The Mythical Picks this week are out early for a simple reason. I will not be in Curmudgeon Central on Friday because I will be on the AAP (Annual Autumnal Pilgrimage) to Las Vegas this weekend. I shall involve myself with the Breeders’ Cup and the World Series and college football games and NFL games and our traditional group NHL parlay. Some of the other pilgrims will devote time and energy to poker tournaments and craps tournaments amidst all these sporting events but I will focus on events in the sportsbooks.
Linfield College raised their record to 4-1 for the season last week by demolishing Lewis and Clark 55-7. One more win and Linfield will have their 54th consecutive winning season in football. This weekend, the Willamette University Bearcats travel to McMinnville to play Linfield. Willamette is ranked #15 in the Division III Coaches poll; Linfield is ranked #25. The Bearcats bring a 7-0 record to the game; only one team has been able to stay within ten points of Willamette this season. This should be a good game. Go Wildcats!
Here are a couple of highlights and lowlights from last week’s Mythical Picks:
Regarding Ole’ Miss/Alabama, I said, “Figuring out this game is pretty simple. Can Ole’ Miss play another perfect game like the one they did against Florida and hang an upset on Alabama? I don’t think so – - but I think they can stay closer than 2 TDs…” [Highlight]
Regarding Oregon State/Washington, I said, “Oregon State is inconsistent; Washington is consistently bad. I do not see how this game gets up to 60 points so I’d play it UNDER.” [Highlight]
Regarding VaTech/BC, I said, “Two good defensive teams play two mediocre offensive teams. Take the UNDER and hope for no scores on special teams.” [Lowlight! The game went OVER by halftime. Ugh!]
Obviously, no one would think of using any information here as part of a decision process where the end result was the choice of a side in a wagering proposition where actual coin of the realm might be involved. If you did that, you would prove that you were born too late – - because you would have made a great Neanderthal.
Several readers wrote and asked why I had no comment last week on Lee Corso’s “analysis” of the Texas/OU game two weekends ago where Corso said at halftime, “Now, they [Oklahoma] can win this game, but they are going to have to outscore Texas”. The reason I had no comment is that I missed that helping of analytical pabulum. I am trying to think of a way in which any team can beat any other team without outscoring them. Having … difficulty … here …
Speaking of commentators and their analyses, Brent Mussberger reportedly said something to the effect that Joe Paterno does not want to retire because JoePa is afraid of death and fears that retirement may hasten that ultimate event in his life. Allow me to make three comments on this matter:
1. Mussberger’s “psychoanalysis” amounts to nothing more than mind reading until and unless JoePa says that he said precisely that to Mussberger. Psychoanalysis is a fancy term for mind reading and I am not ready to stipulate Mussberger’s competence here no matter what you call it.
2. I have no idea whatsoever if JoePa’s longevity – to date or into the future – is tied to his coaching job in any way. I do not think anyone else does either.
3. Joe Paterno’s service to Penn State University for the past 50+ years should earn him a degree of privilege within the university’s HR system. The decision to stay or retire should be his so long as he is getting the job done. I would have to believe that a record of 8-0 and a ranking at #3 in the country at this point of the season would qualify as “getting the job done”.
Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel had a great comment about political correctness as it relates to college football:
“I still can’t believe we’ve allowed a bunch of namby-pamby, politically correct goofballs to change the name of the Texas-Oklahoma ‘Red River Shootout’ to the now-officially titled ‘Red River Rivalry.’ These annoying thought police have gotten so out of hand that pretty soon they’ll rewrite the history books and start calling it ‘The Misunderstanding at the O.K. Corral.’ ”
The first BCS Poll is out. I am absolutely certain that the teams ranked 1-25 this week will NOT finish the season ranked in the same way. So what? I just cannot work myself into a high state of dudgeon over a poll in October. Talk to me Thanksgiving week…
If you want to look at games with “bowl significance” down the line, focus on schedules for Utah and Boise State for now. So long as both remain undefeated, they will be prime candidates to be in the BCS picture. Watch TCU also because they have a win over BYU and play Utah down the line.
For this week, Boise State plays San Jose State on Friday night. The reason this is a “significant game” is that San Jose State is undefeated in conference and after this game, the schedule turns soft for Boise State with New Mexico State, Utah State and Idaho the next three teams up.
On Sunday morning, either LSU or Georgia will have two losses. Yes, LSU won the BCS Championship Game last year with two losses but that is hardly the preferred way to get invited to participate in that game.
A win for Ohio State over Penn State this weekend will put them back in the BCS title picture; a loss will eliminate them.
By the way, do not sleep on Tulsa. They are unlikely to make it into the Top 12 and be a BCS party crasher, but they should get a major bowl invitation. Arkansas is the best team left on their schedule; Tulsa could well go undefeated – - and then what? Last week, Tulsa ran up 791 yards of offense beating UTEP 77-35 (the score was 28-28 after the first quarter). Tulsa averages 57 points per game and 625 yards of offense per game.
