AAAAAAAAND WE ARE BACK! After eight long months of winter, college football is here and we are matriculating toward our happy place.
I sure hope those eight months went by quicker for you than they did for us! We bought a house in Florida while still overseas, moved back to the USA from Europe, put a kid in high school, and are in the midst of swapping out countertops, carpet, a gunite pool liner, kitchen cabinets, overhead lights and about 973 light switches. Oh, and did I mention that our household goods, which were due to arrive no later than August 29th - and which contain more than 300 bottles of the finest Belgian beer - still aren’t here? As the late, great Dave Niehaus used to say, “It just continues, My oh my!”
But while there is still much work to be done on those fronts, the upside is that we bought a new TV set and Traeger grill, and are locked & loaded for the first big week of college football season! We’re even going to hook up an old TV that already arrived so we can watch two picks go down in flames at the same time! Ain’t it great??!!
tl;dr You shouldn’t care about any of that because college football is here and everything is gonna be alright!
So as legendary late night talk show host Arsenio Hall was fond of saying after John B. laid down some old school funk, “LET’S. GET. BUSY!”
Last Week: 6-4
“Hang on, 6-4? I don’t recall any game picks last week, just some season totals and props. This whole column is rigged! Vanquish the vig!”
Well initially we were 0-1, as the Under play in the Nebraska v. Northwestern game crashed and burned.
The Gamble-Tron can't miss a chance to get some Week Zero action. Northwestern v. Nebraska under 52.5. Go fightin' Hilinskis.— PJ Kendall ✈ ⚰ (@Deathby105) August 27, 2022
HOWEVA, the day was just getting started! Here’s where I let you peek behind the CougCenter curtain. The following exchange took place between Jeff and me Saturday afternoon (Jeff’s comments in bold, some conversation edited for brevity/clarity):
What are you doing right now as in: do you have time to write? But it would need to be right now.
Sitting in front of Lowe’s watching my kid sell overpriced popcorn for boy scouts.
Can you type on your phone? Basically, we’re doing a How To Watch post today and I can do a bunch of the nuts and bolts if you’ll provide a little betting analysis.
I can try, but won’t promise anything. I can do a paragraph per game if I know what they are, but fair warning - I’ve never done an article from a phone.
So, as usual, Jeff did 90% of the work and I BS’d my way through the rest while listening to my teenager recite his best salted caramel corn sales pitch to people who just wanted to buy some grout cleaner and get the hell out of there.
Turns out that 10% effort translated to a 6-3 record! The lesson, as always, is to only apply yourself to the minimum extent possible, and things will probably work out anyway.
Best call of the weekend: Vanderbilt Commodores (-9) at Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
We get island action right out the gate! Too bad it’s not one of those famed midnight kicks. Hawaii has emerged from the Todd Graham disaster down but not out, as program legend Timmy Chang took the reins after, let’s just call it a tumultuous coaching search. As Rece Davis said, if you’re the road team at Hawaii, and it’s close late, don’t count on any friendly calls from the guys in stripes. We don’t think this will be close late. ‘Dores by double digits. ANCHOR DOWN!
Two minutes into the game, Hawaii led 7-0. 20 Minutes into the game, Vandy led just 14-10. The Commodores scored all of the game’s next SEVEN TOUCHDOWNS for a 63-10 win.
Worst Call of the weekend: UConn Huskies at Utah St. Aggies (-24)
Another chance to bet against Jim Mora? Where do I sign?! Then again, Utah State hasn’t won an opener in at least three years. I certainly don’t recall its 2021 opener! The Aggies leaned heavily on the transfer market this year, and Gary Anderson knows what he’s doing. Jim Mora...doesn’t. Aggies in a rout.
So yeah, this looked terrible, then looked possibly salvageable, then crashed and burned. Utah State was so excited to play that it stormed from the tunnel and promptly fell behind 14-0. The second quarter was a different story, as the Aggies scores 24 in a row. Hope! That quickly morphed to Nope! as UConn would close the gap to 24-20 in the fourth quarter.
Gut punch of the weekend: In the first episode of “shoulda, woulda, coulda” for 2022, the Florida State line was originally around 35, but had ballooned to 41.5 by kickoff. We laid the points anyway, and things were looking good, as the ‘Noles led 33-0 early in the 3rd quarter. But as is often the case in paycheck games like this, FSU put the governor on the offense and coasted to a 47-7 win. COME ON, NORVELL, THINK OF US DEGENERATES WHEN CALLING AN OFFENSE FOR GOD’S SAKE.
So now that we’ve consumed the appetizer, let’s get to the first of several main courses!
All odds courtesy of DraftKings, and are (-110) unless otherwise noted.
Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Arizona State Sun Devils (-25)
Fun Fact: Northern Arizona’s coach is Chris Ball, who has been an assistant on WSU’s staff three different times in the past 20 years, and ran ASU’s defense from 2012-2015. On Thursday, Ball will try and make it a two-game winning streak over the state’s Pac-12 teams. I’d love to see it, but I just don’t see it.
