I'll be honest: writing a satirical sports gambling column is far less enjoyable when you can't at least fall back on a somewhat respectable football team. So what do we do in the face of unfiltered disappointment and soon-to-be "we're gonna lose to UVA" anxiety?
We double down.
Brian's Record this Year (+Last Week Only) 25-33-1 (5-4)
Joey's Record this Year (+Last Week Only) 31-28 (6-3)
On to the lines!
Over/Under: 150 rushing yards for AJ Dillon
Brian: I saw this line and thought "this is preposterous." And then I remembered how soft the run defense was last week. Against a quarterback. Who weighs 182 pounds. And then I looked up Dillon's stats, and saw that he's broken 150 twice (against Wake Forest and Temple), and hit 149 two other times (against Holy Cross and Miami).
That's uh...not great, Bob.
This gives me major PTSD of watching Andre Williams plow through a (much better) Hokie defense in 2013. There's something really discouraging about watching a 250 lb running back plow through linebackers who he outweighs by 25 pounds. Also, where does Addazio find these Hulk Hogan-esq running backs? Does he have a recruiting pipeline at the muscle hamster farm?
Joey: I was at the Georgia Tech game. Call me emotionally scared, call me hungover, but for the rest of the season please know that I fully expect Virginia Tech opponents to shred the Hokies on the ground.
3rd and 5? Quarterback sweep.
1st and 20? Quarterback sweep.
4th and 3? Shoot, let's run the quarterback sweep.
Don't think, just take the over.
Over/Under: 375 Virginia Tech offensive yards
Brian: I'm more than a little confused about how hard Fuente came down on the offense after the game last week. Yes, they stagnated after a hot start. But they also scored 21 points to start the game. Fuente was angry that Willis and company weren't perfect? Fine. But it takes a lot of gall to critique the offense when the defense threw what could only be described as an imperfect game (every possession ending in a touchdown).
I feel okay about the offense, no matter how inconsistent it may be. Give me the over.
Joey: For once, I actually feel relatively comfortable with a Tech offense's ability to move the ball against a BC defense. With the ghost of Don Brown long forgotten, the Eagles defense has been shredded when challenged, giving up nearly 1,000 combined yards to NC State and Temple (arguably the two best teams on a soft early season schedule).
I don't love the over here, but I'll roll with Fuente and Cornelsen to clean some things up knowing they'll need to put up a 30-spot to have a fighting chance.
Over/Under: 1.5 trick plays* ran by Scot Loeffler
Brian: Under. As a man who has studied Scot Loeffler for years, I have already patented his move. It's the Loeffler Long Con ™, and it entails Loeffler scheming an entire offensive game plan around a single play that could potentially break the spirits of a defense. Usually, it doesn't happen. But there are certain times when a double reverse to your fullback, or a screen pass that's thrown back to your QB works. And lord knows ole Lefty's got one coming for Bud Foster.
Also, I don't think he'll need to rely on trick plays. His "give AJ Dillon the ball 35 times" offense has worked pretty well so far. But if this hits the over, it's either because he's desperate, or he's already up 20 and it's the equivalent of sneaking in to your old office after hours and taking a dump on your ex-boss' desk. Which could very well happen.
Joey: Scot Loeffler watched the Georgia Tech film. And for once, Scot Loeffler believes he can break the will of a Bud Foster defense without opening up the patented fullback pass bag of tricks.
Note: trick plays include reverses, WR/RB passes, flea flickers, etc. The famed Scot Loeffler wheel route does not count.
Over/Under: 30 rushing yards for Deshawn McClease
Brian: What the hell happened to McClease? With all of the drama surrounding the quarterback situation and the ongoing fire hazard that is the defense, I haven't thought about the man in weeks. And looking at his game log, neither has Brad Cornelsen.
After gaining 75 yards on 12 carries against the CUSA Team In Norfolk That Will Not Be Named, McClease has racked up just 77 yards on 26 carries (2.96 YPC) over the last four games. Over that same stretch, Steven Peoples has put up 203 yards on 45 carries (4.5 TPC). I'm going to say this is a pretty easy under.
Joey: "What the hell happened to McClease?" was the exact emotion I was shooting for with this line. McClease, my perfectly accurate pick for breakout player of the year, has been quieter than a fourth quarter in Lane Stadium of late, relenting a lion's share of his carries to the "hot" hand in Steven Peoples.
Has Peoples been good? Sure.
But it still irks me that Fuente spent all offseason talking about how he needed more production from the running back room, specifically questioning his backs' ability to make the unblocked hat miss in space. And what does he do about it? He rolls out the human bowling ball for 50 snaps a game and hopes things work out.
