Fab 4 picks
Condensed week means crazy adjustments.
Like Will Healy pulling up a chair on Press Row on a Tuesday. (Hear it here. He is legit, and as someone asked on a True or False Tuesday, I believe the current Charlotte coach will be at a Power Five job sooner rather than later.)
Like College Football Hall of Famers Jim Donnan on a Wednesday (as in today) in the 5 p.m. hour.
Like our picks — NFL and college — moving up.
Hey, as Ron Burgundy says, "When in Rome." You know what, when we started crushing our Fab 4 picks was when picked up a theme. No-Pay November, and we started fast last night as the Fighting' Akron Arths returned to form with a one-sided loss to Ohio.
(Side note: There's a real argument to be made that Akron was the worst FBS team in the modern era. If you are scoring at home — or if you are all by yourself — Akron finished bagel-and-12, 1-11 against the spread. The Zips had two games — a 17-20 loss at Miami-Ohio and a 29-37 loss to UMass — that were decided by single digits. The average numbers put Akron at a negative-25.8 per game, which is third worst, behind Bowling Green, which beat Akron 35-6, and UMass. If Champ Kind needed to describe the run of disaster, it would have to be "Whammy.")
So, let's get to the picks, right? Right.
Ole Miss plus-2.5 over Mississippi State. Yes, I'd wait a touch on this one and see if you can get it to that wonderful, round 3 that we all treasure, but I truly believe the wrong team is favored. Yes, MSU is playing for a bowl spot, and yes, MSU is at the Cowbell Castle. (Yes, that's the More Cowbell scene from SNL, and not Ron Burgundy, but it's pretty close, right?) John Rhys Plumlee is the best athlete on the field, will top the 1,000-yard mark for the season in this one (despite only playing in eight games) and be a handful for a MSU bunch that has unknowns at QB and head coach, which is a wee bit troubling.
Charlotte minus-9 at Old Dominion. Yes, we are partial to Coach Healy. But this one is going to be like Brick in the News Team battle — "I think Brick killed a guy with a trident" — for a lot of reasons. The 49ers are playing to improve their bowl stock on their first ever postseason trip; the 1-10 Monarchs are playing out the string.
Arkansas State minus-11 at South Alabama. Yes we are riding a couple of road favorites laying a TD. Want to know what else those games have in common? The home teams (USA and ODU) are each 1-10 and the crowds will be, shall we say, scattered. Which could lead to some lackluster showings. How's this for a stat convergence? USA has allowed more than 28 points in every FBS game it has played. In its eight games (6-2) since its 55-0 loss to Georgia, Arkansas State has scored 28 or more seven times. It's science.
Wake Forest minus-4 over Syracuse. With the lone exception of a house call over Duke 10 days ago, the Orange have been awful. And cash-tastic. In its last six, Syracuse is 1-5 overall and 1-5 against the number. Did you know Wake could get to nine wins if it wins at the Carrier Dome (dome stadium, away from the elements)? Yes, that escalated quickly.
Tennessee minus-21 over Vandy. Buy the half for a little back-door insurance, but I think the Vols want a big finish, and the 'Dores' DBs have little answer for that collection of NFL talent on the perimeter for the Vols. I think UT names its number and, with the last couple of years of frustration against Vandy, I think Pruitt and Co. will name a very large number.
Boise State minus-13 over Colorado State. As Paschall likes to call them, The Fighting' Bobos (CSU coach Mike Bobo, the former UGA quarterback and OC, is a friend of my Press Row cohost) have spiraled. Last week was a last gasp, and the CSU Bobos could not topple a Wyoming offense that is dreadfully one-dimensional. Now comes a Boise bunch who are going to go Jack Black on Bobo's Baxter. "Now this is happening Broceph." (Side note: The committee should be sending a thank-you note to BYU, which pulled off a 28-25 upset over Boise State in October, and will be the Broncos' only loss. Remember BSU is 20th in the CFP committee poll, just two spots behind Memphis and one behind Cincinnati — and those teams play this week — in a race to be the highest-ranked Group of 5 team. That is something to play for and impressive wins are needed to impress the committee.) Also of note, and this applies to almost every locale, check the weather. It's going to be cold in Fort Collins over the weekend — Boise is used to cold — and snow is possible on Friday. Those details can be game changers for a lot of other teams.
