Mythical Picks – NCAA – Weekend of 10/23/10

Here is a summary of last week’s offering:

    I liked BC/Florida State Under 45.5. Total was 43.

    I liked Michigan State – 7 against Illinois. State won by 20.

    I liked Pitt +1 at Syracuse. Pitt won by 31.

    I liked Pitt/Syracuse Under 44. Pitt went Over all by itself.

    I liked Miami – 19 at Duke. They only won by 15.

    I liked Army +7 against Rutgers. Army covered.

    I liked Auburn – 3.5 and Auburn/Arkansas to go Over 60. EXACTA!

    I liked Texas +9.5 at Nebraska. Texas won outright.

    I liked OK State/Texas Tech Over 69. They never came close to that number.

    I liked Michigan on the money line against Iowa. Did not happen.

    I liked Michigan/Iowa Over 53. Total was 66.

    I liked SMU/Navy Over 53.5. Total was only 49.

    I liked Utah – 20 at Wyoming. Utah won by 24.

    I liked Utah/Wyoming Over 53. Total was only 36.

    I liked Tulane/Tulsa Over 55. Total was 76.

    I liked Ohio State/Wisconsin Under 49. Total was exactly 49.

    I liked Ole Miss +21 against Alabama and the game to stay Under 55. EXACTA!

    I liked Oregon State “pick ‘em” over Washington. Washington won by 1 point.

Allow me to bask in the glory of those picks for just a brief moment here. With a week of 12-7-1, that would register as a profitable week.

Having pointed that out, past performance is no guarantee of future performance in the picking business – - unless you are talking about nose picking. Therefore, no one should mistakenly look at the profitable week that was and assume that the contents of this week’s selections might do likewise. No one should use anything here as the basis for making a real wager on a college football game this week. The only folks who might do that are the ones whose brain waves fall just a bit short of the beach.

General Comments:

The Linfield College Wildcats won their Homecoming Game against Pacific last week by a score of 66-14. That increases their record to 4-1 for the season (3-0 in the Northwest Conference) and reduces their “magic number” to 1. The Wildcats have nine games on their schedule; one more win will guarantee their 55th consecutive winning season in football.

This week, the Wildcats travel to Puyallup, Washington to play a conference game against Pacific Lutheran. The “Lutes” are undefeated so far in 2010 with a 5-0 record and they hold a 2 TD victory over the only team that beat Linfield this year. The winner of this game will have an inside track to the conference title and a place in the NCAA Division III football tournament. Go Wildcats!

The TCU defense took a vacation last week. Going into the game against BYU, the Horned Frogs had two consecutive shut-outs on the books. Last Saturday, TCU won handily but allowed BYU to kick a field goal in that game. Oh well, that is three consecutive games without allowing a TD for TCU. Not too shabby…

Brad Rock had this to say about the TCU/BYU game in the Deseret Morning News:

“It’s common for teams to blame themselves for losing. Still, you have to wonder about BYU cornerback Brian Logan’s comment that losing to TCU, Saturday, was in a sense ‘a good feeling because we literally beat ourselves.’

“Point of contention, Your Honor.

“When you lose 24-21, you can usually say you’ve beaten yourself.

“But when you lose 31-3, you’ve had your dignity handed to you on a display pedestal.

“And there’s not much you could have done about it.”

In checking out the late games on TV last weekend, I noticed that I could see Fresno State play New Mexico State. Because I wanted to see if New Mexico State was as bad as their record made them seem, I watched about half the game. Here is the word that best describes New Mexico State:

      S … L … O … W.

As the first BCS poll rolled out, we found Oklahoma sitting at #1. Frankly, Oklahoma is a difficult team to put a label on. This is a team that struggled to beat Utah State in Norman, OK winning by only a TD. Utah State is one of those opponents who is shrugged off as unworthy when they lose big to a school like TCU or Boise State. On the other hand, Oklahoma waxed Florida State and the Seminoles are clearly in the upper crust of the ACC. Then again, Oklahoma only managed a three-point victory over Air Force in Norman OK. Oh, but do not forget that Oklahoma beat Texas and Texas beat Nebraska.

