What are the odds: Take Wisconsin, Rutgers to cover

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Austin American/Statesman/TNS

Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor (23) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Central Michigan Saturday, Sept. 7.

By Ben Bobeck, Senior Staff Writer

Last week wasn’t exactly the start I was looking for, but Pitt came through huge, upsetting UCF straight-up. The large spread in New England came back to bite with safety Jamal Adams adding a late pick-six off of Patriots’ backup Jarrett Stidham for the backdoor cover, costing me a winning first week. Also, making the bonus pick — which I haven’t counted towards the overall record — against two of the brightest offensive stars in the league wasn’t my best idea. Alas … onwards and upwards!

All-time record: 1-2

NCAA Football: 1-1

NFL: 0-1

You can take a look at last week’s picks here.

A quick recap for those who are new to everyone’s favorite degenerate pastime — we’ll be looking primarily at spreads, money lines and over/unders for this series. Spreads are adjusted according to who oddsmakers favor in the matchup and by how many points. Money lines are straight bets on a team to emerge victorious. Over/unders, also referred to as totals, are wagers on the total number of points scored in any given matchup.

All line info used in this series is courtesy of OddsShark.com. The Pitt News does not condone illegal gambling. Sports gambling is illegal in Pennsylvania under the age of 21.

Northwestern at No. 8 Wisconsin -24.5 (over/under 46.5 points)

THE PICK: Wisconsin -24.5

We start with some noontime Big 10 action. The Badgers came into this running full steam after their 35-14 dismantling of Michigan. Junior running back Jonathan Taylor continues to run himself into the Heisman conversation with 200 yards and two touchdowns against the Wolverines, continuing his historic pace.

Meanwhile, Northwestern is a mess. Clemson redshirt sophomore transfer Hunter Johnson looks lost under center with a 48.5% completion rate and one touchdown with five interceptions. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald’s frustration is becoming obvious following the Wildcat’s three-score loss to Michigan State last week, and a huge blowout could be in the cards this week. Wisconsin’s defense will continue to keep Johnson out of sorts, while Taylor will rack up yards on the ground once again. Wisconsin will cover, winning by at least four touchdowns.

Wake Forest at Boston College +6.5 (over/under 69 points)

THE PICK: Wake Forest -6.5

Head coach Dave Clawson has slowly built Wake Forest into one of the ACC’s more consistent teams this season with a fluid offense centered around redshirt junior quarterback Jamie Newman and redshirt sophomore receiver Sage Surratt. The Deacons held off a late charge from UNC after dominating the Tar Heels in the first half two weeks ago, and open up official ACC play this week coming off a comfortable win over Elon.

BC enters this game after nearly falling to lowly Rutgers last week but still finding a way to win. With redshirt junior quarterback Anthony Brown still looking inconsistent in the pocket, head coach Steve Addazio and the Eagles will continue to rely on junior running back AJ Dillon on the ground. Wake Forest’s defense, however, will be ready for him. The Demon Deacons will continue their undefeated start to the season and cover the one-score spread while handing BC its second straight loss at home.

Rutgers at No. 20 Michigan -28 (over/under 49 points)

THE PICK: Rutgers +27.5

Rutgers is not a very good football team. Its biggest play of the season still managed to be ridiculed across the internet after sophomore quarterback Artur Sitkowski took a jab to the facemask from one of his linemen following a 74-yard touchdown pass in the Scarlet Knights’ 30-16 home loss to BC.

Michigan didn’t exactly have a great week either. As mentioned earlier, the Wolverines were beaten soundly by Wisconsin, dropping head coach Jim Harbaugh to 0-7 as an underdog. Even in the loss, Rutgers actually showed a bit of offensive improvement which could be bolstered by the return of senior Texas Tech McLane Carter at quarterback from injury.

There’s one specific reason why Rutgers will cover the nearly four-score spread — its best player, Australian redshirt junior punter Adam Korsak. Korsak has been one of the best in the nation on special teams this year. Against BC last week, he dropped all five punts inside the 20-yard line and four inside the 10, earning him his second Ray Guy Punter of the Week award this season. Michigan’s offense simply hasn’t shown that it can be effective enough to deal with that type of field position. The Wolverines will threaten to beat the spread, but Rutgers will cover.

Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans -4 (over/under 47.5 points)

THE PICK: Houston -4

Carolina will once again turn to the arm of Kyle Allen with Cam Newton still sidelined with a foot injury. Allen impressed in his starting debut, throwing for 261 yards and four touchdowns. Christian McCaffrey continued to dominate out of the backfield, gashing the Cardinals for a 76-yard touchdown.

But Houston, with Deshaun Watson at quarterback, is still the better team here. Watson has been stellar on the season so far, completing 61 of 93 passes for 778 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception. Houston’s revamped offensive line with Laremy Tunsil and rookie Max Scharping have provided Watson with the time and confidence he needs in the pocket. Three-time Defensive Player of the Year defensive end JJ Watt still anchors a solid defense. Houston wins, covering the full touchdown at home.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Denver Broncos -3 (over/under 38.5)

THE PICK: Under 38.5

I wanted to pick the Jags/Titans under last week but the game was played Thursday night before the blog was published, so I’m taking my chance this week. Gardner Minshew II and Joe Flacco haven’t exactly lit the world on fire offensively this season, averaging 19.3 and 15.3 points per game respectively. Add in the talent levels across both defenses and you’ve got a recipe for a perfect under-scenario.

Bonus Play: World Series Futures

THE PICK: Houston Astros +225

I’m not a fan of betting on playoff baseball because of its incredibly unpredictable nature. But if one trend is apparent, it’s that success in October comes down to pitching, and the Houston Astros have plenty of it. Justin Verlander is a first-ballot Hall of Famer who threw another no-hitter this season on top of a 2.52 ERA. Gerrit Cole is mowing down batters at a historic rate with an absurd slider and untouchable heater, notching an outrageous 316 strikeouts on the season. Midseason acquisition Zack Greinke was two outs away from adding another no-hitter Wednesday night. Add in relievers Will Harris, Ryan Pressly and closer Roberto Osuna, and you have a safe bet on a World Series winner.

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