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RTTs Locks & Keys Week 4: Look on Offense and Despair

If the preview pieces this week have felt like one-note theater, well, there's a reason for that. It's because we're beating that point over and over like a claw hammer to the forehead, which is kind of what the Tennessee-Florida game will look like.

This is a gif, you guys. (Also, "Muschamp penalty" returns no results in the picture editor. For shame, picture editor.)
This is a gif, you guys. (Also, "Muschamp penalty" returns no results in the picture editor. For shame, picture editor.)
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

For the record, we should be really happy tomorrow that we're Tennessee fans. Why? Think about it this way: a lot of impartial observers are going to turn on CBS to watch us play Florida and they have no idea what they're in for.

Punts. Sloppy offense. Bad passing. Good line play. Stupid penalties. A couple of turnovers. A game that's somehow close late even though one team has 150 yards more than the other. THIS IS JEFFERSON PILOT SPORTS. Fortunately, we have a reason to stay invested in the game, unlike all those poor neutrals. Now how on earth can Tennessee pull this game out?

  • Aim the Gun Straight at the Big Toe. Specifically, Florida's going to walk into this game with a howitzer and absolutely no direction on where to point the thing. Let them point it at their foot, random bystanders, pretty much anything but at the Tennessee defense. This is easier than it sounds.
  • Standard Downs. 1st and 10, 2nd and less than 8, 3rd and less than 5. Know it, love it. I don't care how Tennessee gets there, but I'm guessing that keeping Justin Worley out of passing downs is a smart call, especially against a Florida defense that's allowed two third down conversions all season. That's not a misprint, by the way. Avoiding third down might be smart.
  • Hidden and Wasted Yardage. Tennessee has to win both of these, which roughly means: better punting, better kicking, better return games, better coverage units, less drives that go somewhere and stop suddenly. I'm not convinced that Tennessee can consistently move the ball against this Gator defense, but I could buy that they'll get 3 or 4 drives worth something. Those drives have to end in points. (By the same token, let Florida blow 7-play, 40-yard drives on consecutive holding penalties. They can do it. I believe in them.)
  • Win the running game. Oh, sorry, that's CBS's only key for this game, and winning the rushing battle is totally not a reactive measure to how game flow is going oh wait sorry it is. Got confused for a second.
  • Don't horrifically lose the running game. That's better. The only place Tennessee could have an advantage is on the offensive line, which means it's time to ride that bad boy as far as it'll go. Let the line carry the team as far as it'll go.
  • CAN THE FREAKING QB PLEASE KEEP AT LEAST ONE ZONE READ. This is more of a key for myself, because I'm going to rupture a blood vessel if I go another game seeing the DE openly crash down on a zone read along with the rest of the D as the QB builds a campfire on the weak side of the formation.

Now on to the picks (and the pick review, where I got hosed twice. This happened last week and I'm totally over it you guys really).


Chris - 3-1-2 last week, 9-7-2 overall

Louisville (-14) at Kentucky (push): I might be slightly bitter that what was a -13.5 line when I locked it in got bumped up to 14 by the time we went live. Don't worry, we're not done with this.

UCLA (+4) at Nebraska (outright win): hey, guess what? This line was a misprint. Also a misprint: anything that describes Nebraska as having a defense.

WKU (-9) at South Alabama (loss): You know, maybe we should all avoid South Alabama for a few weeks just to be safe.

Washington (-9.5) at Illinois (win): Whatever. Cover's a cover.

Ole Miss (+3) at Texas (outright win): Texas is such a raging dump truck of kerosene right now, rolling downhill, belching flames, and Mack Brown is so fired it's not even funny.

Iowa/Iowa State UNDER 48 (push): Yeah, I pulled this at 48.5. NOT BITTER HERE EITHER NOOOOOPE

KidB- 3-3 last week, 10-8 overall

WKU-9 over South Alabama (loss): solid play from KidB here, going back against South Alabama and oh wait he's 0-2 against them maybe not.

Washington U-9.5 over Illinois (win): much like a John Isner, Washington did just enough here to cover, in true 7-6(5), 7-6(4) fashion.

Georgia Tech-8.5 over Duke (win): so it turns out the triple option offense is effective. News at 11.

Maryland-6.5 over UConn (win): While KidB gets the win, he does have to live with actually backing Maryland to win something.

Northern Illinois-28.5 over Idaho (loss): Idaho: worst team in FBS and was tied with NIU in the fourth quarter. I hope we learned a valuable lesson about the Kibble Dome.

Rutgers -28 over Eastern Michigan (loss): Rutgers giving 28 and scoring exactly 28 is either the Sparty Method of football or a sign that, like Milos Raonic, expectations might be a tad high for the skill set.

I_S - 3-3 last week, 9-9 overall

Bowling Green/Indiana over 62.5 (loss). Given enough time, this game would've hit the over.

Youngstown State +24 over Michigan State (loss). Big ups to Sparty for finally finding all the points they left at their friend's house after that wicked kegger.

