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Gridiron Players Club (10/14/23)


(1 Pick)


12PM EST: Alabama -19 (3 Units)

This is just a very bad match-up for Arkansas. They're better than their 2-4 record suggests and came up just short a few times, but this isn't one of them. Arkansas flat out can't run the football . They had 42 rushing yards against A&M two weeks ago and 37 rushing yards against Ole Miss last week. This is with KJ Jefferson at QB, one of the better dual threat QBs in the nation. They face an Alabama defense limiting FBS opponents to just 3.1 yards per carry, 15th best in the Nation. They're well tested against capable running teams too.

Arkansas's offensive line is terrible. They lost a lot of Hogs up front the past couple seasons and have failed to replace them. So far this season Jefferson's been sacked 23 times. In their 3 SEC games he's been sacked 16 times. Alabama has 14 sacks in their last 3 games, all in conference SEC games. They've registered at least 4 in each game.

KJ Jefferson has been able to do just enough through the air to keep them in games but this Alabama secondary has come together. Nick Saban made his bones as a DB coach in his early days and reloads his back end like no other. They struggled in the big game against Texas in week 2 but that was all the experience the young guys needed. They've locked it down since and it's been a grind to move the football through the air on this secondary.

Texas A&M found some plays here and there against them last week but that's one of the most talented WR rooms in the country. Far from what Arkansas has to offer. With this game being played in Alabama this can get real ugly real fast. Jefferson is good but he's no Elite Passer. He's thrown 6 interceptions this year and 5 of them came in his last 3 games in conference play. 4 came in his 2 road games. Probably would have thrown more than 1 against A&M but he only attempted 17 passes as he ran for his life the entire game. He was sacked 7 times. With the crowd noise and struggling offensive line. Tough spot.

Offensively the struggles for Alabama have come up front in pass protection but Arkansas has registered just 5 sacks in conference play. Despite being sacked 6 times Jalen Milroe showed out against A&M last week and threw for 321 yards and 3 touchdowns on a 63.6 completion %. On a day they couldn't run the football it was impressive. The ground game should be better today, A&M ranks 5th in the nation holding opponents to just 2.8 yards per carry, Arkansas is 55th at 3.8. The SEC has run wild on the Razorbacks too. LSU ran for 189 yards, A&M ran for 204, and Ole Miss ran for 196.

3:30PM EST: Oregon/Washington Under 67 (5 Units)

There's going to be plenty of offensive plays made but you need a lot of fireworks to push this past 67. Oregon's defense has played very well and has one of the best defensive minds in College Football leading this team. Washington's starting defense has also played well and they'll have one of the most raucous crowds of the College Football season behind them. Oregon's Bo Nix has a lengthy history of coming up short in big games too.

Oregon HC Dan Lanning is in his 2nd season at the helm after leading arguably the best CFB defense ever at Georgia. He's got the Ducks defense up to speed in his second year, holding FBS teams to just 13 points per game, 6th best mark in the Nation. As good as Michael Penix and the Huskies offense has been, they haven't seen anything close to this level of competition. No team that they've played has a winning record.

Take a look at Washington last year. 8th ranked scoring offense at 38.7 points per game, blowing teams out of the water. But when they played a respectable defense they struggled. Oregon State held them to 24 points in their own house and then Texas limited them to 27 in the Alamo Bowl. The PAC-12 had and has plenty of swiss cheese defenses but Oregon's no longer one of them. Arizona just held this Washington offense to 31 points last week too.

Oregon's offense has had the similar benefit of playing absolutely 0 respectable defenses. They love to run the football and they'll lean on that for a multitude of reasons. To start they're damn good at it, it keeps Michael Penix off the field and Huskies offense out of rhythm, and the Ducks defense stays fresh. Ball controls going to be big for Oregon. Washington can score in a hurry, there's no doubt about it. The former Bulldog will bring some SEC mentality into this one and try to bully the high flying Huskies.

Oregon's passing game is also very horizontal. It's a lot of short and intermediate throws and just letting guys make plays. Washington's defense has shown the ability to make open field tackles and they'll have to make plenty of those today.

Oregon's ability to run the football is going to effect how Washington calls this game offensively. You simply can't afford to have short possessions and leave your defense out to try. That's a recipe for disaster against a team like Oregon. They have a respectable offensive line that should be able to find some yards on the ground. It also keeps the Ducks pass rush at bay and linebackers honest. You're not going to just sit back and air it out against a Dan Lanning led defense.

7:30PM EST: Notre Dame -2.5 (3 Units),

Audric Estime Over 91.5 Rushing Yards (2 Units)

Lincoln Riley has had 0 respectable defenses as a Head Coach in College Football and this year's no different. They let up 41 points at home against Arizona of all teams last week and 41 in Colorado the week before that. You need a good defense to win the Big Game and that's why Riley's never done it. Their biggest defensive weakness is their rushing defense which plays exactly into Notre Dame's hands. ND has a big imposing offensive line and a horse of a running back called Audric Estime.

The Fighting Irish offense has sputtered a bit in recent weeks but they've played some great defenses. Ohio State's defense has been a revelation this season. Duke's defense allowed just 22.3 points per game last year and brought back a ton of talent this season. They hadn't allowed more than 14 points this year before surrendering 21 to ND 2 weeks ago. Then people seem to forget this Louisville defense was 10th in the Nation last season allowing just 19.2 points per game. They had to replace their DC but they're coming along quite nicely. Sam Hartman also lost to Louisville while ranked at Wake Forest. Sometimes a team has your number. Both the Duke and Louisville games were played on the road too.

Sam Hartman is a damn good QB and if you give him an elite run game, he's going to make you pay. USC has allowed 190+ rushing yards in 4 of their 6 games this season. Good chance Estime sees a season high in carries this week which is why we also have a 2 Unit play on him going over 91.5 Rushing Yards. With Hartman at QB USC simply can't sell out to stop the run. That hasn't even worked against lesser teams anyway. The best way to stop a great offense like USC is to keep them off the field too.

On the other side of things the Notre Dame defense is more then capable of getting timely stops. They're at Home which is going to be huge having the Irish faithful behind them. USC struggled when they went into Colorado and sure there's a lot of hype with Deion over there but that isn't close to the Notre Dame stadium environment. The Irish shut down Ohio State at Home and have allowed just 23 points.

Heisman candidate Caleb Williams is going to make some plays for USC. This pick is being made because the Notre Dame offense should have a massive edge over the USC defense. Some people are concerned that ND may throw in the towel with their playoff chances looking grim following their 2nd loss. That's just not how this prestigious program works and there's a ton of future NFL talent on this football team. They're going to come out ready to play.

2 loss teams have made the playoffs before and a Win here could go a long way. If Ohio State and USC go on to win their conference's the Irish would have a case. A loss on the final play to a Big 10 champ that could be undefeated and beating the Pac-12 Champs would certainly show they can compete with College Footballs best. They'll still need some help without a Conference Championship of their own but there's hope and that's all they need.

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