After 5 months on the wagon, I’m back to my old habits and I couldn’t feel better. The Big Ten treated me well in 2010 – I finished 27-17 ATS in conference games, producing a sparkling 61% and topping the requisite 60% to be considered useful. I’ll admit that week 1 has never been my best week, but that won’t stop me from preaching this picks with bravado.
I’ll miss the familiar punching bags – Rich Rod, Tim Brewster and Bill Lynch are out – as is the king of the cover, Jim Tressel. It’s a new landscape and I hope my customer service doesn’t suffer as a result of this turnover. We’ll re-convene at the end of non-conference season, until then good luck with your betting.
2* STAR PICKS
Michigan -14 vs Western Michigan
Am I missing something about the Broncos? Last time I checked they were a second-tier MAC team led by a Bill Cubit, a coach who’s been awful ATS (28-39-1 ATS) and hasn’t played a Big Ten team (not called Indiana) tough in years. For some reason Vegas expects them to waltz into the Big House and make a game here. Look, I get that Michigan is wounded, and there’s still some transition to be done, but even in the dark days of ’08-’10 the Wolverines were pasting WMU. I’d take Qadhafi over the rebels this weekend before I bet on the Broncos.
Indiana -6 vs Ball State
Why do IU non-conference lines always look so appealing to me?
Rarely do you see a Big Ten team laying less than a TD against one of the worst programs in FBS, and even though it’s IU I have a hard time seeing how they don’t out-class the Cardinals. New head coach Kevin Wilson has a lot to prove, and with his first opportunity to make a statement on a major stage (Lucas Oil Stadium), you know he’d love to win this by about 35. The Indiana QB situation is a question mark, but I’m sure Wilson won’t be afraid to play the whole stable until he finds the hot hand. This is the guy in most responsible for Oklahoma’s 10-3 record ATS in 2008. He knows how to keep gamblers happy.
1* STAR PICKS
Wisconsin -35 vs UNLV
In June when I first saw this game scheduled and prior to seeing the line, I felt strongly that I’d bet it, but now that it’s time to play my feet are cold. I’m starting to feel like the media is overhyping the Badgers (BleacherReport has them going 12-0…easy there…) and that overhype might be playing into this spread. I know Russell Wilson is the best free agent pickup ever in college football, but let’s not forget that Wisconsin lost 3 O-lineman (the cornerstone of their program), and they’ll be breaking in the aforementioned Wilson. But still – the game’s at night, in Madison, National TV, lots of hype…won’t Bielema do everything in his power to win this one by 50?
Illinois vs Arkansas State O57.5
With far superior talent and home field, the 20.5 point spread shouldn’t be that scary, but the Over is a safer pick. I trust the Illinois offense – with guidance from the non-evil Petrino (Paul), Nathan Scheelhaase should be able to engineer drives at will on any Sun Belt defense. But Arkansas State shows up with a crafty passing game, and I expect QB Ryan Aplin to engineer 3 TD drives, even if one results from trick play or another gimmick. Tack that onto the 5-6 touchdowns the Illini should obtain, add in a few token field goals, and this one should end up in the 45-21 or 38-24 range. The spread could come down to the wire, but the total should be comfortably exceeded.
USC vs Minnesota O51.5
Unless Lane Kiffin starts going for two and failing (very likely), 7 combined touchdowns (1 field goal is a given) should get you a win here. Let’s break this down.
- USC O vs Minnesota D: Matt Barkley should be exceptional this year, he’s got a ton of weapons around him, the Trojans are at home, and Minnesota just doesn’t have the playmakers on defense= 5 to 7 TDs.
- Minnesota O vs USC D: MarQueis Gray and Minnesota RB should be able to move the ball on the ground, USC’s defense was questionable last year, and Jerry Kill should be able to produce some surprises that could result in points – 2-3 TDs
The Result? 7-10 TD. There you have it.
NP (No Play)
Boston College -3 vs Northwestern
Throw out all the calculations when picking games involving Northwestern. The Eagles were a great bet to finish 2010 (5-1 ATS to finish the season) and they’re one of my teams to keep an eye on, but I don’t like betting against Pat Fitz in games like this and this should come down to the last possession. To close for my blood.
Akron +34 @ Ohio State
Akron is atrocious and it’s against my principles to put money on teams like this, but the Buckeyes have a new coach, Joe Bauserman is starting, and they have a gigantic spread to cover. I don’t like either side of this and I’m completely at peace leaving this one alone.
Purdue vs Middle Tennessee State U50
Another game I am very happy to leave alone. I’m confident in my Boilers’ defense, and I expect no more than 1-2 TDs and a field goal from MTSU. But Purdue’s starting QB has only taken a few career snaps and the offense was pathetic last season. I see Purdue only getting into the end zone 3 times and kicking about 3 field goals. This puts as around 30-17 or 30-10, which gets us under 50 but without much margin for error. Plus, after this, that, and the other thing I’m done betting on Purdue when laying a lot of points at home.
Iowa -40 vs Tennessee Tech
Penn State -37 vs Indiana State
Michigan State -34.5 vs Youngstown State
Nebraska -36.5 vs Chattanooga