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 sounds of sirens outside and overly excited neighbors on the hidden side of paper-thin walls served as Chip “Firelion” Gaines’ alarm clock. Slobber drenched the floral comforter of the value hotel he entered mere hours ago, but no blood or other alarming fluids. All limbs intact. The curtains, as always in these rooms, can’t cover the middle three inches of the window, letting in a sizzling slice of sunlight that burned through his brain as he looked around at the non-flat-screen television and thrift store prints on the wall.
Vegas had gotten him again. As it had before. As New Orleans had. As Nashville had. He rolled over as carefully as a neck injury victim and realized he was still in his Saturday clothes. The Firelion’s thigh was surely bruised from the hours of car keys being pressed between his dead-weight body and the plywood mattress. But the corner of his mouth slowly raised in a wry smile as his hand, while readjusting those relentless keys in his pocket, brushed over some familiar-feeling paper. Two twenties and a ten. He raised himself up once again and slugged toward the tables. This son of a gun ain’t dead yet.
What We Learned
2019 Season Record: 12-21
Almost got there. A 3-4 record last week once again turned sideways by a last-minute touchdown. But them’s the breaks! Like your pickup decisions back in the college happy hour night bar days, the ugly ones are behind us. We got those embarrassing walks of shame out of the way during the underclassman weeks of the season. Our IDs are valid now. We’ve learned some things and are better off for them. Not financially, but mentally. And now it’s time to try something new. But first…
- Win – (Memphis -10.5) – Memphis 35 – Navy 23: At least one rule is staying true. Thursday night home teams on a roll!
- Loss – (Maryland +6.5) – Penn State 59 – Maryland 0: I hope y’all were out having a fun Friday night instead of whatever this was.
- Win – (Over 70.5) – Texas Tech 16 – Oklahoma 55: Came down to the last half of the fourth quarter but the journey was worth it. The Big 12 might be some fun watching again this year.
- Loss – (Clemson -27) – Clemson 21 – North Carolina 20: I counted out Mack Brown too soon! What a performance. Downright awesome.
- Loss – (Alabama -38) – Alabama 59 – Ole Miss 31: Ole Bama did it to us again (if you waited until Saturday and caught it at -34.5)! 28-yard touchdown pass with 5 seconds? The Tide continuously finds ways to make you hate them more.
- Loss – (Under 46.5) – Miss. St. 23 – Auburn 56: These Tigers look ready for anything. Nix shut me up with a 76% completion rate, and the Bulldogs showed they can’t stop the rushing attack when it comes to the big boys.
- Win – (Utah -6) – WSU 13 – Utah 38: Utah bounced back as hard-nosed teams do. Coach Leach and the Cougars? Well, he called his players fat and entitled. I really hate it when I call a game like this on the nose when I’m still doing this poorly. Time to start a-winnin’ so I can get back to braggin’!
The confidence is growing. No more 2’s in our morning beds. It’s time to look in the mirror and realize we’re better than that. Time to pull out some tricks.
The Week Ahead
All lines courtesy of MyBookie.ag
We’re abandoning the format for just one week. Sometimes you need a change of scenery, whether it be a new job or a new bar, to thrive. But unlike those underclassmen mentioned earlier, the Firelion is not looking for an easy way out. Let’s punch the biggest bully in the mouth. Let’s ask the hottest chick in the bar for a nightcap.
A top 15 team has lost to an unranked team in each of the past five years in Week 6 of the season. There are nine matchups that qualify this year, and look at these lines:
- LSU -28 vs. Utah State
- Oklahoma -33 at Kansas
- Wisconsin -36.5 vs. Kent State
- Penn St -28 at Purdue
- Notre Dame -45.5 vs. Bowling Green
- Texas -11.5 at West Virginia
- Georgia -25.5 vs. Tennessee
- Oregon -18 vs. California
- UW -16.5 at Stanford
The Firelion is here to pick them all! Call it insanity. Call it reckless. Call it needless, if you must. But, much like laughter “being the best medicine,” nothing wins more than irrational confidence (except talent, skill, knowledge, modern Western medicine, etc.).
Utah State at (5) LSU
- Saturday @ Noon ET on SECN
- Line: LSU -28
- O/U: 73
An 11am local time kickoff is a plus for the visitor in maybe every city except Baton Rouge. Give the Tiger faithful a limited time to pregame and they just call in bourbon to relieve beer of its drinking game duties. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and it’s downright incredible.
Utah State’s quarterback, Jordan Love, has thrown five picks to his six touchdown passes, and his LSU counterpart, Cool Joe Burrow, has more passing touchdowns than the entire Aggies offense this season. LSU ha scored 66, 65, and 55 points against unranked opponents this season. We’ve been burned too many times assuming elite teams are looking ahead to big games, like the Tigers have against Florida next week, so don’t get rattled. Trust the obvious. Bet on them Bayou Bengals at -28.
(6) Oklahoma at Kansas
- Saturday @ Noon ET on ABC
- Line: Oklahoma -33
- O/U: 67.5
Oklahoma lines are like Colorado Saturday nights right now, you can’t make them high enough. The Sooners haven’t put up less than 48 points in a game all season, and the Jayhawks are 1-3 against the spread (ATS) in a season where they haven’t played a ranked opponent. Steer away from the over 67.5 as Kansas might not even make the red zone in this game. Ride that quaint Sooners’ stagecoach at -33.
