Each week, during college football season DPB’s Kyle Magin and Andrew J. Pridgen pour on the prose with Pints and Picks™. Who to wager and (sometimes) what to drink while doing it.

Hi Kyle,

It’s week 3 and I’m already at a crossroads. After a revelatory picking of Cal (+14) and the moneyline—yielding a nice 9:1 return—at North Carolina week 1, I have slipped into an oh-fer malaise the likes of which I’ve only experienced at bars near closing time, and never in this space.

It’s not super-strange to me how it happened, we all hit potholes at the window and all my picks have ended up a point or two on the wrong side of garbage time scores (with the exception of Stanford/USC, but more on that below) but I can’t help but ponder whether I need to recalibrate my decision making.

This year’s picks thus far have been decidedly fewer and better researched, and yet, when I look back to successes in season’s past for me, it was more of a volume proposition, so three- or four-loss weeks were offset by the fact that I was picking six or seven games buffeted by prop bets like o/u and first-half wagering—which is where I’m usually able to shine or at least create a hedge.

So, in the simplest of terms, I’m going to combine my rekindled love for unearthing difference-making nuggets with more assured side action; selfishly, this week’s basket of picks will be an attempt to get me back up to altitude (.500 or better) fast, but it’s also a return to a gambler’s ethos which says every cold streak is just the oven getting warmed up, so this will also be a heat check of a different sort.

With that, I will set my personal ramblings aside for the moment, and lead you in Kyle with a Hunter Thompson quote that he once made up and told everyone he actually said. “You have nothing to fear, little one. No power on earth can harm me tonight. I walk with The King.”

Of course, nobody in real life—not even Hunter—has ever uttered such words.

AJ,

You in fact do walk with The King, though (or at least pick with him), judging from my 4-0 record ATS last week. This is where I should segue into a statement of modesty, but over the previous 96 hours I’ve summited the highest peak in the Lower 48, ate my first guilt-free triple cheeseburger in a decade, and amassed the aforementioned perfect record. Modesty is a stretch right now.

That said, I know how quickly the worm can turn when you’re riding a nice heater, because this sport is soooooo good at reminding the mighty just how far they have to fall. Take Brian Kelly, for instance.

//strains to hold back scissor-lift joke.

The Notre Dame head man got Georgia to travel north of the Mason-Dixon line in the regular season for the first time since your uncle who claims the party left him was actually a Democrat. Then they beat his team in another of a string of particularly painful losses since he took the Irish to the national title game in 2012.

Consider the case of Ohio State. After finishing the 2016 regular season on a five-game win streak, they’ve lost of two of their last three, including a playoff loss to Clemson and last week’s drubbing in the ‘Shoe against Oklahoma. They scored an average of 8 points in those games and are proving to look every bit like a Big Ten dinosaur from the land that time forgot, trotting out a scheme with, like, seven plays, tops.

Finally, click over to the MLB section on your favorite four-lettered sports site. There you can see how quickly life on the mountaintop can turn into a Bill Murray-in-the-opening-scene-of-Stripes existence, AKA the 2017 Dodgers. Sports giveth and taketh away in the blink of an eye, and the one time World Series favorite has lost 9 of their last 10.

Anyway, all this is to say that I’ll enjoy the champagne wishes and caviar dreams while I’m living them. On the turn, I’m planning to pick in the Tennessee-Florida, Clemson-Louisville, LSU-Mississippi State and Stanford-SDSU games.

AJ, plot your comeback.

Kyle,

Thank you for picking up on my signage there at the end of the first post, your sixth senses have been sharpened by nature’s unforgiving axe; indeed, I did feel a special week coming on for you and you did, in fact, turn water into wine (or freak September snow into a precarious and victorious summit) and for that I congratulate you, deeply.

There’s nothing like testing your ultimate wit, skill and physical limits against the rock and ice and sun and coming out on top to bolster an already assured stance. This back-and-forth is always a place where cynicism and a nearly manic attraction to defeat lurks at the precipice of each unfinished thought; but in the year of our existence 2017, perhaps one of the last as we know them, I will toast to your recent victory with ‘80s Old Milwaukee campfire feral male sincerity. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

Now the picks:

Arizona -20 @ UTEP

I kind of can’t believe this line is only 20. It should be more like 37 or 48 or 51… do I hear 58? Rich Rod’s Wildcats travel to El Paso for a Friday night lights pre-league warm-up so the only difficulty here will be ducking out of work early in time to get to the window. UTEP lost their quarterback last week and also went down to Rice 31-14 at home. You’ll recall Stanford put up 62 vs. the Owls the week before. I don’t usually like comparing out-of-conference/same conference wins/losses because a + b does not = c, but the only thing that can derail the Wildcats is Rodriguez, who’s still unsure about redshirt junior Brandon Dawkins taking the majority of the snaps and may play musical hands under center. Rodriguez also tends rotate plenty during non-conference games and let less experienced players take the stick when up by twenty or more. He is maybe second only to Wazzu’s Mike Leach in not giving a fuck about whether wins by 3 or 33 as long as he gets the W but the Wildcats should cover just by getting off the charter.

