Greeson: Bad beats will not detour these picks

Greeson: Bad beats will not detour these picks

October 6th, 2017 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Florida football coach Jim McElwain, center, looks on during the Gators' 38-24 home win against Vanderbilt this past Saturday. Florida hasn't been very entertaining lately — in more ways than one — writes columnist Jay Greeson.

Photo by John Raoux

Florida converting a fourth-and-1 pass for a spread-covering touchdown against Vanderbilt counted as a bad beat for those of us looking for game entertainment this past weekend. And that wasn't all.

A last-second touchdown pushed the Nevada-Fresno State game over. A game-ending fumble recovery that became a meaningless touchdown allowed Louisiana-Monroe, which was favored by 7.5 points, to beat Coastal Carolina 51-43. Oklahoma State proved costly with a seven-point win while giving up eight.

Hey, it happens. That's why it's called gambling, and that's why Vegas passes out free drinks and offers five-star meals for $8.99. But even with a 2-3 mark last weekend, those following the advice provided in this column are 16-10 against the number this season.

Entertaining, yes. But more like a fun action movie — think "Transformers."

We want to be Maximus.

Miami-Florida State under 48.5. Florida State has problems at quarterback. Miami's defense has the best young front seven in college football. There's a real chance coach 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 season? This one screams tight, conservative, 21-17 finish in sloppy conditions. Both of these teams are littered with future NFL players, especially on defense.

Navy minus-7 over Air Force. The Middies are at home, and who would be better prepared for the Air Force option than a Navy defense that sees a similar offense on a fairly regular basis in practice? This rivalry has been pretty even lately — Navy has a 10-7 edge since the turn of the century — but the home team has dominated, winning six of the past eight meetings. (Buy the half, because, well, you know.)

Marshall minus-14 over UNC Charlotte. This is our pick-a-loser game of the week. Marshall may not be in the glory days it knew under former coach Jim Donnan, but the Thundering Herd play hard, are 3-1 overall and have gone 4-0 against the number this year. Charlotte is bagel-and-5, and that includes a 28-0 home loss to Georgia State and a defeat to North Carolina A&T. Two touchdowns is a great price for Marshall, even on the road. (Yes, 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 the motivation of looking for style points. This is an 11 a.m. Central kickoff, which will help tame the Northwestern home crowd. You should also consider that Northwestern faced Wisconsin last week, meaning Pat Fitzgerald's defense couldn't really spend any extra time looking ahead to this high-powered Penn State bunch and running back Saquon Barkley. This one screams 49-14.

Idaho minus-7 over Louisiana-LaFayette. Yes, buy the half here, and here's why: I like Idaho's quarterback. I know LaFayette's quarterback is doubtful. I also know — and this is a regular spot of interest — the travel and change of conditions really help the home team in games in which both schools are mid-major conference members.

Last week: 2-3 against the spread (40 percent).

This season: 16-10 against the spread (61.5 percent).

SEC ITEMS OF INTEREST

First down. How does Butch Jones lose the bye week? It's a fair question, right? After escaping the opener with Georgia Tech in double overtime, finding a way to lose against Florida at the last second, finding a way to make a win over Massachusetts feel like a loss and getting blown out by Georgia, Jones will try to pull a loss out of his headset even when his team doesn't play. Of course, that's not possible — does sarcasm fall under the "fake news" category, Coach? — but I know the lack of frustration will be a welcome reprieve for every Tennessee fan in your life.

Second down. The Alabama juggernaut. How good is Alabama in the eyes of the nation? Texas A&M is 4-1 and is a second-half brain cramp in the opener from being 5-0 and ranked. And still the Crimson Tide are going to College Station, Texas, as 26.5-point favorites. (Side note: After last week's 66-3 Alabama win over Ole Miss and Tennessee's 41-0 loss to Georgia, just so you know, Vegas has made Alabama an early 35-point favorite over the Volunteers.) It's also fair to wonder if Vegas thinks Alabama is that good or the rest of the Southeastern Conference is that bad.

Third down. Can Georgia continue to roll? After three games, what did we know about Georgia? I thought it was a nice, albeit sloppy at times, win at Notre Dame that turned into a bucket list moment for red-and-black-clad fans all over the country. Then Georgia dropped poundings on Mississippi State and Tennessee, and now coach Kirby Smart's second team in Athens has moved into the top five nationally.

Fourth down. Florida-LSU is now a great matchup in name only. Man, when I think back in recent memory of the Gators and the Bayou Bengal Tigers, I envision the fourth-down attempts from former LSU coach Les Miles, former Gators quarterback Tebow powering through a front seven that had 14 NFL players, tough defenses filled with future Pro Bowlers and close games that could swing the balance of divisional races — because LSU and Florida were always good. Now? Man, this has the presumed excitement of an insurance seminar. LSU lost to Troy after getting blitzed by Mississippi State, which has been blitzed by Georgia and Auburn since then. Florida found some offensive rhythm with Luke Del Rio at quarterback, then lost him for the season because of a shoulder injury. I'm not sure how many points will be scored in this one. And worse yet, I'm not sure how many viewers will stick with this one, either.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6343.

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