Let us take a look at how last week’s picks turned out:
I liked Oregon -10 over Ariz. St. Oregon covered easily. Mmm!
I liked Syracuse -4.5 over UConn. Syracuse covered easily. Mmm!
I liked Syracuse/UConn Over 43. The game went Over. Mmm! Parlay!
I liked Ok St. -14 over Iowa St. The Cowboys covered. Mmm!
I liked Texas A&M +4 against LSU. LSU won by 5 points. Blech!
I liked LSU/Texas A&M Under 52. The game total was 43. Mmm!
I liked Cal +2.5 against Stanford. Not even close. Blech!
I liked BYU +14 against Notre Dame. BYU covered. Mmm!
I liked Michigan/Michigan St. Under 45. The game total was 22. Mmm!
I liked Florida -3 over S. Carolina. Florida won by 33. Mmm!
I liked Indiana/Navy Over 60. The game total was 61. Mmm!
I liked Kansas/Oklahoma Under 57. The game total was 59. Blech!
I liked K-State/West Virginia Over 71. The game total was 69. Blech!
I liked Alabama -20 over Tennessee. Bama covered. Mmm!
I liked Baylor +11 against Texas. Texas won but Baylor covered. Mmm!
I liked Washington/Arizona Over 61. The game total was 69. Mmm!
I liked Utah +10 against Oregon St. Not enough points. Blech!
I liked Utah/Oregon State Under 47.5. The game total was 28. Mmm!
That was certainly a mythically profitable week for Mythical Picks at 13 – 5 – 0. Nevertheless, no one should assume or conclude that this week’s picks will have a similar success rate. In addition to the vagaries of predicting the future and the outcomes of athletic endeavors, these picks are being made very early in the week using lines that will in some cases change by several points when the games begin.
No one with half a brain should use any information here as the basis for making a wager on a college football game this weekend if that wager were to involve real money. Anyone who does that probably thinks that a turbine is what people of the Sikh faith wear on their heads.
Linfield simply destroyed Lewis and Clark last weekend by a score of 63-0. This game was Linfield’s 23rd consecutive win in Northwest Conference games and it was the biggest margin of victory for either team in this rivalry that goes back to 1901. Linfield averaged 7.7 yards per offensive play and scored 63 points while running only 69 offensive plays. This weekend, Linfield hosts conference rival Willamette – a team that lost its first conference game last weekend to Pacific Lutheran. A Linfield victory here would virtually assure them the conference championship and a slot in the NCAA Division III playoffs. Willamette is no slouch opponent; the Bearcats are 6-1 this year and have scored 296 points in those 7 games (42.3 points per game). Go Wildcats!
Last week, I listed some coaches who are likely on a hot seat given the way their teams are performing. This week I would like to add just a few more names and comments:
Frank Spaziani – BC: The team is terrible; it looked to be going through the motions and nothing else last week against a not very good Georgia Tech team that dominated BC. Spaziani was at BC as the defensive coordinator for 10 years prior to getting the head job in 2009. If the team does not show some signs of caring about at least one future game, he could find himself looking for work. BC’s only win came over a Division 1-AA team this year.
Gene Chizik – Auburn: Honest; I am not trying to pick on Coach Chizik. But Auburn lost to Vandy last weekend dropping Auburn to 0-5 in SEC play. Three conference games remain (Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama); Auburn will be the underdog in all three games. If they lose them, they will go 0-8 in conference play. Here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times indicating that the loss to Vandy might have warmed Coach Chizik’s seat even more:
“Auburn alum Charles Barkley, to Birmingham’s WJOX Radio, on the 1-5 Tigers’ football game against Vanderbilt: ‘Trust me, we’re playing the smart kids this week. If you can’t beat the smart kids, you’re in for a long year.’ “
Mike Leach – Washington State: Leach is an “offensive genius”. Well, Washington State’s offense ranks 91st in the country in terms of yards gained this year. Hello?
