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Pac-12 Football Odds and Picks: The Gamble-Tron, Week Two

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Good first week, but we can’t overreact.

Jeff Bridges, John Goodman And Steve Buscemi In A Scene From The Movie The Big Lebowski Photo by Mondadori via Getty Images

Welcome back to the 4.75 faithful readers of this weekly exercise in futility COLUMN THAT IS GUARANTEED TO LINE YOUR POCKETS WITH CASH! Listen to us and you’ll never have to work again! For at least six days anyway!

Ok, enough of that. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that reading too much into the opening week of the season is a fool’s errand. Well, unless you’re reacting to our favorite team, in which case every bit of derision is justifiable. But as far as gambling goes, it’s important to keep a level head and realize that we’re in this thing through the new year. One good week is fun, but that is (almost certainly) not a reason to think that we can just set the cruise control and watch the balance sheet increase.

Additionally, we’ve noticed that lots and lots of folks we go to for tips and advice also had really good weeks, and ain’t no way the oddsmakers are gonna let that continue. The first two weeks of the season usually represent the two best shots at sticking it to the oddsmakers, first off because we don’t really know much about anyone outside of teams like Alabama, Ohio State and UConn. Then some folks tend to swing wildly in the second week, after having only seen a team once (or twice in rare cases like UCLA). Therefore, we have to carefully pick our way through the sheet, in order to try and smoke out the lines that look a tad irrational. Let’s give it a try, shall we?

Why I’m a genius

/points to scoreboard

There were definitely some moments of luck, particularly with the LSU/UCLA total, (won by half a point) and moments of outright prescience, such as when we told you how good Alabama’s defense is. Their offense performed like it normally does, hanging 44 on the hapless ‘Canes, but our ticket went to the window because the Tide defense held Miami to 13 measly points. Related: How many of these ass-kickings is it going to take for a coach/AD to politely decline when Alabama calls, asking for an opening weekend matchup?

I certainly didn’t foresee Mississippi State needing 21 straight points just to beat Louisiana Tech. Another round on the Leach rollercoaster down there! As far as the Pac-12, #fadethenorth is primed to become a season-long trend, as Oregon was the only team to win (BUT NOT COVER!!!) among the six teams. Heck, even the Ducks woulda coulda lost. And one of the bummers about living overseas (a very minor one) is following games on Twitter after they conclude, and reading about how great they were. In this case, it was Florida State pulling a late rally to beat the 7.5-point line, giving us a lucky 13th win.

Why I’m an idiot

The first time I saw what I believed to be a decidedly poor WSU team favored over anyone (even one of the MWC’s worst outfits) by more that two touchdowns, I told myself that the underdog was the obvious play. Hell, I even wrote Utah State in! Then, like high a school freshman dancing close to a girl for the first time, stuff happened and our train of thought went high and right.

I also watched that UCLA line tick, tick, tick down and - using actual gambling strategy - jumped on LSU at -3 in order to fade the public. That game taught me two things: 1) I was right to be bullish on UCLA this season, and 2) Ed Orgeron is Gene Chizik 2.0. It also re-affirmed my idiot status because I took UCLA under 7 wins despite the fact that I thought they’d be pretty good.

Last Week: 13-3

Reader Results:

  • .:R: 3-4 (dagger on that Gophers game)
  • BothwaysUphill: 5-3
  • cougman the II: 7-4 (I admire the chutzpah on the money line prediction)

And away we go.

Oregon Ducks at Ohio State Buckeyes (-14)

Had to shop around to find a line that wasn’t at least 14.5 (h/t South Point!). Let’s see here, Oregon’s best player will likely watch from the sideline, and it’s Ohio State’s first game in front of one of the nation’s least friendly group of fans. Bad combo for the Ducks, who weren’t very impressive last week.

