I have no excuses… Week 7, your boy took one on the chin with a 2-4 record against the spread. I can take solace in that seven of the eight teams I thought would win did win, but, unfortunately that doesn’t really matter when you’re trying to beat the spread.
Temple and ECU let me down by not scoring enough on their inferior opponents, BYU didn’t keep it close enough with UCF, and UConn—I don’t even know what to say about that offense.
Anyway, I am now on the losing side of the spread with a 14-16-1 record so far. With just four games on the slate this week and all of them being conference showdowns I have little room for error here if I want to right the ship.
The night is always darkest before the dawn, so if you want to pick a week to listen to me, this one very well could be it. Let’s get to the picks.
Temple @ Houston (-7.5), 9:00 p.m. ET
The Owls have come out of the gate hot this season, rolling to a 4-1 record with their only loss coming by a touchdown to Navy. That said, they haven’t exactly been challenged with a tough schedule to this point as their opponents in those five games have combined for a 9-24 record on the year. Their defense has looked really impressive, allowing just 14.4 ppg which is good for fourth best in the country, and sophomore quarterback P.J. Walker has shown his play-making ability and command of the offense.
The Cougars’ 3-3 record perfectly tells the story of their Jekyll and Hyde nature, as they have impressed and depressed, and often within the same game. The switch to dual-threat quarterback Greg Ward Jr. appears to have made their offense more dynamic than it was with John O’Korn at the helm, and like Temple, the Houston defense has been stingy as it only gives up 19.2 ppg.
I think the defenses win out in this game, resulting in a close, low-scoring affair. Temple 5-0 ATS in its last five road games, and Houston is just 2-5 in its last seven home games. Temple has looked like the better team so far this season, so it will be interesting to see how they play on the road against a little stiffer competition.
Give me the Owls and the 7.5 points here, and I want you to do the same. This is easily the worst line on the board because there is no way Houston will beat an evenly matched opponent by more than a touchdown.
USF (-1.5) @ Tulsa, Noon ET
Oh, the futility! Tulsa is ranked outside the top 100 in both points scored and allowed per game, and USF is 116th in ppg and 84th in points allowed per game. Something has to give here, but I’m just not 100 percent sure of what that will be.
Fittingly, this game opened as a “pick’em” and has since gone to slightly favor the Bulls because the vast majority of the money has come in on them. In their respective last five games, USF is 4-1 ATS and Tulsa is 1-4. Both teams have struggled mightily this season, but at least USF has shown some signs that they can beat a team that is worse than them on paper. It took double overtime for the Golden Hurricane to beat Tulane in its season opener.
If USF is going to win this game, and I think they will, it will be by more than one point. Eat the 1.5 and take the Bulls.
Tulane @ UCF (-19.5), Noon ET
Because I notice such things, UCF’s match-up with the Green Wave is its first game this season against a team with a non-feline mascot. They have played the Nittany Lions, Tigers, Wildcats and Cougars twice (Houston and BYU), leading to a 3-2 record. Obviously, this means nothing in regards to this week’s game with Tulane, but it was definitely worth pointing out.
The Knights have won three in a row after falling to Penn State and Missouri early in the year, and it appears they are slowly rounding into AAC title-defense form. The offense has been a bit uneven as they experience growing pains with sophomore Justin Holman at the helm, but the defense has been impressive with all-conference talent at every level.
Tulane, well, it definitely received the “welcome to the conference” treatment by the schedule makers. It is 1-1 in AAC play thus far with a loss at Tulsa and a home win against UConn, but are now faced with the conference’s version of murderer’s row: at UCF, vs Cincinnati, at Houston, vs Memphis, at East Carolina and vs Temple. It’s certainly hard to see another win for Tulane on paper.
UCF is clearly the superior team here, but they aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut. The Knights should win this game handily, but I believe the score will be much closer than the game actually feels. I will ride the Green Wave here and take the 19.5 points.
Cincinnati (-14) @ SMU, 3:30 p.m. ET
Did anybody really think SMU would be this bad in 2014? This game went from looking like a potential speed bump during a Bearcats title run before the season to being a must-win to turn the season around. Now, SMU is ranked last in the FBS in both points scored and allowed per game. They have allowed their opponent to score 40 points or more in each of their five games, and have only reached double digits for themselves once while posting two donuts. Ouch.
Cincinnati does not want to be trying to answer this question Saturday night: if we can’t stop SMU’s offense, who can we stop? The fact that being faced with that question is even a thought in anyone’s mind is pretty amazing given the Mustangs offensive ineptitude, but UC’s defense has been that brutal. Cincinnati should score a ton in this game, but if this ends up being a shootout for any reason, then maybe Bearcats fans should go ahead and bust out the basketball jerseys.
Both teams are 1-4 ATS this season, so there really aren’t any trends to look to for help in this one. Just because Cincinnati should win this game by multiple touchdowns and I can’t believe any defense can let an offense as putrid as SMU’s hang around, I am going to take the Bearcats here to cover.
Alright everyone, those are my Week 8 picks against the spread in the AAC. Check back next week to see if I got back to my winning ways, or to ridicule me for another lackluster week. Good luck to all!