(Narrator voice) What if I told you . . . that four friends gambled fairly unsuccessfully for half a season before going on a tear that would leave Vegas bookies conjuring up thoughts of Biff’s use of the Grays Sports Almanac in Back to the Future Part II? Well now, that would probably be a lie. . . and highly unlikely . . but who knows. . . let’s just wait and see.
After starting the season a horrendous 4-14, don’t look now but I’m Jimmer Fredette heat-checking myself after back-to-back 4-2 weeks brought me to a respectable 12-18. As for the rest of the @BarnBurner crew, let’s just say last Saturday was not ‘For the Boys.’ Our cumulative records on the season are as follows:
And now on to the Week 7 FOOBAW (*Ed Orgeron voice*) games.
Georgia (-7) vs. LSU
This game lost some of its luster when LSU lost to the Florida Gators last Saturday. All season long Ed Orgeron’s ballclub defied people’s expectations with win after win . . . until they suddenly didn’t and lost to a team they clearly underestimated. The road for the Tigers doesn’t get any easier from here as they face three ranked teams in the next three weeks (Georgia, State, and Alabama). Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow saw his 0 in the interception column vanish, throwing two picks in the Florida game. He figures to face a similar challenge this week in a Georgia defense that leads the SEC in total defense (275.6 ypg) and scoring defense (13.0 ppg) — good for sixth nationally in both categories. Defense aside, Georgia has played some fairly uninspired football the past two weeks against SEC-cellar dwellers Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Were the ‘Dawgs unmotivated or overrated? We’ll find out this Saturday afternoon in Death Valley.
@FarmerBarn: Against my better judgment, I picked LSU in last week’s column. Lo’ and behold, Ogre and the boys laid an egg. I’m not making the same mistake two weeks in a row. ‘Dawgs by 10.
@BarnBurnerZiggy: LSU’s dream start came crashing down last week and I expect things will only continue to decline. It’s in Death Valley, but Georgia will score too much for LSU to keep up. Dawgs cover.
@BarnBurnerSlim: UGA has lived up to expectations so far in 2018 and LSU could be considered the surprise team of the year in the SEC. With both teams looking to pound the ball via the run game, this game is going to come down to which quarterback can make plays and which defensive line can generate pressure on said passing plays. I think the loss to Florida last week may begin the downfall for LSU’s season and I expect the Bulldogs to cover.
@BarnBurnerBaker: I was devastated last week to see the Tigahs lose a game. They had a nice run and it was fun while it lasted. Georgia will cover and this win will look a lot more impressive than it would’ve a month ago.
Washington (-3.5) vs. Oregon
The Pac-12’s fleeting hopes of having a conference team make the playoffs rests firmly upon the shoulders of the one-loss Washington Huskies. And by fleeting, I mean that Auburn loss at the beginning of the season to what now looks like a very mediocre Tigers team isn’t doing Washington any favors. National title implications aside, this game likely decides who represents the North Division in the Conference title game at season’s end. After a meltdown-loss to Stanford a few weeks back, another defeat almost surely dooms Oregon and coach Mario Cristobal’s hopes of playing for the Pac-12 title for the first time since 2014. A loss by Washington leaves the Huskies behind the eight-ball with games against Stanford and undefeated Colorado coming up. The game features arguably the two best quarterbacks out West in 7th 4th-year starter Jake Browning and Ducks point man Justin Herbert. Herbert’s last two games have seen the 6’6 flamethrower complete more than 70% of his passes for more than 225+. Browning, on the other hand, came within a hair of breaking the NCAA record for completion percentage in a game against BYU with his 23-25 mark.
@FarmerBarn: Toughest game for me to pick this week. After a 12-game win streak that started in 2004, Oregon’s been on the receiving end of total beatdowns by the Huskies the past two years. Think this Saturday will be different and the game a total toss-up. I’ll go Huskies.
@BarnBurnerZiggy: Washington hasn’t been putting up points like we’re used to and Oregon has the current top pick in the NFL Draft at QB. It will be a shootout but Oregon can keep up and will cover.
