Last week’s NCAA Mythical Picks were pretty boring – continuing a trend of monotony for the last 3 weeks. Last week the record was 6-6-0 – hardly very exciting. Over the past 3 weeks, the record has been 20-20-0 – hardly very exciting. For the entire season, the cumulative record is just a tad less boring standing at 97-85-0.
The Best Picks from last week were:
- Iowa St. +3 against Texas Tech. Iowa St won the game 66-10.
- Michigan St. +22 against Ohio St. Ohio St. won by 1 point.
The Worst Picks from last week were:
- Utah – 14 against Oregon. Utah lost the game straight up.
- Oklahoma St/TCU OVER 70.5. Total Score was 37.
Despite the ennui that has set in over the past 3 weeks regarding these picks, I shall soldier on. Let me take a moment, however, to remind anyone and everyone reading these picks that one would have to be extremely stupid to use any information here as the basis for making a real wager on a real college football game involving real money. How stupid?
You might name your cell phone Titanic because it is always syncing.
The Linfield College Wildcats won their first-round game in the Division III national playoffs beating Hardin-Simmons 24-10 in Abilene, TX. That makes the Linfield record for the season 9-1 and this week they get to avenge that single loss. This week, the Wildcats go back to Texas – this time to Belton, TX – to take on Mary Hardin-Baylor. When those teams met back on September 17th in that same stadium, Mary Hardin-Baylor prevailed comfortably by a score of 66-27. Here is a perspective on that score:
- Mary Hardin-Baylor scored 66 points in 60 minutes (1.1 points per minute).
- In the other 9 games (540 minutes), Linfield allowed a total of 109 points (0.2 points per minute).
The Eagles of Eastern Washington concluded their regular season at 10-1 with a win over Portland St. last weekend. The Eagles have a BYE into the second round of the Division 1-AA playoffs as the second seed in the 24-team tournament. Next week they will meet the winner of the Central Arkansas/Illinois St. game this week.
Eagles’ WR, Cooper Kupp had a mundane game as compared to some of his other performances. He caught 6 passes for 67 Yards. That’s it; no more and no less… Go Eagles!
Western Michigan extended its record to 11-0 last week with a 38-0 beatdown of the Buffalo Bulls. I am not trying to suggest that W. Michigan belongs in the CFP because I think they do not based on the strength of their schedule. However, I doubt that any team in the middle echelon of one of the “power five” conferences would want to play them this week or next week for a winner-takes-all purse from the game…
The PAC-12 probably had the most interesting action last week. Colorado beat Washington St putting Colorado in control in the PAC-12 South race. The Buffaloes have only 1 conference loss; if they win this week against Utah, they will be the PAC-12 South representative in the PAC-12 championship game because USC has 2 conference losses. Colorado is 9-2 for the year and its two losses are respectable:
- They lost to Michigan in Ann Arbor but led in the game.
- They lost to USC once the Trojans got themselves in a groove.
Most of the attention in the PAC-12 this year has been focused on Washington and USC; I think Colorado’s season has been underappreciated – particularly considering their 9 wins this year compared to their 10 wins in the past three seasons combined. The CFP Selection Committee will not consider this stat, but there are lots of Colorado boosters and lots of football fans of the “Las Vegas variety” who are impressed by the fact that:
- Colorado is 10-1 against the spread this year.
Arizona lost to Oregon St. last week 42-17 in a game that had no meaning whatsoever in terms of the PAC-12. However, those fans of the “Las Vegas variety” took note of the score because Arizona is the mirror-image of Colorado in two ways:
- Arizona is at the bottom of the PAC-12 standings not at the top
- Arizona is 1-10 against the spread this year.
Utah lost in the final couple of seconds last week to Oregon is a huge upset. The Utes were 14-point favorites and I took them in last week’s Mythical Picks thinking they would run a way and hide from Oregon. That loss eliminates Utah from the possibility of playing for the PAC-12 championship and opens the door for USC – should Colorado lose this week.
USC handled UCLA 36-14. The story of this game is contained in these two stats:
- USC total offense = 537 yards
- UCLA total offense = 266 yards
Down in SEC country, Florida beat LSU to win the SEC East and give itself a date to play Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Florida won by 6 points and had to put up a goal line stand in the final seconds to preserve the win. LSU had 2 tries from the 1 yardline and could not get in at the end of the game. LSU dominated the stat sheet:
- LSU total offense = 423 yards
- Florida total offense = 270 yards
However, LSU was inefficient in the Red Zone. Twice they had the ball inside the Florida 10 yardline and came away totally dry; on a third visit, LSU had the ball first and goal at the 3 yardline and had to settle for a field goal. Given the final score was 16-10, that Red Zone inefficiency lost the game for the Tigers in Baton Rouge.
