Each week, The Firelion uses his eyes and heart to pick college football winners against the spread. But he doesn’t make you follow Toledo 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
King Lionitus of the Firelands did not mind the nectar from his golden chalice escaping his mouth and streaming down his beard. Ambushed and overmatched in the early stages of what would soon be called the Battle of Gridiron, his composure and dedication to sound tactics led him back up the hill to victory. The King’s reward was stereotypical but deserved. Overflowing vats of Nectar Blue Label, the finest medicinal herbs from Coloradoland, and bare-breasted nurses surrounded him. King Lionitus knew there were more battles to be won, but to not taste, inhale, and feel the spoils of victory would eliminate the reason for fighting. Long live the king, bitches.
What We Learned
2019 Season Record: 23-26
Look, “I told you so” is just easy and cheap. Just because I’ve been predicting improvements for the past two weeks doesn’t necessarily make you a worse person for not believing me. It doesn’t make you a great person, but we all have our flaws. I mean, just look at this masterpiece of a week:
- Loss – (Louisiana-Lafayette -2) – Appalachian St. 17 – Louisiana 7: The lone loss of the week was picking an unestablished team over a seasoned program. Shake it off.
- Win – (NC State -4.5) – Syracuse 10 – NC State 16: Even a fourth quarter touchdown by the Orange couldn’t break the pick. Easy Thursday money!
- Win – (Under 44) – Virginia 9 – Miami 17: I hope you took my advice and did something other than watching this turd of a game.
- Win – (Texas +10.5) – Oklahoma 34 – Texas 27: Jalen Hurts’ late TD put us up against the wall, but Sam Ehlinger drove the Longhorns down for a semi-backdoor score to secure the win.
- Win – (Alabama -17) – Alabama 47 – Texas A&M 28: How does anyone cover these Bama receivers? They don’t and probably won’t.
- Win – (LSU -12.5) – Florida 28 – LSU 42: The final four minutes of this game is exactly why you gamble on sports. More highs and lows than a Mission: Impossible movie.
- Win – (Over 60.5) – Hawai’i 37 – Boise St. 59: The Broncos are cruising through the season as this Over covered with 3:31 left in the third quarter!
The Firelion is en fuego!
The Week Ahead
All lines courtesy of MyBookie.ag
Some have faded my picks. Some have pitied the start. Now I’m being fed grapes and kept cool by the wind of only the finest peacock feathers. But I’m not South Carolina celebrating my seasonal Super Bowl. This is the beginning of the streak! The next rung of the ladder is getting back to .500, which a 5-2 record this week brings. The hot sponge bath was a nice reward, but the Firelion must get back to work.
South Alabama at Troy
- Wednesday Night @ 8:00pm ET on ESPN2
- Line: Troy -15
- O/U: 55
Have you seen any good movies lately? Joker and Ad Astra look good! El Camino on Netflix is a must-see if you finished Breaking Bad. Just saying, because these teams are a combined 3-8 and, get this, none of the teams South Alabama or Troy have beaten have won an FBS game this season. But it’s on national television and Wednesday night church seems to be a thing of the past, or maybe just for those who need to get their kids out of the house.
Troy’s passing game is the first place to find insight on this game. Trojans QB Kaleb Barker is touting a 14-4 TD-INT ratio and his favorite red zone target is WR Khalil McClain is a 6’3” WR with 5 receiving TDs on the season. Another thing to worry about if you’re a South Alabama fan/supporter/bettor is the 16 sacks their offensive line has given up this season, where they rank 122 out of 130 in Sacks Allowed. Pray for forgiveness for missing church again and take Troy -15.
UCLA at Stanford
- Thursday Night @ 9:00pm ET on ESPN
- Line: Stanford -6.5
- O/U: 52.5
The Firelion will always remember Chip Kelly and the Bruins for the easy wins earned by betting against them in the early weeks of the season, back when we needed all the scraps we could get. Now this 1-5 UCLA team might be starting its backup QB as starter Dorian Thompson-Robinson missed their last game with an ankle injury. The sophomore signal-caller returned to practice this week but there’s no word on if he starts. Stanford faces a similar issue with two quarterbacks – both Davis Mills and KJ Costello have 90+ attempts each – are both questionable.
The lack of passers in a PAC 12 game is alarming, but even more so for UCLA as they’re running into a Stanford team that does not allow easy ground yards at home, recently holding Washington (88 yards) and Oregon (61) to about 100 less yards rushing than those opponents season average (UW averages 175 per game and Oregon nets 163). UCLA hasn’t been good all season and making them one-dimensional on the road will look as helpless as a Clayton Kershaw relief appearance. Have pity on these limping squads and go with the Under 52.5.
(4) Ohio State at Northwestern
- Friday Night @ 8:30pm ET on FS1
- Line: Northwestern +28
- O/U: 49.5
Anyone who halfway follows college football should be salivating at Northwestern getting four touchdowns at home on a Friday night, even if it is to Ohio State. And that makes sense as Pat Fitzgerald has created a surprisingly successful culture in Evanston, IL that culminated with a Big 10 West championship last season. But this season ain’t that. The 2019 Wildcats are 1-4 and had to use their bye week to dwell on the loss to struggling Nebraska. Let’s bring out the bullet points:
- Northwestern has used two QBs that both have 1-4 TD-INT ratios and a QB Rating right at 78. Both of them! Ohio State is in the top 10 of turnover margin in the FBS.
