Each week, The Firelion uses his eyes and heart to pick college football winners against the spread. But he doesn’t make you follow Toledo on ESPN+. The Firelion wants to add even more enjoyment to your college football watching by only picking nationally televised games. Read on down to see which teams you should rent to be your favorite team this weekend!
What We Learned
2019 Season Record: 30-33
No bad beats this week. Just a few misguided picks. But I’m bailing on the losers I once supported faster than a deadbeat dad seeing his empty pack of cigarettes while hearing a baby cry. I just need to run to the store, Penn State, I’ll be right back!
- Loss – (Penn St. -7) – Penn St. 26 – Minnesota 31: The disrespect of being undefeated and ranked 17th was more powerful than a seasoned resume.
- Win – (Baylor -3) – Baylor 29 – TCU 23: The Bears are as clutch as they come. Watch them closely going forward.
- Win – (LSU +6) – LSU 46 – Alabama 41: What a win for Coach O! Now they better hope they don’t run into a fully ready Tua in the playoffs. But it might be wise to head over to MyBookie.ag and check out the odds for Bama to win the championship (+550).
- Loss – (Texas -7) – Texas 27 – KSU 24: That damned 4th quarter kickoff return killed us!
- Loss – (Under 38.5) – Iowa 22 – Wisconsin 24: Wisconsin’s defense doesn’t seem as stout as usual. The Badgers might want to watch out for Nebraska coming off a bye.
- Win – (UT Pick Em) – Tennessee 17 – Kentucky 13: The goal line stand of the year, bay-baayyyy! The Vols are still eligible for an 8-win season if they keep picking the correct QB in their weekly roulette.
- Loss – (San Diego St. -17) – Nevada 17 – San Diego St. 13: I got caught up in the hype around a team I never watched play. Lesson learned.
A 3-4 setback for the week means these final three weeks need to be clutch. But, much like the Purple Aces that took down the Roundball Cats this week, performing in the clutch is what the Firelion is all about!
The Week Ahead
All lines courtesy of MyBookie.ag
It’s time to announce the end of picking games on Thursdays and Saturdays. Wouldn’t you rather see matchups worthy of appearing on a competitive television landscape?
(5) Alabama at Mississippi State
- Saturday @ Noon ET on ESPN
- Line: Mississippi State +19
- O/U: 60
Oh dear. Bama is on the outside looking in and this week they’re peeking into the Bulldogs’ window. Lightning strikes reveal a mad leprechaun hellbent on getting inside. And the only way to do that is to treat the dogs of Starkville in a way you definitely can’t talk about in 2019.
Tua had a great second half against LSU and nearly made up for his excruciating first-half mistakes. He looks to be a game-time decision in this game, but it shouldn’t matter whether it’s him or Mac Jones or Freddie Kitchens. Bama’s defense should clamp down on a Mississippi State offensive line that has allowed sacks on 9% of its offensive plays, which is the worst in the conference (and 112th out of 130 in the country). Roll with the Tide at -19.
Michigan State at (15) Michigan
- Saturday @ Noon ET on FOX
- Line: Michigan -14
- O/U: 44.5
After going to OT against Army and getting routed by Wisconsin early in the season, the Wolverines have been going all Myles Garrett on their opponents. They’ve averaged 36.5 points per game in their last four games and have a real good chance at reaching 10 wins for the fourth time in the past five years (making the Michigan fans’ readiness to fire him all the more Auburn-like).
The Spartans, on the other hand, are playing like they’ve been indefinitely suspended. Michigan State needs two wins to make a bowl after blowing a 31-10 fourth quarter lead over Illinois last week. They still have games at Rutgers and vs Maryland, so they’ve still got a chance. But they are not going into Ann Arbor and pulling any kind of upset. The Firelion is taking the Wolverines -14.
(4) Georgia at (12) Auburn
- Saturday @ 3:30pm ET on CBS
- Line: Auburn +3
- O/U: 41
The Bulldogs are hanging on to a playoff berth by the rolls of Uga’s fat and are facing the first of their big two challenges to stay eligible (the other being the SEC championship game, presumably against LSU). Auburn, on the other hand, is looking to play spoiler against Georgia and then Alabama in a few weeks.
Auburn’s quarterback, Bo Nix – aside from his name having a rhyme scheme that is low-hanging fruit for his detractors – has finally climbed into the top 100 in the nation of completion percentage. But that shouldn’t matter too much with Georgia ranking 12th in yards allowed through the air. The real matchup here is between the trenches.
