Editor's note: I initially wrote this story under the assumption that UVA had covered against Pitt, so if you read it before Friday at 9:20 a.m. your score from last week was a game off. The results and standings are fixed now, top to bottom, and should be correct for everyone. Interestingly, only people that were cheated out of a game let me know about the error. None of you people who got a freebie were going to own up to it. Conclusion: You're a bunch of degenerate scoundrels! Just like me.
Maryland gets a week off this week, this season, every season. But FlaTerp, the degenerate gambler, always remains open for business. How's business, you ask? Getting a little better. It was a 4-2 week for me, although I managed to make a slightly bigger winner out of it than that because I pitched a tent for TCU last week and hit 'em both ATS and on the money line. Still, a one-game-above-.500 season record is not the goal, and that's where I stand. ... Where do you stand? Well we'll get to that below. Before we do, though, let me send some large respect to wittcap79, who in a very difficult week managed to put together a 5-1 campaign. That, sir, is most impressive. If you were a lowlife like me, you'd have spent even more of your life savings to tie your 5 winners together on a wheel and then, when they all came home, you're up a few grand. It does happen. But then lowlifes like me lose enough in the bad weeks that those wins are never as great as they sound. In any case, that's some mighty good picking. Also a nice solid 1-loss week for Jersey Terp and PAB522, playing 1 fewer game. Nice work, gentlemen. In the season-wide standings, Pete Volk stumbled a bit and surrendered the outright picks lead to QuigTerp, with 17 right. TerpsRising, at 16-8, continues to lead in percentage. As for me, I've climbed to within 2 games of the lead. Be afraid, y'all. I'm gonna win this thing.
How FlaTerp fared (season record in parenthesis):
Maryland vs. spread: Won (3-2)
Maryland straight up: Won (3-2)
Overall vs. Spread: 4-2 (15-14)
How you all fared:
wittcap79 5-1 (12-12)
PAB522 4-1 (10-11)
MellophoneMathMajor 3-3 (10-13)
NYCSportsFan 3-3 (7-10)
testudbro 3-3 (12-11)
Testudo's Attorney 2-4 (9-13)
younghollywood5 3-3 (9-14)
englandumd 2-4 (11-12)
FearTheTurtle 2-4 (10-17)
NickTerp85 2-4 (8-21)
thedurtyturtle 1-4 (9-19)
Now, onto this week's picks. It's actually a fantastic week of college football, with top-25 vs. top-25 games happening all over the map. It's probably a good thing that Maryland is off, because the Terps don't do anything but stress me out (I'll address this in in more detail in Alex's weekly installment of TT Roundtable) so I'll be able to just enjoy watching football while putting the Benjamins in play. Here's where they'll be headed ....
5 I like
NORTHWESTERN (+4) @MINNESOTA: This isn't the greatest play ever, but hey, Northwestern has been really, really good to me the last two weeks. I picked them ATS as big underdogs vs. Penn State and Wisconsin and not only did they cover both times, but they won outright both times pretty freaking convincingly. Now I love me some Northwestern. They're my favorite non-reptilian B1G team, hands down. But even after those two really solid wins, the public still likes Minnesota here? Odd. The Gofes (I'm sure that's a party foul, but whatever, we're B1G newbies, we'll call 'em whatever the f*** we want) opened as 2.5-point favorites and drew about 80% of the action, so Vegas is chasing the line up. Now it's -4 and the breakdown is still 65-35 toward Minny. It seems to me that the wiseguys just want to find a 50-50 line and don't really have a hunch, but too late, I'm deep in the tank for Team Purple.
@SYRACUSE (+24) FLORIDA STATE: Hello Syracuse, you son of a b$#@h! You're the anti-Northwestern. I play you every goddamn week and you burn me every goddamn week. I've been on the Orange each of the last three weeks and they've thumped me every time. So what do I do? Bet them again! That's just good business. Actually, my personal schooling offers me several reasons to like the Orange (again). It's a 82-18 split in favor of FSU, which is right up my alley as a contrarian. Also, I love to ride the teams that everyone else has abandoned. I believe that Vegas knows when the public has given up on a team and they act accordingly by taking a little extra liberty with the lines they set ... 21, 23, 25, whatever ... if you don't like Syracuse (for good reason, sure) you'll take FSU and lay the points at any of those numbers, but a point here and a point there does matter, much of the time. Finally, and this tidbit is courtesy of Pete Volk who analyzes dozens of NCAA football games each week and broke down this matchup somewhere out there in SBN-Land. Pete's take is that Syracuse is a good power rushing team (it's all they're good at) while FSU is a tad light in the middle of its defensive front (it's all they're not great at). Pete and Vegas are on the same page here? I gotta get on that page too. So maybe the Orange can kill clock, pound the football and keep it close. Regardless, either my extreme patience with SU will finally pay off for me or extreme stubbornness will sting me once again. We'll find out.
@UCLA (+2.5) Oregon: (For you, Charles Owen) ... Very interesting set-up here. Both teams were highly ranked but are coming off of jarring losses. UCLA was penalized a little bit more, dropping out of the top-10 and all the way down to 18th after falling to a good Utah team at home, but it's actually Oregon that concerns me more. I view UCLA as a program on the rise and Oregon as a little shaky at the moment, a year further removed from the Chip Kelly era. The betting public doesn't agree, though, as 81% of the action is on the Ducks, who have been public darlings for a long time ... maybe too long now. Vegas has actually doubled down on their anti-Oregon hunch here, dropping the line from an opening 4 points to the 2.5 it sits at while I write this -- despite the fact that the public already was piled onto the Ducks. As usual, I'm siding with the minority, and the house, in these scenarios.
@MICHIGAN (-1) vs Penn State: Nobody, nobody ... N-O-B-O-D-Y ... likes Michigan anymore. Not the wiseguys, not the bettors, not even Michigan boosters, students or the actual athletes on the team. They're a laughingstock, they're a dumpster fire, they're a dead coach walking. So obviously, I love 'em! Why? This is a tiny line for Michigan in a home game against a shaky Penn State team that also isn't playing all that well. The Wolverines have problems, indeed, but they still have better personnel than James Franklin's crew has this season. The breakdown here is 76% Penn State, 24% Michigan. Gimme some Big Blue.
BOSTON COLLEGE (+3) @North Carolina State: The action here is downright TCUish. This game opened at Wolfpack -5, everyone jumped on State, so Vegas made them even cheaper and lowered the line two full points -- utterly counterintuitive. Now a whopping 93% of the action is on the Wolfpack at the time of this writing. This may be a good time to raise the point that N.C. State stinks, no? Vegas loves BC. I do too.