I've never been one to just dip my toe in the water on anything. If there is a job to do, a party to attend, or a giant calzone to eat, you can count on me to go "all in" on whatever the task may be.
So when we have our first full weekend of college football, even if most of the games are prominent BCS schools taking on directional culinary institutes (Northeast Nacho Tech), by God, I will give you a full six-pack of best bets for the weekend.
And if I happen to sprinkle in a couple season win total bets for college football, well, so much the better. So let's get the 2011 season kicked off in style, shall we?
WEEKEND'S BEST BETS
LSU/Oregon UNDER 54 1/2 LSU is missing their quarterback (Jordan Jefferson) and top playmaker on offense (Russell Shepard) because of suspension. Oregon is missing its All-American cornerback because he was pulled over in what amounted to a mobile bong in a classic traffic stop where the words "We smoked it all" were actually uttered to a police officer. Add to that the Forceghost of Willie Lyles presiding over the entire event, and I'm expecting something very hard-hitting, very disjointed, and very sloppy. I have no idea who is going to win, I just know it won't take many points to do it.
South Florida +11 over NOTRE DAME If any coach in the country knows exactly how to handle the Notre Dame mystique, it's USF coach Skip Holtz who played at Notre Dame, coached at Notre Dame, and is the fruit of the loins of the one fourth of the ND Mount Rushmore of coaches (Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, Holtz). The younger Holtz made a point to say his team won't "get off the bus with cameras around [their] necks." So if that is indeed the case, then assume that a solid running game and a dual-threat quarterback will at least be enough to allow USF to hang in for most of the game. And catching 11 points, that's all you need.
Georgia +3 over Boise State A true sign that Boise has flipped from "value underdog" in games like this to a "public play." The game is being played in the Georgia Dome, which means the fans there who aren't part of Boise's few thousand will at least be SEC fans. I like the Dawgs outright here.
HOUSTON -2 1/2 over UCLA Last season, I called the Coogs the "Lock of the Century" in this space, spent a thousand or so words on why I thought that was the case and...well, yadda, yadda, yadda, the Coogs didn't make it to a bowl game last season. Let's just say I don't want to talk about that weekend anymore. it's why I buried my identical pick of Coogs minus around a field goal in the middle of other sketchy picks. Pride has to kick in at some point...for me and the Coogs.
Tulsa/OKLAHOMA OVER 64 1/2 This Oklahoma team feels a lot like the one in 2008 that routinely hung 50 on teams. So assuming they do that to the Golden Hurricane, I'm going to assume the Travis Lewis-less Sooner defense has a few touchdowns allowed in them.
WEST VIRGINIA -13 1/2 1st half over Marshall Lots of turmoil in Morgantown this past offseason for new head coach Dana Holgorsen, and the easiest way to make people forget about it is to run your in-state rival off the field. Marshall has been dealing with its own issues after they had a wide receiver kicked off the team for robbing four establishments this past Sunday morning. What that player sees as industrious society sees as felonious...and I see as a distraction. First half, WVU up two touchdowns feels very safe here.
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And, speaking of West Virginia, a couple bonus season-win-total bets...
West Virginia over 9 (-115) Often you wouldn't be picking a first time head coach to go over a pretty sporty win total where 10-2 is the minimum to get your ticket punched. But the confluence of Dana Holgorsen's space-age offense with a schedule where there's only one game that West Virginia will be an underdog (and even that one is a home game), well, that has me strumming the ol' banjo and humming me a John Denver tune!
Notre Dame over 9 (+120) I feel like this has become an annual pick, but this time I really mean it! I think the one thing that the Irish can hang their hat on this year is a punishing defense that has more talent than any Irish defense since the Lou Holtz Era. The schedule sets up very nicely as well with the Stanford game at the end of the season being the only one in which Notre Dame would be an underdog if they set the lines today.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio (Sirius 94, XM 208) and on 1560 The Game, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.