LSU-Texas A&M over 62. Lots at stake here. Two defenses that are susceptible to hot QBs. This is a season-making game for the Aggies, potentially, and a season-changing game for the Tigers, who lost this matchup in a million overtimes last season. Can't you see this being like 31-24 at halftime?
Last week: 9-3 with MACtion against the spread (75 percent)
This week: 1-0 (War Arths) against the spread (you know that percent)
This season: 54-43-2 against the spread (55.7 percent)
Yes, we are picks heavy today, but we are going to toss them out on the show, so there you go.
We have been red-hot since the NFL preseason. (We'll total the numbers but we are north of 60 percent, which is big money.)
Chicago minus-3 over Detroit. The Lions are staring the real possibility of turning to David Blough at quarterback — on a short week — against a Bears defense that has to be salivating. Buy the hook to be safe.
New Orleans minus-7 over Atlanta. Yes, we are heavy on Thanksgiving football. I think the Saints are kinda ticked after their last performance against these Falcons. Buy the half (again) and sit back and watch the Saints win by double-digits. (While we are here, go ahead and bet the parlay on all the favorites on Turkey Day if you want a little juice on each game as you and your family get juiced on Thursday.)
Cleveland minus-2 at Pittsburgh. This one is kind of fun with all the swirling storylines, right? Still a Steelers team — which has been very good defensively — turning to Duck Medlin without its best wideout or top running back and you have to wonder how they are going to score.
Pats minus-3 over Houston. Wait for it: buy the half. Remember the rule, friends. Pats at a field goal or less you have ride or die.
Packers minus-6 over New York Giants. Sometimes, you just have to trust a desperate superstar. That qualified for Aaron Rodgers this week, and he is going to have a HUGE weekend.
And to the poll
Like Destiny to the main stage, the college football committee released its rankings.
The big takeaways are clear.
The biggest change was THE Ohio State jumped LSU for the top spot.
THE Ohio State is better in the eye test. LSU has a much better résumé. Here's more from TFP college football wizard David Paschall.
But could a conspiracy theorist offer that a) the committee likes a little intrigue, b) the committee is a little too high on Penn State, and c) the committee is moving pieces to help the path for Alabama to get in.
Follow along: For Alabama to get in, they need these basic happenings. The big three of LSU, THE OSU and Clemson to win out. A small amount of chaos behind them, and the drum-banging of the vocal minority who want/need Bama in the playoff because of eyeballs.
Know this, friends: If it's close, do you think the committee (and its TV partners) want Utah, Baylor or Minnesota over Alabama and Saban in the playoff? No way.
And if the path is made easier if THE Ohio State is No. 1 rather than LSU, well, that avoids the semifinal rematch concert.
This and that
— Duke fell at home to a 28-point favorite to some guy named Stephen F. Austin. This will be a crazy run during the regular season, don'tcha think?
— Speaking of picks, well, I'm not picking the Iron Bowl for obvious reasons. (Lay the number and look at the under in the first half.) But I can't roll with the Tide in this one. Just can't.
— And yes, we made a lot of college picks but there is a lot of football on this weekend, right? Right.
— Interesting numbers from college football in terms of year-to-year viewership. CBS: +39% FOX: +17% ABC: +3% ESPN: -1% NBC: -37%. Man, Notre Dame has not had a watchable crew this year, huh?
— Enjoy this story almost every year as we are reminded of one of the best high school football games ever played.
Which way Wednesday starts this way:
Which rivalry game will be the most fun this weekend?
Which pick above do you like the best?
Which team not in the top five of the playoff ranking has the best chance to get into the field?
As for today, well, in 2013, "Frozen" was released. It was the highest grossing animated film of all time. Wow, I did not know that.
Let's play off the holiday. Rushmore of "Thanks" speeches. Go. And remember the mailbag.