Mythical Picks – NCAA – Weekend Of 9/24/16

Last week was not a good week of Mythical Picking for college football. The record for the week was 7-9-0 bringing the cumulative record for the season down to 26-21-0.

The Best Picks of the Week were:

    Army – 4 against UTEP. Army won the game 66-14
    Michigan St. +7 against Notre Dame. Michigan State won outright.

The Worst Picks of the Week were:

    Florida St. – 1 against Louisville. Louisville won the game 63-20
    BC + 6 against Va Tech. BC lost by 49 points.

Nothing above should tempt anyone to think of these Mythical Picks as authoritative or in possession of some precious inside information. Lest that message not be sufficiently clear, let me be more direct. No one should even think of using any information here as the basis for making a real wager on a real college football game involving real money. Anyone dumb enough to do that …

    … is also dumb enough to think that a semi-colon is what a person has after intestinal surgery.

General Comments:

The Linfield College Wildcats took a long trip to Texas to play Mary Hardin-Baylor and Linfield came up very short in the game. The score at halftime saw Linfield trailing 24-20 which is not an insurmountable obstacle; however, the second half was disastrous for the Wildcats as Mary Hardin-Baylor won the second half 42-7 making the final score 66-27. That gives Linfield a 1-1 record so far this year as they commence conference play against Northwest Conference opponents.

This week is Homecoming Week for Linfield and they will host the Lewis and Clark Pioneers. Lewis and Clark bring an 0-2 record to the game and have been outscored 56-20 in those two contests. Go Wildcats!

In last week’s commentary on college football here, I made a passing mention of Texas Tech’s rather miserable defensive record last year. I said that I was too lazy to go and look up the stats, but that I would be shocked to learn if more than 5 teams in the nation (out of the 128 Division 1-A teams) last year had given up more points per game than did Texas Tech. As usual in circumstances such as these, I got a rapid response in an email from the reader in Houston who is a Sports Stat Guru. Let me give you the details; he refers to these teams that allow loads of points as “The Usual Suspects”:

    128th Kansas 46.5
    127th SMU 45.5
    126th N Mex St.45.0
    125th Tex Tech 43.6
    124th Idaho 42.5

My intuition was correct; there were not 5 teams that gave up more points per game than Texas Tech last year but now that I look at that list of 5 teams something else comes to mind:

    Two of the teams (Kansas and Texas Tech) are in the Big 12 – one of the Power 5 conferences.

    Two of the teams (New Mexico St and Idaho) are teams that have been asked to leave the Sun Belt Conference at the end of this season. Before anyone asks, I am not sure what would be a “step down” in prestige from the Sun Belt Conference in Division 1-A football.

Before the games last week, I probably would have said that the best team in the Big 12 in terms of College Football Playoff potential was Texas given that it had a showcase win over Notre Dame and Oklahoma had a loss to Houston on the record. Well, last week Texas lost to Cal, Notre Dame lost again and Oklahoma lost its second game of the year – convincingly. So I don’t know who the Big 12 contender might be this year.

    Oklahoma St has that loss to C. Michigan to deal with. Yes, I know that the loss was due to an officiating error; however, in order for C. Michigan to win on a miracle last play of the game, that means Oklahoma St. wasn’t that much better than C. Michigan on that day. That is not something the Selection Committee is likely to look upon with favor.

    TCU already has a loss on the books. Losing to Arkansas is not nearly as bad as losing to C. Michigan but it was still a home game for TCU.

    K-State has already lost to Stanford in Week 1.

    Baylor is 3-0 to date but has not played any team of consequence yet – – as is the custom in Waco prior to the onset of conference play.

The scheduling in college football for last week provided an unusual circumstance. The Top 3 teams in the rankings all played other ranked teams and all of the Top 3 were on the road. Here is how all that turned out:

    Top ranked Alabama fell behind Ole Miss 24-3 and then stormed back to win 48-43. Actually, that game was not as close as it might look. Ole Miss got two late scores (a TD followed by an onside kick) to make it look like a nailbiter. Actually there was a stretch in the middle of the game where Alabama prevailed by 45-6.