All Defensive Coaches at Texas, Va Tech and West Virginia: These defenses are as impenetrable as gauze…
To be sure, two coaches have done surprisingly good jobs so far this year:
David Cutcliffe – Duke: The Dookies are bowl eligible for the first time in 18 years. ‘Nuff said…
Bob Davie – New Mexico: The Lobos had won a total of 3 games in the last 3 years; we have not finished October yet and New Mexico has 4 wins under its belt and a shot at bowl eligibility.
LSU/Texas A&M may have been the most entertaining game of last weekend. If not that game, may I nominate the Texas Tech/TCU game that went to triple OT and had 109 points on the board at the end. Now if neither of those games appealed to you, then you had to like Texas/Baylor; Texas led 42-31 at the half and the game wound up 56-50. If you bought a ticket to any of those games, you had to have been entertained.
Ohio State remains undefeated for the season but they needed overtime to beat Purdue in Columbus last weekend? What is up with that?
Anyone remember when Minnesota was 4-0 and was only one of two Big Ten teams that were both undefeated and bowl-eligible? Well, Minnesota is now 4-3 and playing the way people have come to expect Minnesota to play. They took a 25-point thumping last week from Wisconsin.
Quick Quiz: Who was that other big Ten Team that was 4-0 and bowl eligible along with Minnesota? The answer is below…
Halloween has not arrived yet but Wisconsin is already assured a place in the Big Ten Conference Championship Game. Hold onto that fact the next time someone tries to convince you that the regular season in college football is like a playoff every weekend. For the next five weeks or so, the regular season games are meaningless to Wisconsin and everyone else in Wisconsin’s division.
Northwestern lost by a point to Nebraska last weekend. I seem to recall that the Big Ten Pooh-Bahs went out and recruited Nebraska for the conference because they wanted to add another “power program” to the conference. As of today, Northwestern (6-2) has a better record than Nebraska (5-2).
By the way, that other 4-0 Big Ten team who was also bowl eligible was Northwestern.
Penn State beat Iowa 38-14 at Iowa. Penn State has won 5 games in a row after losing its first two games. Iowa did not score until the fourth quarter of that game.
Cal lost to Stanford 21-3; that was the halftime score also. It sure looked to me in the sportsbook that the Cal players did not care any more about this game than a game against Disco Tech. How a team can look that lackadaisical in a big rivalry game is a mystery to me…
Kansas State did not just beat West Virginia in Morgantown, they held Geno Smith to a total of 143 yards passing and intercepted him twice. That is two clunkers in a row for Smith; do you think Heisman voters will remember or had they made up their minds before this? Looking at the past two games, it sure looks to me that the way to attack the West Virginia offense is to bring a lot of pressure through the Mountaineer’s “less-than-robust” offensive line.
West Virginia’s next three opponents are TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. The Mountaineers need to put their offense back on its feet because they cannot count on that defense to stop those three offenses. In the last two games (Texas Tech and Kansas State) the Mountaineers defense gave up 104 points and – hold your breath here – 1165 yards. Yowza!
La Tech steamrollered Idaho last weekend. At the end of the first quarter, La Tech led 35-14; at the half, the score was 56-21. The Total Line for the game was 72.5 at game time; the game went Over by halftime. The final score was 70-28. La Tech is 6-1 at the moment; they will be favored in their next 3 games. Then they will close out the season hosting a good Utah State team and then traveling to San José St. If they finish at 11-1 (Their only loss would be to Texas A&M by 2 points.) it will be interesting to see what kind of bowl bid they get. Only once this year has La Tech failed to score less than 52 points in a game.
Speaking of bowl bids for a moment, take a look at the MAC standings and you will see that there are already four teams in the MAC that have achieved bowl eligibility. File that information away just in case you find yourself yearning to tune into watch the Porcelain Bowl sometime in December. At least four of the meaningless bowl games will feature MAC teams. Ask yourself how many times you have made it a point to program your DVR to be sure you did not miss a MAC game.
In the SEC, Florida simply dominated So. Carolina last weekend. I really do not think Florida is 33 points better than So. Carolina, but they were at least that much better last weekend.
