Another football season, another chance for you to lose money on Tom’s picks.
That’s right: Bad Gambling Advice is back for another season. The premise here is simple: I pick every SEC game against the spread as well as the total, and you get to laugh at me when I’m wrong. Alternatively, I am right and you are not. But the premise of the column is that the gambling advice is bad but not so bad that you can reliably fade it. Sometimes, I have a good week.
Also: I am not betting actual money on these games and neither should you, but you especially shouldn’t bet actual money on these games on the basis of a column with “Bad Gambling Advice” right there in the title. This is like me, a lawyer, telling you up front that my legal advice is really bad and then you following said legal advice anyway. What the hell do you expect?
(Furthermore, for the purposes of this column, Oklahoma and Texas are now SEC teams.)
Bowling Green at Tennessee (7:00 PM CT Thursday, SEC Network)
Tennessee draws the SEC’s Thursday night curtain jerker on the SEC Network, and the thing about this line is that while Bowling Green is really, really bad, Tennessee also should not be favored by 35 points against anybody right now. I will believe Tennessee is a competent football team when I see it.
Predicted Score: Tennessee 38, Bowling Green 7
Picks: Bowling Green +35, Under 61
UL Monroe at Kentucky (11:00 AM CT, SEC Network)
Kentucky has a new offensive coordinator and a new quarterback, so some early kinks are probably to be expected. But, UL Monroe is very bad and probably won’t score much on Kentucky’s defense, so even if Kentucky is not ready to roll on offense they should still be able to cover.
Predicted Score: Kentucky 35, UL Monroe 3
Picks: Kentucky -31, Under 54
Tulane at Oklahoma (11:00 AM CT, ABC)
Hey, Oklahoma is opening the season with an SEC team! This was supposed to be in New Orleans, but, well, hurricanes and stuff, so this game got moved to Norman. 31 points is kind of a lot, but I’m just gonna guess that Tulane’s not entirely in this one what with having to evacuate to Birmingham last weekend.
Predicted score: Oklahoma 56, Tulane 20
Picks: Oklahoma -31, Over 68.5
Rice at Arkansas (1:00 PM CT, SEC Network+)
Arkansas opens the season facing the first of three former SWC foes in September. Rice finally showed some signs of life under Mike Bloomgren in 2020, while Arkansas’s improvement was real but the Razorbacks still weren’t good — and now, they’re breaking in a new quarterback. Bet on a game that’s close-ish with Arkansas failing to cover.
Predicted score: Arkansas 35, Rice 17
Picks: Rice +19.5, Over 50
Alabama vs. Miami (2:30 PM CT, ABC)
It’s Week 1 so we’re gonna start with some neutral-site games, some big, some not so much. This one’s at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which is pretty much a home game for Alabama, and while the Tide “have a new quarterback” I think we can basically assume Bryce Young will be fine. This one won’t be particularly close.
Predicted score: Alabama 45, Miami 21
Picks: Alabama -19.5, Over 61
Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State (3:00 PM CT, ESPNU)
This is one of those games that just based on the names of the teams, your thoughts immediately go to “Upset Alert!!!!1!” But Louisiana Tech was not good last season. But then again, neither was Mississippi State, and the line here is 23 points? Yeah, I think I’ll take the points here.
Predicted score: Mississippi State 42, Louisiana Tech 21
Picks: Louisiana Tech +23, Over 52.5
Central Michigan at Missouri (3:00 PM CT, SEC Network)
Here’s what I know about this game: Missouri should be pretty good, Central Michigan is good for a MAC team (but the emphasis here is “for a MAC team”), and Central Michigan’s coach might not be available. Also, Central Michigan’s coach is Jim McElwain. The more you know.
Predicted score: Missouri 42, Central Michigan 24
Picks: Missouri -14, Over 61
UL Lafayette at Texas (3:30 PM CT, FOX)
So, uh, Steve Sarkisian. I still don’t get that hire. Anyway, UL Lafayette has a good coach and they’re probably going to be extremely motivated and they’re a pretty good team and maybe they don’t win this one, but they’re going to cause Longhorn fans a lot of heartburn.
Predicted score: Texas 31, UL Lafayette 24
Picks: UL Lafayette +8, Under 58
Akron at Auburn (6:00 PM CT, SEC Network+)
I always hate picking games like this, because Auburn can pretty much name the final score in this one. Given that Bryan Harsin is in his first game, I’m guessing he chooses to leave the starters in a couple extra series to impress his new fan base.
Predicted score: Auburn 45, Akron 3
Picks: Auburn -37.5, Under 56
Eastern Illinois at South Carolina (6:00 PM CT, SEC Network+)
Picks: Eastern Illinois +31.5, Under 55.5
Georgia vs. Clemson (6:30 PM CT, ABC)
This one is a neutral-site game in Charlotte, and I think these teams are pretty evenly matched, though Georgia might be the most talented team in the country. In that case, I’m just going to go with whoever is getting points because that’s where the value is, and that’s Georgia.
Predicted score: Georgia 24, Clemson 21
Picks: Georgia +3, Under 50
Florida Atlantic at Florida (6:30 PM CT, SEC Network)
I don’t think Florida is great by any stretch, but Florida doesn’t need to be great to cover 23.5 against Florida Atlantic, who is coached by Willie Taggart in case you’d forgotten.
Predicted score: Florida 42, Florida Atlantic 14
Picks: Florida -23.5, Over 52.5
Kent State at Texas A&M (7:00 PM CT, ESPNU)
So, Kent State actually isn’t bad these days, they can score points, and the Aggies will be breaking in a new quarterback and a retooled offensive line. That makes the 28.5-point spread kind of insane. A&M will probably get it figured out in a couple of weeks, but for now, I’m betting on this one being close-ish and the Aggies not covering.
Predicted score: Texas A&M 49, Kent State 28
Picks: Kent State +28.5, Over 67
East Tennessee State at Vanderbilt (7:00 PM CT, SEC Network+)
Picks: Vanderbilt -21, Over 45
I was listening to Split Zone Duo last night, and they seemed very confident that LSU will beat UCLA... which is a weird thing to say about a game with a 2.5-point spread. Did any of you watch LSU last season? Anyway, if you’re extremely confident in a 2.5-point favorite winning, you should probably stay the hell away or bet the underdog. (The premise of this column is that I can’t pass on any games, though.)
Predicted score: UCLA 35, LSU 31
Picks: UCLA +2.5, Over 65
Ole Miss vs. Louisville (7:00 PM CT Monday, ESPN)
Week 1 ends with the Monday night game in Atlanta. You all probably know my thoughts on Ole Miss (will score points pretty much at will), and Louisville is in a weird place. I don’t think they score enough to keep up with Ole Miss. Ole Miss might even play a bit of defense.
Predicted score: Ole Miss 44, Louisville 28
Picks: Ole Miss -10, Under 75.5