What a glorious cover by the hometown smart kids! Playing in Austin with a +14.5 spread, and down 42-14, Rice became amazingly efficient during the fourth quarter of the game, and played at a pace where they almost seemed like they were trying to cover the spread and not really worried about being down 28. The drive that cut the UT lead to 42-21 was like 18 plays and eight minutes long, not ideal if you're trying to come back from down 28, but certainly methodical enough to cover a 14.5 point number.
So thank you Coach Bailiff and thank you Owls! And God bless the Longhorns for focusing like a kindergartener with ADD in the final ten minutes of that game. Let's get to this week's picks.
BOSTON COLLEGE +7.5 OVER Florida State
Let me preface this pick by saying that, as a Notre Dame graduate, I am inherently conditioned to hate Boston College with the white hot passion of a thousand suns. As a father of three with a stack of bills, I am conditioned to take down a bad line on a college football game when I see it. This is a bad line. I think Boston College can win this game. I've watched enough of FSU QB Everett Golson when he was at Notre Dame to know he's got a couple turnovers in him in hostile environments, and BC almost beat FSU last season with Jameis Winston as the Noles' quarterback. If this spread stays over seven points, pounce.
Cal -6.5 over TEXAS
What's lost in Texas' beating Rice by 14 and leading by 28 for most of the second half is that it was actually a much closer game than that. Rice had a chance to tie the game going into the half and turned the ball over, and I think Rice may have given up a thousand yards in the return game. It felt that way at least. My point is that all is far from cured in the Charlie Strong Regime. Now comes Cal and their NFL ready QB Jared Goff. DKR Stadium still isn't a death trap for opposing teams, and I think Cal will very comfortably move the football here.
BYU +17 over UCLA
So wait, the team that's won a game on a Hail Mary and another game against a Top 20 team with some late game magic is getting 17 points against a true freshman quarterback (albeit a good one)? Yes, please.
Texas Tech/ARKANSAS OVER 69
Arkansas lost last week at home to Toledo —- TOLEDO. They still put up 500 yards, but only 12 points. How that happens, I have no idea. I do think that Arkansas is still a good football team and Saturday was more of a fluke. Also, the Texas Tech defense is a giant slice of Swiss cheese. Arkansas is going to hang 40 on them. Meanwhile, Kliff Kingsbury's Red Raider offense has been humming. I think THEY can score 40 as well. 40 plus 40 is 80, which is greater than 69. A lot greater. MATH, people!
STEELERS -5 over 49ers
If you put your hand over last week's Patriots-Steelers final score (Pats, 28-21, by the way) and just look at some of the stats, you wonder how the Steelers lost that game. They moved the ball up and down the field on the Patriots, but missed field goals, turnovers, and stupid play calls did them in. Meanwhile defensively, they did a solid job on everyone except Rob Gronkowski. My point is that, even without Le'Veon Bell for one more game (suspended for weed use), I think the Steelers are a good team. And despite their 20-3 win over the Vikings, I still think the 49ers are a big pile of turds. And the rule says when you have a good team at home versus a pile of turds, you lay the five points.
Buccaneers +10 over SAINTS
This is the "Have Plenty Of Whiskey Handy But The Rules Say To Play It" Pick of the Week — the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are fucking terrible. The Saints are nothing to write home about, but they're significantly better than the Bucs. The big question is "Is the Saints home field advantage still what it was when Drew Brees was one of the top three quarterbacks in football?" Ten points is a lot of points, and the old rule says that you always bet underdogs that are getting double digit points in division games. So have that whiskey handy and root for Jameis!
Last Week: 4-2
Season Record: 7-5
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.