Missouri’s aspirations to play in the BCS Championship Game ended last week by halftime of their game at Texas. That halftime score was Texas 35 and Mizzou 3. Game. Set. Match. By the way, the last time Missouri won a football game in Austin Texas was in 1896. William Jennings Bryan was giving his “Cross of Gold” speech around that time…
Chase Daniel’s quest for the Heisman Trophy probably ended last weekend too. That was a nationally televised and widely viewed game and his team was never really in it.
When Ole’ Miss kicked a field goal in the first quarter of their game with Alabama last week, that marked the first time Alabama had trailed all season long and it represented the only points given up by Alabama in the first quarter of any game so far. Impressive…
For some reason, the USC/Washington State game was televised in my viewing area here in the DC suburbs. So I got to see how bad Washington State is – - and believe me, they are a bad football team. They have now given up 63+ points in four of their five PAC-10 losses this year; even counting their 48-9 win over Division 1-AA Portland State, the Cougars have been outscored this year 385-111. The total passing offense for Washington State last week against USC was 28 yards.
If you have watched any Michigan football this year, you have seen QB, Steven Threet, try to run the spread/option offense favored by Rich Rodriguez. If ever there were a system/quarterback mismatch, that would be it. Threet is a big, strong, drop back QB; Pat White/Dennis Dixon he is not. So, here is some unsolicited advice for Steven Threet:
Transfer to Delaware the day you get your grades for the latest semester at Michigan!
You have to know you do not fit with the system by now. You have to know that Coach Rodriguez is going to bring in someone who does fit with his system next year. That means you will not play – - unless …
You transfer to Division 1-AA Delaware and do what Joe Flacco did there. That is how you can play and put yourself in a situation to have a shot at an NFL career.
Since I am heading to Las Vegas this week, I have been checking out the local papers there. Here is a comment from the LV Sun regarding the state of UNLV football:
“… if you were to escape from Alcatraz, hijack an airliner over the Pacific Northwest or get on the Mafia’s bad side, Rebel Park would be a good place to lie low for a while.”
The SHOE Tournament Teams:
Here are my eight participants as of this week in my mythical tournament to identify the SHOE Team (Steaming Heap Of Excrement) for 2008.
North Texas remains as the #1 seed.
Idaho remains as the #2 seed. [Note: They are 1-7 this year even against a strength of schedule that ranks 112th hardest in Division 1-A. There are only 119 teams in Division 1-A.]
San Diego State – off its loss to New Mexico by 70-7 – is the #3 seed.
Arrange Kent State, SMU, Syracuse, Utah State and Washington State however you please with seeds #4 through #8.
Hugely bad teams to keep on the radar screen include:
Washington – the only Division 1-A school other than North Texas not to win a game this year.
The loser of the Florida Atlantic/La-Monroe game this weekend.
Ponderosa Spread Games:
Last week, the Ponderosa Spread Games showed a 3-1 record for covers by the favorites. That brings the total for the season to 31-19-2 for the favorites.
Penn State, USC and USF covered last week.
Boise State did not cover.
This week we have 4 Ponderosa Spread Games:
E. Michigan at Ball State – 24 (58): Ball State remains undefeated and will stay that way this week.
Kentucky at Florida – 25 (47.5): Kentucky has a good defense that might give the Florida offense some resistance. However, Kentucky’s offense is overmatched against Florida’s defense.
Wyoming at TCU – 31 (42): The oddsmakers here think TCU is 31 points better than Wyoming AND that the total in the game will be 42 points. That means they do not think Wyoming can score more than a field goal to have both things happen at the same time. I do not think Wyoming will score much at all but this game looks like one that could go OVER.
Troy – 24.5 at North Texas (no line): If I were to bet on this game, I would have to break one of my betting rules. I do not like to wager on mediocre/bad teams on the road when I have to lay points (let alone 24.5 points). I also do not like to wager on truly bad teams and you will notice that I have North Texas seeded #1 in my SHOE Tournament for the second week in a row. Do not bet this game…
Games of Interest:
UCF at Tulsa – 23 (71.5): This is a Sunday night game because the NFL does not have a game on then. You can flip between this game and the World Series game. UCF beat Tulsa twice last year – in the regular season and in the C-USA Championship Game. That will not happen this year because UCF will lose this weekend and will not get within sniffing distance of the C-USA Championship Game. Tulsa rolls here. I think they will win and cover. I like the game to go OVER too.
Boise State – 7 at San Jose State (42.5): I like “State” in this game. Seriously, this is an important game for both teams; both are undefeated in conference play. It means more to Boise State in terms of rankings and bowl bids; it means more to San Jose State in terms of pride, respect, identity, and all that stuff. I think Boise State will win the game but I think the better wager is to take the game to go OVER.
