Every 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 to see which teams you should rent to be your favorite team this weekend!
What We Learned
You didn’t think we’d learn from my mistakes each week? That’s exactly how you end up with a House Divided license plate on your trailer surrounded by an infield of shirtless children. You know they’re pissing in the community above-ground pool but where else will you cool down after you drop kick your window unit? WHERE, DALE!?
The lesson this week? It’s what I warned y’all about! You won’t make money because Vegas isn’t in the business of not being right. But if you took my lead and wagered on each of my last week’s picks you basically broke even and had a reason to watch:
- Loss: Ohio St. comes up 3.5 points short on the cover as Fat Lane sweated out his hangover in the second half.
- Win: Bama looked sloppy and you got to enjoy it with the winning Under ticket even knowing they’d win.
- Win: “From the Sticks” Nix put away the Pac-12 once again with a late TD, in lieu of playing for the safe FG, that gave Oregon backers the worst gambling loss of the year.
- Loss: This one flat-out sucked. USC loses their stud QB for the year at the end of the first half.
- Loss: Houston and the Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts only got to 80 of the necessary 82.5. What? You really wished you’d taken the under, rooted against eleventy touchdowns and won?
- Win: Louisville’s Jim Beam helped them get that early start that fended off what would become a real media circle jerk about Notre Dame.
Batting .500 on Week 1 of college football? We’ll take it. Also, no more ties. I vow to pick seven games here on out.
The Week Ahead
It’s still early in the season and we’re operating on eyes and heart in lieu of data and trends.
Marshall at (24) Boise St. (Marshall 56-17 VMI & Boise St. 36-31 FSU)
- Friday Night @ 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- Line: Boise St. -12
- O/U: 57
Boise State and their freshman quarterback trailed the Seminoles last week in Tallahassee 31-13 with 4 minutes in the second quarter. 23 unanswered points later they spat on FSU’s 95.7% win probability rating on ESPN’s utterly useless system.
Marshall shook off the loss of 2 top receivers from 2018 and chalked up 56 points against Virginia Military Institute in route to a 39-point win.
Scores aside, Marshall stacked up 18 more first downs than their opponent at home in Week 1. Boise State one-upped it at 19 more first downs than the Seminoles. I’m guessing Boise State will be even better at controlling the ball against a Conference USA opponent playing on the preposterous blue turf for the first time.
Oh, and you think fans from Idaho have anything better to do on Thursday than pregame for their nationally televised home opener? Do they need to tend to that thriving potato economy? It’s a blowout, bay-baayy! Take Boise State to run away at -12.
Cal at (14) Washington (Washington W 47-14 vs E. Wash & Cal W 27-13 vs. UC Davis)
- Friday Night @ 10:30pm ET on FS1
- Line: Washington -14
- O/U: 43
Washington looks to continue its march through the Pac 12 this year with its conference opener against a rebuilding Cal squad. Coming off a 7-6 2018 record, Cal has lost five of its top six pass catchers from that season. They do tend to rely on the run, rushing 51 times for an average of 4.6 yards per carry in their opener against UC-Davis. But the telling stat from that game is that Cal did nothing to curb its turnover woes from 2018 (20 total) and lost the turnover battle in that 27-13 win by three. Three!
The bright side is Cal can compliment their slowing down of the game on offense with eight returning starters on a defense that ranked in the Top 15 in Defensive S&P+ rankings. The bad news? Their offense that lost all those starters ranked 118th in the Offensive S&P+. The worse news? Washington can score in a hurry, and they’ll be motivated in their first televised game of the year, which can leave Cal’s rushing attack utterly useless. Wager on Washington at -14.
Cincinnati at (5) Ohio St. (Cincinnati W 24-14 UCLA & Ohio St. W 45-21 FAU)
- Saturday @ noon ET on ABC
- Line: Ohio St. -16
- O/U: 53.5
Do not buy into the hype of the 2019 Cincinnati Bearcats football team. The UCLA West Coast Volunteers are a dying program. The Chip Kelly Era of college football is as dead as The Great Greenland Purchase of 2019. You’ve been warned!
Now let’s take a trip back to 2018 when you were only flipping over to the fourth quarter of the Big 10 Breakfast time slot and not watching all the games with great fervor and tremendous excitement knowing you’ve got The Firelion’s picks in your MyBookie app.
Does 38-17 sound like a reasonable score for this game when you see it scroll by the ticker? Of course it does, because Ohio State runs away with games against lesser opponents about thrice a year. Don’t overthink it, enjoy Justin Fields going all Jalen Hurts over the city Ohio surely wishes they could sell to Kentucky. Take Ohio State -16 but be weary of -17+.