While being sworn off after their embarrassing loss at South Carolina, the Dawgs have been quietly putting together the best defense in the country, sitting only behind Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Clemson in total yards allowed per game. The Georgia defense allows only 75 yards per game on the ground while Auburn averages 45 rushing attempts per game. Considering the Tigers also feature a Top 25 defense, bet the Under 41 in this scrappy showdown.
(8) Minnesota at (20) Iowa
- Saturday @ 4:00pm ET on FOX
- Line: Iowa -3
- O/U: 44.5
Why would we not take the points for Minnesota when getting a team still feeling the disrespect from being ranked 17th in the initial playoff standings while being undefeated in the Big Ten? Iowa has won the past four matchups, but the boat-rowing PJ Fleck has only been there for two of those. And there is no side of the ball where the Hawkeyes are substantially better than Minnesota.
In fact, while the Hawkeyes’ run defense ranks 17th overall, they have allowed 120, 177, and 300 yards on the ground in their three losses to Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin, respectively. The Gophers, on the other hand, average nearly 200 yards per game on the ground and have rushed for 300+ yards in three games this season. Watch for Minnesota to control the line of scrimmage and win the game straight up (which you can get at +135 over at Mybookie.ag). Go with the Gophers +3.
(10) Oklahoma at (13) Baylor
- Saturday @ 7:30 pm ET on ABC
- Line: Baylor +10.5
- O/U: 68
The Baylor Bears have trailed in the fourth quarter in each of their last four games before pulling ahead and winning each of them. They’ve played five overtimes in the past three weeks. College GameDay is blessing this game with their presence, and you can bet this game won’t disappoint.
Only one Baylor conference game has been over 68, whereas every conference game for the Sooners except two have gone over that number, and those games got to 62 (at UCLA) and 65 (at Kansas). So it stands to reason we’re either getting a high-scoring OU blowout over Baylor or a lower scoring slugfest, which favors the Bears and their run of dumb luck.
A fun way to play this game would be to take Oklahoma -10.5 with one bet and the Under 68 with another play (DO NOT PARLAY THIS GAME, YOU DEGENERATE!). You’re likely to cancel these out and still get some excitement, but there’s little chance Baylor hangs in the game if 68 points are scored. And you still have a chance for Oklahoma to win 34-21, which seems reasonable. But if you’re only going for one play, it’s gotta be the Bears of Destiny at +10.5!
UCLA at (7) Utah
- Saturday Night @ 8:00 pm ET on FOX
- Line: Utah -21
- O/U: 52
The final two matchups on my slate this week are the two PAC 12 teams vying to be their conference’s first playoff representative since 2016. I believe if either Utah or Oregon can run the slate, including their looming conference championship matchup, the committee would want to put them in over another conference’s second-place team. This obviously assumes Baylor doesn’t continue to run the table and sneak in.
But, for the game at hand, it is time for Utah to impress the committee with a blowout. The Bruins’ three-game winning streak has been predicated on running the ball, averaging 226 yards per game on the ground over that span. While those came against a semi-impressive schedule of Stanford, Arizona State, and Colorado (the latter two better than people think), the Utes defense when playing in Salt Lake City is as oppressive as the thin air. And with UCLA’s defense allowing an average of 70 plays per game, you can bet those boys from sea level might have a hard time catching their breath in the fourth quarter at 4,500 feet. Utah rolls and covers -21 here.
Arizona at (6) Oregon
- Saturday Night @ 10:30pm ET on ESPN
- Line: Oregon -27.5
- O/U: 68.5
Oregon is the other PAC 12 team looking to cruise through their final three games (Arizona, Arizona St., and Oregon St) on their path to a showdown with the Utes. They’re also going to put on their makeup for the committee on Saturday with a beatdown over Arizona. But will it be a 4-touchdown beatdown? Yeah, probably so. But the better angle here might be to look at how many points will be scored in this game. Arizona gives up 482 total yards per game (123rd in the country) but also put up 496 total yards of their own per game, which is good for 20th overall.
We know Oregon will put up points in this game, but don’t ignore that they’ve given up 31, 35, and 24 points in their last three games against Washington, Washington State, and USC, respectively. Only Washington State’s offense has better numbers than Arizona. Go with the Over 68.5 and let the constant scoring keep you awake for this late one.