CFB Week 7: Bouncing back from a rough Texas loss
If it wasn't for bad luck, there'd be no luck at all.
Last week's early look at the big games in college football hinged on a Texas +3.5 play that looked to be a total cruise when the Longhorns got up 21 points in the first half. That bet took a turn toward the Bad Beat Hall of Fame when Texas backers watched Oklahoma break a touchdown run on the game's final snap before what would have been a field-goal attempt.
Those sorts of beats have a tendency to turn a day on its head. It didn't seem like so much of an issue when Penn State (+2.5) took a 17-3 lead with Iowa unable to complete a pass. However, after quarterback Sean Clifford left with an injury, it was a slow burn en route to a 23-20 Hawkeyes victory, another tough result to swallow. Just like that, 4-1 becomes 2-3 and drops us to 11-9 on the season.
The Cowboys might be the most under-the-radar undefeated team in recent memory, partly because they haven't played a high-profile game. Their toughest non-conference matchup was Boise State, and their home win over Baylor isn't grabbing headlines.
They won't be overlooked this week. Oklahoma State heads to Austin to take on Texas, which is coming off a devastating loss in the Red River Rivalry. We often wonder if a losing team can muster enthusiasm for the following week, but Texas' 4OT loss last season was followed by a similar game at home against Baylor, and the Longhorns won comfortably.
Though the Cowboys had the weekend off, they come into this matchup after three games where they scored 0, 0, and 10 points in the second half. They managed to win and cover all three, but Texas is different.
Pick: Texas -5.5
Another week, another two-plus-touchdown spread for Georgia to cover against a team with big ideas. It wasn't an issue at home versus Arkansas, and it wasn't an issue on the road at Auburn last week. Branding brought the spreads under 20 points in each of those.
Meanwhile, undefeated Kentucky remains chronically underrated. It's been a home underdog to Florida and LSU the last two weeks, and the schedule spot - going between the hedges in Athens after big home wins - can be problematic. However, the Wildcats' stout defense and improved passing offense give them as much of a chance to be competitive as Arkansas and Auburn had. The difference is that the Wildcats are getting a touchdown more than the Bulldogs' two previous opponents did.
Pick: Kentucky +23.5
The Hokies gave it everything they had Saturday when Notre Dame came in ripe for an upset, but the Irish outlasted Virginia Tech, getting a game-winning score late. Braxton Burmeister spent much of the second half with his arm hanging at his side, a microcosm of the team as a whole.
Pittsburgh comes to Lane Stadium off its bye with the country's least-talked-about Heisman candidate at quarterback. Kenny Pickett was fourth in the nation in yards before the week off, and he boasts a 19-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Pittsburgh's offense should be able to move the ball, and the beat-up Hokies won't be able to keep pace.
Pick: Pittsburgh -5
Alabama's defeat in College Station at the hands of Zach Calzada didn't make any sense based on what we'd seen from the Texas A&M quarterback this season, including a loss to Mississippi State one week earlier. If the Bulldogs can beat the Aggies, and the Aggies can beat Bama, then can the Bulldogs upset the Tide?
No, they can't. They've got Alabama's full attention after a loss, and the Crimson Tide's defense is better suited to stopping Mike Leach's Air Raid offense than the Aggies' run game. Plus, the Bulldogs don't have the same high-end talent on defense to match up with the Tide. I expect Alabama to right the ship and roll.
Pick: Alabama -17
The Pac-12 South lead is up for grabs in Salt Lake City. Cam Rising has fit in nicely at quarterback for the Utes, who worked over USC last week. Arizona State won comfortably against Stanford, but visiting Utah for the second time this season might produce a similar result as the Sun Devils' trip to BYU.
I'm wary of backing Herm Edwards' more talented group as a short favorite on the road; this has all the makings of a game where Kyle Whittingham's team gets it done to stun Arizona State again.
Pick: Utah +1
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.