In the Big 10, Ohio St. escaped an upset by Michigan St. by a score of 17-16. Michigan St. tried and failed to convert a 2-point try with less than 5 minutes left in the game. That would have provided the margin of victory for the Spartans but Ohio St. held.
Penn St. kept itself on track to be the Big 10 East representative in the Big 10 Championship Game beating Rutgers 39-0. If Penn St. wins this week against Michigan St. and if Ohio St. beats Michigan, Penn St. goes to that playoff game because it beat Ohio St. head-to-head. If that were to happen, it would give the CFP Selection Committee agita.
In the Big 12, Oklahoma St. beat TCU 31-6. The upshot here is that the final regular season game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. in Norman, OK will be a big deal. The championship of the Big 12 will be decided there.
Oklahoma put itself in that position by continuing to lead the Big 12 with an easy win over West Virginia 56-28. Oklahoma led 28-0 in the first half and coasted home. West Virginia turned the ball over so many times, it might appear that they put that sort of thing into their game plan:
- They fumbled a punt away.
- Twice they lost fumbles inside the Oklahoma 10 yardline in the 2nd quarter.
- They threw a Pick Six.
K-State beat Baylor 42-21. This makes 4 losses in a row for Baylor even though they led this game 14-7 at halftime. Then the air went out of the Baylor balloon…
In the most surprising result of the week in Big 12 games, Iowa St. beat Texas Tech 66-10. That is not a typo; that was really the score. At halftime Iowa St. led 45-3. Tech entered the game ranked third in the country in points per game (46) and had games where their passing offense was north of 500 yards. Against Iowa St. – a team that was on the SHOE watchlist – the Tech total offense was only 306 yards and they were 4 for 14 on third down conversions.
This week Texas Tech and Baylor meet. The ultimate question for that game is:
Which team is on the steeper downhill slope about now?
The Ponderosa Games:
Last week we had 10 Ponderosa Games and the record for favorites covering in those games was 4-6-0. For the season, the record for favorites covering in Ponderosa games stands at 42-45-1.
BYU, Penn St., Western Michigan and Wisconsin covered.
Appalachian St., Boise St., Michigan, Texas, Texas A&M and Washington did not cover.
This week we have 8 Ponderosa Games:
(Fri Nite) Cincinnati at Tulsa – 24 (63): There are about a dozen games on tap for the day after Thanksgiving. Surely you can find a more interesting one than this…
Carolina at Clemson – 24 (50): A big rivalry game known as the Palmetto Bowl. Clemson is one of the best teams in the country – probably Top 5; South Carolina is a mediocre team – probably Top 75…
Syracuse at Pitt – 24.5 (67): This game has the potential to be a high-scoring shootout. Neither defense is memorable…
Kansas at Kansas St. – 26.5 (54): If Kansas pulls another straight-up win as a Ponderosa underdog this week, someone needs to analyze their sideline Gatorade…
Troy – 27 at Texas St. (59): Why is this game interesting? It surely is not important but I cannot even find a reason to say it is interesting. Oh, it is a Sun Belt Conference game. Big deal…
W. Kentucky – 24 at Marshall (65): This is a C-USA game. Other than that, it is a “Who Cares Game”…
Rice at Stanford – 36 (54): High SAT scores on the field and in the stands for this contest …
Kentucky at Louisville – 26.5 (75): These schools are far more equally matched in basketball than they are in football…
The SHOE Teams:
Kansas has to come off the list for this week after winning as a Ponderosa underdog over Texas last week. A blowout loss at Kansas St. this week might put them back on the list, but for a week they get a reprieve.
Here are by 8 SHOE Tournament candidates as of this week:
Bowling Green: 3-8 against MAC competition
Buffalo: 2-9 against MAC competition and they lost to Kent St. by 24 points
Fresno St.: Record is 1-10. Enough said…
Kent St.: 3-8 against MAC competition and they lost to Bowling Green by 35 last week
Rutgers: 2-9 record and 4 shutouts where they lost by a total of 224-0.
UMass: 2-9 record and 7 losses by double digits
UTEP: 3-8 and lost to Rice last week by 20 points.
Here are 6 teams that are still bad enough that I cannot be sure they will not sink to the level of a SHOE Tournament invitation:
- New Mexico St.
- Texas St.
Games of Interest:
(Fri afternoon) Buffalo at Bowling Green – 13.5 (59): Two SHOE Teams in a pillow-fight of a football game…
(Fri evening) Toledo at W. Michigan – 9 (69): W. Michigan tries to extend its record to 12-0 for the season. Toledo is 9-2. The winner advances to the MAC Championship Game. There should be lots of offense in this game; both teams score around 40 points per game on average. Just for fun, I’ll take the game to go OVER.
