After a massive weekend of sports last weekend, this one may be hard to top. However, it shouldn’t overshadow some serious matchups this weekend. It looks like another spectacular autumn weather stretch for all sports too! Two highlights for PA sports include the PSU Whiteout against Minnesota on Saturday and the Phillies NLCS games (at least 2) at Citizen Bank Park Friday and Saturday. All three games look to feature terrific weather with above average temperatures and sunny skies. The Pacific Northwest looks stormy for the weekend and the EURO model shows an area of low pressure along the coast by Sunday & Monday. Other models do not, but it’s something to watch especially for baseball and football games in the Mid-Atlantic late in the weekend. Let’s have some fun and get to our thoughts:

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Syracuse @ Clemson, Saturday at Noon, Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC, Clemson -13.5, O/U 50

Dino Babers has Syracuse humming right now and they travel to Howard’s Rock to take on a Clemson team that looked to be firing on all the right cylinders against an over-matched Florida State squad that has now lost 3 games. The weather looks gorgeous on Saturday with sunshine and temperatures near 70° at kick. A reminder that Syracuse has a potent rushing attack with Sean Tucker who has 6 touchdowns and over 600 yards. Garret Shrader continues to impress as the Orange QB too with almost 1500 yards and 12 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Dabo believed in D.J Uiagalelei and it paid off. He looks to have this Clemson offense humming. 17 touchdowns on the season and over 1600 yards for the Clemson signal caller is impressive. Both defenses look stout too and this will be Syracuse’s toughest test so far this season. They have to go on the road too and kick off at Noon. Not an easy task. Clemson has a bye week coming up after this one and they usually struggle at least once during the season to put an inferior team away. Syracuse has given Clemson fits in the past, even when they weren’t as good as they appear to be this year. It’s very possible Clemson runs away with this, but I’ll take the points with the Orange here as it seems like a ton. Syracuse +13.5.

UCLA @ Oregon, Saturday at 3:30pm, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR, Oregon -6, O/U 69.5

I would not have believed this game to be a Top 10 matchup a few weeks ago. Not only didn’t I expect UCLA to be this good, but Oregon got obliterated by Georgia in their first game of the season 49-3 if you’ll recall. However, here we are and an undefeated Chip Kelly makes his return to Eugene and Autzen Stadium to take on the Oregon Ducks. These two teams are fairly similar on paper and neither one has beaten anybody that truly would raise an eyebrow. I’ll admit the UCLA win over Utah impressed me and I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t think they were as physical as the Utes and they proved me wrong. That’s why in looking at just the stats, it’s hard to know what will happen here and Vegas giving the Ducks the edge at home with GameDay in town makes sense. But when I can’t find an easy edge, I’ll turn to the QBs and my gut. Dorian Thompson-Robinson has been electric for Chip Kelly and if he plays to his potential on the road Saturday, I don’t see this team being stopped. Meanwhile, Bo Nix, the Auburn transfer for Oregon, has been playing better, but he can Nix it up at any time. He reminds me of Penn State’s Sean Clifford. He is a solid QB but tends to flounder when the big stage comes calling. Another factor here: the weather. It looks wet and cool with highs in the 50s with occasional showers during the game. A sloppy game in bad weather likely favors the more physical UCLA. I doubted UCLA before, so I won’t this week. I don’t know if they will win, but I’ll take the points here too. UCLA +6.

Minnesota @ Penn State, Saturday at 7:30pm, Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA, Penn State -4.5, O/U 44.5

I have been a staunch defender of James Franklin over these 9 years and believed he was the man to get the program competing at a high level on the national stage. He had to deal with leftover sanctions, running into Ohio State every year by being stacked up in the Big 10 East division, and no matter what the national media says, the Big 10 is a tough conference to win no matter who you play each week. It’s a grind. He has won a Big 10 title and been to several NY6 bowl games. He has won a ton of games at Penn State, there’s no denying it. He also had to live apart from his family during the 2020 season and his starting QB got injured last year making it a difficult season to finish on a winning note. Some people or fans may say this is making excuses, but to me there was always a valid reason to stand up and defend the coach that I believe in and always felt was just a few more ingredients away from making big things happen. That all changed Saturday. I still like James Franklin. I want him to succeed to prove all the doubters wrong. I believe he wants to win so badly and that Penn State has been his dream job. But reality set in during Saturday’s game. Penn State was outmatched in every aspect of the game. Michigan has passed Penn State and is now very clearly the Big 10’s number 2 team behind Ohio State. They has been no progression forward. Same story, different game. Against the best teams in the league? More losses than wins. Against Top 10 teams? More losses than wins. Coming off a bye week? More losses than wins. How about coming off a loss? It ain’t pretty. Outmatched. Outclassed. Outpaced. It’s a theme that can no longer be ignored. Minnesota will be coming to Beaver Stadium Saturday night and might be without their starting QB, Tanner Morgan who left the game against Illinois last week. Minnesota has had its own issues this season losing to both Purdue and Illinois when their starting RB and QB were hurt, respectively. No matter. If Minnesota watches an ounce of film against this Penn State team, they just need to know if they are physical, they will likely win. I like their chances. They have a physical RB with Mohamed Ibrahim and they can likely offer Morgan plenty of protection too. If their defense can rattle the PSU offensive line and get to the quarterback, it could be another long day for the Lions. I hope Franklin can salvage this season. I want him to be successful. But until he is, I’ll take the points again with the road team here on a nice evening for a White Out in State College. Golden Gophers +4.5.

