Solon, after punting it behind his own ass in week one, came back strong with a 6-3 week last week to bring his season totals to 10-10--which, as he admits, is equal to random chance or the picks made by the monkey at the zoo. He's vowed to earn his status as America's most respected compulsive gambler this week with a bushel of fine picks. Watch out, monkeys.
Look out you Jane Goodall-kissing bitches--Solon's coming through.
Years ago, when my gambling career was in its infancy, I placed a $10 quinella bet on the 1989 Travers Stakes (this is a very prestigious horserace, for the uninitiated). And, as luck would have it, my bet (Easy Goer and Clever Trevor) hit, and I jumped out of my chair and celebrated like I'd just gotten laid for the first time.
The problem, as it turned out, was that I was watching the race at the house of a friend, who I'll call Gay F (largely because that's what we called him). And, of course, Gay F also had a bet on the race, but his was a $500 show bet on a horse by the name of Le Voyageur--who finished 5th in a 6 horse field, leaving my friend with a worthless ticket seconds after the horses crossed the finish line.
It must have been the combination of my celebration combined with his worthless ticket that got to Gay F, who proceeded to walk up to the television not 5 seconds after the race ended, and kick the fuck out of the picture tube. I mean, that son of a bitch must have been wearing steel-tipped shoes or something, because he just destroyed the fucker. It's all pretty vague, but I seem to recall a blinding flash of light, a puff of smoke, and then seeing a pissed-off Gay F looking like he was going to kick the shit out of me. I'm not sure what I did next but it must have been pretty crafty, because I'm still here to tell the tale.
For the record, that $10 bet of mine? It netted me an $8 profit.
What's the point of all this? I went 6-3 last week, but I've learned not to be too self-congratulatory when I have a good run.
So, after two weeks, being the good Libra that I am, I stand at 10-10 for the season, meaning that my picks have the same winning percentage as those of my 3-year-old niece (who, for the record, has never watched a game) and the monkey at the local zoo (who actually prefers the NFL).
On the plus side, all three of us have a higher winning percentage so far this season than HeismanPundit (just busting your balls a bit, HP, nothing personal). Perhaps I can separate myself from the pack this week. Here are 11 winners:
Oregon State (+13.5) v. LOUISVILLE
Louisville has caught some remarkable breaks this season. Their team is markedly worse than they were last season, but they will still be favored in all of their games by double digits. In fact, if they get through this game, it appears that the game at West Virginia is the only potential stumbling block. That said, they might be up against it here.
Kentucky QB Woodson--a rather pedestrian QB--had a great game against the Louisville D; Oregon State's passing game is quite a bit better. Former UCLA QB Moore looked good LW against Boise and WR Haas is a ridiculous producer. OSU also ran the ball a bit LW against Boise, which was a bit of a surprise, and can only help them here. Louisville's O seemed to be working out the kinks against UK, and they face a pretty good D here; OSU only gave up 369 yds to a high-powered Boise team that is probably not too much worse than the Louisville O at this stage, and they will probably have the most athletic D that Louisville faces this season. I do not think they will be able to score enough points to overcome the spread here.
Toledo (-29) v. TEMPLE
I feel like a fool for not betting Wisconsin last week. This Temple team is a nightmare, and as long as they are playing teams that can score they will be in pointspread trouble. Toledo beat Temple LY 45-17; this year they are better and Temple is worse. Temple's O is offensive only in that it offends; they are averaging 8 pts and 160 yds per game. Toledo's D might be worse than the ones they have been facing (although, Wisc gave up 42 pts to BG and ASU gave up 35 pts to LSU, so these are likely not great D's), but they tend to score a lot of points (Amstutz's teams have averaged 34, 35, 32, and 33 ppg, and they have scored 62 and 56 points in their games this season); I would guess that the Toledo O will more than compensate for any points that the D gives up. My only concern is that with a game against Fresno on deck, Toledo may not be fully focused. Hell, I'm still trying to figure out how this line has dropped from 30 points.
BOSTON COLLEGE (+1) v. Florida State
Florida State's O is rubbish, and playing the BC D will not help matters at all. BC's D gave up only 17 ppg and 333 ypg LY, and they are improved this season; admittedly, they have only played BYU and Army, but they have only given up a TD and a FG in these two games. There is some comparison of this game to the FSU-UVa game a year ago, which is I think is misplaced. BC under O'Brien tends not to get overwhelmed in the face of superior talent; witness their 6-2 record straight up as a 'dog the last two seasons. FSU has a strong D, but BC's QB Porter is playing well, and should be able to produce. Given the state of FSU's O, I would guess 17 points will be enough to win this game, and BC should be able to get to that number.
Michigan State (+6.5) v. NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame has been a nice story thus far this season, but I think it has been overblown. Pitt, as it turns out, is not any good. The game at Michigan, while impressive, was pretty fortunate; RB Hart's injury probably did Michigan in, and even then they needed Henne to have the worst game of his career to squeeze out a win (a fact that was probably not unconnected to Hart's absence). Add to this that I think Michigan was generally overrated, and all is not as impressive as it appears. MSU's O is pretty incredible, and has been since midseason LY. Through the first 4 games LY (which included games against weak Cent Mich and Indiana Ds), they averaged 380 ypg; in the last 8 games, they averaged 500 ypg. This year, the O has returned 8 starters and has not missed a beat, averaging 583 ypg. They should be able to exploit the ND D in a way that Pitt and a Hart-less Michigan were not able. Add to this the inevitable letdown after a big win at Michigan and I am looking for MSU to get the outright win this week.
