As last Saturday’s games kicked off, I received an email from a reader — (Hi, Jack!) — kindly alerting me that my overall record was short one victory. I thanked him, given that I need every win I can get this year.
But no recount can help me now.
Reality set in Sunday, when I tallied up the worst week (4-12) of my worst season ever. Now, I look to the bottom of this page, and can’t remember how I amassed more lifetime wins than losses. The contrarian methods that have long carried me are now killing me.
Out of principle, I can’t change. Out of stubbornness, I won’t change. But I know that change is needed. Apparently, so did you.
When I awoke Monday morning, another reader email was waiting (Hi, Clive!). The subject line? “Oh brother.”
In the midst of being reminded of my recent shortcomings, I was pointed to the answer beside me the whole time:
“What is the over/under before your spouse starts picking the games?” he asked.
Whatever the line, the under was the play.
During my previous-worst slump a couple of years back, Mrs. Profit stepped in and went 9-6. The next week, she went 10-5. Her short takeover sparked a stretch run in which picks cashed at a clip of more than 55 percent.
Since then, Mrs. Profit hasn’t followed college football much, but some things haven’t changed. Clemson remains the country’s best — and possibly, only — hope to avoid another Alabama national championship.
“Isn’t Dabo Swinney someone?” she asked.
Why, yes! He is the coach of the only team to keep Alabama from a title in the past three years. He is the only coach to beat Nick Saban in a national title game, and was an onside kick away from potentially doing it twice.
Though Clemson remains in the shadow of Alabama’s dominance, there are hints of Texas circa 2005. While Tua Tagovailoa leads Alabama into the conversation of the best teams of all time — a la USC’s Pete Carroll-Matt Leinart-Reggie Bush team — Clemson runs its own undefeated campaign, winning by an average of 51 points over its past four games.
Alabama left LSU looking more unstoppable than ever, but No. 2 Clemson (-20) will look nearly as dominant after visiting No. 17 Boston College. With Swinney’s midseason switch to quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Clemson has an offense that is capable of taking down the champs, too. Remember that when Alabama and Clemson meet in the playoff for the fourth straight year.
Here are the rest of Mrs. P’s picks:
NORTH CAROLINA STATE (-17) over Wake Forest: She wasn’t going to kick off the week by picking “whatever a Demon Deacon is.” Well, apparently it was birthed by the editor of the 1922 school paper, following a “devilish” win. So, now we all know.
SYRACUSE (-21) over Louisville: After six straight losses, Bobby Petrino should start packing his motorcycle.
Fresno State (-3) over BOISE STATE: The Bulldogs rank 16th in the AP poll, 17th in the coaches’ poll and 23rd in the CFP rankings. It’s good that 13 people, largely tied to power programs, are deciding all of this.
Tcu (+12¹/₂) over WEST VIRGINIA: Why the Horned Frogs? “The name made me chuckle,” Mrs. P said. This may have been a mistake.
MICHIGAN STATE (+3½) over Ohio State: It is her “toughest call” for good reason. Before the Buckeyes’ blowout win last season, the meetings were decided by three or fewer points in three of the previous five years.
Navy (+25½) over CENTRAL FLORIDA: The undefeated Knights are No. 12 in the playoff rankings, two spots behind two-loss Kentucky. Expansion can’t come soon enough.
Wisconsin (+9) over PENN STATE: The nation’s leading-rusher, Jonathan Taylor, should have a good time in Happy Valley, facing the country’s 79th-ranked run defense.
ALABAMA (-24) over Mississippi State: “It’s a big spread, but I already picked a Bulldogs,” she said. Last week was a reminder that no spread is too big for the Crimson Tide.
Michigan (-40) over RUTGERS: “Because Rutgers.” Because how are you going to argue with that? The Wolverines’ last visit to New Jersey ended with a 78-0 win, in which Rutgers became the first team in 26 years to fail to record a first down.
OKLAHOMA (-19½) over Oklahoma State: The Sooners have won three straight in the series (by an average of 21 points) and the gap between the teams has only grown since they combined for 114 points in last season’s game.
COLORADO (+6) over Washington State: The Buffaloes opened the season 5-0, but have lost four straight since star wide receiver Laviska Shenault went down with a toe injury. His likely return could end the skid.
TENNESSEE (+5¹/₂) over Kentucky: After watching their SEC East dream die, Wildcats quarterback Terry Wilson said, “I know we’ll win out.” The leader of the nation’s 98th-ranked offense shouldn’t be so confident.
Auburn (+14¹/₂) over GEORGIA: “I know, it goes against my Tigers stance, but it’s just how I feel for this one.” I hesitate to reveal I feel the same. A fourth straight game against a ranked foe will catch up with the Bulldogs, who split last season’s two games against Auburn.
ARKANSAS (+13½) over LSU: There are “too many Tigers. Teams should be more creative,” Mrs. P said. The same could be said for LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger.
Florida State (+18) over NOTRE DAME: Strangely, the Fighting Irish have struggled to put away vastly inferior opponents at home, beating Ball State, Vanderbilt and Pittsburgh by an average of six points. Even stranger, they opened the season ranked 12th and the Seminoles were slotted at 19th.
The Mrs.’s can’t-miss-picks: N.C. State, TCU, Tennessee
This season (Best bets): 72-89-1 (13-17)
2014-17 record: 518-471-10