The third week of the college football season has its latest candidate for “Game of the Century” as the #1 team in the nation, the Alabama Crimson Tide, look to correct the only blemish on their record from their 2012 National Championship season. (Home team in CAPS, choice for game in BOLD, lines from the Mirage in Las Vegas)
#1 Alabama vs. #6 TEXAS A&M (+9.5)
The only major stumble by the Crimson Tide in 2012 was when Johnny Manziel came into Tuscaloosa and led the Aggies to a surprising upset. That game for the then-freshman Manziel catapulted him to the Heisman Trophy while Alabama, after that slight hiccup, stormed on to the National Championship afterwards.
Don’t expect the Aggies to surprise the Tide this time around. Although the game is at College Station, it is going to be a much closer battle than many people are expecting. I do see Alabama winning this one, with Texas A&M keeping it close (remember, last year’s game was a 29-24 win by the Aggies, well within the odds from the Mirage); the two teams will come up a bit short on the 60.5 over/under (O/U), however.
#16 UCLA vs. #23 NEBRASKA (-2.5)
The Bruins from the West Coast have a tough road game this week, traveling to the heartland of America to tackle a tough Cornhusker team. UCLA opened up its season two weeks ago by thrashing Nevada 58-20, but there’s a good deal of potential for some rust to show on the Bruins since they didn’t play last week.
Nebraska is 2-0 but they were challenged in their first game of the season before squeaking by Wyoming 37-34. The Cornhuskers trounced Southern Mississippi 56-13 last weekend, leading me to believe that they have got their issues worked out. Take Nebraska and give up the points while also going under the 69.5 O/U.
#25 Ole Miss (+2.5) vs. TEXAS
The Longhorns were embarrassed last weekend, losing to BYU by a wide margin and resulting in head coach Mack Brown pretty much blaming everyone else rather than himself for the loss. The Rebels of Ole Miss come to Austin after wins over an up-and-coming Vanderbilt squad and a cakewalk over Southeast Missouri State. This one isn’t going to be good for Texas as I expect Ole Miss to cover the spread (or even potentially win outright) and make the seat even warmer for Brown on the UT campus. The two teams won’t come close to the 65 O/U, however.
#21 Notre Dame (-18.5) vs. PURDUE
The Fighting Irish suffered a tough road loss against Michigan last week, so a visit to West Lafayette is just the cure the team needs. Purdue was crushed by Cincinnati in their opener and pulled out a close one against Indiana State at home last week, but they just don’t have the horses to run against Notre Dame (99th ranked passing game, 103rd ranked rushing game). The Golden Domers will have a field day against the Boilermakers and cover the spread easily, but they will not crack the 49 O/U.
UPSET SPECIAL: ILLINOIS (+10) over #19 Washington
Illinois has a high powered passing game (11th in the nation) that will bedevil their guests from the Pacific Northwest. With the game being played on their home turf in Champaign, the Fighting Illini should be able to easily cover the spread against the Huskies and I expect them to take the victory outright. It’s going to be an entertaining game as well, one that will exceed the 62.5 O/U.
Last Week: A slight improvement over the opening week as we went 2-3 in our picks and the O/U, but we missed the Upset Special as the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest made too many mistakes against Boston College to pull off the win.
Season: 3-7 ATS, 3-7 O/U, 0-2 Upset Specials
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