Weekend Predictions: Georgia wins big, Georgia Tech clips Miami

Georgia Tech'defensive back Zamari Walton (7) celebrates during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Thursday, October 20, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)



Georgia Tech'defensive back Zamari Walton (7) celebrates during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Thursday, October 20, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Two weeks ago, Weekend Predictions was surging toward a fifth winning season in five in picking games against the spread. By Monday night, I was desperately hoping the Ravens would beat the Saints by at least a field goal so I could avoid my first-ever winless week. I cleared that low bar, at least, but terrible back-to-back weeks have dragged my season record down to break-even.

The Falcons had a chance for an improbable cover, but Ta’Quon Graham fumbled it away. I couldn’t be mad about that tie (also known as a push) because I figured the Chargers were going to score a touchdown. I also pushed with the Rams against the Bucs. I was mad about that one because Tom Brady led the Bucs to a comeback and now we have to hear about how he’s not finished, after all.

I picked Tennessee to cover against Georgia. I regretted that decision as the point spread started moving from Volunteers plus-8 on Friday to plus-10 at kickoff. A big line move that late usually means professional gamblers were going against the public, which in this case meant betting big on Georgia. ESPN reports that’s exactly what happened, leaving me as one of the suckers on the wrong side.

That was a recurring theme all weekend.

No. 1 Georgia (-16) at Mississippi State

Mississippi State coach Mike Leach collected sideline chairs during the victory over Auburn on Saturday because he didn’t want his team’s wide receivers to sit down. “We were in that period of time where it sure seemed to me we were a lot more interested in sitting in that chair than being on the football field or rooting for our teammates,” Leach told reporters. That kind of brilliant coaching move explains why Mississippi State (6-3, 3-3) is paying Leach $5.5 million to finish 4-4 in the SEC.

Georgia (9-0, 6-0) just needs to avoid becoming bored before the postseason. Hopefully, the Bulldogs run out to a big early lead and keep it so that Mississippi State fans will stop ringing those cowbells. The more likely scenario is that Starkville’s Bulldogs will offer some resistance before succumbing to Georgia’s superior depth of talent. I like the Bulldogs of Athens to cover.

Miami (+1½) at Georgia Tech

Miami paid $13 million to buy out Mario Cristobal’s contact at Oregon before giving him a reported $80 million deal for 10 years. The university’s faculty members objected to that deal because the school had reduced their salaries and cut $100 million from their retirement plan. They apparently time-traveled from a distant past where school presidents prioritized the educational mission over the football team. At least Miami (4-5, 2-3 ACC) is getting worse results from Cristobal than predecessor Manny Diaz.

The Hurricanes appeared to surrender during a 45-3 home loss to archrival Florida State on Saturday. QB Tyler Van Dyke also re-injured his shoulder during that game. Miami’s troubles come at a good time for Tech, which needs this victory to have a shot at a bowl game. The Yellow Jackets (4-5, 3-3) aren’t going to win both of their last two games, at No. 15 North Carolina and at No. 1 Georgia, but they will beat the ‘Canes.

Louisiana-Monroe (+13½) at Georgia State

I just can’t figure out Georgia State this year. I tried changing things by ignoring my instinct to take the Panthers as two-point underdogs at Southern Miss last weekend, and they won 42-14. Now the Panthers (4-5, 3-2 Sun Belt) are big home favorites. The last time I picked them in this situation they lost to Charlotte, which has one other victory this season. I’m taking GSU and giving the points with a low expectation of being right.

Other college games of interest

No. 4 TCU (+7) at No. 18 Texas

This point spread is strange. TCU is the only undefeated team left in the Big 12 and beat two teams that beat Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. So why are the Horned Frogs a touchdown underdog in this game? The obvious answer is that their defense stinks, and Texas has scored 34 points or more in five of six league games. I’m sure there are other factors that favor Texas that I’m overlooking because there’s no way I’m not backing a quality underdog. TCU is my pick.

No. 7 LSU (-3) at Arkansas

Brian Kelly told CBS Sports that one reason he left Notre Dame for LSU was “a pathway to a playoff (berth) without having to be undefeated every year.” I guess it wasn’t enough for Kelly that Notre Dame got every benefit of the doubt from the College Football Playoff committee. I’m surprised Kelly is even talking about the playoff. Best not to bring that up so people might forget that his Notre Dame teams were blown out in two CFP games and the 2013 BCS Championship game. Arkansas covers.

No. 9 Alabama (-12) at No. 11 Ole Miss

Nick Saban has posted back-to-back seasons of at least two losses for only the second time since winning his first national title at Bama in 2009. “This is the first time I have ever actually been concerned about the future of the program,” ex-Bama QB Greg McElroy said on his “Always College Football” podcast (via Tuscaloosanews.com). Saban responded by noting that Alabama lost to Tennessee and LSU on the final play and said he believes the sky-high expectations have “not been something that has helped this team focus on the right things.” Beating unreasonably high expectations is supposed to be Bama’s whole thing. Ole Miss is the pick.

Louisville (+7) at No. 10 Clemson

The Cardinals have won four consecutive games, but I’ve accepted the reality that they’ll never beat Clemson, which is 7-0 in this series. Last season, Louisville lost by six points after failing to score with a first-and-goal at the 2-yard line in the final minute. The Cardinals lost by six points at Clemson in 2014 when their fastest wide receiver got caught from behind near the goal line. Lamar Jackson lost twice as a starter against Clemson — that same wide receiver ran out of bounds short of the first-down marker with Louisville marching for the winning TD in 2016. I’m taking the Cardinals and the points while looking forward to seeing exactly how they manage to blow this one.

NFL game of interest

Seahawks (+3) at Buccaneers

Brady reportedly has a large equity stake in the FTX cryptocurrency exchange that collapsed this week. That news comes not long after Brady and Gisele Bündchen ended their marriage. It’s hard to take much satisfaction from setbacks in Brady’s charmed life when they just mean he’s going to play 10 more years to recoup all the money he’s lost. I’m taking Seattle and the points.

Last week: 1-7-2 (48-48-2 season)