Football Friday

September 15, 2023

SuperBook Sports previews the weekend ahead

© Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via Imagn Content Services, LLC

CFB: No. 11 Tennessee @ Florida

It doesn’t get much shinier than a Week 3 battle of SEC powerhouses. As one of the best games in the Top-25 slate takes place this weekend, all eyes should be on The Swamp.

But there’s a twist this year: Florida isn’t the favorite; in fact, they’re a -6.5 dog, at home.  In the past 18 matchups, Florida has prevailed 16 times. But these Gators don’t belong to Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer. The Gators are certainly down just a bit from their glory days, but by no means are they a pushover (most polls and ranking systems suggest that Florida is somewhere around the 30th – plus or minus – best team in the country). They’re still Florida; it’s still the SEC.

However, these aren’t necessarily Peyton Manning’s Tennessee Vols, either. Ranked No. 11 in the polls, Tennessee sits at 2-0. That looks pretty glossy, but further examination is required. The Vols have done what they’re supposed to do, beating Virginia (0-2) and Austin Peay (0-2). In other words, they really haven’t been tested.

Last year’s matchup, when both teams resided in the Top-25, resulted in a thrilling 38-33 Tennessee win at Neyland Stadium.  Now that the game heads back to Gainsville, can Florida settle the score and get back to their winning ways?

Bud Parmalee’s Pick: Florida M/L +225  

It’s not that anyone believes Florida is suddenly an SEC juggernaut all over again. They’re probably not. But the SEC is an absolute gauntlet, one that often favors tradition over trend. While the Volunteers sit comfortably at 2-0, they haven’t been tested – not in the way The Swamp can test a team. And Florida’s loss came on the road at No. 12 Utah – there’s no shame in that. Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton has led his Vols’ offense to an impressive 478 yards per game, but again, against who? If you want to play this one safe, bet on the Gators to cover. If you want to cash in, take them to win it outright. Tennessee could be met with a rude awakening in its first real test of the season.

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CFB: Colorado State @ No. 18 Colorado  

Boulder, Colorado has suddenly become the epicenter of college football.

Boulder? Home of the 1-11 Buffaloes of a season ago? That’s correct. In just a few months, Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders has the formerly sleepy college town in an absolute frenzy. But don’t take our word for it. Big Noon agrees. ESPN’s College GameDay agrees.  Stephen A agrees. 60-frickin’-Minutes agrees. All will be on campus for the unofficial “biggest” game on the docket this weekend. There’s an intrigue in Boulder that’s hard to explain, but make no mistake, it’s real.

On paper, the in-state grudge match shouldn’t necessarily be much of a game. Colorado has yet to lose, beating TCU then Nebraska, and enters Week 3 ranked 18th in the country. Up the road in Fort Collins, the Rams have not fared as well. CSU will take on the Buffs after playing just one game, a 50-24 loss to Washington State. It’s unfair to say that these two programs are headed in opposite directions, it’s just that one of them seems to be getting there on a private jet, while the other is trudging along in a VW bug.

Jay Norvell is in his second season at CSU, and by most accounts, is doing all the right things. In a traditional sense, it will take time for his Rams to turn the corner, but the CSU faithful believe Norvell is the right man for job.

Unlike Nebraska’s Matt Rhule, Norvell had kept his mouth shut up until about 48 hours ago. But then, Norvell had some things to get off his chest, giving the Buffs a little bulletin board material. There’s little doubt the uber-athletic Buffs can handle CSU, but now, Norvell’s comment’s have given Coach Prime’s ballclub reason to cover the spread.

