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 — Baby Tua, Taulia Tagovailoa, the Maryland QB, owes me a few bucks. Had him and the Terps a few weeks ago against Illinois, and while they posted a 20-17 win, they failed to cover the seven-point spread. Now the Turtles are getting points. Don't think that turtles bark, but this is a very LIVE dog. Double T has been simply magnificent this season, hitting on 111 of 146 for a stupid 75.5% completion rate. He has also learned how to manage the game and take care of the ball. Last season, he threw 7 TDs and 7 INTs in four games. This season, it's 10 TDs and only 1 INT! And if you want, c'mon and sing a chorus of the Beatles 'Getting Better All The Time' for Taulia. Head Terp Mike Locksley seems to finally have the players he wants on offense. And you KNOW that Locks can coach some O. Why? 'Cause he worked the offense under Nick Saban at 'Bama for three seasons (2016-18).
If you're worried about Iowa's third-ranked scoring defense, take a breath. Yes, the Hawkeyes have great defensive stats, but they've played mediocre to lousy teams so far (Indiana 2-2, Iowa State 2-2, Kent State 1-3 and Colorado State 1-3). Maryland has the eighth-ranked scoring defense, but with the exception of West Virginia, the schedule is littered with cupcakes (Howard, Illinois and Kent State). So, we X out the defensive portion of the handicap and look at the offense. NO contest in my book. Gimme Baby T for the money!
BYU/Utah West Coast Pick
If you need some action out West tonight, take a look at the BYU/Utah State game. Don't wanna lay -8.5 with the Cougars, and not thrilled with the Aggies, so here's the plan. If BYU comes out like Mike Tyson and goes into the half with a nice lead, then we would grab State plus the points to win the 2nd half. Light play only. Of course, if Utah State wins the 1st half, we take a hall pass.
In college football tomorrow, gonna throw down a spectacular three team 10-point teaser starting with Mississippi and bump the Rebels up from +15 to +25 points against Alabama. Sure Nick Saban is 23-0 against his former assistants, but PLUS TWENTY FIVE should be more than enough in this spot. 'Bama has crushed the lousy teams, as usual, but when they get in against a quality squad, the results are tight. Just look at the Florida game where the Crimson Tide barely held on for a 31-29 win. Then we look to Penn State and drop the Nittany Lions from -12 to -2 points over Indiana. Close up shop with Boston College and plump up the Eagles from +15 to +25 points against Clemson.
On to the NFL board Sunday, gonna rock n' roll with Motown and take Detroit +3 points over Chicago. There are problems in both cities, but the Bears troubles start with the QBs. Andy Dalton is listed as questionable with a bum knee and Justin Fields hurt his right thumb last week which leaves Nick Foles waiting in the wings. Then we watched All-Pro LB Kahlil Mack limp off the field last week, and if he can't go, UH OH! Understand that the Lions are 0-3 but just look who they played. The 49ers, Packers and Ravens.
Any one of those teams could be playing on Super Sunday. And it took a record-breaking 66-yard field goal to beat Detroit. Seems like the kids from Motown are playing hard for new head coach Dan Campbell, and since Jared Goff is hitting almost 70% of his passes, we're gonna bark all the way to the bank with the dog!
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 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.
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