Army at (7) Michigan (Army W 14-7 Rice & Michigan W 40-21 MTSU)
- Saturday @ noon ET on FOX
- Line: Michigan -22.5
- O/U: 47
Army runs a triple-offense gimmick offense that has helped military schools and Georgia Tech seem better than they are for decades now. The Cadets only threw the ball eight total times in their 14-7 win over Rice in Week 1. On the other hand, Middle Tennessee State threw 15 incomplete passes in their loss last week to Michigan. That equates to 10 minutes of game time that could’ve been, and will be this Saturday, drained when using the 40 second play clock.
Michigan edged out the time of possession battle with MTSU, 33 minutes to 27, while rushing on 58% of their plays from scrimmage. Feel free to go back to your 2018 watching habits of checking the Big 10 Breakfast game ticker on this one as the Under 47 is looking as fine as Brent Musburger’s dreams.
(12) Texas A&M at (1) Clemson (TAMU W 41-7 Tx St. & Clemson W 52-14 vs GT)
- Saturday @ 3:30pm ET on ABC
- Line: Clemson -17
- O/U: 64.5
Clemson will play its lone home game against a ranked opponent when the Aggies hope to stampede over The Rock. Both teams laid Undertaker-like piledrivers to their opponents in Week 1, with Clemson dominating in-conference Georgia Tech, and Texas A&M laying the smackdown to Texas State of the sudden powerhouse Sunbelt Conference. DID YOU SEE GEORGIA STATE!? I mean, upending a powerhouse Tennessee team on the road?
The meaningful history in this game is concise. Clemson edged out a season-saving win at Kyle Field last year by stopping a 2-point conversion in the final minute. This after allowing two unanswered fourth quarter touchdowns. That 2018 win gave Dabo Swinney a 5-4 edge in matchups across from Jimbo Fisher.
Does anyone else think that 17-point spread is a bit extreme? This is a big-time showdown here! I mean, ignore the “Guarantee” hype being pushed on the talking head shows. This game was going to be physical enough without a kid answering a direct question about whether they’d win. Focus on the fact that it’s two damn good coaches with early-season aspirations of a playoff hunt. This is only my second column, but surely you know what The Firelion is hearing here.
Yup! It’s the sweet southern twang of Lt. Aldo Raine! It looks too good to be true, so it ain’t! Taking Texas A&M at +17 here is too easy. The hype outweighs the knowledge. Clemson won’t be giving up unanswered late touchdowns on the road this year. Cash in on Clemson -17.
BYU at Tennessee (BYU L 30-13 Utah vs UT L 38-30 Ga St.)
- Saturday @ 7pm ET on ESPN
- Line: Tennessee -3.5
- O/U: 52
That’s right! I’m doing it! The Firelion watched the entirety of both BYU and UT’s opening games. And, of course, The Firelion thought BYU might present some early-game matchup problems for the Vols even before Georgia State’s Shawn Elliott pulled off the sequel to his staff’s Big House Upset of ’07 (Elliott was Appalachian State’s offensive line coach, giving his teams 2 upsets in 100,000+ capacity stadiums).
Now, this very well could be the first step toward Tennessee being traded to the ACC. But it’s more likely just an embarrassing case of under preparation and idiocy. Tennessee should get defensive leader Daniel Bituli back to help chase around Zach “Mormon Manziel” Wilson. Plus, while the Big Orange faithful really could have used that legal alcohol last week in Neyland, the powers that be decided it best to open the taps in a night game against the noted deniers of alcohol, caffeine, and meanness.
The worst-case scenario is that Vols fans can free up their Saturdays for missionary work. The Lord and Joseph Smith know hurricane relief won’t happen on its own. Take Tennessee at -3.5.
(6) LSU at (9) Texas (Texas W 45-14 vs La Tech & LSU W 55-3 vs Ga Southern)
- Saturday @ 7:30pm ET on ESPN2
- Line: LSU -5.5
- O/U: 55.5
The news of the SEC’s demise is a bit premature with losses by Tennessee, Ole Miss, and Missouri to non-Power 5 schools. The conference is definitely top-heavy and LSU is the dark horse to put an elephant head in Nick Saban’s bed while he sleeps. But let me ask you: What else would LSU have to throw in a trade for Texas to give up Tom Herman for Ed Orgeron? We love Coach O, but do we trust him on this stage?
Maybe LSU QB Joe Burrow is indeed as good as his 85% completion rate last week, but he’ll sure as hell need to prove it under the lights of Texas Memorial as hungry Longhorn fans will crave the re-enactment of their own signal caller Sam Ehlinger’s “We’re Baaaaaaack” Sugar Bowl moment.
LSU probably ends up winning this game and continues their hype train to the November showdown against the Tide. But by nearly a touchdown on the road? These games are always closer than that. Lay the cash on the Longhorns at +5.5.