Every now and then, a "poison pill" kind of week comes up for anyone's gambling preference. There are no good games worth picking, nothing worth really noting. You look at the schedule and immediately root for minimal casualties because this is the week where confidence might not matter. Simply put, the week sucks.
This week is one of those weeks. There are some virtually unpickable games. Just look at the ACC. North Carolina is favored by three over 23rd-ranked Pittsburgh on Thursday night. Would you pick anybody in that game? I wouldn't feel confident touching that with a 10-foot pole.
Then there's Louisville, favored by 11.5 at Wake Forest. As Boston College people, we've seen both of those teams. Would you pick Louisville on the road with that type of point spread? Their offense has some speed, but Wake has a darn good defense. The Wake offense, meanwhile, will be lucky to score 15 points, let alone score enough to beat the Cardinals by 12 or more.
How about a guaranteed win game? Florida State just lost and is entering their game against Syracuse with a vengeance. Syracuse has no offense and no quarterback. The Seminoles are favored by 20.5. Even though FSU is probably going to beat the stuffing out of the Orange, that's a tough line to be willing to bet on.
We all know I love picking mid-major games. UConn hosts ECU and they're favored by a touchdown. I feel zero confidence picking either team. ECU isn't that great, and you can't really pick Connecticut to come within a touchdown of anyone. They're prone to some mega stinkers.
I'm still going to give it a shot this week, but there aren't many of these games I'm confident in.
Last Week: 3-2
#19 Ole Miss (-7.5) at Auburn
I don't feel any kind of confidence picking this game because Auburn, if you'll remember, should have been a national contender this year. They barely beat Jacksonville State, then got blown out at LSU. After back-to-back losses to the Tigers and Mississippi State, they rallied with a win over San Jose State. But if you look at the last couple of weeks, they've barely beaten Kentucky, then lost in multiple overtimes to Arkansas in an actual thriller.
Ole Miss, meanwhile, continues to get better after their loss to Florida. They bookended wins around their loss to Memphis, a team we're finding out is good enough to be a middle-to-high tier team in a weakened SEC. Their win last week, over Texas A&M, acted as an SEC West elimination game of sorts; they destroyed the Aggies in a 23-3 victory.
With four games left on the schedule, I'm hesitant to really want to take Ole Miss, but Auburn doesn't do anything for me. The game's at Auburn, which worries me. But I'll take the Rebels because I think Auburn is ready to fold. A loss drops them to 4-4, and there's a difference right now between how good the top of their division is versus the bottom. The top is very good. The bottom is not. I don't know if Auburn is bad enough to be at the bottom, but I'm taking Ole Miss to find out.
Florida International (-2.5) at Florida Atlantic
The annual battle between the two schools finds FIU at 4-4 on the season, 2-2 in Conference-USA, taking on a 1-6 FAU team that is 1-3 in league play.
In the mid-major conferences, the bad teams are HORRIBLE, so I'm taking FIU to hold this spread. But again, this isn't exactly an easy to pick game. None of FIU's wins are over decent teams, having beaten Central Florida, FCS-North Carolina Central, UTEP, and Old Dominion. They lost to UMass, looking bad in the process.
But it's not like FAU is anything resembling a competitive football team. In their last three losses, they lost to Rice, Marshall, and UTEP. Their only win is over UNC-Charlotte, a team that's barely transitioned to a real football FBS program (I don't think they're fully able to go to a bowl yet).
This is the annual Shula Bowl, which hasn't had anything resembling a close outcome as of late. Last year, FIU won 38-10. The year before that, FAU won, 21-6. IN 2011, FIU picked up a 41-7 win. FAU is a long way removed from winning eight of the first nine battles in this rivalry, though the game's only been played in Boca Raton twice before - with FAU winning once.
Screw it, this game stinks. I'm taking FIU.
Syracuse (+20.5) at #17 Florida State
I've been pretty adamant about Florida State as a house of cards through their first few games. I don't think the Seminoles are really that good of a team, and I've been really public about that this year. They've lost some of what made them the most dominant team in the nation for the past two years.
This season, FSU struggled to dominate teams. Taking their game against Texas State out of the equation, they only beat South Florida and Louisville by 20. They struggled with Boston College, Wake Forest, and Miami.
Syracuse has a good enough defense to keep this close. They won't win...unless, well...
Georgia at #11 Florida (-2.5)
Again, I don't feel a lick of confidence in this result whatsoever, but I think Florida is better than Georgia by three points or more. This game is going to be a four or five point final, but I think UF is winning this. UGA is an ugly dog.
BONUS PICK BECAUSE THIS WEEK STINKS
Virginia Tech at Boston College (Under-37.5)
The over/under for the Virginia Tech-Boston College game is 37.5. With a two point spread, Vegas thinks the final score of this will be something like 20-18 in favor of the Hokies. Conceivable, if you think BC is getting in the end zone with the pu-pu platter of Troy Flutie and John Fadule at quarterback (even if Jeff Smith plays, that's like adding an extra crab rangoon to the pu-pu).
I'm going with the over/under on this. BC's defense is elite, and Virginia Tech's offense is one-dimensional with Michael Brewer (who missed tons of time and is due to show some rust after last week's "first game back" against Duke) calling signals. I think Steve Addazio can outcoach Frank Beamer any day of the week. It would shock me if BC won this one, but since I can't pick the Eagles with any kind of confidence, just take the under on a 17-10 final or something.
I'm flexing this pick into my picks. If I lose one and win on this one, I'm counting it as a mulligan somewhere along the line.
LOCK OF THE WEEK
#3 Clemson (-10) at NC State
Just give me money on this one. This is the only game where I can state something with any kind of confidence.
Clemson is a very good team ready to contend for a national championship. NC State is 1-2 against real football teams, having surrendered 20 points to Louisville and 28 points to Virginia Tech. Though they beat Wake Forest, it's clear, once again, that the Wolfpack are built on a house of cards. Go with the Tigers and go with them to salt this one away early, then coast home.