Gamblin’ with Garret: Week 10

October: A good month for private-sector job growth AND this picks column? Coincidence? YOU DECIDE.

Hey! We have some new rankings this week.

You’re right. We get new rankings every week. But this week we have College Football Playoff committee rankings. Now, college football fans are notoriously myopic, so people will definitely not accept that it’s only the first week of November and these rankings will eventually work themselves out come December. It’s far more practical to overreact to Alabama probably being overrated at number four. And we could probably raise an eyebrow to Houston’s absurd defense only earning the Cougars a spot at No. 25. Or we could collectively take a deep breath (maybe a sip of whiskey) and calm the Hell down.

The College Football Playoff rankings are like those speed puzzles in Wheel of Fortune. Early on, when the only thing on the board is an “R” and an “O”, it’s pretty difficult to solve the puzzle. Give it some time, let a few more things fall into place, and soon enough you’ll have the confidence to scream at your TV “QUOTE THE RAVEN NEVERMORE”!!! Let’s give it a few more weeks before we raise a ruckus about undefeated Iowa hanging out at No. 9. We’ve still got some consonants and vowels left to populate the board.


In other college football news this week, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer announced that he will retire at the end of the 2015 season. By my unofficial count, that brings us to roughly 28 jobs to fill in Division I football. At the rate coaching spots are opening up, you or I might get an interview (you or I will not be getting a college coaching interview — but (fingers crossed) Lane Kiffin might!). It will be interesting to see the way the dominoes fall over the remaining weeks of the season — I don’t think anyone believes we’ve reached peak capacity of job openings. A few more spots could open up by result of retirement (Kansas State), firing (Georgia) or overreaction (we’ll talk about you later, Nebraska).


We’re coming off another winning week for The Co-Op, bringing the winning streak to (I believe) four consecutive weeks. I know I’ve made a point of giving you self-deprecating “Ignore these picks!” warnings recently, but this one comes from the heart: This week scares the Hell out of me. Every team in the Top 25 is playing this week. It’s a full slate full of puzzling matchups — made even more confusing by the playoff committee putting teams like Northwestern back into the Top 25. I didn’t start putting these together until (looks at clock) 9 p.m. MST on Thursday night, and judging by the current score of the Mississippi State-Missouri game, I’m about to fall to 0–3 on the weekday games (thanks in part to Baylor deciding to play only 45 minutes this week). What I’m trying to say is this: If you bet based entirely on these picks and lose money, it’s your own damn fault.

HOWEVER. Did you see Friday’s jobs report? There are undoubtedly small business owners all over the country flush with extra cash from using this column as research for their college football bets in October AND the private sector added a very unexpectedly robust 271,000 jobs in the month. I’m not saying, I’m just saying. Should the President make me a senior adviser? Who’s to say he hasn’t already? I’m not allowed to talk about it, but if something like that had happened, there would probably be evidence of it somewhere.


#16 Florida State (+11.5) over #1 CLEMSON

No, no. You didn’t get into some bad narcotics. Clemson is considered to be the best team in the country. And how could they not be? They’ve beaten the likes of… (looks at Clemson’s schedule)… NOTRE DAME! They’ve beaten Notre Dame and that’s good enough for a panel of 12 people who have full-time jobs outside of evaluating football teams (Ed. note: Do we consider Tom Osborne to have a full-time job? Is he still on the selection committee?), so that’s good enough for me. I actually think Clemson is pretty good, but Florida State is that hurdle that’s been in the Tigers’ path the past couple of seasons. When you’re struggling on a video game level, you don’t finally blaze through it on the final try. You hang on by a thread. I think Clemson gets past the ‘Noles, but not by double digits.

#2 LSU (+6.5) over #4 ALABAMA

Now, I know I said above that we weren’t going to overreact to November rankings, but Alabama at No. 4 is kind of a pile of elephant crap. The Crimson Tide lost at home to an Ole Miss squad that couldn’t get past Memphis, and barely held on inside the friendly confines against Good-on-Signing-Day Tennessee. “Nick Saban off a bye week” is pretty overrated, as 2014 Ohio State can attest, and LSU/Alabama is coming down to a field goal.

