We had a lot of fun last season with our Friday ‘Hold All Tickets’ post, and put a few bucks in our pocket to boot. Our 29-22-1 (56.9%) record was nothing to sneeze at, but our goal is to be over that elite 60%+ mark so we can quit our day jobs…right?
To add a little spice to it this year, we have entered into a little season-long handicapping competition with our good friends over at Arkansas Fight. Graham Reaves of Arkansas Fight posts his picks every Friday in a post called ‘The Weekend That Will Be’, and hit at a very nice 58.3% clip last year. Graham’s got game, so we’re going to have to bring it. You can see Graham’s picks on Thursday this week here.
Early in the season, you can really make some hay, as line makers usually need a few weeks to get accurate reads on teams. This year is no exception, and we really like our Week 1 card.
Wake Forest at Louisiana-Monroe – Thank God we didn’t hire Jim Grobe. After five straight losing seasons, Wake finally pulled the trigger and showed Grobe the door at the end of last season. Picked at the bottom of the ACC, the Deamon Deacons are starting over – learning new systems, breaking in a new inexperienced quarterback. The cupboard is virtually empty. ULM on the other hand has a very experienced team that returns 9 starters on defense including their top 5 tacklers from last year. Plus, for some reason, they are playing at home…doesn’t Wake know they can PAY somebody to come to Winston-Salem and play??? This line started at Wake -5, and with big money on ULM, has fallen to where it is today. The wrong team is favored in this one. Louisiana-Monroe +2.
Bowling Green at Western Kentucky – After a 10-win season a year ago, Bowling Green brings in new head coach Dino Babers and his high octane offense to the MAC. Babers was the WR coach for Baylor (2008-11) before leaving for Eastern Illinois where he took a team that had won only 4 games in two years to the FCS playoffs two straight seasons (2012-13), and set school offensive records with QB Jimmy Garappolo (now with the Patriots). His high speed, fast break, Baylor-type offense will be something to watch this year as the Falcons return an experienced QB in Matt Johnson and electric RB Travis Greene. Western Kentucky only returns 4 defensive starters, but there might be enough offensive playmakers left over from Bobby Petrino’s one year that new head coach Jeff Brohm will be able to score some as well. We think Bowling Green could top the number by themselves, but should get some help from WKU to make the over easy money. 2 Separate Bets: Bowling Green -7.5. Bowling Green/Western Kentucky Over 56.
Arkansas at Auburn – Maybe we’re drinking too much of the kool aid, but we think the Hogs look much improved on defense this year. Robb Smith has really transitioned this defense from a sit back/keep everything in front of you squad to an aggressive/forcing unit that we think could hold up pretty well. If you remember last year’s contest in Fayetteville, Brandon Allen went out early in the game with a leg injury. A.J. Derby entered and promptly threw an interception and fumbled. The Hogs were also stuffed a couple of times inside the 5-yard line on would be TD drives. The 18-point margin (35-17) seemed more like a one-possession game. We’re not calling for the outright win by any stretch, but we think the 21-points is an overaction to Auburn’s fantastic finish a year ago, and the Hogs current 9-game losing streak. Arkansas +21.
Wisconsin vs. LSU (in Houston, TX) – We were leaning to LSU in this one, but when we heard Wisconsin had chosen junior Tanner McEvoy as the starter, we knew we could pull the trigger. McEvoy (6-6, 210) signed in 2013 as a JUCO quarterback, but played safety last year for the Badgers, as Joel Stave manned the QB spot. He has never taken a snap in a Divison I game, and while he is athletic and a gifted runner, McEvoy’s one-dimensial, ‘run-first’ style may hit the brick wall against the Tigers defense. LSU returns a talented secondary, so LSU DC John Chavis should be able to stack the line of scrimmage even more to stop McEvoy and stud Wisky RB Melvin Gordon. The Leonard Fournette era begins with a bang. LSU -4.