And then there were two... yes, we’re down to the final two weeks of the regular season and things are beginning to take shape across the country as teams fight for positioning in their respective conferences. Who will survive? We’ll have to wait and see.
Last week, the betting column went just 3-3-1 on the week so nothing gained, but not much lost either. It should have been a winning week too if Jim Harbaugh would just take a damn knee.
Anyway, this week is a tricky one. I’ll be honest, I don’t love a ton of this slate. The lines are TIGHT between what is out there and what I project so I will likely have a pretty small betting card as I don’t show a ton of value across the board. Like Kenny Rogers says you gotta know when to fold ‘em and this week looks like one of those weeks. That said, there are still a few spots I like.
(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)
Tennessee (-21.5) @ South Carolina
Tennessee enters this contest as the number five team in the country, but given their loss to Georgia, the Vols will not be participating in the SEC title game as Georgia has already clinched the division. Despite that, the Vols are still very much alive for the college football playoff if things break their way. One, they need Georgia to likely win out and two they need either TCU or USC to lose. All very possible things that could happen this week.... (that’s foreshadowing for other picks folks).
Those things are out of Tennessee’s control, but the Vols still have opportunities to show the committee their strength these final two weeks against South Carolina and Vandy. The Vols need style points, and they should have the chance to do that here.
Additionally, I think the Vols have a very big advantage in the trenches of this game. On offense, the Vols bring in the 13th-ranked rushing offense in terms of rushing success rate. They should be able to run all over this South Carolina defense that ranks 129th in rushing defensive success rate. On the flip side, South Carolina has one of the worst offensives lines in the country while Tennesee has really gotten some things going with their front seven. I think those big mismatches coupled with the need for style points makes this one a possibility here.
TCU @ Baylor (+3)
If there is one team in the nation that is getting disrespected by the college football playoff it’s the TCU Horned Frogs. Fresh off a HUGE win against Texas as 7-point underdogs it seemed like TCU would finally get some respect but the playoff committee acted like they were pained to have to put the Frogs at #4.
That said, I can kinda see why, as the Frogs have played with fire a couple of times this year and survived. Look, I love this TCU team and I am hoping my +1200 ticket on them to win the Big 12 gets home but I am a little scared of their contest this weekend. The Frogs have already clinched a spot in the title game, but I could see them getting knocked off in this contest.
Something about this Baylor team makes me nervous. They play great defense ranking 21st in standard down success rate, and I think they might give TCU some issues. Additionally, I think the Bears might be able to run the ball against a TCU front that has been a little leaky at times. Add on that this game is in Waco and I could see the Bears really playing spoiler here.
USC @ UCLA (+105)
The PAC-12 has a HUGE weekend this weekend as USC/UCLA meet as does Oregon/Utah. While it’s great for the conference, they didn’t do themselves any favors in the playoff race as both UCLA and Oregon were upset last week all but eliminating them from the playoff race. Utah also has two losses, which means the PAC 12’s lone Trojan Horse to sneak in (get it) to the playoff is the USC Trojans.
In classic PAC-12 fashion, I think these teams will cannibalize themselves and UCLA wins this game. It’s just the way this conference works and I don’t think that is changing here. One of the reasons I think the Bruins will win this game is because they’ll be able to consistently run on this joke of a USC defense. Coming into this week USC ranks 120th in terms of success rate against the run. Offensively, UCLA brings in the third-best rushing unit in the country. Now, USC should have some offensive success of their own but I think the Bruins will find more stops than USC so I’ll take the Bruins to really deflate the PAC-12’s playoff hopes. I’m passing on the points and taking ML here.
Duke @ Pitt Under 52.5: This has dropped, but I like it down to 49. Two great defenses and two offenses that don’t really do much to impress you. This should be a slugfest.
Ohio State @ Maryland (+27.5): The Buckeyes have gone 2-8 ATS in their last ten the week before Michigan game. I think the Buckeyes win but might try to get in and get out and not cover this one.