College and Pro Football: This Weekend's Best Bets
If you followed my picks last season (and God forbid, used them as your own picks), then you know exactly how painful the hit was by the end of the year. In fact, you're probably cursing me and contemplating exactly how you can dismember me without getting arrested while you stand in the welfare line.
On the other hand, if you merely decided to fade my picks last year and just go opposite, you're probably toasting me from the additional wing you've added to your home.
Well, I don't ever want to got through 2013 again, yet sadly last week was a 1-5 effort that became commonplace as last season (much like the Texans 2013) slipped away into "Bolivian" (as the great Mike Tyson would say). I can't go through that again. I won't go through that again.
So for this week's wagering pep talk, I'm bringing in the big guns. When you need words of inspiration, words to remind you that you can make it through anything if you put your mind to it...you call on your home boy...you call on your friends...you call on your (Houston) blood....you call on....
...JUSTIN JAMES WATT!!
This speech was apparently given to a bunch of youth footballers in J.J.'s neighborhood as he drove by one night. How great is that? J.J. Watt saw people playing football, so Football Jesus decided to stop by the practice and give some words from the gospel according to J.J. Very awesome.
By the way, I want to see a video series where the Texans send long snapper Jon Weeks to do this exact same thing to various youth leagues around the Houston area. He's not allowed to introduce who he is either, he just has to start talking like J.J. did without introducing himself. What are the odds that at least half the leagues ask him to leave, or better yet, have the cops come get him, because they think he's some crazy person hallucinating that he's an actual NFL player?
How have the Texans not hired me to be part of their creative team? (Do NFL teams have a creative department?)
Ok, now that I'm properly inspired, let's try to turn that 1-5 frown upside down (into a 5-1 smile)....
Notre Dame +13 over FLORIDA STATE This game is a rematch of 1993's "Game of the Century," when then #1 Florida State visited South Bend and #2 ranked Notre Dame. This game was famous for several reasons:
1. Despite Notre Dame winning 31-24 in heart pounding fashion, Florida State would go on to win the national championship that season as the Irish would lose to Boston College in a total heartbreak the following week on a last second field goal, 41-39. If there were a four team playoff back in 1993, Notre Dame and Florida State likely would've met one more time.
2. This game was the first time that ESPN's College Gameday program traveled outside the studio to an actual college venue. it was so successful that they now do it literally every week of the season, and to places as far off the map as Fargo, ND. Here is some footage from that 1993 telecast...
3. The game was the first truly colossal matchup that NBC got to carry as part of its newly minted package of Notre Dame home games (NBC began carrying Irish games in 1991.). As a result, NBC threw all of its weight behind the broadcast, even sending Bob Costas to South Bend to be part of the coverage. The introduction for the game is still one of the best....
And if you have three hours to kill, here is the full broadcast of the game....
WARNING: Because the game took place in 1993, there is no yellow first down line and no running score/clock graphic in the corner of the screen. There is, however, O.J. Simpson as one of the sideline reporters. So that's pretty surreal.
So now here we are in 2014, and the two teams aren't numbers 1 and 2, but both are in the top five, and the loser is likely eliminated from the College Football Playoff conversation. The biggest difference between the 1993 game and this year's game? Well, probably the fact that in 1993, FSU's Heisman winning quarterback was a God fearing, soft spoken Christian, and in 2014, FSU's Heisman winning quarterback is an accused rapist who shoplifts, shoots B.B. guns, violates NCAA rules, and stands on the table at the student union and screams vulgarities (and then lies about it).
This might be the rare game that the masses are actually behind Notre Dame because Jameis Winston is such a crusty turd of a human being. This is not last season's FSU team. This year's team is vulnerable defensively, and inconsistent offensively. I think home field is enough to win by 7-10 points, but I'll take a couple touchdowns, gladly.
Now get hyped....
ARKANSAS +4 over Georgia I mentioned this in my massive college football status update post from Tuesday, and I will say it again -- Arkansas is the most dangerous "0-3 in conference" team in the nation. I thin they would be favored against half the top 25 on a neutral field, and the four point spread here is an indicator that they'd be a slight favorite in Fayetteville. I think a lot of faith is being placed in last week's Georgia rout of Missouri, but I think that game was more a case of things snowballing on Mizzou than Georgia being ultra dominant, especially without the suspended Todd Gurley. Arkansas wins this one outright, and Bret Bielema gets his first SEC win as Razorbacks head coach. It's time.
Michigan State -16 over INDIANA We had CBS' Gary Danielson on my radio show on Wednesday, and it's his contention that six teams control their own destiny for a College Football Playoff berth -- Florida State, Baylor, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, all of whom are undefeated, and Georgia, who would win the SEC if they win out. I agree with him. That said, the easiest path to the playoff might belong to the Spartans, who basically have to beat Ohio State at home in a few weeks and that's it. They'll be favored by two touchdowns in every other game, likely including the Big Ten title game. Indiana gets their lesson on Saturday.
PACKERS -6.5 over Panthers Remember the opening night of the season, when the Seahawks took the Packers behind the woodshed and did what people do to other people that they take behind the woodshed? (What exactly goes on behind the woodshed? I mean I've been making this reference for decades, but never really asked. Can someone who has actually been behind the woodshed call? 713....572...4610...) In that game, Aaron Rodgers refused to throw it to Richard Sherman's side of the field, prompting Sherman to taunt Rodgers with implications that he was fearful of the Pro Bowl cornerback (which Rodgers may very well have been). Well, that seems like it was five years ago. Here we are in Week 7, the Packers have reset themselves and sit at 4-2, and more importantly, Rodgers is playing like his brand of football again. The Panthers defense is a shell of what it was last season, and I think they might be playing one of the beer guys at running back this weekend. At home, I think the Packers hang 38 or 42 on Carolina, at least. And if that's the case, then let's add....
Panthers/PACKERS OVER 49 ...why not.
Giants +6.5 over COWBOYS This is purely a "recoil from last week" play by me, because honestly, just from an X's and O's and matchup standpoint, there's zero reason to pick the Giants, especially with Victor Cruz done for the season. However, the "bounce back/letdown" metrics here are off the charts. The Giants lost 27-0 to Philly last week, and you should virtually always back teams that lost by 27 or more the previous week. If you're looking for a "parking lot bullying" metaphor for last week's game, well here....
Meanwhile, the Cowboys had one of the biggest road upsets of the season so far, beating the Seahawks 31-24 in Seattle. I think the Cowboys are ripe for a letdown, and traditionally don't play well ATS as a favorite anyway, going 0-4 ATS in their last four games as a home favorite. Dallas wins, but in a close one.
Last week: 1-5 Season total: 19-23
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.