You could tell this had the makings of a special game even before the kickoff.
Look at the focus. Mark Ingram joined Derrick Henry at the coin toss. The two Heisman winners from Bama.
Derrick Henry is a grown man. Just huge. We're all thinking it, but no one would be dumb enough to tweet at Mark Ingram about it, unless you're Jamele Hill.
Classic Sparty move to poke the bear. And the bear responded. Cue Ingram's response...From the top rope.
Too harsh? Now to the game... Between surprise onside kicks and 3,000 pound touchdowns, we saw Saban lay it all on the line.
And I'm giving all the credit to Saban. Not Lane Kiffin. Kiff probably called for the halfback pass before getting overruled by Saban.
Clemson gave it literally all they had. Deshaun Watson is an absolute monster. Gallman was playing hurt and still turned it on late to give his team a chance. Shaq Lawson was playing with a shredded MCL and draft stock on the line and still ripped off 2 sacks in the first half. Took a Derrick Henry punch to the mouth, shook it off and came right back to build a lead. Took a lead into the 4th quarter. Had Alabama on the ropes. But in the end, Saban is Saban and Bama is Bama.
Kickoff: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: Alabama -6.5, Total: 51
We've made it. #1 vs #2. Alabama will be gunning for its fourth national title during Saban’s nine-year tenure.
When Bama is on offense, I expect to hear "Derrick Henry with the carry" from Fowler on repeat. Saban will start the process of wearing down Clemson's defense early. Much like the MSU game, they won't put up many points before half but the strategy will pay off in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Once Clemson needs their safeties to help stop Henry, that's when our boy Lane Kiffin will dial up a Coker-to-Ridley post-route over the top. Sidenote: Calvin Ridley is a 21-year old freshman. Not sure how that happened.
When Bama is on defense, they'll display the best defensive line in the country. However, Kirby Smart’s unit will face the most athletic signal caller it has seen since losing to Ole Miss and Chad Kelly back in Week 3. Watson’s ability to elude rushers and then make big plays with his legs will be pivotal.
For the total, Clemson has hit the over in 7 of their last 10 games, while Bama has the under in 8 of their last 11 games.
So what's the play?
Even though the numbers slightly point to Clemson +6.5, I'm going with my gut instinct on this one. I'm trusting Nick Saban over Dabo. While Saban has lived in the film room looking for every possible advantage over the past week, Dabo has been taking laps at the go-kart track.
I also think there's a chance that Clemson has a "happy to be here" feeling, while this is straight business for Bama. I mean if you have any questions about Alabama's commitment, from the team to the fanbase....
Hot start to the bowl season. Didn't even break a sweat. San Diego State 42, Cinci 7. Next.
Now for a little extra advice to the Streamers, after all it's the season of giving, we are going to take the first two NBA Christmas Day Unders. This a theory created by (my friend) Big Cat that the players eat huge meals on Christmas Eve and can’t shoot as well with an upset stomach the following day.
Dec 25 12:05 PM EST
New Orleans Pelicans / Miami Heat Under 199½ -110 for Game
Dec 25 02:35 PM EST
Chicago Bulls / Oklahoma City Thunder Under 204½ -110 for Game
Bowl season, one of the most wonderful times of the year. Rather than pick all of my games up front, I'm going to post them over the course of this week, leading up to the national championship.
I'm also creating a pick'em contest for friends, family, and Streamers. Top 10 games or so. Entry fee $20. Post your name in the comment section if you want an invitation.
Now to the first pick in the Hawaii Bowl tonight....
+ Lasko’s Bowl Picks --
San Diego State (-1.5) - Cincinnati
The main storyline here is San Diego State’s excellent defense. In all of college football they are one of only 8 teams with Top 25 defenses in terms of rushing yards allowed and passing yards allowed (rush rank/pass rank) : Alabama (1st/20th), Wisconsin (3rd/5th), Boston College (4th/24th), San Diego State (10th/12th), Florida (13th/7th), Michigan (17th/2nd), Ohio State (23rd/9th), and Clemson (24th/6th).
Last Week: 1-1 Season: 38-39-1 (49.4%) Career: 364-294-15 (55.3%)
Here we go. Bowl season. Yes, I realize there have been about five games and I write this post during the first real bowl game in my opinion (Marmot Boca Raton Bowl with Temple vs. Toledo). I was going to pick Toledo for this one and realized I needed to make my picks pronto.
My opinion on how my picks went this regular season:
Here comes my 5-0 bowl finish. After a huge final week when I end the season with all the spotlight instead of Lasko or Couch:
Here we are, back in the Big 10 Championship! Never thought we would be here after that Nebraska game but that seemed to motivate our team to get there.