Is OU the best team in the country? I do not know at this point because I like what I saw when I watched Oregon and when I watched Boise State. I have not seen TCU yet this year. This week the Sooners take on the undefeated Missouri Tigers; teams ranked #1 have not fared well in the past two weeks. That should be a game to watch…

Some schools have faced brutal schedules so far this year – - and have the poor records to show for it. Consider:

    Wyoming: After a victory over Southern Utah in its opener, Wyoming has lost 5 of its next 6. The losses have been to:

      Boise State
      Air Force

    San José State: The Spartans have a 1-6 record now – - also beating Southern Utah. Their losses have come at the hands of:

      UC Davis
      Boise State

I doubt any team in the ACC or the Big East has played a schedule as difficult as these are so far in 2010.

With Alabama and LSU playing this weekend, the SEC will be down to only 1 undefeated team by Sunday morning. However, SEC fans need not be all that worried; remember that LSU already has one BCS Championship in a season where they had 2 losses on their record.

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel had an interesting observation about SEC football:

“I’m not saying that SEC football has international ramifications, but my operatives tell me that these were the first words that came from the mouth of one of the Chilean miners after the rescue: ‘The only person more fortunate than we are today is Les Miles.’ “

Mississippi State went into The Swamp and beat Florida 10-7. That is the first time Mississippi State won a road game over Florida since 1965. To give you an idea of what was happening at Florida then, there was a player on the football team named Steve Spurrier. I wonder whatever happened to him… In addition, this makes three straight losses for the Gators. I am beginning to think Meineke Car Care Bowl…

South Carolina came back a week after beating then #1 Alabama and took an 18 point lead over Kentucky. Granted, they lost their stud RB, Marcus Lattimore to an injury, but losing that game was shameful.

When Ohio State spit the bit last weekend, it left Michigan State as the only undefeated team in the Big Ten and the team with the inside track for the conference title because – - Ohio State and Michigan State do not play this year. If Michigan State can win out, there is nothing Ohio State can do to claim the Big Ten title.

Michigan State has two consecutive road games starting this weekend at Northwestern and then next weekend in what should be one of the five best games of the weekend at Iowa. They will also close the season on the Saturday after Thanksgiving with a game at Penn State. It is not exactly a cakewalk for the Spartans, but they have the conference title in their hands.

Speaking of Big Ten schedules that are not a cakewalk, consider Iowa. This week they play Wisconsin who just beat Ohio State; next week Michigan State comes calling; then Ohio State drops into town.

The home loss to Texas surely put a crimp in the hopes that Nebraska fans had for a national championship. The Cornhuskers need to forget that loss and get themselves right to play an undefeated Oklahoma State team this week lest their season implode. Regarding that game, there was a quiet – - but still discernable – - call out there regarding Nebraska freshman QB, Taylor Martinez as a dark horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy. The loss to Texas ought to put a stop to that kind of talk permanently.

In the game, Martinez was benched for lack of performance. Nebraska scored exactly no offensive TDs for the entire game. The Heisman Trophy – - nominally given to the single best collegiate football player in the country – - cannot go to a player who was benched in mid-game for stinking out the joint. Maybe next year; maybe the year after that. Not in 2010…

I have said previously that Kansas football is mysterious this year. Last week the Jayhawks lost – - at home – - by 52 points – - to Kansas State. Keep that in mind as you read several paragraphs down…

Temple beat Bowling Green last week on the final play of the game when they batted down a pass that would have been a winning two-point TD conversion. That win marked the ninth consecutive home win for Temple; the school record for consecutive home victories is 10; that streak happened in the early 1970s.

Syracuse was 4-1 when it hosted Pitt last week. Losing the game is no disgrace; Pitt is not a horrid team. However, losing at home by 31 to a good-but-hardly-great Pitt team is not honorable.

