Garrett Shrader & the Syracuse Orange lead our Las Vegas Expert Picks this week.

Las Vegas Expert Picks: College Football, MLB, NFL

Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly picks in his “Ecks & Bacon” column.

LAS VEGAS — First lemme tell you about the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. It’s OLD, it’s BORING and it’s UGLY! But MAN, is it LOUD! If you just looked at the Orange’s overall record, 3-3, they would appear to be only average. However, where it REALLY matters, in the bank account, the ’Cuse is on FIRE. They have covered four in a row and five of the last six.

On the other side of the field, Clemson is working on a NEGATIVE perfecto. The Tigers are 0-5 against the spread this season. Did I just say OH & FIVE?

Of course, Dabo’s kids have talent, and the defense is rock-solid, but QB D.J. Uiagalelei is NO Trevor Lawrence. D.J. looked like the next big thing last season, completing 78 of 117 (66.7%) for 914 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. But what a difference a year makes. In his first five games in 2021, Uiagalelei has hit on only 76 of 140 (54.3%) for 793 yards with three TDs and three INTs.

Syracuse seems to have found something on offense. Actually, two somethings. Garrett Shrader took over for Tommy DeVito at QB for the Orange, and they’ve been averaging 38 points per game and 276 yards per on the ground.

Speaking of the ground, there’s RB Sean Tucker, who leads the nation in all-purpose yards with 165.8 per game. Don’t think Syracuse will shred a top-rated Clemson D that easy, but 13 and a half is a BUY! Of course, if you can, grab the hook to +14.

MLB Pick

How about a little ALCS action tonight. Doesn’t really matter what you think of these two teams and the issues that revolved around the cheating scandal.

We’re just trying to figure out a way to make some cash. These two played each other seven times during the season, with the Astros on top 5-2. They won three of four in Houston and two of three in Boston.

The ’Stros outscored the Red Sox 19-9 in Houston and 23-16 up in Beantown. So you could say that the Astros, with 42 runs in seven games, KNOW how to hit Boston’s pitchers.

Looks like Chris Sale is gonna toe the slab in the opener and he has had ENORMOUS problems the last few starts. This AIN’T the Sale you remember.

Sure, he started out fine after stepping back into the rotation in mid-August, winning five in a row, but after that, UGLY! How ugly, Eck? We’re talking 12 hits and 10 earned runs in only nine innings. My calculator makes that a 10.00 ERA. BIG OUCH!

Houston has announced Framber Valdez as the starter for Game 1, and he has had a smooth ride against the Sox this season. In two starts, both wins, Valdez allowed just two earned runs over 14 innings for a sweet 1.29 ERA. So, it’s Dusty & the ’Stros for the money.

College Football Pick

Gonna head to potato country and take Boise State -3.5 points over Air Force. Boise opened -6 and has been bet all the way down to 3.5. This is ALL wise-guy money looking for a middle. If you don’t wanna play both sides and are just looking for the winner, stay with me.

Sure, the Broncos are coming off a big win last week over BYU, but they ain’t about to ease off the gas. They have handled the Falcons with EASE for the past four years. How easy? Check it.

In 2017, it was Boise 44-19. In 2018, the Broncos posted a 48-38 win. In 2019, Boise again, 30-19, and in 2020, the Broncs rolled to a 49-30 W. So, now, you’re looking at Air Force and seeing a 5-1 record. STOP!

The Force beat Lafayette, NOT Louisiana-Lafayette but the FCS Lafayette Leopards, 35-14. Big whoop. Then they beat Navy 23-3, and for information purposes only, Navy is 1-5.

The Force loses to Utah State 49-45, then comes back with a 31-7 win over Florida Atlantic (3-3 on the season). A 38-10 win over a 2-4 New Mexico squad didn’t impress me either. And last week, the Falcons picked up a 24-14 win over a solid Wyoming team.

So, forget the 5-1 record and focus on the Potato Heads. Boise plays on the famous blue carpet, but the color of this game is green, as in MONEY, baabbbeee!!! 

College Football Teaser

Just got a text from an old friend, Mr. Vingt-et-un, which as all you French-speaking folks know is Mr. 21, and he wants to share some love. And a gorgeous three-team 10-point teaser.

Start with UCF and bump the Knights up from +22.5 to +32.5 points against Cincinnati. Then move to Iowa and drop the Hawkeyes from -11.5 to -1.5 points over Purdue. Close it out down in Baton Rouge, and plump LSU up from +12 to +22 points against Florida.

NFL Pick

If you’re looking for action on Sunday, we’ll ride the Colts -10 points over the Texans.

And if you’re looking for more picks this weekend on the college and NFL board, PLZ hit me on Instagram. I will be doing quick 15-second picks at!

Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America's Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers since 1988. You can follow him online at He is beloved by most, when he picks winners and detested by others when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna a piece of Eck, hit his