Football! Weekend's Best Bets (No, Really!)
I realized something in the last 48 hours. I am a big fan of the Boston Red Sox, which means by sports fan definition, I should be on suicide watch right now. I mean, "my team" just pulled off the biggest September choke in MLB history with a soul-crushing ninth inning loss.
Advice even Pacino would love.
The thing is, I'm not even angry about it, and I think it's because the Sox finally got the World Series monkey off their backs (twice actually, 2004 and 2007). If this were 2003, I'd be fishing through the medicine chest for something strong to very strong. But it's 2011, and last night's baseball was, more than anything else, very entertaining to me.
So I came to the conclusion this morning, the best part of any conquest is the chase. The actual conquest itself is just the final, logical step. The chase contains the drama, the highs, the lows. Once you've achieved the conquest once, every subsequent chase feels a little empty. It's human nature.
There's one exception to this rule -- gambling. Winning money never gets old. And this week I'm back to chasing glory after a forgettable week last week. So let's do this...
Air Force +3 1/2 over Navy
The general rule with service academies is take the points. That whole "both teams will battle fight to the bitter end" thing. True degenerates may think the noon kick would mess with a team from the west like Air Force, but I'm pretty sure the Falcons do much tougher shit than play football much earlier in the morning than 10 a.m. mountain time. Both teams are rumored to be part of a reconfigured Big East. As big a train wreck as that conference is, perhaps the loser should be forced to go there.
Northwestern +10 over Illinois
Last season these two teams played this game at Wrigley Field, which doesn't sound very ridiculous until you realize that a football field doesn't fit inside Wrigley without the brick walls being about ten inches from the back of one end zone. This game is being played in Memorial Stadium at Illinois, but me, I'd much rather have seen them keep the "play the game in a far too small venue" tradition alive and play it on a basketball court or hockey rink. Too bad.
Arkansas +2 1/2 over Texas A&M
This is a HUGE game perception-wise for the Aggies. They are officially heading to the SEC next season, and if they lose this game it will mean they have lost to Arkansas three straight times (not to mention a bloodletting in the Cotton Bowl to LSU). Frankly, Arkansas is about the level most fans expect A&M to top out at in the SEC, at least the fans who don't think they're going to be a 6 or 7 win team perennially. If you're an Aggie who doesn't want to hear a beaten-to-death storyline all winter and spring, you need this win. It's a big spot, which means you'll probably lose.
Middle Tennessee State -23 1/2 over Memphis
A couple years ago, Washington State had become the worst team in Division 1 football. They were so bad that regardless of venue, home or away, they would routinely get listed as underdogs by four touchdowns or more with game point totals of maybe 50 or 55 points. In other words, Vegas thought they were basically going to lose every game, like, 45-7. Well, that's Memphis this season. They fucking suck.
New Mexico +1 over New Mexico State
New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley was fired this week because a 19-year-old named Joshua Butts, claiming to be a Lobo recruit, was pulled over in Locksley's SUV and given a DWI. Just to lay out the background, up to that point Locksley's résumé in Albuquerque consisted of a 2-26 record, a sexual harassment suit and punching an assistant coach. Well, you know the old saying -- four strikes and you're out.
(By the way, it turns out Butts was a family friend of Locksley's son. This is not a good kind of family friend. This would be the equivalent of Cunningham "family friend" Arthur Fonzarelli taking Mr. C's car, getting shitfaced, plowing through the front wall of Arnold's and then having the damages bankrupt Cunningham Hardware.)
Seahawks +4 1/2 over Falcons
Let me preface by saying that I'm not a fan of this Seahawks team. I think Tarvaris Jackson is quite possibly the worst starting quarterback in the league. I laughed when Sidney Rice and Pete Carroll claimed in the preseason that Jackson had been "held back" in Minnesota. Right...Coaches will always keep players from doing things they do well to make a point. Conspiracies are much more important than wins. That said, I really like Seattle in this spot. Atlanta is one fluke Mike Vick concussion away from being 0-3, and Matt Ryan has looked pedestrian at best. And here's the scary thing for the Falcons -- Matt Ryan just might be pedestrian at best. And this Falcons team may just not be very good. I'll take the home team and the points in one of the toughest venues in the league.
Last week: 1-5
Season record: 11-13
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio and 1560 The Game from noon to 3PM CST weekdays, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.