College Football and NFL: This Weekend's Best Bets (And a Promise From Me)
I'm coming up on almost one year now writing a daily post on Hair Balls for HoustonPress.com. In that time, I've written tens of thousands of words about topics like the Summer of LeBron, the Brian Cushing saga, the Houston Texans, and the death of Jose Lima. Some of those pieces were even picked up by national outlets, increasing my national profile from nonexistent to "some dude from Houston."
In short, I have items I've written of which I am very proud, and for which I took an inordinate amount of time to make sure I worded things just right. "These will be the posts they remember," I would tell myself.
And yet, after the hours spent slaving over the blog stove trying to concoct just the right blend of humor and insight on relevant sports topics, the two pieces I've written that have garnered the most feedback, the largest inundation of tweets, the random texts from friends whom I know never otherwise read my stuff were the piece about Greg Oden's "Magic Johnson" and the post about allegations that Brett Favre was a-slingin' his gun via text message to Jenn Sterger.
The message was clear -- you all like penis. Athlete penis. And you see me as some sort of insider on athlete penis -- a phallic Mike Florio, if you will.
This is my way of saying "Yes, you will get your Brett Favre post. It'll be later today." For now, some best bets this weekend....
Michigan State +4.5 over MICHIGAN
Two things about this game -- first, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio, after suffering a heart attack just hours after the ballsiest call in the history of college overtime (fake field goal against Notre Dame) and then missing last week's game with blood clots related to the heart attack, will be in the stadium coaching from the press box. Second, a story came out today about a 69-year-old Michigan State fan named Major Hester who is putting off the installation of a pacemaker for his heart until after the game because he's fearful something might happen in surgery that would kill him and force him to miss the game. (In terms of importance, if it's me, I'd put missing the rest of my life slightly ahead of missing the game, but to each his own.) My point? There's at least two people putting themselves at major, literal risk of heart failure to coach or see the Spartans win this game. The football gods have to take that into account, don't they? I'll take the points.
Baylor +2.5 over Texas Tech
You can kind of feel Baylor starting to get a little bit of respect. They were blown out by TCU earlier this year, but other than that they've won all of their other games convincingly, the latest a 55-7 rout of Kansas. Now, if you're Art Briles, there's part of you that wants your team to start acting like the big boys of college football, like say, Florida. Unfortunately, two Baylor players (wide receivers Josh Gordon and Willie Jefferson) decided that acting like Florida meant channeling their inner Carlos Dunlap and passing out at the wheel of a running car. The only difference, while Dunlap had his incident at a major intersection, Jefferson and Gordon had theirs at 2:15 a.m. in a Taco Bell drive-through. Fourthmeal remains undefeated. Baylor gets the win this weekend and amps up the unpleasantness for Tommy Tuberville in Lubbock.
LSU/Florida UNDER 42.5
My favorite quote of the week came from Les Miles' Monday press conference when asked about the final play of LSU's improbable, goddamn lucky 16-14 win over Tennessee, Stevan Ridley's touchdown run from one yard out:
"I did call that play," Miles said. "I was struggling to get the head phones back on. We were not in contact with the press box. That allowed me to make a call."
That's right, on a play where there were at least two minutes of down time before the Tigers had to retake the field, Les Miles was struggling to get his headphones back on so he went ahead and called the play himself instead of offensive coordinator Gary Crowton. "I was struggling to get the head phones back on." Burn those words into your brain this weekend, LSU Fan, when you finally crack the 100-yard barrier in total offense sometime in the fourth quarter.
COLTS -7.5 over Chiefs
How crazy has this season been in the NFL? There's not a single double-digit spread on the board this week and the biggest number posted is in this game, where the Chiefs are a 7.5 point underdog to Peyton Manning and the Colts. Yes, the only undefeated team remaining is this week'd biggest underdog in their game. And guess what? They should be. Colts begin the exposure of the Chiefs, and the Texans finish it next week.
Jags PK over BILLS
How crazy has this season been in the NFL? Jacksonville is one of thirteen 2-2 teams. That's right, nearly half the league is .500. Meanwhile, the Bills are the one truly horrible team in the league. They might not win a game all year. That's all the Jgas have to do in this spot. Win. I'll take them.
Titans +7 over COWBOYS
How crazy has this season been in the NFL? Well, rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant refused to carry Roy Williams pads in the preseason. Bad idea. There are certain hazing rituals that you have to withstand when you're a first year guy. No problem, payback's a bitch. A real bitch. Like a $55,000 bitch. That's the amount of the dinner tab Bryant got jammed with by 22 Dallas veteran players. Bryant was fine with it, even laughed it off. Others, including Sports Illustrated's Peter King, thought it was a disgusting display, since there are people struggling to make ends meet in this economy or something (suddenly feeding the downtrodden is Dez Bryant's responsibility apparently). Never mind that the $55,000 is actually being spent with a restaurant that can then use it to pay its kitchen workers, hostesses and wait staff. Never mind that the $10,000 tip on that tab goes right into the servers' pockets and (unless they spend it on cocaine in the alley behind the restaurant) that money will be spent on groceries, iPods and sex toys (the lubricants of any healthy economy). My point is....shut the fuck up, Peter King.
Strangely, King was all over the Bryant story on Twitter the minute it broke. Strangely, as of this typing, King has been silent since the Favre dong pictures were released. I will not be silent. More later....
Last Week: 5-1
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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.