Fishing in Lockness Week #13 – College Edition

by dave on November 29, 2012

My Vegas condo agreement requires me to publicly tout gambling picks for the week. I can’t GUARANTEE A FIVE STAR LOCK OF THE MILLENNIUM, YOU ARE A COMMUNIST TRANSVESTITE IF YOU DON’T BET ON THIS but I can identify the games that seem to me to have an essence of Lockness about them, which smells like a mix of algae, brackish water and lizard breath.

Also, I am totally welcoming of all communists. Transgendered, transvestite or other.

 

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

- The Doors “The End”

Can it really be? Is it really over? Has the entire season already passed? How can a season of Dancing With the Stars seem to last for 5 years, yet college football can come and go in a shorter time than it takes Kirstie Alley to stop sweating after doing the Charleston?

How has the season already passed us by?

HOW?

WHY WON’T YOU ANSWER ME!?!

Alas it is so. We are mere hours from the final round of college football games. Championship games in the MAC, Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten, Conference-USA and ACC. De facto championship games in the Sun Belt and Big East, mostly made up of teams that will soon no longer be a part of the Sun Belt or Big East. This is now the world we live in.

Each August we enter college football season like a new born baby, experiencing all these wondrous things for the first time – joy filling our wide innocent eyes. Teams playing in new conferences against new opponents. Teams that were supposed to be good, being bad. Teams that have been a joke for a generation suddenly becoming good.

There are a few givens that we see every year that ground us: unwatchable morning Big Ten games, Florida State inexplicably losing a road ACC game, late nigh Hawaii games where teams combine for 80 points, Dana Holgorsen spending every day looking like he just woke up after a day snowboarding and a night partying, Gary Danielson becoming the SEC’s own Sean Hannity.  But for the most part everything is new and different.

Then in the time it takes to drink roughly one beer and eat one brat, the season ends and we are left with eight months to kill before college football starts anew.

Yes, we still have the bowls, and being a traditionalist I love the random bowl match-ups. For me, spending my formative years watching college football with no semblance of a playoff, I am ok with bowl games that don’t ‘decide’ anything but rather bring two teams that wouldn’t normally play together in a neutral, warm location for an exhibition game.

Baylor vs. Washington last year wasn’t to determine a champion but it was still the most entertaining game of the year. And then there was the Insight Bowl, a game I enjoyed attending with friends, yet ended up immortalizing as a New Year’s Party because…well why not? Now it is one of my favorite yet most random things ever written around here.

Let’s see someone do that with a NFL Wildcard game.

While the week between Christmas and New Year’s is a joy of nightly random bowl games, it still isn’t the same as waking up on a Saturday morning to College Gameday and going to sleep that night to the sounds of Hawaii being scored on. Again.

Fare Thee Well, 2012 college football season. I shall miss you.

We will always have Clemson weekend.

Lockness #1 – Oklahoma State (-4.5) at Baylor

The big news on this game is that it may set the record for highest Over/Under line in Vegas history – somewhere in the neighborhood of 87 points. A little rich for me, so I am going with the Cowboys instead.

I feel like this spread is a little too low – I would expect it more in the Oklahoma State -6 to -7 range. Oklahoma State has improved probably more than any team in the country over the course of the season, well at least on offense. It is hard to remember they lost by 21 at Arizona early this season. After going through every quarterback on their roster, Clint Chelf has been able to stay healthy and stabilize the offense. While the defenses of both teams are pathetic, if the Cowboys can contain the Baylor offense even just a little – OSU held West Virginia to 34 points and Texas Tech to 21, teams to whom Baylor gave up 70 (70!!) and 45 respectively – I think OSU wins by a touchdown.

Lockness #2 – Hawaii (-6) vs South Alabama

This game actually opened at Hawaii -3.5 but was bet up to 6 before I could get the bet down. Oh, to get it at -3.5.