- The Wildcats average 42 rushes per game because of their junior varsity passing attack. The Buckeyes welcome this as they rank 7th in the nation in rushing yards allowed (82.7 YPG).
- The Purple and White have scored seven touchdowns all season. The Scarlet and Gray have three games with at least seven touchdowns scored.
Will Ohio State be looking ahead to their matchup against Wisconsin next week? Will Northwestern feed off a home crowd on a Friday night? Even if the answer to both of those questions is a yes, Ohio State wins this game by 40 at least seven of 10 times. The Firelion is begrudgingly taking the road favorite Ohio State -28.
(9) Florida at South Carolina
- Saturday @ Noon ET on ESPN
- Line: South Carolina +6
- O/U: 48
Talk about a dichotomy in preparation weeks. South Carolina just won its Super Bowl (assuming they don’t spring up on Clemson in late November), and Florida just found out its not a real-deal contender. Could the Gamecocks pull off another four-turnover game and upset a ranked SEC East team for the second week in a row? Will the Gators bounce back to keep its position in the driver’s seat as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party looms on the horizon? This feels like the hardest game on the slate to handicap, so the Firelion isn’t picking sides. That’s right! I see that South Carolina allows 404 yards and 25.8 points per game, and Florida very well may be playing without a starting linebacker and defensive end. Let’s hope the defenses are still shaking the early cobwebs off and bet the Over 48.
(12) Oregon at (25) Washington
- Saturday @ 3:30pm ET on ABC
- Line: Washington +3
- O/U: 50.5
Since losing to Auburn in Week 1, Oregon has allowed only one touchdown in its last five games. While the slate of competition in that time isn’t noteworthy – although it does include wins at Stanford and against California, which are two teams that beat Washington – allowing only five points per game over a month’s span is as impressive as anything a PAC 12 team has done since passing Marcus Mariota off as an NFL-caliber quarterback.
The Huskies will need to control the clock to upend the Ducks and give themselves a fighting chance at representing the PAC 12 North. Luckily, they’ve got the personnel to pull it off. Forget a two-headed rushing attack, Washington has three backs that average 5+ yards per carry (min. 50 carries), with a combined 13 touchdowns.
Lastly, not surprisingly, the weather in Seattle is calling for 60% chance of rain throughout the game. Y’all should be thankful that the Firelion is a man of the people and wouldn’t dare select yet another Under (although it looks mighty appetizing). Wager on the underdog Washington Huskies at +3.
(16) Michigan at (7) Penn State
- Saturday @ 7:30 pm ET on ABC
- Line: Penn State -9
- O/U: 45.5
The “Jim Harbaugh is overrated” take went from Twitter pockets to a full-on bandwagon in a few short months. Careful, Michigan fans! King Lionitus warns thee! The Wolverines have five 10+ win seasons over the past 15 years, and Jimmy has delivered three of them. But, to the disgruntled mob’s credit, his winning record against ranked opponents is a sloppy 1-10. The rule of thumb is to give a coach four years for the roster to be filled with his recruits. Well, this is Year 5 of the Harbaugh Era and his OT squeaker against Army and shellacking in Wisconsin have not endeared the Blue and Maize faithful.
This week probably won’t get much better as they’re playing a Penn State team that is quietly stating its intentions of a playoff berth. Nationally, the Nittany Lions rank 9th in total defense and 3rd in rush defense. And Michigan RB Zach Charbonnet or QB Shea Patterson are not playing well enough to convince me they’ll all of a suddenly pull their team up by the bootstraps on a White Out Happy Valley night. So, hide your wife. And definitely hide your kids. But take the devil’s money with Penn State at -9.
(14) Boise State at BYU
- Saturday @10:15 pm ET on ESPN2
- Line: BYU +6.5
- O/U: 49.5
Another opportunity to pick my favorite spread-covering team runs into some doubt as they travel to Mormon country on Saturday night. The BYU Cougars started hot out of the gate with wins at Tennessee (not as big now as it was at the time) and USC (maybe bigger now than it was at the time, considering the Trojans win over Utah), but since have been sliding with a loss at home to Washington and then road defeats to Toledo and South Florida.
This season, BYU has allowed 224 rushing yards per game. This is another game with about a 60% chance of rain at game time, which often spells trouble for freshman quarterbacks. As for the Broncos, they are comfortable pounding the ball with three games with more than 180 yards rushing. And the Boise State defense has only allowed more than 120 yards rushing once (to the Air Force triple option). Oh, and for good measure, they have held opposing quarterbacks to a 52% completion rate, which would rank around 106th in the nation if it were a single player.
While this is only an 8:15pm kickoff for the Cougars, their fans and team should have a tough time without alcohol and caffeine. Stick with the Broncos at -6.5 as they trample toward a late-season playoff controversy.