Connors' Week 12 Picks
L-Stanford (-3.5) over Notre Dame
W-Indiana (-6.5) over Purdue
L-Illinois (+3.5) over Northwestern
W-Cincinnati (+1.5) over East Carolina
W-Oregon St. (+36) over Oregon
It is with much sadness that I tell you that I am not going to be making any picks this week. My sole focus has been the upcoming game on Sat that I really haven't looked at the other games. This is always a tough slate of games to pick anyways because there are so few games and so much on the line the odds makers are usually dead on. You may think this is cowardly but my sole focus is my teams chance to make the playoff. It makes me so nervous that the LOW is being put on Sparty.
Iowa taking over Lucas Oil Stadium with these fans scares me as well...
OK. I am not happy with this. Two losing weeks in a row. Oh well. Also, pair that with an awful Michigan game and it was just a bad weekend. Worse yet, Laske AJM (not to be confused with Laske BJM) looks like he is going to pass me with this strong finish. Is he converting back to his old ways of 60%+ rate? Time will tell.
Me thinking about my picks these past two weeks:
Here we go. Ready to
finish 8-2 or better with the last two rounds of picks. Overall feeling going into week 14:
Northern Illinois (+11) - Bowling Green Florida (+17) - Alabama
Last Week: 6-0 Season: 37-38-1 (49.3%) Career: 363-293-15 (55.3%)
In the 19th MAC Championship, Northern Illinois has plenty of experience. This will be the sixth straight year that they are in the title game. The Huskies captured a 51-17 win over BG in this game last year. As underdogs, Northern Illinois was 3-0 ATS, which included a 20-13 loss to Ohio State.
The SEC West has won the last six conference championships and while I don't see that changing this year, Florida's defense is good enough to keep the score inside two touchdowns.
Tis the Holiday season and I have been giving out gifts the past 2 weeks, going 9-1!
Can I keep this hot streak up? Me with my family trying to make my picks...
Connors' Week 11 Results
W-MSU/OSU under 52.5
W-Va Tech (+6.5) over North Carolina
W-Boston College/ND under 42.5
W-Indiana (+2.5) over Maryland
L-Georgia Tech (-2) over Miami
Connors' 2015 Record
Overall - 30-20 (60%)
Last Week - 4-1
Connors' Week 12 Picks
Stanford (-3.5) over Notre Dame
Indiana (-6.5) over Purdue
Illinois (+3.5) over Northwestern
Cincinnati (+1.5) over East Carolina
Oregon St. (+36) over Oregon
Notes: Stanford is a better team and I believe ND is vastly overrated, been pulling out close wins all year. Injuries finally catch up with ND and Stanford pulls away late//Indiana needs 1 more win to become bowl eligible and everyone is finally healthy//Illinois needs 1 more win as well to become bowl eligible and will pull out all the stops at home to get there//Cincy is a better team than their record would indicate and will go out with a bang//36 points, are you kidding me, in a rivalry game? I will take the points all day thank you very much.
Have a wonderful rest of your Thanksgiving weekend!
Fans, opponents, and other streamers, I am sorry. I won't get into the excuses (ahem 5 trips in 8 days) for why I didn't find the time last week to pick, but I look at it as my bye week. Like many good teams, this bye week just allowed me to clear the system and prepare for the weeks to come. This comes at an especially nice time considering it was my first sub-500 week in ages. Now I am refreshed, re-energized, and ready to finish strong. Lasko thinks I want to ice the clock now that I have a lead on him. I won't be happy until I am sitting in first place with a click above 60%. When I read comments about getting kicked off the site:
Baylor (+1) - Oklahoma State San Jose State (-10) - Hawaii
First off, I love both of these picks. Don't like, love. I'm whaling on both.
There is so much value on Baylor, it hurts. Sure there are some questions after getting exposed by Oklahoma on national TV, but they are still a solid team and have been a covering machine. This year, Oklahoma State beat Texas by 3, Kansas State by 2, West Va by 7, and Iowa State by 4. Be more overrated. You can't.
The second pick isn't a play on San Jose State. Far from it. But as a touchdown underdog last week, Hawaii lost by 28. Team is a mess. Fade city.
PS - When it's Friday and Kevin still hasn't posted his picks...
How I felt rooting for Oklahoma in that 4th quarter to go 5-0 for the week...
How I felt immediately after that game...
Connors' Week 10 Results
W-Florida (-7.5) over South Carolina
W-Indiana (+13) over Michigan
W-Iowa St (+14) Oklahoma St.
