For sports bettors October reigns supreme. Football rages. Baseball flourishes. Hockey and basketball begin anew. I’ll take October for cashin’ tickets.
Let’s do three for Saturday.
Notre Dame –4½ over Stanford
A year ago on The Farm, the Cardinal buried the Irish 38-20. In fact, David Shaw has mastered Brian Kelly six times in their eight meetings. But this time Notre Dame comes in with the better offense, averaging 31.5 points a game and looking much sharper with Ian Book at quarterback. He carved up Wake Forest to the tune of 56 points.
Ohio State –3½ over Penn State
This is the biggest college game of the weekend, and Urban Meyer will showcase his Heisman Trophy candidate – quarterback Dwayne Haskins. In four games Haskins is 87-for-115 with 1,194 yards, 16 touchdowns and only one interception. A strong showing against the Nittany Lions, and we’ll be talking about Haskins in the same sentence with Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and West Virginia’s Will Grier.
Brigham Young plus 17 over Washington
The Cougars have demonstrated toughness in their wins at Arizona (28-23) and especially at Wisconsin (24-21). The Huskies have not been the world beaters that we thought they might be, and BYU can trade enough blows with them to cover that big spread, having already gone on the road to beat a Top 10 team. Washington is averaging 27.2 points per game, but BYU is only two behind, and their schedules are comparable.
As for the NFL, we can all agree that the Los Angeles Rams were spectacular against the Vikings and right now are the class of the NFC. So let’s handicap a couple Sunday games based on what everyone in the league was watching Thursday night.
We begin with the Super Bowl champions. The Philadelphia Eagles are giving 3½ at Tennessee. Carson Wentz has been the darling of the 2016 class after being selected right behind Jared Goff, who languished his first year with the Rams. But now Goff is blossoming into a franchise quarterback. Wentz was watching Thursday night just like the rest of us, and he’s a fierce competitor. Look for him to put up some big numbers against a surprisingly stout Titans defense. Tennessee is giving up only 16.7 points per game, but it says here that Wentz and the Eagles will soar past that number to a cover on the road.
Back to Los Angeles. Another team paying attention to the Rams fireworks is the team that has fallen way behind in the battle for the heart and soul of that city. But Philip Rivers and the Chargers have to be licking their chops at hosting the wounded San Francisco 49ers. I seldom recommend giving double-digit points, but in this instance the Chargers can easily cover the 10½. No Jimmy Garoppolo? No chance for the Niners. C.J. Beathard will give a respectable effort in the first half, but the Charger offense will again hit its rhythm. It has averaged 27.3 points a game already, and that even includes a 12-point loss at the hands of the aforementioned Rams.
Hollywood loves its stars, and Rivers is about to say “don’t forget about me.”