Last week, I had my first outright break-even week of the season, bringing me to 43-34-3, with 12 winnings weeks, three weeks I don’t want to discuss, and one tied week. I hit on the under in the Broncos-Chargers game and the Bills -7, missing on the Dolphins -2.5 and the Washington Football Team being competent whatsoever. When it came to my Whammy pick of the week (12-2-1), the Bucs and Lions pushed at 54, leading me to feel the rage felt by those goth kids who dance under bridges, a tie which you can read more about here.
As I type this, we are two days and some-odd hours away from the beginning of the New Year. That means white girls on Twitter telling the world they cannot wait for 2020 to end, lifelong obese people vowing to work off the “pandemic weight,” and an expensive party you don’t want to go to but will be pressured into attending. It also means New Year’s Day college football and Week 17 of the NFL season. You may have spent too much money on gifts, but it’s time to earn it all back this weekend, starting with some bonus picks.
- Ohio State +7.5 vs Clemson – Have the Buckeyes impressed this year? Not really. They scraped up the only two good teams they played: Northwestern and Indiana. Still, there is something to be said for how much talent is on that team and how badly they want to avenge the controversial finish from a year ago. Add that to Dabo Swinney poking the bear with his rankings and we get a touchdown, and I like Sloopy and the gang here.
- Indiana -8 vs Ole Miss – Want to stay on the disrespect train? How about the Hoosiers winning all but one game – aforementioned seven-point loss to OSU – and getting kept out of the New Year’s Six in favor of a team like Iowa State, who dropped three games, including a blowout home loss to ULL? This is still the best bowl game the Hoosiers have been to in years and Tom Allen will have them ready to play. Meanwhile, Lane Kiffin’s bunch (where Allen previously coached) will be without star pass-catchers Elijah Moore and Kenny Yeboah, and likely without Jerrion Ealy and Braylon Sanders to boot. I don’t think the Rebels have the horses in this one.
- Kentucky -2.5 vs NC State – This is the ultimate “what the hell is Vegas trying to say” game. The Wolfpack are 8-2 and hot, while the Wildcats have been all-together meh this year. I try to identify suckers bets and run the opposite direction. For whatever reason, Vegas is all in on the Wildcats, so I guess so am I.
- Vikings/Lions O54.5 – Even after what happened to me last week, and the lack of anything on offense from Detroit, I am riding with it again. Detroit is tied for sixth in the NFL in overs at 9-6 and eight of their last nine games have combined for at least 54 points in the total. Minnesota is tied for third in the NFL in overs at 10-5, and are fresh off 85 points in their game against New Orleans. I don’t know who wins, and frankly I don’t care. Let’s see a lot of missed tackles and a 35-21 win for somebody.
- Tulsa/Mississippi State U46 – I know that following an over with an under is about like farting at a steakhouse, but these teams each have anemic offenses and stellar defenses. Pair that with some opt-outs, cold weather, and a ho-hum bowl game and you have a 17-14 type of clunker. This is a great game to hammer out chores your significant other wants you to do while saying, “and look, I did it when there’s football on,” to show your commitment. Just a little friendly relationship tip from your neighborhood gambler.
UNC/Texas A&M O65.5
The Aggies have scored over 30 points in four of their last five games, while the Tar Heels have scored over 40 points in six of their last seven. Phil Longo’s offense going up against an SEC defense does worry me a little, but Sam Howell is an absolute problem out there this year. I don’t know how motivated the Aggies will be in this one, but I know there will be a lot of scoring.
Packers -5.5 vs Bears
In this series, Green Bay has won the last three straight up. They have also won eight of the last nine, 12 of the last 14, and 18 of the last 21. Green Bay has covered -5.5 in five of the last seven games, including a 41-25 victory earlier this year.
The No. 1 overall seed, which includes a first round bye and home field throughout the playoffs, is still up in the air. Both the Seahawks and Saints play in the late window, as well, lending to some scoreboard watching. Aaron Rodgers also has an MVP hanging in the balance, and with his connection to Davante Adams better than ever, this goes over that number.
Cowboys -2.5 vs Giants
This line opened at Giants -3.5 and has moved all the way to Cowboys -2.5. Dallas has looked sharp the last three weeks after being left for dead. The Cowboys beat the Bengals 30-7, 49ers 41-33, and Eagles 37-17 with Andy Dalton completing over 66 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and just one interception. He also gets a $1 million bonus if he leads the Cowboys to the playoffs, which happens with a win and a Washington loss. Just think about how much suntan lotion a million dollars can buy. Take the ‘Boys.
Auburn will play its first game without Gus Malzahn on the sideline since Barack Obama’s first term in office. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will fill in as the interim until Bryan Harsin takes over. Steele has done an admirable on-field job on The Plains, and has helped the Tigers to become an Under darling in 2020. AU was 8-2 hitting unders, good for sixth-best in all of college football.
Not to be outdone, Northwestern will also see its defensive coordinator coach his last game as Mike Hankwitz is hanging it up after a literal half-century coaching college football. This year was one of his unit’s best as they surrendered more than 20 points just twice in eight games: 22 points to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game and 29 to Michigan State in the Wildcats’ lone regular season loss. That output, matched with a lunchpail offense resulted in Northwestern hitting the under on a nation’s-best 87.5 percent clip, going 7-1 on under.
WHAMMY: Alabama -20 vs Notre Dame
We move to the other side of the Yellowhammer State for the whammy this week. Nick Saban and the Tide are 11-0 SU and 8-3 ATS in 2020. Saban has coached in five College Football Playoffs, going 4-1 SU and winning each of the four by double-digits and an average margin of 21 points per game.
Meanwhile, when we look on the other sideline, the Fighting Irish have played in five BCS/New Year’s Six games and one College Football Playoff semifinal. The results are as follows:
- 2001 Fiesta Bowl vs Oregon State – Lost 41-9
- 2006 Fiesta Bowl vs Ohio State – Lost 34-20
- 2007 Sugar Bowl vs LSU – Lost 41-14
- 2013 BCS National Championship vs Alabama – Lost 42-14
- 2016 Fiesta Bowl vs Ohio State – Lost 44-28
- 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal vs Clemson – Lost 30-3
While half of those games predate Brian Kelly’s time in South Bend, the 2013 loss to Saban in the national title in which the Tide could have effectively named their score, and the 30-3 beatdown from Clemson two years ago are wildly relevant.
Notre Dame’s signature win this season was an overtime victory over Clemson without Trevor Lawrence. That was still an impressive win, as was the road victory in Chapel Hill a few weeks later. None of the Irish’s other nine wins were over a team with an above-.500 record, including five wins over the bottom five teams in the ACC and a win over a 1-8 USF team. That is not the fault of Notre Dame, but it also does not help their case of legitimacy.
Alabama has defeated teams who will play in the Peach Bowl, Cotton Bowl, and Orange Bowl this year, and have three of the top five Heisman vote getters. Bag this, tag this, throw this one out as this is going to get ugly in a hurry.