Packers @ Commanders, Sunday at 1:00pm, FedEx Field, Landover, MD, Packers -5.5, O/U 41.5

Something is off with the Packers. I’ve said it all year, but it can no longer be just a suggestion or speculation. Losing to the Jets at Lambeau in the fashion they did is embarrassing. They now have to go on the road to face a bottom feeder in the league and try and right the ship. Here’s the thing though, I don’t think they can. Rodgers and his receivers aren’t on the same page and the run game isn’t much better with A.J. Dillion picking up just 41 yards last week against those Jets. I don’t know what needs fixed or if it can be, but going on the road when you are a broken team isn’t easy, even it is facing the lowly Commanders. Carson Wentz is injured and that makes this pick even easier. Perhaps Taylor Heinicke can give the offense a spark in Washington and at least keep this one close facing a Packers team that is a complete disaster right now. The weather is in question for this game and while it looks dry for now, I could see a few showers trying to slow things down too. Either way, I’ll take the points with the home team this time. Commanders +5.5.

Buccaneers @ Panthers, Sunday at 1:00pm, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC, Buccaneers -11, O/U 40.5

This game is a carbon copy of the one above. A Buccaneers team that is struggling with an aging quarterback taking on a team that is a bottom dweller on the road. Another similarity is that the weather looks okay for now, but some showers could disrupt this game if a coastal low develops as suggested by the EURO model guidance. This isn’t a given though and even it does rain, both these teams have far bigger issues than the weather. The Bucs lost to a Steelers team that is absolutely dreadful this season. Just a pathetic showing. They look out of sorts, much like the Packers, and Tom Brady looks miserable. Where are all the good receivers? What about the defense? Is Todd Bowles not up to the task? Is Brady too old? The Panthers meanwhile are looking for a divisional win and instead of getting a new QB like Washington, they have a new head coach after firing Matt Rhule two weeks ago. Steve Wilks enters the conversation by kicking his own player off the sideline and now trading him to Arizona after the very public dispute with the coaching staff. What better way to shake things up? Also, with starter Baker Mayfield sidelined with an ankle injury, Wiles is planning on having a competition for the starting job and can’t say as of this writing who will start Sunday’s game. While there may be lots of questions in Carolina right now, I think the Buccaneers are also teetering. 11 is a big number. I’ll take the points with the home team and hold my nose. Panthers +11.

UNLV @ Notre Dame, Saturday at 2:30pm, Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN, Notre Dame -25, O/U 47.5

How can a Notre Dame game be “Under The Radar”? For a few reasons. The first of which is that this game is found only on streaming service Peacock, not on traditional TV. Secondly, after appearing to find themselves for a brief period, Notre Dame looked lost again last week and let a pretty bad Stanford team push them around. Marcus Freeman had no answers and the Notre Dame squad from this past week appeared to look like the team from the beginning of the year. It’s hard to believe they beat North Carolina. UNLV is usually competitive in the Mountain West but isn’t off to a great start either at 4-3. Their last two games have been blowouts to both San Jose State and Air Force. However, there is something I like about UNLV and I love head coach Marcus Arroyo. Notre Dame looks dreadful at times. UNLV looks good at times. If the Notre Dame that beat North Carolina shows up and the UNLV team that’s gotten blown out the last two weeks shows up, I might be in trouble. But I’m banking on UNLV knowing this is a good stage to show up on and Notre Dame has already lost to Marshall at home this season. Marshall by the way is also only 3-3, so they aren’t that great either. 25 is a lot to lay with a team that looks lost right now. I’ll take UNLV and the points. UNLV +25. The weather for this one looks benign with sunny skies and highs near 70°. A perfect day in Indiana!