UCLA (-6) v. Oklahoma
My only problem with this game is that the line has shifted too much since the start of the season. Before the season, I placed a bet on UCLA +7 and it has already shifted a full 13 points in 2 weeks. Even so, UCLA should not have too much trouble covering this number. Oklahoma's O consists of pretty much RB Peterson; while UCLA's Run D was weak LY, they appear to have improved some this season, and given that they do not have to worry about any sort of passing attack (85 ypg passing for OU this season), they should stuff OU's O with ease. UCLA's O is considerably better than those of TCU or Tulsa, and while OU's D has looked pretty good against those teams, they will show some cracks here and UCLA should light it up.
NEBRASKA (-10) v. Pittsburgh
First things first--neither of these teams has any O. The difference is that Nebraska's D will set up their O and they will be able to cover this number. How bad is Pitt's O? Last week, they were unable to score an offensive TD against Ohio, against whom NW had scored 38 points the week prior. The Nebraska D held a good Wake Forest O to 251 yards last week. Nebraska's O also looked better last week than they did the week before against Maine, and I expect their continued improvement against Pitt. Pitt, on the other hand, looked worse on O in week 2 than it did in week 1, and now they are playing a solid D that has it's shit together. I look for the Nebraska D to set up the O with short fields after punts and TOs and for the Nebraska O to create a lot of points without a lot of yards as they did last week.
Miami (Ohio) (-6) v. KENT
I don't know what the hell is going on with Miami (O), but I am not ready to give up on them yet and they provide great line value here. Miami(O)'s defeat to CMU was largely down to their inept Pass D, but Kent will likely not be able to exploit this weakness. This season Kent has been rolled by Michigan State, and defeated SE Missouri State 33-12, a game in which they only gained 218 yards on offense. Of their 4 TD's, one was defensive, and two were scored after 38 and 29 yard drives. Miami (O) will likely not be as charitable this week. Miami(O)'s O has been productive, and QB Betts did well last week; I am guessing that Kent's inept O will not be able to keep up with them.
Rutgers (-21.5) v. BUFFALO
Buffalo has already lost to two Big East teams this season. UConn beat them 38-0, and Syracuse beat them 31-0. I rate Rutgers higher than either of these teams. Rutgers D is not as strong as UConn or Syracuse, but with the ineptitude of the Buffalo O this season (130 ypg, and, obviously, no points) I expect them to score, but not too many. The Rutgers O, on the other hand, is much stronger than that of either UConn or Syracuse. QB Hart threw for over 3000 yds LY and returns all of his leading receivers. I think the Rutgers L to Illinois pissed them off and will help keep them focused here. They will win handily as Buffalo will pack it in, waiting instead for MAC play to give their best effort.
KANSAS (-14) v. Louisiana Tech
Kansas bit me in the ass a few weeks back, but I will give them another shot here. LT is a team in rebuilding mode, and their performance against Florida indicated this. LT will find the going easier this week, particularly on D, but their O should be overwhelmed. Fla Atl was able to exploit the Kansas D through the air, but LT does not have a strong enough pass O to challenge them. Kansas' RBs should be able to gain yards against a weakened LT D; witness UF's improved performance against them after a poor performance against Wyoming.
GEORGIA (-38) v. Louisiana-Monroe
As I have said previously, I rarely bet on or against the Dawgs. It takes something special and that is what exists here. Georgia's O will be pissed off after a poor performance LW and will be looking to get the offense back on track. The Georgia D has been strong this season, and against a La-Monroe O that starts 5 sophomores on the OL, they should not have too much trouble here. Keep in mind that the La-Monroe O was shut out by Wyoming's fairly average D LW--gaining only 190 yards in the process--and previously had lost to Div 1-AA Northwestern State. With only a game against Miss State on deck, the Dawgs should be focused on this game and roll to a big win.
MISSOURI (-20.5) v. Troy State
Missouri is not a particularly good team but Troy is much worse. Troy lost to UAB at home LW 27-7, and the game was not even that close. Troy has serious problems on O (averaging only 232 ypg against UAB and Cal-Poly); for all of Mizzou's problems, their D has played fairly well. Mizzou's primary problem LW against NMex was TOs on O, and unless they turn the ball over a lot again here they should handle Troy's D with ease. Eventually the lines will catch up with how bad Troy is this season but they have not as of yet.
Other games of note:
CLEMSON (+7) v. Miami (Florida)
I would lean toward Clemson here; they defeated Miami on the road LY (there was nothing fluky about the win either; it was deserved), and they appear better this season. Miami is still working out the kinks on O, and I think if this game were later in the season they might have a shot here. At this point, though, it appears the only weapon they have on O is TE Olsen, who will probably not be enough. While Miami's D is strong, I do not think they will be able to shut down the improved Clemson O, and I would take Clemson at home with the points.
FLORIDA (-5.5) v. Tennessee
This game was a much better bet earlier in the week when the line was only 3 1/2 points. As is, I like Florida here, but I am hesitant about giving all of these points in what should be a competitive game, so it is only a lean instead of a play. I think Florida was probably the better team LY, and the end of the game 'incident' last season will probably serve as motivation for the Gators as well.
Last but not least, Orson and Stranko said that if I did not pick the Gators against the Vols that I could take this column and stick it up my sphincter. So the Gators it is then.