I just want to note that perennial Big-12 doormat, Baylor, is 5-2 so far this year. They need one more win to become bowl-eligible but the schedule-maker might just land a haymaker on the Bears. Here are their remaining games:

    vs. Kansas State
    at Texas
    at Oklahoma State
    vs. Texas A&M
    vs. Oklahoma

Todd Dodge got the boot from North Texas this week; he and Tim Brewster can head to the football coaches’ association convention with résumés in hand looking for work. When Dodge arrived at North Texas he came from a high school program where he had won 79 of his previous 80 games. Let’s just say he was slightly short of that mark at North Texas. He won 6 games there and three of them came over Western Kentucky – - a team that has now lost 26 games in a row. North Texas’ record this season stands at 1-6.

Eastern Michigan trailed Ball State by 3 TDs in the first half and rallied to win. That is Eastern Michigan’s first win since 2008. I mention that because there remain three winless teams in Division 1-A football this year. Akron is 0-7; Western Kentucky and New Mexico are both 0-6. By the way, that note provides the perfect segue to the first iteration of the SHOE Tournament seedings for 2010.

The SHOE Teams:

Now that we have a handle on how bad some teams are, we can begin to wonder what would happen if the 8 potentially worst teams in the country were put into a tournament where the loser continues to play and the winners go home. Eventually, one team would lose out and could be crowned as the SHOE Team – - where SHOE stands for Steaming Heap Of Excrement.

It is still too early to narrow the list to 8 teams so I will put some teams into certain “SHOE Boxes” for now:

The first SHOE Box are the lead-pipe cinch teams as one of the 8-worst in the country as of this week. For now, we will reserve that SHOE Box for the winless teams:

    New Mexico
    W. Kentucky

The second SHOE Box will be teams that have bad records against mediocre schedules. Wyoming and San José State catch a break here based on their opponents [see above].

    Bowling Green
    E. Michigan
    Fla- International
    Florida Atlantic
    New Mexico St
    North Texas

The final SHOE Box will contain “name schools” that really look bad this year:

    Washington State

The Ponderosas:

Last week, there were 6 Ponderosa Spread Games. The favorites covered 2 of them, the dogs covered three of them and one was a push.

Boise State and Oklahoma covered.

Fresno State, LSU and TCU did not cover.

W. Michigan/Notre Dame was a push.

That brings the cumulative record for the season for favorites covering spreads of 24 points or more to 28-28-4.

This week we have 8 Ponderosa Spread Games:

(Thurs Nite) UCLA at Oregon – 24.5 (61): Oregon has its sights on the BCS Championship Game; UCLA should aim for the Humanitarian Bowl. The game is on national TV, so you can expect Oregon to put on its best show. An in-conference mismatch.

Purdue at Ohio State – 24 (47): Another in-conference mismatch.

Duke at Va Tech – 26 (61): Va Tech had BCS Bowl game aspirations at the start of the season; Duke is a SHOE Tournament candidate. Another in-conference mismatch.

Washington State at Stanford – 35 (63.5): Another in-conference mismatch.

New Mexico State at Idaho – 24 (54): Idaho is a Ponderosa favorite with a 3-3 record. Does that say anything to you about NM State? Another in-conference mismatch.

E. Michigan at UVa – 24 (56): The ACC is not a power conference; UVa is one of the three worst teams in the ACC and they are a Ponderosa favorite here.

Colorado State at Utah – 30.5 (58): Another in-conference mismatch.

SD State – 24 at New Mexico (55.5): San Diego State is a Ponderosa favorite on the road. Any message here regarding New Mexico?

Games of Interest:

Michigan State – 5 at Northwestern (52.5): Northwestern had an extra week to prepare for this game and the Wildcats have only lost one game all year. Northwestern will probably have trouble stopping Michigan State’s running game; Michigan State will probably have trouble stopping Northwestern’s passing game. The Spartans must resist the temptation to look ahead to the Iowa game next week. I like this game Over.

