You can tell Ahearn really hates me because he actually took all the good games already. So, in revenge, I'm picking all the truly horrible ones, and just daring fate to present us with favorites who are actually able to cover an insane spread. Can these ridiculous spreads be covered? Can the engines be pushed to Warp 6? Scotty says "Nae, Cap'n."
Well, for the most part, anyway.
As always, this feature is intended For Entertainment Purposes Only, and you should totally do nothing whatsoever with this information.
Ball State (-21) over WESTERN MICHIGAN, 1 p.m., ESPN3
Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo MI
JM: I'm sure you're aware Western Michigan is 0-7, which is a shame because P.J. Fleck is one of the most entertaining coaches in college football. What you probably don't realize that Ball State is 6-1 and already bowl-eligible, because it's still mid-October and the MAC hasn't taken over your television set on weeknights yet. Here, we have an example of a large line that probably isn't big enough. Three of Ball State's wins have already been by 21 points or more, and one of those includes Virginia. Western Michigan is no Virginia, and only three of its losses have been by fewer than 21. (Yes, I realize that one of those losses was to Michigan State, which can be explained by the simple expedient of pointing out that if Michigan State and TCU play in a bowl game nobody will watch unless they've run out of sleeping pills.) Ball State, steamrolling toward a division-title showdown with Northern Illinois, will cover.
AA: I leave you UCLA-Stanford and this is how you treat me? Come on, man. That's not even a late Pac-12 game no one will watch. Anyway, my instinct here immediately tells me to pull from the team from Kalamazoo, just because that's a really cool name and one of my cool college friends was from there. But as you say, they're pretty terrible. I think you're right on this one. Plus, Ball St. and Muncie are pretty cool sounding names, too.
MICHIGAN STATE (-24.5) over Purdue, 11 a.m., BTN
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing MI
JM: At first glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking this must be some sort of horrible joke. I mean, the short list of teams Michigan State has even scored 27 points on this year include an FCS team and Indiana, who is allergic to defense. In other words, there's almost no evidence Michigan State can cover 24.5 even if they pitch a shutout, and except for South Florida they've given up at least 13 points in every game. Let's see here, math, math, math... oh. So you'd expect Michigan State to have to score 38 points to cover? Then again, Purdue's been held under 13 points three times this year, and they've held exactly one opponent under 30 (and that was FCS Indiana State). Still... Michigan State's anemic offense just doesn't fill me with confidence here. Take Purdue and the points.
AA: The funny thing is both of these first two games haven't reached the spread of last week's NFL game between Denver and Jacksonville. Of course, the Broncos failed to cover that spread because Peyton Manning threw a touchdown to the other team instead of his own in the first half, which Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook might do at some point, too. OK, probably not. Nonetheless, Boiler Up! Purdue will cover.
OREGON (-37.5) over Washington State, 9:00 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Autzen Stadium, Eugene OR
JM: Given today's theme, you had to know this one was coming. There's really little to say about this game that even the casual fan doesn't already know. It comes down to this: combined with the over/under, the supposition here is that Oregon's going to win 56-18. Washington State is still flawed, but no. This line is ludicrous. Oregon probably will score 56, but the Cougars are going to do better than 18. Take Wazzu and the points.
AA: I'm not sure this one's quite as obvious as Jon makes it out to be, given that Oregon has won every game on its schedule by 40 points except for the one at #16 Washington, which the Ducks only won by 21. I understand Washington State's offense is probably better than those others, but their defense is kind of terrible. Maybe the Ducks starters will stay in longer and win 63-25, or even 70-32. Either way, I'm being bold and picking Oregon to cover.
ALABAMA (-28) over Arkansas, 6:00 p.m., ESPN2
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa AL
JM: Another case of comparing the spread to the O/U here looks entirely different, as the prognosticators are settling on a 38-10 win for the Tide... which seems absolutely logical and proper. Here's a case where even faced with a large line, the rationale is sound, and you should take Alabama to cover.
AA: I don't know. 10 points seems like an awful lot for Arkansas to score on a defense that has allowed only that many in its past three weeks. I'm agreed on this one. Alabama rolls.
BOISE STATE (-21.5) over Nevada, 7:00 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Bronco Stadium, Boise ID
JM: Again, you have to look at the O/U to get a feel for where this is coming from. You think Boise will win 42-22? If so, the line's appropriate. Here's where things get tricky. Nevada is 3-3. In their wins, they've scored... well, a lot more than 22 points. In their losses, they've given up a lot more than 42. Looking at Boise's results isn't any help at all, unless you focus on their win over Air Force in Boise last month: a 42-20 win. Nevada's better than Air Force, but only barely. It's a bit of a push, but in this case I'm inclined to take Nevada and the points.
AA: Nevada is better than Air Force because they overcame a 12-point deficit in the final 6 minutes to win at home? I'm not so sure that's sound logic. Boise has started to play a lot more like Boise lately, and I think they're ready to keep taking steps forward with a big win here. Pick Boise and give the points.
FRESNO STATE (-23.5) over Nevada-Las Vegas, 9 p.m., no TV
Bulldog Stadium, Fresno CA
JM: I'm not even sure what to make of this. With the exception of Idaho, which is a truly horribawful football team, Fresno has not won a game against an FBS opponent by more than seven points. So your initial thought would be that there's no way Fresno is covering this spread. And then you'd look at UNLV and realize that after a couple of blowout losses to Minnesota and Arizona, they haven't failed to score 31 points in a game since, which would only steel your resolve. And then you'd look at the four teams UNLV has beaten in that span and say "Uh, wait a second..." But then you'd compare the spread with the O/U and see that the expected outcome of this game is 48-24 Fresno, and realize: Fresno's defense is kinda iffy, and they gave up 51 to Rutgers and 37 to Hawai'i and no frickin' way do they cover.
AA: Jon, those are harsh words to say about the #17 team in the country. But yes, they're probably also accurate. On a sidenote, please never again pick a game that requires you to type "no TV" in that first line up there. Thanks. Pick UNLV to cover.