Weekend Wagers got the pick-me-up it needed last weekend, rebounding with a 4-1 card to improve to 29-19 (60.4 percent) on the season — 16-13 in college football and 13-6 in NFL.
Yes, I stayed up until 3:30 a.m. early Sunday morning to make sure the Hawaii play hit, then turned around to catch opening kickoff of the gross Broncos-Jaguars London game six hours later.
The only pick that didn’t get home was Cardinals +4.5, thanks to a couple inexcusable fourth-quarter turnovers.
Anyway, I’m back with seven plays I love this weekend. It’s been awhile since I have felt this confident in a weekend slate, and I’m excited to see whether that’s for good reason or if I got my hopes up just to return to disappointment.
Regardless, here they are...
Game 1: Air Force vs. Army (11:30 a.m., CBS)
Service academy unders. Need I say more? Since 2014, Commander-in-Chief Trophy games are an amazing 22-2-1 to the under.
The standard total is 40.5, which is low consider both offenses are improved from years past.
Air Force is 5-1 ATS in its last six games while Army is just 1-6 in its last seven, but the Black Knights can keep it close considering the low total, especially considering they have won four of the last five meeting straight up.
Also, in the last eight meetings, all eight have had 43 total points or less, with seven of those eight having 31 or less.
The pick: Army +14.5 and under 48.5 (-125).
Game 2: No. 18 Oklahoma State at Kansas (3:30 p.m., FS1)
Kansas has fallen from grace after a thrilling 5-0 start that saw the Jayhawks ranked inside the top 20 for the first time in well over a decade, losing each of its last three games to conference foes.
The defense has vanished, as it has allowed 41.7 points per game during the losing streak.
However, Oklahoma State is dealing with a bunch of key injuries on both sides of the ball, including QB Spencer Sanders.
Kansas may be getting signal caller Jalon Daniels back under center after a three-week absence, but even if he doesn’t return, backup Jason Bean has been more than an adequate replacement.
Kansas needs one more win to become bowl eligible, and with Texas and road games at Texas Tech and Kansas State still on the schedule, being a slim underdog at home against a ranked, but injury-riddled Cowboys squad may be the Jayhawks’ best chance.
The pick: Kansas moneyline -108.
Game 3: Texas at No. 13 Kansas State (7 p.m., FS1)
Kansas State is coming off a statement win of all statement wins, a 48-0 rout of Oklahoma State.
Yet the No. 13 Wildcats are underdogs at home against unranked Texas? That’s suspicious.
Kansas State won’t only be without QB Adrian Martinez, but star linebacker Daniel Green as well.
Green’s absence didn’t make a difference a week ago, but that likely won’t be the case this time around with the task of having to stop Texas running back Bijan Robinson, who has accumulated over 100 yards on the ground in each of his last six tilts and already sits at 1,200 all-purpose yards through eight games.
The pick: Texas -2.
Game 4: No. 5 Clemson at Notre Dame (7:30 p.m., NBC)
This could be the most entertaining game on a college gridiron this weekend, and I certainly wouldn’t mind if it is.
It may not look like it on paper, however, as Clemson enters as No. 5 in the AP Poll and fourth in the initial College Football Playoff rankings.
The Fighting Irish, on the other hand, are just 5-3, but coming off a tough 17-point road win over No. 22 Syracuse.
Yet the Tigers currently stand at just a four-point favorite.
Clemson’s offense has improved from early-season struggles, but so has Notre Dame’s defense.
This should be a relatively low-scoring game with the over/under currently at 44, so if the Irish can break through for a couple touchdowns, I expect this to be close regardless of who comes out on top.
Notre Dame’s losses were by an average of six points, and four of Clemson’s last five wins were by 10 or less.
I see this settling in the 20-17 range, likely with the Tigers preserving their perfect season, but I’m opting to play this in a unique way.
The pick: Game to be decided by 1-10 points (+115).
Game 5: Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (Sunday, 1 p.m., not locally televised)
Sam Ehlinger looked perfectly average in his first pro start for the Colts last week, but that was with Jonathan Taylor flanking him behind the offensive line.
Taylor has already been ruled out for Sunday, and Indy doesn’t have enough potent options on offense to fill the void, especially against a Patriots defense that has forced the second-most turnovers in the league (16).
There will be a lot of field goals kicked in this one, as New England is coming off a 22-17 win that saw Nick Folk nail five kicks of the three-point variety.
My score prediction this week is 26-16 in favor of Bill Belichick’s squad, but I’ll pitch in a teaser out of extra caution.
The pick: Patriots moneyline and under 49.5 (-120).
Game 6: Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m., CBS)
Normally, a meeting of the two most recent Super Bowl champions would draw the most hype in any given week.
While I won’t say for sure that’s not case this weekend, I will say it may be, but for different reasons.
The Rams (3-4) and the Bucs (3-5) both desperately need wins to stay in not just divisional races, but any sort of postseason contention.
These struggling squads feature the 28th and 25th scoring offenses, and I don’t see much of a change coming here.
This one should go comfortably under the 42.5-point total, and I might shave 10-14 points off that and sprinkle an alternate total as well.
The pick: Under 42.5.
Game 7: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBC)
The top two seeds from last year’s AFC bracket, should be a close primetime game, right?
Vegas doesn’t think so. As of Friday night, the surging Chiefs are 12.5-point favorites against a red-hot Titans squad that’s riding a five-game winning streak.
It’s never easy for an opponent to win in Arrowhead, and I don’t anticipate Tennessee doing so.
But Kansas City struggles to cover as a double-digit favorite and is 0-4 ATS in its last four games following a straight-up win.
Also, primetime unders currently stand at 16-10 (61.5 percent) this season, and the under is also 12-3-1 in the Chiefs’ last 16 games coming off a bye week.
I see no reason for this game to buck those over/under trends, and I don’t see a Mike Vrabel-coached team losing by more than three touchdowns in a big spot.
The pick: Titans +21.5 and under 52.5 (-125).