Penn State – 9 at Minnesota (49.5): Penn State is not up to its normal level of competence this year; Minnesota just stinks. The problem is there are too many unknowns associated with this game. Penn State brings a freshman QB on the road for the game; Minnesota just fired its head coach meaning the Gophers may come out sky-high or flat as a tabletop – - but probably nothing in between. Assuming the Gophers are not totally deflated, I think this game will go Over because both defenses are “porous” to be very polite about it.

Rutgers at Pitt – 12.5 (47): I really believe Pitt is the better team. I really believe that Pitt can be superior one week and marginally mediocre another week. Rutgers on the road is not an appealing side to take. I would rather watch this game and look for indicators in future games in the Big East than wager money on this contest. Put a gun to my head and I would probably take Rutgers with the points – - or maybe I would just tell you to pull the trigger.

Iowa State at Texas – 20.5 (48): Oklahoma trounced Iowa State by 52 last weekend. So why is the spread here only 20.5? Is OU really 31.5 points better than Texas? If so, how come the OU/Texas game wasn’t anywhere near that spread? I think the reason here is that Texas’ offense is mediocre while Texas’ defense is well better than average. I see this game staying Under.

Indiana at Illinois – 14 (54.5): I do not like Indiana on the road; their “winning record” is based on more than a few Twinkies on their schedule. At the same time, I am not quite ready to play Illinois where I have to lay 2 TDs against any team not on my SHOE Tournament list. I think this game will go Over because I do not hold either defense in high regard.

Temple – 7.5 at Buffalo (47): A win here keeps Temple in the hunt for a place in the MAC Championship game. A win here also makes Temple bowl-eligible. Ruminate on that for a while… Buffalo wins by running the football; the strength of the Temple defense is stopping the run. I really do not like to take mid-range teams on the road while laying more than a TD, but I think this game sets up to play to Temple’s strengths. I like Temple to win and cover. If I were in Vegas and could play a separate parlay card with Temple laying the points along with the game going Under, I would probably do that too. But I am not going to be in Vegas until next weekend…

Notre Dame – 7 vs. Navy (50.5): Unless the Navy defense does a complete no-show, I think Notre Dame will score only via sustained drives. Navy could not score without a sustained drive against Mount Holyoke. During sustained drives, the clock keeps running… I like this game Under. Tick … Tock …

Maryland at BC – 4 (41): Maryland is bad; BC is bad. The only reason to care about this game is if you bet on it. Don’t bet on it. It is not worth caring about.

Wyoming at BYU – 10.5 (44): Look at the scheduling that Wyoming has faced so far this year [see above]. BYU is not in that same category of opponent. This has the look of a low scoring game; and in that circumstance, I like to take the points – - particularly when I get a hook on top of a TD plus a field goal. Give me Wyoming with the points here.

LSU at Auburn – 6 (52.5): Clearly one of the best games of the weekend and one with plenty of post-season implications. Both teams have above average defenses so I have no idea where 53 points might come from absent the game becoming a turnover festival. I like this game to go Under. Once again, were I in Vegas this weekend, I would probably also play the game Under along with LSU taking the points as a parlay. But I am not going to be in Vegas until next weekend…

Kent State – 2 at Bowling Green (48): Excuse me; Bowling Green is a potential SHOE Tournament team and they are only a two-point dog? The only way to read this is that both of these teams stink like skunks. Keep your money in your pockets…

Nebraska – 5.5 at Oklahoma State (59.5): Clearly one of the best games of the weekend and one with plenty of post-season implications. The Nebraska offense is a good one – - despite the fact that an excellent Texas defense shut them down last week. Oklahoma State’s defense is not nearly of a similar caliber. The Nebraska defense is a good one too, but Oklahoma State is going to score on just about anyone short of the Baltimore Ravens. I like Nebraska to win and cover here even on the road but I like the game to go Over even more. Were I in Vegas this weekend, I would definitely have those two sides on a parlay card. But I am not going to be in Vegas until next weekend…

Kansas State at Baylor – 6 (59): It would behoove Baylor to win this game if they want to be sure to get a bowl-bid this year [see above]. Nonetheless, that does not make this game worthy of even a moment’s wagering consideration…

Wisconsin at Iowa – 6 (48): Clearly one of the best games of the weekend. Can Wisconsin avoid a let-down after last week’s upset of then #1 Ohio State? Wisconsin has a shot at the Big Ten title – - but not if they lose here. Purely as a venue call, I would take Iowa to win and cover.

