In all the week's I've been doing Line Study this is the first time I had real trouble trying to figure out what the three must-see games were going to be this weekend. I mean, we have a matchup of top ten teams on the slate and even that game is kind of "eh" given the way that Miami has played in recent weeks.
Luckily after hours and hours of deliberation I was able to decide on which three games to roll with. Here they are.
THE GAMES YOU'LL BE WATCHING
No. 7 Miami at No. 3
I angered a lot of Miami fans on Twitter a few weeks ago because Missouri had just beaten Georgia but wasn't ranked in the top ten. I simply asked AP voters why they felt that Miami was a Top 10 team but Missouri wasn't. Miami fans of course took that as me saying Miami sucked, because that's how sports works.
Well, Miami fans aren't going to be much happier with me after this one.
My initial reaction to seeing Florida State as a 21.5-point favorite was "is that all?" And it's not really a knock on Miami as much as it's the fact that Florida State has won its last three games against ACC competition by a combined score of 163-31. Meanwhile Miami has spent the last two weeks beating North Carolina and Wake Forest by a combined score of 51-44.
It's hard to be confident in the Canes when you look at it that way, isn't it? Miami fans will take this as me saying Miami sucks, but the truth is I just think Florida State is ridiculously good, Jameis Winston in particular. Take Florida State -21.5. Hurry, before the line gets bigger.
Generally the only team in the Big Ten anybody talks about is Ohio State, but here we are with Michigan State and Michigan going into their annual meeting with a combined record of 13-2 between them. It's a matchup of one of the best defenses in the country (Michigan State) and an offense that, believe it or not, is ranked in the top 10 nationally with an average of 42.4 points per game (Michigan).
It's a classic matchup, and one that seems to be flying under-the-radar but deserves your attention.
As for which way you should be betting it, neither team has been great against the spread this season, and Michigan State's been much better on the road while Michigan's better at home. So, yeah, the recent trends don't give us a whole lot of useful information. However, while Michigan ended Michigan State's four-game win streak in the series last season, they did not end Sparty's cover streak. Yes, that's right. Michigan State has covered five straight in this series, and I have a feeling that defense is going to extend that streak to six this weekend.
Georgia (-2.5) vs. Florida
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm only including this game because it's the SEC on CBS game of the week. Well, you're half-right. But the fact is that even though both of these teams come into this game extremely beat up, of all the games in this time slot on Saturday, this one will have the highest television rating. And I call this section "The Games You'll Be Watching," don't I?
Now, while I assume you've been partaking in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party if you're really thinking of placing a bet on this mess, at this point I think you need to take Georgia -2.5. Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy is dealing with a shoulder injury right now, and Florida's offense in impotent enough as it is. While the Florida defense will slow down the Georgia offense, there's just no way the Gators will keep up on the scoreboard.
THE GAME YOU SHOULD EXPLOIT
If you are familiar with my The Best Worst Ten feature that runs on Sundays, you know that UMass is one of the 10 worst teams in the country. You also know that the MAC is the home of a lot of very bad teams this season, as six of the 13 teams in the conference have two victories or fewer this year.
Northern Illinois is not one of those bad teams, though it is enjoying the chance to feast on them and get back to another BCS bowl. And while the Huskies are only 5-3 against the spread this season, that includes a 4-1 record on the road. Expect Jordan Lynch to get pumped up listening to Shania Twain before he goes out and destroys the Minutemen defense.