Mythical Picks – NCAA – Weekend of 11/17/12

First, let us see how last week’s Mythical Picks worked:

    I liked Northwestern/Michigan Over 52.5. The game went Over. Mmm!

    I liked Syracuse +3 against Louisville. Syracuse won outright. Mmm!

    I liked Iowa St. +10.5 against Texas. Not nearly enough points. Blech!

    I liked Missouri/Tennessee Under 60. Four OTs took it Over. Blech!

    I liked Oregon St. +4.5 against Stanford. Stanford won by 4. Mmm!

    I liked W.Virginia +7.5 over Ok. St. Not nearly enough points. Blech!

    I liked Texas A&M/Alabama Under 57. The game was Under. Mmm!

    I liked Miss St. +14.5 against LSU. LSU won by 20. Blech!

    I liked LSU/Miss St. Under 44. The game went way Over. Double Blech!

    I liked Notre Dame/BC Under 47.5. Game was way Under. Mmm!

    I liked Oregon/Cal Over 67.5. The game went Over. Mmm!

    I liked Oregon -28 over Cal. Oregon won by 42 points. Double Mmm!

So, last week’s Mythical Picks were mythically profitable with a record of 7-5. That is not a great showing to be sure, but it definitely is an improvement over two weeks ago when the record was 3-8. As Tony Kornheiser says at the end of every Pardon the Interruption program,

“We’ll try and do better the next time.”

Despite my determination to try to do better, it would be outrageously stupid for anyone to use any information or opinion herein as the basis for making a real wager involving real money on any NCAA football game this weekend. Doing that would make one dumb enough to wager on Stevie Wonder in a JENGA tournament.

General Comments:

Linfield College finished their regular schedule with a 9-0 record extending their streak of seasons with a winning record in football to 57 years. The Wildcats had no difficulty beating Pacific University last week by a score of 51-17. Linfield’s Northwest Conference Championship automatically puts them in the Division III football tournament. They will meet Pacific Lutheran – a wild card tournament entry – who finished second in the Northwest Conference. Pacific Lutheran had a 7-2 record for the season and one of those losses was to Linfield. These teams met back in September at Puyallup, WA and the Wildcats won the game 31-24. This week’s game will be at Linfield in McMinnville, OR. Go Wildcats!

Last year, Arizona State fired Dennis Erickson after a late season collapse; the Sun Devils started out 5-1 and finished the season 6-7. They went out and hired Todd Graham to overhaul things in Tempe; the Sun Devils started out the 2012 season with an identical 5-1 record. That was when the Sun Devils started what has become a 4-game losing streak. Arizona State is a big favorite this week when they host Washington State so the chances are that they will be bowl eligible going into their big rivalry game against Arizona next week.

Speaking of bowl eligibility and bowl games, the Insight Bowl – which came into existence as the Copper Bowl – will have a new name this year. It will be known as the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and it will take place this year on 29 December. Now, here is a great promotional opportunity that has probably escaped the attention of the good folks at Proctor and Gamble.

    Proctor and Gamble needs to find out which bowl game immediately follows the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Then it needs to reach a sponsorship deal with that game.

    Then they name the game that comes after the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, the Pepto-Bismol Bowl.

    How appropriate is that?

Alabama’s loss last week means that there will have to be a lot of serendipitous events for the team to make it to the BCS Championship Game this year. In a way I am sorry they will not be there and I am neither an Alabama fan nor an alum. The reason I would want them there would be to see an Alabama/Oregon game. Oregon runs the ball very well; they lead the nation in scoring and rank 4th in total offense. Alabama is second in rushing defense, third in total defense and leads the nation in scoring defense. As a football fan, that is a game I would love to watch – – but it is highly unlikely to happen. Too bad…

Alabama’s “computer numbers” are not likely to improve over the final two games because Western Carolina is a weak team in Division 1-AA and Auburn is winless in the SEC. The strength of schedule for Alabama in those computers is going to go down in the next couple of weeks and not up.

