This weekend’s annual Florida-Georgia showdown, nicknamed “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” sounds like a good time. In fact, it sounds like one of those games where I buy tickets, put together a detailed schedule, fly in early and then never make it into the game. No lie, that’s happened several times before. This event has been on my bucket list for years, but I’ve yet to pull the trigger.
So I’ll go ahead and pick the game from 2,000 miles away, albeit while crying softly about another opportunity lost.
Last week: 3-3
Season: 24-25 (.489)
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#18 Clemson Tigers (6-1, 2-1 road) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3, 3-1 home)
When: Thursday, 7:30pm ET
Open: Clemson -14
Current: Clemson -12
Analysis: The Tigers have covered the number in four straight games, but head to Wake Forest on Thursday night where they are 1-4-1 ATS over their last six showdowns with the Demon Deacons. In addition, Wake Forest is 15-5-2 over their last 22 home games against teams with a winning road record. But the main reason we plan on backing the dog in this primetime showdown has to do with the fact that while over 75% of the tickets are coming in on Clemson, this line is moving towards Wake. That means the early money likes the Demon Deacons.
Take note: The home team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings between these two teams.
Pick: Wake Forest (+12)
Ball State Cardinals (5-3, 2-2 road) at Army Black Knights (1-6, 1-3 home)
When: Saturday, 12:00pm ET
Open: Ball State -4.5
Current: Ball State -4.5
Analysis: The Black Knights may lead the country in rushing (389.1 yds/gm), but they rank 113th in scoring defense (37.9 pts/gm) and 84th in scoring offense (25.1 pts/gm). Army hasn’t faired much better in the ATS department, having failed to cover the spread in four of the team’s last five games. On the flip side, Ball State is 11-3 ATS over their last 14 games and 37-15 ATS over their last 52 road contests. We’ve got no reservations about betting against bad football teams.
Take note: Ball State is 8-2 ATS over their last ten games following an ATS win while Army is 1-10 ATS over their last 11 home contests against teams with a winning road record.
Pick: Ball State (-4.5)
#2 Florida Gators (7-0, 3-0 road) at #10 Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-0 home)
*Game to be played in Jacksonville, Florida
When: Saturday, 3:30pm ET
Open: Florida -5
Current: Florida -6.5
ICONMark Richt and the Bulldogs look to ruin Florida's National Championship hopes on Saturday.
Analysis: Since failing to cover the number in the season-opener against Bowling Green, the Gators have gone 6-0 ATS en route to the No. 2 ranking in the current BCS standings. Meanwhile, Georgia enters Saturday’s showdown just 1-4 ATS over their last five games and on the heels of an unimpressive 29-24 win over Kentucky last weekend. The favorite is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings between these two teams and keep in mind that the Bulldogs are just 1-5 ATS in their last six neutral site games.
Take note: Florida is 5-0 ATS over their five games played on grass while Georgia is 1-6 ATS over their last seven games played on grass.
Pick: Florida (-6.5)
#9 USC Trojans (6-1, 3-1 road) at Arizona Wildcats (4-3, 4-1 home)
When: Saturday, 3:30pm ET
Open: USC -8
Current: USC -6.5
Analysis: Despite 80% of the early bets coming in on Matt Barkley and the Trojans, this line is moving towards an Arizona team that is 6-1 ATS in their last seven meetings against USC. Lane Kiffin’s crew may be 6-1 on the year, but they’ve struggled away from home, going 0-4 ATS in their last four road contests. Remember, next week the Trojans play host to undefeated Oregon in a game that will have national championship implications for both schools. We’re backing the Wildcats here, but only if the line hits +7 or higher.
Take note: The underdog is 7-0 ATS over the last seven meetings between these two teams.
Pick: Arizona (but only if the line hits +7 or higher before kickoff)
Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0, 2-0 road) at Penn State Nittany Lions (5-2, 3-1 home)
Time: Saturday, 5:30pm ET
Open: Ohio State -1.5
Analysis: Since losing the season-opener to Ohio as a 5.5-point favorite, the Nittany Lions have fired up the grill and been cooking with gas. Penn State is currently on a five-game winning streak and has covered the number in six consecutive outings. And while both teams in this Big Ten showdown are ineligible for bowl play this season, make no mistake that this is the marquee matchup on the PSU schedule. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is expected to play after being knocked out of last Saturday’s overtime win over Purdue, but he won’t be 100%. The Lions and first-year head coach Bill O’Brien will be looking to send a message in this one.
Take note: Ohio State is 2-5 ATS over their last seven games overall while Penn State is 14-5-1 ATS over their last 20 games played in the month of October.
Pick: Penn State (pick)
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (5-2, 3-1 road) at Florida International Golden Panthers (1-7, 1-3 home)
When: Saturday, 6:00pm ET
Open: WKU -7
Current: WKU -7
Analysis: The country’s longest ATS winning streak came to an end last Saturday as Western Kentucky dropped a heartbreaker to fellow upstart UL-Monroe, 43-42. The last time the Hilltoppers lost a game outright came back on September 8 at Alabama and WKU responded by going on the road and knocking off Kentucky, 32-31, the following week. Look for another strong performance from Willie Taggart’s crew on Saturday against a Florida International team that is 3-11-1 ATS over their last 15 games following a straight-up loss.
Take note: Western Kentucky is 13-3 ATS over their last 16 games against teams with a losing record while Florida International is 1-4 ATS over their last five games against teams with a winning record.
Pick: Western Kentucky (-7)
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