Betting the best, most popular teams in a sport looks tempting but can be dangerous. Oddsmakers know that people gravitate towards betting the Yankees or Lakers and adjust the spread accordingly.
Still, sometimes the line still doesn't go high enough. Maybe that's the case with Alabama right now.
In Alabama's last two games, the Crimson Tide have been favored by 21 and 20 points. They covered both easily. Logically it makes sense. Alabama has probably the best defense in college football and an offense averaging 41 points per game.
Mississippi State is a good team, but the Bulldogs will have trouble scoring this week against Alabama, like everyone else does. Alabama is a 23.5-point favorite, which a lot against the 11th-ranked team in the nation, but it still doesn't seem like enough against a Crimson Tide team that is dominant in every phase. And, it's rare that Nick Saban's teams aren't ready to give a good effort every week. Against its four SEC games and its biggest non-conference game against Michigan, Alabama is 4-1 against the spread. It might be time to keep riding Alabama until it gives us a reason not to.
With that, here are this week's picks:
Alabama (-23.5) over Mississippi State: The biggest problem with taking Alabama isn't even giving all those points. Last week we worried about a look-ahead spot for some teams, and that certainly applies to Alabama with LSU looming next week. Still, Alabama seems like a solid investment week in and week out.
Cincinnati (+3.5) at Louisville: Some interesting Friday night action between two good teams, which is pretty rare. We were against Cincinnati last week and Toledo came through, but a lot of that had to do with the Bearcats looking ahead to this game. That Toledo game was tough for Cincinnati to get up for, but this one won't be. This game will likely determine the Big East Champion, although it's possible that is underestimating Rutgers. Louisville is a very good team, but the schedule hasn't been that tough. Cincinnati might be getting a half-point or more based on last week's result. And the Bearcats didn't even give up an offensive touchdown to Toledo in that game. Cincinnati should keep this game close, even if it loses.
Wisconsin (-6) over Michigan State: Wisconsin was not very good early in the season. But the Badgers seem to have figured things out and the offense is clicking. Michigan State has lost three heartbreaking games in four weeks, and while losing close games isn't the sign of a bad team, the Spartans have to be on an emotional low. The Michigan loss last week on a last-second field goal was particularly rough. If the Spartans aren't emotionally into it, a resurgent Badgers team will cover easily.
Georgia (+6.5) over Florida: Don't get us wrong, we love what Florida has done. Still, the offense isn't great. The Gators are 100th in the nation in yards per game and last week's 44 points on the scoreboard masked that they were held to less than 200 yards. Defensively, Florida is awesome but Georgia has some weapons - at least enough to keep this one close.
Auburn (+15) over Texas A&M: The opening line for this game started at a touchdown. It moved as high as 16 points briefly in some spots before it started being bought back down. Oddsmakers aren't perfect, but if they opened this line at a touchdown, there's probably some value getting 15 points, no matter how difficult it is to pick Auburn. The Tigers did cover last week against Vanderbilt, and there might be some emotion after Gene Chizik's mother died this week, there was a post-practice rally by fans and the school president urged Auburn fans to stick behind their team. And yes, this obviously has the potential to look really stupid if Johnny Manziel gets off to a hot start.
Last week: 4-1
This season: 15-13-2
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