Each week, The Firelion uses his eyes and heart to pick college football winners against the spread. But he doesn’t make you follow Ball St. 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!
How We Feel
“Heads!” A construction site packed with facial hair, cussing, and unpaid bar tabs all stopped, squatted and pulled their stickered hard hats to their skulls at the warning of a falling object. The act was one of helplessness, just folks doing the best they could to get by in a situation where they had no control. The airborne power drill somersaulted four soon-to-be low-income housing stories before breaking its bit off in the drought-hardened ground not 18 inches from Joe “Firelion” Daly. Eyes and mouths widened at the sheer luck of its placement.
“Shit, boys! Two weeks ago and that would’ve got me!” Firelion hollered, getting the spirits to match the volume of “Gimme Three Steps” blaring on the DeWalt radio. The crew laughed as they remembered the streak of bad luck. From two torn shirts in a single day to a week-long cold, from a blown head gasket to dropping his phone in concrete, the Firelion had made all the wrong decisions and caught no breaks. His heart still pounded from the close call, but his smile showed the confidence of someone who has worked through bad times before. He picked up his hammer and went back to doing things the right way. It always evened out in the end.
What We Learned
2019 Season Record: 17-25
Progress is often slow. The older I get the less I trust a quick fix. Whether someone is promising “Change!” or to “Drain the Swamp!”, the changes are all surface-level. Incremental changes are key. When Dale’s trailer park hoodlums pissed the above-ground community pool in Week 2, he probably just gashed the sucker. Now nobody has a pool. That level of overreaction is not what drives us thoughtful types. It’s just putting on the hard hat and grabbing the lunch pail again the next day. Are we heroes? Who am I to say? Is this a bit much for going 5-4 this week? Not if you’re a winner like good ole Firelion.
- Win – (LSU -28) – Utah State 6 – LSU 42: Them Bayou Bengals don’t care when they start!
- Loss – (Oklahoma -33) – Oklahoma 45 – Kansas 20: I’d imagine I’d sleepwalk through Lawrence, Kansas too.
- Loss – (Kent St +35) – Kent State 0 – Wisconsin 48: 348 yards of rushing for Wisconsin is what I expected, but those passing touchdowns were mean and unnecessary.
- Win – (Purdue +29) – Purdue 7 – Penn St. 35: Good thing I’m not being judged by what I thought could be an upset.
- Win – (Notre Dame -46.5) – Bowling Green 0 – Notre Dame 52: Bowling Green really is the worst… keep fading them almost as much as you do me!
- Win – (Texas -10.5) – Texas 42 – West Virginia 31: Not even another touchdown in the last minute – and there indeed was one – could mess this one up for us.
- Win – (Georgia -25) – Georgia 43 – Tennessee 14: It’s wise to remember the backdoor wins, as we got here with a last-minute red zone stand by the Dawgs, to provide some sanity with all the times that door hits you on your ass.
- Loss – (Over 46.5) – California 7 – Oregon 17: Somehow possibly the most unwatchable game of the entire slate.
- Loss – (Washington -15.5) – Washington 13 – Stanford 23: It took until Sunday morning Eastern time for one of these games to have an upset. But here we are.
A winning record? By gawd, get me a turnover chain!
The Week Ahead
All lines courtesy of MyBookie.ag
The gloating is out of the way, the pimp suit is back in the closet, and the work boots are ready to kick some more ass. This week’s picks are a fun mixture of favorites and overs, so get on the good foot starting with the appearance of Wednesday night football!
Appalachian State at Louisiana-Lafayette
- Wednesday Night @ 8:00pm ET on ESPN2
- Line: Louisiana -2
- O/U: 69.5
Y’all ever tried to combine discounts and were told it’s impossible, leaving you to look like a cheap jerk? The Firelion limits no such things when it comes to conjoined rules. And look what we got here! A Thursday night home team that, as a favorite to the darling Mountaineers, qualify as the Too Good To Be True, It Ain’t rule!
Outside of Appalachian (pronounced “apple-at-chan,” for the record) State’s big win over North Carolina, all of their other games have ended with them winning by more than two touchdowns. Both the Mountaineers and Louisiana have four wins apiece: Appalachian State’s opponents have combined to win only four games, but the Ragin’ Cajuns felled opponents have stacked merely two. Appalachian State is coming off a bye week after winning at home.
What about this spells a Ragin’ Cajun win, exactly? They’re the only team in all of FBS that is 5-0 against the spread. Oh, and La-Lafayette RB Trey Ragas leads the nation with 9.79 yards per carry on 11 rushes per game. Rally around them Ragin’ Cajuns on a wild Wednesday night at -2.
Syracuse at NC State
- Thursday Night @ 8:00pm ET on ESPN
- Line: NC State -4.5
- O/U: 56.5
Both of these shit-show teams are coming off a bye week in anticipation of what probably looked like a fun game before the season started. Syracuse is coming off a 41-3 walk in the seminary against Holy Cross, while the Wolfpack benched their starting quarterback in a 13-31 loss to FSU. But don’t underestimate the power of a new signal caller stepping in a huddle. Hockman, who transferred from FSU after a redshirt year and originally committed to Georgia under Richt, has been lying in wait to take the reins of a football team. The No.11 pro-style QB recruit from 2017 will have no better opponent than one that gives up 438 yards on offense per game.
