I’ve had some pretty good luck so far against the spread this year.
In all SEC games I’m 13 games over .500, and I’m 19-8-1 in the five games across college football that I pick on Thursdays in the daily column “5-at-10” on timesfreepress.com. It’s been a good first half.
Someone asked if there was a system, and well, yes, there kind of is.
First, we generally pick only college games (for entertainment purposes only, of course) because there are so many games that generally at least one or two lines will be out of whack. With no more than 16 NFL games per weekend and official injury reports and so much intel out there about every team, after the first three weeks the NFL lines are pretty spot-on.
After looking at all the college lines, it’s important to settle on no more than eight games and start to whittle them down.
The biggest detector for us is what we call the “Flip it Number.” The FIN is the number of additional points it would take for you to bet on the other team. For example, Alabama is minus-26 against Ole Miss. If you like Alabama a lot at that number, then ask, “How many points would it take for me to feel good about betting on Ole Miss?” Would you take Ole Miss plus-35? Maybe. How about Ole Miss plus-38? You bet. OK, then the FIN is 12, and any time you can find a game that has a FIN of 10 or more, then you have to feel pretty good about it.
Here’s another example: LSU minus-15 at Tennessee. Would you feel comfortable with UT plus 28? Maybe. So the FIN on that game is at least 13. There are not a lot of those games, but you have to maximize them when you find them.
Last week’s SEC guesses: 5-1 overall, 3-2-1 against the spread
Season’s SEC guesses: 40-9 overall, 29-16-3 against the spread
South Carolina at Mississippi State
12:21 p.m., Davis Wade Stadium
TV/Radio: WDSI/1370 AM
Breakdown: After a tumultuous week, the playing field may be a welcomed reprieve for the Gamecocks. Coach Steve Spurrier went news conference nutso on a columnist this week, black-balling him because of a story he wrote in the spring. Huh? Hours later, Spurrier dismissed career problem child Stephen Garcia. Now the Gamecocks head west to the home of cowbells, early kickoffs, Bloody Marys and Goody’s headache powders. As long as Marcus Lattimore makes the trip, USC will be fine.
The line: South Carolina minus-3
The pick: South Carolina, 28-17
LSU at Tennessee
3:30 p.m., Neyland Stadium
TV/Radio: CBS/106.5 FM
Breakdown: It’s the weekend of the road favorite in the SEC, and this one seems like a runaway, right? What would it take for a Tennessee win? Two special-team touchdowns? Where does Tennessee have an edge in this matchup? All of those questions seem appropriate, and the painful answers have more to do with LSU’s strength than UT’s weakness.
The line: LSU minus-15
The pick: LSU, 44-10
Alabama at Ole Miss
6 p.m., Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
TV/Radio: ESPN2/97.3 & 99.3 FM
Breakdown: Another big road favorite and another big-time powerhouse in Alabama. Ole Miss, which suspended four players including running back Brandon Bolden, more than likely does not have a player who would start for Alabama. OK, maybe Rebels speedster Jeff Scott would return punts, but who else? Put it this way: If Alabama turns the ball over five times and commits 10 penalties and Ole Miss gets three long touchdown plays from Scott or shifty quarterback Randall Mackey, want to know what happens? Nick Saban’s head pops off and the Tide win only 35-21.
The line: Alabama minus-26
The pick: Alabama, 44-7
Florida at Auburn
7 p.m., Jordan-Hare Stadium
Breakdown: Young quarterbacks make mistakes. It’s as fundamental as blocking and tackling. There will be a lot of young quarterbacks in the mix tonight when the Gators, who will be without regular starter John Brantley, and the Tigers meet. Mistakes will come tonight, and which team makes the most of those miscues will win. Sometimes it’s that simple.
The line: Florida minus-2
The pick: Auburn, 31-26
Georgia at Vanderbilt
7 p.m., Vanderbilt Stadium
TV/Radio: FoxSS/102.3 FM
Breakdown: Quick, name the SEC team other than LSU or Alabama that is on the biggest roll? That’s right, Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs, who have won four straight — and all of them by a touchdown or more. The Bulldogs have surged by being subtly great on third down, turning freshman running Isaiah Crowell loose and using a defense that is ranked in the top 10 nationally. It’s a nice combo, and it should extend Georgia’s streak to five today.
The line: Georgia minus-11
The pick: Georgia, 31-17
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...