Football! This Weekend's Best Bets

As I get ready to drop some more decidedly mediocre wagering knowledge on all of you this weekend, I have one quick thought to share with you on the opening weekend of the NFL season:

This time last season, these were your starting quarterbacks in the AFC South: Matt Schaub (Houston), Peyton Manning (Indianapolis), David Garrard (Jacksonville) and Vince Young (Tennessee).

Now, heading into the first Sunday of 2011, the only division team with the same starting quarterback is the Texans. Peyton Manning may be out for the year, and the Titans and Jags are one snap away from handing the reins over to rookies (over the already mediocre Matt Hasselbeck and the "I didn't know he was still alive" Luke McCown).

My point? This is setting up almost too well for the Texans. I'm officially nervous. Now on to the picks...

WISCONSIN -20 over Oregon State Oregon State lost last week to something called a "Sacramento State," which sounds more like a fake college team from the old Eight Is Enough show (Yes, at one time there was a dramatic comedy storyline-based in Sacramento) than a team that knocked off a moderately okay Pac-12 team. Granted, the Beavers were missing their best player (Richmond/Rosenberg's own James Rodgers), but still. The Badgers' offensive line eats teams like Oregon State for breakfast, then flosses with Sacramento State. In a game, Badgers vs Beavers, that sounds more like a new Discovery Channel show about strange, burrowing animals, I'll take the badgers. Mostly because you can't spell "honey badger" without "badger."

AUBURN +5 1/2 over Mississippi State Last week, Auburn needed every last fortunate bounce and Utah State screw-up to eke out a home win against the "other" Aggies. (Underrated averted subplot, if Utah State pulls out that game, we would have had two schools from Utah go into SEC territory and win road games in Week 1, and neither of them would have been the University of Utah! The other? BYU and a 14-13 win over Ole Miss.) This year, Mississippi State and Dan Mullen have the target on them from jump, and if you look at Auburn's ridiculously difficult road schedule this season (at Clemson, at South Carolina, at Arkansas, at LSU, at Georgia) with upcoming home games against Florida and the Iron Bowl with Alabama, the Tigers need this one. I think they get a necessary home win outright, but for our purposes here I'll just take the 5 1/2.

Notre Dame -3 over MICHIGAN Last week, Notre Dame rolled up over 500 yards of total offense against South Florida, held the Bulls to under 300 yards offensively, but five turnovers (including three in the red zone) resulted in a 23-20 loss in an opener which nearly saw Brian Kelly snap several players' necks with his bare hands, like Mel Gibson going insane in Lethal Weapon 2. Michigan got a lightning-shortened win against Western Michigan, but they were even in yards the whole game. In other words, the Notre Dame loss masked the fact that the Irish, sans moronic miscues, are actually a very good football team, and the Michigan win masked the fact that the Wolverines are not all that great quite yet. I think the Irish bounce back in the first night game in Michigan Stadium history. You can leave your "Sean is a homer" comments below.

Alabama/PENN STATE under 41 1/2 We're still learning about Penn State, but one thing in which I am highly confident -- these two teams could play until next Thursday before Penn State puts up a number that endangers even this comically low total for a college game. (In other words, there's a reason it's so low.)

TEXANS -8.5 over Colts Yeah, I said I was nervous. But not that nervous. I'll bite.

BRONCOS -3 over Raiders The Broncos are my ultra-sleeper, super dee duper, great googly moogly surprise team in the AFC. Gun to my head, I'll still take the Chargers because a bullet into my cerebrum sounds awfully painful, but I think the Broncos start the season 3-0 and I think Von Miller begins his Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign by making Monday night miserable for Jason Campbell. Kyle Orton throws for 300 yards against the now Nnamdi-less Raider secondary.

Last week: 2-4 Season Record: 2-4

Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio and 1560 The Game weekdays noon to 3 p.m. Central Time, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.

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