Week 5. It's about this time you start to get a feel for certain teams and narrow your focus.
It's not that you ignore every other team on the schedule, it's just that you have a good read on certain teams and not others. At least, you think you do.
Well, it's time to test those theories. Conference play heats up this week, and your theories are about to be put to the test.
I certainly have my list of teams, they may be similar to yours. I also have a list of teams that I am very interested in. Looking at you, Wisconsin and Arkansas.
You see, this is the beauty of wagering, it makes even the least interesting teams interesting. Wisconsin and Arkansas look to be going nowhere this year, but as long as they present some good wagering opportunities, we'll pay attention.
As for this week, again, the card looks strong, I felt the same way last week and it didn't quite work out, but it was better than the previous week. I hope that trend continues. The second part of that sentence, of course.
Let's look at the card this week.
Cream of the Crop (Week: 0-3-0/Season: 2-12-0)
Penn State at Illinois: It's about time that I come around to this Penn State squad. After all, the Nittany Lions are coming off an impressive win against Temple last week, and it looks like they've finally righted the ship. Add to that, Illinois is coming in off a humiliating loss at home to Louisiana Tech last week. Everything seems to be lined up for Penn State this week, but there's one problem - this will be the toughest test to date. Not the toughest opponent, but the toughest test. A conference game, on the road, against a team that was embarrassed last week. Illinois will also have starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase at full strength for the first time since the opening week.
Side: Illinois +1
Minnesota at Iowa: This line looks flat-out goofy. Iowa has stumbled to a 2-2 start this season and the Hawkeyes have yet to impress at any point. Perhaps the oddsmakers and public are hesitant to buy into the Gophers, but the fact remains, they are 4-0 entering this week. Let's not forget the Gophers have had Iowa's number the last two seasons. That could lead to a revenge angle, but are the Hawkeyes even equipped to dish out some revenge?
Side: Minnesota +7
Indiana at Northwestern: Focusing on the total here. It looks to be inflated because of the scores the Hoosiers have posted this season. The problem with that logic is the tempo of this game will be determined by A) the better team and B) the home team. It just happens that A and B are the same team here, and neither wears red. Northwestern has held its last three opponents to less than 15 points while scoring nearly 30 per game on the offensive side. I expect more than 45 points this week, but nothing approaching 60.
Total: Under 59
Florida State at South Florida: I hope it's not too late to jump on the FSU bandwagon, because the Seminoles sure look good. South Florida, on the other hand, seems to be in a horrible tail spin. All of this adds up to a game that looks too good to be true, but sometimes you have to just jump on and not worry about when the ride is going to end. I have faith in the FSU defense, which is likely to create multiple turnovers from mistake-prone B.J. Daniels.
Side: FSU -17
Best of the Rest (Week: 3-1-0/Season: 7-12-0)
Cincinnati at Virginia Tech: It looks like the Hokies have put that bizarre loss at Pittsburgh behind them, and now it's time to move forward on what still could be a good season. Because of that loss at Pittsburgh the line remains favorable for Tech. Now, all that said, Cincinnati did destroy Pittsburgh, so if you subscribe to the theory of like opponents, then Cincy is clearly better. But since when did that theory ever work?
Side: Virginia Tech -6.5
Louisiana Tech at Virginia: Louisiana Tech is off to a surprising 3-0 start this season, and the Bulldogs have been so impressive that they are actually favored on the road against an ACC opponent. Now, Virginia is not the strongest team, but they're probably a middle-of-the-pack team in the ACC. I tried to make a case for both sides, and I could not. What I can make a case for is the over. Louisiana Tech averages more than 50 points per game on offense, and while Virginia looks to have a decent defense, it did surrender 56 to Georgia Tech a couple weeks back.
Total: Over 61
Oregon at Washington State: I was stunned at the effort from the Oregon defense last week, but if you watched the game, you know that Arizona had plenty of chances to score, it just made mistake after mistake. I don't think that will be the case this week as the Ducks defense is bound to let up. As for the offense, well the offense rarely takes a week off.
Total: Over 71
Arkansas at TexasA&M: It's official. Arkansas is just flat-out bad this year, and there's no reason to think that anything can turn that around this season. Fans are calling for the coach's head, and players have little to play for at this point. Texas A&M should smell the blood in the water this week and thump the Hogs.
Side: Texas A&M -13.5
Tennessee at Georgia: It's that time of the year when expectations for Georgia start to rise - and then fall just as quickly. Each season is based on its own merit, to some degree, but the tendencies of certain teams seem to pop up each and every year. For Georgia, it's failing when confidence in the team is high. The Bulldogs likely will win this week, but I doubt a repeat of last week's beatdown of Vanderbilt will occur.
Side: Tennessee +13
Oregon State at Arizona: I'm picturing the PAC-12 as one of those conferences where nothing lasts too long this season. In other words, as soon as one team gains some steam, it will lose it the next week. In this case, we have one team that gained some momentum last week with a nice road victory in OSU and another that couldn't have looked much worse in Arizona. Looks like a perfect spot to buy low on Arizona.
Side: Arizona -2.5
PASSing thoughts: (Week: 2-3-0/Season: 9-9-0)
Stanford at Washington: The Cardinal have had a lot of time to celebrate their victory over USC two weeks ago, and my guess is that will work against them this week. Also working against them is the pasting they put on Washington last year in Palo Alto. Washington is more than capable of hanging with Stanford all night.
Side: Washington +6.5
Hawaii at BYU: Hawaii has struggled this season, losing big to USC and Nevada, but both of those teams are formidable. BYU is no slouch either, but I don't think it has the offense to cover this number unless everything goes right. And how often does that happen?
Side: Hawaii +27.5
UCLA at Colorado: OK, so maybe Colorado isn't the worst team in the country - and to be honest, I was really trying to fade them here out of spite, but I just couldn't. UCLA thumped Nebraska a couple weeks back, which inflated the Bruins in the eyes of the public, but I think that was a bit of a fluke. The Bruins are a good team, but they are giving too much in this spot.
Side: Colorado +20
Ohio State at Michigan State: Tough call here as both teams have shown vulnerability the last few weeks, yet both teams have looked strong at certain points in the season. I have to give the edge to the home team here as the number is less than three points, and MSU has had two weeks now since it's disappointing loss to Notre Dame.
Side: MSU -2.5