Georgia went to Kentucky and only won by 5 points. That is not a good omen – even if you subscribe to the theory that they were looking ahead to the Florida game this weekend. Here is what I know about that upcoming game; in the parking lot in Jax, the drinking lamp is already lit as are dozens of Georgia and Florida fans.
Do not look now but Mississippi State is 7-0. Granted, their schedule is back-loaded in terms of difficulty starting this weekend on the road to play Alabama. After that game, the Bulldogs will host Texas A&M before going on the road again to play LSU. I think Mississippi State has a reasonable shot to go 10-3 for the season.
The Ponderosa Spread Games
Last week, the favorites covered in 4 of the 7 Ponderosa Spread Games.
La Tech, Oklahoma, USC and Utah State covered.
Boise St., Georgia and UCF did not cover.
That brings the season cumulative record for favorites covering in Ponderosa Spread Games to 23-26-1.
This week we have 8 Ponderosa Spread Games.
Utah State – 24 at Texas-San Antonio (50.5): The money lines here are +1,350/-2,300
Duke at Florida State – 27.5 (58): The money lines here are +2,800/-6,200.
Washington State at Stanford – 25 (51.5): The money lines here are +1,450/-2,750
UMass at Vandy – 33 (48): The money lines here +8,000/-15,000.
S. Alabama at La-Monroe – 24 (56): The money lines here are +1,400/-2,500.
La Tech – 30.5 at New Mexico State (77.5): The money lines here are +4,000/-10,000
Mississippi State at Alabama – 24 (47.5): The money lines here are +1,400/-2,500.
Colorado at Oregon – 46 (68): The money line on Colorado is +84,500. I cannot find a money line for Oregon as of this morning.
The SHOE Teams:
Last week, Eastern Michigan and Army played a close and competitive game meaning they both remain on my “watch list”. In addition, UTEP only beat Tulane by 4 points last weekend, so they both have to stay under the microscope. And S. Alabama went to double OT with Florida Atlantic so there was no way to eliminate either team from further scrutiny.
This week – in addition to mentioning some of the truly bad small programs, let me highlight a few schools that have earned some recognition in the past for their football prowess but who just might be in my SHOE Tournament in December. In alphabetical order:
However, there are some bottom-feeders out there this year that might keep many of those schools off my list. Here are some bad teams:
New Mexico State
With 21 teams on my ‘watch list”, the easy way out would be to expand the SHOE Tournament to include 16 teams. Never fear, I shall not take the easy way out; this field will be cut to 8 teams truly worthy of seeking to avoid being the SHOE Team of the year – - the Steaming Heap Of Excrement Team of the Year.
Southern Mississippi bears a special mention here. The Golden Eagles have been more like Lead Eagles this year amassing an 0-7 record. Southern Mississippi has had 18 consecutive winning seasons of football (paltry by Linfield College standards but laudatory nonetheless) and has been to a bowl game in each of the last 10 seasons. Check the calendar; it is not November yet and Southern Mississippi has already assured that both of those streaks are broken; even if they win out – - they will not – - the best they can do is to go 5-7.
Games of Interest:
(Fri Nite) Cincy at Louisville – 3.5 (53.5): I did not see how Cincy lost to Toledo last week but I did see Louisville stink out the joint even though it won the game over S. Florida. A loss by Cincy here virtually eliminates them from getting the Big East plum bowl game slot; a loss by Louisville sets up a potential round-robin effect including Rutgers for that plum slot. After seeing Louisville last week, my hunch is to take Cincy plus the points here.
Indiana at Illinois – 2 (58): These are two awful teams. Both are on the SHOE watch list. Do not watch this game because it will tempt you to stab yourself in the eyeballs with a fork.
Texas – 21.5 at Kansas (59): The Longhorns were humiliated in the Red River Rivalry game and then came home to beat Baylor by only 6 points. If they lose to Kansas this week, there is going to be a large pile of “Longhorn Ejectamenta” on Mack Brown’s driveway when he gets home. Given that neither team has much of a defense – - both give up more than 30 points per game – - this would be another great game to keep your money in your wallet.
