Today’s Top Picks: An MLB best bet and the sweet return of college football

Today is a wonderful day. Maybe you think every day is wonderful. If you do, that’s great. I admire the way you view life. But today is wonderfuller. It’s such a wonderful day that I can make up words like wonderfuller and nobody will call me out on it. Not you, not my editor. Nobody.

Why is today so wonderful? I’m glad you asked, because it makes for a smooth transition into this second paragraph. It’s wonderful because today is the last day of the year before football is played. I don’t mean preseason NFL football or Canadian football. I mean the real stuff. The college season kicks off tomorrow with two games before hitting full-speed next week.

And it’s a wonderful thing. As somebody whose main gig here at CBSSports.com is covering college football, it’s the best time of the year for me because not only do I love the sport, but it’s a lot easier to find things to write about it when it’s actually going on!

Oh, and having football means we have more games we can make plays on, and you know I have a play for you available here. We’ll get to it later, though, and instead, we’ll start with a Friday night baseball game.

All odds are via William Hill.

1. Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians: Royals +165

I don’t like much of anything on Friday night’s baseball slate except for this. There’s value on the Royals against an Indians team that was red-hot for a while but has crashed pretty hard. Cleveland enters this game on a three-game losing streak and has lost seven of its last nine. Zach Plesac gets the start, and he’s pretty ordinary. His ERA sits at 3.53, but his xFIP is at 5.13 due to a lack of strikeouts, too many walks and his willingness to allow some bombs. Royals starter Jake Junis‘ ERA is 4.78, but the advanced metrics like him a lot more than Plesac. I don’t think it’s a glaring mismatch in Kansas City’s direction or anything, but the Royals win this game often enough to justify taking them at +165.

2. Leicester City at Sheffield United: Over 2.25 (Saturday)

Is this dude picking soccer matches now!? Yes, this dude is. Now, if you’re unfamiliar with soccer, you’re probably a bit confused by the total being at 2.25, so let me explain. If a soccer total ends in .25 or .75, you’re essentially making two bets. The simplest way to think of it is, if we’re betting Over 2.25, half our bet is going on Over 2, and the other half is going on Over 2.5. If this match finishes with two goals, we will lose the half-bet on Over 2.5, but we’ll be refunded the half on Over 2. If it ends with one goal or fewer, we lose it all. If it finishes with three goals or more, we win both bets. Trust me, it confused the hell out of me when I first started, and I still prefer our old-fashioned American full and half-numbers, but you get used to it.

See what SportsLine’s advanced computer model has to say about picks for the first week of college football

3. Florida vs. Miami: Under 47 (Saturday)

Florida will be starting Feleipe Franks at quarterback, and he has plenty of experience at the position. Miami will start redshirt freshman Jarren Williams, who has three career passes against Savannah State under his belt. Both QBs do have something in common, however. They will both be starting against what are essentially brand new offensive lines. And those offensive lines will both be going against two of the more aggressive defenses you’re going to find in college football. All of which leads me to believe that both offenses will be a little conservative in their season openers, and both defenses will look to attack them because of it. Add it all up, and I think we’re going to see a low-scoring affair, but one in which we will live in constant fear of a defensive touchdown. 

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