Best Bets for This Weekend's College and Pro Football Games
This week we finally get college AND NFL games on which to wager.
On paper, last weekend was maybe the greatest opening weekend in college football history — and it indeed lived up to the hype. However, unfortunately, what goes up must come down, and Week 2 of the college football season is decidedly underwhelming.
In fact, it's more than underwhelming. There are exactly zero matchups between Top 25 teams this weekend, and the marquee game is probably Virginia Tech and Tennessee playing a game in the infield of Bristol Motor Speedway. Put simply, if Week 2 were a hangover, we'd all be vomiting and feeling like someone had smashed our skulls with a sledgehammer.
Thankfully, two things — 1) we have gambling to make this slew of garbage college games exciting for us, and 2) the NFL is back!
We got off to a solid start last weekend with a 4-2 slate of college games, screwed only by my alma mater, Notre Dame, playing no defense against Texas and my lack of belief in the University of Houston's ability to cover against Oklahoma. (As it turns out, ummm, they were able to cover...)
Houston Texans vs. Arizona Cardinals
TicketsSun., Nov. 19, 12:00pm
Rice Owls Football vs. North Texas
TicketsSat., Nov. 25, 12:00pm
Houston Texans vs. San Francisco 49ers
TicketsSun., Dec. 10, 12:00pm
Houston Texans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
TicketsMon., Dec. 25, 3:30pm
Houston Open - Good Any One Day Grounds
TicketsSun., Apr. 1, 11:59pm
Let's get us six winners here...
OKLAHOMA STATE -21 over Central Michigan
Mike Gundy is the one Big XII head coach who's been very vocal about his fear of the Cougars' potentially coming into the conference in expansion. He's frightened over what their addition might mean to his recruiting efforts here in Houston, and is scared of having one more difficult opponent in conference. So what do frightened coaches like this generally do? Well, they bully MAC schools, and when you consider that OSU played a 24-13 squeaker last season against the Chippewas, we will bet on them to bounce back and cover the three-score gap big here in an early 11 a.m. kickoff. You'll be up big bucks by the time lunch is over!
Texas Tech +3 over ARIZONA STATE
Staying in the Big XII, this is a rematch of the Holiday Bowl a few years ago, a game the Red Raiders won by a couple of touchdowns. Personnel-wise, that doesn't mean much, but it does mean Kliff Kingsbury has taken down Todd Graham before. I like Texas Tech as a Big XII dark horse this season, if they can play just average defense to go with Pat Mahomes's running things at quarterback. Arizona State lost a ton on the offensive side of the ball, and it's still early in the season. Also, how can you pick against a team that does this at practice...
SAN DIEGO STATE -7.5 over Cal
Man, is the schedule light this week...a bunch of gigantic 20- and 30-point spreads. My guess is you'll be gambling like a fiend trying to make these games exciting, and honestly, that's a recipe for disaster sometimes. So I am going to give you a pick on the final game of Saturday night so that you can get it all back (or score big!) heading into the first NFL Sunday. Cal has Texas next weekend at home, making this a classic lookahead spot. Also, San Diego State is a good running team that should have little trouble controlling the ball against the Golden Bears. Finally, former Cal QB Jared Goff is third string for the Rams after being picked first overall in the draft...trust me, there is a weird symbiosis between college teams and the fates of their marquee players on the next level. (Case in point, no pun intended: Who is starting in front of Goff? HOUSTON'S CASE KEENUM, THAT'S WHO...and the Coogs are amazing right now!)
Panthers/BRONCOS UNDER 41.5
Ah, NFL gambling, how I missed you so...we pick up where we left off last season, with the same two teams playing in a rematch of last season's Super Bowl on the opening Thursday night. In this game, you're getting two of the top half-dozen or so defenses in the NFL, and Trevor Siemian starting for one of the two teams. Cam Newton is the other starting QB, but his Panthers are on the road, where points won't come easy. I see this game being either a sizable Panther win, like 24-7, or a close, ugly coin flipper, like 16-13. Either way, I see it going well under 41.5 total points.
Chargers +7 over CHIEFS
With an actual franchise quarterback already on the roster, the Chargers should be improved from last season, when they brain-farted some games away and when their first-round RB Melvin Gordon miraculously managed to rush for more than 600 yards without scoring a touchdown. He should be better this season. Even though the AFC West is there for the Chiefs' taking, seven points is still too many to give in a division game with a capable quarterback on the dog's roster and Andy Reid — who can massage a double-digit lead down to a one-score lead with the best of them — coaching the favorite.
Giants PICK EM over COWBOYS
The Giants' defense was not good last season, but should be improved with some offseason moves, the signing of DE Olivier Vernon chief among them. On the other side of the ball, the Dallas defense is ravaged with injuries and suspensions and the general malaise of being a Jerry Jones-constructed defense. They're not good, and as much as I don't think I'd trust Eli Manning shopping for my groceries, much less quarterbacking my NFL team, he should have enough leeway here to put up at least 28 points. The question then becomes "Do we feel like Cowboys rookie QB Dak Prescott's preseason is a precursor to similar success in the regular season?" I'm an unabashed Dak fan, but I can't pick a rookie QB to win in his first start when his defense is that bad, and I don't think he will generate 28 points once teams actually start blitzing and disguising defenses against him. At least not early on in his career.
Last Week: 4-2
Season Record: 4-2
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.