Each week DPB’s Kyle Magin and Andrew J. Pridgen will pour on the prose with Pints and Picks™. Who to wager and what to drink while doing it. Here then, is their point-counterpoint for Sept 13, 2014. Or, if you’re in the car, simply scroll down for the recap (they may be verbose, but it’s better than clicking through a slideshow).
AJ: A bittersweet week of college football immersion ended with a dismal overall 1-for-3 debut for my picks.
First, the good: USC and the money line did not let me down. Though I didn’t anticipate a very SEC-like 13-10 Trojan victory at the Farm, it was nice to see the Pac-12 play physical—it was like watching a Lexus crash into a BMW head on or two douchebags with Tag Heuers arm wrestle over who spotted the girl across the artisanal cocktail ultra lounge on Tinder first. SC just seemed a little deeper on D than originally anticipated and Sark just a little bit more of a dickhead than imagined …and that was the difference.
Oregon’s second-half bleeding out of Michigan State was a huge surprise. We knew Oregon is faster to the line of scrimmage than a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos and the program is nothing if not about finesse and conditioning especially at skill positions and in the secondary. But who knew the Ducks would take 21 straight on the chin from the Spartans to end the first half and come back off the mat like LaMotta to keep grinding. The buzz prior to kickoff was how the Spartans would kick it uptempo and match the Ducks fast with fast. And they did.
But, I was as surprised to see the Ducks notching one in the win column for beating Michigan State at the line of scrimmage in the second half as I was at the fact they outlasted one of the most physically domineering teams in the country. They overcome the spread and the over.
And in the end, it was the Ducks who ended up playing the Spartans’ game, and winning.
Newfound physicality might be the theme for the Pac-12 this year. It’s almost as if a league-wide memo was sent out by commissioner Larry Scott saying if the the West Coast dozen is going to compete with late-night takeout and Everybody Loves Raymond reruns on the Hudson, they best start popping opponents in the mouth.
Cal’s quiet upset of Northwestern and week two fleecing of Sac State (the only NCAA D-1 school which features the Mickey’s Hornet as its mascot) might also mark Sonny Dykes’ Bears the newest team to watch in in the conference. (And let’s be honest, typing the words Sonny Dykes is fun, so Roll on You Bears). Cal features newly minted buddies with benefits Sophomore quarterback Jared Goff, perhaps the third-best under center in the conference behind Eugene’s Marcus Mariota and Westwood’s Brett Hundley—which puts him in the nation’s top 10, to wideout Kenny Lawler. Also a sophomore, Lawler showed Cal’s still got a thing for undersized acrobatic play making receivers. He may have a little of the DeSean Jackson, Keenan Allen DNA coursing through his veins.
It’s temping to get bettors’ redemption and go back to the Duck pond as well this week. After all, it doesn’t pay to bet against the Ducks covering. Since 2011, they’ve only not covered twice, including the post-season, and both of those times have been against Stanford. That said, I don’t like giving up 44 points this weekend against the 2-0 Wyoming Cowboys.
Lest we forget there are plenty of other options lining the golden coast. Along with Oregon, Cal and SC, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Utah are all thus far, undefeated.
Though I’m more excited than a beehive dweller sampling a State Street Stout to see the Utah at Michigan line for Sept. 20, the number 12 UCLA Bruins at Jerryworld will tide me over like some barbecue and hipsterfied blues on 6th Street this weekend.
Though UCLA is a dismal 1-4 against the spread vs. Big 12 teams in their last five match ups, the Bruins even laying 7.5 is enough for me to say yee-haw. Texas, with an anemic D and QB David Ash out with no John Moxon off the bench, is feckless. Look for UCLA to burn the burnt orange by double digits and still have enough in the tank to put the horns on the hook for 40-plus, easily covering the 50-point spread.
Whew, deep breath. Kyle, do you have anything to say about teams that might take their snaps east of La Brea?
Kyle: AJ, I’m actually going to join you on the Best Coast before working my way back to places where the sun don’t shine (much).
That UCLA line floored me. Texas got hurdled by BYU QB Taysom Hill last weekend to the tune of 4.1 yards per carry and three rushing touchdowns in God’s team’s 41-7 smackdown in Austin. UCLA QB Brett Hundley isn’t quite Hill’s equal as a runner but he’s in every way his superior as a passer and there’s nothing in Texas’ defensive backfield that leads me to believe the nation’s 100th-ranked pass defense won’t get sliced and diced by the wing from Westwood.
God I love ATX, get down to Maggie May’s for the rooftop drinks, stay for the Cat Osterman sightings, but as you mentioned, this one’s being played under the giant Vizio in a Dallas suburb. No matter, I was talking to my UT grad-cousin last week and he said the Eyes of Texas aren’t really upon the Horns right now, the crowd that actually shows up for Horns games is quiet and disinterested. With David Ash still out, and possibly more Angelino expats in the stands, I have to agree with you that UCLA is going to cover in a big way and eclipse the over, if only because Jim Mora wants to show Red McCombs who he should have hired.
