I’ve never been the biggest college football fan, but the past couple of weeks I’ve found myself taking in a couple of games and sort of appreciating the chaos. Watching Alabama score two touchdowns in less than a minute to finish the first half against Ole Miss was a lot of fun. This Noah Brown catch to end the first half against Oklahoma was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen.
If only I had the stones to write a column advising people to bet the farm against Florida State today. I know very little about college football, but there was no doubt in my mind that Louisville was going to win big. I watched the first couple of FSU games and knew that they were in for a beat down when they went up against a quality team. How often does the number two team in the country get stomped by 43 points? Once a decade? As a rule I don’t bet on college sports, but for three hours today I felt like a sucker for staying away.
I’m never going to be the guy at the bar ranting about how much better college sports are because the kids are really trying out there, unlike their pro counterparts. I find that argument to be asinine, and believe strongly that the college kids should be getting paid some kind of salary for contributing to a multibillion dollar industry.
However — I have come to appreciate the high scoring insanity that is college football. It’s a completely different brand of football than what we see on Sundays. The style of play is basically how your drunk friend plays Madden, just get to the line as soon as possible and hope you catch your opponent in a bad defense. The kids make a lot of mistakes, and it’s possible for teams to score two or three touchdowns in less than a couple of minutes. It’s fun, and silly, and it’s kind of like I’m watching some kind of rare, exotic bird. It’ll never been my favorite sport, but it’s a hell of a lot better than college basketball and not a bad day to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Now — let’s talk about Sunday.
Carolina Panthers -14 over San Francisco 49ers
As a 49ers fan this really pains me, but the Panthers are probably three touchdowns better than San Fran on any given day. It was fun watching the guys in red and gold beat up on the helpless Rams, but don’t let that color your opinion about this game. The Panthers played uneven football against Denver in the season opener, but all the elements that made them a Super Bowl team last year are still here.
When you look a little deeper at the 28–0 shutout Frisco put on LA a couple of things stand out. The 49ers only averaged 3.6 yards/carry against the Rams, and Blaine Gabbert only threw for 170 yards on 35 attempts. Chip Kelly has definitely installed his system, but there were no fireworks Monday Night. It wouldn’t shock me if the Panthers completely shut down the 9ers offense.
Which leaves us with the question of whether or not Cam and Co. can put up 21–28 points. I love NaVorro Bowman as much as anybody, but he is the only standout player on a 9ers defense that was brutal last year. I would like this line if it was at 20 for Carolina.
Baltimore Ravens -6 over Cleveland Browns
Cleveland is still basking in the glow of their shiny new championship LeBron delivered in the spring, so they probably didn’t bat an eye when RG III went down with a shoulder injury that will sideline the former All Pro for 10-to-12 weeks. The Browns are in the midst of a rebuild, and can afford to lose their starting QB. Josh McCown will come in and do Josh McCown things, and the Browns will stay on track to be a top three pick in next year’s draft. This may be the best chance the betting public gets to make some money off of the Brown’s misfortune. Don’t feel bad, they got LeBron coming back in a couple of weeks to represent the Land.
Pittsburgh Steelers -3 over Cincinnati Bengals
Oh, I like this game quite a bit. I’m all in on twerking Antonio Brown and the rest of this Steelers offense. If I had Sunday Ticket I would watch every one of their games. Just when you think Pittsburgh is running low on talent at skill positions they find a guy like Eli Rogers, who looked great against Washington, grabbing six passes for 59 yards and a TD.
How come every time DeAngelo Williams gets playing time he looks like a combination of Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders? Is it not enough that Pittsburgh already has the best running back in the business who is coming back in a couple of weeks? With all of the weapons that Big Ben has to work with in the passing game, it’s going to be tough for the Cincy front seven, as good as they are, to keep Williams in check.
As an AJ Green owner in my big money fantasy league, I can attest to just how amazing the guy is. He basically forced Darrelle Revis into early retirement. Green set Revis Island on fire with his 12 catches for 180 yards. Between AJ and Antonio, no receiving record is safe in this game. This game has all the makings of a barnburner, so grab some popcorn and enjoy this one.
Last Week: 1–2