ATS record (2017): 10-5. Looking forward to regressing to the mean.
Saturday, September 16th
UCLA (-3) at Memphis
UCLA’s exceeding all expectations this year. Josh Rosen led the Bruins to a hilarious, improbable comeback against Texas A&M and torched a Hawaii team that put up 515 yards for nothing. Memphis has played one game, a 37-29 win against ULM that should have been a blowout, and host UCLA with an inexperienced secondary, a defense that is certainly not one of the best in the nation, and (somehow) a three-point spread. I googled “is Josh Rosen dead” when I saw this line* and would jump on it.
My pick: UCLA (-3).
I’d be okay with a six-point line on this game, and while I don’t do “lock of the week” if I had to this would be it.
Clemson (-3) at Louisville
Maybe you watched Lamar Jackson tear UNC to pieces last week and are thinking, okay, the boy’s back. Maybe you watched Clemson’s 14-6 win over Auburn (though I sincerely hope you didn’t) and you’re thinking that this Clemson offense can’t hang with Louisville.
I’d like to point out that Jackson struggles against stout defensive fronts, and pretty much nobody is stouter than Clemson. Against a far better offensive line, the Tigers sacked Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham 11 times. Stidham played no small part in posting that number, and Lamar Jackson is anything but statuesque, but still: 11 sacks.
Louisville’s big, gaudy numbers in Week 2 came against the UNC defense, not the most vaunted unit in college football. Jackson won’t be as successful against Clemson, and Clemson (even without Deshaun Watson) has what it takes to pull off a close win here.
My pick: Clemson (-3).
Tennessee at Florida (-5.5)
You could not pay me to watch this game. Florida’s offense has been a wet blanket since 2009-ish and has put up some seriously bad performances this year. Watching this team flounder against Michigan taught me what “ennui” means.
That said, Tennessee hasn’t exactly been iron-clad, coming very close to losing to Georgia Tech in overtime. The Florida defense is certainly good enough to rein-in this offense, and from there you don’t need much from Florida’s backfield to get a cover. The Gators Week 2 game was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma, and they get all the stars they suspended in Week 1 back. Antonio Callaway and Jordan Scarlett could make this Gator offense almost watchable!
My pick: Florida (-5.5).
Florida to cover, nobody at all to watch.
LSU (-7) at Mississippi State
The one thing LSU needed to be a real threat in the SEC West was offense. Les Miles produced a string of teams with elite, Dave Aranda-coordinated defenses that fell short with unimaginative, overly conservative offenses. Under the new regime, with Matt Canada bringing some life to the LSU attack, the Tigers have flourished. They outperformed expectations in Week 1, burying BYU 27-0. They put up 45 points against Chattanooga last week, and while I understand that was Chattanooga, the fact remains: LSU can move the ball. That should terrify you.
The Tigers travel to Starkville favored by a touchdown over the Bulldogs. Despite Mississippi State’s heroics against Charleston Southern and LA Tech, they’ll have their hands full getting anything going against LSU.
My pick: LSU (-7).
Purdue at Missouri (-7)
It is my professional opinion that Purdue football is actually kind of good. I only have so much time until I’m fired for saying that, so let’s make this quick.
Go watch the Louisville game. For the most part, Purdue keeps Lamar Jackson in check, and more than once Bobby Petrino has to adjust the offense to account for a Purdue defense that was stronger than he thought. The Purdue offense was capable of finding holes in the questionable Louisville defense, and the game was decided by seven points, far fewer than most expected.
Missouri’s season hasn’t been so encouraging. After allowing Missouri State to score 43 points, and getting plunked by South Carolina 31-13, the Tigers fired their defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross. Yup, right there in Week 2. Missouri officials haven’t exactly said why Cross was fired, although they deny that it has anything to do with on-field performance. Whatever the case may be, a defensive staff shakeup this early in the season is bound to cause some kind of a regression, which is (partly) why you should take the points here.
My pick: Purdue (+7).
I feel weird writing that down.
Stanford (-9.5) at San Diego State
I’m not sure why Stanford/SDSU opened at -8, but it happened, and then I made a noise that had all my coworkers looking at me funny, and now the line’s moved to a still somewhat silly -9.5.
Stanford didn’t play incredibly well in its loss to USC, but held up okay and ran the ball well in some spots. SDSU is not USC. Christian Chapman is not Sam Darnold. Rashaad Penny is closer to, but still not, Ronald Jones II.
Stanford’s also made a point this year of pummelling inferior opponents. The Rice game, played in Australia for whatever reason and the perfect excuse to take a holiday, was a 62-7 beat down. This is not a team that likes to take days off or ease off the gas; this a team that like to execute, scoreboard and unwritten rules of human decency be damned.
My pick: Stanford (-9.5)
Cardinal to cover, and big.