Week five is nearly upon us in college football, and the only thing we know is that we know nothing. A quick summary of some questions we still have even after these teams have played three or four games: How did Oregon fall off a cliff? Is Utah the best team in the conference? Can Arizona play a lick of defense without Scooby Wright? What the hell is happening in Tempe? If the WSU offense merged with the UW defense, could that team win nine games? There are scores of other questions we still have, but it seems we're no closer to the truth than we were in early September. Let's have Donald Rumsfeld sum it up.
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.
Well put, Don.
Why I'm a genius: I'm not really sure what people saw in Arizona. They had played exactly zero teams with a pulse, and Scooby Wright may have been playing, but there is no way he was at full strength. I didn't foresee that boat race, but I knew UCLA would have a great night on the ground. Arizona's defense is, to quote Charles Barkley, turrible. It's also pretty obvious that something is amiss with Arizona State. While I don't place a ton of faith in Sark on the road against a decent team, ASU just hasn't put it together. Finally, even though Stanford was laying a ton of points, they're that much better than OSU.
Why I'm an idiot: Well, quite simply, I thought I was playing with fire by taking three road favorites. Turns out I should have taken every road team, favored and otherwise. The first time I looked at that Oregon spread, I thought, "Utah is better on both lines than Oregon. They'll keep that game close." So what did I do? I went with the tissue-soft team in Eugene of course. Yeesh. I also thought the UW offense would be good enough to hang with Cal. This seemed to be validated by the fact that the line went from UW +4.5 to a Pick 'Em by game time. So of course UW wasted a decent defensive effort by stinking up the joint on offense.
And now, once again, we come to the upset of the week. I'm not really sure why the gambling gods are so angry at me, but it's clear that I pissed somebody off. Arkansas led by eight points with less than four minutes to go. So of course they gave up a touchdown and two-point conversion late. For the third straight week, my underdog went to overtime. For the third straight week, my underdog lost. Good lord, I have no idea why I keep subjecting myself to this crap. What would have been a profitable week turned into yet another loser. Woo Pig Meltdown.
Last Week: 3-2 ATS / 0-1 Money Line Upset / -$20 (DAMN YOU VIG!)
Season Total: 18-15 ATS / 1-3 Money Line Upset / +$185
Reader Results - Love the increased participation, which makes this much more fun:
- Ryan Eames: 1-4 / 0-1 / -$440
- stewak: 1-4 / 0-1 / -$440
- BothwaysUphill: 3-2 / +$375(ish)
- coug2828: 0-3 (shoulda stuck with Whittingham)
- cougbud: 2-3 / 0-1
- TheOriginalCougMan: 3-2 / +$800(ish)
- Brian Anderson: 1-4 / 0-1 / -$440
- olkronies: 4-1 / 0-1
- Coug999: 4-1 / 0-1
- hollyweirdcoug: 4-1 / 0-1
- go.cougs.75: 5-0 - Well done, good sir
- cmaddex: 3-2 / 0-1 / -$20
It's a pretty light week in the conference. There are four games, with the two late games starting almost simultaneously. Good job, good effort on that TV deal, Larry. As such, we'll dabble into the national scene a bit.
WSU at Cal (WSU +19/-110, Cal -19/-110): This line opened at 12 and rose to 19 at nearly light speed. If you got in early, this was a fantastic chance to play the middle, as we saw with the Saints-Panthers game last Sunday. This line was inflated quite a bit because the betting public, along with a few sharps no doubt, give Cal a ton of credit for winning at Texas and Washington on consecutive weeks. Cal does deserve some credit for that, even though neither Texas nor UW is very good.
The line is also influenced by the fact that WSU is, we'll just be kind and say lousy. This game presents a chance to prove everyone wrong, as Cal is by far the best team the Cougars have faced so far this season. Cal won't struggle much to beat WSU, but the Cougs will come through late with a touchdown in the waning seconds and provide the back door cover, lending even more credence to the Rise Up board.
The Pick: $110 on WSU
Arizona State at UCLA (ASU +13.5/-110, UCLA -13.5/-110): Talk about a mismatch. If anyone believed in game-to-game momentum (I don't, because college kids) they'd find it here. This is a contest between two teams careening in opposite directions. UCLA went on the road and poleaxed Arizona, while ASU was on the wrong end of a whipping at home. Now the two face eachother. Easy call right? I realize that last season doesn't carry a lot of weight, but a shaky (albeit 3-0) UCLA team rolled into Tempe as a four point favorite. They won by 35.