W-Oklahoma (+2.5) over Baylor
W-Middle Tennessee St (-5.5) over Florida Atlantic
Connors' 2015 Record
Overall - 26-19 (58%)
Last Week - 5-0
Connors' Week 11 Picks
MSU/OSU under 52.5
Va Tech (+6.5) over North Carolina
Boston College/ND under 42.5
Indiana (+2.5) over Maryland
Georgia Tech (-2) over Miami
Notes: Supposed to be a cold, rainy and windy day in Columbus and MSU is going to try their best to avoid a track meet in this one. The wind could really affect passing game and special teams//Frank Beamers last home game for Virginia Tech coupled with UNC playing a little tense now that that are in CFP talks//I can't see Boston College scoring more than 10 points in this one but having one of the best defenses will keep this low scoring//The Indiana is less of a play on how good Indiana is but how bad Maryland is. Maryland has thrown 2+ int in 9 straight games, can't give Indiana's offense those extra possessions//Last home game for Miami in the Orange Bowl means about 10,000 fans in attendance so no atmosphere plus I don't really see Miami players trying their hardest to prepare for the option.
The fact that I didn’t go 5-0, or 4-1 at worst, was diabolical. Backdoor covers right in my face. Let’s do a quick recap.
Iowa -11.5. 24-14 lead at the break. Looking good in the 4th quarter until Minnesota executed a flawless halfback pass to get within five with just over five minutes to go. Iowa’s offense could not be stopped and Hawkeyes backers got the big run they needed as with just over two minutes to go as LeShun Daniels broke a 51-yard run for a touchdown. The Gophers were relentless however and put together a touchdown drive in quick order, aided by a dropped interception and questionable roughing the passer call. Listening to Matt Millen call the game made it worse.
Washington +3. Washington led 17-0. Next thing I know, it’s the second half and the Huskies offense turned the ball over four times, missed a field goal, and failed on a 4th down conversion. Not to mention 27 unanswered points for Arizona State.
Moving on... Saturday night had some great matchups.
Oklahoma took down Baylor, capping Couch's 5-0 day.
My favorite part of the game was when the cameras showed how a Baylor player is studying for his MBA and balances football with intense study sessions of his computer’s home screen.
PS – Current odds to win 2015 Big 10 Conference Championship:
No picks today. Hope the Streamers are tailing my picks right now. Last week, this week, handing out winners like candy on halloween.
Line moves this week:
Michigan is a popular public team and the pros are also lining up on the Wolverines against Indiana.
Oklahoma was tagged early and the number has continued to drop. This one could get interesting as some sportsbooks anticipate the sharps making a late play on Baylor. Unrelated but kind of related, if I could buy stock in football players the same way you can buy stock in companies, I'd invest my entire savings in Jarrett Stidham. Kid has a bright future in front of him, and the country will get to see it on saturday night.
Maryland has been a cash cow for the pros for several weeks now, and sure enough, the Terps are getting some big dollars again this week.
Northwestern has gotten sharp money despite having to lay a big number to Purdue. I'd whale on NW if the game was at 11:00am but I don't like the late start. Personally I'm staying away from this one.
Did I really just get passed? One thing I will promise you, is that I will never bet on Pittsburgh again. They might, no, they are the worst 1st half team in football. So now Kev has passed me and Lasko tweaked his algorithm to produce winners again, what am I to do? Time to get my swag back...
Connors' Week 9 Results
L-Pittsburgh (+8.5) over Norte Dame
L-Rutgers (+24.5) over Michigan
W-Florida St (+12.5) over Clemson
W-Oklahoma St. (+5.5) over TCU
L-Wisconsin (-12.5) over Maryland
Connors' 2015 Record
Overall - 21-19 (53%)
Last Week - 3-2
Connors' Week 10 Picks
Florida (-7.5) over South Carolina
Indiana (+13) over Michigan
Iowa St (+14) Oklahoma St.
Oklahoma (+2.5) over Baylor
Middle Tennessee St (-5.5) over Florida Atlantic
Notes: South Carolina is a dumpster fire and Florida needs to start putting on the style point in preparation for their title game showdown. Indiana needs to win 2 of the next 3 to get bowl eligible so I think they pull out all of the stops. Something fishy about this Iowa St line, Ok State should be much larger favorites, however on the road and maybe a let down game. Oklahoma might be playing the best football after Alabama and Stanford the past few weeks. (be scared taking Stoops in a big game though) MTSU just beat a Marshall team the beat FAU, simple math here folks.