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Rocky Top Locks Week 13: Down The Stretch We Come

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The Kid is two games ahead of the pack going into the penultimate full slate of games, but by no means does that mean this game is over. If this stuff were easy or predictable they wouldn't call it gambling.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Current Standings

  • KidB:  2-4 Last week, 37-33-2 overall (53%)
  • I_S:   4-2 Last week, 35-35-2 overall (50%)
  • Chris: 2-4 Last week, 34-37-1 overall (49%)

Chris's "2013 Was So Last Year" Picks

Duke (-6) v. North Carolina - In Cut we trust.

Minnesota (+10.5) at Nebraska - I figured out why I'm awful at picking games this year: I've been riding with a lot of ACC games and noon B1G action. (I also have a soft spot for Arizona.) I refuse to learn my lesson.

Northwestern at Purdue UNDER 50. Look, let's be honest: nobody is gonna bother watching this game or checking the score to see if I'm right. You're sad even reading that I picked anything on this game.

Arizona State (-16) vs. Washington State - this is when Arizona State takes out blowing the game in Corvalis on their next opponent in hopes we forget what happened in Corvalis, which: y'all were in Corvalis, so good luck with that.

East Carolina (-17.5) v. Tulane - really looking forward to seeing how ECU will out gain an opponent by 450 yards and lose at home.

Utah (-4) v. Arizona - YEAH TAKE THAT ARIZONA I FEEL WAY BETTER NOW.

KidB's "Free Money" Picks

Ole Miss-3 at Arkansas: Ole Miss has a weak off and a defense that is well suited to stopping the one thing Arkansas does well.  I suspect this line is so low because of the possibility of it being a look-ahead week with the Egg Bowl coming up next weekend.  But I don't see that happening coming off a bye and with a game that Ole Miss needs to win.  Better team prevails.

Arkansas State-5.5 over Texas State:  Both Arkansas and Texas are in fact States, so this game has that going for it, which is a good starting point.  We have two possibilities here:  (1) either Arky State's performance last weekend in getting worked over and around by Appy State was an indication of a systemic problem with the Red Wolves, and that they're simply getting worse, or (2) this is an overreaction to that game with a sprinkling of overfactorization of "Weeknight Road Game Factor" adjustment.  I've had some success this year backing the weeknight road team and so I won't shy away from it here. And so long as Arky State is something loosely resembling the outfit from two weeks ago and prior, I like my chances here.

Hopefully those chances don't roll away from me.

Western Michigan+1 over Central Michigan:  row the boat, baby!

Northwestern PK over Purdue:  I don't quite see what the deal is here.  Northwestern opened up at -3, which at least makes some sense (it being a road game and all), but then that line has been bet down to a pick-em.  I don't know what the gambling public knows that I don't -- if anything -- and I generally think that giving too much weight to money flow and line movement is a mistake* (instead, I just say to Vegas "thank you for the free points" and go on about my business), and so I won't do it here.  Rather, I'll just simply note that Purdue blows at football, thank Vegas for the three free points, and hope that some rich dude in Vegas is a sad rich dude at the end of this particular contest.

*Basically, when you start going that route, the question you're essentially trying to answer is "what side of the line are the smart people on" and/or "what do the smart people know that I don't know".  The problem I have with that is twofold.  First of all, following line movements and money on each side of a line leads to vague conclusions.  Vegas moves lines in response to sort of a cat-and-mouse game with bettors they legitimately fear, but that game of cat-and-mouse has layers that the general public never sees.  For example, some whale could put down a large sum of money on one side just for the purpose of moving that line a point to a number he's more comfortable with, and then throwing down tenfold on the other side.

Second of all, I'm not convinced the smart people (i.e. "sharps") are actually that smart.  Or at least not with respect to college football.  In the NFL I can understand how a "is team A better at football than team B" analysis framework isn't the end all be all.  It's because pretty much every team in the NFL has equal levels of talent, and the differences come down to coaching, quarterback play, and a few other things, but the differences are pretty marginal.  This isn't the case in college football.  In college football, some teams are just way way better than others, and a simple "is team A better than team B at football" approach is not merely  effective, but possibly the MOST effective lens through which to view the lines.  At least that's how I see things.  Your mileage may vary.

FLORIDA STATE-19.5 over Boston College:  If Free Shoes played like they did against Louisville and Miami and yet still covered for me in both instances, then surely they'll cover here.  I mean, at some point I have to think they'll stop spotting their opponent the ENTIRE FIRST HALF.  I should note that I thought the same thing last week and they again spotted their opponent the ENTIRE FIRST HALF, and so maybe it's foolish to think they won't do it again.  But surely they won't do it again.

Right?

Miami-6 over VIRGINIA:  Mike LOLndon is always fun to fade.  Also I should note that my confidence level in the plays drops significantly this week after pick #5, and so there were like a half dozen other plays I considered here.  In the end, I just went with my "smal fav as tiebreaker" tiebreaker.  I like the small favs.  My brain convinces itself ad hoc that the team that wins the game will win by a touchdown or more.

I_S' "Milos Raonic Quality" Picks

Air Force +5 over San Diego State. I honestly don't really understand this line. Air Force appears by all rights to be the better team.Am I just missing something obvious, or is Friday night home field being way overvalued?

Boston College +19.5 over Florida State. Florida State has beaten exactly one FBS team by more than 18 points this season, and that was Wake Forest. They make a living off playing closer games than they should.

Virginia +6 over Miami. So coming off. . . that. . . Miami gets to travel to Charlottesville to face a semi-competent team that seems to beat them for no apparent reason almost every year. That should be fun.

Washington -6.5 over Oregon State. Oregon State has played tough against some good teams at home, but on the road, their best performance is a 5-point win over a 2-8 opponent, and they haven't sniffed a cover yet.

Hawai'i -10 over UNLV. Noted good home team plays noted bad road team. Sure, there's nothing else I like this week.

Marshall/UAB over 68. Marshall scores 40+ against basically everybody, and UAB has a good enough offense to put up their share of points (and also encourage Marshall to keep the pedal down on offense a bit longer).

Your turn.  Go!