    Third ranked Ohio State pummeled Oklahoma 45-24. People had been “worried” about the lack of experience on the Ohio State team; from what I saw last weekend, these “inexperienced players” can play the game. This makes two losses at home for Oklahoma and I think you can write them off completely in terms of the CFP.

    Second ranked Florida State did not fare so well in their visit to Louisville. The Cardinals beat the Seminoles badly by a score of 63-20; this was an old-fashioned ass-kicking. I had everything wrong about that game. I did not think that the Louisville offense and Lamar Jackson would be able to dominate the Florida State defense. Here is what actually happened:

      Louisville had 521 yards on offense
      Louisville averaged 6.8 yards per carry on 46 rushing attempts
      Louisville’s 63 points came on 9 TDs
      Lamar Jackson ran for 146 yards and 4 TDs
      Lamar Jackson threw for 216 yards and 1 TD

Please welcome Lamar Jackson to any discussion involving the Heisman Trophy for 2016…

With regard to Louisville, circle two dates on your calendar:

    1 October: Louisville plays Clemson at Clemson

    17 November: Louisville plays Houston at Houston

I said last week that I was not sure how the Oklahoma State team would respond to getting screwed over by the officials the week before that. Well, they responded quite well, thank you. Oklahoma St. beat Pitt 45-38 and Cowboys’ QB, Mason Rudolph set a school record throwing for 540 yards in the game. Pitt should have gotten the message that Oklahoma St was ready to play because on the first play from scrimmage, Rudolph completed a 91-yard pass for a TD.

Cal beat Texas 50-43 and the Texas defense gave up 568 yards. That is not a good showing at all for Texas…

Up in the Big 10 part of the country, there was a mixed bag of results.

    Michigan came back from a 21-7 deficit in the first half to beat Colorado 45-28. Not bad…

    Michigan State beat Notre Dame 36-28 and dominated the Irish defense rushing for 260 yards. Notre Dame is now out of consideration for the CFP. Not bad …

    Nebraska beat Oregon 35-32. There is a quirkiness to this win. Oregon tried 5 2-point conversions in the game and failed on 4 of them and lost the game by only 3 points. Not bad …

    Ohio State dominated Oklahoma. Not bad at all…

    Wisconsin beat Georgia St by only 23-17. With 12 minutes to play, Georgia St led the game 17-13. I know a win is a win, but Wisconsin was a 35-point favorite here. Not so good …

    Iowa lost to North Dakota State (Division 1-AA) at home by a score of 23-21. The game was close but the win for N. Dakota St was not a fluke. They beat Iowa the way Iowa usually beats other teams. They held Iowa to 34 yards rushing (1.4 yards per carry) while amassing 239 yards rushing (4.9 yards per carry) for themselves. Bad, bad loss…

      [Aside: It would appear as if N. Dakota St. is still pretty good despite the departure of Carson Wentz for the NFL…]

In some SEC action:

    Tennessee beat Ohio 28-19. Considering that the Vols were 27-point favorites, this was not such a good showing.

    LSU beat Mississippi State 23-20 despite getting shut out for the entire second half. The next meeting of the “Hang Les Miles From The Sour Apple Tree Society” had to be postponed.

    Florida squashed North Texas 32-0. Here is what I mean by “squashed”:

      Florida held North Texas to 66 yards passing. That was the good news…
      Florida held North Texas to minus-13 yards rushing.

Miami beat Appalachian St. 45-10 and may have found themselves a QB in the process. Brad Kaaya threw for 368 yards and 3 TDs in 3 quarters of action.

