Bet the Farm: Best of times, worst of times

This has been one weird season. USC was 12-1 against the spread last year and something like 20 games over .500 since the start of the Carroll era. They probably went 1-12 against the spread this year. Plus, Oklahoma fell on its face while Texas, Florida and Alabama decided that winning every game by 50 was sooo last year. How's Bet the Farm faring amidst the turmoil and who we like Sat.?

In one of the dozens of college football games we've watched on TV this season, an announcer dropped the "best of times/worst of times" line, presumably after a team scored a touchdown but then fumbled it their next two possessions, or some similar turn of fate for the worse. Anyways, the announcer attributed it to Mark Twain, which even this writer, far from a literature scholar, knew was wrong. Sure enough, my mom was on hand to confirm that was indeed Dickens. The announcer should have listened to mom then, and he should have listened to her earlier, because as she always tells me, if you don't know what you're saying, the best thing you can do is shut your mouth. (Or, as Twain did say, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.")

That's kind of a long segue, but a. it's a slow week, not going to lie and b. the best of times/worst of times dichotomy applies to our season, both here at Bet the Farm, and on the Farm.

Best of times: Bet the Farm starts off 38-27-1. Worst of times: We're now one whopping game over .500.

Best of times: We're publishing articles on how Stanford can make the Rose Bowl. Worst of times: We're trying to warm up to the idea of El Paso.

Best of times: Toby's still in the Heisman chase, and the frontrunner according to many. Worst of times: One of Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, Mark Ingram or even CJ Spiller is due for a 350-yard four-touchdown game this weekend.

Best of times: Jim Harbaugh's still Stanford's coach. Worst of times: Okay, okay, we apologize for the excess pessimism. We just finished Monday and are justifiably cranky.

Anyways, now that your college football guru has been reduced to a coin flip, I'd see if issues subscription refunds. (If DirectTV gave me $150 for not carrying Versus, you'd think Scout could come through.) No, in seriousness, Zhihao is picking up the slack in a major way and so this column is still batting close to 60 percent on the season – a solid win. We're still heavily in the green from the first two years we wrote this column, so a .500 season does nothing to diminish that.

And, of course, this has been one weird season. USC was 12-1 against the spread last year and something like 20 games over .500 since the start of the Carroll era. You know the rest -- they probably went 1-12 against the spread this year. Raise your hands if you thought Stanford and USC would finish within a game of each other in the win column. Yeah, didn't think so. Similarly, Oklahoma also fell on its face while Texas, Florida and Alabama decided that winning every game by 50 was sooo last year. Better to pull it out at the last second to boost the ratings and mess up our bets.

All things considered then, we could certainly be worse off than a coinflip, and the good news is that we can end up on the positive side of the ledger, however nominally, with a strong finish to the season. With only a dozen or so games on the schedule this weekend it'll be tough, but here are our picks:

Last week: Daniel went 0-3 in his Big Games with Alabama and Florida not winning by enough, as previously mentioned, and Pitt raising the ante but not winning at all. He did go 6-4-2 in his cherry-picked specials, including 2-0-2 in his locks of the week.

Season: Daniel's 16-19-1 in big games and 35-31-3 in the cherry-picked specials, summing to a season of mediocrity at 51-50-4.

Zhihao, meanwhile, continues his rise to the top. He's now 19-11 after a 2-1 week, albeit the most nail-biting 2-1 week one could have. Arizona State was +3.5 vs. Arizona and came through the back door with 14 fourth-quarter points in a 20-17 loss. West Virginia was +1 vs. Pittsburgh and covered with a last-second field goal. Meanwhile, Louisville was +3 to Rutgers and lost by 20. That close to 1-2 or 0-3, but an object lesson in exactly why you make sure to grab every half-point you can. We'll post his picks on the board on Friday, as always.

Big Games

Florida -5.5 vs. Alabama (Atlanta)

If field goals are a poor man's gold, then Alabama is either pretty poor, has a lot of faux gold laying around or both, though as the links show, that's not that far from the truth. Anyways, on the gridiron, The Crimson Tide have 40 touchdowns to 32 field goal attempts on the season, for a ratio of [processing, processing…] not good. It's nothing against K Leigh Tiffin, 27-of-31 on the season and the probable Lou Groza winner, but Tim Tebow is going to be putting up sevens, and Alabama can't fight back with too many threes. Speaking of threes, since October 3, Alabama has topped 26 once against a FBS team. I'm not sold on them, so "Chomp!, Chomp!, Circumcise!" is the pick (and a mighty good cheer for UF fans, I might add.)

Shameless self-interest: Does anyone have a means of getting tickets at close to face value for this game, instead of the $300 or $400 on the market right now? Your humble scribe resides in Atlanta and will pay whatever you ask, wear Stanford gear and a "Toby would have run over half your D by now" sign and guarantee you a life of fame and signing autographs after a mention in this here column, if you so choose.

Oregon State +10 at Oregon

Not to sound like a Trev Alberts and state the obvious in such a way that suggests we believe it to be profound, but rivalry games tend to be closer than expected. Oregon State is undersized defensively, but I think that doesn't really play to Oregon's strengths, moreso Stanford's. Admittedly I'm biased, as OSU beat the pants off Stanford who beat the pants off Oregon, but both of these teams are really good and I don't think a ten-point line either way is warranted. OSU has won four straight and six of its last seven, so sleep on Mike Riley in December at your own risk. If he's as good of a coach as we all claim he is, we need to put our money where our mouth is and pick him once in awhile in games like this. We'll go halfway, calling for Oregon State to cover, but Oregon to face Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Hard to find two teams with more diametrically opposed styles than that hypothetical matchup, though OSU/OSU would be a fun preview to write for the abbreviations alone.

Texas -14 vs. Nebraska (Dallas)

Nebraska has held four of its last six opponents under 10 points and so, this week, the one defender standing between Toby Gerhart and the Promised Land is probably Ndamukong Suh, the Cornhuskers' All-World DT. Texas obviously gets to ten, but I think they win an ugly two-score type of game, not 70-3, like the last time they played in the Big 12 Championship. The Horns have scored at least 34 in every game this season save for the 16-13 grind-fest against Oklahoma, but with Colt McCoy accounting for only 29 passing touchdowns, that is a lot of scoring that has come on the ground. I don't think anyone runs that well on Nebraska, so let's say Texas 27, Nebraska 17.

Cherry Picking
West Virginia -2 at Rutgers
New Mexico State +48.5 at Boise State (Seven touchdowns?!? Really?)
California -6.5 at Washington
Cincinnati +1 at Pittsburgh
Georgia Tech -1 vs. Clemson (Tampa) (Big game? Check. Bet against Clemson? Check.)

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