Mythical Picks – NCAA Weekend Of 10/20/12

So, how did last week’s Mythical Picks fare…?

    I liked Colorado +23 against Ariz. St. Colorado lost by 34. Blech!

    I liked K-State -6.5 over Iowa State. Kansas State won by only 6. Blech!

    I liked Texas +3 against Oklahoma. Texas lost by 42 points. Blech!

    I liked Wisconsin/Purdue Under 51. Total was 52. Blech!

    I liked Auburn +6 against Ole Miss. Auburn lost by 21. Blech!

    I liked Oregon St. +6 against BYU. Oregon St. won outright. Mmm!

    I liked Notre Dame – 7.5 over Stanford. Irish won by 7 points. Blech!

    I liked Texas Tech on the money line over WVU. Tech won easily. Mmm!

    I liked Florida – 8.5 over Vandy. Florida covered. Mmm!

    I liked USC/Washington Under 54.5. Total was 48. Mmm!

    I liked S.Carolina +3 against LSU. LSU won by only 2. Mmm!

    I liked Tennessee/Miss St. Under 57. Total was 72. Blech!

    I liked La Tech +7.5 against Texas A&M. Tech covered. Mmm!

    I liked LaTech/Tex A&M Under 80.5. Total was 116. Blech!

Well that was a miserable week’s worth of Mythical Picking going 6-8. I will definitely need to make a significant improvement on my prognostications for this week because this is the weekend of my Annual Autumnal Pilgrimage to Las Vegas. Going 6-8 on Saturday’s games will not feed the bulldog.

The fact of my Vegas trip means that these Mythical Picks have to use mid-week lines some of which will change dramatically by kickoff time. Obviously, I am not sufficiently clairvoyant to know what those changes will be; would that I were sufficiently clairvoyant to see far enough into the future to know the outcomes of the games involving those moving lines. If I knew those results, this would be about investing and not gambling.

Notwithstanding my declaration that I intend to do better this week than last week, no one should use any information here as the basis for making a real wager on an actual college football game this weekend. Anyone dumb enough to do that would also be shocked to learn that all of the mosques in the United States have been infiltrated by Muslims.

General Comments:

The Linfield College Wildcats guaranteed themselves their 57th consecutive season with a winning record in football last weekend. Linfield hosted Whitworth College for Homecoming Weekend and dominated the game wining by a score of 54-14. That runs the Wildcats’ record to 5-0 (they play 9 game schedules in Division III) meaning the streak continues. To put a perspective on this winning streak, the longest such streak of winning seasons in Division 1-A football is 35 years (Florida State).

This week, Linfield goes on the road to Portland, Oregon to play Lewis and Clark University in a Northwest Conference game. Lewis and Clark won their first four games of the year but have lost their last two games by a combined score of 87-34. Go Wildcats!

In the wake of Texas’ humiliation at the hands of Oklahoma last weekend, there are rumors that Mack Brown may be in trouble at Texas. Let me be clear; I have exactly no inside information here. However, football tradition in Texas is a big thing and the last couple of teams at Texas have not been what Longhorn fans want to see. Brown has been at Texas since 1998; his best run was from 2004 – 2009. However, in the last two seasons, Texas was a combined 13-12; and this year, its two losses saw the opponents put 111 points on the scoreboard. I do not know if he is “in trouble”, but remember that big time NCAA football is a “what have you done for me lately industry”.

Now if I heard any rumors that any of these other coaches were “in trouble”, it would not shock me even a little bit:

    John L. Smith – Arkansas: Recently, the Arkansas AD told boosters that he hoped to have a permanent coaching replacement for Bobby Petrino a couple of weeks after this season was over. Since Arkansas is not going to be in the SEC Championship Game and probably will not be bowl eligible, that means the season will be over around Thanksgiving. The AD said that Smith is still under consideration for the permanent job; there was no report that the AD was tested for hallucinogens immediately after making that comment.

    Joker Phillips – Kentucky: The last time Kentucky won the SEC was in 1976; the only time before that was in 1950 and “Bear” Bryant was the coach. Kentucky is not a football school, but this team is not much of a football team.