Bud Parmalee’s Pick: Colorado -22 (-110)

The days of making a shrewd bet on the Buffs at a discounted price are long gone. The secret is out and the Buffs – at least according to the pollsters and oddsmakers – are for real. In any college game, covering a 22-point spread is a big ask, but Sanders’ ballclub can do it. Against Nebraska, where the Buffs were favored by 3.5, the final score was 36-14. To note, Nebraska scored a garbage-time touchdown on the game’s final play, so the “real” gap was 29 points. And Nebraska is most likely a better team than Colorado State. The suddenly outspoken Norvell will look toward redshirt freshman quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi – who didn’t start in Week 1 but was inserted amidst the blowout – to right the ship for the Rams. Unfortunately for Fowler-Nicolosi, Sanders and his team are not interested in making friends, so expect Folsom Field to be a rough place for the youngster’s first start. The line isn’t wrong here; look for another blowout in Boulder.

© Kevin R. Wexler/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

NFL: New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals

The New York Giants defied all odds last season when they not only made the playoffs, but advanced to the divisional round. That result left fans eager to see more of Daniel Jones in company heading into this season.

However, that excitement was short-lived. The Giants lost their season opener 40-0, getting pummeled by the Dallas Cowboys in a game that was over by halftime.

Luckily for the Giants, a tremendous opportunity to rebound is upon them as they head to Arizona to play one of the league’s worst teams. The Arizona Cardinals are still without quarterback Kyler Murray, who tore his ACL in the back half of last season. Without him, they turned to Joshua Dobbs. Dobbs threw for just 132 yards and no touchdowns in Week 1 and the Cardinals lost to the Washington Commanders in a 20-16 snoozer.

Despite having one of the worst games imaginable as a team, the Giants are expected to have a better showing in Week 2. They are currently a 4.5-point favorite on the road. This spread, while decent, is a reflection of the Giants Week 1 performance and that plays nicely for bettors.

Week 1 is often composed of shocking defeats and unexpected victories. By Week 2, most teams begin to figure things out and get their game back to normal.

If that is the case for the New York Giants, then covering the 4.5-point spread isn’t just possible; it’s expected.  Take the Giants -4.5

Steve Quinne’s Pick: New York Giants -4.5

The Cardinals are going nowhere this season, and they know it. The Giants still have playoff aspirations, given that they were in the divisional round a year ago. With their season on the brink, New York will rally after an opening game embarrassment and beat an Arizona team that doesn’t have much reason for hope.

© Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots

The Miami Dolphins are 1-0. The New England Patriots are 0-1. However, both teams played better than expected and impressed in Week 1.

The Patriots kept it close with the Philadelphia Eagles in a 25-20 game. The Dolphins won 36-34 against the Chargers in what was the game of the week.

Tua Tagovailoa threw for 466 yards and three TDs to help lead the Dolphins to victory. Tyreek Hill was the main recipient of those stats, as he went for 11 catches, 215 yards and two touchdowns. They will now be on the road once again to face their division rival in the New England Patriots.

The Patriots success stemmed from quarterback Mac Jones who threw for 316 yards and three TDs. Kendrick Bourne was the surprise star as he went for 64 yards and a pair of scores. The defense was the biggest factor, though. Bill Belichick’s squad held Jalen Hurts to just 207 total yards and one touchdown. The Eagles were also held to just 97 yards on the ground as a team.

Miami’s explosive offense will face a test against the Patriots defense, but ultimately it will come down to the play of the two QBs. If Mac Jones lights it up, it may be the Patriots coming away with the win. But if Tua can even come close to replicating last week’s performance, it could be a long night for New England.

It should be an entertaining “Sunday Night Football” game, but the Miami Dolphins are hard to bet against after what they did in Week 1. Tua and Tyreek may be the game’s best QB-WR duo and not even Bill Belichick can devise a game plan good enough to stop them.

Steve Quinne’s Pick: Miami Dolphins M/L (-155)

It’s hard to bet against Bill Belichick, especially after a strong Week 1 showing against the defending NFC champs. But the Dolphins are simply in a different class. They’re a legit Super Bowl contender in the AFC; they’re hard to beat when Tua is behind center. New England might keep it close, but Miami will ultimately prevail.