemson, Georgia and Alabama are the class of college football. Point being, Georgia is going to make a lot of teams look bad this season.
Two, the score was closer than the final would indicate. Yes, Georgia won by 23, but 13 of those points came directly off second half turnovers from Jarrett Guarantano (two fumbles and an interception). Now you could argue that's a terrible look for Guarantano (and it is) but if he simply holds onto the damn ball the Vols keep things respectable
Finally, Tennessee showed some real heart on defense. Sure they got worn down late, but they had two big fourth down stands, and for most of the game, Georgia couldn't run the ball to save their lives. Henry To'o To'o is a freakin' monster.
So yeah, Tennessee isn't quite as bad as last week's performance would indicate, and then there is Kentucky. For all the excitement of last week's win over Mississippi State, the Wildcats' offense is still a major work in progress. And when I say "work in progress" I mean, "they aren't very good." As in, they only had 167 yards of total offense. To their credit, they did force six Mississippi State turnovers - SIX!! - but my hunch is that Tennessee won't be quite so bad last week.
Anyway, all of this is a long way of me saying I like Tennessee and I like them to win comfortably here.
No. 15 Auburn at South Carolina (+3): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
I've been writing about college football in some form or fashion for about a decade now, and I'm about to do something I've never done before.
I'm going to compliment Will Muschamp.
(Takes deep breath)
I'm not sure I can do this.
Ok, for real this time...
South Carolina... isn't terrible.
Woah, that was weird.
Kind of feel like I need a cold shower.
In all seriousness, for as much flack as everyone (myself certainly included) have given Muschamp, he actually has South Carolina playing hard this season. Yes, their record is only 1-2 and their only victory came against Vanderbilt, which is basically an FCS team at this point. At the same time, they played Tennessee to the final whistle in Week 1, and actually did a better job against Florida's offense than anyone this season, even in a loss.
Offensively, I wouldn't exactly call them "revived" with Mike Bobo calling plays. But they've scored at least 24 points in each of their first three games. They scored 24 points in three games total last season, and never more than 24 points in an SEC game.
Furthermore, I think they're catching Auburn at the right time, in a noon kickoff, with Auburn coming off an wild win against Arkansas. Not to mention that they're banged up. Their emotional leader KJ Britt is out of this game with a shoulder injury and it's uncertain if Big Kat Bryant can play. Even if he can, he will be less than 100 percent.
Because it's a tight line, I'd play this one close to the vest. It wouldn't be my biggest play of the day, but I do like South Carolina to cover.
Louisville at No. 4 Notre Dame (OVER 64): Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC
There's an old saying in life that a cardinal can't change it's stripes. Or maybe it's a tiger. Whatever. The point is, at some point, you just are who you are in life. And this year, we know who Louisville is. They're really bad on defense and really good on offense.
Again, because I'm a glass is half full guy, let's start with the offense. On the season, Louisville is averaging a respectable 29 points per game. Not bad, I'd say. And it's even better when you consider that they probably actually should have more. They actually outgained both Miami and Georgia Tech - and ended up losing both games. In the Georgia Tech game specifically last week, they lost thanks to three turnovers. My hunch is that the turnovers are better this weekend, if only because they can't be worse.
Which brings me to the defense - and my goodness is this group bad, as they are giving up over six yards per play, which is 13th out of 15 ACC teams. The only teams that are worse are Florida State (and we all know how bad the Seminoles are) and Virginia Tech, which has literally had at least a dozen players miss all three of their games this season because of Covid.
Now you're going to put that defense up against a Notre Dame offense which has averaged 47 points per game and is averaging almost seven yards per play on offense?
Expect points and lots of 'em in this game. I love the OVER here.
Ole Miss (-2) at Arkansas: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
To me, the most interesting aspect of this game isn't the point spread. Instead, it's the over/under which is set at 76. That's down from 77.5 but still an insanely high number.
Still, it's an important number to me, and here is why: It says that Ole Miss will be able to exert its will on Arkansas, more than Arkansas will be able to exert its will on Ole Miss.
What do I mean by that? Well, we've kind of seen what Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss are about this year - they are a team that knows that the only way they are going to beat you is to score and score and keep on scoring, and hope they have one more point than you at the final whistle. That happened in their win over Kentucky two weeks ago, but even in losses to Alabama and Florida they scared the you-know-what out of each team.
That's the polar opposite of Arkansas. The offense definitely looked improved last week against Auburn. But they are going to lean on their defense, and try to win every game in the 20's or low 30's like the last two weeks.
Therefore, what this game comes down to is this: Even if Arkansas gets a few stops (which I think they will), will they be able to go score for score with the best offense they'll likely see all year?
I don't think so.
No. 3 Georgia at No. 2 Alabama (-6): Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Ah yes, it's the game we've been waiting for since SEC schedules were announced. It's Georgia at Alabama. Smart vs. Saban. Two of the top three teams in the sport - and you know Torres has been all over Georgia this year, so he must LOVE the Dawgs, right?
Look, I think Georgia is a great story this year and as I've said since the end of the Tennessee game, I believe that this is the best team that Kirby Smart has had since he's gotten to Athens. Considering he was one half away from winning a national championship, that says something to me.
The issue is, that if you watched that Tennessee game, you know that the Georgia offense wasn't nearly as potent as the final score would indicate. I already went through it up top, but Georgia got 13 points directly off Tennessee turnovers in UT territory. If Jarrett Guarantano just held onto the ball, it's a totally different game. Not to mention that in watching that game, it just doesn't feel like Kirby Smart has a lot of confidence in Stetson Bennett yet. There were several short yardage plays where Georgia tried again and again to run the ball against a stacked box and came up empty.
Do we really think that suddenly, Smart is going to loosen up the offense on the road at Alabama?
Of course there is the Alabama side of things, and I already know what you're thinking again: Torres, did you see that defense against Ole Miss? I sure did, and it wasn't pretty. But for the 8,487th time, let me say, you can't judge a team defensively against Ole Miss. Lane Kiffin is an evil genius and he is going to pull out any stop he can to put points up on the board. Especially against his former boss.
Therefore, go back and look back at Alabama's performance defensively against Texas A&M the week before. It wasn't perfect, but the Crimson Tide gave up just 24 points, and even that is a bit misleading since one of A&M's scores came down 30 against Alabama's backups and another on a short field after an interception. Point being, I don't think Alabama's defense is nearly as bad as it looked last week against Ole Miss.
As for this game, I do think it could be close early. But Georgia simply doesn't have enough firepower and Alabama has too much - I expect them to break a few plays late and cover the six points.
No. 11 Texas A&M (-6.5) at Mississippi State, Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network: Texas A&M is coming off their most important win in years, and a Mike Leach offense is coming off a game in which they had two points where they turned the ball over six times. Therefore, we are getting A&M at their absolute high and it's hard to imagine they're as fired up for this one as they were a week ago. We're also getting Mississippi State at their low and you know they will play better. But is A&M's low still good enough to cover Mississippi State on the upswing at home? Probably. Which is why I'll be staying away.
LSU at No. 10 Florida, Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN: At this point we don't even know if this game will be played, and if it is, Florida will likely be down up to 19 players who've been exposed to Covid. On the flip side there is LSU - which has given up 40+ points in two of three games this season. Just about the only chance Bo Pelini's offense has at stopping the opponent is if they don't show up. Which might happen Saturday. Or it might not. Which is why I won't be touching this one with a 10-foot pole.
Season total: 19 of 28 ATS (67 percent)
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