Cincy – 1.5 at UConn (45): UConn has been underwhelming lately. Even on the road, I like Cincy to win and cover here.
Northwestern – 8 at Indiana (50): Northwestern has won 6 games this year and is bowl-eligible. Last year they went 6-6 but did not get a bowl invitation so they really do need a 7th win to seal the deal. Here it is in front of them. I think Northwestern wins and covers and the game goes OVER.
Illinois – 3 at Wisconsin (57): Wisconsin does not score enough to get this game near 60 points so I’d play this UNDER.
Texas Tech at Kansas – 2 (66.5): Two high-octane offenses and two ordinary defenses make this game look like an OVER to me.
La Tech at Army – 2 (41.5): Prop bet for this game should be over/under for passing yards by Army with the number at 27.5 yards. That prop would have me going under…
UCLA at Cal – 17 (51): This could be a trap game for Cal coming off a loss at Arizona where they led at halftime and looking ahead to Oregon/USC/Oregon State on their dance card. If the coaches can get the team to focus on this game in front of them, Cal should win by at least 3 TDs meaning they should cover.
VaTech at Florida State – 5 (44): I think the FSU defense will confabulate what passes for an offense at VaTech. By the same token, the FSU offense will not be able to move the ball at will in this game. The winner of the game will be the team that makes the fewer mistakes. I like FSU to win but I hate that spread. So, assuming there are no special teams’ scores, I’ll take the game UNDER.
UVA at Ga Tech – 11.5 (37.5): I think this game goes OVER.
USF – 4 at Louisville (55.5): Louisville’s record looks impressive until you check out the teams they beat. Tenn. Tech, K-State, Memphis and Middle Tenn. State do not construct a “difficult schedule”. I like USF to win and cover here.
Georgia at LSU – 2 (48): This is the third best game of the weekend. I like this game to go UNDER.
Michigan State – 4 at Michigan (45.5): This game opened at 5.5 and the spread dropped to 4 in about 36 hours. Both teams come off big losses last weekend. A loss here will damage Michigan State’s “cred” with regard to whatever minor bowl game they may draw into. Michigan has no “cred” left; it has turned to “crud”. Do not bet this game.
Kent State at Miami (Ohio) – 7 (no line): SHOE Team alert. Do not bet this game.
Rutgers – 9.5 at Pitt (42.5): Before the season began, I picked Pitt and UNC as two teams that could engineer turnarounds this season. Pitt has done well but the memory of the opening day loss to Bowling Green will not go away. I am not a Pitt “true believer” yet. I am however, a Rutgers “true believer” in that I am fully convinced that Rutgers is not very good at all. I cannot bet Rutgers on the road here so were I to pick the game I would have to play Pitt and lay the points – -but there are an awful lot of them to lay.
OK State at Texas – 13 (71): This is the second best game of the weekend. That line looks awfully fat to me. I’ll take Oklahoma State with the points here. And the game should go OVER.
SMU at Navy – 12 (62.5): SHOE Team alert. SMU will throw the ball all over the lot. Navy will run the ball down SMU’s throat. Navy’s pass defense has been suspect this year; it is improving but they will get a workout here. I like this game OVER.
Alabama – 7 at Tennessee (41): A Tennessee win here would even their record at 4-4. That is more likely to happen than say Ralph Nader actually carrying a state in the upcoming Presidential election – - but not a whole lot more likely. This smells like an UNDER game to me.
Penn State – 2.5 at Ohio State (45.5): This is the Game of the Week. I really want Penn State to win here and for Joe Paterno to take an undefeated Penn State team to the BCS Championship Game. Nevertheless, there is no way that I would give Ohio State points in Columbus in a game of this magnitude. I’ll watch this game and love every minute of it – - without a wager on it.
Notre Dame – 11 at Washington (54): Huskies football has imploded; this is a bad football team. Notre Dame is better than last year but they have padded their record with some softies. Remember that at the beginning of the year, they struggled in South Bend to beat San Diego State (see SHOE Tournament above). The likelihood that Ty Willingham will keep his job at Washington after this season is over is equal to the likelihood that Ralph Nader will carry three or more states in the upcoming Presidential election. Notre Dame wins here and the game goes UNDER.
USC – 16 at Arizona (55): This is a big game for both teams because both have one loss in PAC-10 play. Arizona can score and this is their ticket to recognition they have not had for several years now. Their defense will not hold USC down by any means. I like USC to win the game but I like Arizona with more than two TDs worth of points and I like the game OVER.
Finally, can someone explain to me why the University of South Dakota Coyotes do not play the Cal-State Bakersfield Roadrunners every year? Beep-beep!!
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…