Finally making our way east, my eyes fell upon Georgia -6 at South Carolina. “Good Coaches Win, Great Coaches Cover,” according to the chuckle-inducing waitstaff t-shirts at Palo Alto’s Old Pro sports bar. SC’s Steve Spurrier has not been a great coach this year, failing to cover both in a blowout loss to Texas A&M at home in the Gamecock’s opener and again in a listless week two win over East Carolina—the Cocks were 17 point favorites and eked out just a 10-point win. Mark Richt’s Bulldogs are coming to town to see Spurrier’s ignominious streak continued.
Georgia Quarterback Hutson Mason averaged 7.3 yards per completion against Clemson two weeks ago, and South Carolina has allowed opposing quarterbacks a 72 percent completion rate in 2014, with the average completion going for 10.9 yards. So, even if Spurrier can concoct a defense to stop Dogs running back Todd Gurley (15 carries, 198 yards, 3 rushing TDs and a kick return TD against Clemson), he’ll have to deal with Mason through the air. At the risk of being chalky, the Dogs and the points ALL DAY.
Looking northward we come to the curious cases of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Purdon’t University in Indianapolis. Notre Dame plays this ‘Shamrock Series’ game—which it annually hosts at sites around the country as its home-away-from-home-game at Lucas Oil ostensibly as a shout-out to the state of Indiana, which it neglects like a teenager does a parent.
Sure, I’ll sleep there, but I’m never hanging out there (playing IU), hanging out with you (recruiting anyone from the state) or being seen with you (pimping Notre Dame’s connection to the state at all in promotional materials. It’s Chicago’s easternmost neighborhood if you ask anyone in South Bend.) PU plays football because the schedule says it has to.
ND is a 28 point favorite (as of now.)
The Boilermakers’ defense has been mollywhopped by consecutive directional-Michigan schools to start the season–giving up 34 in a skin-of-their teeth win against Western Michigan to open the season and 38 against Central last week in a loss. Allowing 36 points per game isn’t what you want to do against Everett Golson, who leads a pretty balanced attack (260.5 yards through the air, 167.5 on the ground) and is backed by a defense that just goose-egged Michigan.
If I’m a Purdue fan, I’m wondering how it got to this point? You’re playing your marquee game of the season–nobody gives a shit about the Old Oaken Bucket—in your state’s hottest recruiting base on national TV on a frankly soft weekend in the college football schedule and are bringing nothing to the party. In an embarrassing league this is perhaps the most embarrassing participant.
AJ, I’ll flip it back over to you before letting everyone know what I think about this mismatch.
AJ: I recently had a buddy offer me an extra ticket to go see the Dave Matthews Band at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine. He hinted that the face was in the $75 range but he’d be willing to accept any offers. He didn’t want to just sell it on StubHub or deal with Craigslist people. I immediately told him it wasn’t 1994 anymore (which wasn’t a very good excuse—because in every other aspect of life and in all ways, it seems—I live in a perpetual state of 1994). Knowing this, he pressed me a little more and finally capitulated: If you can get down to LA, he said, the ticket’s on me. You can stay at my place. Just buy me a beer.
I weighed out my options like the Jerk, (“A postcard? OK, it’s a deal!”) Sure, It’d be cool buying a beer for my buddy, but in order to do so, I’d be burning through a tank of gas, several meals on the road and I’d be spending a whole lot of that time watching kind of saggy dudes in cargo shorts roaming a parking lot trying to get over on unsuspecting Santa Monica College fourth-years selling them weak-ass ‘shrooms next to a sad half-circle of gray-goateed early 40-something substitute teachers trying to hack it out in Tevas.
He ended up giving the ticket away in line for bag check in exchange for a hit off an apple bong.
…Which is about how I feel about the value of the SEC marquee match up between South Carolina (already 0-1 in conference) and the waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (catch breath) aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over ranked no. 6 Georgia Bulldogs. You could offer to fly me to wherever-it-is they play banjos on the porch and give me a free ticket and let me wander around the tailgater taking surreptitious pictures of game-day crop tops with my phone for a grainy co-ed-at-tailgaiters-themed Tumblr blog and I still don’t think the effort would be worth more than a puff off a piece of bored-out fruit.
Or, to put it bluntly, if Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan is on Oxygen at the same time Saturday and I have an opportunity to catch Andie MacDowell trying to lip synch to the overdub of her own voice, I’m all in for the lord of the apes—including tampon and herpes commercials.