W. Ky at La-Lafayette – 6 (55.5): Western Kentucky has lost 26 in a row. They are on the road and are less than a TD as a road dog. What might that tell you about La-Lafayette? Do not bet this game; do not watch this game. Only check the scores to see if the W. Kentucky losing streak is extended.

South Carolina – 12 at Vandy (47): The Gamecocks spit the bit last week [see above]. Vandy went on the road to play a mediocre Georgia team and lost 43-0. I see the Gamecocks’ defense continuing to stymie any kind of Vandy scoring explosion so I’ll play this game Under.

Alabama – 17 at Tennessee (48): There is no doubt in my mind as to which side is the better squad in this game. Nevertheless, I am not about to lay 17 points to Tennessee at home unless Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, John Taylor and Ronnie Lott are suiting up in their prime for the opposition. I like this game to go Under. Were I in Vegas this weekend, I would probably also take the Vols with the points along with the game Under as a parlay. But I am not going to be in Vegas until next weekend…

Oklahoma – 3 at Missouri (53): Clearly one of the best games of the weekend and one with plenty of post-season implications. Purely a hunch here but I think both offenses open up both defenses here and lay them out in the sun to dry. I like this game to go Over. I really wonder about how good Missouri is. They are undefeated but their wins have come over some pretty mediocre opposition such as McNeese State, Miami (Oh), Colorado … Come to think of it, I also like Oklahoma laying the points.

Air Force at TCU – 18.5 (48.5): Remember, TCU has not surrendered a TD in the last three games. Air Force wins by running the ball; TCU has a much better than average run defense. If that means Air Force has to resort to a passing game to move the ball, the Falcons are doomed. I think the line is fat so I like Air Force plus all those points.

Finally, here is another college football item from Brad Rock in the Deseret Morning News:

“Two Washington State University football players were arrested last week after police reportedly found 38 marijuana plants growing in a rental house they shared with two other people.

“I wouldn’t be too worried if I were them.

“Honestly, what judge is going to throw the book at any WSU player who’s looking for an escape from reality?

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

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  • cmadler  On October 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I love the idea of the SHOE tournament, but you’ve got to add Ball State to the SHOE watchlist. Between the 2009 and 2010 seasons, they’ve won just 3 games against FBS teams (Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, and Central Michigan) while losing 2 games to FCS teams (New Hampshire and Liberty). They’ve also lost to three teams on the SHOE watchlist (Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, North Texas), two by double-digit margins.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On October 22, 2010 at 9:13 am


    Welcome aboard.

    Ball State was on the list of teams I thought about for this first cut at a SHOE Tournament. But since the “tournament” would only have 8 teams , I purposely cut my first list to 16 – - double the number I will eventually need).

    Stay tuned, the list will be refined in future weeks…

  • Bones  On October 22, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    OK, OK, we get it — you’re going to Las Vegas next weekend. :-)

    If you’re taking the distinctly better half, a friend just got back from there and said that “Menopause the Musical” was hilarious. You might give it a boo.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On October 23, 2010 at 10:12 pm


    Just setting folks up to realize that next week will be “light” on writing time.

    The “distinctly better half” will not be part of the pilgrimage. She will be off on her own jaunt – - to Nepal to go trekking and water rafting. Me, I decided to take my annual Vegas trip instead…

    I won’t be checking out any shows in Vegas; I’ll be too busy in the sportsbook watching/wagering on football games, world series games and horse races. Oh, and I might find just a bit of time to hit the craps table to see if someone can get hot with the bones…

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