It took seven weeks, but college football finally delivered.
That’s right, after a ho-hum first month-and-a-half of the season, last Saturday was unquestionably the highlight of the year so far, with Texas-Oklahoma, Florida-LSU, USC-Notre Dame and Penn State-Iowa all delivering - and South Carolina giving us the upset of the season and proving once and for all, that Georgia is the biggest fraud in all of sports.
Oh, and if the action on the field wasn’t enough, the action off of it was even better, as the picks remained absolutely on fire! We went 5-2 last week, marking our seventh winning week out of eight this season (dating back to Week 0) and an overall record of 31-18-2 on the year (I re-did the math this week, after giving you wrong information a week ago). If you did was bet my picks since the last week of August, you’d have some nice little pocket change.
But hey, if you don’t like money, that’s fine too. Who am I to judge?
So with that, let’s gets to this week’s picks, and before we do, let me warn you: I think we’re headed for another pretty quiet weekend in college football. As you’ll see below, we might as well just call this “The Weekend of the Blowout” as I have many big-name teams dominating inferior competition and covering big spreads.
Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t make cash playing these games.
As always, the picks are presented by our good friends at MyBookie – and if you’re wagering this weekend go to MyBookie and use promo code “TORRES” at checkout to receive a 100 percent sign-up bonus. Also, make sure and follow the Aaron Torres Pod Instagram page, where I also share the picks, and other cool stuff throughout the week.
Here are the picks!
No. 4 Ohio State (-28 ½ – buy the half point to 28) at Northwestern: Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1
Let’s get started with the action this Friday, where Ohio State travels to Northwestern to play its final game before the Buckeyes’ mega-showdown with Wisconsin next week.
Now under normal circumstances, the game before the biggest game of the year would concern me – but not for the Buckeyes. First off, they’ve largely taken care of everyone this season… and just when it looked like they were hitting cruise control against Michigan State two weeks ago, the scheduling Gods descended from the heavens and gave the Buckeyes a bye. The Buckeyes should come out refocused and rejuvenated this week.
As for Northwestern well, there is no really nice way to put this, but umm, they are one of the worst offensive teams in college football. That isn’t hyperbole. That’s just a fact. They currently rank 125th nationally in total offense, second worst among Power 5 schools behind only Rutgers. And let’s be honest, Rutgers is Power 5 in name only.
Point being, this is just a stylistic mismatch, and I kind of see it playing out like Penn State-Maryland a few weeks ago. Remember that highly-touted Friday night game that turned into a dud, when it became obvious that the Nittany Lions were just substantially better? That’s this game.
Be safe and buy the half point to get it to 28 – which is my plan. But you probably won’t need it as the Buckeyes cruise into next Saturday against Wisconsin.
No. 6 Wisconsin (-31 ½) at Illinois: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Speaking of that mega-showdown next week between the Buckeyes and Badgers, at least one of those two teams has to struggle this weekend, right?
Well, I don’t see it.
The bottom-line is that Wisconsin isn’t just playing good defense – they’re playing at a historic level. They’ve already got four shutouts this season, and are giving up a staggering 170 yards of total offense per game. For comparison’s sake, the second closest team to them (Ohio State) is giving up nearly 70 yards more per contest. Like Northwestern, if Illinois scores more than 10 points here, they should throw a parade for them in Champaign.
Then there is the Illinois defense, and just, woof. They have given up 40 or more points to each of the three Big Ten teams they’ve faced and are specifically bad against the run. So far this season, the Illini are allowing an average of 4.5 yards per rush and over 200 yards per game on the ground.
Honestly, I don’t even think Wisconsin tries to do anything exotic in this game. I just think they run the ball down Illinois’ throat, play really good defense and win going away.
No. 3 Clemson at Louisville (UNDER 60 ½): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC
If you’ve followed the picks this season, you know that Clemson UNDERS have been my favorite bet of the season. We are now 4 for 4 betting Clemson UNDERS this season.
So why double down (or is it quintuple down?) and take the UNDER here?
It sounds crazy, as all the signs are pointing toward the OVER here. After all, Clemson just had its most complete offensive performance of the season against Florida State, and Louisville is coming off a 63-59 win over Wake Forest.
Literally, every sign in the world points towards the OVER here. But sometimes, when something seems so obvious, the bet is to go the other direction.
And that’s my thought here.