(Fri afternoon) TCU at Texas – 3 (69): Can a win for the Longhorns here save Charlie Strong’s job? How big would that win have to be? No pick in this game but it might have an interesting outcome.
(Fri afternoon) Boise St. – 9 at Air Force (64): These teams bring a combined 18-4 record to this game. Boise St. still hopes to be the “Non-Power Five” invitee to the Cotton Bowl game. Air Force is also going to a bowl game but not that one. Make this a venue call, I’ll take Air Force plus the points.
(Fri afternoon) Washington – 6 at Washington St (64.5): This is the Apple Cup game; it is a major rivalry game in the great Northwest. On top of the rivalry this year, the winner of this game will be the PAC-12 North champion and will play either Colorado or USC in the PAC-12 Championship game. Washington’s loss for the year has been to a very good USC team. Washington St. lost to a very good Colorado team and to Boise St. I can deal with those… The problem is that it lost to E. Washington – a very good Division 1-AA team but nonetheless a 1-AA team. I like Washington to win and cover here.
(Fri evening) Texas Tech at Baylor – 5 (85): Both teams probably cannot wait for this season to end. This game is interesting only because it could represent a train wreck for one – or both – teams…
(Fri evening) Arizona St. – 3 at Arizona (68): A big rivalry game between a mediocre Arizona St team and a bad Arizona team. A blowout loss for Arizona could put them on the SHOE list…
Rutgers at Maryland – 13.5 (52): Maryland needs a win to be bowl-eligible. This game is at home against a SHOE Team. If Maryland loses this game, the Big 10 should kick them out of the conference. Of course, the Big 10 should kick Rutgers out no matter what the outcome here.
W Virginia – 7 at Iowa St. (57): Is the Iowa St that clobbered Texas Tech last week the team that is going to show up here? Can they catch lightening in a bottle again? I don’t think so. I like West Virginia to win and cover here.
Michigan St. at Penn St – 12.5 (54.5): The question here is if Penn St. can keep its Big 10 Championship Game hopes alive. If they win the Big 10 East, it will be fun and games for the CFP Selection Committee…
Minnesota at Wisconsin – 15 (44): A Wisconsin win will assure that they will be in the big 10 Championship Game to take on whoever comes out of the East division.
Georgia Tech at Georgia – 4 (49): A big rivalry game here… These teams prefer to run the ball at one another meaning the clock should be running a lot. I like this game to stay UNDER.
Virginia at Va Tech – 18 (54.5): A big rivalry game here … Even so, I am surprised that this line is so low. Virginia is not a good team; they could be a SHOE Team. Va Tech is not a great team but they are 8-3. I like Va Tech to win and cover at home.
Auburn at Alabama – 17 (45.5): A humongous rivalry game here … Auburn lives and dies with its run game. I don’t think they can do much business running the ball against Alabama. I’ll take Alabama to win and cover at home.
Oregon – 3 at Oregon St. (71.5): A big rivalry game here; they call it the Civil War. I don’t think either team is any good so it is interesting only because of its rivalry status.
Utah at Colorado – 10 (54): As noted above, a win for Colorado puts them in the PAC -12 championship Game against the winner of Washington/Washington St. Utah took themselves out of contention for that slot with its loss to Oregon last week. I think this will be a defensive game so I’ll take the game to stay UNDER.
Florida at Florida St. – 7.5 (45.5): A big rivalry game here… Given the Florida St. defense and the lack of an offense by Florida, I can see the Gators putting 10-13 points on the scoreboard. The Florida defense is very good so I do not see Florida St. running wild but they should be able to muster 20 points. I’ll take Florida St. and lay the points.
Tennessee – 7.5 at Vandy (54): A big rivalry game here … Tennessee has been disappointing this year after conjuring up enough hype to have folks think they were a top 10 team early on and might just challenge Alabama for SEC dominance. Yeah, right! The Tennessee defense ranks 98th in the country giving up 446.7 yards per game. Vandy gives up 401.3. This is a rivalry game where the team at home has the better defense and the home field advantage AND it is getting more than a TD’s worth of points. I like Vandy plus the points at home.
Michigan at Ohio St – 6.5 (45.5): A humongous rivalry game here … Michigan will have to play spectacular defense here to win this game; their starting QB for most of the year will not suit up for the game. I do not think they can do that for 60 minutes against Ohio St in Columbus. I like Ohio St. to win and cover.
Notre Dame at USC – 17.5 (57): A big rivalry game here … Normally, the spread for this game does not get into “three possession territory”. However, this Notre Dame team has been anything but dominant this year beating only the likes of Nevada, Syracuse, Army and Miami (FL). Meanwhile, USC is playing top-shelf football at the end of this season; they lost 3 early games but have not lost since September. Purely a hunch here; I’ll take Notre Dame plus the points.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………