Stanford takes on UCF at home, Florida at Kentucky

The Knights take on Stanford on home turf Saturday.

As expected, when you start throwing professional football games in the mix, predicting against the spread becomes increasingly more difficult.  Made some pretty good picks last week (Baltimore to win and cover against Miami and Kansas City to win and cover against Jacksonville) and some absolutely bone-headed picks (Syracuse to beat Maryland and Texas to beat LSU).

But let’s forget about last week and dive right in to this weekend’s action.  Not many big national games this week, so we will stick to games involving in-state teams on the college side.

THE COLLEGES

 Stanford at UCF (-2.5)

The Cardinals opened with a nice win against Northwestern and led USC 20-10 late in the second quarter before falling apart in the second half – losing 45-20.  UCF (2-0) has not lost a regular season game since 2016 and seems to rise to the occasion when it plays a Power 5 school.   I like the Knights to both win and cover in this one.  Pick: UCF 30, Stanford 21  

 Florida (-7) on road at Kentucky

Gator fans always seem to say that Kentucky always gives Florida fits, especially on the road in Lexington. Frankly, perception does not match reality. The facts are as follows, Florida leads the all-time series 51-18. Florida won 31 games in a row before last year’s loss. Other than close shaves in the last two road games, Florida had beaten Kentucky by seven or more points in the previous five games in Lexington.  Mark Stoops has done a great job at Kentucky and last season’s 10-3 mark was special by UK standards.  But the Wildcats lost a lot of talent off of that team and Florida is better than they were a year ago.  PICK:  Florida to win and cover, 31-17.

 Florida State on road at Virginia (-8)

After last week’s 45-44 overtime win over Sun Belt Conference “Power” Louisiana-Monroe  (please denote dripping sarcasm), I have seen absolutely zero confidence the Noles can win an ACC road game against a

pretty good Virginia team.   Pick Virginia 35, Florida State 20.

 Bethune Cookman on road at Miami (-41)

I never liked 30 or 40 point spreads because you just never know if and when the favored team is going to “call off the dogs” or “take the foot off the gas.” After a tough loss to Florida and then being upset by North Carolina, I think the Canes will have plenty of motivation to take it out on the out-manned Wildcats.  Pick: Miami 61, BCC 17

 South Carolina State on road at South Florida (-25.5)

South Florida actually had a chance to beat Georgia Tech on the road last week as a pair of questionable calls in the fourth quarter – including a fumble at the goal line – went against them.  Like Miami, I think the Bulls will have plenty of incentive to record a big win over an FCS school.  Pick:  South Florida 49, South Carolina State 10

 The PROS

 New England (-14.5) on road at Miami

Hard to believe but Miami has been one of the few teams to give the dynasty a hard time in recent years.  Since the 2014 season, Miami has beaten the Patriots the last four games in Miami. After watching Lamar Jackson destroy Miami last week and Tom Brady and the Patriots rip the Steelers, it would be easy to pick the Dolphins by 25 this week.  But a wise football coach once told me, no NFL team is ever as bad or as good as they look in any single week.  Pick: In a take the points special—New England 27, Miami 13.

 Houston (-9.5) on road at Jacksonville

Is the Jacksonville season already over with the broken clavicle Nick Foles suffered last week?  In a nutshell…yes.   Pick:  Texans  28, Jags 10.

 Seattle on road at Pittsburgh (-4)

Seahawks barely escaped at home against Cincinnati and I have to believe Pittsburgh will bounce back in a big way after that ugly loss to Patriots.  Will go with the Steelers to win and cover.   Pick:  Pittsburgh 24, Seattle 17.

 Dallas (-7) on road at Washington

No coach in the NFL has been more snake-bitten with injuries in the last two and a half seasons than former Orlando Predators Coach Jay Gruden. More than 50 players – essentially a whole roster – have been placed on season ending injured reserve during that time.  

The schedule makers did no favors giving the Redskins games against Philadelphia and Dallas on back-to-back weekends to open the season and without holdout star Trent Williams, the Redskins are operating with a patch work offensive line.  

Taking Dak, Zeke, Amari and their teammates to win and cover on the road.  Pick: Dallas 31, Washington 10.

SEASON SCOREBOARD

Nothing more than an average week at best, going 6-4 straight up in picks but just 5-5 against the spread.   Season totals:  14-5 straight up (.736); 9-9 (.500) against the spread.