The Pick: Script Ohio

California Golden Bears at TCU Horned Frogs (-10.5)

Cal is about what we expected. That’s not good if you’re a Cal fan. Am I supposed to believe that they’re gonna go to the Texas heat and outlast a pretty good TCU team? After Nevada held them to three points over the final three quarters? Yes, yes I am. Frogs win, but Cal kicks down the back door.

The Pick: Golden Bears

Texas A&M Aggies (-16.5) at Colorado Buffaloes

Kinda stinks for the Buffs that the game is in Denver and not Boulder. I assume this is because the hayseeds from College Station could only get the wagon trains as far as the hub.

The Pick: Jimbo’s hair plugs

Washington Huskies at Michigan Wolverines (-7)

Speaking of overreactions (or maybe appropriate reactions?), this line was about 1-2 points before the opening weekend’s games. It seems that the oddsmakers didn’t watch the Husky offense play at all, or this line might be three touchdowns. No idea why, but I like Washington to at least keep this one close.

The Pick: Huskies / Under 49

San Diego State Aztecs at Arizona Wildcats (-2)

Neither of these teams had impressive debuts. Arizona struggled (but beat the spread!) against BYU, while SDSU trailed perennially downtrodden New Mexico State 10-0 at halftime before rallying for a 28-10 win. Oh, and I just learned that Brady Hoke is coaching the Aztecs again! I assume I knew that at some point. Anyway, I just have trouble with laying points on the Wildcats right now.

The Pick: San Diego State

Utah Utes (-7) at BYU Cougars

If this series were a decent rivalry, BYU would have won at some point in the last decade. Nope. The Utes have won nine in a row, and BYU hasn’t won whatever trophy comes with this game (figured it was an old white guy doing something “noble” but apparently it’s an old boot) since 2009. Tough call here, but I’ll take the points in a low scoring battle.

The Pick: The Y

UNLV at Arizona State Sun Devils (-32)

UNLV is bad. UNLV is really, really bad. How bad? Marcus Arroyo is their coach. Why does that make UNLV bad? You saw what Justin Herbert did once the stink of Arroyo wore off. Case closed.

The Pick: ASU

Stanford Cardinal at USC Trojans (-17)

I didn’t read through David Shaw’s post ass-kicking comments, but I assume he blamed his team’s garbage performance on the early wakeup call. Whatever. USC didn’t exactly look like a world-beater last week, but the Trojans were playing a far better team than they will be this week.

The Pick: USC

Hawaii Rainbows at Oregon State Beavers (-11)

Speaking of trying to avoid overreactions, it’s taking all of my will power to not go “two fists full” to the window and bet against that grease fire of a team that Todd Graham has on his hands. Then again, OSU didn’t exactly shine against a bad Purdue team, failing to beat 7-point spread and giving up over 400 yards to a moribund offense. I just can’t lay double digits with the next-to-worst team in the Pac-12 North yet.

The Pick: Hawaii

Ball State Cardinals at Penn State Nittany Lions (-23)

Penn State really gutted out a win in Camp Randall last week. But as much as Penn State won it, Wisconsin lost it. And Ball State is pretty good.

The Pick: BallU

Texas Longhorns (-6.5) at Arkansas Razorbacks

An old Southwest Conference rivalry renewed! The ‘Horns were impressive last week, while Arkansas was not. That’s not the reason I’m picking Texas here. I’m picking Texas because it has a chance to be pretty damn good, and I don’t think the Hogs are good. At all.

The Pick: Hook ‘em

Air Force Fighting Falcons at Navy Midshipmen (Total - 41)

Service Academy principle play.

The Pick: Under

Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Oklahoma State Cowboys (-12.5)

Okie State isn’t that good, but Tulsa is ghastly.

The Pick: Pokes

N.C. State Wolfpack (-1.5) at Mississippi State Bulldogs

A Mike Leach team facing a Power Five non-conference opponent? This was definitely scheduled before he showed up. Also, N.C. State is much better than MSU.

The Pick: Pack

Staff Picks