And who exactly scares you on this Syracuse team? QB Tommy DeVito has five interceptions to his 11 touchdowns. The lead rusher, Moe Neal, is 114th in the country in yards per carry. If the Wolfpack throw extra coverage at breakout WR Trishton Jackson, they can squeeze the Orange into pulp on a wolf den floor. Stick with the home State at -4.5
(20) Virginia at Miami
- Friday Night @ 8:00pm ET on ESPN
- Line: Miami -2.5
- O/U: 44
Virginia’s bye week came at the perfect time following a loss to Notre Dame, which came one week after being outgained by Old Dominion. Sure, they beat the Old Dominion, uh, <Googles> Big Blue! No, wait, they’re the Monarchs but their mascot is a lion named Big Blue. Now you got some trivia AND the point I’m trying to make. The Cavaliers of Virginia needed to fix what was broken. Let’s break this one down in list form:
- Virginia QB Bryce Perkins has an 8-6 TD-INT ratio
- Miami’s two wins are against Central Michigan and Bethune-Cookman
- Both teams are Top 25 in total defense
- 50% chance of rain on Friday night in Miami, Florida
Let’s not overthink this one. Take the Under 44 and go enjoy your family and friends.
(6) Oklahoma at (11) Texas (Dallas, TX)
- Saturday @ Noon ET on FOX
- Line: Oklahoma -10.5
- O/U: 76
The Red River Shootout is back, baby! Have the Longhorns figured out how to slow down the pass after their “DBU” shirt debacle in Week 2? Did looking ahead and costing the Firelion a cover against Kansas last week actually help the Sooners prepare? What we know is that both teams are among the Top 10 in the nation in points per game and are 3-2 against the spread.
What we don’t know is how much of the Sooners’ 643 yards and 53 points per game are fluff? An early season barnburner against Houston was expected, but we’ve seen the Cougars decline in front of our own very tits. Road matchups against UCLA and Kansas remind me of dunking over my young cousins on a 6-foot goal. That said, they’ve got four rushers averaging more than 7.5 yards per carry (having at least 25 attempts) and 14 receiving touchdowns.
Texas will surely trade those fancy numbers for the battle-hardened schedule of having played LSU at home and West Virginia on the road. But they’ve also given up 400+ total yards to every team on their schedule except the 0-5 Rice Owls. They’ve given up a total of eight sacks in those two games I just mentioned. But this is a rivalry game, dammit! Texas has won 2 of the last 4 before they were on this level. Let’s trust that the Longhorns will come into this game dragging some Bevo balls and hang in at +10.5
(1) Alabama at (24) Texas A&M
- Saturday @ 3:30pm ET on CBS
- Line: Alabama -17
- O/U: 61
It’s like Alabama hasn’t even been playing all year. Their toughest opponent was, I guess, South Carolina? They’ve trampled to a 37-point average margin of victory behind Tua’s 23-0 TD-INT ratio. In fact, Alabama has committed only three turnovers all season and wear a turnover margin of +8, compared to the Aggies’ -2 margin on the season.
It’s going to take a Kellen Mond masterpiece for the Aggies to hang in this game. But, then again, this is the place to do it. Alabama always struggles in one game against a divisional foe, and Kyle Field is a fine setting to do it. Well, maybe if Alabama didn’t trot out four NFL receivers this Saturday against a Texas A&M defense outside the Top 50 in passing yards allowed. Take the Tide -17.
(7) Florida at (5) LSU
- Saturday @ 8:00 pm ET on ESPN
- Line: LSU -12.5
- O/U: 55
The fun’s over, Florida. You’ve persevered in Lexington and then feasted on one of the most inaccurate quarterbacks last week when the other Tigers came to town. But now you’re running right into the school with the balls to keep a real tiger on campus. It’s the first ranked matchup for LSU at home all season, and those Cajuns have all damn day to prepare. The worst part is that LSU hasn’t even needed their Death Valley homefield advantage as they’ve whipped teams by an average of 35 points, including their road win against the Longhorn.
Unfortunate for the Gators, this game isn’t following one of their three, THREE, bye weeks on the schedule. Just roll with Cool Joe Burrow and his Top 3 QB Rating (just behind Jalen and Tua) and watch Florida lose their Atlanta hopes. Lay your cash on LSU -12.5.
Hawai’i at (14) Boise State
- Saturday @10:15 pm ET on ESPN2
- Line: Boise St. -11
- O/U: 60.5
All I’ve wanted to do since watching Boise State blow a cover to Marshall in Week 2 was write about my faith in them. The Broncos are 3-1-1 ATS this season and have been quietly taking care of business. Alas, here we are! Boise State’s 480 yards per game is mere six yards behind Clemson and Texas this season. And their 321 yards allowed per game is better than Alabama and Utah. And their blue turf will now play host to a Rainbow Warriors team that puts up – wait, what!? This season? – 498 yards per game!
Awesomely named Hawai’i QB, Cole McDonald, is on pace for more than 4,200 yards. Senior WR Cedric Byrd II has already reeled in nine receiving touchdowns, one away from being the top in the nation. This seems like an offense that can contend. I’ll be pulling for the Broncos but my wallet will be watching the Over 60.5.