    Bobby Hauck – UNLV: After a great run at Division 1-AA Montana, he took the job at UNLV in 2010. As of this morning, his teams are 5-27 there against middling competition. Last week, UNLV led Nevada 31-14 at the half then came from ahead to lose 41-37.

    Gene Chizik – Auburn: Yes, he won a national championship a couple years ago but that was with Cam Newton at QB. Absent the 14 wins Auburn had that season, his record in the SEC is ordinary at the very best. Last week they lost by 3 TDs at Ole Miss. This week they travel to play Vandy; a big loss to Vandy will not sit well with the Auburn boosters. Auburn is 0-4 in conference and if they lose to Vandy they will close out the SEC schedule with Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama. If that scenario plays out, Auburn could easily be 0-8 in conference…

    Jon Embree – Colorado: He has been there for a year and a half and as of this morning the record stands at 4-15. The record this year is 1-5 and the 5 losses have been by an average margin of 24 points.

    Mike Price – UTEP: Once a hot commodity as a college coach after a successful run at Washington State, Price has been at UTEP since 2004 and his overall record there is a mediocre 46-58. It is not as if he has to take on top-shelf competition in C-USA every week either…

    Rob Akey – Idaho: In the last two and a half seasons, his record at Idaho stands at 9-23 and his overall record since 2007 is 20-49.

    Kirk Ferentz – Iowa: He was a wunderkind just a few years ago; he was rumored to be on the short list to replace Joe Paterno at Penn State when the Penn State job was a plum. He has been at Iowa since 1999 but the last three seasons have been mediocre. This year, Iowa lost to C. Michigan and for reference purposes, here are the teams that have beaten C. Michigan this year:

      Michigan State
      Northern Illinois
      Toledo
      Navy.

After going 0-11 at Washington in 2008, Ty Willingham was not in great demand as a college football coach. He is now back in coaching – - albeit not in football. According to a report in the South Bend Tribune, Willingham is a volunteer assistant coach for the Stanford women’s golf team. According to that report, Willingham serves as:

“…a specialist at helping the golfers with the psychology of the game.”

I thought you might want to know…

Duke brought a 5-1 record to their game with Va Tech needing one more win for bowl eligibility (something that is not assured given the schedule). Duke led 20-7 at the end of the first quarter but never scored again losing the game 41-20.

Michigan beat Illinois 45-0. It might not have been that close…

Alabama beat Missouri 42-10. That is not a surprise but here are two stats that should get your attention:

    In the first quarter of its games this year, Alabama has outscored its opponents 83-0.

    In the fourth quarter of its games this year, Alabama has outscored its opponents 55-7.

Texas Tech demolished West Virginia 49-14; yes, the game was that lopsided. Seth Doege – the QB for Texas Tech – was the star of the game – - not Geno Smith. Doege threw for 504 yards and 6 TDs. The Texas Tech defense smothered the Mountaineers’ offense; Tech looked bigger, stronger and faster all game long.

The West Virginia defense ranks 102nd in the country this morning and they are indeed that bad. They either cannot or will not tackle anyone; they do not cover well and their D-line gets pushed around far too much. In addition to giving up 504 yards passing last week, they also allowed Texas Tech to rush for 182 more yards.

Oregon State beat BYU 42-24. The total line for that game was 37.5. Where did all that offense come from?

Notre Dame is now 6-0 after beating Stanford in OT on a controversial call. The Irish have yet to give up a rushing TD this year. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago but with Notre Dame sitting at #5 in the polls this week it may bear repeating:

    Frank Lahey, Ara Parseghian and Dan Devine won national championships at Notre Dame in their third year as the head coach.

    Brian Kelly is in his third year as the head coach at Notre Dame.

    [Cue theme music from The Twilight Zone]

If you watched the LSU/So. Carolina game and did not enjoy it, then one of two things applies:

    1. You were rooting for So. Carolina as an alum or as someone with money on them to win the game outright.

    2. You just do not like college football.

Ohio State scored 52 points this week – after scoring 63 the week before. Woody Hayes needed to be taken to the Heavenly Infirmary with the vapors over the weekend.

