After two weeks of winnings (4-1-1 three weeks ago, 4-2 two weeks ago), we evened out at 3-3 last week, and unfortunately, we were one bad beat away from another winning week. Thanks for nothing, Northern Illinois extra point team! Yeah, NIU almost got me the backdoor cover on a +10.5 spread in Tallahassee against Florida State, as a late touchdown cut the lead to 30-19. Just kick the extra point and we are home. Well, it didn't happen. That's gambling!
For the record, I almost feel silly complaining about that bad beat when there are people walking around with Oregon +3 tickets and Oregon moneyline tickets that watched the Ducks collapse in historic fashion against Stanford. The Ducks were on the doorstep of going up 31-7 in the second half, and wound up losing 38-31 in overtime, with some of the most horrific turnovers and game management you will ever see from Oregon and head coach Mario Cristobal.
So that's a good place to start, with Stanford coming off a LOT of luck this past weekend....
NOTRE DAME -5.5 over Stanford
So now after that improbable win over the Ducks, Stanford has been hearing all week about how amazing they are, how magical that win was. The fact of the matter is that Stanford has, relative to a team ranked seventh in the nation, struggled this season. They were three feet away from getting blown out by Oregon, and struggled offensively a couple weeks before against USC. Meanwhile, Notre Dame's outlook on the season has changed drastically since inserting Ian Book at quarterback last week against Wake Forest, a game in which Book generated more points in one half than his predecessor Brandon Wimbush had in a game all year. This is the second tough road trip for Stanford in back to back weeks. Stanford's luck runs out against the Irish.
LSU -11.5 over Ole Miss
A few years ago, Ole Miss fired Ed Orgeron has their head coach, and Orgeron is now the head coach at LSU, so let's start there. The wildly popular coach of the favored team has an axe to grind (and by proxy, so do his 85 scholarship players) against the Rebels. Ole Miss is ranked fourth in the nation in offense by Football Outsiders and LSU is ranked tenth in defense. If you're asking me which one of those I choose in this matchup, just know that Ole Miss scored 47, 76, and 38 against Texas Tech, Southern Illinois, and Kent State — against Alabama, which looks a lot like LSU athlete-wise, the Rebels scored seven points. The Rebels are 108th in defense, so Joe Burrow and company should eat just fine offensively on Saturday night.
Baylor/OKLAHOMA OVER 68.5
Baylor is vastly improved, as they've already tripled their win total from 2017 and we aren't even to October yet. (Yes, three wins is triple one win. Math is fun.) However, they still have massive holes defensively, and Kyler Murray is leading an OU offense that is among the nation's leaders in yards per play. Offensively, Baylor is more than capable of generating some points, just not enough to hang around for more than three quarters. However, after a game last year between these two teams that played into the 90's, I think the over here at 68.5 is a safe play.
BYU +17.5 over WASHINGTON
Yeah, we are going with a fourth college game over a third NFL game this week, in part because college has been good to me the last few weeks, and in part because I can't pass up the Cougars at this price. Washington just has not been impressive yet this season, as they allowed Arizona State to run the ball pretty well last week in a game the Huskies would eventually win by seven (against the same 17.5 point spread they're laying this week). BYU is having a solid season so far, highlighted by a 24-21 win in Madison against Wisconsin. The Cougars' roster is filled with married guys in their mid-20's with mortgages, so traveling to Seattle in prime time won't intimidate them. BYU will hang into the fourth quarter, which at this spread, is all we need.
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CHARGERS -10 over 49ers
The 49ers are licking their wounds from losing their quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the season thanks to a torn ACL last week. Enter C.J. Beathard, which are four words that should make you suicidal if you're a Niners fan. The Chargers are 1-2, but their two losses are to two of the remaining undefeated teams in the league, the Chiefs and the Rams. Phillip Rivers should have no problem moving the ball on a Niners secondary that will be missing Richard Sherman (calf injury). If you can get this at 10 points, fire now!
Ravens/STEELERS OVER 51
This series is largely known for being a hard-hitting, slobber-knocking, defensive football, but I don't see that being the case on Sunday night. The Steelers had a nice groove going offensively on Monday in Tampa Bay, and I see that continuing against a Raven defense that is missing its most key player, CB Jimmy Smith, who is still serving a four-game suspension. Meanwhile, this is not a great Steeler defense at all, and the short week for Pittsburgh should help the Ravens move the football. Joe Flacco has been very solid this season, particularly in the red zone, where the Ravens scored on their first 12 trips into that area this season. Lots of points scored here.
Last Week: 3-3
Season Record: 13-10-1 (56.5 percent)
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.