This year's UCLA team is better, while ASU appears to be a good bit worse. I keep saying it, and I'll say it again. Something is wrong with ASU, and it appears to go beyond the team on the field. Maybe they need to rehire Steve Patterson. Please rehire Steve Patterson. Every sign points to a UCLA laugher. Every time we expect UCLA to roll, they sputter. A let down spot for the Bruins plus desperation mode for ASU equals a tighter-than-it-should-be finish.
The Pick: $110 on ASU
Oregon at Colorado (Oregon -7.5/-105, Colorado +7.5/-115): This line opened at 12, and made its way down to a touchdown. If you'd told me three weeks ago that I could get Oregon at this price in this game, I'd have put up the titles to my cars, the note on my house and all of my kids' Legos in order to bet on Oregon. Hell, 5Dimes has Oregon at even money!
The Ducks are in that bin at the end of the driveway at your neighbor's garage sale. They're one of those items where the owner is basically saying, "Look, I know it says 50 cents on there, but let's just say I won't chase after you if you tuck Puddles into your jacket on the way back to the car." Aside: I know people out there insist on calling him "The Duck" but he'll always be Puddles to me. The Ducks are on sale, and I'm buying. In other words, run toward Colorado with both fists full.
The Pick: $315 on Oregon
Arizona at Stanford (Arizona +14/-110, Stanford -14/-110): It was just two weeks ago that I didn't think Stanford was very capable of scoring 14 points on offense in a single game. Now they're giving two full touchdowns to a decent Arizona team? Oh yeah, Arizona's mediocre quarterback may not play. Luckily they have a more than capable backup in Jarrard Randall, who was 4-16 for a whopping 45 yards in relief. The Wildcats will also be missing their best player on defense, as Scooby Wright is now out for an extended period.
Meanwhile, and I can't believe I'm writing this, Kevin Hogan is actually playing pretty damn well. As with the UCLA-ASU game, this is a matchup of two teams headed in opposite directions. It should continue Saturday. The only reason to pick against Stanford is this. I had no idea that trees had different genders, but I'm no dendrologist. Also, good luck avoiding that image when you close your eyes tonight.
The Pick: $110 on Stanford
Idaho at Arkansas State (Idaho +20/-110, Arkansas State -20/-110): A friend and fellow pretend-bettor reminded me yesterday that not only has Idaho failed to beat an FBS opponent this year, they also have yet to cover a spread. That's all the influence I need. It's also an excuse to blame him when Arkansas State takes a late safety to preserve a 39-20 win.
The Pick: $220 on the
Indians Red Wolves
Mississippi State at Texas A&M (MSU +6.5/-110, A&M -6.5/-110): The Bulldogs may have Dak Prescott, who is very good, but they have little else. The Bulldogs may have won at Auburn last week, but Auburn stinks. Do I think the Aggies will win the SEC West? I'll answer that question with a question. Have the Aggies ever won anything meaningful? The answer to both is "not really." A&M may have been lucky to escape with a win last week, but they'll win this one by double digits.
The Pick: $110 on Texas A&M
Other tempting games that you should keep an eye on but that I won't risk any pretend money on:
Alabama +2: Much like Oregon, 'Bama is on sale, and if the Bulldogs weren't my SEC mistress, I'd be emptying the savings account on Saban and Co.
West Virginina +6.5: The Mountaineers have flown a good bit under the radar so far this season, but they're greatly improved. Oklahoma appears to be improved also, but I think this game stays around a field goal.
Money Line Upset: I don't know why I continue to put myself through this, but what the hell. Even though Bert (sic) Bielema and the Hogs broke my heart last week, I'm tempted to take them (+235) over a reeling Tennessee squad. I had no idea that Tennessee hadn't beaten Florida since Josh Swogger was our quarterback. Boston College is also a candidate (+210), but that offense is really quite terrible.
In lieu of that, let's return to our college roots for this one. Iowa and Wisconsin are both decent-to-good teams this season. While Iowa hasn't exactly played a daunting schedule, they did make it through 4-0. The Badgers have been tested once, and got beaten badly by Alabama. Give me the Hawkeyes. And please, gambling gods, if you're going to make sure Wisconsin prevails, I simply ask that you make it quick and painless. I've suffered enough.
The Pick: $100 on Iowa (+230)
Let's see what you've got, CougCenter readers.