the firelion picks college games

The Firelion’s Week 5 Picks: Keep the Faith (or Fade Me)

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

The blood dripped down his eyebrow to the canvas. Slowly at first. Drip. Drip. Drip. The stream became more fluid, less like the intermittent dinks from a faucet and more like the inside of a running toilet. A shit-filled toilet. Freddy “Firelion” Mayne slowly got his hearing back. To the tune of muffled cheering and a slow count. “Three….Four.” Where the hell was he? His confusion didn’t fade as much as it was dropkicked out of view by memory. “Five… Six.” Again? The third time in four rounds? The Firelion couldn’t even remember his opponent. “Seven… Eight.” Well, time to get up. Cheering didn’t fade as much as it was dropkicked out of the arena by confusion and pity. Gloves to the mat. Straighten the elbows. Pull the knees up towards the chest. “Nine!” Stand on your own feet. Battered, bruised, but not beaten. There will be another round, damn it.

What We Learned

2019 Season Record: 9-17

Another bloodbath? Bring it. I grew up in sweltering heat and ain’t never been scared of no hot seat.

  • Loss (Under 57.5) –  Houston 31 – Tulane 28: Got too cute, folks. There’s a rule. Bet the home team on non-Saturday night games. Rules are what sets us apart from the animals, and, on this one, I’m scavenging for food instead of just opening the fridge.
  • Loss – (Utah -4) – USC 30 – Utah 23: Time to watch the Trojans. Jump ball luck or not, beating Utah when they’re full strength is a feat.
  • Win – (Florida -14) – Tennessee 3  – Florida 34: There’s a chance I was pulling a reverse jinx to help the Vols, but take the win and watch that Trask.
  • Loss – (Michigan +3.5) – Michigan 14 – Wisconsin 35: It was almost worth it to see the Michigan fans calling for Harbaugh’s head like a French Revolution musical. Uh, of course the Firelion is cultured. Catch up.
  • Loss – (Texas A&M -3.5) – Auburn 28 – Texas A&M 20: I remembered my breakdown of “Auburn can’t pass” and “Texas A&M can’t run” while watching this game and flicked myself behind the earlobe for not taking the under. I would’ve pushed, but better than another L.
  • Win – (Notre Dame +14.5) – Notre Dame 17 – Georgia 23: Not the game we expected, but needed that one bad with the “black sheep of the family” late night game performance.
  • Loss – (Washington State -19) – UCLA 67 – Washington St. 63: You know how many touchdowns UCLA scored in Weeks 1-3 against Cincinnati, San Diego St., and Oklahoma? Six. They scored SEVEN in the second half of this game. You betrayed us, Mike Leach, all of us.

Bloodied. Battered. Ready for the next round.

The Week Ahead

(All lines courtesy of

Playtime is over, folks! The Firelioness and I are headed off to Vegas for the weekend for a Greta Van Fleet concert (yup, I know, we’re rad… check ‘em out if you haven’t already). I’ll be looking at the Sportsbook rooms like a drunkard looks at his fourth shot of whiskey. It’ll start a chain of events that could drop him from Caeser’s High Roller Ferris Wheel faster than he can ride up. But sirens didn’t get their reputation of sweet song for no reason. You don’t turn down nectar when you visit Mount Vesuvius!

So fade (that’s “bet against” in gambler’s terms) me if you will. I have no reason nor reputation to ask for your trust. But know that I’ve always been left standing after a bridge burns, and this column isn’t nearly the biggest failure in my portfolio. Keep the faith.

(Also, this week’s column will be short so I can hydrate for Vegas things)

Navy at Memphis  

  • Thursday Night @ 8:00 pm ET on ESPN
  • Line: Memphis -10.5
  • O/U: 54

What did we learn? Take the home team on Thursday nights. Navy is a good team with the level of discipline needed to go on the road on a short week. Memphis will have to step up to defend a triple-option gimmick. But coaching only takes you so far. Navy doesn’t have the athletes to stack up to a Tigers team when it gets running downhill on a wild Beale Street night. You do have a prayer in Memphis, and it’s taking the Tigers -10.5.

