Many who've conersed with me in the UM blogosphere know that I have a bit of a gambling problem that peaks during the college football and basketball seasons. Some of those folks have encouraged me to post picks and more pointspread information. I am not that comfy with posting picks as I dont want to be perceived as a tout and I am uneasy about people just following along. Its an adrenaline rush when its my money, but its stressful when I know it involves others. But, I've long held that gambling is a hobby of mine. So is writing. Combining them on this blog with pointspread thoughts on our Big 10 games once league play begins seems like a good compromise. I hope to have fun with this. However, let me offer a couple caveats:
1.) I am putting dough on these games, but in most cases it will be less than my usual bets as some of these games I wouldn't be interested in if not for this column. I'm nothing more than a $50 or $100 per play kind of guy, so make your guesses as to how much less I am going on these, unless stated otherwise.
2.) I am sticking to the Big 10. I dont think readers, nor the proprietor of this blog, would like me promoting my "50/50 chance lock of the year in the sun belt conference." The Big 10 gives this some relevancy for the blog
3.) Blindly following plays may be hazardouse to your wallet. Please dont forget that. With that out of the way, here we go:
Minnesota at Ohio State. Line OSU -18.5, O/U 47: I am a believer in the improved Gophers. They're running Brewster's spread offense with efficieny with just two turnovers on the year and TO ratio of +11. Last year, they were among the country's worst in that department. They went a dominant 4-0 in OOC play after going 1-3 against the same level of compeition last season. The key is are the better off to give the Bucks a game in Columbus today? I think they are, to an extent. Ohio State is still making themselves over in Tyrelle Pryor's image. They are a work in progress, but I think we can see some offensive explosion from them today as Pryor gets more comfortable and Beanie Wells returns. They're avergaged 19 ppg in their last three games and they could double that against the shaky Gopher D. But, I think Minnesota is going to some damage today. There's something not right about this OSU D so far this season. They seem vulnerable and have had a hard time getting opponents off the field this year. Minny comes with more weapons and a better QB than, say OU or Troy did. I think Weber can make plays downfield and get this team into the endzone more often than those clubs did. If the Gohpers can break even in the turnovers, I think they make this a fourth quarter game. However, OSU remains a big play D and I can see a Marcus Coleman acrobatic pick here and a Lauranitis touchdown there turning this into a rout. I feel strongly the winner of this game will score into the 30s and the loser has an excellent shot of sneaking into the 20s. The winner is OSU home games has averaged 35.5 ppg in the last 17 games at the Horseshoe.
Pick: Over 47
NW at Iowa. Line: Iowa -8, O/U 42.5. There was a time where I would not think twice about putting big money on the Hawkeyes at home. They had been on a 24-8-2 ATS streak at Kinnick Stadium, but are just 5-9 there since the start of the 2006 season. The bloom is off this money making rose. The Cats are actually 6-5 straight up versus Iowa in their last 11 matchups, which is indicative of the fact that Wildcat coaching staffs over the years have always keyed on Iowa as a rivalry game. They won 21-7 on this field two years ago. Northwestern is better than they were two years, while Iowa is worse. Bacher has struggled so far for the Cats and what was expected to be a pretty good offense has been clunky. I dont really expect it to start humming on the road against a gutty Iowa defense, but I think it will still outplay the Iowa offense thats in worse shape and has identitiy issues at QB. In addition to taking the points, I have the total as well. How in the world are six touchdowns going to be scored in this game?
Pick: Northwestern +8, Under 42.5
Michigan State at Indiana. MSU -8 O/U 51. I hate taking road chalk. Its a recipe for disaster. However, I dont see any way that IU stops the Ringer train this afternoon. Ball State dominated them on the ground last week, so you gotta think MSU can just gash the Hoosiers all day with the power run. IU was scared of Nate Davis at QB last week, so they overcompensated their gameplan. At least thats the meme coming out of Bloomington. I dont even think if they focus wholly on Ringer that that would work or slow Sparty's roll in this one. Despite some interesting individual talent on the D, IU is nothing more than an average MAC team on that side of the ball, especially in its front seven. MSU will push them around all day and a conservative gameplan from D'Antonio keeps this from getting out of hand. Still, I see MSU winning with a score similar to last week's effort. They win by double digits.
Pick: MSU -8
Purdue at ND. Line: ND-1, O/U 42.5. I know, its out of conference, but I will include those frm here on out because there's not that many of them. Besides, this is a nifty little NW Indiana rivalry. I've attended several of these games and one thing I've learned is that Purdue has a close resume to Michigan's as far as Murphy's Law striking them down when they square off with the Leprechauns. Not a huge fan of Purdue's program as they really haven't done anything in several years. Heading into the year, they were only 3-16 straight up against teams that eventually went to a bowl game. Two of those wins came last year against Central Michigan, with the second being the actual bowl game. This year, they've lost to likely bowl team Oregon, but beat likely bowl team CMU again. I just cant take this team to win against a team I believe is bowl caliber, even if it is just Armed Forces Bowl caliber. Throw in the fact this game is on the road in a place where they've only won once in their last 15 tries and I am reluctantly on the Irish this afternoon.
Pick: ND -1
Wisconsin at Michigan. Line: Wisco -6, O/U 42. One of my personal rules is to always take Michigan when they're an underdog. In the last 10 years, UM is 13-7 ATS as an underdog. Hey. 65 percent is something to look for when wagering. But, these numbers get better. Since this is not the WLA and the maestros of propaganda can not censor these numbers, I'll say, UM is 1-4 ATS as a dog against OSU in that stretch. So, they are 12-3 ATS against all other comers as a dog this decade. Those are numbers I will gamble on. As far as breaking this game down, ask this: Is Michigan better off heading into this game than they were last year going into Madison? Heart and Soul Hart was in street clothes, Henne could not move his arm, giving way on the third possession to Mallet, who strung together one of the five worst QB performances in the history of the school. The D and coaches yawned their way through the game like an NFL Week 17 game when you have the playoffs clinched and a postseason game the following week. I think mentally and physically this team is much better prepped to play the Badgers and I dont think Wisconsin is really any better than they were last year. Threet may make some mistakes and bad throws, but Everidge can match those numbers. As long as UM doesn't crap down its pant leg in the opening sequences (man, I wish I could gamble on how many times I will utter that phrase this season), I dont doubt they'll be there with a chance to win in the fourth quarter. Hey, I'll be at the game, betting on the home team, what can go wrong?!?!?
Pick: UM +6
Illinois at Penn State. Line: PSU -15, O/U 55. When this line came out over the summer, Penn State was an 8-point favorite. This line has ballooned because of the dominating efforts of PSU. I think that line is inflated purely on public perception alone and not on what really will transpire on the field. I still feel like the Illini have playmakers all over the place on defense and their front will be by far the most physical team PSU will have played. I think the young QB Clark can be coaxed into making mistakes and the power running game that has walked all over the likes of Temple and Coastal Carolina will find the slogging much tougher today. Juice led his team to a win in the Horseshoe last year, so I think he can make more than enough plays today to keep this one close. The Illini are 7-1 ATS as a dog in Big 10 play in Juice's starts. I'll ride that today.
Pick: Illinois +15
Thats my Big 10 card for the day. A couple of totals, two road dogs, a road favorite, a home dog and a home favorite. There's a little bit of everything in the grocery bag, lets hope it holds a winning record. The OSU over and UM pick will be regular plays on my regular card. Illinois might be as well, depending on how the day goes. The rest are just small, for fun plays. Flaming is allowed if these picks go down in flames, by the way.