The Inaugural "Buck the Idiot" Tip Sheet

For well over a decade now, I've made a habit of perusing the point spreads of college and pro football games and circling what I consider to be the "no-brainer" picks. And pretty much every year I get hammered, guessing wrong on what I imagine to be anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of the games.

So why not put this stupidity to good use? The guys in Vegas obviously count on casual fans like me--those armed with only the "outside" information of the daily sports page and sporadic time on the couch clicking through games--to be lulled into sucker bets. Rather than wasting your time on expensive shills who "guarantee the Monday night game as our lock of the year!" why not just check out who I honestly think will cover the spread, and wager your money the other way?

My grand plan is to pick ten college and five pro games for the next few weeks, including my most confident "lock" in both pro and college. Let's see if I can prove to you that I don't know what I'm talking about.

Here we go:

MINNESOTA minus 2 and a half over Penn State: Glen Mason's ground game is simply too overwhelming to lose to a mid-tier Big 10 team, even on the road.

AUBURN minus 14 and a half over South Carolina: Steve Spurrier gets his ass handed to him again.

MIAMI minus 21 over South Florida: SF's upset of Louisville last week gives the 'Canes incentive for a high-profile rout to get them back in the major bowl picture.

MICHIGAN STATE minus 5 and a half over Michigan: This ain't your Bo Schembechler Wolverines, or even your typical Lloyd Carr team. Plus MSU always plays the big games tough.

IOWA STATE plus 3 and a half over Nebraska: I saw half of ISU's win over Iowa a couple weeks back, and it feels like the Cyclones have a little more charm, and spine, than in previous years.

PURDUE minus 3 over Notre Dame: Joe Tiller is a better coach than Charlie Weis. And the Boilermakers have better players than the Irish.

USC minus 16 over Arizona State: Why would anyone believe the Trojans aren't at least 20 points better than any other team in the country until somebody proves differently?

VANDERBILT minus 15 over Middle Tennessee: Even when Vandy perennially sucked (meaning every year but this one), they still won games like this. Now they're a fine football team headed for a bowl game.

WEST VIRGINIA plus 10 over Virginia Tech: This is a nasty geographical rivalry pitting two undefeated teams, and the one at home is a ten-point dog?

My college lock of the week: CONNECTICUT minus 11 over Army: Army is horrible, absolutely horrible. Remember what I just said about USC? Reverse it for Army.

On to the pros...

ATLANTA minus 6 over Minnesota: Even if the Vikes didn't have five defensive players hurt, plus Burleson out, the O line and linebackers are a mess. The Falcons' D will sack or provoke a fumble or pick from Daunte Culpepper at least ten times total.

CINCINNATI minus 10 over Houston: The Bengals are giddy, the Texans in total disarray, having just dumped their offensive coordinator.

OAKLAND minus 3 over Dallas: Is there a more overrated coach in football today than Bill Parcells?

TAMPA BAY minus 6 and a half over Detroit: The Bucs' quick, ferocious defensive line versus perpetually harried Joey Harrington. At home.

Finally, my pro lock:

NEW ENGLAND minus 5 and a half over San Diego: I know Rodney Harrison is out. I know they just came off a bruising, emotional win against Pittsburgh. But can somebody explain to me why the Pats aren't at least a touchdown better than the Chargers at home?

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