The Pick: ASU
Colorado is going to be bad this year. Real, real bad. Not Jon Embree bad, so that’s something, I guess? TCU is in a transition from Gary Patterson to Pac-12 washout Sonny Dykes, who went from one side of the Iron Skillet war to the other. TCU returns nearly all of its production, while Colorado lost several key players to transfer.
The Pick: Antlered Amphibians
Bowling Green Falcons at UCLA Bruins (-23.5)
UCLA begins its Bataan Death March-like gantlet through the non-conference schedule with a visit from the team that doesn’t even know whether its school is in Ohio or Kentucky. The Bruins have a star-studded backfield with Zach Charbonnet and Dorian Thompson Robinson, who is still in Westwood after assuming the starter’s role upon Cade McNown’s departure. Over the past few days, this line has sunk below the key number of 24, and that’s more than enough for us to lock in the powder blues, even though BGSU returns nearly all of its production.
The Pick: U-C-LLLLLL-A / Over 57
Maaaaaan, I really wish this had a hook on the end of it. Oregon has lots of talent, but when compared to Georgia, not so much! Then there’s the quarterback situation, where if there’s one thing Oregon has going for it, the starter is rather familiar with facing the Bulldogs. Then again, said QB Bo Nix is 0-3 against UGa, completing just 56% of his passes for (4.99 YPA) with one touchdown and two interceptions. Yikes. It’s really darn hard to see Nix having a lot of success against that defense, but 17 feels like too many points.
The Pick: Oregon / Under 52.5
Arizona Wildcats at San Diego State Aztecs (-6)
Sure, Arizona is better, especially at quarterback, but that isn’t saying much given where it was last year. Jedd Fisch is raising the bar on the recruiting trail as well, which will pay off around 2024. And even though the Aztecs lost a ton of production while unfortunately not losing Brady Hoke as their coach, they absolutely live for these games against Pac-12 opponents. Plus, NOBODY WALKS INTO THE NEWLS-CHRISTENED SNAPDRAGON STADIUM AND SAUNTERS AWAY WITH A VICTORY!
The Pick: Aztecs
Rice Owls at USC Trojans (-32.5)
This line has dropped 1.5 points in a couple days, because, uh, I have no idea why. For its sake, USC better hope that 2022 was the greatest training camp in history due to this:
By my count, USC has 19 transfers in their two-deep. Incredible. https://t.co/17s7WFQkSk— Max Olson (@max_olson) September 1, 2022
As Lee Corso would say, YO. That’s a lot of new faces that need to gel rather quickly! It’s also the main reason we don’t think USC will take over the conference just yet. But on this day, they’re playing Rice.
The Pick: USC
Utah returns a lot of key players, especially in the offensive backfield. We’ve even seen the Utes pop up on a lot of College Football Playoff forecasts. Yes, Utah will be a tough out this year, and yes, it’ll have a say in the conference title race. But man, something about Utah hints at a bit of a letdown season, if 9-10 wins could be considered such. The Gators are in a big transition also, having played musical chairs with the head coaching position throughout the last decade plus. The Utes are the better team, but I just can’t lat a field goal here.
The Pick: The Ghost of Mr. Two Bits
Kent State Golden Flashes at Washington Huskies (-23)
One thing in Washington’s favor - this year’s opening opponent isn’t from the Big Sky, so the test shouldn’t be nearly as tough. But Washington is breaking in its fourth head coach in four seasons, and will be missing starting tackle Jaxson Kirkland. Even though Kent State returns precious little production (117th in FBS), it has a system in place that has produced three straight winning records.
The Pick: The one of these two schools at which Don James didn’t commit NCAA violations, maybe
Sneaky-compelling game in Corvallis, which will take place in front of like 17 people while Oregon State renovates half of its stadium. The Beavs have the most hope for a decent season in some time, but they didn’t make it easy on themselves with two straight games against upper-tier Mountain West teams. The thought here is that Boise State isn’t the small school juggernaut it once was. We base that on nothing other than the fact that Andy Avalos has no idea what he’s doing.
The Pick: Benny
Three for the Road
How do you know when there are only like three CFP title contenders? When a top five team is a 17-point dog! Not enough!
The Pick: Brutus
Illinois Illini at Indiana Hoosiers (-1.5)
We were kinda bummed that we didn’t jump on this when Illinois was getting a field goal, but we have to get involved, because Illinois has a game under its belt, and Indiana is a bad football team.
The Pick: Illinois money line (+100)
Let’s go to Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman for the crucial matchup in Saturday’s game. That of...iced tea vs. liquor?
WATCH: Sam Pittman on Week 1 "You gotta figure out what they're bringing to the party. Some guys bring ice tea, and some guys bring liquor. You just got to figure out what they're bringing" https://t.co/Em66ALgXVE pic.twitter.com/2W2PeHDqxS— Pig Trail Nation (@PigTrailNation) August 29, 2022
Side note: If you ever show up for a party at my house with iced tea, just drive on by. What were we talking about?
The Pick: Woo Pig
Happy Gambling. See you on the Twitters.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.