UCLA -3 @ Memphis

Am I missing something with this three-point spread here? Are the ‘cappers thinking this is a Sweet 16 game? Yes, it’s away. Yes, UCLA’s defense is hurt and porous. Yes, the A&M win was a mirac and Hawaii turned out to be too jetlagged to make a difference in Arroyo Seco last week. But three? In the words of Gob Bluth—Come on! UCLA is averaging 50.2 ppg over its first two, thanks in large part to QB Josh Rosen who is already bookmarked like stay-at-home-mom cams on Mel Kiper Jr.s lap top and is likely the eventual first overall hat putter-onner come next April.

Rosen is completing 68 percent of his passes for an average for 410 yards. The trap, besides being a little heavy from all those burnt ends the night before, is UCLA is down on D. The Bruins lost linebacker Kenny Young, and safeties Jaleel Wadood and Adarius Pickett to injuries which means they’ve got a lot of unprovens being thrown out there against a sound Tigers’ QB/receiver combo: Quarterback in question Riley Ferguson threw for 3,698 yards and 32 touchdowns, and wide receiver Anthony Miller set a school record for receiving yards with 1,434 yards in 2016 when Memphis went 8-5. The Tigers can also establish time for the long ball with a potent three-man rushing attack and have an experienced defensive front that portends to leave Rosen scrambling a bit in the first half. If nothing else, UCLA has shown their strength is in their conditioning and they seem to get better as weaker foes tire in the third. Take them to win by two scores and the over (69) Saturday morning at the Liberty Bowl.

Oregon -13 @ Wyoming

Don’t take the Cowboys lightly, Oregon won’t. Though Wyoming always plays the Ducks tough as their one “giddy-up” game of the season, this year with junior quarterback Josh Allen looking like a top-20 NFL pick, the most experienced offensive line in the Mountain West and the home-field advantage at altitude—there is a big ‘ol trap set for Willie Taggart and his 2-0 webfoots as they point wagons east to the strangely coined “Equality State.”

Oregon looked like it was all-systems-back-to-its-old-ways for a half against Nebraska in Eugene last weekend, then the Huskers made some run-stopping adjustments at the half and alt-uniformed ones in white went back to looking like the ghosts of Mark Helfrich’s past, unable to score in the last two quarters. Look for Taggart to use this game as a slow build toward conference play and not reveal all of his tricks in the first three possessions as he did last Saturday.

Thus far, it has been all about keying in on Oregon’s offensive strengths, the emergence of true sophomore QB Justin Herbert and the vengeful play of Royce Freeman leading a trio of NFL-ready RBs out of the backfield. But Taggart’s signature thus far has come from the hand of new DC Jim Leavitt, whose disciples Troy Dye and Thomas Graham Jr. have shown shut-down speed and game-breaking ability (Graham alone had two interceptions last week) which could come in handy as the Ducks attempt to make a statement in Laramie—pass the oxygen.

Cal +3.5 vs. Ole Miss

Though last week the Bears fell asleep for three quarters vs. Weber State at home for no reason whatsoever (couldn’t defend the pass) a more clear barometer of where they’re at as a team might have come on the road vs. North Carolina (where they couldn’t stop the run) week one.

At 2-0, Ole Miss hasn’t played anyone yet this season (South Alabama? TN-Martin? Surprised Trump U isn’t third on their dance card), but clearly will be pass heavy from the onset based on film, and that actually is where Cal HC Justin Wilcox is a big old neutralizer when the big games come around. He made his reputation stopping high-flying attacks while at Wisconsin, USC, Washington and Tennessee.

The old DB loves to game plan when teams take to the skies and he’s not afraid of a little SEC action at Memorial Stadium (unlike most of the fans who’ll be in attendance.) My weakness when vetting college football in general is underestimating the SEC, but none of the indicators I’ve seen show that Ole Miss is in the same class as Auburn, A&M and especially Bama in the West.

Nonetheless, Cal needed all 60 minutes to squeak by a second-tier Big Sky program and that scares oddsmakers. But you’re not them. For the second time this season, take Cal and the moneyline. Hedge on that by taking the over (72) because if Ole Miss does get going in the air, it’s going to be something along the lines of a 52-48 final.

Phew, I’m out of breath. What say you Kyle?

AJ,

(Editor’s Note: Kyle goes 4 for 4 last week with no explanation needed. So… no explanation needed.)

Florida -4.5 @ Tennessee

LSU @ Miss St. +7.5

Clemson -3 @ Louisville

Stanford @ SDSU +9

The roundup:

Week 1:

Kyle: 4 for 4!

AJ: Oh for 3!

Overall:

Kyle: 6 and 1

AJ: 1 and 4

This week:

Kyle:

Florida -4.5 @ Tennessee

LSU @ Miss St. +7.5

Clemson -3 @ Louisville

Stanford @ SDSU +9

AJ:

Arizona -20 @ UTEP

UCLA -3 @ Memphis

UCLA @ Memphis (Over 69)

Oregon -13 @ Wyoming

Cal +3.5 vs. Ole Miss (Moneyline!)

Cal vs. Ole Miss (Over 72)

Bonus:

USC -14 vs. Texas

 

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