After a couple of sub-.500 weeks, I started to really doubt if my picking abilities started to erode. I didn't necessarily abandon the manifesto, but I did take a couple of flyer picks and really turn up empty. So last week, I went back to what works - the wonderful, weird world of the MAC.
I don't proclaim to be a MAC genius, but it's a league with no rhyme or reason to its gambling picks. It's almost as if people are betting heavily on their team, covering their eyes with rose colored glasses - which is exactly one of my rules. Of course that didn't stop me from betting and losing on Boston College last week, but you get the gist.
I won two of my three games last week with the help of the Mid-American Conference. Toledo, as expected, destroyed Kent State. A top 25 team, they played one of the worst teams in all of the FBS. That was almost too easy to take what amounted to a two-touchdown difference.
With Western Michigan favored by a touchdown over Central Michigan, I really put my eggs on the Chippewas' back. I looked at CMU and saw a team that defeated Northern Illinois. Even though they played WMU on the road, I couldn't justify the touchdown difference. Even if WMU won, the game would wind up being close because of how helter-skelter CMU would need to be. Since the Chippewas lost by two, I picked it up there.
If there's one bet I want back, it's my LOTW with Texas-Oklahoma. I have no idea what happened there. Either way, back on top of .500 and building back some of my confidence is a good thing as we head into this week's picks:
Last Week: 3-2
#13 Ole Miss at Memphis (+10.5)
Ole Miss is a very good team that dropped a whole lot of points on Alabama but lost by 28 to Florida. If you're buying the win over Alabama, then you're probably thinking a team coming out of the AAC isn't capable of giving them a game.
But if you're buying on Memphis, you're really thinking the Tigers can give the Rebels a run for their money. Before you question me on this, remember the Tigers are 5-0 this year, having destroyed P5 opponent Kansas, 55-23. I think Memphis is good enough to throw a scare into the Grove, and even though I think Ole Miss is going to win, I'm taking this as a closer game than 10 points.
USC at #14 Notre Dame (-6.5)
Before the season, I really bought on Southern California. Cody Kessler is a pro-style quarterback, and I believed Steve Sarkisian would be able to lead the renaissance in Los Angeles. Then he showed up at a fundraiser drunk, opening a firestorm around his coaching capabilities, followed by a loss to Stanford exposing the offense as incapable against a very good defense.
Speaking of very good defenses - Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish rebounded last week with a win over Navy after they nearly completed a mad dash comeback over Clemson. Even though they have a loss and are only 14th in the nation, you have to think this is a game Notre Dame needs to win and win convincingly to get their season back on track.
At the same time, USC is reeling. First Sark was suspended because of his alcoholism, then he was outright fired. Teams usually respond well to adversity in situations like this, but given that Pat Haden is a complete shell of a useful athletic director, I'm not sure USC can rebound this season. Haden went about saying that none of his reviews of Sark came back with any negative information. In the words of Jim Rome during a CBS Sports Minute, "So you either had bad information, or you found what you wanted to find."
Either way, and I don't have an opinion one way or the other, this is a bad time for USC. Take the Irish.
Arizona State at #4 Utah (-6.5)
In their two losses this season, Arizona State's lost to Texas A&M and USC by 14 and 28 points, respectively. Their wins aren't over quality opponents, except for maybe that UCLA victory. Utah, meanwhile, beat Cal by a touchdown and is two weeks removed from absolutely DEMOLISHING Oregon up in the Pacific Northwest.
I think Arizona State is a team capable of pulling an upset, but I just think Utah is rolling too well. They may lose, but I don't think it's this week.
Louisville (+7.5) at #11 Florida State
There's something about Florida State I just can't put my finger on, but I think they're barreling down the tracks towards something bad. Something bad is going to happen to the Seminoles, but nobody can pinpoint where or when. I don't know if they're going to lose this game, but they're not going to look good. They've been getting progressively worse until someone pulls them out of a quagmire.
Louisville still has raw talent on their team, and if it comes together for one big game, they could win this thing. I'm taking our Papa John's Overlords to end the Seminoles outright.
Lock Of The Week
#24 Houston (-19) at Tulane
Houston is totally undefeated, going to New Orleans to take on the Green Wave (2-3 on the season). This is the same Houston team that beat Louisville and waxed SMU. Tulane's absorbed huge losses to Duke and Georgia Tech, and their two wins came against FCS Maine and a UCF team that just lost the Civil ConFLiCT to UConn. Last week, they were destroyed in Philadelphia by Temple.
Take Houston and take them big, even though I lost my lock last week.