Cal ends a disappointing season this weekend with a visit to Oregon State. The Golden Bears overall record is 3-8 and only 2 of those 8 losses were by a single score. I wrote earlier this year that coach Jeff Tedford might be on a hot seat at Cal but a bit more research says that financial considerations might give him a bit more time at the helm. According to reports, buying out Tedford’s contract would cost $7M. While the athletic department might be able to come up with that kind of money, they also have another financial sink for money at the moment. Depending on which reports you read, Cal owes $300 – 330M for the repairs/renovations/upgrades done to its stadium. This might be an interesting situation to watch over the next month or so…

Georgia Tech beat UNC last week 68-50 and the game did not go to OT. Eleven different players scored touchdowns. That score set an ACC record for most points scored. The previous record stood since 1968 when Virginia beat Tulane 63-47. Hold on … in the time it took me to type those last four sentences, Georgia Tech scored again. You might understand how UNC could give up 68 points to a team like Oregon but Georgia Tech is not Oregon. UNC gave up 30 points in the third quarter alone…

Oh, by the way, the Georgia Tech defense should not feel too happy this week either. Yes, the only thing that matters is winning the game; but still, that unit gave up 50 points last week.

Another bad loss last week happened when Syracuse beat the previously undefeated Louisville by 19 points. Syracuse’s record is 5-5 after that win; Louisville had been complaining about the lack of respect they were getting as an undefeated team until last week. We will not have to listen to that kind of nonsense for the rest of the year…

One more bad loss happened in Indiana last weekend. The Hoosiers hosted Wisconsin and Wisconsin was favored in the game. Nevertheless, Indiana lost 62-10 and were outscored in the second half 38-7. Indiana is 4-6 for the season and now needs to win out in order to be bowl eligible. Last week’s home game would have been an important win for the team and they lost by 52 points. Now, to make it to a bowl game, Indiana has to beat Penn State and Purdue in their final two games.

For everyone who hates the BCS, here is some data that will get your stomachs churning:

    K-State is now #1 in the BCS rankings. K-State is ranked #2 in both of the polls used by the BCS.

    Oregon is now #2 in the BCS rankings. Oregon is ranked #1 in both of the polls used by the BCS.

    Notre Dame is now #3 in the BCS Rankings. Notre Dame is ranked #1 by the computers used by the BCS.


Oregon has 3 games left to play and all of their opponents are in the Top 25 as of this week. The Ducks will host Stanford this week; they will travel to Corvallis to play Oregon State in “The Civil War” next week and then will play in the PAC-12 Championship game in two weeks unless the wheels fall off the wagon. If they win out, they will be in the BCS Championship game.

K-State visits Baylor this week and then hosts Texas on December 1. There is no Big-12 Championship Game because – ironically – the Big 12 does not have the required 12 teams in the conference to stage a championship game. If K-State wins out, they should face Oregon in the BCS Championship Game.

And that would leave Notre Dame as the odd-man out – postulating that Notre Dame beats Wake Forest this weekend and also wins at USC next weekend. In the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament, there is a verse that says that bad folks will be cast into a furnace of fire and there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. I do not know about the furnace of fire; but I am sure that if Notre Dame is undefeated and left out of the BCS Championship Game, there will be caterwauling and self-flagellation that will make “wailing and gnashing of teeth” seem like a family picnic.

The Ponderosa Spread Games:

Last week, the favorites went 4-3 against Ponderosa Spreads.

Boise State, BYU, Clemson and Oregon covered.

Arizona, Florida and Texas Tech did not cover.

That brings the season record for favorites against Ponderosa Spreads to 37-33-1.

This week, we only have 3 Ponderosa Spread Games. Actually, there will be a lot of mismatches this week where games are off the board because about a half-dozen schools are playing Division 1-AA teams this weekend. If I cannot find a line for a game, I cannot count it as a Ponderosa Spread Game even though I know that the line would be more than 24 points.

