When you lose, it's all about how you respond. It's all about being able to rebound the next week, stay within your game plan and system, and regroup without panicking. The last thing you want to do is come out too fired up during the next week and wind up playing yourself over the edge into another defeat.
Based on my tone this week, you probably thought I was talking about Boston College football. I'm not. I'm actually talking about my betting picks. After opening up with two solid weeks, I faltered last week, losing more than I won.
I successfully picked NC State to cover the spread against Old Dominion, which probably should've been stealing money at that point. For the third consecutive week, I nailed my lock. It's those pesky other three games driving me into my first lost week of the season.
Let's recap. I picked Wake Forest to cover a 5.5 point spread over Army West Point. Wake wound up winning by three, losing their quarterback, John Wolford, in the process. I'm not sure if that's the Army showing me up with their toughness or if Wake's offense decided to take about six giant steps back after losing their quarterback. So I had that going, which was nice.
Then I picked TCU to cover a 37.5 point spread over SMU. Those huge point spreads are always tough to gauge because it requires one team to blow their opponent out - then continue blowing them out. It requires a team to play defense while dominating offensively. When SMU failed to cover the spread against Baylor earlier in the year, I took TCU on the same basis; the Mustangs would hold the game close but ultimately lose to the talent in the second half.
That's pretty much what happened. SMU only trailed 28-17 at the half, but instead of TCU pulling away in the third quarter, the Mustangs outscored the Horned Frogs, 17-14, to pull with 42-34. TCU wound up scoring 14 fourth quarter points, but they would've needed to hit 70-plus to cover the spread.
Then I took USC to cover a 10 point spread over Stanford. I offer no excuse for that one. Stanford can just go to hell, and USC dropped a steaming pile of cow dung offensively in that game.
Anyways, I nailed my lock of the week, so at least I can hang my head on that. Let's get on with the picks for this week. Remember that different companies and websites offer different bettings odds, so the odds and spreads you may find may be different from what is listed below:
Last Week: 2-3
#20 Georgia Tech (-7.5) at Duke
Poor Duke. I have to pick on them two weeks in a row. Georgia Tech lost last week to Notre Dame in a game that really wasn't as close as the score indicated. Duke lost last week in a game where their quarterback really didn't look like he was capable of taking over.
That means you have a susceptible Duke team hosting a really angry Georgia Tech team in an ACC game that the Yellow Jackets will likely look to make a statement in. They're getting what amounts to a touchdown (of course seven points means Duke covered), but since I think GT will win this by at least two scores, I'm taking the bees.
UMass at #6 Notre Dame (-28.5)
And what of those Fighting Irish? Well a week after they played Georgia Tech, they remain at home to play the Minutemen.
To be honest, I'm picking this game just to recap what happened to UMass last week. Down 20-17, they scored a touchdown with about 1:20 left to go up 23-20 on the Temple Owls. But they blew the extra point, which the Owls blocked and returned the opposite way for a successful two-point conversion. So instead of leading 24-20, forcing Temple essentially to go the length of the field for a touchdown, the Owls trailed 23-22.
On the runback, UMass' Matt Sparks received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, forcing them to kick off from the 20 yard line. Even with a solid kick by Blake Lucas, Temple started at their 35 yard line and marched to the UMass 15, where Austin Jones kicked a field goal with practically no time on the clock.
Blake Frohnapfel went 29-55 for 393 yards and three touchdowns, completing more passes than UMass had rushing attempts. But UMass also only averaged 1.8 yards per rush...against Temple. Now they head to Notre Dame for a paycheck game.
I hope someone visits the Grotto and prays for UMass in this one.
#3 TCU (-6.5) at Texas Tech
The over/under in this is 80.5. TCU loves to move the ball up and down the field. Kliff Kingsbury's offense is nicknamed "Air Raid." There's a possibility this breaks the over.
NC State (-17) at South Alabama
I'm just going to keep riding NC State until they play someone from a real conference. So that means I should probably stop picking them next week.
Lock of the Week
#22 BYU (+6.5) at Michigan
Last week, the Cougars lost their first game of the season, 24-23, to a top 10 team when they lost at UCLA. Michigan, meanwhile, is righting the ship after losing their first game of the season against Utah.
But I'm not buying on the team from the state north of Ohio (that one's for one of my friends and for my good pal Cam Underwood over at State of the U). The Wolverines beat up on UNLV and Oregon State. The Beavers currently hold wins over Weber State and San Jose State, and UNLV hasn't so much as sniffed a victory this year - although they did lose by one possession against Northern Illinois back on September 5th.
So I'm saying the Cougars win this one easily, and as a prop/bet, we get at least 6.5 shots of Harbaugh on the sideline with an annoyed look of frustration on his hands.
Captain contest if you can tell me what this man is saying. Personally, I think the first down marker got put right through his big toe.