Hello, my fellow degenerates and sports addicts, we have been blessed with yet another full weekend of football. Will I say this every week? You bet your bottom dollar.
Football season is only about 16 weeks long. Then the season is gone before you know it, it’s February and you would give anything to watch a live game of football just to take your eyes off the meaningless NBA regular season while over-analyzing bubble teams like you are the second coming of Joe Lunardi as you fend of seasonal depression. Just me? Oh, ok.
Those thoughts help me cherish the season we are currently knee-deep in while also justifying the obscene amount of hours I spend watching TV every weekend. Will I watch similar amounts or possibly more during college basketball season? Yes, but that’s not the point.
I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. Without further adieu, here are my picks for the week nine slate as I look to put together another winning week after going 3-2 last week. May the gambling gods be ever in your favor.
Clemson (-16.5) @ Florida State - O/U 51pts - 9 a.m. MST - ABC
In doing some research on this game, I went back and watched a couple highlight packages of the last few years – pretty standard stuff – but this game and the players who have taken part in this series in this decade were what immediately stood out to me.
These include Jameis Winston, DeShaun Watson, Devonta Freeman, Jalen Ramsey, DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Vic Beasley and Derwin James, and I’m sure my dear friend and Florida State die-hard Jason Simonovich will inform me of about seven other premier NFL players I left out.
My point? These two teams are modern-day NFL player factories, and no matter the rankings of both teams, this is and has been the premier matchup in the ACC this decade and will be for years to come. Uncle Dabo and his Clemson squad know how important this matchup is to his program and the impact it has on continuing to establish the Tigers as one of the South’s premier football programs.
The series is a deadlocked 3-3 over the last six games, with the Tigers winning the last three matchups after Florida State’s own run of three games. Clemson has a chance to make it four years in a row, meaning the Florida State senior class would graduate without ever beating their inter-conference rival.
On the flip side, Clemson’s senior would graduate knowing they never lost to the Seminoles. This game is huge. In conclusion, Clemson knows Florida State is limping into this game wounded and barely able to protect itself, and they smell blood in the water.
An opportunity to bury your regional and conference rival and to show new head coach Willie Taggart what kind of challenge he inherited is an opportunity that Dabo and his loaded roster will be licking their lips over. This game is going to get ugly. Clemson by a lot. I’m taking the Tigers and the three-score spread.
Florida @ Georgia (-6.5) - O/U 52pts - 12:30 p.m. MST - CBS
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Gary Daniels and Brad Nessler might not be able to call it that anymore, but allow me to. Jacksonville is filled to the brim with the gorgeous Red and Black and the gaudy Blue and Orange this week, as the two fierce rivals face off in what many think as the SEC East championship game.
This is my favorite game of the year. Not because it involves exorbitant amounts of alcohol and football – that certainly helps – but these two teams absolutely hate each other. It is always incredibly physical and even more emotional, with records and stats being left in the locker rooms as they mean close to nothing when these two line up against each other.
Two top-ten teams facing off for a chance to stay alive in the College Playoff hunt. There would be nothing sweeter to both locker rooms than to be the very reason the other team plays in a bowl game before the new year.
Both these teams have had two weeks to prepare, which should lead to a defensive battle that will lead to the game being decided in the second half of the game. The bad blood isn’t just reserved for the players. Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is no stranger to this rivalry, as he was on the Georgia sideline as Mark Richt’s defensive coordinator just a few seasons ago.
This is one that you simply cannot miss if you are a fan of college football. I am taking the Bulldogs and the -6.5 points, as I think they are exactly a touchdown better than the Gators.
Iowa @ Penn State (-7) - O/U 51.5pts - 12:30 p.m. MST - ESPN
The Big Ten matchup of the weekend pits together two programs that couldn’t be any more different. Iowa is the tortoise of the Big Ten, pacing itself throughout the season, never getting ahead of itself and never wavering from the things they do well, like run the ball and play sound defense while staying under the national media’s radar.
Penn State is the hare of the conference right now. With their electric and charismatic head coach James Franklin and their exciting offense led by Trace McSorely, the Nittany Lions have resurrected from the college football grave as they have somehow distracted the entire nation from the fact that they willingly employed and enabled a serial sexual abuser of children for decades.
For better or for disgusting reasons, Penn State has found its way back into the spotlight. Iowa goes into State College as a seven-point underdog, and I couldn’t love that number enough. I think Kirk Ferentz’s team plays mistake-free football while keeping Penn State in check defensively. Hawkeyes all the way.
Oregon (-9.5) @ Arizona - O/U 65pts - 7:30 p.m. MST - ESPN *LOCK OF THE WEEK*
Arizona comes into this game coming off a one-point loss to UCLA on the road in a contest that saw Khalil Tate participate in street clothes. There are positive things to take out of that game, but the end product was another notch in the loss column.
Arizona cannot afford to lose again this season if they want their distant dream of making the Sun Bowl to come true. The bad news for Arizona fans is that Oregon comes into town, and they couldn’t be any more motivated.
The Ducks are coming off of a loss that saw them completely outplayed by Washington State in the first half, as the Cougars created enough separation in the first two quarters to withstand the Ducks' second half comeback.
Arizona does have a history of knocking off ranked Oregon teams, as they have done so in 2007, 2013 and 2014. Granted, those were spread over two different head coaches, but the Wildcats do have history to take comfort in if they really think they are up for the challenge on Saturday night.
That being said, I think the Ducks just have too much size and firepower for Arizona, and I don’t think it's going to be close at all. I think it may even be a blowout of epic proportions. The 9.5-point spread seems like a gift from Vegas, and that’s why this is my lock of the week. Arizona fans, hedge your impending embarrassment by throwing money on the other side. Arizona loses? You win. Arizona wins? You win. Save yourself from the unnecessary emotional turmoil.
New England (-17) @ Buffalo - O/U 44pts - Monday 5:15 p.m. MST - ESPN
Buffalo is New England's little brother. That’s how it is, but that hasn’t always been the case. Ever since the Bills went to, and lost, four-straight Super Bowls, the football gods decided not just to pour salt in the wound. They used a dump truck, allowing the Patriots to appear in nine Super Bowls since the Bills last appeared in the Big Game. Nine times. NINE.
It’s one thing to lose four Super Bowls in a four-year span, but to have your inter-division rival just all of a sudden turn from Jim Kelly and Dan Marino’s personal punching bag to the greatest dynasty the NFL has ever seen, and will ever see, must be absolutely unbearable.
This Monday Night Football game will be much of the same. Brady, Gronk and the whole crew are going to show up and do what they’ve been doing to Buffalo their entire careers, and that’s score more points than them. A lot more points, and that’s why I am taking the over in this game. Forty-four points seems terribly low, as Brady could, and probably will, have a good shot at beating that number by himself. Josh Allen will probably pitch in as well, throwing a couple pick-sixes to help the cause. Pats and the over all day. Don’t overthink this one.
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