That was an ugly set of Week 6 picks. LSU’s last minute pick-six salvaged 2-3, -2.6. Heavy ACC favorites were not the way, as my Clemson blunder could have been substituted out for Florida St or Miami with the same results. Army should have beaten Boston College, but instead of whining about a one-dimensional Castellanos offense repeatedly costing me, I’ll just deny them future opportunities (WSU third loser, Michigan other winner). At least I’m not the guy with a $50k parlay payout needing Mario Cristobal to [checks notes], simply kneel out the last 50 seconds, and ending up with nothing. The season tally of just over .500 record, but losing nearly two units has sparked a recommitment to the Best Bet press that has been anything but (chronological, best bet aside).
Bet 1: Cincinnati -4.5 (-110) vs Iowa St (11:00am CT Sat 10/14, FS1; all odds via FanDuel)
I remain a sucker for the bye. Cincinnati is coming off theirs at home, Iowa St will be entering theirs after Saturday. The Cyclones vary as heavily as anyone when it comes to home/road splits having just beaten TCU by two TD’s in Ames, but losing 10-7 at Ohio University in September. This is a must-win spot for Satterfield in year one. The rest of Cincy’s schedule is very beatable (no Texas or Texas Tech, already played Oklahoma), falling to 0-3 in B12 play off a bye would be Cristobalian malpractice. Bearcats win by a 10+ to start a sprint to a 7-8 win regular season.
Bet 2: Alabama -20.5 (-105) vs Arkansas (11:00am CT Sat 10/14, ESPN)
For some reason it seems like Alabama plays better in the 11am home starts than the afternoon or evening kicks, especially so as a heavy favorite. The timing is just too right to pass on a home blowout. Arkansas has been fighting hard away from home and this is the last of four straight games away from Fayetteville. They played LSU and Ole Miss within one possession in their last two road games and it’s just too big an ask to expect them to put up enough points for a cover. Alabama is hitting their rhythm under Jalen Milroe, realizing that short throws are a waste of time that he’s inaccurate at, and just letting him air it out. The offense will look a lot sharper against a non-Aggie D-line. 38-6, 41-10, something like that.
Bet 3: Maryland -13.5 (-110) vs Illinois (2:30pm CT Sat 10/14, NBC)
Illinois has been unwatchable for most of 2023, now they get to check NBC off as the latest broadcaster to subject their audience to the spectacle. Maryland found a way to not cover against all odds at OSU last week, but their defense didn’t buckle as had been routine against the big three of OSU, UM and PSU. Luke Altmeyer ain’t it, and this should just add to the mountain of evidence. Maryland still has a ton to play for, no time to play down to their opponent.
Bet 4: Auburn +11.5 (-115) at LSU (6:00pm CT Sat 10/14, ESPN)
Parlay it with the over 60.5 if your book is offering +264 instead of taking some egregious same game parlay vig. These teams play close even when they shouldn’t. 11.5 is like four TD’s. Only once since 2015 has the margin been more than 5 points. Considering how much coaching and roster turnover during the span, that is remarkable stability. Now giant killer Hugh Freeze enters the equation against the weakest LSU defense in recent memory. I’ll believe the LSU blowout when I see it.
Best Bet (2 units): Georgia Southern +188 moneyline at James Madison (11:00am CT Sat 10/14, ESPN2)
The new and improved Best Bet is going for the jugular! Take the 5.5 if you so choose, but GaSo is a sleeping giant in this one. JMU is 5-0, but their last 4 have all been one score wins. The competition was decent, but winless-against-FBS Virginia was the only P5 team in the bunch. GaSo is better than Utah St and South Alabama, so almost 2-1 odds is well worth the play. The winner will be in the pole position of the Sun Belt East, but JMU is still ineligible for the CCG or a bowl game because of the 2-year ban following a move up from FCS. Davis Brin and company put up a bunch of points against the weak JMU pass defense in a big road win.
Week 5: 2-3, -2.6 units; Season: 17-16, -1.74 units. Good luck!