Sean Pendergast

Best Bets for This Weekend's College and NFL Games

So far, through three weeks of college football and two weeks of the NFL, it's steady as she goes on the gambling front. No losing weeks yet, and two winning weeks, which means right now, our wagering represents a trickle of revenue coming into our gambling LLC. We like that.

So far, the NFL has been kinder to us than the college game, with a stout 5-1 on picks in the pros, and a water-treading 6-6 mark in college. So you know what that means, right? Yep, we are DUE for a big winning weekend betting on college ball, hence, our split of four college and two NFL games below.

So let's go make it another great weekend...

TCU -20.5 over SMU
So last weekend, I attended my first Parents Weekend at a college in the role of a parent, which is an unequivocal milestone on the "Goddamn, I feel old" chart. I visited my son, a TCU freshman, in Fort Worth, and aside from having a fantastic time watching college football with my offspring, my biggest takeaway was this — if there is a presidential candidate who will make the banning of 11 a.m. kickoffs in September in Texas a key part of his or her platform, that might be enough to swing my vote. Kickoff in Fort Worth last week was an hour before noon and I think I lost 15 pounds by halftime. Thankfully, the Horned Frogs righted the ship that had imploded the week before against Arkansas and they crushed Iowa State. Friday, they travel across town, Texas high school style, to Dallas to take on SMU underneath the Friday night lights. Until SMU proves they can throw the ball as well as their head coach Chad Morris has everyone thinking they will eventually throw it, I'll happily lay three scores on Gary Patterson and the Frogs. 

Wisconsin +6 over MICHIGAN STATE
So which Wisconsin team is the "real" Wisconsin team — the one that beat LSU in the opening week of the season, or the one that was trailing Georgia State at home in the fourth quarter last weekend? I'm going to bet that a conference road game versus Sparty gets the same level of focus as the aforementioned season opener against the Tigers, so we'll go with that one being the real Badger team. Michigan State is coming off a win in South Bend over Notre Dame that they controlled until the final ten minutes got a little hairy. Honestly, though, that's a banged-up Notre Dame defense that made Michigan State look more explosive than it really is. We will happily take the six points here in a game the Badgers could win straight up. 

Arkansas +6 over TEXAS A&M (at Arlington)
Here's a neutral site game that should have a nice split in the crowd support, and will be one of the most fun games to watch this weekend, as it was last season. In that game, Arkansas coughed up a late lead and went on to lose in overtime. A&M's defensive strength is in its pass rush, but they've gotten worn down in games by UCLA and, to a lesser extent, at Auburn last weekend. Each time, they came away with wins, but if the Bruins and the Tigers are wearing the Aggies down, what's Bret Bielema's power running game going to do to them? Arkansas has already been tested on the road this season in Fort Worth in an overtime win over TCU, and Bielema is a 9-3 ATS covering machine as an underdog. 

OLE MISS -7 over Georgia
With a 33-24 win (and late cover) against North Carolina, a 26-24 win over FCS foe Nicholls State and a 27-21 win over Missouri, Georgia is the least impressive undefeated team in the Top 25, and the worst 11th-ranked team in recent memory. At 1-2, poor Ole Miss would be the number one team in the country if games were only 20 minutes long, having held 28-6 and 24-3 first-half leads over Florida State and Alabama, respectively, before losing both games. Eventually, Georgia will get burned by playing with this fire, and eventually Ole Miss will figure it out. This is that weekend. Ole Miss by three touchdowns. 

So during the Bill O'Brien era, the Texans have two signatures when it comes to win-loss records:

1. They generally eat up rookie quarterbacks, going 6-0 over O'Brien's first two seasons as an NFL head coach — wins over Derek Carr, Zach Mettenberger (twice), Blake Bortles (twice) and Jameis Winston. 

2. They generally get eaten up by teams who make the postseason, going 2-8 against such teams in 2014 and 2015, with the only wins a Case Keenum-led victory over the Baltimore Ravens in 2014 and a Monday night win last season over the Bengals in which T.J. Yates came off the bench to throw the winning touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins.

Tonight, rookie Jacoby Brissett gets the start, and while the Patriots will probably make the playoffs this season (Tom Brady will eventually walk through that door), I'll ride the 6-0 "vs. rookie" record over the 2-8 "vs. playoff teams" history here, with this opportunistic, dynamic Texans defense. 

Steelers -3.5 over EAGLES
First, congratulations to Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz for starting his NFL career with a 2-0 record. Totally that we have that out of the way, we say a prayer for Carson Wentz as he steps up in weight class significantly this weekend against the Steelers, who ain't the Browns nor the Bears. Actually, the prayer for Wentz is merely for health, as we will gladly watch him throw about four picks. 

Last Week: 4-2
Season Record: 11-7

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at  
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast