Here is a quick review of last week’s Mythical Picks:
I liked Va Tech/Miami Over 57. The game was way Under. Blech!
I liked Florida – 16 over Mizzou. Not even close. Blech!
I liked Miss St. +7 against Texas A&M. Awful pick. Blech!
I liked Army/Air Force Under 61. Total was 62. Blech!
I liked West Virginia -6 over TCU. TCU won in OT. Blech!
I liked Nebraska/Mich State Under 44.5. The game went Over. Blech!
I liked Georgia – 14 over Ole Miss. Georgia covered. Mmm!
I liked Texas Tech -7 over Texas. Texas won outright. Blech!
I liked Oregon/USC Over 70. The game went Over 110. Mmm!
I liked Alabama/LSU Under 41. The game was Under. Mmm!
I liked Ariz St/Oreg St Under 54.5. The game went Over. Blech!
Using the argot of the moment, that set of picks just plain sucked. The 3-8 record here would have mythically unprofitable by a very wide margin. At this point, I have two choices:
1. I can stop making Mythical Picks and assure that I will not publicly embarrass myself in this way anymore.
2. I can keep on keeping on…
I had a secretary with whom I worked for many years who used to say that embarrassing me was like gagging a maggot. Therefore, it should be no surprise that I will choose Option 2 above. Now that we have that out of the way, it should be clear to any reader that following my wagering advice is not likely to be an express ticket to Easy Street; more likely it would be an express ticket to a lifestyle involving living in a refrigerator box under a bridge somewhere. Anyone dumb enough to use anything here as the basis for making a wager on a college football game this weekend is probably dumb enough to go to an LA Clippers game in order to get a haircut.
The Linfield College Wildcats extended their record this year to 8-0 with a 47-7 win over Puget Sound last week. That win assures that Linfield will win the Northwest Conference championship and that they will participate in the Division III football tournament starting in a few weeks. Linfield closes out its regular season this weekend against the Pacific University Boxers who bring a 3-5 record to the game. Go Wildcats!
I was tempted to write last week that UVa head coach, Mike London, probably deserved to be on a hot seat, but I resisted the temptation. Good thing… The Cavaliers went to NC State and routed the Wolfpack 33-6. That brings Virginia’s record to 3-6 – hardly a sterling record – but you have to recall that NC State played at home against Florida State and beat the Seminoles in Raleigh. Unless the Cavs abjectly humiliate themselves in the final 3 games, Mike London will probably stay on in Charlottesville. Remember, he was the ACC Coach of the Year just last season…
In other coaching “happenings”, I ran across this item in Gregg Drinnan’s column, Keeping Score, in the Kamloops Daily News. Mike Leach issued a “Twitter ban” for his players at Washington State. The ban applies to everyone not just a group of players who might have abused their Twitter accounts or who had broken some team rules. That action drew a comment from Oregon coach, Chip Kelly:
“If you can’t trust your players on Twitter, you probably can’t trust them on third down.”
Lots of college teams focus on their offense and seek to outscore opponents, but defense still matters for Alabama – the top team in the country at the moment. The Crimson Tide has only allowed 9.1 points per game this season; that makes winning games a tad easier.
By the way, undefeated Notre Dame has only yielded 11.7 points per game over the course of their season.
Here is an offensive stat to consider. Louisiana Tech QB, Colby Cameron has thrown 24 TDs this year with ZERO interceptions. Before you think that this is a running team that only throws the ball on occasion, Cameron has attempted 358 passes. That is impressive at any level above ankle-biter football.
Army beat Air Force last week by 20 points. Army had lost 13 consecutive games against the other two service academies. The two teams went into the game ranked #1 and #2 in the country in rushing. Last week, Army gained 314 yards on the ground and Air Force only gained 103. That is how the game turned.
Florida followed the “Famous Florida Formula For 2012” by falling behind Missouri at the half and then holding Mizzou scoreless in the second half and rallying to win the game. When I saw the box score, I thought the Gators had a hangover from the tough loss to Georgia the week before. However, Mike Bianchi saw it differently in the Orlando Sentinel:
“There is an inclination to say the down-to-the-wire game against a mediocre Missouri team was an aberration, that the Gators were still feeling the aftershock of last week’s devastating loss to Georgia. But I disagree. This was no letdown; this was the status quo. The Gators are a team with ordinary talent who have managed to win some close games with extraordinary determination.”
Tennessee is 4-5 this year (0-5 in the SEC) and they have scored 31 or more points in 7 of their 9 games. The Vols’ problem is that they are giving up an average of 35.4 points per game to date. That number should come down a bit with Vandy and Kentucky still on the schedule.
Speaking of Vandy and Kentucky, those teams met last week and Vandy prevailed in a “squeaker” by the score of 40-0. That was the straw the broke the camel’s back and Kentucky fired coach Joker Phillips, who leaves Kentucky after posting a record of 12-23. Kentucky has not been competitive in its last two games losing by a combined score of 73-10. This week, Kentucky plays Div 1-AA, Samford. Phillips will be on the sidelines coaching the game. It will be interesting to see if the players step up and dominate the game or if they just go through the motions.
An SEC surprise last week was Texas A&M going to Starkeville and just pummeling Mississippi State by 25 points.
What was not an SEC surprise last week was that Alabama and LSU played a close low-scoring game dominated by defense by both teams. The scoreboard did not light up like a pinball machine, but it was a really good game to watch.
There was no surprise in the offensive outburst produced by the Oregon/USC game. Oregon prevailed 62-51. This game went Over in the middle of the third quarter. USC has been playing college football since 1888; in those 125 seasons, no team had ever scored 62 points on a USC team. Oregon also gained about 740 yards of offense and no USC team in history had ever given up that kind of yardage in a single game. Brad Dickson of the Omaha World Herald had this comment about this game:
“The Oregon football rolled up more than 700 yards against USC. There is now a fine line between the yardage gained per game by the Oregon offense and the average American’s morning commute.”
Two other PAC-12 games were blowouts last week. Stanford stomped Colorado 48-0. Colorado managed all of 6 first downs and 118 yards of offense on 44 offensive plays. Colorado is one of my SHOE Teams this week…
Washington State – living by that Twitter ban imposed by Mike Leach – lost to Utah by a score of 49-6. Just so you know, the score was 49-0 when Washington State got that meaningless score.
TCU went to Morgantown and beat West Virginia there in double OT. That makes three games in a row that West Virginia has lost. At the beginning of the season they were winning by outscoring opponents; now the offense does not put up 50 points per game and the result is that the team is losing.
K-State remained unbeaten but there are questions about the injury status of their QB, Collin Klein. While I am not convinced that Klein will be a great NFL QB, he is an outstanding QB in the K-State offense. I do not know if the team could overcome losing him to injury.
Iowa State lost to Oklahoma last week in Ames, IA. That is not particularly unusual; Oklahoma has won the last 21 games played there dating back to 1960.
Notre Dame survived three OTs to beat Pitt last week by 3 points. Here is another observation from Brad Dickson:
“Three Pitt players played despite being charged with assault during the week. When a Pitt field goal attempt sailed just wide at the end of the second overtime, I believe it was blown by a wind called karma.”
In games involving bad teams, Auburn dominated the second half to beat a sorry New Mexico State team 42-7. Fresno State led Hawaii 42-3 at the half and then called off the dogs to win 45-10. And UNLV took themselves off the SHOE list for this week clobbering New Mexico 35-7; the Runnin’ Rebels averaged more than 10 yards per offensive play in this game.
Here are two things that happened last week that ought to cause just a tad of shame in the appropriate locker rooms:
Arizona had gotten into the lower tier of national rankings on the basis of a win over USC. Last week they lost to UCLA by 55 points.
Mississippi State not only lost at home to Texas A&M but they were outgained by more than 400 yards in the game.
The Ponderosa Spread Games:
Last week the favorites covered in 5 of the 6 Ponderosa Spread Games.
Fresno State, Northern Illinois, Ohio State, Stanford and Utah State covered.
La Tech did not cover.
That brings the cumulative record for favorites covering in Ponderosa Spread Games to 33-30-1.
This week, we have 7 Ponderosa Spread Games:
Kansas at Texas Tech – 25 (59): Kansas is a bad football team and Texas Tech should be upset after losing to Texas last week.
La Lafayette at Florida – 26 (50.5): Florida wins with defense so that is a lot of points to lay for a defensive team.
Colorado at Arizona – 30.5 (66): Arizona could win this by 65 points or they could win it 10-6. These are two highly unpredictable teams – - except for the fact that Colorado stinks.
Maryland at Clemson – 31.5 (55): I do not want to make Maryland out to be a good team, but about now, they are using their fourth string QB.
Boise State – 29.5 at Hawaii (52.5): Boise St. lost last week and is out of the rankings for the first time in a while. Here they have an opportunity to take out their frustrations on a significantly bad Hawaii team.
Idaho at BYU – 38 (49): BYU wins with defense. I said above that laying 26 points with defensive-minded Florida represented a big number; here you have to lay 38 points.
Oregon – 28 at Cal (67.5): See selection below under “Games of Interest”.
The SHOE Tournament Teams:
Recall that I am giving a pass to those teams competing at the Division 1-A level for their first year so UMass and South Alabama are getting a pass from the SHOE Tournament. If I had included them, UMass would definitely have been one of the top three seeds this week.
My seeding begins with the worst team and proceeds to the eighth-worst team:
#1 Seed: Memphis
#2 Seed: Southern Mississippi
#3 Seed: New Mexico State
#4 Seed: Colorado
#5 Seed: Eastern Michigan
#6 Seed: Idaho
#7 Seed: Akron
#8 Seed: Hawaii
Also receiving consideration: BC, Kansas, Kentucky, Tulane
Games of Interest:
Northwestern at Michigan – 11 (52.5): Northwestern wins by outscoring opponents; its defense is not something memorable. Michigan will move the ball and score here. But the Michigan defense will give up points too. I like this game to go Over.
Louisville – 3 at Syracuse (58): Louisville is another undefeated team so far this year but they are a big step down from the 4 undefeated teams at the top of the rankings. Syracuse is a lot better team in their home dome than on the road and Louisville looks ripe for the picking here. I’ll take Syracuse with the points here.
Iowa St. at Texas – 10.5 (57): The Iowa State defense is pretty good; they have only given up 30 points in two games this year. Texas is up and down as often as a guy who drank a half dozen prune smoothies before going to bed. Just a hunch but I like Iowa State plus the points.
Missouri at Tennessee – 3 (60): Tennessee is a big offensive team whose defense has let them down this year [see above]. Mizzou is sort of like the mirror image here; its offense is merely OK but its defense has played well. I smell a low-scoring game here so I’ll take the game to stay Under.
Oregon St. at Stanford – 4.5 (45): Follow me here. The winner of this game has a shot to go to the Rose Bowl if PAC-12 champion Oregon goes to the BCS Championship game. I know; that assumes that Oregon will be the PAC-12 champ… Whatever, that could happen so this game means something to both teams. I know that Oregon St. is on the road, but they are 3-1 on the road this season losing only to Washington by a field goal. Oregon St. gets the job done with a good defense that has only allowed 30 points one time this year (to schizophrenic Arizona). I think the game will be low-scoring so I’ll take Oregon St. plus the points. If you really – really! – like Oregon St. you can get them on the money line at +165.
Arizona St. at USC – 9 (65): Will the real USC team please stand up? USC needs a win here to remain as a viable consideration for an important bowl game – and since the team started out the year ranked #1 in the country, one might think an important bowl game would have to be a goal now that the team has lost 3 times. I have no confidence in USC – particularly its defense after the last two games. At the same time, I cannot see how Arizona State can match up with USC talent-wise. Taking the Over here is tempting – - but I’ll find a way to resist the temptation and keep my money in my pocket.
West Virginia at Ok State – 7.5 (79): Here are two unreliable teams and West Virginia has really stunk out the joint in the last 3 games. However, the Mountaineers have an edge here. The West Virginia head coach was the offensive coordinator for Ok State last year so he should be able to give his defensive stalwarts a clue as to how to keep them from scoring at will. For mythical purposes only, I’ll take West Virginia plus the points.
Texas A&M at Alabama – 14 (57): This should be an excellent game – maybe the best game of the weekend. I do not know where 57 points will come from so I’ll take the game to stay Under.
Tulane – 1.5 at Memphis (56.5): See the discussion and seeding of SHOE teams above. Do not wager on this game.
Miss. St. at LSU – 14.5 (44): This looks like another defensive football game so I’ll take Mississippi State plus the points. I also like the game Under.
K-State at TCU (no lines): If Collin Klein is healthy and can play his normal game, I think K-state is a winner here by 2 TDs. But the fact that there are no lines says that Klein’s status remains up in the air.
Notre Dame – 19 at BC (47.5): How long can Notre Dame stay undefeated and still throw in clunkers on random weekends? The college football world would like an answer to that question. My hunch is that the Irish defense will shut down the BC offense and hold it to single digits. But I thought they would do something like that to Pitt last week and it did not turn out that way. I like this game to stay Under.
Oregon – 28 at Cal (67.5): Typically, I do not make picks in Ponderosa Spread Games, but if Oregon wants to maintain its status in the BCS Rankings, it needs to win and to win big. Given the lackluster way Cal has played the last two weeks, this game could turn into a rout. I see no reason why Oregon cannot maintain its habit of scoring more than 50 points per game here; after all, they have done that in 6 of their 9 games this year. I cannot see Cal keeping up. I like this game to go Over and I like Oregon to win and cover.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………