College Football Picks (Weeks 1-2, 2008): 6-6 (-$50) College Football Picks (Week 3, 2008): 3-2 (+$780) College Football Picks (Week 4, 2008): 3-2 (+$340)
By the way, the second-annual Walter/Joker Annual Challenge is on, as I'll be competing with the Joker's College Picks. We each pick five games and see who does the best each week.
USC (2-0) at Oregon State (1-2) Line: USC by 25. Thursday, 9:00 ET
If you've been reading for this site for a while, you know I love going with live home dogs on weeknights on national TV, where the line movement is shifting opposite the money.
This is not one of those cases. Oregon State is not a live dog. They are simply too young and inexperienced to hang with USC. And with 90 percent of the public on the Trojans, this spread has jumped up from -21.5 to -25. It looks like Vegas set the line too low and is now panicking. USC should have this covered by halftime.
Prediction: USC 52, Oregon State 7 USC -25 (3 Units) -- Incorrect; -$330 Oregon State 27, Fake No. 1 Team 21
Connecticut (4-0) at Louisville (2-1) Line: Louisville by 3.5. Friday, 8:00 ET
This could be another situation where the public has the right side. About three-quarters of the action is on the Cardinals, forcing Vegas to move this spread off a key number of three. It's really difficult to win on the road on a weeknight in front of rabid fans, so I'm going with Louisville over a Connecticut team that barely got by Temple and Baylor.
Minnesota (4-0) at Ohio State (3-1) Line: Ohio State by 18. Saturday, 12:00 ET
Ohio State predictably struggled last week, as Top 25 teams coming off their first loss seldom cover (more on this later). However, the Buckeyes have gotten the Trojans defeat out of their system, and have finally made the quarterback switch that should have happened against USC. Jim Tressel knows that in order to qualify for the national title, his squad needs to clobber every single Big Ten opponent with Terrelle Pryor under center and Chris Wells healthy in the backfield. Minnesota's screwed.
Prediction: Ohio State 56, Minnesota 7 Ohio State -18 (4 Units) -- Incorrect; -$440 Ohio State 34, Minnesota 21
Houston (1-3) at East Carolina (3-1) Line: East Carolina by 10.5. Saturday, 3:30 ET
Forget those two impressive victories at the beginning of the year. With one loss, East Carolina's season has come to an end, as they no longer have a shot to win the national title. You gotta love college football.
With the Pirates bummed out this week, I have to go with Houston, a team that, despite its record, has been competitive recently. East Carolina's inability to beat N.C. State and cover against Tulane is troubling.
Prediction: East Carolina 27, Houston 24 Houston +10.5 (3 Units) -- Correct; +$300 Houston 41, East Carolina 24
Tennessee (1-2) at Auburn (2-1) Line: Auburn by 6.5. Saturday, 3:30 ET
I love Tennessee in this spot for a number of reasons:
1. Auburn just lost its first game. Top 25 teams coming off their initial loss seldom beat the spread. Last year, I went against Boston College after its first defeat as one of my picks of the month, and Maryland covered that contest easily. Because greedy college presidents want meaningless postseason exhibition matches instead of a playoff system that could determine a legitimate champion (something college football doesn't have), teams that lose their first game lose focus the following week because they really don't have much to play for.
2. The public just watched the Vols get "debacled" by Florida. People are seeing this and thinking, "Wow, Auburn just lost, but that was against a good team. They'll bounce back. Tennessee sucks!" A small spread of 6.5 has casual bettors pounding the Tigers as if they know the final score of this contest.
3. Line movement. Despite the fact that as of Wednesday afternoon, 98 percent of the action is on Auburn, this spread has dropped from -6.5 to -6 in some places, including Pinnacle, the sharpest sportsbook on the Web. Why does Vegas want even more money on the Tigers?
Prediction: Tennessee 17, Auburn 10 Tennessee +6.5 (7 Units - September College Football Pick of the Month) -- Correct; +$700 Auburn 14, Tennessee 12