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Fab 4 picks

Pickers gotta pick, right? Ask Dwight Yoakam. Or Buck Owens. And while we are there, let's get back to the "Streets of Bakersfield."

We were a missed Alabama FG and Drew Brees hitting his thumb on Aaron Donald's helmet from having a much better week.

Hey, that's why you never apologize for close wins and good breaks. Because Vegas and the House will never harbor any warm and fuzzies. Nope, you just have to pay the man his money.

Let's remember our fundamentals. Trains almost always crash. (For those wondering, "trains" are the insanely one-sided picks that the public backs.) Lines that look too good almost always are. Nothing is due but postage and library books. Picking losers is every bit as important and entertaining as picking winners.

Got it? Good.

We are tempted to add one more as we see, feel and realize the growing divide between the top six or seven teams in the country and the rest of college football.

With that in mind, let's right this ship now, and get our college record closer to our NFL number. Deal? Deal.

And as Dwight and Buck told us,

"I came here in looking for somethin', I couldn't find anywhere else;

Well, I don't want to be nobody, Just want a chance to be myself."

Tulane minus-4 over Houston. If you are interested in playing the college game tonight, the numbers point to Tulane. What number, you ask? Well, 67 percent of the spread money is on Houston and 73 percent of the straight money is on the Cougars. But the spread has gone from Tulane minus-1 to Tulane minus-4. Remember the "Lines that look too good to be true generally are" postulate? It applies here.

Texas minus-5.5 over Oklahoma State. I know Mike Gundy is a terror as an underdog. (He's like 8-1 when his team is getting points.) But this Texas team can score, and unlike most of the teams through the first three weeks, the 'Horns have been truly tested and have a pretty good idea of who they are and what they do well.

LSU minus-23 over Vandy. Not unlike when Georgia went to Nashville, there are two undeniable truths at play here. First, and most importantly, the talent divide 1-through-22 in terms of starters and 1-through-70 in terms of total rosters is enormous between these two. Secondly, here's betting there will be a lot of purple and gold in the stands Saturday.

UCF minus-12 at Pitt. The price here is very good for a few reasons. First, how much does Pitt have in the tank after a) an emotional loss against Penn State, and b) having to discuss the incredibly bad decision by head coach Pat Narduzzi to kick — and miss — a field goal from the 1 down 17-10 in the fourth quarter. Never mind the speed edge that UCF will bring. Never mind the continual chip UCF brings against every Power 5 team it plays. Side research note: In non-bowl games, UCF is  20-8-1 against the spread since the start of 2017. That is very entertaining.

Coastal Carolina-UMass under 62. Yep, we're tempted to ride against the worst team in the country, the UMass Minutemen, but the Chanticleers are not exactly the mid-1980s Sooners either. Neither team averages more than 5 yards a play — Coastal ranks 108 in yards per play; UMass is 117th. Yeah, that will do.  

Air Force plus-7.5 over Boise State. Boise State has some serious injury issues, including both starting offensive tackles, who are listed as questionable. And man, this is one of those spots that the military dudes getting more than a TD thrive in, you know?

Oregon minus-10 at Stanford. Traditionally, this has been a spot in which The Cardinal has thrived. This, however, is not a traditional Stanford team under David Shaw. After allowing 90 points total in back-to-back losses against USC and UCF, Stanford will see a better offense with a better quarterback this week. Yeah, after Stanford allowed 724 passing yards and seven TDs the last two weeks, if you are in a weekly college fantasy league, Ducks QB Justin Herbert seems like a good play. But the half to be safe because, well, you know.

Last week: 2-6 against the spread (33.3 percent)

This season: 12-15 against the spread (44.4 percent)



College football items of interest

You will notice that three very large games were skipped in the picks.

You are aware that Friday is the mailbag. If you want more detailed breakdown on any game not covered above or in the next few graphs, fire away.

Here are some college football trends to follow this weekend, though, whether you are a bettor or just a casual observer:

— Will the power teams continue flex their powerful weapons? Alabama is close to a 40-point favorite. Clemson is a 41-point favorite. THE Ohio State is right there close to a six-TD pick. Georgia is more than a two-TD pick and they are playing a top-10 team, for Pete's sake.

— If those elite programs — and it's one of the reasons I like LSU this weekend, because I think they have elite talent with Joe Burrow even if they are not quite viewed that way yet — and their dominance are not enough, look at the way everything else in college football is muddled together. Florida is the No. 9 team in the country, but the Gators are only pegged as 14-point favorites over UT? Something feels fishy there, and it has nothing to do with former UF coach Jim McElwain and his attraction to sharks.

— A very tough spot for Auburn to win here, in my opinion. True freshman making his first road start. An offense that, other than some moments against a Kent State team that would finish third in the TSSAA Division II-AAA rankings, has been as disjointed as a broken lawn chair. Your best player — Derrick Brown — is questionable. And then there is the Kellen Mond factor, because if you remember, Mond melted in the fourth quarter at Auburn last year and gift-wrapped a victory for the Tigers. Here's betting he's had this one circled all offseason.

— Tough today and September for the head coaches with UTC ties. We know that Rusty Wright's Mocs continue a brutal start to their schedule with No. 2 James Madison coming to Finley. Tough challenge. The Richmond Spiders and Russ Huesman are off this week after a disastrous 22-point loss to Elon. Will Healy and the Charlotte 49ers head to Clemson for a paycheck Saturday. And Tom Arth and the Akron Zips are 17-point home underdogs to Troy this weekend.    



Must-see Thursday night TV?

If there is a match-up made for "Thursday Night Football," it's live from Nashville, Titans-Jags.

Talk about gluttons for punishments, right?

That said, every chance has to be embraced by Marcus Mariota to prove he's the guy for this franchise.

And it's even more important when you go against a team like Jacksonville, which a) is in world-class turmoil with its starting QB out for months and its best player demanding a trade and b) is offensively limited to begin with.

In fact, win or lose, how Mariota compares to Gardner Minshew, the Jags' rookie starter, will be quite telling.

If they are interchangeable, shouldn't that tell you all you need to know about whether Mariota should be the franchise guy and get that franchise QB contract?



This and that

— This is very interesting and a trend that will only grow. The Chicago Cubs are going to their own network at the end of this season. That's the trend. The fallout means that the Cubs are saying goodbye to WGN, which along with TBS brought baseball to my generation when we were growing up. It was really bad baseball — the Cubs and the Braves back then were ROTTEN — but it was daily baseball nonetheless.

— Stop me if you've heard this one, but Duke got a five-star basketball commit. OK, we all generally admit that everyone in college hoops is dirty, right? (Well, everyone other than Bruce Pearl, who has reformed since he went to the Loveliest Village.) Then why do we pretend that Duke does not cheat when a) they are part of everyone in college hoops, and b) they are getting the best players every stinking' year?

— Colin Kaepernick's agent has reached out to three teams. OK. My agent has reached out to three teams, too. Actually, that's not true. I don't have an agent. My wife called a few teams to gauge interest. They said they'd call us. So I'm sitting by the phone. Rinse, lather, repeat.



Today's questions
 
Feel free to weigh in on the big football weekend.

As for today, Sept. 19, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" debuted on CBS in 1970. An underrated all-timer in terms of show and cast. Wow.

On this day in 1989, "Doogie Howser, M.D." debuted.

On this day in 1990, "Goodfellas" was released. That's the biggest Oscar outrage of all time.

On this day in 1994, "ER" premiered. Dear buckets, this was a good day in TV and movies.

OK, on this day Adam West would have been 91 and the TV show "Superman" debuted.
Rushmore of actors as Superheroes. Go.

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