October Football Madness Betting Contest: Bracket and First-Round Picks

October Football Madness Betting Contest: Bracket and First-Round Picks article feature image
  • Welcome to Month 2 of our first of many internal monthly football betting contests.
  • Sixteen will start off in the bracket, but only one will be left standing at the end of each month.
  • Three picks (sides or totals) are required each weekend, including at least one from NFL and NCAA.

Congratulations to PJ Walsh, who took home the crown in our inaugural Football Madness Betting Contest last month.

By rule, the four semifinalists (PJ, Collin Wilson, Geoff Schwartz and me) automatically receive entries into the following month’s contest.

As for the other 12 participants, you will see a few repeat names from September in addition to a few new faces — including two The Action Network edge subscribers. Each month, I will hold a random contest on Twitter to select two members who will receive a free entry into our monthly betting contest. A risk-free shot at glory and a nice little prize.

For those not familiar with the format or looking for a rules refresher, please reference the rules below:


  • Each person must submit three weekend picks by Friday each week.
  • They can only be sides or totals — based on the lines set each Wednesday.
  • One pick must be from the NFL, one from NCAA and the third from either.
  • Each head-to-head winner advances to the next weekend.
  • In the event of a tie, the person with the greatest margin of cover advances.
  • Side action is encouraged.

After confirming each of the 16 participants for the September contest, I created first-round matchups based on personal information in order to create some potential smack talk. I then assigned numbers and used the random number generator function in Microsoft Excel to create the bracket order.

Now, let’s take a look at the matchups and picks for the first round.


PJ Walsh (Duke) vs. Travis Reed (Missouri)

Reigning champion begins title defense against close colleague.

Walsh: Air Force-Navy Under 48, Titans -3.5, Bowling Green-Toledo Under 72
Reed: Air Force-Navy Under 48, Titans -3.5, 49ers -4.5

As you can see, these two clearly approach games similarly with two of their three picks the same. That makes this a one-pick matchup that could come down to margin of cover if they both win or lose.

If you missed our staff’s favorite bets piece, PJ pointed out some wonderful trends for backing the Air Force-Navy under this weekend.

John Ewing (Cardinals) vs. Vik Chokski (Cubs)

A rivalry fit for the month of October.

Ewing: Virginia Tech +6.5, Titans -3.5, Texans -3.5
Chokski: Virginia Tech +6.5, Seahawks +7, Browns +3

The only time you’ll see the Cubs and Cardinals competing this October. Too soon?

Another duplicate pick, which means these two will only have to sweat out Sunday.

Sean Koerner (CA) vs. Matt LaMarca (NY)

Have to have an east vs. west coast matchup.

Koerner: Washington/UCLA Over 50.5, Colorado State/SJSU Under 63, Ravens/Browns Under 47
LaMarca: North Texas/UTEP Under 53, Panthers -6.5, Cardinals +4.5

In this battle of Los Angeles vs. Long Island, Koerner went with all totals as he did in each matchup last month — while LaMarca will roll the dice with two NFL sides.

Collin Wilson (Arkansas) vs. Jack Settleman (Texas)

An old Southwest Conference college football rivalry.

Wilson: Oklahoma-Texas Under 61.5, Texas State +3.5, Lions +1
Settleman: Texas +7.5, Virginia Tech +6.5, Broncos/Jets Under 42.5

While Jack is backing his alma mater, Collin didn’t have the guts to pick Arkansas. The Hogs are playing Alabama, so can you blame him?


Stuckey (Ravens) vs. Danny Donahue (Patriots)

Two George Washington University alums and Jeopardy enthusiasts.

Stuckey: Mississippi State +3.5, Jaguars +3, Lions +1
Donahue: Arizona State +3, Maryland-Michigan Under 47.5, Giants-Panthers Under 44.5

Better luck next month, Danny.

AJ Ross (Edge) vs. Chris Ahl (Edge)

A matchup of two The Action Network Edge subscribers.

Ross: UAB +10, Titans -3.5, Bengals/Dolphins Under 49
Ahl: Michigan State/NW Over 43.5, Kansas State +4.5, Giants/Panthers Under 44.5

Thank you to all Edge members and good luck to AJ and Chris!

Locky (Video) vs. Matt Mitchell (Audio)

Former SportsCenter producer and resident sharp vs. our audio producer.

Locky: Mississippi State +3.5, Rutgers +5.5, Broncos +1
Mitchell: Liberty -4.5, Jaguars +3, Eagles/Vikings Over 45

Producing all of the Liberty talk on The Action Network Colleges Podcast has clearly made an impression on Matt.

Geoff Schwartz (ITTB) vs. BlackJack Fletcher (ITTB)

The popcorn matchup of the first round.

Schwartz: Alabama/Arkansas Over 56, Panthers -6.5, Titans -3.5
BlackJack: Florida State +13.5, Cardinals +4.5, Broncos +1

Tough first round matchup, but couldn’t pass up the I’ll Take That Bet banter. If you haven’t already, check out our daily betting show on ESPN+.