Hurricane Ian forced some games to move last weekend and kept other games wet, including Penn State’s debacle as Northwestern came into a Soggy Valley. We look ahead to the Nittany Lions’ trip to Ann Arbor. A win is a win though and many teams can’t claim victory last week, weather or not. This week in the podcast we discuss new job openings in college football, some jobs that could become open after this coming weekend, and what to expect as the march toward the playoff really begins this month. Speaking of playoffs, the Phillies are in, and October baseball is ready to kick off. We discuss the MLB’s expanded field for this season and if the weather will play a role during the upcoming wild-card weekend. More Eagles talk too as they remain undefeated, and we have our games of the week picks and discuss our records so far. You can listen to the latest episode of Weather Wagers here and below is our in-depth column with our picks this week. Enjoy!

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Tennessee @ LSU, Saturday at Noon, Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA, Tennessee -3, O/U 63.5

The weather this weekend looks much quieter across the country as a whole and that includes at this interesting matchup in Baton Rouge. Sunny skies and highs in the 80s will make for a nice early October day featuring a matchup of two teams that don’t play each other often. LSU fans would prefer a night game in Tiger Stadium, but they aren’t in charge so an 11:00am local kickoff it is! The coaching matchup here is intriguing too with Josh Heupel trying to make Tennessee relevant again as a relatively young head coach and Brian Kelly trying to do the same with LSU as the veteran head coach. Both men are proven winners, and both come into this matchup riding high with solid records and looking to remain undefeated in SEC play. The Volunteers are coming off a bye and head into Tiger Stadium off momentum from beating their SEC East rival Florida two weeks ago. LSU only lost the opener to Florida State and since then has put together a nice stretch. Both teams would love a victory here to continue to be undefeated in the SEC and have a shot to get to Atlanta, albeit a long one. I think Hendon Hooker and his weapons, including Jalin Hyatt and Bru McCoy, will be enough to win a tough road game against a resurgent LSU. Brian Kelly’s team just doesn’t have the playmakers yet to compete for a full season. He will though, eventually, because his track record as a coach is as proven as it gets. I just think Tennessee is a step ahead this year. I like the Volunteers on the road to cover. Tennessee -3.

North Carolina @ Miami, Saturday at 4:00pm, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL, Miami -3.5, O/U 66

How in the world is Miami favored in this game? After two back-to-back embarrassing losses, one to Jimbo’s cratering Aggies and another to Middle Tennessee, how is Miami credible? I’m racking my brain here and the only reasons I can come up with are these: the game is at Miami, they are coached by Mario Cristobal, and Gene Chizik is Mack Brown’s defensive coordinator. That last point may be enough for me. Cristobal says he is sticking with QB Tyler Van Dyke despite a miserable performance against Middle Tennessee that saw him benched in the second half. I think Van Dyke and the Hurricanes will figure things out against one of the worst defenses in the nation. North Carolina ranks 120th out of 131 FBS schools in total defense. I think Miami needs a game to try and fix some of the things that ail them. While I don’t think Miami is very good, this feels like a spot where they could get one back. I think the public will be on the dog here but don’t count out the Hurricanes to take advantage of Chizik’s porous defense. This is one location that may have some weather to deal with as showers and thunderstorms are expected to be around the area Saturday afternoon. Perhaps a sloppy game is in order. But I’ll lay the points with the home favorite and hold my nose. Miami -3.5.

Iowa @ Illinois, Saturday at 7:30p, Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL, Illinois -3.5, O/U 35.5

This game has classic October Big Ten matchup written all over it. Low scoring. An October chill in the air, despite a perfectly sunny day on tap. Tailgate grills roaring. Hot apple cider steaming. I love the visuals here as Iowa travels to Champaign to take on an Illinois squad that just got Paul Chryst fired by drubbing Wisconsin at Camp Randall last weekend. If you are wondering why the Illini were able to dispose of the Badgers so handily…how about these numbers? Through five games, Illinois leads the nation in scoring defense, ranks third in total defense, and has the nation’s top RB with Chase Brown running wild each week. He already has over 700 yards on the season. It’s taking on an Iowa team that also has a stout defense (eighth nationally in total defense) but that makes you want to puke by watching its offense. In total offense, Iowa sits at 130th out of a possible 131 FBS teams. Putrid is too kind of a word. QB Spencer Petras and OC Brian Ferentz are both liabilities for this team and having to go on the road won’t help. Can I make this one a double, please?! Give me Bert to cover the 3.5 at home and I’ll take the under with the Illini scoring most of the points in this one.

