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By UltimateCapper.com Contributing Writer, Mike Ivcic
This college football season continues to confound me. Every week, at least one team that is supposed to be a dominant team capable of winning a national championship seems to flounder against inferior competition. Think of games like USC-Washington and Ohio State-Purdue. After last night, Virginia Tech can be added to the list, as North Carolina went into Blacksburg and stunned the once-ACC-favorite Hokies – on a Thursday night, no less. For my money, I think this continues to point towards the idea that the season is not a playoff. If it were, teams like Southern California would not be ranked ahead of Boise State and Cincinnati in the BCS. The Trojans have lost; the Broncos and Bearcats have not. In a special article next week, I will outline two different scenarios for improving the way in which a college football champion is chosen – one will be simple to implement, likely have very little criticism from college presidents, and instantly improve the way in which a champion is decided, but the other… well, just look for next week’s column.
Once again, the list of the remaining undefeated teams, as well as their conference affiliation:
Alabama – SEC
Boise State – WAC
Cincinnati – Big East
Florida – SEC
Iowa – Big Ten
Texas – Big 12
TCU – Mountain West
And now, this week’s picks:
1. Bad Team vs BCS Undefeated Du Jour
a. Indiana @ #4 Iowa, 12:00 p.m. (ESPN)
b. #8 Cincinnati @ Syracuse, 12:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
c. San Jose State @ #7 Boise State, 3:00 p.m. (GamePlan)
d. UNLV @ #6 TCU, 4:00 p.m. (Versus)
A special segment this week – we lump all four of these teams in together, as they all have virtually the same situation. The lone exception would be Cincinnati, who will have to play their really bad opponent on the road instead of in their own backyard. Either way, all four of these teams will win. The only problem here is that every single one of these lines looks high. Don’t expect TCU to get a blowout – this is a classic let-down game, so it’ll be closer than it should be, but the Horned Frogs will still win. Iowa doesn’t blow anyone out, so 17.5 is way too high regardless of the opponent. Boise State has a chance to run this one up, but the earlier start time and likely poor conditions means that probably won’t happen. Cincinnati is the best chance to cover, but this segment is a lot less fun if I actually pick them to win by 16 or more, so let’s just say that the absence of Tony Pike makes that a two touchdown Bearcat win.
Line: Iowa by 17.5; Cincinnati by 15; Boise State by 36; TCU by 35
Pick: All four win, none cover.
2. Georgia vs #1 Florida in Jacksonville, FL
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
This game is “The World’s Largest Cocktail Party.” I refuse to call it anything else – just like the “Red River Shootout.” I’m not offended by the idea of cowboys and Indians in the old wild west, nor do I take pause at the idea of having a few adult beverages before and during a football game. In fact, Georgia fans will probably need all of the alcohol they can get, because this one will go one of two ways. In the first scenario, Georgia puts everything they have left into this one game – the division will likely be the Gators’ no matter what, but by winning here, the Bulldogs could keep them out of Pasadena in early January. They give maximum effort, Florida recognizes the dogfight, tenses up, and Georgia steals a 2-point win. The other scenario? Well, let’s just say it involves lots of timeouts by Urban Meyer and a scoreboard that only updates on one side. My choice – the one I didn’t mention: option 3.
Line: Florida by 14.5
Pick: Florida 24, Georgia 21
3. Washington State vs #23 Notre Dame in San Antonio, TX
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. (NBC)
The Fighting Irish will head south to take on the Cougars in what might turn out to be the first game since Nevada on opening day that doesn’t come down to the final possession. Between Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Washington, Southern Cal, and last week’s win over Boston College, the Irish have probably seen enough of tight, one possession games as the clock ticks down towards the end of the fourth quarter. Look for that to change here, since Washington State is right near the top of the worst BCS programs. It’s certainly not unthinkable that if the Irish are able to win out and finish 10-2, that they could wind up in the top 12 of the final BCS standings and go to one of the four BCS bowls, but they could certainly use a laugher over a weak team to enhance those chances.
Line: Notre Dame by 27.5
Pick: Notre Dame 41, Washington State 10
4. #3 Texas @ #14 Oklahoma State
Saturday, 8:00 p.m.(ABC or ESPN2)
Anyone like me that’s dreaming of seeing the four teams mentioned in the first game of this week being the only four unbeatens left at the end of the regular season is rooting viciously for Oklahoma State, because if the Longhorns win here, it’s almost a guarantee that they will finish 13-0 and head on to Pasadena. There simply isn’t anyone in the Big 12 North that looks capable of hanging with Texas in a conference championship game, and wins over both Oklahoma schools would pretty much seal the Big 12 South for UT, barring a total collapse against A&M on Thanksgiving. Meanwhile the Cowboys could sneak into the BCS picture with a win here – they’d still have to beat the Sooners on the final weekend to ensure their 1-loss season, but earning the tiebraker over Texas would all but wrap up the division for Ok State.
Line: Texas by 9.5
Pick: Texas 31, Oklahoma State 27
5. #5 Southern California @ #10 Oregon
Saturday, 8:00 p.m. (ABC or ESPN2)
Boise State didn’t get the BYU win they wanted last weekend – will they get the Oregon win they want this weekend? Every game that the Ducks win, the better Boise’s strength of schedule looks. That said, Oregon has its own issues to worry about – namely, winning a Pac-10 title. The winner here will have the inside track towards claiming that crown, and if it’s Oregon the win is doubly crushing because of USC’s loss to Washington earlier this season. For the Trojans, they need to play better on the road. They barely edged out wins against Ohio State and Notre Dame, sandwiched around the loss to the Huskies in Seattle, so they’ll have to improve their play outside of SoCal immediately if they want the chance to STAY in SoCal come January – for EITHER game at the Rose Bowl. Somehow they’re actually favored in this game, making it a very easy pick since I think the Ducks continue their role by winning it outright.
Line: Southern California by 3
Pick: Oregon 28, Southern California 24
*Note – The Tex/OkSt game and the USC/Oregon games will be shown on either ABC or ESPN2, depending upon the region. For example, in Ohio, I will have Texas-Oklahoma State on ABC and Southern Cal-Oregon on ESPN2. Those on the west coast will have that flipped. Check your local listings for which network will air which game.
Straight Up: 3-2
Versus Line: 2-3
Straight Up: 27-13
Versus Line: 20-19-1
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