Iowa @ Ohio State, Saturday at Noon, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH, Ohio State -29, O/U 49

Big Noon Saturday? How about Lame Noon Saturday? Iowa has an elite defense. It may be the best defense Ohio State has faced so far. It won’t matter. Ohio State is likely a better team than Alabama right now and they have the playmakers to show it, like Heisman favorite C.J. Stroud at QB. Meanwhile, Iowa has Spencer Petras and Brian Ferentz as its QB and OC combo. They aren’t scoring at all while Ohio State scores at will. The weather won’t be a factor here either with lots of sun and highs around 70° at kickoff. Iowa’s offense is so frustrating to watch, especially knowing how great their defense is playing. This game isn’t going to be close. Ohio State all the way. Easy cover. Ohio State -29.

Ole Miss @ LSU, Saturday at 3:30pm, Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA, LSU -1.5, O/U 66

This is one heck of an intriguing matchup in the SEC as the Rebels travel to Death Valley to take This is one heck of an intriguing matchup in the SEC as the Rebels travel to Death Valley to take on Brian Kelly and the LSU Tigers. Lane Kiffin’s squad is undefeated and is playing well with QB Jaxson Dart throwing for almost 1500 yards in Kiffin’s dynamic offensive scheme. Even the Ole Miss defense isn’t that bad giving up only 17 points per game. However, the caveat in all this is their level of competition. The only game to really give them credit for is the victory over Kentucky. The rest of their wins appear to be against far inferior competition. LSU meanwhile is 5-2 with their losses coming to Florida State in the opener and Tennessee. If you forgive them for the first game under a new head coach and we now know a lot more about Tennessee, Kelly’s team isn’t awful. They have a shot to finish with a good record and a win on Saturday, under sunny skies and 80° temperatures, would go a long way in helping them get there. LSU QB Jayden Daniels actually has more passing yards than Dart going into this game and the LSU defense gives up slightly fewer yards than Ole Miss. There is reason to think LSU can win this game at home against an untested Ole Miss squad. I’ll take Brian Kelly, the Tigers, and lay the small spread. LSU -1.5.

Kansas State @ TCU, Saturday at 8:00pm, Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX, TCU -3.5, O/U 55.5

How about this hot Big 12 matchup under the Texas heat on a Saturday night? With temperatures in the 80s and no major weather to speak of, this game could be a classic with two teams vying for a spot in the Big 12 championship game. Both teams have impressed me and Kansas State has the type of team that loves to knock off the favorite. Can Adrian Martinez get it done in Fort Worth? The better question may be if the Kansas State defense can keep TCU QB Max Duggan in check. Kansas State is only allowing around 17 points per game. TCU scores nearly 46 points per game. Something has to give here. I think it’s going to be TCU. This just feels a bit like a let down game after beating Oklahoma State last week in a hard-fought overtime battle. Kansas State can still win the Big 12…and they know it. Wildcats +3.5.

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

Games of the Week

Syracuse +13.5

UCLA +6

Minnesota +4.5

Commanders +5.5

Panthers +11

Under the Radar Game

UNLV +25

Brett’s Best Bets

Ohio State -29

LSU -1.5

Kansas State +3.5

Apparently, a lot of underdogs are howling in my part of this column this week. You know what? Let them howl! My focus will be on the Philadelphia Phillies trying to get to the World Series and they look like the hot team right now. Should be another terrific weekend of fall and sports and fun. May your weekend be blessed with good sports luck and beautiful weather. Whether you bet big or bet small, weather makes an impact on whether you lose or whether you win it all.

-Brett Thackara

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Last week was a tough one to stomach with the upsets on the NFL side, and close finishes in the biggest college games. This week *seems* a little more straightforward. But as we know in late October, anything can happen! This is also the time of the year for college in-conference matchups where home teams do have an advantage, I remembered that the hard way last week. Here are my takes for this week:

Syracuse @ Clemson, Saturday at Noon, Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC, Clemson -13.5, O/U 50

Clemson is on a roll, but so too is the Orange! Syracuse knocked off a strong NC State team last weekend, albeit with the Wolfpack down a quarterback. Clemson has had some defensive deficiencies at times this season and this game will be close to the finish with the Syracuse top 10 defense. I pick Dabo to keep his squad out of harm’s way at home, but do not be surprised if this is less than a 7 point game. Clemson ML.