Alabama -14 vs LSU
Brian: LSU is the best team Bama's played this year, by a long shot. But the Tide is a Death Star whose quarterback takes no prisoners and whose coach blows up planets with no remorse.
The Tigers are good. They whooped Georgia. They suffocated Mississippi State. They decapitated Miami (okay, that one may not be as impressive). But are the ready for Tua? I honestly can't decide.
I won't bet this in real life, but since I have to embarrass myself every week in this column, I feel like it's foolish to pick Ed Orgeron and Joe Burrow to compete against Saban and Tua. Bama -14, and I'll probably end up very wrong.
Joey: This is a classic game that you can let yourself overthink.
Death Valley at night.
A halfway competent quarterback in Joe Burrow.
A legitimately great Tigers defense, even sans Devin White. (#FreeDevinWhite)
A 7-1 Coach O getting 14 ½ points.
All these things may be true, and you still know Alabama wins by at least 20. Roll Tide.
Penn State +10.5 @ Michigan
Brian: Isn't this the perfect Michigan game? They have an amazing resume, only having lost to an undefeated Notre Dame team. They're a win over Ohio State (and Harbaugh's nemesis Urban Meyer) away from sprinting into the playoff and validating their milk-chugging head coach in all of his super-intense glory.
And to make it the full Michigan experience, they lose before it can ever happen. This year it'll be to a Penn State squad that's much better than this line says. Penn State and the points.
Joey: I know I say this just about every week, but this is the craziest line I've seen all season. How in God's green earth is Michigan favored by double digits against Penn State? The PSU moneyline at +360 might be the play here, but certainly scoop up James Franklin and the points now before Vegas wisens up.
P.S. I had Iowa +5.5 against Penn State last week and hate watched James Franklin's entire afternoon in the "Mike London School of Clock Management" while Nate Stanley lost my bet in the torrential downpour. I can't find the video anywhere on the internet (that psycho Franklin probably had it wiped clean), but please know that Tech is losing recruits left and right to a football mind that frantically tried to call a timeout to stop the clock after a change of possession where the clock was, well, already stopped. Thankfully, Franklin's handlers (read, underpaid assistants) quickly swooped in to limit the damage.
The Joey Coogan Memorial "Navy Hits the Over" Lock of the Week.
Brian: Purdue beat Ohio State by a lot. They then lost to an average Michigan State team playing their backup quarterback. They're now playing an Iowa team who just lost to an underrated Penn State group, but has looked solid all year.
Yet somehow Purdue is favored by three over the Hawkeyes at home. I'm not quite sure how that makes sense. Iowa plus the points.
Joey: We fought through a rocky mid-season stretch, but the Navy over train is officially back above .500 for the year with a 66-point winner last week against Notre Dame.
This week the Mids square off against Cincinnati, without question the only 7-1 team in America that literally no one has seen play. Total's at 50, pound the over.
Virginia Tech-Boston College Over/Under: 57
Brian: AJ Dillon is good, yes. But has anyone watched Anthony Brown play? This isn't a Georgia Tech situation where Dillon can carry 90% of his team's offensive workload. Brown will have to play well in order for the Eagles to put up the kind of points this total is suggesting. And for a guy who hasn't thrown for over 200 yards since September 13th, that could be a problem.
This game screams an overreaction in Vegas. Take the under, unless you see the Dragon putting up 35 points. And while I'll always advise you to think twice before betting against the Dragon, I'll have to do it this time.
Joey: I was hellbent on blindly taking the over here after the last two weeks of defensive performances by Tech, but Brian's spot on above. 57 is way too high.
Spread: Boston College -2
Brian: This sounds stupid, but I think the Hokies win. I think the defense bounces back just enough to get a few stops (I'm still expecting BC to put up three touchdowns), and Willis and company to play well enough to beat an Eagles defense giving up 24.5 points a game. Plus, it helps Tech that they're between Miami and Clemson on BC's schedule. Not that the Eagles can afford any type of lookahead game, but the roller coaster of earning their biggest win of the year coupled with facing their biggest test next week could cause BC to come out flat.
This feels crazy after the garbage game we all watched on Thursday, but let me bet the Hokie moneyline.
Joey: You're right, Brian, that did sound stupid. I love Boston College.
Do I think the Fighting Addazio's are actually good? Not in the slightest.
But with the line essentially a pick 'em, I refuse to pick the Hokies to win a football game right now (hence the column's title).
Disclaimer: Some of these are real betting lines, but many of them are fake and none of this is real advice that should be taken seriously.