Texas A&M led La Tech 21-0 at the end of the first quarter and 39-16 at the half. Tech did not quit; the final score was Aggies 59 and Bulldogs 57. The margin of victory was a blocked PAT by the Aggies returned for a TD, which was worth 2 points.

This week saw the first of the BCS standings hit the streets. There are lots of things not to like about the BCS but give them credit for this. At least they so not produce BCS standings until the season is about at the halfway mark; they do not indulge in pre-season polls or standings after one week of good teams beating up on cupcakes.

Here is a comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald regarding pre-season polls:

“FIU, preseason Sun Belt favorite, fell to 1-5 on Thursday night. Panthers are now frontrunner to take home the Marlins Cup as South Florida’s most disappointing team.”

Here are the “no surprises aspects” of the first BCS standings:

    Alabama is #1.

    The SEC and the PAC-12 dominate the top 11 slots.

Here are a two surprises in the first BCS standings:

    Florida is #2 over Oregon. The reason is that the computer rankings (one-third of the BCS standings) have Florida as the #1 team in the country and Oregon at #6.

    Not a single Big Ten team is in the Top 20. ZERO!

Buried in the rankings, you can note that Notre Dame is #5 and Oklahoma is #9. They play each other later this year. In addition, note that Notre Dame is #5 and USC is #10. They too play each other later this year. Do not accuse Notre Dame of finding itself an easy schedule.

The Ponderosa Spread Games:

Last week, the favorites covered in 2 of the 4 Ponderosa Spread games.

Florida State and Michigan covered.

La-Monroe and Oklahoma St. did not cover.

That brings the season record for Ponderosa favorites covering to 19-23-1.

This week we have 7 Ponderosa spread Games:

New Mexico St. at Utah St. – 30 (56): Think NM St. has a shot to win here? You can find them at +5,475 on the money line.

UNLV at Boise St. – 28 (53.5): Think UNLV can pull an upset here? You can find them at +3,800 on the money line.

Colorado at USC – 41 (57.5): Do you like Colorado in an upset? The money line sits at +32,500 this morning.

Georgia – 28 at Kentucky (58): Do you like a Wildcat over a Bulldog? The money line is waiting for you at +3,600.

Kansas at Oklahoma – 35 (57.5): Think you’ll be chanting “Rock chalk, Jayhawk” at the end of this one? You can get +11,400 on the money line now.

Idaho at La Tech – 30.5 (73.5): Do you believe the Vandals will successfully invade Shreveport this weekend? The money line on that is +5,500.

Central Florida – 24 at Memphis (50.5): UCF isn’t that tough, is it? You can get Memphis on the money line at +1,530.

The SHOE Teams:

Some of the truly awful teams are separating themselves from the rest of the country when it comes to futility. However, there is still ambiguity regarding which teams will fill out the 8-team SHOE Tournament field. Consider:

    BC lost to Florida State by 44 last week

    Kentucky lost to Arkansas (!) by 42 last week.

    Idaho lost by 31 to Texas State last week. This is Texas State’s first year in Division 1- A.

    UNLV lost by 4 to Nevada last week – after leading by 17 at the half. That is something SHOE teams do well.

    Memphis lost to E. Carolina by 34 last week.

    So. Miss lost in double OT by 7 last week to UCF. The Golden Eagles are more like turkeys this year with an 0-6 record.

Meanwhile, do not lose sight of:

    UMass
    E. Michigan
    S. Alabama
    New Mexico State
    UTEP
    Buffalo
    Akron
    Hawaii

Games of Interest:

(Thurs Nite) Oregon – 10 at Arizona State (68.5): It is not often that a Thursday night college game shapes up to be one of the best games of the weekend, but this one might fit that description. Arizona State had covered the spread in all five games this season; Oregon has only covered in 2 games. I love watching Oregon play; they score quickly and they play quickly. Frankly, I would like to see them play Alabama in the BCS Championship Game, so I hope the Ducks win here; however, giving a team as good as Arizona State a full 10 points at home is scary. I will take Oregon and lay the points anyway because I am not sure that the Arizona State defense has had to cope with the speed and the pace that Oregon will subject them too. But I do this with a measure of trepidation.