Giants @ Packers, Sunday at 9:30a, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Packers -8, O/U 41.5

This is also a weird line to me as we move to NFL play in Week 5. This is at least a fun matchup for Londoners to witness unlike most of the games we export to them. The Packers struggled last week at home against the Patriots and now have to play outside the United States for the first time. It’s not a great set-up. Both teams are 3-1 coming into this game and the Giants appear to be ascending under head coach Brian Daboll. I like what he has going so far, warts and all. Saquon Barkley appears healthy and ready for the moment. While no team likes traveling this far to play a game, I think the Giants can keep this close. If Daboll can keep the ball with Barkley and out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands then they can likely make this a four-quarter game. I said it early in the year, but something seems off about the Packers. I expect that to continue despite their winning record. Giants +8 from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium where the weather looks perfect under sunny skies and highs in the 60s.

Eagles @ Cardinals, Sunday at 4:25pm, State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ, Eagles -5, O/U 49

No team has impressed me more than the Philadelphia Eagles. They come prepared to play (despite a slow start to the Jags last week, blame it on the weather!), they look physical when needed, they appear balanced, and they look comfortable. Now they head west to take on a team that has been a bit of a thorn in their side. The Cardinals actually have a winning record against the Eagles in the all-time series. They have a 60-56-5 record against the Birds. That includes a victory over the Eagles last time they traveled out west in 2020. The Eagles typically don’t play well in Arizona, at least from my memories. But I think that changes here. The Cardinals are 2-2 on the year and Kyler Murray is a fine QB that can make some plays, but I’m not sure he can make enough of them. The defense has been sketchy to this point for the Cardinals as well and that should give Jalen Hurts and OC Shane Steichen a chance to score some points. Everything seems to be clicking right now for the only undefeated team in the NFL. I’ll take the Eagles and the 5 on the road. E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!

Purdue @ Maryland, Saturday at Noon, SECU Stadium, College Park, MD, Maryland -3, O/U 59.5

Purdue traveling to College Park may not excite many people nationally, but this has the chance to be a sneaky good Big Ten game that will tell us a lot about both teams. That’s why we have selected the Boilermakers against the Terps as our Under the Radar game of the week. This will feature two veteran QBs in Taulia Tagovailoa against Aiden O’Connell. Both have some weapons at wide receiver, especially O’Connell in Charlie Jones. But guess what? So does Tua’s little brother. All 4 of Maryland’s top receivers (Rakim Jarrett, Jeshuan Jones, Corey Dyches, and Jacob Copeland) have over 200 yards and at least one touchdown on the young season so far! Both defenses are spotty and both come into this matchup with wins last weekend, including Purdue’s upset of Minnesota. I want to pick Maryland here as I think they just have strong Jimmy’s and Joe’s – but Purdue could be riding that Minny momentum into College Park and try and get a sneaky win. Given the weather looks perfect, I’ll stay away from a side and take the over here. Over 59.5 is the pick.

South Carolina @ Kentucky, Saturday @ 7:30pm, Kroger Field, Lexington, KY, Kentucky -10.5, O/U 49

Kentucky lost a heartbreaker last week at Vaught-Hemingway to the Ole Miss defense no less. I don’t think Kentucky is the type of team to let a team beat them twice, however. Mark Stoops is tough mentally and that seems to translate to his team. I think returning to Kroger Field and having South Carolina come to town is exactly what the football doctor ordered to get Kentucky back on track in the SEC East. South Carolina isn’t there yet with Shane Beamer and the transfer QB Spencer Rattler (a one-time Heisman favorite at Oklahoma). They haven’t found their footing and don’t yet have the athletes to stay with Kentucky on either side of the ball. If Mark Stoops can hit the reset button and if Will Levis can shake off the last play of the game last week, this team should be just fine going forward. I like Kentucky’s defense to come out snarling and never give the Gamecocks much of a chance. Kentucky -10.5 in the Bluegrass state.

