As I was watching the games Saturday, I was thinking about absolutes, if they exist and if there's any way to profit from them.
Let me explain. Let's look at Arkansas. Anyone who's watched the Hogs play this season can see that they are horrible, but does that translate to a loss against the spread every week? At what point does the line catch up with a team that doesn't seem to care?
Another absolute is the state of play in the Big Ten. It's flat-out horrible. The bottom of the conference is losing to awful teams, and the supposed top of the conference falls behind at home to a team that couldn't get out of its own way over the first month of the season.
How do you take advantage of a horrible conference when its teams play each other?
From what I can see early on, it's not as simple as taking all the dogs because there are some really bad teams in this conference (looking at you, Illinois). I think the best way to go is to fade the top teams, whichever they may be that week. Last week it was Nebraska, this week it could be Ohio State or Northwestern. It's very similar to my PAC-12 theory of fading the hottest teams, but not quite to that extent.
I'll get this ironed out, hopefully soon and the winning weeks should follow. As for last week ...
Another tough slate of games last week, especially at the top, but that can be attributed to a misread of the Big Ten early on. But like I said, I think I've got that figured out.
Let's look at the card this week.
Cream of the Crop: (Week: 0-4-0/Season: 2-16-0)
Pittsburgh at Syracuse: I've been chasing my tail with the Panthers for much of the season, but I think I have them pegged properly. Pitt's biggest win to date was against Virginia Tech, a win which now doesn't look as good as it did at the time. The Panthers' only loss was a primetime game at Cincinnati to the tune of 34-10. Syracuse has a decent team this year, and although the Orange have lost twice to Big Ten foes, I think they come up big here in front of the home crowd.
Side: Syracuse -2
Washington at Oregon: This is a tough spot for the Huskies. They are coming off a huge win over Stanford last week and are decided underdogs here. Oregon, on the other hand, is coming off a win at Washington State in which it played sloppy for a half. Don't expect another slow start from Oregon. The Ducks will get up early and keep the pedal to the metal as Washington wonders where it all went wrong.
Side: Oregon -24.5
West Virginia at Texas: Did you see the West Virginia game last week? Do you think that a defense that surrendered 63 points can turn it around in the span of six days? On the other hand, is there any way to stop the Mountaineers offense? Texas had little luck slowing the Oklahoma State offense last week, and West Virginia is every bit as strong as the Cowboys attack. This might not be the shootout that we saw last week against Baylor, but 75 points is certainly attainable.
Total: Over 75
Illinois at Wisconsin: The Badgers might have turned a corner last week at Nebraska, and even though they didn't win, they should have some mojo back this week. Illinois is downright brutal and can expect to get spanked on a weekly basis. The Badgers should have no problem covering this number; the Illini are simply incapable of putting up much of a fight.
Side: Wisconsin -14
Miami at Notre Dame: Miami has had a year's worth of drama in just a few weeks and it's because the Hurricane defense can't stop anyone while the offense can seemingly keep up with any team. Notre Dame has made of habit of winning low-scoring games this season, but the Irish are bound to get drawn into a shoot-out at some point, and it looks like it will be this week.
Total: Over 51.5
Best of the Rest (Week: 4-2-0/Season: 11-14-0)
Georgia Tech at Clemson: The Yellow Jackets' season is going down the tube in a hurry, and it's about to get worse this week. The Jackets are coming off a humiliating loss at home to MTSU last week and while that could be blamed on a hangover from their loss to Miami the week before, that still doesn't explain getting manhandled at home by MTSU. Clemson recovered well from its tough loss to FSU two weeks ago as it disposed of Boston college by 14 points last week. Expect Clemson to continue its recovery this week.
Side: Clemson -10.5
Northwestern at Penn State: You are probably wondering if I can fade Penn State again this week - the answer is yes. The Nittany Lions have covered three straight games, and I've been on the wrong side each time. So what's different this time? For starters, this will be the first time all season they've faced a competent offense. Beyond that, the Wildcats are battle tested having already won close games on the road.
Side: Northwestern +2.5
Arkansas at Auburn: It's a pride check for the Hogs this week as they travel to face an Auburn team with only one win. Auburn has shown itself to be a tough beat against some of the top teams this season, but the Tigers have yet to handle this type of spot, at home laying a big number. I'm not sure when or if Arkansas will snap out of this funk, but this looks like a spot where the Hogs can at least compete.
Side: Arkansas +9.5
Arizona at Stanford: Tough loss for Stanford last week at Washington, but the Cardinal should bounce back in this spot. Arizona is coming off a heartbreaker last week against Oregon State, and the Wildcats could have a hard time getting ready for this one.
Side: Stanford -9
PASSing thoughts (Week: 1-3-0/Season: 10-12-0)
USC at Utah: I'm struggling with USC. I keep expecting a coming out party, but the offense has yet to show the explosiveness that many expected. Utah is not a very good team, but the Utes will come up with a big effort. That said, if USC puts it all together, this could be a route. I'm afraid to go against USC in this spot, it's not much to go on, but that's why this game is in this section.
Side: USC -14.5
Utah State at BYU: When we last saw the Cougars, they were beating the snot out of lowly Hawaii. That victory has likely inflated ego of the Cougars, though it shouldn't as Hawaii in no way resembles the team that made it to a BCS bowl a few years back. Utah State is usually a pesky team, and this year's version is no exception. Expect a hard-fought battle until the end with the winner being decided in the last few minutes.
Side: Utah State +6.5
Georgia at South Carolina: It's about this time each year that South Carolina starts its nose dive, and though I doubt the Gamecocks will go into a tailspin after this week, I do think they'll struggle to pull this one out. Georgia, on the other hand, had usually blown its chance at a great season by this point in the season, and the fact that the Bulldogs have passed every test to this point might indicate that this team will break the mold of Bulldogs past.
Side: Georgia even
Michigan at Purdue: Michigan has simply not looked like the team we expected this year, and there's really no reason the Wolverines should be favored here. Purdue has one loss, but that was a hard-fought loss on the road to a pretty good team. Purdue takes care of business at home in this spot.
Side: Purdue +3
Oklahoma at Texas Tech: This is the spot where the Sooners come up big historically. They fall flat at some point in the season and just when you think they are vulnerable, they come up with a big effort.
Side: Oklahoma -6
Nebraska at Ohio State: OSU looks like a complete team, but I have a feeling this one is decided by a field goal.
Side: Nebraska +3.5
LSU at Florida: A step up in class this week for Florida. Although the Gators have passed every test, this one might be a little too much to ask.
Side: LSU -2.5