Over Thanksgiving weekend, there were 16 college football games involving Top 25 teams, including five in which both squads were ranked. In all 16 cases, the ranked (or higher-ranked) team prevailed. Even more impressive, those 16 winners went 12-3-1 against the spread (ATS), making for a very black Friday (and Saturday) for local sports books.
Sure enough, yours truly gave out selections on six of those games … and went 2-3-1 ATS.
In the NFL, four teams the public has backed religiously this season (Saints, Packers, Ravens and Patriots) cruised to easy Week 12 victories, and a fifth (Texans) won by a touchdown. All five were favored, all five covered the spread … and I wasn’t on any of them.
Not that this bit of breaking news can be categorized as “shocking,” considering the monthlong stink bomb I just unloaded. To recap: After ending October with one of my most profitable weeks ever (pushing my bankroll to a football season-high $7,574), I produced four straight losing weeks (record-wise).
While sports books all across the Valley spent November subsidizing holiday-shopping budgets for thousands of bettors who smartly kept riding some insanely strong trends, I was going 18-28-2 and dropping $1,002. If someone were to chisel an anti-Mount Rushmore for November, I’m quite sure my ugly mug would be wedged somewhere between Joe Paterno, Herman Cain and the Indianapolis Colts.
Thankfully (I think), the cliché is “quit while you’re ahead” not “quit while you’re behind,” and so I press on. And I do so with the following guarantee: I will deliver a December to remember. Remember for what? That remains to be seen.
On to this week’s picks …
$550 (to win $500) on Oregon -31½ vs. UCLA (Dec. 2): Let’s see, UCLA is coming off a 50-0 loss to archrival USC. Two days later, coach Rick Neuheisel got the boot (though he’s being allowed to coach this game). In the wake of Neuheisel’s firing, rumors began to swirl that a slew of players are planning a mass exodus from the program. And now the Bruins (who average just 16 points per game on the road) have to travel to hostile Autzen Stadium on a short week to face eighth-ranked Oregon (which averages 48 points per game at home) in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game—a contest UCLA qualified for only because USC, which won the Pac-12 South by two games, is on probation.
Wait, there’s more: The Bruins have cashed in just five of their last 21 games as a road underdog, including a 60-13 loss at Oregon some 13 months ago, when their coach wasn’t a lame duck. To steal a line from comedian Dennis Miller, the Bruins are going to get stomped like a narc at a biker rally in this one.
$220 (to win $200) on Jaguars +2½ vs. Chargers: So Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio wins two of his last five games (while starting a rookie quarterback) and gets fired. Chargers coach Norv Turner loses six straight games (while starting a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback) and still has a job. Apparently there really is no Santa Claus.
Forget about the Del Rio firing (which I actually think helps the Jaguars), and forget about the fact the Chargers (at 2-9 ATS) have the NFL’s worst point-spread record, and instead focus on this beauty: Since Oct. 10 (the day after San Diego’s last victory), Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert (2), Miami’s Matt Moore (3), Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton (4), Denver’s Tim Tebow (5), Minnesota’s Christian Ponder (2), Carolina’s Cam Newton (2), Seattle’s Tarvaris Jackson (3) and Arizona’s John Skelton (3) all have more wins than Philip Rivers. Now excuse me while I go dunk myself in a deep fryer. (For the record: I’m 5-for-5 picking San Diego’s games the last eight weeks.)
$110 (to win $100) on LSU -13½ vs. Georgia: Georgia opened this season with losses to fifth-ranked Boise State and 12th-ranked South Carolina, only to peel off 10 straight wins since then. Know how many of those 10 victims are in this week’s Top 25? Zero. Meanwhile, LSU (12-0) isn’t just the consensus No. 1 team in the country, the Tigers are also 9-3 ATS (6-1 ATS in their last seven), only failing to cover as a 48-, 29½- and 42-point favorite. And if you take out its 9-6 win at then-No. 1 Alabama, LSU’s other 11 victories have been by an average of 29.8 points per game.
BEST OF THE REST (NFL): Lions-Saints OVER 54½ ($77); Falcons -2½ at Texans ($55); Dolphins -3 vs. Raiders ($50); Cardinals +4½ vs. Cowboys ($44).
BEST OF THE REST (COLLEGE): Baylor -2½ vs. Texas ($66); TCU -39 vs. UNLV ($55); Oklahoma State -3½ vs. Oklahoma ($55); BYU -7½ at Hawaii ($44).
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 5-6-1 (-$360); Bankroll: $6,572.