Ole Miss at Arkansas – 6 (64): Everybody expected Arkansas to be very good this year; nobody expected Ole Miss to be very good this year. Turns out neither team is very good this year proving that sometimes pre-season forecasts are right and sometimes they are wrong. Make this a venue call plus a talent call. I think Arkansas has more talent and they are home. I’ll take Arkansas and lay the points.
Maryland at BC – 1.5 (47): Maryland will probably have to play a wide receiver who they have converted to a QB for this game due to injuries to everyone else on the team who pretended to be a QB. Maryland’s defense pretty good, but with that offense they might need a reincarnation of the Steel Curtain to pull out a win here. I cannot see where 48 points will come from, so I’ll take this game to stay Under.
BYU at Georgia Tech – 2.5 (51): BYU’s defense is the strength of that team and it is a good tackling team. That is a good sign against a team that will run the ball most of the time. The problem is that BYU’s offense is not good enough to inspire confidence even against a poor Georgia Tech defense. This is purely a hunch but I’ll take BYU plus the points – - for mythical purposes only.
USC – 7 at Arizona (65): This is an intriguing game. I think USC has the edge in talent – if not in team speed. Arizona is like a bipolar team; they can be real good or real bad. The problem here is that the “bipolar team” is at home and the way they win is to score points in bunches. That line tempted me to jump on USC at first, but I’ll pass…
Purdue – 3 at Minnesota (51): So, was that game against Ohio State last week a harbinger of good times for Purdue or was it merely a small slice of serendipity. If they could take Ohio State to OT in Columbus, they damned well ought to be able to cover a field goal spread at Minnesota. Or was it all a sham? Here is another game where the line looked tempting at first, but again, I’ll pass…
TCU at Ok. St. – 7.5 (63): This is one of several Big 12 games that are worth the time to watch. TCU is a new kid on the block in the Big 12 and the Horned Frogs have acquitted themselves well. The rest of their schedule after this weekend is murderer’s row:
at West Virginia
They need a win here and they have a shot to win this game because Ok. State is not the team that ran up 84 points on Savannah State to open the season. The Cowboys have been without their starting QB for a while now. I like the half-point hook on a full TD here. I’ll take TCU plus the points.
Texas Tech at K-State – 7.5 (60): Here is another Big 12 game that is worth seeking out. When a team like Texas Tech goes on the road to play a top team like K-state, then Texas Tech needs to have a really good defense or a scoring-machine offense to have a good chance in the game. Tech’s offense is good – but not great. Tech’s defense is very good – bordering on great. Because they bring credibility on both sides of the ball, I will take Texas Tech here plus more than a TD’s worth of points. I do that acknowledging that Kansas State is deservedly one of the Top Five teams in the country.
Florida – 6.5 vs. Georgia (49): I expect this to be a defensive game because Florida’s defense is very good and Florida’s offense is not nearly as good. Therefore, I like the game to stay Under and I like Georgia plus the points.
Ohio State at Penn State “pick ‘em” (50): This is the “bowl game” for these two teams that are ineligible for bowl games this year. The reason I will not pick this game now – early in the week – is that the playing status of Ohio State’s starting QB remains a question. He had to leave the Purdue game with an injury last week. Notwithstanding the fact that I made no pick in this game, I think this is a game to seek out for viewing pleasure.
Texas A&M – 15 at Auburn (52.5): That is an awful lot of points to lay on the road in the SEC even to a team without a conference win, but the Aggies looked good even while losing to LSU in a close game last weekend. I’ll take the Aggies and lay the points.
Notre Dame at Oklahoma – 10 (48): Both teams play defense well. Oklahoma has a more potent offense but they do not often face a defense as good as Notre Dame’s. Remember, Notre Dame has not given up a rushing TD yet this year. In a defense-dominated game – which is what I expect here – ten points is a lot to turn down. I shall not do that; I like the Irish plus the points.
Oregon St. – 4.5 at Washington (48): I think Oregon State’s defense will be too much for the Huskies here. I like Oregon State to win and cover.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………