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The Firelion’s Week 11 Picks: Time to Get to .500

Each week, The Firelion uses his eyes and heart to pick college football winners against the spread. But he doesn’t make you follow Coastal Carolina 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

Back in his prime years, Eduardo “Leon de fuega” Rodriguez popped back from a night of tequila shots and Modelo before lunch the next day. Maybe the age softened him up. Or maybe he grew soft in the States. All he knew is that a homecoming fiesta with his amigos, hermanos, and primos left him muttering ancient curses for the past week. Unanswered phone calls and unreturned emails filled his phone with red alerts. Two weeks’ worth of missed work assignments were counted as lost causes as he was told to focus on the weeks ahead. And now that the smell of stale beer, sweaty rides down dirt roads, and smoky cantinas have subsided, Eduardo’s wits have returned. He’s now ready to win all November to provide a healthy Christmas for his clients. It’s time to roll. Andale, perras! 

What We Learned

2019 Season Record: 27-29

We’re going to skip the reminders as it was still triple digits down South when the Firelion last lit up the pick sheet. But there’s going to be plenty to learn this week, such as “is a 2-week hiatus really the best thing when you’ve corrected the early-season struggles of picking 33% and have gone on a 3-week winning streak?” We’ll find out Saturday!

The Week Ahead

(All lines courtesy of MyBookie.ag)

With MACtion officially kicking off this week, we’ve now got college or pro football every night for the next month. Let’s be honest, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday games are like your stepdad taking you to his favorite movie because your estranged father missed yet another weekend. Sure, you appreciate the effort and attempt to take your mind off it, but all you really want is that sweet Saturday connection. So I’m just going to move to Saturday games, which will also allow us to use the most accurate line. Strap in and let’s get to .500 on the season this week!

(5) Penn State at (13) Minnesota

  • Saturday @ Noon ET on ABC
  • Line: Minnesota +7
  • O/U: 47.5

The Big 10 breakfast game of the week is the first of two matchups between undefeated teams in which both squads are coming off bye weeks. This’ll be a heavyweight matchup between two teams that allow less ball movement than effeminately crossing your legs. Both are top 15 in points allowed and top 11 in yards allowed.

Offensively, Penn State’s signal caller, Sean Clifford, trots out a 20-3 TD-INT ratio and has completed 62% of his passes. The Gophers’ QB, Tanner Morgan, isn’t far off pace with an 18-4 ratio and a 65% connection rate. Clifford’s mobility (77 rushes for 280 yards and 3 TDs) gives him a slight edge here, but that’s the extent of their offensive advantage.

Minnesota has mustered at least 440 total offensive yards in each of its five conference games while giving up less than 300 total yards in four of them. Penn State, on the other hand, has been held to 302 yards or less in each of their last three conference matchups. Does it matter that the Gophers’ last three opponents were Nebraska, Rutgers and Maryland while the Nittany Lions beat Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State? Of course it does! Go with the battle tested Nittany Lions at -7.

(12) Baylor at TCU

  • Saturday @ Noon ET on FS1
  • Line: TCU +3
  • O/U: 48

Baylor has emerged from scandal and is control its destiny in the Big 12. Their offense is as balanced as any in the Big 12 with an efficient passer in Charlie Brewer (67% completion rate and 14-3 TD-INT ratio), two running backs each with 70+ attempts and more than 6 yards per carry, and a 6’3” senior wide receiver in Denzel Mims who has corralled six touchdowns this season. Oh, and their defense is ranked 16th nationally in points allowed and 12th in sacks.

Meanwhile, TCU is middling around .500 on the season, although their last home game was 10-point upset over Texas. One thing the Horned Frogs have going is their 4-game win streak over the Bears. They may also be able to take advantage of Baylor looking ahead to their next two games against Oklahoma and Texas. But they’ll need every distraction and break on their side as their quarterback situation looks like this;

  1. Max Duggan – True freshman who will most likely start and play through an injury to the middle finger of his throwing hand.
  2. Mike Collins – Ruled out for the game after taking a hard hit to the midsection on the final offensive play of TCU’s loss to Oklahoma State last weekend.
  3. Alex Delton – Left the team on Wednesday of this week.
  4. Justin Rogers – Entered the transfer portal this year.
  5. Matthew Downing – A non-recruited player who will serve as the backup for this game. According to TCU this week, he is a “smart” player who has received “some reps in practice.” Yikes.

Don’t overthink this one. Bet on Baylor at -3.

(1) LSU at (2) Alabama

  • Saturday @ 3:30pm ET on CBS
  • Line: Alabama -6
  • O/U: 62.5

Clear the damn schedule. Hire a babysitter if you’ve already made that life decision. Send the lady (or fella) off with a spa gift card. What can I even uncover that won’t already be talked about all week? Tua will be a game-time decision but we can assume he’ll play. And Joe Burrows, with the face of that college kid that would say “my dad will ruin your family if you touch me” right before he slaps you in a bar, has emerged as the story of the season. Jesus, he’s led his offense to 500+ yard games against Florida and Auburn, which are both Top 40 defenses.

The Purple and Gold faithful will point out that while they’ve played against Texas, Auburn and Florida, Alabama has been yelling “fry like bacon, you little freshmen piggies!” as they smirk above their underlings on the pavement. While that’s true, it’s also what happens when you’ve become a perennial powerhouse. What they’ve lacked in competition this year, they’ve made up for in point differential. Their 19-point win at Texas A&M was their closest game to this point.

