LAST WEEK: 3-1
My first winning week of the year was a big one — a clean sweep of the college slate, with a tough loss in the NFL thanks to a resurgent Vikings offense (more on them in a bit). The momentum is here and now it’s all about riding the tide — and I don’t mean Alabama.
All-time record: 7-10
NCAA Football: 5-6
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.
The Pick: Geaux Tigers -17.5
LSU has risen steadily up the rankings, peaking this week at No. 2. Led by Heisman hopeful senior quarterback Joe Burrow, the stereotypically stagnant Tigers offense has exploded this season, resulting in two top-10 wins over No. 9 Texas and No. 7 Florida. LSU’s defense isn’t as good as it has been in the past, but still has serious impact players led by junior safety Grant Delpit.
Mississippi State is in another league entirely. Head coach Joe Moorhead has had to fight uphill battles all year, pivoting from PSU transfer quarterback Tommy Stevens to true first-year Garrett Shrader. But the Bulldogs’ only test against LSU-level competition this year ended poorly for Moorehead, Shrader & Co. — as detailed in Week 6’s picks.
Mississippi State may have the home field advantage in Starkville for this game, but LSU is coming in as a steamroller, only gathering speed. After this week, the only two opponents standing in the way of Coach O’s Tigers are No. 11 Auburn and No. 2 Alabama. LSU needs to be perfect to set up a No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup with the Roll Tide as in 2011. LSU wins big against the Bulldogs in this one. Geaux Tigers.
The Pick: Tulane money line (+165)
Two of the nation’s hottest names in coaching, Memphis’ Mike Norvell and Tulane’s Willie Fritz, match up for some primetime American action. Norvell’s Tigers (5-1, 1-1) and Fritz’s Green Wave (5-1, 2-0) both seek to secure bowl eligibility. For Tulane, one of the season’s early surprises, it would be its first back-to-back postseason appearance since 1980. Tulane has been led by solid defensive line play and good execution from LSU senior transfer Justin McMillan under center. Look for the Wave (and its all-world mascot) to keep on rollin’.
The Pick: Wake Forest -1.5
The competition within the ACC’s Atlantic Division to finish second to Clemson is in full swing. Previously undefeated Wake Forest fell for the first time this year in a shootout to Louisville last weekend. Florida State has continually shown progress in embattled coach Willie Taggart’s second season with the Seminoles. Now the Seminoles head into Winston-Salem looking to bounce back from their new annual tradition of being embarrassed by Clemson. One of these teams has a prime opportunity to redeem itself this week, and I see it being head coach Dave Clawson’s Demon Deacons.
Led by junior quarterback Jamie Newman and sophomore wideout Sage Surratt, the Deacons’ offense has never been the problem. If their defensive unit can return to the form they showed early in the season in a good win over UNC, Wake Forest should bounce back well at home.
The Pick: Rams -3
In this battle of Super Bowl runner-ups, two teams hungry for a win are put into the spotlight. For Los Angeles, the pressure is on to justify the massive price paid this week in the acquisition of All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey from Jacksonville, Florida, and show some signs of life on offense. For Atlanta, head coach Dan Quinn needs to justify still having his job.
Rams’ head coach Sean McVay was heralded last season as an offensive genius after getting LA to the Super Bowl. But the Rams haven’t quite had the same magic on offense, scoring 30 points or more just twice this season.
Meanwhile, Quinn, the former Seattle defensive coordinator, hasn’t gotten his favored unit right this season either. The Falcons haven’t allowed fewer than 20 points in any game this season, and have just one win to show for it. Both teams need this one, but LA is simply better than Atlanta.
The Pick: Parlay Detroit +2 (-110), Over 44 (-105): 100 units to win 272.73
As mentioned earlier, the Vikings’ stagnant passing game came through huge to blow my Eagles pick out of the sky last week. Now the challenge for Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen is to carry that over into a matchup with an angry Detroit Lions team.
Detroit got flat-out robbed last week in a huge divisional clash with the Green Bay Packers — and the NFL even admitted it. If it weren’t for two terrible penalty calls, Matt Stafford and the Lions could have held off another trademark Aaron Rodgers comeback and jumped to 3-1-1 on the season. Instead, their record sits at .500 with tough losses to Green Bay and Kansas City.