Sometimes, the art of picking games gets a bit frustrating. You can analyze a game, and for each team your analysis can be 100% correct 11 times in a season... but that one game, it all goes out the window.
What we're saying here is that sports are dumb.
We still love them anyway, though. So on that note, For Entertainment Purposes Only, we present five more games you can watch with a vested interest of some sort this weekend.
|Friday, 6 p.m. Raymond James Stadium, Tampa FL|
JM: One of the great things about a really bad team suddenly becoming good is that the people betting on football don't catch on for a year or two. The usual pattern here is that the team fails to cover when going up against strong competition... but tends to easily cover when going up against bad teams, because they aren't yet considered elite enough to warrant super-large lines.
Such is the case with Memphis, who failed to cover against Cincinnati and Bowling Green, but covered easily against Kansas and Missouri State. Memphis beat Bowling Green, who obliterated Maryland, who blew out South Florida. Taking the over/under into account, Vegas is predicting 35-26 here. South Florida only managed to score 17 against Maryland, a team which held a players-only meeting this weekend of which Randy Edsall wasn't even aware. Memphis covers.
(Side note: all four Memphis games have hit the over. Wink, wink.)
LT: I do not like this game. Jon is absolutely right that Memphis is clearly the better team and on most Saturdays should be a given to cover that spread with ease. But there are a couple of dangerous signs that could be pointing to inexplicable upset, or at least a narrow escape for the Tigers. First of all, Memphis fans started chanting "We want Ole Miss" at the end of last week's game, so the team must be careful not to look ahead to its next game, which is after a bye week on Oct. 17. Speaking of bye weeks, South Florida had one a week ago, so that extra preparation should help as well.
And yet, this is still a very good Tigers offense, and South Florida's offense is probably inept enough to not do too much against a weak Memphis defense. One that is going to get torn apart in a loss to Ole Miss, by the way. But this week, the Tigers stay focused and cover.
|Saturday, 11 a.m. Spartan Stadium, East Lansing MI|
JM: This is going to surprise everyone. This is another over/under analysis pick, so bear with me. The projected score, combining the spread and total, is 39-17 or 40-18. Purdue has scored at least 24 points in every game so far. Michigan State has not yet scored over 35 points in a game this season. And while Purdue's pretty stinky, I don't think we can say with a straight face that they're appreciably different from either of the directional Michigans that the Spartans had trouble with. Michigan State is 0-4 ATS this season. Sparty's going to win; that's not even a question. But Purdue covers.
LT: Man, the Big Ten is stupid. But I think Michigan State is due for a big win, and Purdue just won't be able to do much against that defense. Spartans cover.
|Saturday, 11 p.m. Amon Carter Stadium, Fort Worth TX|
JM: Easy narrative: team with no offense faces team with hospitalized defense. Reality: Texas is scoring points, y'all. Bunches of them. Why, against Oklahoma State they probably should have scored 41. That part about the TCU defense, on the other hand... that's real. TCU probably still wins, but not by 15. Horns cover.
LT: Wasn't it just a week ago you were questioning Texas' offense? Now one big game against OSU and you're convinced? I guess. The thing is, TCU can't seem to pull away from any FBS team. I have a strange feeling this week will be different, but it's not enough to persuade me to stick with logic. Longhorns cover.
|Saturday, 3:00 p.m. Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn AL|
|San Jose State||
JM: I wonder if San Jose State could beat Jacksonville State? The Spartans have been all over the place, while Auburn has just been bad, and the War Tiger Damn Eagles seem to be falling apart at the seams. It's entirely possible this is the week Auburn gets it together, but speculation isn't how you make decisions like this. I'm taking San Jose State to cover.
LT: Two weeks ago, Auburn got embarrassed by LSU. A 17-9 loss to Mississippi State last Saturday showed some major improvements, although Sean White clearly didn't fix the quarterback issues. Still, he made them a little better and SJSU has made a habit of getting blown out on the road. I think it happens again. Tigers cover.
|Saturday, 7:00 p.m. Byrd Stadium, College Park MD|
JM: Again: secret team meeting. Blowout losses to Bowling Green and West Virginia. Bad football team. Meanwhile, Michigan -- presumed after week one to be a tire fire themselves -- suddenly looks really good after dismantling BYU and then watching Utah road-grade Oregon. The Michigan defense is a real thing, and may be a wonder to behold by December. Meanwhile, Maryland's offense against living, breathing organisms... well. You get the gist. Overexposed X-Men cover.
LT: As much as I hate to say it, Jon is right, and really, isn't this sort of what everyone predicted for Jim Harbaugh? The Wolverines were far too broken to fix right away, but he's just too good of a coach for them to stay down for long. Now they're starting to roll, and we'll find out if they're ahead of schedule against Northwestern and Michigan State at The Big House in the next two weeks. But first the Wolverines are going to roll Maryland and cover that spread.