Week 7: the back half of the regular season. Things are starting to take shape and become familiar.
We have a rivalry game, in that Oklahoma/Texas matchup, an interesting game, with TCU playing anybody, and a symphony of sadness in the SEC.
Check out some of these spreads, heed my betting advice (or don’t), and then check out the best online sportsbooks.
ATS record (2017): 21-18.
TCU (-4.5) at Kansas State, Noon ET
I love this game, and I love this line, because TCU is a nightmare concoction that blew out up-tempo SMU and ended Oklahoma State’s run as darling underdog of the Big 12, while Kansas State is 1-2 in Big 12 play and making a big deal out of beating Baylor at home. I can’t overstate how impressed with TCU I’ve been recently, and how many times TCU has surprised me. They outdid Oklahoma State in a shootout, and implemented a defensive gameplan that confused West Virginia and Will Grier to the point of total futility. They have not lost a game, and covered much bigger spreads than this on the road against better teams.
My pick: Keep that TCU (-4.5) hype-train rolling, Gary Patterson.
South Carolina at Tennessee (-2.5), Noon ET
The meeting of two of the most maligned SEC teams for a chance to rescue a shred of respectability promises to be a corker. If anything, South Carolina has the better resume: they boat-raced Arkansas, gave Texas A&M a scare, and beat NC State in Week 1. Tennessee only has wins over UMass and Indiana State, and an overtime win over Georgia Tech to its name. You also have to think that Tennessee’s priority is surviving a trip to Tuscaloosa next week, and might be devoting their limited time to preparing for that.
I’ll take the points here, if only because I think that Tennessee is in something of a death spiral, and losing to South Carolina at home would be a fitting addition to that resume.
My pick: South Carolina (+2.5) to cover.
Texas vs Oklahoma (-8), 3:30 PM ET
Two things we know: Oklahoma isn’t immune to being dragged by the nostrils into a dumb rock fight that defies reasonable expectations, and Texas is real good at dragging opponents into dumb rock fights. Through five games, Texas has gone to overtime twice, once against then-Playoff-favorite USC and once against never-a-playoff-favorite Kansas State. This is also a rivalry game, and while I don’t normally subscribe to the “throw the records out” philosophy I also just finished watching Michigan State beat Michigan 14-10 in Ann Arbor.
Sam Ehlinger gets better every time I see him play, and he’s well on his way to being the third thing you can say after “Texas quarterback” that doesn’t make Longhorns fans wince.
My pick: Texas (+8) to cover, largely because of how overtime rules work.
Texas A&M at Florida (-3), 7:00 PM ET
I love the points here. Normally, I bet against any team that played against Alabama last week as a matter of principle, but Florida got fed through a similar woodchipper playing LSU, so we’ll call it a push. Florida has been skating by this year: those wins against Tennessee and Kentucky, while perfectly legal and right there in the record book, aren’t anything even a die-hard Florida fan wants to relive. Beating Vanderbilt, which was a thing for about two weeks there, is no longer the kind of achievement anyone’s eager to write home about.
Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford should be more effective against Florida than they were against Alabama, a thing you can say about pretty much every backfield in the country. Kellen Mond played extremely well against the Tide defense and did things he won’t have to do to beat Florida. The Aggie defense held Alabama’s rushing attack to fewer yards and points than they’re used to, a feat they should be extremely proud of. Florida’s offense remains up on felony fraud charges.
My Pick: Texas A&M (+3)
UCLA (EVEN) at Arizona, 9:00 PM ET
As much as I don’t trust UCLA, and I’ve been burned by betting on Josh Rosen to rack up points, this is a favorable line against a team that is not by any measure fantastic. Arizona has wins against UTEP (which fired its coach) and Colorado (which is firmly in a rebuilding year) plus a Week 1 blowout of Northern Arizona. Other than that they’ve been thoroughly unspectacular at 3-2, losing to Houston and Utah. This is exactly the kind of game that a single player can swing, and I love the line.
My pick: UCLA, and soon. This line opened with Arizona as the favorite and finding a bet at even money is tough now.
Boise State at San Diego State (-7), 10:30 PM ET
All San Diego State does is beat people to sleep, and while Boise’s been a fantastic Group of Five school for as long as I can remember, this team isn’t quite as hot as the ones that made the systems by which we name national champions feel a little silly. I love what San Diego State did against a Stanford team that’s proving to be one of the best power-running attacks in the country; I love that this is a home game for them; and I don’t buy that beating BYU makes you something SDSU can’t handle. That said, seven points is a big spread for SDSU, which relies on its running game and doesn’t tend to blow people out, especially the tougher teams on its schedule. Plus I harbor some respect for what Boise State can do. If SDSU was into racking up huge scores, I’d be eager to pick them, but the only teams they’ve truly blown out are UNLV and UC Davis.
I wish you could bet on the end time of a game, because there’s a really good chance that this one has people on the east coast getting kicked out of bars before it ends.
My pick: Boise State (+7) to cover.