Va Tech crushed BC 49-0. The BC offense was virtually non-existent gaining a total of 124 yards and amassing the grand total of 6 first downs in this game. Please note that BC had 6 first downs and Va Tech had 7 touchdowns in this game. Adding insult to injury, BC had 124 yards on offense and they were penalized 93 yards in the game. Here is a stat I ran across:

    The last time BC scored more than 17 points in a conference game was in November 2014.

The three Service Academies are off to a cumulative start of 8-0. Air Force had last week off but the other two Academies did well:

    Army ran their record to 3-0 stomping on UTEP 66-14. Army ran the ball 69 times for 419 yards and added 174 yards passing on top of that. Army’s start might make you start thinking about Army in a Bowl Game in December. Army last went to a Bowl Game in 2010. Since then, Army’s cumulative record has been 14-46. This is a significantly different start to a season for the Cadets.

    Navy beat Tulane 21-14 and their record is also 3-0 so far this year. Looking at the game stats it would appear that this game was closer on the scoreboard than it was on the field. For example, Navy converted 9 of 14 third down attempts while Tulane only converted 2 of 12.

Upcoming this week we will see ranked teams playing other ranked teams and ranked teams hosting credible opponents. Here are some of the game that look interesting:

    No. 19 Florida at No. 14 Tennessee.

    No. 11 Wisconsin at No. 8 Michigan State.

    No. 7 Stanford at UCLA.

    No. 17 Arkansas at No. 10 Texas A&M.

    Oklahoma State at No. 16 Baylor.

    No. 12 Georgia at No. 23 Ole Miss.

    Penn State at No. 4 Michigan.

    No. 18 LSU at Auburn.

The Ponderosa Games:

Last week, we had 11 Ponderosa games on the schedule and the record for favorites covering was 5-6-0. That brings the season record for favorites covering in Ponderosa Games to 19-16-0.

Arkansas, Florida, Kansas St., NC State and Washington St. covered.

Arizona, Baylor, Georgia Southern, TCU, Tennessee and Wisconsin did not cover.

This week we have only 4 Ponderosa Games and in 2 of those games, the favorite is on the road:

UNC-Charlotte at Temple – 27 (53.5): There are 128 schools playing Division 1-A football and meaningless as it is, I doubt most folks would think that Temple was in the Top 50 or maybe even the Top 75. That spread tells me that UNC-Charlotte is a bad team indeed…

Louisville – 25 at Marshall (74.5): Marshall has to hope that Louisville spent this week reading its press clippings – and believing them – instead of practicing hard for this game. Otherwise this might be an epic blowout. Marshall’s defense gave up 524 yards – and 65 points – to Akron.

Kent St. at Alabama – 44 (50): For the oddsmaker to be on target with both the spread and the Total Line here, Alabama would have to win 47-3. Could happen… Kent St. lost to North Carolina A&T earlier this year; is there anyone on the planet that thinks they can win this game? The odds on the money line stand at +58,500 for Kent St. and at – 135,000 for Alabama.

Houston – 34.5 at Texas St. (65): Houston needs to win big to keep its name in front of the folks who will be on the Selection Committee. Winning this game 10-7 would be almost as bad as a loss for the Cougars…

Games of Interest:

(Fri Nite) TCU – 21 at SMU (65): According to Google Maps, these schools are about 41 miles apart on Interstate 30. It is a rivalry game. Having said that, these two teams play on different levels of college football. I like TCU to win and cover on the road and I like this game to go OVER.

(Fri Nite) Wyoming – 3 at E. Michigan (63): The game is interesting to me because it could have a bearing on the SHOE Tournament later this year. Other than that …

(Fri Nite) USC at Utah – 3 (46.5): I watched the USC/Alabama game and was unimpressed with USC. I also saw some of the USC/Stanford game and was unimpressed again with USC. I ran across a stat that shocked me:

    USC ranks 107th in the nation in rushing offense.

    Remember the days of “student-body right”?