(12) Penn St. at Maryland

  • Friday Night @ 8:00 pm ET on FS1
  • Line: Penn St. -6.5
  • O/U: 61.5

The Terps followed up their blowout win over Syracuse in Week 2 with a then-embarrassment to what now looks to be a decent Temple team. They’ve had a week to think about their loss of momentum, watch ESPN mock them and forget them within 12 hours’ time, and learn hypnotic tricks founded on getting defenders to stare into their shoulder pad state flags.

Penn State has rolled through Idaho, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh at home. Wait? All at home? And they’re going to go play their first road game at night? On a Friday night? Against the hungry team discussed in the first paragraph? Oh, I guess that’s not so bad. THEY’RE FAVORED BY NEARLY A TOUCHDOWN? Make that money move with Maryland +6.5!

Texas Tech at (6) Oklahoma

  • Saturday @ Noon ET on FOX
  • Line: Oklahoma -27.5
  • O/U: 70.5

Betting on sports requires knowledge, intuition, guts, and hope. Get three-quarters of those conquered and you’ll have a good time. And to have a good time in this game you should just do what’s fun. You know what’s fun? Seeing a 70-point over-under line and remembering that Vegas line-makers aren’t idiots. Root for touchdowns like it’s the end-of-Red-Zone montage, get prepped for the high-profile matchups later in the day, and bet the Over 70.5.

(1) Clemson at North Carolina

  • Saturday @ 3:30pm ET on ABC
  • Line: Clemson -27
  • O/U: 60

Part 1: We’ve come to the thick of the season. The non-conference games are gone till the fraternities hang the Homecoming banners that make good-hearted alumni second-guess their complaints about the soft millennial culture. (See: “Dads: Feel Free to Drop Off Your Daughters… And Their Moms”) College is the best.

That means it’s time for Clemson to look ahead at its schedule of UNC, FSU, Louisville, Boston College, Etc. Nobody worth looking forward to. Just children’s bodies sharing the battlefield with the cream of the physiological crop. To be continued…

Ole Miss at (2) Alabama

  • Saturday @ 3:30 pm ET on CBS
  • Line: Alabama -38
  • O/U: 61.5

Part 2: And while Clemson knows their road is clean, Alabama knows they must handle every cupcake conference opponent like they’re the culprits of a mob wedding murder. With LSU and Auburn on the docket, teams like Ole Miss and their wilted rosters – due to the type of sanctions still foreign to the “clean-living” lands of Tuscaloosa and Columbus – must be handled like the death of a bug. It ain’t too different in the whole grand scheme of things, but we’re too big and smart to care. It’s the mentality of champions. Cash on Clemson at -27. Bank on Bama at -38.

Mississippi State at (7) Auburn

  • Saturday Night @ 7:00 pm ET on ESPN
  • Line: Auburn -10.5
  • O/U: 46.5

Ole Bo Nix just flat out can’t throw the ball on target yet. It might not matter due to the other 21 dudes on the Tigers playing like they really do want Bama. But it still matters some. Both teams can slow down the run but struggle in air defense. Both teams want to run the ball down your throat and hope their quarterbacks don’t allow safeties to scamper to a score in front of huffing linemen.

Auburn will win this game, but it’s a damn fight. Play it safe with the Under 46.5.

Washington State at (19) Utah

  • Saturday Night @ 10:00 ET on FS1
  • Line: Utah -6
  • O/U: 56.5

You’re spared another UCLA game. Now we take our vengeance on a Cougars team that gave up 67 points (35 points in the second half) to a UCLA squad that had scored a total of 42 points in their first three games combined.

Both teams are coming off losses that end all hope for the emergence of a Pac 12 playoff team. We got ourselves a double-revenge game! Now, as much as I love Mike Leach, the man who teaches “Insurgent Welfare and Football Strategies” on campus during the summer and liked my dropkick video (another story for another column), he’s merely a superstar in the Barstool Sports era. Kyle Whittingham is the gruff, no-nonsense coach that old school, consistent football requires.

Washington State’s defense has shown it can’t break up a daycare fight. The burden, as always, will rely on their quick-strike offense. You tried running 4.4 speeds at 5,856 feet of elevation? There’s no substitution for altitude. I live at 6,500 feet and still can’t hold a conversation after a half-flight of stairs. There’s a reason balls fly further for the Rockies and Broncos’ opponents always need the type of oxygen tanks seen on daytime TV commercials promising coverage through Medicare and the addition of a bulk batch of Depends. Finish your night strong with the Utes at -6.

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