@BarnBurnerSlim: This could be a good one with the Oregon’s Justin Herbert and WR Dillon Mitchell (Memphis’ own, BTW) going up against one of the best secondaries in all of college football. Chris Peterson’s Huskie teams are 10-3 following a game in which they didn’t cover and still won (they didn’t cover last week against UCLA), and Washington has given Oregon the business the past 2 years. I wish we had this line at -3, but I’m still rolling with Washington.
@BarnBurnerBaker: This looks like a tough matchup. Oregon let one get away at home a few weeks ago against Stanford that felt similar to how this game feels. I think they’ll close the deal as underdogs this time around. Oregon.
Wisconsin vs. Michigan (-6.5)
There may not be a more mystifying team with unanswered questions than Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines. The Wolverines opened the season with a dud, losing to Notre Dame 24-17. Since then, they haven’t really played any one and needed a second-half comeback to beat a mediocre Northwestern two weeks ago. We’re about to find out how good the maize and blue really are, though, as they face the Badgers, hated in-state rival Michigan State Spartans, and Penn State three out of the next four weeks. Interestingly, a lot of the same can be said for Paul Chryst’s Badgers. A week three upset at the hands of the BYU Cougars made Wisconsin an after-thought in the minds of many college football fans and voters. Wisconsin and sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor have a chance to change that on Saturday. Taylor had his second 200-yard rushing game of the season in last week’s victory over Nebraska, running for 221 and three touchdowns. On the season, he leads the nation in rushing with 169.8 yards per game. If he keeps up his current pace, he’s set to rush for 2,377 yards and 22 touchdowns. Wisconsin’s strength of running the ball will collide with the strengths of the Michigan defense – a defense that surrenders only 96.5 yards per game on the ground and currently ranks No. 1 in the country in both total and passing defense. This Wolvers-Badgers feels like a classic Big 10 game where both teams try to impose their will on the ground.
@FarmerBarn: Wisconsin’s defense is banged up right now with 2 of its top 3 corners likely out for Saturday’s game and starting safety Scott Nelson out for the first half due to a targeting penalty. On the flip side, Michigan has scored 40 points in 4 of its last 5 games. I got the Wolverines by ten.
@BarnBurnerZiggy: Michigan is not playing as well as that number 12 ranking indicates and their offense is prone to disappearing (i.e. Northwestern). I don’t see them winning this by two scores, if at all. Wisconsin at least covers.
@BarnBurnerSlim: Wisconsin has been less than impressive this season while Michigan has been pretty steady following their Week 1 loss. Shea Patterson should have a field day against this Badger secondary, Wolverines cover easily.
@BarnBurnerBaker: I get a sense that this will be a tight game. The loser will be all but eliminated, while the winner will be clinging to an outside chance at still making some playoff noise. I like Michigan to win the game, but 6.5 seems heavy here. I’ll take Wisconsin to cover, but still like the Wolverines overall.
Colorado vs. USC (-7)
Colorado looks to defeat the Trojans for the first time in twelve tries, the last seven losses coming since the Buffaloes joined the Pac-12 in 2011. There might not be a better offensive connection in the country than Buffs QB Steven Montez and wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. Montez is tied with Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the highest completion percentage in the nation among FBS passers (75.2%) and his favorite go-to target continues to be one of the nation’s most electric players. Shenault has legitimately thrust himself into the fringe of Heisman conversation with a stat-line of 51 catches for 708 yards and 10 total TDs — all coming in just five games (for the love of college football, watch the man’s highlight tape below). The Buffs offense will stretch a Trojans secondary that remains largely untested. On the season, USC defensive backs have a mere one interception among 34 passes defended. Fortunately for the Trojans, star linebacker and Thor look-alike Porter Gustin appears available to play in spite of a nagging ankle injury. USC looks to get its offense on track after an up-and-down start to the season. The Trojans have probably leaned on true freshman quarterback JT Daniels a little too much, as the young signal caller has averaged 34 passes per game on the season.
