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Before we get to the picks this week, a brief story.
Last weekend ESPN’s “College GameDay” came to New York City for the first time in its history, much to the confusion of college football fans around the country. I decided to go check out the scenes and sights of GameDay to start my Saturday with no plan other than “watch football” beyond that. It was a surprisingly delightful crowd, with more GameDay spirit than I initially expected.
But as the show was wrapping up and the noon kickoffs were fast approaching, I finally realized just how little I had thought my day through. Completely oblivious to the bar scene surrounding Times Square, I scanned the area and saw a group of about 15 people clad in garnet and white, walking confidently in a certain direction and playing a fight song out of a boombox. Sensing someone who knew where to find football, I followed.
After keeping my distance for a few blocks, I finally introduced myself as a lowly football fan with nowhere to turn. The crew, who I now knew to be Texas A&M Aggie alumni, birghtly welcomed me in to their clan and led me to The Hog Pit on 26th. I threw $50 on the Aggies and put my best fan face on.
Over the course of three hours later, I ate wings and drank Lone Star amid new friends through a back-and-forth game of football. When the Aggies prevailed in overtime, I was screaming at the television while literally holding people who had actually graduated from school. We had celebratory shots of Fireball and I left the afternoon a bit more inebriated than I expected to be before 4 p.m..
So thanks Dana, Ramon, and Ashley for welcoming me in to your family for the day.
Without further ado, onto the picks. All lines courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.
Texas A&M (-8) over South Carolina
Bob Levey/Getty Images
I’m an honorary Aggie now and no one can take that away from me. Definitely not a Gamecock.
Also, if you find yourself at The Hog Pit watching football someday, get the wings.
Vanderbilt (+8.5) over Florida
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
The Gators can’t cover a game unless it involves a literal miracle, and the Vanderbilt Commodores are likely undervalued this week after an absolute drubbing at the hands of Alabama.
Minnesota (-12.5) over Maryland
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Maryland just lost another quarterback to an ACL tear just as they head into Big Ten play into a reliably solid Minnesota program. Max Bortenschlager will start under center for the Terps, who would be blessed to score whatever his name is worth in Scrabble on Saturday.
Virginia Tech (+7) over Clemson
Michael Shroyer/Getty Images
A tough line, but we like to bet the best game of the weekend here and when the lines are tough it’s good to stick with the points. Clemson destroyed us on this theory two weeks ago against Louisville, but if Clemson is going to get a challenge this season before the playoffs, the Hokies at home on national television are as good a bet as any for the job.
Northwestern (+15.5) over Wisconsin
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Northwestern has won this game outright two of the past three years, and in their loss last year the game was still within two touchdowns. The Badgers are a force and they have a pretty smooth road to the Big Ten title game if they keep course, but Northwestern has proven they’re not ones to roll over in this game.
Miami (Ohio) (+21) over Notre Dame
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Miami coach Chuck Martin used to be a coach at Notre Dame working all the way up to offensive coordinator under Brian Kelly. Why would Kelly spend this game beating up on an old friend when the Irish could jump out to a two touchdown lead and then just cruise to the finish to start game-planning for their trip to UNC next weekend?
Auburn (-8.5) over Mississippi State
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In 2014 both Mississippi State and Ole Miss were operating on a higher plane of football for a stretch of games, all the way up until the weekend of October 25, when both teams were ranked in the top 3. The next day, Ole Miss would fall to LSU and go into a tailspin, losing three of their last five games to finish the season. Mississippi State would hold on as the top team in the country a bit longer before losing three out of their final four games to end the season.
My point is that teams on cloud nine can collapse fast after a big win. I really love this Mississippi State team, and when they’re feeling themselves, they’re still capably of anything, but after getting beat down by Georgia, heading out on the road again for another tough game is just a tall order. Lay the points and check back in on the Bulldogs in a few weeks.
LAST WEEK: 3-4
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