What are the Odds: Ride-or-die with Rutgers



Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) calls out a play at the line of scrimmage during the first quarter of the NCAA football game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois, on Friday, Oct. 18.

By Ben Bobeck, Senior Staff Writer


Gambling history was made last week, though it had nothing to do with my picks. Last Sunday, the Washington professional football team became just the fourth team in history to cover the spread without scoring a point. San Francisco came into a sloppy FedEx Field and emerged victorious by a margin of 9-0, but failed to cover the 10-point spread on the road. The last time that happened was right here in Pittsburgh, when the Dolphins covered the 16-point spread despite losing to the Steelers 3-0 in a muddy Monday night matchup.

I had a slightly better weekend than Washington, going 3-2 for a nice winning week on the backs of LSU and the Rams, both of whom won by significant margins. But enough about last week — let’s ride.

All-time record: 10-12

NCAA Football: 7-7

NFL: 3-5

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.

No. 13 Wisconsin at No. 3 Ohio State -14.5

The Pick: Wisconsin +14.5

Ohio State looks dominant. Ohio State looks clinical. Ohio State looks, dare I say, unbeatable. But does Ohio State look like it’s more than two touchdowns better than Wisconsin? Not to me. 

These are two teams with playoff aspirations, but after stumbling in a trap game at Illinois last weekend, Wisconsin needs to regain its focus this week in the Horseshoe. Junior tailback Jonathan Taylor didn’t have his best game for the Badgers in a stunning loss that might not have happened without his fumble late in the game. Wisconsin will need its all-world running back to have a huge performance this week against a much-improved Buckeye defense. OSU’s defensive play — along with the explosive play of sophomore transfer quarterback Justin Fields — has many believing Ohio State is a serious national championship contender.

That optimism is well-placed, but this should be a tightly contested game all afternoon long, with Wisconsin making enough plays to stick around late. Badgers cover, Ohio State wins.


No. 20 Iowa at Northwestern over/under 37.5 

The Pick: Under 37.5

This game is peak Big Ten Football. Iowa has had its moments this year, but senior quarterback Nate Stanley has had a rough go of it lately, throwing just one touchdown and five interceptions through three October games. Yet Iowa remains ranked, mainly on the back of its stingy defense which allows just 11.6 points per game. Northwestern and sophomore quarterback Hunter Johnson have struggled to reach even that low mark, scoring below 11 points in four of its five losses. This game will be ugly, sloppy and — most importantly — low-scoring. Take the under.


Liberty at Rutgers +7.5

The Pick: Rutgers +7.5

Some people have inexplicable habits that they just can’t kick. For some, it’s eating strange things such as laundry detergent or couch cushions. On this episode of “My Strange Addiction” — I can’t stop betting on Rutgers.

That’s right, the team that has been shut out an ungodly nine times since joining the Big Ten, the team that used its alcohol sales to furnish the massive buyout for its wildly successful head coach, the team that mustered a mere one (one!) passing yard against Indiana this season, the team that … you get the point.

Rutgers this week makes history of its own by being a touchdown underdog to Liberty and head coach Hugh Freeze at home in New Jersey. As some famous gambling philosopher probably once said — you bet the number, not the team. Join me on the wild side, and take the Scarlet Knights to cover +7.5 at home.


Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons +6.5

The Pick: Seattle -6.5

Betting against head coach Dan Quinn and the Dirty Birds went so well last week that I decided to try it again. 

Seattle looks like a bonafide championship contender led by quarterback Russell Wilson, who has built a solid argument to be the MVP of the league. Atlanta, meanwhile, is a dumpster fire. The Falcons traded Mohamed Sanu (go Rutgers) to New England this week in a move signaling what we all assumed to be coming — Atlanta is ready to blow things up and move on. 

The Seahawks made a decent move of their own, acquiring safety Quandre Diggs from Detroit to bolster their secondary and strengthen their push for the playoffs as they try to catch the undefeated 49ers. After a tough loss to Lamar Jackson and Baltimore last week, Wilson and the Seahawks will bounce back big this week, beating up on Atlanta on the road. Seahawks cover in bird-on-bird violence. 


NBA Friday Night Parlay:

Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics -2.5

Dallas Mavericks at New Orleans Pelicans -2.5

Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers -3

The Pick: Parlay Boston (ML -147), Dallas (ML +120), LAL (ML -150) (100 units to win 517)

The NBA and all of its excitement is back, and you better believe that #ThisLeague is going to be on my radar for picks. We’ll start with a little three-game parlay to occupy your Friday night, with the retooled Celtics, Zion-less Pelicans and new-look Lakers all favored at home. 

Boston looked sluggish in Philly to open the season, while Toronto leaned on newly extended Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet to hold off the Pels on Ring Night in the 6ix. Meanwhile out west, the Lakers led for the majority of the game but ended up falling to Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers in their opener. Look for both Boston and the Lakers to bounce back in their home openers. The Mavs should also build off a solid season-opening win over the Wizards to spoil New Orleans’ first home game.