In the end, Alabama deserves to be hated and they know it. Take the Under 65 if you want to make money, but I’m betting LSU +6. and hoping for a bayou bash.

(20) Kansas State at Texas

  • Saturday @ 3:30pm ET on ESPN
  • Line: Texas -7
  • O/U: 57.5

Talk about a tale of three weeks. Both teams have played TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas in their past three games with drastically different results. Texas lost out to Oklahoma, squeaked by Kansas at home, and lost on the road to TCU. The Wildcats took care of TCU, pulled out the biggest upset of the season, and dominated Kansas on the road.

The downturn for Texas starts and ends with their defense, which has allowed at least 30 points in six of their eight games this season as well as 400+ yards in all but one. Out of all the teams with “Texas” in their name, the Longhorns rank fourth behind Texas A&M (352), North Texas (413) and Texas State (443) in yards allowed per game at 466. The Wildcats are an entire century mark ahead of that at only 364 yards per game, good for 38th in the country, which is basically the Steel Curtain when you’re talking about the Big 12.

So how is Texas favored in this game? Well:

  1. The Wildcats have blown their cover and aren’t sneaking up on anyone.
  2. Texas is coming off a bye week and need a strong home showing before road games at Iowa State and Baylor.
  3. Kansas State is still relatively one-dimensional on offense, ranking 32nd in rushing but 112th in passing.

And that concludes your lesson on the anatomy behind a “If it seems to good to be true, it ain’t” game. Lay your money on the Longhorns -7.

(18) Iowa at (16) Wisconsin

  • Saturday @ 4:00pm ET on FOX
  • Line: Wisconsin -9
  • O/U: 38.5

A Big Ten elimination game! Both teams are trailing Minnesota in the West by two games. The loser essentially eliminates themselves while the winner needs a Penn State loss early in day to hope for a tiebreaking win over the Gophers later in the season (both teams still have Minnesota on their upcoming schedule).

Wisconsin has dropped their past two games and are bleeding like they got gashed by a honey badger, which is a superior animal to a standard badger mostly because of how many fucks it doesn’t give. Wisconsin needs to give all the fucks this Saturday as division rival Iowa stacks up mighty nicely against them. The Badgers love to run – they’ve run on 77% of all first down plays – and Iowa has only allowed 100+ yards in a game twice this season, which is good for 8th in the country.

There are a select few folks who can make a living off gambling. These dudes aim for 55% on a sports season and have a few tricks to make that happen. One is taking the highest over/under line and betting the over. And vice versa. This might be the lowest point total in any game I’ve included this year, and I ain’t no fool! This will be a slobberknocker that unfortunately will be missed by many due to Bama-LSU. Bet the Under 38.5 and check in if you want to protest Trump or whatever.

Tennessee at Kentucky

  • Saturday @ 7:30 pm ET on SECN
  • Line: Pick Em!
  • O/U: 42

Call me a Big Orange homer if you will, but what in the hell is making this a pick ‘em game? Uncertainty at quarterback? This Vols team has as much confidence as anybody right now even while playing QB roulette. And I’m working on the assumption that freshman (almost) sensation Brian Maurer – aka The Beamer! – will be back in the lineup.

But let’s say the Vols line up Jauan Jennings at Wildcat and run the ball 40 times. Kentucky ranks 74th in run defense! And at 116th in the country in passing offense, the Cats are wildly one-dimensional. And despite a schedule that includes triple-option running BYU, a Tua-less Alabama, and three of the top 30 rushing teams in the country, the Vols are only allowing 136 rushing yards per game (good for 34th nationally).

The early season sloppiness has been dropped in the Tennessee River, concrete shoes and all, by the Vol Navy. Jeremy Pruitt has rebounded with respectable outings since the Florida debacle and is ready to return the Vols to the No Loss November that  now-AD Phil Fulmer perfected. Even Derek Dooley knew the one truth about Tennessee football. “We always beat the shit out of Kentucky!” Pick the Vols at even to cruise in Lexington.

Nevada at (24) San Diego State

  • Saturday @10:30 pm ET on ESPN2
  • Line: San Diego State +17.5
  • O/U: 39

I know y’all know (and care) less about these teams than Elizabeth Warren knows how to raise $52 trillion. But that’s why I’m here. You’ll be celebrating or commiserating at the bar – or getting a little time to yourself after putting your wife and/or kids to bed – and you’ll want a reason to care about this West Coaster. You’ll pull up your MyBookie app and realize you might as well be guessing. Not if you read the Firelion, bay-baayyyy!

The San Diego State Aztecs need a win to keep their one game lead in the Mountain West division over Fresno State. They’ll get it, but can they get over 17.5, which may be the worst number to bet against? Well, Nevada is 121st in the country in scoring defense and 116th in scoring offense. The Wolfpack may be 5-4, but they’ve been outscored 161-12 in their three matchups against teams with a winning record (Oregon, Hawaii, and Wyoming).

Aztecs hunted wolves back when they roamed 500 years ago. With the 9th ranked scoring defense in the country, Saturday night’s matchup promises to be every bit as bloody. End your night on a high note with San Diego State -17.5.

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