Minnesota (+24) over #3 OHIO STATE

Ohio State might have won the 2015 National Championship game, but Columbus PD isn’t giving the Buckeyes the Florida State football treatment. Just after being named the OSU QB1 going forward, J.T. Barrett got busted for driving under the influence, putting the Buckeye offense back in the capable but inconsistent hands of Cardale Jones. If the Buckeyes are a Ferrari with Barrett behind center, they’re a 1998 Dodge Ram diesel with Jones at the controls — you’re probably going to get where you want to go, but you’re going to have to coax the engine to fire and it might backfire a couple of times along the way.

PITTSBURGH (+8) over #5 Notre Dame

The Panthers have a solid defense, and Notre Dame is due for an emotional letdown after taking Temple’s best shot.

#6 Baylor (-17.5) over KANSAS STATE

MISSOURI (+7.5) over #20 Mississippi State

#24 TOLEDO (-7) over Northern Illinois

Yep, we’re just going to admit these games already happened and move on.

#7 Michigan State (-6) over NEBRASKA

Things haven’t really gone well in Mike Riley’s first season at the helm of the Nebraska football program — as any fool probably could have predicted:

Fans are understandably unhappy that Riley took a program that could win nine games in its sleep and managed to lose six of his first nine. Giving up 55 points to Purdue is currently the frilly toothpick holding together this shit-sandwich of a season in Lincoln. Nonetheless, this week Nebraska Athletic Director and part-time hermit Shawn Eichorst finally issued a statement putting his full faith behind Riley and his staff — which can only mean that someone is getting fired.

One would think that, at least, but then Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Pearlman declared that he was in the process of negotiating a contract extension for Eichorst — the logical fall guy for this disaster. The only feasible explanation is that a soon-to-retire Pearlman wants to set up his guy before he packs up for good. Someone needs to stop this madness before Nebraska is on the hook for two athletic directors and three head football coaches.

No one in their right mind thinks Riley should be fired after one season — such an action a season after firing a consistent nine-win coach would make the Nebraska job toxic in coaching circles. But Shawn Eichorst should be worried about his job right now, not working out the details of his next contract. If things go as badly as they could over the next three games (a couple blowout losses to MSU and Iowa wrapped around a road loss to Rutgers), Eichorst won’t be ignoring local media anymore — he just won’t have a job that requires it.

OK, that Nebraska take went a little long. SPEED ROUND TIME!

#14 OKLAHOMA STATE (+5.5) over #8 TCU

This game screams 52–49.

#9 Iowa (-7) over INDIANA

Indiana will probably be up three heading into the fourth quarter and end up losing by 18.

#10 FLORIDA (-23) over Vanderbilt

Not sure Vandy can score on this Florida defense.

#11 Stanford (-16.5) over COLORADO

The Buffaloes’ defensive strength (secondary) is a non-factor as the Cardinal run right down Colorado’s throat.

#12 Utah (+1) over WASHINGTON

Holy Hell Vegas hates the Utes.

Navy (+8.5) over #13 MEMPHIS

Memphis hasn’t blown out many teams, and it’s hard to prepare for Navy.

#15 OKLAHOMA (-25) over Iowa State

Outside of the Texas debacle, Sooners have made a living dunking on the lower tier of the Big 12.

Rutgers (+24.5) over #17 MICHIGAN

The Scarlet Knights are just good enough to cover a four-score spread.

#18 OLE MISS (-10.5) over Arkansas

Arkansas is bad.

#19 TEXAS A&M (-7) over Auburn

The Auburn defense provides a “get right” opportunity for the Aggie offense.

Penn State (+2.5) over #21 NORTHWESTERN

Penn State might be the best Big Ten team outside of the Ohio State-Michigan State-Michigan triumvirate.

#22 Temple (-13.5) over SMU

SMU is more Barbaro than American Pharoah.

#23 UCLA (-17.5) over OREGON STATE

Give Mike Riley this much: He pushed those women and children the Hell out of the way getting on a lifeboat after Oregon State hit the iceberg.

#25 HOUSTON (-8) over Cincinnati

The Houston defense is scary good.

Rice (-6.5) over UTEP

I know nothing about UTEP.

Last Week: 11–7

Season-to-Date: 77–68–4

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