Rutgers -28 over Eastern Michigan (loss). And just like Milos Raonic, people thought Rutgers could excel. Many people. And they were wrong.

Georgia Tech -8.5 over Duke (win). It's not nearly as much fun to make fun of correct picks.

??? +20.5 over Notre Dame (win) Sleepwalking to a win against a bad team is only partially ACC, Notre Dame. Next time, take it to OT.

Oregon State +3 over Utah (win). So Oregon State is now 2-1 with a crap win over Hawai'i, this win over Utah, and a loss at home to Eastern Washington. Good luck figuring that team out.

And now, the Week 4 picks:

Chris Has No Idea What He's Doing:

Tennessee @ Florida UNDER 47 - I'm not sure I buy the spread, but even 24-14 gives me 9.5 points to play with.

Utah @ BYU UNDER 61 - I hate fun. Those of you paying attention might have noticed that I'm just pounding BYU unders; my hope is that the Eyes of Texas aren't upon the Utes.

Arky Light (-4) @ Memphis - Memphis may be better than we realize (think everyone else bombing on their Duke backing of the Tigers earlier this season), but they're set to Tiger High the tar out of this game. Plus, Arky Light may not be half bad.

UL-Monroe @ Baylor (-29.5) - at some point I'm going to get burned picking Baylor to cover insane spreads. Until then WOOO POINTS MORE POINTS. Incidentally, 29.5 could be the over/under for Tennessee/Florida and I still might take the under.

Cincinnati (-23) @ Miami (OH) - I would not, however, take the under if it was 22.5. Hipster Miami is a special kind of terrible, though.

Utah State (+7) @ Southern Cal - If you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go put this Chuckie Keeton jersey on. I'm probably missing this, but this one is 150% in the fun-to-root-for justification.

KidB's "Free Money" Picks:

Michigan-18 over Connecticut: I think this line is a classic overreaction to an admittedly abysmal performance last Saturday by the Wolverines. I'm calling it an outlier, and I'm expecting Meeechegan to bounce back in a big way.

Cincinnati-23 over Hipster Miami: I'll be honest: I don't really know a whole lot about Cincy, and I know even less now that the MunchieMan is out with an injury. This pick is based almost entirely on my current valuation of the Miami Hipsters, which has them mingling at the least attractive dinner party in town. But, whatever, covering point spreads is like so mainstream.

Baylor-29.5 over UL-Monroe: If you don't know how good Baylor is on offense, then you best pay attention. Them Bears can score, and with the quickness.

Texas A&M-28.5 over SMU: I'm sorry I'm dropping nothing but Joe Square picks on y'all this week, but I just don't feel like Vegas is giving me an alternative here. 28.5 against SMU? Really? If you set the first-half spread at -28.5 and put a gun to my head with an order to choose a side, I would take The Fighting Scooby Football's, and I cannot tell a lie.

Stanford-6 over Arizona State: the hype machine surrounding Arizona State is presently in violation of local noise ordinances. Arizona State is like Jeffrey Lebowski to the Jackie Treehorn that is Stanford. And Jackie Treehorn draws a lot of water in this nice quiet little beach community here, and he intends to keep it nice and quiet. So beat it, Lebowski!

Arkansas State-4 over Memphis: Arkansas State is the juggernaut of the Sun Belt. Yeah yeah, that's sorta like being the juggernaut of American Tennis, huh KidB? Well, perhaps. But I'll still take John Isner over Donald Young any day of the week and twice on Sunday. So there you have it.

I_S's picks will surely be even worse than Milos Raonic is at the game of tennis, which might mean something to someone other than I_S:

Cincinnati -23 over Miami Ohio of Ohio (OH). It's almost like Chris, the Kid, and I_S were discussing the very worst teams in FBS earlier this week and this one team kept coming up in conversation. Actually, it's exactly like that.

Louisiana-Lafayette -6 over Akron. Is Akron improved? Probably. Are they as good as they looked last week? No. Classic overreaction to an excellent performance, and now the Zips have to come home and face a pretty solid bunch of Cajuns.

Kansas State +5.5 over Texas. Is this the part where we just keep going against Texas at any line until Mack Brown gets fired? I'm starting to suspect it might be. I'll play.

Nevada -9 over Hawai'i. Despite closer than expected games against a pair of mediocre Pac-12 outfits, I'm not convinced Hawai'i is non-terrible. And they're not on the Islands.

North Carolina +6 over Georgia Tech. I usually say that the extra week to prepare is huge against option attacks. That didn't work for UNC last year, who turned in the most embarrassing defensive performance in possibly ever. But I respect Vic Koenning, so I'm willing to assume he's learned his lesson. And if he hasn't, UNC's offense should be able to keep up in a shootout. But I always lose whenever I try to play with school spirit, so be warned.

Kansas/Louisiana Tech under 50.5. Rice couldn't bait Kansas into a shootout, and you think that post-Dykes inept Louisiana Tech--who scored 15 points on freaking Tulane--is going to do it? Nope. No offense.