It appears to me as if the team just cannot get out of its own way; maybe that is a coaching deficiency? No way I will take USC on the road here so I’ll take Utah and lay the points.

Army – 14 at Buffalo (50.5): Army has been bad for the last decade or so on the gridiron so it is good to see them on the upswing (see above). Buffalo is not exactly a powerhouse and Army runs an offense that Buffalo has probably not spent a lot of time practicing against. I like Army to win and cover here and I like the game to go OVER.

E. Carolina at Va Tech – 11.5 (56): Short and sweet … That line looks fat perhaps because of the drubbing Va Tech laid on BC last week. I’ll take E. Carolina plus the points here.

Penn St. at Michigan – 19 (58): Penn St. RB, Saquon Barkley, is really good and getting 19 points with him on your side is tempting indeed. However, I will pass on that pick and take this game to go OVER.

Iowa – 12.5 at Rutgers (56): I suspect that Iowa will come out breathing fire after having to hear about losing to a Division 1-AA school all this week (see above). I think they are going to pound the ball down Rutgers’ throat here. Even on the road, I’ll take Iowa and lay the points.

BYU vs. W. Virginia – 7 (51) [Game to be played at FedEx Field in DC area]: I am sure there is a good reason why this game is being played at this venue – but that good reason surely escapes me. I think this will be a defensive game; I like the game to stay UNDER.

Pitt at UNC – 7 (67.5): Both teams have shown they can score; neither team has shown any proclivity for stopping opponents from scoring. Ergo, I like this game to go OVER.

Oklahoma St. at Baylor – 7.5 (76): This should be a track meet – – with about the same amount of defense as a track meet. I like this game to go OVER.

Wisconsin at Michigan St. – 5 (42.5): This is the football equivalent of a heavyweight boxing match on the undercard of a major promotion. These big guys will stand there and pummel one another from start to finish. Like USC, Wisconsin’s “brand” is a powerful run game; so far this year, Wisconsin is 83rd in the nation in rushing. I like this game to go OVER.

Arkansas at Texas A&M – 6 (49): I do not understand this Total Line at all. The Aggies can score but not defend. Arkansas can score and sorta defends. I think there will be plenty of points to go around here so I’ll take the game to go OVER.

Georgia at Ole Miss – 7 (62): Mississippi has blown two BIG leads this year forging come-from-ahead losses. The first one was against Florida State; the second one was against Alabama. If Mississippi gets that sort of lead here, Georgia may mount a comeback but Georgia is not nearly as good as either Alabama or Florida State. Venue call here; I’ll take Ole Miss and lay the points.

Florida at Tennessee – 7 (43): Florida has won the last 11 meetings between these squads going back to the 2005 season (the Ron Zook Era in Gainesville FL). The wins have generally been convincing too; the average margin of victory has been 12.7 points. This will be a low-scoring game with Florida’s defense keeping the score down and Florida’s offense doing the same. In a low-scoring game, I like to take the points so I’ll take Florida here.

LSU – 3.5 at Auburn (36): You have two coaches on hot seats facing each other here. Auburn coach, Gus Malzahn is 2-12 in his last 14 SEC games; his Auburn teams have lost 6 straight home games to conference foes; that is not a way to keep a job at an SEC school. As you know, Les Miles has one foot out the door and the other on a banana peel. Maybe this game should be played at Dysfunction Junction? Venue call here; I’ll take Auburn at home plus the points.

Cal at Arizona St. – 4 (81): I thought that Ariz. St/Texas Tech couldn’t possibly go over 80 a couple weeks ago. The total then was 123 points. Cal can score; they put 50 on the board last week against Texas. Cal does not defend well however. I think this could be a re-enactment of the Ariz St./Texas Tech game so I’ll take it to go OVER.

Stanford – 3 at UCLA (46.5): Yes, UCLA is the home team and yes, UCLA can play defense. Does not matter to me because I think Stanford is the better team. I’ll take Stanford to win and cover on the road.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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