Texas A&M @ Alabama, Saturday @ 8:00pm, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL, Alabama -24, O/U 51.5

Could there be a more perfect spot for Nick Saban to exact his revenge on former assistant Jimbo Fisher? Jimbo beat Saban last year in College Station, the first former assistant coach to do so, before Kirby Smart beat him later in the National Championship game. Alabama seemed off in that game last year and to Fisher’s credit he was able to exploit Alabama’s weaknesses and mistakes to ride to a victory that ultimately didn’t carry the Aggies very far. There has been a lot of chatter from Aggie fans since then about recruiting classes, making the playoffs, beating Alabama again, and of course Jimbo’s off the cuff rant about Saban after Saban claimed Texas A&M “bought every player on their roster”. This game had all the hallmarks of a classic in the offseason after last year’s contest and the off-season war of words between the two head honchos. Now, however, as Jimbo’s season fell down a well with losses to App State and Mississippi State, it appears like the perfect spot for the Crimson Tide to roll over whatever is left of the Aggies. Saban won’t let up in this one and I think it gets ugly fast. Jimbo Fisher is A&M’s $100 million man and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, but after Saturday’s contest there is going to be a lot of chatter. Alabama -24.

Texans @ Jaguars, Saturday @ 1:00pm, TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL, Jaguars -7, O/U 44.5

I had a first hand view of the Jaguars last week as they travelled to Philly to take on the Eagles. Doug Pederson’s return to Philly was spoiled with a loss to the Birds in the remnants of Hurricane Ian. The game started off well for his Jaguars and overall, I’m impressed with Pederson’s squad. They didn’t give up, made some nice plays, and certainly seem like a much better outfit than last year’s version under failed head coach Urban Meyer. We know Doug Pederson can coach. That’s not why he parted ways with the Eagles. We also know Lovie Smith. He returned to the NFL this year as the Texans’ head coach. Lovie’s track record isn’t great, but he does hold an 89-87 record in the NFL coming into this season. He failed at Illinois and isn’t fondly remembered in Tampa. He took over one of the worst teams in football, so he needs at least some slack to start his tenure in Houston, but the hire didn’t make a ton of sense to me. He can always prove me wrong, but until the Texans get better, I won’t hold my breath. Give me the Jags with Trevor Lawrence and Doug Pederson calling plays to come back home and get one off a tough loss in the rain last week. No rain this week. Jags -7.

Here’s a summary of my picks for the week.

Games of the Week

Tennessee -3

Miami -3.5

Illinois -3.5 & UNDER 35.5

Giants +8

Eagles -5

Under the Radar Game

Purdue @ Maryland OVER 59.5

Brett’s Best Bets

Kentucky -10.5

Alabama -24

Jaguars -7

I went 5-5 last week and am riding mostly favorites this week to get the job done. Enjoy your football…and now we can say…baseball too…weekend! -Brett Thackara

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Tennessee @ LSU, Saturday at Noon, Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA, Tennessee -3, O/U 63.5

Tennessee has been impressive, and I have to say Josh Heupel is doing a tremendous job in bringing the Vols back to relevancy. Quietly, Brian Kelly is leaving his mark on the LSU Tigers. While the wins have not been sizeable by scoring margins, he is winning- something Coach O forgot how to do. This is a tough road environment for Tennessee to come into. The Vols have also come off of an emotional win against Florida and a bye week. I think they start slow with the early road kick and that costs them. Hendon Hooker and crew don’t escape the bayou undefeated- I will take the Tigers at +3.

North Carolina @ Miami, Saturday at 4:00pm, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL, Miami -3.5, O/U 66

This is the line of the week that really stinks, the Tar Heels are not getting any love! North Carolina’s defense has struggled, but their offense holds its own. Let’s not forget Miami lost to Middle Tennessee State and it was a pretty solid beat down. I think that North Carolina is getting dinged for their loss against Notre Dame, but this could be a get-right win on the road. I’ll take Mack Brown to right the ship at +3.5.