UCLA @ Oregon, Saturday at 3:30pm, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR, Oregon -6, O/U 69.5

Chip Kelly’s Bruins are having a magical season. Weather will be factor as his warm weather team heads north. After a terrible showing against Ohio State in the season opener, the Ducks have greatly improved under Dan Lanning. Given a cold and damp forecast the advantage should go to the home team. I would not be surprised though if Dorian Thompson-Robinson razzles and dazzles his team to victory as a road underdog. Give me Oregon as more of a sure thing at -6.

Minnesota @ Penn State, Saturday at 7:30pm, Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA, Penn State -4.5, O/U 44.5

Brett is not too keen on a Nittany Lion bounce back. Given James Franklin’s record coming off a loss I get the logic. I just think this version of Penn State has too much talent and pride to fold up on the season as of yet. Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich may be fighting to keep his job too and needs some strong performances out of his unit down the stretch. It may be ugly, but in front of a whiteout crowd in Happy Valley I still give the advantage to Penn State. Plus, this was supposed to be a rebuilding year- what is so bad about a few losses? A 2 or 3 loss team is still a solid season for a program that has been down on its luck since 2020. Penn State ML!

Packers @ Commanders, Sunday at 1:00pm, FedEx Field, Landover, MD, Packers -5.5, O/U 41.5

Carson Wentz was not playing well ahead of the injury last week, and now Washington is likely moving into some familiar territory with Taylor Heinicke. This may be the wrinkle needed to spark a plodding offense as Wentz often proved to be indecisive or not capable of the necessary game-changing play. Aaron Rodgers is still very talented, but the team around him is not gelling or does not have enough talent. Rain may also be around FedEx Field as a coastal low brushes by the Mid-Atlantic Sunday. I look for the Commanders to give the Packers fits, especially if weather becomes a factor- give me Green Bay at -5.5.

Buccaneers @ Panthers, Sunday at 1:00pm, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC, Buccaneers -11, O/U 40.5

A divisional game that features two struggling teams- Tampa Bay and Carolina! Oh what fun! I may not watch any of this game, but this may be another matchup facing some rain in the forecast. The track of a coastal low pressure remains uncertain, and some showers are possible during Sunday’s contest. Tom Brady and company need to get back on the right path and I think they win against a woeful Panthers team- I just won’t take the points. An eleven point spread seems way too generous for teams that struggle to score. Buccaneers ML.

UNLV @ Notre Dame, Saturday at 2:30pm, Notre Dame Stadium,Notre Dame, IN, Notre Dame -25, O/U 47.5

Notre Dame looked like they were on
the verge of righting their season after a devastating loss to Marshall. Last
week continued the struggles though for Marcus Freeman’s group. This line seems
immense for a struggling offense. While this may be at home for Notre Dame with
great fall weather expected, I do not think they score enough to cover. Give me
Notre Dame to win, but not cover.

Boise State @ Air Force, Saturday at 7:00pm, Falcon Stadium, Air Force Academy, CO, Air Force -3.5, O/U 47.5

I thought this was a fun game to
follow out west. Boise State is having an off year for their standards with a
4-2 record, but they still lead the Mountain Division of the Mountain West.
Playing any academy can be tough to prepare for though. I see Air Force squeaking
out a close win by using their ground game- they average over 350 yards on the
ground! Air Force at -3.5 is a winner for me.

Mississippi State @ Alabama, Saturday at 7:00pm, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL, Alabama -21, O/U 61

Mississippi State is having a
typical Mike Leach season. They are not undefeated, but their efficient offense
poses problems for any opponent. Alabama is coming off an emotional and disappointing
late loss in Tennessee in probably the biggest game of the year. Unfortunately,
Alabama’s defense is struggling too. I do not think the Bulldogs pull off the upset,
but they cover in this one- Mississippi State at +21.

Jets @ Broncos, Sunday at 8:00pm, Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, CO, Broncos -1, O/U 39.5

The Broncos do not look like the team that was hyped to come
into this season with a revamped offense, while the Jets are likely
overperforming! This game is nearly a coin flip, but I give a slight edge to
the high-flying Jets. Especially with the way Russell Wilson has been
struggling. I’ll take Jets +1. I can’t believe I am picking the Jets!

Games of the Week

Clemson ML

Oregon -6

Penn State -ML

Commanders +5.5

Buccaneers ML

Under the Radar Game

Notre Dame ML

Doppler Dandies

Air Force -3.5

Mississippi State +21

Jets +1

**All odds from Caesars Sportsbook as of 10/19/22.**