Florida State – 31 at Maryland (45.5): The Terps will play hard in their final home game of the season but they are outmanned here. Maryland will start a converted linebacker at QB for the game. This will not end well if you are a Maryland fan…

Colorado St. at Boise St. – 28 (49.5): This is a “down year” for Boise State. However, the only teams that Colorado State has beaten this year are Colorado, UNLV and Hawaii – all of whom have been on the SHOE Tournament Watch List this year…

Wake Forest at Notre Dame – 24 (42): This might be a trap game for Notre Dame with that visit to USC next week… (See below)

The SHOE Teams:

Even though I have decided to leave first-year Division 1-A schools out of the SHOE Tournament, I must note that UMass got their first win ever in Division 1-A football last week going on the road and beating Akron by 8 points. Akron was already secure in the SHOE Tournament before that loss; as of this week, the Zips’ record is 1-10 and that win came over Division 1-AA Morgan State.

Here are my seedings for the SHOE Tournament as of this week. Remember, being seeded #1 in this tournament means you are projected to be the worst team in the field.

    #1 Seed: New Mexico State
    #2 Seed: Akron
    #3 Seed: Southern Mississippi
    #4 Seed: Tulane
    #5 Seed: Memphis
    #6 Seed: Eastern Michigan
    #7 Seed: Hawaii
    #8 Seed: Idaho

Teams still on the radar include: Army, BC, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky and UNLV.

Games of Interest:

(Fri Nite) Hawaii at Air Force – 22 (61): Air Force needs a win to become bowl-eligible and Hawaii is just a bad football team (See SHOE Seedings above). In their season finale, Air Force has to travel to Fresno State so a win here would be the way to go if a bowl game appearance is important – and it ought to be since Air Force cannot win the Commander in Chief Trophy having lost to both Navy and Army. I think Air Force will win going away here. I’ll take Air Force and lay the points.

Northwestern at Michigan State – 7 (45): Northwestern is already bowl-eligible but Michigan State is not. That does not happen very often, but that is the case this year. However, Michigan State can become bowl eligible with one more win and the coaches have had two weeks to get the message across to the student-athletes at Michigan State that this is the last home game and it would be a good idea to seal the deal here. Given the motivation factor and the venue, I’ll take Michigan State to win and cover.

Temple at Army – 3.5 (57): Temple stepped up in class from the MAC last year to the Big East this year and their record shows that it may have been too big a step for the Owls. However, Army is not a good team this year (See SHOE Seedings above). Temple has lost their last four games to Rutgers, Pitt, Louisville and Cincy; all of those teams are much better than Temple and much better than Army too. I cannot take Army and give points so I’ll take Temple plus the points here.

Arkansas at Mississippi State – 7 (55.5): At one point, Mississippi State was 7-0 and ranked in the Top 15 in the country. In the last three weeks, they have lost to Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU and the closest they came was a 20-point deficit. Arkansas is not very good and this is the final home game for Mississippi State so this may be the Bulldogs’ proper place in the SEC food chain – beat up on the lower tier teams and get blown out by the top-shelf teams. I like this game to stay Under.

South Florida at Miami – 7 (56.5): Do not bet on this game; buy a lottery ticket instead. South Florida will play a freshman at QB; the Miami defense shows up and disappears from quarter to quarter. Last week, Miami lost to Virginia despite leading by 10 in the fourth quarter and getting a safety in between giving up two touchdowns. This game is no better than a crapshoot in terms of predictability so go and buy the lottery ticket because the payoff odds will be higher if you hit.

Washington State at Arizona State – 23 (61.5): Arizona State needs this game for bowl eligibility; they are at home; they are clearly the better football team. Washington State had a player accuse Head Coach, Mike Leach, and the rest of the coaching staff of abusing the players physically, emotionally and verbally. Then some other players said they do not know what the accuser is talking about. Investigations to follow… I am guessing that the Washington State players will rally around the coach because if they thought they were being abused they would have left before taking the plane to Tempe. Purely a hunch, but I’ll take Washington State plus the points here.