(Fri Nite) UConn at Syracuse – 4.5 (43): This game is only of interest because I hope to arrive in Las Vegas on Friday in time to get a wager down on this game and then head off to dinner. There is no way that I will delay my dinner to watch these two teams play. I would rather go on a double date where the “other couple” was Bill O’Reilly and Rachael Maddow. [shudder…] Call this a “Pick Your Poison Game”; UConn is 2-4-1 against the spread this year; Syracuse is 1-4 against the spread. Syracuse brings a slightly better than average offense to the game (39th in the country) against the 6th rated defense of UConn. Before you think that is a mismatch, consider that the UConn offense is ranked 107th in the country so it is not going to dominate anyone. Just to see how the football gods are likely to treat me this weekend, I will probably make a SMALL parlay wager on this game. I’ll take Syracuse and lay the points as a venue call and I’ll take the game to go OVER in a parlay. If that hits, I will take it as a good omen and immediately find a craps table somewhere…

Iowa St. at Oklahoma St. – 14 (60): At home, Iowa St. played K-State tough last week. However, this week they have to contend with the #1 offense in the country; Oklahoma St. averages 601 yards per game. And Iowa St. has to do it on the road this time. I just do not think that Iowa St. can stop the Cowboys. I smell a blowout here. I like Ok St. to win and cover at home.

LSU – 4 at Texas A&M (52): Well, you know that the Aggies are not going to score anywhere near the 59 points they put up last weekend playing against the LSU defense. What you do not know is which LSU offensive team will decide to show up; after all, the Aggies’ defense is not exactly “great”. LSU has yet to cover this year against an SEC opponent; this is the Aggies first year in the SEC so I wonder if they “count” as a conference opponent in LSU’s mindset. I think this game will turn on turnovers; if the Aggies can hold onto the ball and force the Tigers to drive long fields all day long, they can win the game; if not, the Aggies are doomed. I think this will be a low-scoring affair so I’ll take the Aggies plus the points and I’ll take the game to stay Under.

Army – 2.5 at E. Michigan (60): Two bad teams… SHOE implications here. Do not be surprised if the total passing yardage for both teams adds up to something less than 150 yards.

Stanford – 2.5 at Cal (48): Do not let the band on the field. Both teams have been disappointing to some extent this year; this rivalry game will give one team a respite from said disappointment. Neither offense knocks your socks off; both defenses are good. I guess the line here is trying to say that the Cal defense is not as good as the Notre Dame defense that Stanford failed to do much with last week. That is probably true, but what is also true is that Cal is a better big-play team than Notre Dame. Purely a venue call in a huge rivalry game here; I’ll take Cal plus the points.

BYU at Notre Dame – 14 (41.5): Not exactly a rivalry game but we could frame this one as some kind of religious war. This will be one of the best games of the weekend. I do not think Notre Dame is likely to lose this game at home but I do think it will be a low-scoring event. Therefore, that line looks fat to me. I’ll take BYU plus the points.

Florida Atlantic at S. Alabama – 3 (44.5): Two bad teams… SHOE implications here. To keep both coaching staffs up in the booth engaged, they will be serving full caffeine double espressos from start to finish.

Mich St. at Michigan – 10 (45): Neither team has lived up to expectations this season but this is a rivalry game so maybe both teams will bring their A-Game this time. My first impression is that this is an awfully fat line in a rivalry game; however, Michigan State is 1-6 against the spread this year. I like this game to stay Under.

S. Carolina at Florida – 3 (42.5): Probably the best game of the weekend. I think S. Carolina is the better team on a neutral field; I think playing in The Swamp is a big advantage for Florida; I think Steve Spurrier will try to let his players know how much of an uphill battle it is to play Florida in Gainesville. The Ol’ Ball Coach said at mid-week that Marcus Lattimore has a hip injury and may not play; that likely means Lattimore will start and see plenty of action. South Carolina’s problem is that they had Georgia two weeks ago and LSU last week; now they go on the road to play a good Florida team. I have no doubt that the Gamecocks will be ready to play, but I think the deck is stacked against them here. I’ll take Florida and lay the points.