Kent State at (8) Wisconsin
- Saturday @ Noon ET on ESPNU
- Line: Wisconsin -35
- O/U: 59
Don’t sleep on the MAC! The Golden Flashes have already played a highly ranked team in Auburn and will bring that big-game experience, as well as 14 days of preparation following their bye week, into Madison for a morning game that could easily turn into a 55-3 bloodbath. But, like the buck that jumped right into the road and ran a counter across those double lines and through my windshield last week, I’m running head-first to the danger.
Wisconsin has four running backs averaging double-digit touches in a game. They’re grinders, and Kent State gives up 261 yards per game on the ground. That aforementioned buck? It’s still running around less damaged than my windshield. Wisconsin bleeds this team dry and wins by 31. Let Jesus take the wheel on this one and roll the dice on the Golden Flash at +35 here.
Purdue at (12) Penn State
- Saturday @ Noon ET on ESPN
- Line: Penn State -29
This feels like the closest game to an upset on this slate. Penn State followed up its close call at home with Pittsburgh two weeks ago with a 59-0 shellacking of a spiraling Maryland team. The Nittany Lions are highly inconsistent on defense this year, giving up less than 150 total yards in wins against Idaho and Maryland, but also allowing 245 passing yards (and 429 total yards) to a Buffalo team whose quarterback only completes 47% of passes this season.
And who do they face coming off the biggest blowout win of the season? A Purdue team that feels a lot like the Pittsburgh team that recently gave James Franklin’s squad fits. The Boilermakers average 351 yards in the air, which is arguably the weakness of the Penn State defense. If there’s an upset this week, it’s in Pennsylvania. Shovel that coal and cash and ride the Boilermakers of Purdue at +29.
Bowling Green at (9) Notre Dame
- Saturday @ 3:30pm ET on NBC
- Line: Notre Dame -46.5
- O/U: 61.5
Barring a string of upsets, Notre Dame has been eliminated from the playoffs. But, as the national media darlings, the Irish are first in line to fill a spot left by a Power 5 vacancy. But they need to dominate. And domination this week won’t require rosaries or Hail Mary’s. Bowling Green lost by 42, 28, and 52 to Kent State, Louisiana Tech, and Kansas State, respectively. Notre Dame does have USC visiting next week, but don’t be scared off by the look-ahead because Bowling Green allows 75% completion rates and gives up 449 yards per game (remember those opponents?). The Irish spring eternal on Saturday at -46.5.
(11) Texas at West Virginia
- Saturday @ 3:30 pm ET on ABC
- Line: Texas -10.5
- O/U: 61
The Longhorns face a 6+ hour, 1,400-mile flight from Austin to Morgantown for a conference game. But that may prove to be the hard part. West Virginia’s three wins have come against teams that have combined for three total wins in the first five weeks of the season. Now, this is Texas’ first true road game of the season. But, as Penn State showed us last week, that doesn’t always matter to tested teams.
The Mountaineers have struggled against James Madison, Missouri, and Kansas, giving up 1,127 total yards of offense in those three games (they also gave up 369 yards in their 44-27 win over NC State). What’s going to happen when Sam Ehlinger moseys into town with his 181 QB rating and 15-1 TD-INT ratio? I’m guessing silenced banjos. Lay the points with the Longhorns at -10.5.
(3) Georgia at Tennessee
- Saturday @ 7:00 pm ET on ESPN
- Line: Georgia -25
- O/U: 51.5
If there’s an ounce of fight in this Volunteers team, it’s going to show this weekend. Overrated OC Jim Chaney is fresh off a stint in Athens and the Vols feature 27 players from the Peach State, including stars DB Nigel Warrior and WR Marquez Callaway. Last week’s game in the Swamp was two plays from being very interesting at halftime. Don’t look for an upset in Knoxville this Saturday, but definitely… wait, what?
Oh shit, Jarrett Guarantano never entered the transfer portal? The Dawgs stroll in the park and sweat less than Uga’s dumb tongue. Grab Georgia at -25.
California at (13) Oregon
- Saturday Night @ 8:00pm ET on FOX
- Line: Oregon -18
- O/U: 46.5
Justin Wilcox has cemented the California Bears as the lovable, scrappy underdogs in his second year at the helm with wins at Washington and Ole Miss. But the streak ran colder than Brad Pitt’s connection to his dozen ex-adopted kids with last week’s loss to Herm Edwards and Arizona State at home. And, unfortunately, a night game in Autzen Stadium might not be the best chance at bouncing back. The Ducks had a great chance to beat Auburn in Dallas in Week 1 and have outscored their last three opponents – Nevada, Montana, and Stanford… I know, but still – by a 131-15 margin. Justin Herbert is living up to his Heisman hype with a 14-0 TD-INT ratio and 300+ passing yards per game.
The only scary thing to consider in this game is the lack of competition for Oregon in the past month. So while I do like Oregon -18 in this game, the Firelion is taking the over 46.5 and expecting it to cover in the third quarter.
(15) Washington at Stanford
- Saturday @ 10:30pm ET on ESPN
- Line: Washington -15.5
- O/U: 52
This ain’t your older brother’s Stanford team. The formerly hardnosed football team is giving up 414 yards per game – albeit with a tough schedule – and only average 112 yards per game on the ground. And while backup quarterback Davis Mills is outplaying injured starter KJ Costello, the lack of experience against Washington’s ball-hawking defensive backfield – with its 7 interceptions, which is tied for fourth in the nation – is less comforting than an Andrew Luck commitment.
Still not convinced? Washington is 4-1 ATS this season and Stanford is 1-4 ATS. You don’t need a fancy degree to tell you the Cardinal is in trouble. But I’m definitely staying up late to watch that band. Sleep tight trusting the Huskies at -15.5