Alas I still think Hawaii wins handily because this comes down to a game of motivation. If there is ever a game where one team is ‘just happy to be there’ this is it. This is as close as South Alabama is getting to a bowl after going 2-10 this season. Traveling nearly 7,000 miles to finish your season in a tropical paradise, it is hard to see S. Alabama coming in with much motivation. After a few days on the beach, all the ‘win one for the Gipper’ speeches can only help so much.

Hawaii on the other hand, is just having another home game; a week after whipping another bad mainland team (UNLV) at home 48-10. The Warriors want to end a bad season on a high note. Dominating two teams at home from two different conferences will do that.

Lockness #3 – Three Team Tease of the Week: UCLA (+15.5) at Stanford, Kent State (+12) vs Northern Illinois, Oklahoma (PICK) at TCU

This tease is simple. I am moving the lines on two championship games because I don’t see either getting blown out, and I am moving a better team down to a pick’em. Sometimes it is so easy, they should just hand out the winnings the moment you lay the bet.

UCLA and Stanford played last week. If Stanford won that game they would play in the Pac-12 title game again against UCLA this weekend, which is what happened. So, if you are UCLA do you really pull out every trick in the book to win? Of course not. Jim Mora may take exception to people suggesting he didn’t try to win, but if he also showed his entire game plan to Stanford, with the possibility of a re-match looming in six days, then he is an idiot.

Kent State has an outside chance to play the ACC champ in the Orange Bowl (shudder) if they win this weekend. If, even with that motivation, they can’t keep a game against Northern Illinois under 10 points, then Rutgers – who got crushed at home by Kent State – should forfeit a BCS spot if they win against Louisville.

Oklahoma’s defense is about as solid as the plot details of Twister. The last two weeks they have given up over 40 points each to West Virginia and Oklahoma State. But TCU’s offense isn’t up to speed with those two. Given OU’s outside chance at winning the Big Twelve, they come out motivated and win comfortably over the Frogs.

Lockness #4 – Hail Mary of the Week: Middle Tennessee State Moneyline (+310) at Arkansas State

We’ve all been there. Bets have been going against us all day. Down to one last bet, it just isn’t worth trying to win less than double our money because when you are trapped at the bottom of a well, 3 feet off the ground is still deep in the well. We need the big score to get back. We could look for a parlay and hope 5 or 6 things all break our way or we can find one highly improbable thing that might, maybe, possibly, could happen and go all-in on it. This is the ‘Break Glass in Case of Emergency’ bet in the sports book.

The rationale for this is pretty easy: have you watched the Sun Belt???

It is madness down there. Every week, the newly perceived favorite gets knocked off. At various points, Florida International, Western Kentucky, Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette would have been the favorite to win the Sun Belt. Now, MTSU and Ark. St. play to determine who wins the conference. I have no idea whether MTSU can beat Arkansas State but a few things to think about:

1 – Middle Tennessee State went into Atlanta and beat Georgia Tech handily earlier this season

2 – Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn is on the short list of every open head coach position in the SEC. That list is 3 schools long now and was 4 schools long as of a week ago. You are saying he wasn’t at least slightly distracted by all this talk?

I’m not saying it is a lock, but at over 3 times your money, doesn’t it seem reasonable that MTSU pulls the upset outright here?

ADDENDUM: I am morally prohibited from recommending a bet on Georgia Tech against my Noles, but if I were more objective, I have to admit that GT +500 moneyline looks pretty good. Consider:

The Noles are coming off a physical and emotional battering by rival Florida.

Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops just accepted the head coaching job at Kentucky (see: 2001 Orange Bowl for how FSU has done in big games after a coordinator accepts a head coaching job in the SEC – BURN IN HELL, MARK RICHT).

FSU has not faced an option team all year and with a very fast, aggressive defense, have always struggled against mobile quarterbacks.

I hope to all that is holy that FSU comes out mad and wants to shut down any critics with a 40-point beat down but I have seen this movie enough times to know that isn’t likely.

But, maybe the final regular season game of the year will produce one last surprise for me in the form of a dominating FSU win.

It we have to go out, let’s go out on a high note.

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