Indiana at Navy – 3 (60): Indiana scored 49 points against Ohio State last week and lost. One might have expected the total line here to be in the high 70s. I have to think this game will go Over.

Kansas at Oklahoma – 35.5 (57): No way I will bet Kansas against a team as good as Oklahoma seems to be; no way do I want to lay more than 5 TDs in a conference game unless one of the teams involved is a graduate school for Special Olympians. Kansas brings the 84th ranked offense to the game and OU brings the 14th ranked defense to the game. I do not see Kansas putting more than 10 points on the scoreboard so I’ll take this game to stay Under.

K-State at West Virginia – 3 (71): West Virginia was playing a distant road game for the second straight week and laid a huge egg in Lubbock last week. Now it is K-State’s turn to find a convenient and comfortable way to get from Manhattan KS to Morgantown WV. This will be one of the best games of the weekend. Despite the gaudy offensive stats that West Virginia has assembled, I think the K-State defense is good enough to prevent the Mountaineers from running off and hiding. On the other hand, having seen West Virginia play defense against Texas Tech last week for most of that game, I have no faith in that unit to stop an Ivy League team from driving the field. I like the game to go Over. I have a hunch that West Virginia will play much better this week than last from the standpoint of embarrassment and because they are at home, but I am not going to bet the spread in this game.

Alabama – 20 at Tennessee (56): Tennessee lost on the road to Mississippi State last week but the Vols play much better at home than on the road. Nevertheless… Alabama has won all six of its games handily – but it has covered only 3 times this year. I will not wager on this game but if prodded to make a pick, I would take Alabama and lay the points.

Penn State at Iowa – 3 (42.5): I have two conflicting rules of thumb here:

    With evenly matched teams, I like to go with venue calls.

    In low scoring games, I prefer to take the points.

I cannot do both here so I will just watch this game and let the results happen for other bettors.

Baylor at Texas – 11 (80.5): If Mack Brown actually wants to be on a hot seat, all he has to do is to get his team to lose to Baylor in Austin and to give Baylor something like 55-60 points in the process. The Texas defense played better early in the season than it is playing now; the Baylor defense has been consistently bad all season long; in fact, as of today, no team in the country gives up more yards per game than Baylor. Meanwhile, the Baylor offense has been more than just good; the Baylor offense is ranked #2 in the country ahead of teams that you think of as “offensive juggernauts” such as West Virginia. On balance, I think Texas is the better team and that they will win the game in Austin but that line is FAT. I’ll take Baylor plus the points.

Washington at Arizona – 7.5 (61.5): It would not surprise me to see either team scoring in the mid-40s in this game. Therefore, I’ll take the game to go Over.

Utah at Oregon St. – 10 (47.5): Despite Oregon State’s 42-point outburst last week against a good BYU defensive unit, I think this game is going to be low scoring. Therefore, I’ll take Utah plus the points and I’ll take the game to stay Under.

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

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Comments

  • rugger9  On October 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Interesting about the Cal-Stanford prediction. As a Cal alum, I refuse to bet on the Bears, particularly on this game. The reason it’s happening now is because of TV [Pac-12] commitments and allowed rules [see the San Jose Mercury News article on this from Tu/We] for scheduling and supposedly it will rotate through the conference in the next few years.

    Stanford has yet to play well on the road, but this is a game that inspires great things and weird things [I was on the field doing security for The Play about 20 yards away from where the band came on the field. When the Bears scored and the cannon went off, I looked into the stands at the Stanford section, it was a Warhol painting of communal jaw dropping, one of the best things I've seen in my 50 years...]. If the Cardinal honks this one too [pleasepleaseplease] go against them on the road the rest of the year.

    The Bears have to hold on to the ball, and since they have coughed up no less that two TOs per game, and since Stanford for its faults does usually take care of the ball, that TO margin will be the determining statistic.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On October 23, 2012 at 9:42 am

      rugger9:

      Cal did not look good at all on Saturday. They looked lackadaisical to me watching in a sportsbook. How that can happen in such a big rivalry game is a mystery to me…

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