Highlighted by the Washington Redskins' walk-off defensive touchdown, there were a lot of bad gambling beats last weekend.
On the college side, Florida converting a fourth-and-1 pass for a spread-covering touchdowns counted as a bad beat.
A last-second touchdown pushed the Nevada-Fresno State game over last week. A game-ending fumble recovery that became a meaningless TD allowed La. Monroe (which was favored by 7.5) to beat Coastal Carolina 51-43. Oklahoma State, last week, cost us with a seven-point win while giving up eight. Hey it happens. That's why it's called gambling and Vegas passes out free drinks and offers five-star meals for $8.99.
But, even with a 2-3 mark last weekend, we're 16-10 against the number. Entertaining, yes. But more like a fun action movie. Think Transformers.
We want to be Maximus.
Miami-Florida State under 48.5. FSU has issues at quarterback. Miami defensively has the best young front seven in college football. Now know, there's a real chance that Mark Richt's Hurricanes could be joined on the panhandle by tropical storm Nate this weekend. I think Miami wins this game, but let's be honest, how seriously have the Canes been tested. This one screams tight, conservative, 21-17 finish in sloppy conditions. Both of these teams are littered with future NFL players, especially on defense.
North Carolina State plus-3.5 over Louisville. Those of you who follow the picks on a regular basis know that we buck the traditional play of most regular gamblers and play mostly favorites. Among our rules is the maxim that never pick an underdog unless you believe they are going to win the game. We feel that N.C. State is the better, more complete team and they are at home. Also know this: N.C. State's strength — an NFL-laden defensive front — goes against Louisville's offensive line, which is clearly the Cards' biggest weakness. Yes, please.
Navy minus-7 over Air Force. The Middies are at home, and who better to be prepared for the Air Force option than a Navy defense that sees it on a fairly regular basis. This rivalry has been pretty even through the 2000s — Navy has a 10-7 edge since the turn of the century — but the home team has dominated recently, winning six of the last eight. (We also have a
Marshall minus-14 over UNC-Charlotte. This is this week's pick-a-loser game. Marshall may not be in the Jim Donnan glory days, but the Thundering Herd play hard, are 3-1 overall and 4-0 against the number. UNC Charlotte is bagel-and-5, and that includes a 28-zip home loss to Georgia State and a loss to North Carolina A&T. Two touchdowns is a great price for Marshall, even on the road. (Yes, we'll buy the half to guard against the backdoor cover that seems to have haunted a lot of us lately.)
Penn State minus-14 over Northwestern. The Nittany Lions have style-points motivation. This is a new kickoff (11 a.m. Central), which will help tame the Northwestern home crowd. Plus, add in the fact that Northwestern had Wisconsin last week, meaning Pat Fitzgerald's defense really couldn't spend any extra time on this high-powered Penn State bunch and Saquan Barkley. This one screams 49-14.
Bonus pick (so we can have five in the paper): Idaho minus-7 over Louisiana-LaFayette. Yes, buy the half here, and here's why. We like Idaho's quarterback. We know LaFayette's quarterback is doubtful. We also know — and this is a regular spot of interest for us — that the travel and change of conditions, really help the home team in games between mid-majors.
Last week: 2-3 against the spread (40 percent)
This season: 16-10 against the spread (61.5 percent)