I don't know if it's parity or irony, but The Six Pack continues to struggle with Games of the Week. These are the teams I watch and talk about the most, but for whatever reason I'm unable to find an edge. Perhaps the oddsmakers know the most about these teams, too, and it makes them more difficult to crack. Yeah, that's probably it.
Whatever the case, I went 0-1-1 in the Games of the Week last week to fall to 6-9-1 on the season. The column is 19-11 in every non-Game of the Week pick, so you have two choices to consider here: You can ignore the Games of the Week and watch the money come rolling in, or you can bank on regression and only bet the Games of the Week.
I don't know which one is correct, but I'll keep on betting every one of these games and hope for the best.
Odds via SportsLine consensus
Games of the Week
No. 7 Penn State at No. 3 Ohio State: I have watched nearly every snap these undefeated, top-10 teams have played this season, but I don't feel like I know either of them well. I know both defenses are outstanding but the offenses remain a mystery. Ohio State is dealing with a new injury every week and has devolved to Marvin Harrison-or-bust offensively. Penn State is dinking and dunking its way down the field. Neither team has run the ball effectively.
The other variable here is that Penn State's defense is phenomenal, but the best offense it has faced is either West Virginia or Illinois. Neither is imposing or even capable of doing what Ohio State's can ... but if it's still missing top running backs and Emeka Egbuka? I'm going to rely on both defenses being legit, and Penn State's lack of explosive plays on offense makes it difficult to believe it'll put up a bunch of points on the road. I don't know who wins, but it shouldn't be high-scoring. The Pick: Under 45.5 (-110)
No. 17 Tennessee at No. 11 Alabama: This game isn't going to look like last year's 52-49 shootout. There's a reason the total for this year's meeting is hovering around 49. While I expect it to be low-scoring, I don't see much wiggle room on the total. Both offenses are built around quarterbacks who love to take deep shots but otherwise struggle. They're also better defensively than offensively with legit defensive fronts that eliminate run games and pressure opposing quarterbacks.
The difference is Jalen Milroe is a lot better than Joe Milton. Despite all the hemming and hawing about Alabama's quarterback situation earlier this season, the Tide have catered the offense around Milroe's strengths and it's worked wonders. I trust him to make the big plays in this spot more than I do with Milton. Plus, I can't ignore the fact this game is on the road. The Vols have played one road game this season: They were 5-point favorites at Florida and lost by two touchdowns. Give me the Tide. The Pick: Alabama -8 (-110)
Lock of the Week
Washington State at No. 9 Oregon: There's perception, and then there's reality. Sometimes they align, sometimes they don't. The perception of Oregon is that of a high-flying, explosive team that scores a lot of points and gives up plenty. That's a stereotype dogging plenty of Pac-12 teams, but (wrongly) solidified when most fans only tune into the big games like last week's 33-30 loss to Washington. That was Oregon's first game to finish above the listed total since an 81-7 win over Portland State in Week 1.
The under is 4-1 when Oregon has been favored this season. This week, the Ducks face a Washington State team that's scored 23 points in its last two games (six against Arizona last week). It's not that the Cougars forgot how to score points; injuries on offense have had a serious impact over the last few weeks. The Ducks should recover from last week's loss and smother in this spot. The Pick: Under 62.5 (-110)
Principle Play of the Week
No. 22 Air Force at Navy: I'm nervous. Those who have followed my picks for years know the story here. Since 2005, the under is 43-10-1 in games between service academies. They run option offenses, so the clock rarely stops and it limits the number of possessions. The fewer possessions a team has, the fewer opportunities it has to score points.
But I'm nervous this year. The academies are all "modernizing" their offenses a bit more, and this principle upon which we've built civilizations could be in danger. However, the Falcons won't have Zac Larrier this week, and he might be the best Air Force quarterback of my lifetime. His absence will be felt, even against a bad Navy team. This remarkable run of service academy unders will end one day, but I don't expect it'll be this Saturday. The Pick: Under 35 (-108)
Aren't You Supposed to be Ranked Game of the Week
Clemson at Miami: Something tells me when the ACC schedule was put together that Florida State-Duke wasn't supposed to be the biggest conference game of the week, but here we are. This remains a big game, however, even if neither team has one of those pretty little numbers next to to it. It's a must-win for both teams if they want to pretend to have a shot to win the ACC.
It's Clemson that'll keep those hopes alive. First, Miami is 0-5 in ACC home games under Mario Cristobal. There is no home-field advantage. Second, Clemson crushed the 'Canes 40-10 last year. Miami didn't have Tyler Van Dyke in that game, but Miami's offense has been overly reliant on explosive plays this season. When it hits them, like it did against Texas A&M, look out. When it doesn't, it's ordinary. This week, the 'Canes face a Clemson defense that doesn't give up a lot of explosive plays and gets after the quarterback. I like Van Dyke, but he's thrown five interceptions in the last two weeks. I won't be surprised if he throws two more in this game. The Pick: Clemson -3 (-105)
Schooner of the Week
UCF at No. 6 Oklahoma: This isn't complicated. Oklahoma is killing teams at home. Not only is it 3-0 against the spread at home, it's covered by an average of 16.2 points per game -- and that's after being favored by an average of 23.8 points in those games. Usually, I'd be a little worried about a letdown after the win over Texas, but the Sooners had last week off; the bye likely reduces that possibility. This is a team with a legit shot at a playoff run, so it won't take anybody lightly.
Meanwhile, the Knights are 0-3 ATS on the road and lost to Kansas State and Kansas by an average of 21 points. John Rhys Plumlee should play this week, but he clearly isn't 100%. The Sooners will cruise here if he's anything less than that this week or just plain rusty. The Pick: Oklahoma -18.5 (-110)
Games of the Week
Lock of the Week
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