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 — As we get ready for the first YUGE weekend of college football, we’re hearing rumors about the next celeb fight. The chatter is that Conor “The Notorious” McGregor is gonna step into the ring against Jake “The Problem Child” Paul.
Sure, Paul is 4-0, but he has fought, as my dad used to say, TOMATO CANS! His first win was against AnEsonGib, who I’m researching and trying to find out if it’s actually a real person or a new drink from Starbucks.
This is a GIGANTIC step up in class, and that’s why McGregor will open as a small favorite, around -130, with Jake at +110. Naturally, it’ll probably do close to a HUNDRED MILLION in pay-per-view buys, but it AIN’T gonna get $79.99 from my bank account.
Not thrilled with any of the four games on tonight’s football board, but have another baseball winner for you. Looking at the Blue Jays with Alek Manoah against the A’s and Sean Manaea. Manoah against Manaea. Has a nice ring.
First, Manoah. He has looked pretty sharp since the end of July, winning three of his last four. Manaea, NOT so good. He has not won a game since July 18, and has been BLASTED for 31 hits and 22 earned runs over the last 19 innings.
That’s an ERA of 10.42. Any time you see a double-digit ERA, RUN the other way. Gimme the Jays for the money!
College Football Picks
On to Saturday, and the first stop is Oklahoma. Lemme throw some scores at you from the last 10 years for the Sooners’ opening game at home.
In 2011, they crushed Tulsa 47-14. In 2012, it was a 69-13 blowout against Florida A&M. In 2013, they threw a 34-0 bagel at UL-Monroe. In 2014, it was a 48-16 W against Louisiana Tech. In 2015, how about a 41-3 W over Akron. In 2016, they saw UL-Monroe again and blasted ’em 59-17.
In 2017, they squashed UTEP 56-7. In 2018, they obliterated Florida Atlantic 63-14. In 2019, they just barely squeezed past Houston 49-31. And last season, they fed Missouri State a 48-0 bagel. You get the picture. That’s an average win of 39.9 points per game, and if you want, just round it up to 40.
The Sooners were supposed to play at Tulane, but the game has been moved to Norman, and it looks like a 52-14 final sounds about right.
How about a little OVER/UNDER action? We have looked at the Clemson/Georgia game from all the different angles, and not prepared to jump on a side.
However, we LOVE the OVER in this matchup, listed at 51 points, and that’s because these so-called dominant defenses give up bushels of points. Of course Georgia and Clemson give up squat to the lousy teams, but when they get in against quality, the scoreboard lights up.
Last season, the Bulldogs gave up 41 to Alabama and 44 to Florida. Dabo Swinney’s Tigers were also ripped by quality teams in 2020, giving up 47 to Notre Dame and 49 to Ohio State. Expecting a final that ends with 60-plus points on the board, and will be DANCING all the way to the BANK!
Of course, what would a Saturday be without a gorgeous three-team 10-point teaser. Take Penn State from +5.5 to +15.5 points against Wisconsin.
Grab Indiana and bump the Hoosiers up from +4 to +14 points against Iowa.
Close it with Louisiana-Lafayette and take the Ragin’ Cajuns from +9 to +19 points against Texas.
And if you’re looking for more picks this weekend, PLZ hit me on Instagram. I will be doing quick 15-second picks at www.instagram.com/vegasvigorish!
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 www.americasline.com. He is beloved by most, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his email...firstname.lastname@example.org.