Picking winners is hard. These days, it's getting harder. Trying to dissect college football games against the spread was already difficult before COVID-19 put every game in doubt.
That is not an excuse. My troubles of late when it comes to picking winners cannot and should not be blamed on that. That said, it adds a wrinkle to an already challenging process. And like everyone else, I must adjust to the unknown.
Now, about last week. Not great. Bad luck (again) coupled with a couple of ghoulish selections, and I am once again in the doghouse. Two wins, five losses and two games that were not played. (This is the part where I say the games that weren't played would've been winners, and you just politely nod along.) The overall record is now 33-33.
We were scorching hot. Now we're ice-cold. Our fortune is about to change, and it's about to change now. Before we dive into this week's batch of rebound selections, let's explore the good and the bad from the previous week.
The Good: Iowa State
Close game. Clean win. No tomfoolery. After this outcome, I thought I was in for a monster week. Well, I was clearly wrong. The over in Pittsburgh-Clemson was also a nice winner, although I was emotionally distraught from all of the losers at that point. I needed more Iowa State victories in my life.
The Bad: Plenty, but Let's Go with SMU-East Carolina
Gross. Ugh. Yikes. Gadzooks. For regulars of this piece, I have regularly complimented East Carolina this season. But I thought the double-digit point spread for SMU was a sign of things to come against a program that is still figuring it out. I knew this game was over after about eight minutes. Not proud. Punt this pick into the sun.
The time is now.
Here are the Week 14 selections, using point spreads provided by DraftKings.
Alabama vs. LSU (Under 68.5)
Alabama is going to score plenty. Let's not shy away from that. If you want to tap into the potential revenge angle after last year's loss, go for it. No issues there. Whether Nick Saban decides to win by four touchdowns or more (the current spread) won't impact this logic one iota.
A few factors point toward the under. For starters, LSU's best offensive player just opted out. Terrace Marshall Jr., the Tigers' star wideout this year, announced he was leaving the team to prepare for the NFL draft after last week's loss. This is suboptimal.
It's even more suboptimal when you consider that Alabama has allowed a total of 16 points in the last three games. (Suboptimal for the Tigers, potentially optimal for the under.)
Finally, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. can at least contain Alabama wideout DeVonta Smith assuming he covers him much of the game. What a matchup, by the way. Regardless of how you feel about this pick or this game, you should watch just for that.
The ingredients for a blowout and the under are in place.
Alabama 44, LSU 13.
Texas A&M vs. Auburn (+7)
Your friend is going to tell you to bet Texas A&M. The way my picks have been trending, let's not count him out right away. However, let's at least assess a pretty curious line and an interesting game.
The Aggies offense did not look sharp against LSU last week. The weather was not conducive to points, mind you, but that victory, while never in doubt, was certifiably "meh."
Auburn's loss was certifiably "yikes," although the Tigers had an opportunity to secure a backdoor cover against Alabama in the final moments. It was not to be, and we're left with a point spread that is begging you to take the chalk.
This feels like a football game that will be ugly and defensively charged. While Texas A&M should win to keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive, Auburn will provide a pretty elaborate scare. While we rarely endorse unders because they aren't fun to invest in, this might be a good spot for one.
Oklahoma State vs. TCU (+2.5)
We have been building toward this pick over the past month. While Oklahoma State entered the season with immense expectations, the overall results have not necessarily matched. It hasn't been terrible either, although the blowout loss to Oklahoma and a nail-biter against Texas Tech perfectly encompassed where this team is now. The Pokes have not covered a game since Oct. 24. (Yikes.)
This is an ideal spot for TCU. The Horned Frogs are at home, a place they haven't been in about a month. They've won three of four and also covered the spread in three of the past four games.
The offense isn't pristine. The defense isn't a brick wall. TCU is the embodiment of "good." The 4-4 record certainly tells a story. So does the team's performance of late.
Both teams are heading in different directions. The outcome will likely show exactly that.
Memphis vs. Tulane (-1.5)
Tulane began its season by losing four of its first six games. It has responded by winning three of the last four—and the loss was a hard-fought, six-point defeat at Tulsa. The Green Wave have also covered in five of the last six games.
Memphis, meanwhile, has a superior record at 6-2. But dig deeper, and you start to see cracks. The Tigers barely snuck past Navy 10-7 and South Florida 34-33. They were also clobbered by Cincinnati, which is to be expected.
The team we saw slip past Central Florida in a thriller earlier in the year doesn't feel like the team we'll see Saturday. Memphis' 2-6 record against the spread speaks volumes.
The Tigers opened as a slight favorite, although the line has swung in the other direction. While it's not necessarily my style to join a crowd, I have no issues in doing it here. I really like the way this team plays and envision a strong close to a solid year.
(Also, I like the over.)
Other Plays on the Card
Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Appalachian State (-2.5)
Great football game. That's my main takeaway. My second takeaway is that despite having two losses, Appalachian State is the better team. Mountaineers by a touchdown.
Indiana (+14.5) vs. Wisconsin
Yes, the loss of quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is massive. Yes, I believe Wisconsin wins this football game. But I still like this Indiana defense, and this is too many points to be giving a team that has plenty of nice players and pieces in other places.
Texas (-7) vs. Kansas State
Will a big win here save Tom Herman's job? Does it matter at this point? The answers to these questions are frankly of no significance to our goals. It's a sizable number, but Texas, despite its struggles, is still a much better team. Watch Bijan Robinson run wild.
Nebraska vs. Purdue (Over 61.5)
I'm not sure exactly how good either of these teams is, but both should find success putting points on the board. We don't care what team scores more—or if they throw touchdowns or interceptions that become touchdowns. Just points. There should be plenty.
Adam Kramer covers college football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @KegsnEggs. Lines accurate as of 4 p.m. ET Wednesday.
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