THE HOME DAWGS: An ode to the beautiful spectacle that is college football
By BRANDON HURLEY
Certainly, what I’m about to say isn’t that far out-of-the-ordinary within the state of Iowa, but it bears mentioning again.
There’s nothing like attending a big-time college football game as the depths of fall hunker down on you.
From the chilly, sun-kissed tailgating parties to the pre-game road trips, everything about a Saturday soaking in the magnificent game of college football is second to none.
The excitement builds throughout the entire town, whether you’re in Iowa City or Ames, everyone is decked out in the respective school colors.
I don’t mention this enough – we are blessed to live in a state with such strong loyalty to a pair of Division I football programs. I feel sorry for the folks that don’t like football at all. The pageantry that leads us into kick-off is unmatched.
Even scouring through the waves of scalpers is often an enjoyable competition in itself. That panic leading up to kick-off, not knowing whether you’ll get a seat or not, combined with the adrenaline rush created by the search for the lowest price possible. It’s the game before the game, really.
And once the seats are found and coats and blankets are situated, it’s time to settle in with three hours of screams, joy, anger and hard-hitting action.
The jolt of excitement I get from the depths of a high-level college football game is one of my favorites. There’s no place I’d rather be on a chilly, fall afternoon then at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. And when the home team pulls off a momentum shifting sack, one that seals the victory, chaos and celebration ensues.
When victory nears, we all become close friends for an afternoon, sharing high fives and hugs. Ah, it’s so beautiful.
Now that I’ve got another delectable love letter out of the way, it’s time to make some picks. This is a gambling column, for all intents and purposes. And boy, have we hit it hot as of late, 8-2 over the last two weekends, including another 4-1 stretch last week. Let’s see if we can keep this rolling.
As always, don’t forget to subscribe to the Home Dawgs podcast, now available on Spotify, Apple and Google podcasts. This week’s guest is a guy who had a huge role in legalization sports gambling in Iowa.
Here we go:
B-Hurl’s Season Record: 25-14
Last week: 4-1
(Winners are in Bold)
1. Illinois (+15.5) at Iowa
I know Iowa is coming off a gigantic win over previously undefeated Minnesota and it’s senior day, but this is historically when the Hawks let people down. Illinois is suddenly red-hot, having won four straight Big Ten games, and they are coming off a bye. Kinnick will be unusually quiet at the start, with an 11 a.m. kick and far from a sellout (10K tickets remained as of Tuesday). That plays into the hands of the Fighting Illini, who’ve held their own against Michigan, beat Wisconsin as well as Michigan State on the final plays of the game. Illinois covers easily.
2. Kansas (+24.5) at Iowa State
This is a GIANT line, one I typically stay away from. But, man, how much longer can ISU keep up this emotional roller coaster? Two consecutive games against the nation’s blue bloods, and both come down to the last play of the night. That has to wear on the Cyclones at some point, and I think it happens this week. It’s an early kick, against an over-matched Kansas squad. This has letdown written all over it. I think the Jayhawks can keep this one within four touchdowns.
3. Seahawks at Eagles (-1.5)
As we move to the NFL, the public isn’t biting on the Eagles, slamming the Seahawks. Which, with a line of just 1.5, I think the Eagles are the safe play. As a whole, I’m not really a big fan of any of these lines, college or NFL. But, I’m going NFL heavy.
4. Panthers (+9.5) at Saints
As you’ve heard from me all season long, the road underdogs are where it’s at in the NFL. They’ve been dominating from the start, and for some reason, this line is luring me in. It may be a sucker bet, but this has become one of the league’s top rivalries, even if Cam Newton isn’t a factor this week. Give me the Panthers to cover. It’s a big line, and I need it.
5. Ravens at Rams (+3.5)
I’ll take the home ‘dog, please and thank you. I’m not entirely confident in the Rams, they’ve really fallen off, but anytime you get a points for the the 2019 Super Bowl qualifiers when the road team is taking a cross-country trip, I’ll take it. The Ravens have to fall off at some point,