@FarmerBarn: Admittedly, I am a Buffs fan. A good rule of thumb as a gambler is to never bet on your own team seeing that a loss as a fan as already bad enough. But what the hell. Shenault, I mean Buffs.
@BarnBurnerZiggy: If the Buffs want to be in the Pac 12 title picture, beating 3-2 USC is a must. Being a 7 point ‘dog is an insult and I expect them to be fired up. Also, Shenault, Jr. is a stud. Buffs cover.
@BarnBurnerSlim: One of these teams is overrated, and there are several writers out there saying Colorado is one of the biggest pretenders so far in 2018. I understand how they can say that, but I think the overrated team here is USC. Let’s Go Buffs.
@BarnBurnerBaker: I’ll be hard pressed to find any interest to keep tabs on this one tomorrow. I think USC covers.
Missouri vs. Alabama (-27.5)
News flash: The Crimson Tide offense continues to put up video-game like numbers on the season. Scoring at a clip of 56 points per game (which is currently tied with the 1944 Army-West Point offense as the highest-scoring offense of all time), more than 70 percent of that scoring has come in the first half of games – just a completely ridiculous stat. In the last two games alone, the Tide have not had to punt one single time. On the season, freshman punter Skyler Delong has only punted a ridiculous 15(!) times. Okay, enough about Alabama’s offense. Entering into the 2018 season, people expected big things of Missouri quarterback Drew Lock. Coming off a 44 touchdown 2017 campaign, Lock has somewhat struggled under first year offensive coordinator Derek Dooley. While the senior has 11 touchdowns on the season, all of those came in the Tigers first 3 games. Nonetheless, Mizzou has put up 64 points in its last two games. The Tigers will likely need that and then some to keep pace with the Crimson Tide.
@FarmerBarn: Honestly, I don’t think I can bet against Bama when they’ve covered every spread so far this season sans one (A&M). Four touchdowns is absurd, but Bama it is.
@BarnBurnerZiggy: Typically, an offense like Mizzou would be a sure thing to cover 4 scores. Bama has shown, though, that if you score 30, they’ll score 60. Can’t believe I’m taking Bama on this line, but I am.
@BarnBurnerSlim: Bama with a night game, homecoming, and their defense is coming off a relatively poor showing against Arkansas last week. Yea, I’ll take the Tide to cover in this one.
@BarnBurnerBaker: With Dixieland Delight returning to Alabama home games maybe more than 50 fans will stick around to watch an Alabama fourth quarter. That’s about the only reason. Alabama.
JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT GAME: UCF (-4.5) vs Memphis
The UCF Knights currently boast the nation’s longest active winning streak (18 games) and continue to climb up the coaches’ poll (currently 9th). To the chagrin of most fans around the country, the Knights proudly self-proclaimed itself “national champions” after last season’s fairytale season. Two of the Knights thirteen wins from last year came against the Memphis Tigers. After blowing the Tigers out in week 3, a thrilling rematch occurred in the American Championship. The Knights survived in double overtime, winning 62-55 to book a spot in the Peach Bowl (which they made good on by upsetting the Auburn Tigers). After a strong 2017 season under coach Mike Norvell, the Tigers have had an up-and-down season. They have a chance to make a statement at home before a raucous crowd on Saturday.
@FarmerBarn: I think the Tigers have had this one circled since the loss in the conference championship last year. Streaks are meant to be broken. Memphis.
@BarnBurnerZiggy: This game was supposed to go a long way in determining the Group of Five’s BCS bid. UCF has lived up, but Memphis has stumbled. UCF will play enough D to slow Memphis’ high powered offense down and Knights will cover.
@BarnBurnerSlim: Sure UCF has been dominant and QB McKenzie Milton continues to improve and Memphis has looked suspect against decent competition. But the Tigers have revenge on their mind, and we don’t lose at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium when we are on ABC. M-E-M-P-H-I-S.
*Odds courtesy of OddsShark
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