You’ve been craving it all off season, but now its finally here. Not just the start of college football season, but also the triumphant return of the best damn pick ‘em contest in the land: The JCB’s Pick-4.
Its a simple game really. Our mad scientists behind the scenes in the JCB war room concoct four prop bets for Saturday’s action. You, the player, make your selections on all four. We’ll add up the totals at the end of the season and declare a winner. Last year’s winner Bcruss will be defending his crown, that is if he gets back from the cruise around the world the JCB sent him on as reward for winning a year ago. Hopefully he gets WiFi out there in the ocean if he’s not back in time.
Usually, I have a long post on the opening night of games, but tonight’s card is kind of sleepy. I mean, sure it will be exciting to see if the Badgers can cover the -35.5 against UNLV. And, of course, I am curious to see if Memphis can hang closer to Mississippi State than my beloved Wolverins did a year ago in the Gator Bowl. Most definetly, I will have Wake Forest/Syracuse on, hoping that it magically turns into a college hoops game. Oh wait, there is the North Texas/Florida International tilt tonight. A CONFERENCE GAME. Well, a Sun Belt conference game. You can make a case the best two games on the board are Villanova/Temple and Toledo/New Hampshire. So, there isnt a ton of juice tonight charging the games. But its still live college football.
We’ll be watching, but we wont be placing any bets tonight. We’ve mentioned throughout August that we love and have booked already USF +10 over ND and Fresno +10 over Cal for Saturday. For now, we’re holding steady with those two, but will likely add a play or two before the weekend’s action begins. But, for now, how about I break down my own Pick-4 selections for the week.
Michael Floyd O/U 6.5 catches
As far as star power goes, Michael Floyd is the biggest ticket in this USF/ND lid lifter. The former 5-star recruit enters his senior season after an impressive 79-catch, 12-TD season. He also enters the season after an unimpressive offseason that saw him handcuffed, literally, with a DUI charge. He’s chomping at the bit to get the season started, but I dont see a huge performance out of him in this game. For starters, getting more than 6.5 catches in a football game is impressive. In fact, Floyd has only topped that mark eight times in 24 career games in South Bend. Percentages favor the under. I also wonder if Brian Kelly is going to show all his hand in this one. To be sure, USF wont be a walk over. But I get the feeling Irish coaches might hold enough back–hopefully for their sake it wont cost them the way it cost Willingham in the 2004 BYU game–in the vertical passing game, saving it next weekened for their grudge match with Michigan. Besides, it wasnt the passing attack that really got the ball rolling during ND’s world beating charge to close 2010 thats pumped the prime for 2011 expectations. It was a rushing attack that jumped from 3.69 yards per carry the first eight games to 4.4 yards per rush over the last five games that helped the Irish look like a Brian Kelly team down the stretch. Cierre Wood emerged in the second half of the season, and I think he will be the #1 star on offense for the Irish in the opener. Toss in the fact that USF, with three starters back in the secondary, have a strong secondary and I think Floyd has a solid first game of the year, but doesnt break out and go nuts. The Pick: Under 6.5 catches.
Kellen Moore/Aaron Murray, combined passing yards: O/U 499.5 yards
Two of the top passers from a year ago square off in this engaging opener. If both Moore and Murray hit their per game averages from a year ago this will go Over the total by at least 30 yards. So its an easy trigger pull on the over, right? No, not really. Both are breaking in new sets of wideouts. And, its not like they’re replacing your average wide receiver. AJ Greene might have been Georgia’s most valuable offensive asset a year ago. Its no secret that Murray’s game as a true freshmen picked up bigtime once Green got released from NCAA suspension and back in the lineup. As for Boise State, they enter the season for the first time in what seems like a decade without their killer 1-2 punch of Titus Young and Austin Pettis at the flanker spots. Toss in good secondaries for both squads–Georgia has all four starters back in their defensive backfield–and I dont think this is going to be a very pass happy game. I see more running and defense than what people might expect, not to mention enough opening night, big game jitters to keep the offenses in check enough in the early going to keep the QBs from putting up bonkers stats. This game might look more like Boise’s games with TCU’s in recent years as opposed to their shootout with Va Tech a year ago in this spot. Right or wrong, this game will be a blast and is Must See TV. The Pick: Under 499.5 yards.
LaMicheal James -20.5 more rushing yards than Spencer Ware
I think we might be confusing people with this prop. But we love screwballs in the JCB home office, so just deal with it people. Basically its James vs Ware on who has the most rushing yards. But, we added the twist of making James favored by 20.5 yards, so the Duck tailback needs 21 more yards than his LSU counterpart to cash any winning tickets on him. There havent been too many more backs more studly than James the last two years. He rolls out of bed and gains 100 yards in this offense in this offense. Ware, meanwhile, has had just a single career 100-yard effort, albeit it was LSU’s last time out in the Cotton Bowl win over Texas A/M. Easy money on James? I dont think so. I think this prop will be lost by James because LSU’s defense front is better than Oregon’s offensive line thats replacing three starters. And, on the other side of the ball LSU has four starting Hogs returning up front going up against an Oregon D with just 5 starters returning and needing to replace some program all-times like Rowe, Matthews and Paysinger along the front seven. With LSU having to play their backup QB, I expect Miles to pound, pound, pound with the running attack and keep the Ducks offense off the field. Is it worth mentioning that one of James worst games, production wise, in his career, came against another SEC defense when Auburn held him to less than 50 yards a year ago? I think that’s relevant. I’ll take my chances with Ware and the physical SEC defense in this one. The Pick: Ware +20.5 rushing yards over James.
Western Michigan/Michigan, Longest TD Scored: O/U 57.5 yards
Is Denard Robinson taking the field for Michigan? Is the Michigan Defense still taking the field for Michigan? Oh, so its yes to both questions? If thats the case, then I’m all over this Over. In 10 of Michigan’s 13 games a year ago, there was at least one TD scored from beyond this distance. And in two of the instances it didnt, it took shoestring-like tackles near the goaline to prevent it from happening. With the game’s most dangerous playmakers and one of the worst defenses from a year ago returning for the Maize and Blue, I dont expect the big play trend to go away at all. Whenever this prop was available on actual betting boards a year ago, I pulled the trigger and ended up happy most of the time. In fact, this is an actual prop bet being offered by the oddsmakers. I expect to put some real coin on this come Saturday morning. Want a real prediction? This over will hit before halftime. The Pick: Over 57.5 yards.
So, there you go. Breaking the seal on the Pick-4 this year by going Under, Under, Under and Over. Jump aboard and play along. See if you can beat me and our defending champ Bcruss. Good luck and enjoy the season.