A solid week and back to exactly .500 for the year. Not. Good. Enough.

Week 9 Review: 3-2. Winners: Rutgers -1.5, Arizona +21.5, and Auburn -3. Losers: Nebraska -7.5 and Texas-Baylor over 61.5 (BB).

Sark’s offense really let the best bet down. Just 10 points over the last 3 quarters and a failed drive to tie it left us just short. I won’t waste your time defending my call to risk hard-earned money on Nebraska finding a way not to lose in dispiriting fashion. Back to exactly .500 on the year for the first time, and unfortunately that comes out to a 5% loss thanks to the juice. Time to start a strong finishing month plus.

The same themes hang over this week’s slate that have persisted virtually all season. Is it finally time to buy Clemson low? Their first cover of the season (and that’s only with a good line, lots of first pushes out there) couldn’t have been any more of a fluke, so they’re still asking for a leap of faith. Do we keep betting against lame duck and interim staffs? What worked for Arizona at USC (with a significant assist from the Drake London injury) could now be expanded to a few more teams with Big 12 coaches in Texas being let go left and right. Do the initial CFP rankings light a fire under teams felt disrespected? Could they further motivate style points across the board as “undefeated P5” was not treated as de facto worthy? Or does the cynicism of the committee prove prophetic as the calendar turn ends up being the end of some dream seasons? Answers:

Bet 1: Liberty +9.5 (-115) at Ole Miss (11:00am CT, SECN; all odds via PointsBet)

You have to go back to November of 2019 for the last time Liberty lost a game by more than 3 points. This is not to diminish what Ole Miss is capable of in this game, but Liberty is every bit of the opponent a spread this small on the road vs a top-15 SEC team suggests it is. There’s the Hugh Freeze plotline of course, but there’s also the Corral-Willis first round pick QB tryout. Ultimately this is going to be a back and forth game where the offenses cancel each other out making the 10 point win too tough for Kiffin’s group.

Bet 2: North Carolina -2.5 vs Wake Forest (11:00am CT, ABC)

The relevant portion of history repeating itself in this game comes close to my heart. It was my own upstart, Northwestern, that came in at #8 in the initial CFP rankings last year (Wake is #9). We proceeded to immediately slip up at a poor Michigan State team. This Wake team looks headed to a familiar fate, but in a lot less surprising fashion as UNC is nowhere near the 13-point underdog MSU was. The Deacs were barely getting by in the 3 weeks preceding last Saturday’s blowout of Duke, against mid-tier ACC teams, and giving up 8 touchdowns to Army. UVA blew Duke away and crashed back to reality against BYU. Expect Wake to do the same here. All good things must come to an end. The ACC’s minute CFP chances are meeting theirs.

Bet 3: Navy +21 (-115) at Notre Dame (2:30pm CT, NBC)

Navy firing their offensive coordinator two games into the season may have seemed brash at the time, this is the US Naval Academy, not some booster-driven football factory after all, but in hindsight the move looks shrewd. Navy was lifeless and getting embarrassed by Marshall and Air Force. Since then they’ve played the top of the AAC in Houston, SMU and Cincinnati all to one score games. They don’t have to keep it that tight in South Bend, but they will shoreten the game enough to cover three TD’s.

Bet 4: USC at Arizona St under 61 (9:30pm CT, ESPN)

The loss of Drake London is nothing short of devastating to USC’s offense. There’s talent in his wake, but it is very green. On the other side you have mounting frustration in Tempe. In consecutive games they’ve been manhandled by the middle of the Pac-12 in Utah and Washington St. This could devolve into a lack of defense affair, but is more likely an ugly game full of missed opportunities with the winner not going past the low 30’s, and the distinct possibility at least one is so sloppy they can’t muster more than 14 or so points.

Best Bet: Arkansas -4.5 vs Mississippi St (3:00pm CT, SECN)

This is a wonderful spot for the Razorbacks. They come in as healthy and grounded as possible after a double-bye of the SEC’s traditional November FCS game, taken a month early, and then a literal bye. Rusty? Maybe for a series or two. Leach’s crew comes in off an impressive home win against then 12th-ranked Kentucky. Now it is MSU feeling 3-loss-love from the CFP committee having to travel in the division vs a team that was itself a media darling five weeks ago, but now sits in waiting ready to knockoff a current one. MSU thinks they’ve cracked a code with running success against Kentucky, but time and again Barry Odom’s defenses have risen to the occasion, and this week will be no exception. This should end up 31-10ish.

Good luck to all! If all we’re down is the juice, the solution is 5-0 and not having to pay any.

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