Kyle already broke down the action on the field with much more veracity and actual football facts than I ever could. Possibly because he knows a little something more about how football’s played in the land of River Rat beer and possibly because I still haven’t’ forgiven Spurrier for creating Tebow in his moonshine lab by mixing his Chevy Silverado mechanic’s DNA with the book of Ezekiel, some Big League Chew and Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son.
So, yeah. I think South Carolina is going to win. Because they’re at home. Because the Bulldogs are over-rated to the tune of Utah could go into Athens and come out with a double-digit win and a signed copy of Cosmic Thing. Take the Cocks and the money line. Don’t touch the over/under, though 58 points seems a lot of points for two squads who’ll spend warm-ups practicing the bunny-ear method on their cleats.
Once more back to you Kyle for people who actually, you know, care about football.
Kyle: Bring me your unwashed masses yearning to talk yards-after-catch and field position. Let them cast aside the shackles of narrative-based arguments.
AJ, I actually want to deviate slightly from the stated purpose of this column to offer my take on Saturday’s last great Floyd Mayweather boxing match.
Anyway, if you’re looking for some side action, or just a bet that won’t be decided before dinner time PST, consider the +250 line on this fight not going the distance. Assuredly, the safer bet is Floyd winning in 12 in a decision because Floyd always wins in 12 in a decision. But, something nags at me about this fight. It’s the fact that it’ll push Floyd to 47-0 that really draws me in.
With Rocky Marciano’s sterling 49-0 record in his sights—and assurances that he plans to retire after next year—this may well be the last legit fighter we ever see Mayweather take on. Maybe May will see the finish line in sight and summon the power he hasn’t had in a decade to go for a knockout if he’s up significantly going into rounds 10-12. Maybe Chino Maidana, who gave Mayweather his best battle in years in a split-decision loss this spring, unlocks the secret to Floyd’s shoulder roll defense and lands a whopper on the champ in a similar fashion to the pounding he laid on Mayweather mini-me Adrien Broner in 2013. Again, the safe action is Floyd in 12, but I think I like +250 enough to take a run at it.
To wrap it up, let’s get back to the pillow fight in Indy. 28 points is a massive number for the Irish to cover in the pleated pants and polo capital of the world. But, I can’t take a look at Purdue in good conscience and advise you bet the Boilers, so what the hell, let’s chalk another up and throw down on the Irish to cover.
AJ: Since I pretty much stopped reading my own rant right around the time Tevas came to play, I’d like to thank you Kyle from saving this week’s picks from spam-comment-bot oblivion with the Mayhem pick. I think Floyd goes down in three if for no other reason because everyone loves a comeback and Money knows he can double his purse if he becomes more of a sympathetic figure on the card. All the greats go down at least once. Why not now?
So, I was watching Fantasy Island Thursday night during the Ravens/Steelers game because I’m in a 28-day program weaning myself from the NFL and Alan Hale (Skipper from Gilligan’s Island) guest-started as Skipper-as-race-car-mechanic. And I realized, everyone, even actors, especially actors, needs but to find one thing and do it well. That’s the secret of life Jack Palance was talking about in City Slickers, I think. So, in the spirit of that, I’ll bring it full circle and do what I do best, picking late-game winners in the west.
My final play of the week is Nevada and Arizona. The state of Nevada, fresh off mortgaging its children’s and their children’s children’s children’s future to build $5 billion battery-powered car battery plant (sorry, #gigafactory), is flush with hubris and the 2-0 pack of the Wolf reflects every bit of the state’s gold rush 2.0 virility.
Brian Pollan’s squad did not win a road game last year and only took two against the spread. Their first win this year as 24.5-point favorites against Southern Utah was a wash but they quietly took down Wazzu last week 24-13 as three-point dogs, showing they can more than hang with the bottom rung of the Pac-12. The over (63.5) on this game strikes me as a bit of a slip from Vegas. Nevada doesn’t give up a lot of points, doesn’t score a lot of points and will slow play Arizona like a back-room card game in Minden. Though Wildcat coach Rich Rodriguez is looking to build a contender just enough to bide time till he’s back in West Virginia (though it’ll cost him seven figures) at season’s end, his promising freshman QB Anu Solomon 656 yards, five TDs and no ints in his first two games) might make Rich stay awhile.
Nevada’s shut-down D-line and fast ends will be Solomon’s first true test before he’s anointed the new king in Tucson. Take Nevada, the 16 points and the under and for the sake of the state, pre-order your 2020 Tesla minivan today.
• Wyoming +44 at Oregon
• UCLA -7.5 at Texas, over 50
• South Carolina +6 at Georgia (moneyline!)
• Nevada +16 at Arizona, under 63.5
• UCLA -7.5 at Texas, over 50
• Georgia -6 vs. South Carolina
• Mayweather +250 to not go the distance
• Notre Dame -28 vs. Purdue