First off… BAD PUN ALERT… but a tiger can’t change its stripes, and I don’t believe that Clemson’s offense has been magically fixed. They’ve been awful all year, and so it was only natural that coming off a bye, at home, after a close loss, they would play their best game. Which they did against Florida State. Still, it’s a lot different playing at home off a bye, and going on the road for a noon kickoff. I just don’t know how jacked up Clemson will be to play this game, especially with a noon kick. On the other hand, the Louisville crowd will be jacked up for the biggest game of the season at Cardinal Stadium (or maybe second biggest behind Notre Dame. Whatever, it’s semantics at this point).
Then there is Louisville, and as explosive as that offense was last week, they are now down to their third string quarterback, a true freshman. Throwing a freshman quarterback to Brent Venables is like throwing chum in the water to sharks. It’s going to be ugly.
In the end, I do think Clemson wins. I but I also think they go back to looking the way they have previously, which is sloppy and disinterested on offense. I’m thinking something like a 31-10 victory here, as they remain undefeated… and unimpressive.
No. 11 Auburn (-18, now -19) at Arkansas: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, SEC Network
It’s honestly terrifying how many massive road favorites I like this week.
And this might be my favorite one of all. Here is why:
Auburn is coming off a bye, traditionally when a team will play at its absolute best. Just for example, Alabama, Clemson and Georgia all covered as massive favorites the week after their bye week. Auburn entered the bye with a loss, so they should have extra motivation coming out of this week.
I also think the circumstances favor the Tigers as well. Yes, they’re on the road, but it’s a noon kickoff, and you’d expect – coming off another disappointing loss – that the Arkansas fan-base won’t be super fired up to be there for this one. Just for fun, I looked it up and my assumption is correct: You can get tickets to this game for as low as $20. Don’t expect a raucous crowd in Fayetteville this weekend.
Then there are the stylistic issues for Arkansas. And now at the halfway point in the season, they still don’t know who their quarterback is. That is a bad sign going against one of the best defenses in college football.
Again, this might be my favorite play of the week, and apparently Vegas agrees. I got this number at 18, and it’s already been bet to 19.5. Take the Tigers to roll here.
No. 16 Michigan at No. 7 Penn State (UNDER 45 ½): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
There are two reasons, and two reasons only why I like the UNDER here. One, Michigan’s offense remains an abomination that is slowly setting both this program and the sport of football back in general. Seriously, there are teams who once wore leather helmets who had more innovative offenses than Michigan does right now. On the opposite side Michigan’s defense has been much improved the last few weeks.
Now, to this game specifically.
Starting with that offense, I just don’t think it’s getting better. I know they put up 42 against Illinois last week, but whatever, it’s Illinois. The Little Giants could put up 40 against them. Instead, I look back to just two weeks ago, when Michigan could muster only 10 points at home against Iowa. Admittedly, Iowa has a good defense, but so does Penn State. And that is my fear here. Why do we think that this offense will all of a sudden be better, now seven games into the season, against one of the best defenses in college football? Especially on the road, a place where Jim Harbaugh’s offenses historically get more conservative and don’t open things up?
As for the Michigan defense, well to their credit, they have been much better the last few weeks and now rank 14th nationally in total defense. Well guess what? Penn State has played two Top 20 defenses this season (Pitt and Iowa) and have scored 17 points in each game.
Therefore, I expect this to be a defensively-oriented, low-scoring, old-school Big Ten football game.
I expect Penn State to win, but because of that Wolverine defense, I’m not sure if they do enough to cover.
But whether it’s 17-10, 21-10, 24-6, whatever it ends up being, the UNDER is the bet to make here.
Tennessee at No. 1 Alabama (-35): Saturday, 9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Last week, I correctly predicted Alabama to cover as a big, road favorite at Texas A&M for one reason, and one reason only.
The reason was simple: Essentially, while Alabama is susceptible on defense, Texas A&M just didn’t have the explosive playmakers to really expose them. And I think you could use the same case here with Tennessee. On the season, Tennessee has just 23 plays of 10 yards per more. That is 109th nationally and second worst in the SEC, behind only Vanderbilt. So yeah, they are one of the least explosive teams in college football.
And when you add in the fact that Tennessee will be starting a true freshman at quarterback, making his first road start, I just think it’s a recipe for a vintage Alabama defensive effort, to go along with a vintage Alabama offensive performance.
The Tide’s defense will be exposed at some point. But I’m just not sure it’s here.
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