Iowa @ Illinois, Saturday at 7:30p, Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL, Illinois -3.5, O/U 35.5

Bret Bielema has Illinois rolling with a physical style of play. Illinois embarrassed Wisconsin last weekend, so much so it stunningly cost Paul Chryst his job. Kirk Ferentz does not seem to have the same talent in his program this year after a strong start to 2021- something just seems off in Iowa City. I don’t think Iowa can score enough points and could be in for a very long season in Big 10 play. I will take Illinois at -3.5 and solidly take the under.

Giants @ Packers, Sunday at 9:30a, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Packers -8, O/U 41.5

The Giants have been finding ways to win, but it does not seem sustainable. The offense just appears too anemic at times. When they faced an offense in the Cowboys that could score, the Giants proved they could not keep up (Cooper Rush somehow runs the Dallas offense efficiently). Aaron Rodgers should have no problem dispatching this 3-1 Giants team, despite its own roster issues. I’ll take the Packers at -8.

Eagles @ Cardinals, Sunday at 4:25pm, State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ, Eagles -5, O/U 49

I don’t have much more to say about the Eagles. They continue to prove each week how strong their team is. This past Sunday they started out down 14, but rallied and scored 20 straight unanswered points. The offense complements a fairly aggressive defense, and Jalen Hurts is on a historic pace. This game could be close in the desert, but the start this year for the Cardinals has not been nearly as smooth and easy as last year. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but if the Eagles win this road game they may indeed be the best in the NFC. The Eagles have historically encountered issues in the desert, but let’s keep a good thing going at -5 leading to a 5-0 start!!

Purdue @ Maryland, Saturday at Noon, SECU Stadium, College Park, MD, Maryland -3, O/U 59.5

Despite two losses early for Purdue, they find themselves in decent shape to take hold of the Big 10 West after a nice win against Minnesota. With Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin on the outside of the top of the west, this is a big opportunity for the Boilermakers to elevate their season. Maryland’s offense will keep this game close, but neither team will likely play much defense. Taulia Tagovailoa is a real threat passing and running. I think Purdue is better coached and may have just a bit more talent at this point in their program. Give me Purdue to come into College Park and snag a big win, Purdue +3!

TCU @ Kansas, Saturday at Noon, David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS, TCU -7, 67.5

TCU and newly minted coach Sonny Dykes is having quite a start to the season. But as you know from this podcast Lance Leipold and the Jayhawks are also off to quite the start. The Jayhawks are the talk of the first half of this college football season. Someone has to lose unfortunately in this matchup. Jalon Daniels at quarterback for the Jayhawks has been a difference-maker, and at home, he gives Kansas a chance. I am not sure the fighting Leipold’s can pull it off, but I think they keep it close. Kansas +7!

Utah @ UCLA, Saturday at 3:30 pm, Rose Bowl, Los Angeles, CA, Utah -4.5, 65

This line was surprising to me given the way UCLA played last week against Washington. Dorian Thompson-Robinson has experience after years with Chip Kelly, and he has developed into one of the top quarterbacks in the country. There is not a home-field advantage given how poor the attendance is at UCLA, but regardless they have something special cooking it appears. UCLA stays undefeated and takes down the Utes! UCLA ML Upset!

Falcons @ Buccaneers, Sunday at 1:00 pm, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL, Buccaneers -8.5, 48

The Buccaneers have not won at home yet in this early 2022 NFL season. Last week they did not look very stout either against the Chiefs. Tom Brady and his wide receivers could simply not keep up with the scoring at will Chiefs. This also brings up concerns about the Tampa Bay defense. Todd Bowles has a lot to clean up! Atlanta meanwhile has won two in a row, and I think this line is too big given Tampa Bay’s lack of precision to this point. I’ll take the Falcons at +8.5 to keep this one tight.

Here are my picks for the week:

Games of the Week

LSU +3

North Carolina +3.5

Illinois -3.5 & UNDER 35.5

Packers -8

Eagles -5

Under the Radar Game

Purdue +3

Doppler Dandies

Kansas +7

UCLA ML

Falcons + 8.5

**All odds from Caesars Sportsbook as of 10/5/22.**