Beat the Bookie


Beat the Bookie with Joe Fortenbaugh

Joe's off but his picks aren't

Joe Fortenbaugh
December 29, 2017 - 9:44 am

Since I’m on holiday with Niki and Chubbs until Tuesday, Jan. 2, I figured one of the best ways to share this week’s installment of “Beat the Bookie” would be to post an article here on with my selections. You can also hit up @JoeFortenbaugh on Twitter for all the latest Beat the Bookie action.

Last week: 4-4

Season: 53-67-3


Clemson Tigers (+3) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide: I don’t get this spread at all. In fact, I think the wrong team is favored here. Let’s ask ourselves some honest questions, shall we? If the only season of college football that you’ve ever watched or heard about was this season, how impressed would you be with Alabama? Seriously! Jalen Hurts is an average quarterback who can’t lead his team from behind, so if Bama gets down two scores in this one like they did against Auburn, forget about it. Additionally Bama has covered jus two spreads over its last seven games, which furthers our assertion that this team is a bit overrated. And not only that, but Nick Saban’s Achilles Heel is the mobile quarterback. You saw what Deshaun Watson did against this team two years in a row, not to mention what Johnny Manziel and Cam Newton did to this squad as well. Clemson’s Kelly Bryant fits that mold, as he’s already rushed for 646 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.

Bama is 0-4 against the number over its last four games against teams with a winning record while Clemson is 7-0 ATS over its last 7 bowl games, 10-1 ATS over its last 11 neutral-site games and 8-0 ATS over its last eight non-conference matchups. Give me Clemson plus the points.

Northwestern Wildcats (-7.5) vs. Kentucky Wildcats: In case you missed it, Northwestern turned a 2-3 start into a 7-0 finish highlighted by seven straight point spread covers as well as blowout wins over Minnesota and Illinois to close the season by a combined score of 81-7. The Wildcats are now 16-5 ATS over their last 21 games overall and 5-2 ATS over their last seven bowl games, while Kentucky has covered the number in just one of its last 8 outings and enters bowl season having dropped three of its final four contests of the year. Give me Northwestern in a route.

Miami Hurricanes (+4.5) vs. Wisconsin Badgers: This one is relatively simple to handicap: Miami head coach Mark Richt is a staggering 11-5 SU and 10-6 against the spread lifetime in bowl games, and that includes a 31-14 blowout win and cover over West Virginia in last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl in Richt’s first season with The U. Richt is one of the absolute best in the business when given a month to prepare for a quality opponent and that’s really all I need to know when it comes to a matchup like this.  I’ll take the 4.5 points with Miami.

South Carolina Gamecocks (+8) vs. Michigan Wolverines: Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines went 3-3 down the stretch when it mattered most and covered the number in just five of 12 outings this season. Michigan is also 1-4 ATS over their last five non-conference matchups, while South Carolina is 5-0 ATS over their last five neutral-site games and 4-1 ATS over their last five bowl games. Maybe Michigan puts on a show in this one, but given the team’s issues on offense in general and at the quarterback position, specifically, I find it hard to believe that they’ll control 60 minutes of action while covering a lofty 7.5-point spread against a gritty, grind-em-out program like South Carolina. Give me the Gamecocks +7.5.

BONUS PICKS: Georgia (-2.5) over Oklahoma


(4:25pm PST) San Francisco 49ers (-3) at Los Angeles Rams: In the 11 games prior to the arrival of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers were averaging 321.7 total yards and 17.0 points per game. But in the four matchups since Jimmy G assumed the role of starting signal-caller, the franchise has undergone a dramatic 180-degree turn, with an offense that is averaging an insane 396.7 total yards and 27.5 points per outing. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that the Niners are 4-0 both straight-up and against the spread with Garoppolo calling the plays. The Rams announced earlier this week that quarterback Jared Goff, running back and MVP candidate Todd Gurley and defensive tackle Aaron Donald would not play this Sunday, so LA is clearly in survival mode while the Niners are as motivated as any franchise in the business to close out Week 17 in style. Lay the field goal with San Francisco.

(4:25pm PST) New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (UNDER 50.5): Dirk Koetter’s Buccaneers have scored 21 or fewer points in eight of their last nine outings, are riding a five-game losing streak and have seen the UNDER cash in five straight home dates as well as five of their last six divisional showdowns. As for New Orleans, Drew Brees and the Saints clinch the NFC South title as well as a home wild card game with a win on Sunday, so here’s how I see this thing playing out: Tampa Bay lays down relatively quickly—big surprise—and Sean Payton and Drew Brees lean on the NFL’s fifth-ranked rushing attack to move the sticks, grind the clock and escape with a win. Take note that the UNDER is 4-1 in New Orleans’ last five road games, so yeah, we’re playing UNDER the total of 50.5 total points here.

(4:25pm PST) Buffalo Bills (-2.5) at Miami Dolphins: Jay Cutler got his pressure-free $10 million and is now just four quarters away from heading back into retirement, so this game is about playing injury-free football for 60 minutes and then riding off into the South Beach sunset. A playoff contender in the eyes of many before the season started, Miami has dropped 7 of its last 9 outings, has committed three or more turnovers in four of its last six games and has covered the number in just two of its last 10 matchups overall. Translation: this team is ready for the offseason. As for the Bills, Buffalo is still very much alive in the hunt for an AFC wild card spot and has an unfairly-maligned quarterback in Tyrod Taylor who wants nothing more than to prove to the rest of the National Football League that he really does belong. One team cares, one team doesn’t…give me the Bills -2.5.

BONUS PICKS: Carolina Panthers (+4) over Atlanta Falcons, six-point teaser with the Saints at -0.5 and the 49ers at +3





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