USC – 3 at UCLA (66): It has been a while since this rivalry game saw a spread this low; it has also been a while since UCLA was ranked higher than USC. That is history but this game will happen in the future. What I think will happen is that the USC offense will outscore the UCLA offense and that neither defense will shine in this game. I like USC to win and cover.

Ole Miss at LSU – 18 (50): Mississippi’s record of 5-5 is deceptive. Against top shelf teams (Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Texas A&M), they are 0-4 and the cumulative score in those 4 games has been 166 – 92. LSU is a top shelf team and this is their final home game of the year, so I smell a blow out here. I’ll take LSU and lay the points.

Texas Tech at Oklahoma State – 10.5 (71.5): I smell a score-a-thon here. I like this game Over.

Wake Forest at Notre Dame – 24 (42): On one hand, the Irish realize that a win here will send them to USC next week undefeated. On the other hand, that fact means that the Irish recognize that a win over USC is the only real hope they have to sneak into the BCS Championship Game. Time to listen to The Robot from the old TV series, Lost In Space. The Robot was the nanny/guardian of the kid on the program and it would often yell:

“Danger, Will Robinson. Danger.”

In a low-scoring game where Notre Dame has to be looking ahead just a little bit, that line is fat. I’ll take Wake Forest plus the points here. I do not expect Wake to pull an upset here; if I did, the money line odds on this game have Wake Forest at +1530.

Purdue – 6.5 at Illinois (50): Here are two bad teams playing each other. Do not watch and do not bet on this game.

Ohio State at Wisconsin – 2.5 (52.5): Wisconsin pounded Indiana last week but Ohio State is a lot better than Indiana. I think the wrong team is favored here. I’ll take Ohio State plus the points.

Utah State – 3 at La Tech (72.5): La Tech opened as a 2-point favorite in this game but the line swung to the Aggies pretty quickly. The winner here will likely win the WAC – although San Jose State could still win the conference – and represent the WAC in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on the opening day of bowl season. Clearly, the money had moved the line towards Utah State but I remember La Tech playing Texas A&M close just a few weeks ago and Texas A&M is a step up in class from WAC competition. I’ll take La Tech plus the points here.

Kansas State – 13 at Baylor (74): Just as Notre Dame needs to listen to The Robot, I can hear it screaming again:

“Danger, Will Robinson. Danger.”

There is more to the “Danger” here than a trap game where K-State might be looking ahead to its final game against Texas in two weeks. K-State should have no problem scoring a porous Baylor defense; that defensive unit has given up 35 or more points in 6 games this season. However, the Baylor offense is not something to be dismissed; Baylor has scored 42 or more points in 6 games this season. I like this game to go Over. I also like Baylor plus the points particularly if Baylor has the ball last.

Stanford at Oregon – 21 (64.5): The Oregon defense has injuries on the defensive line and Stanford has a decent power running game. I do not think that Stanford can control the game and win it, but that is a big number to cover against a team that can take some time off the clock as the game progresses. I like Stanford plus the points here. If I really liked Stanford to win outright, the money line odds for Stanford now are +975.

BYU – 3 at San Jose State (48): I think that BYU’s defense can control this game. I like the game to stay Under.

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

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  • rugger9  On November 15, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    I’ll be at the BYU-SJSU game. It’s worth noting for that one that Utah State lost to BYU 6-3, indicating rabid defenses. Earlier in the year I saw USU get 13 sacks on SJSU who still managed to get 27 points in the loss, so the key is whether BYU can be kept out of the pocket long enough for SJSU to pass. If SJSU can pass well, they will win.

    On Oregon-Stanford game it will be as much a question about conditioning as anything else. Stanford’s D is up to the task, but for how long? Cal’s D wore out and they might be a bit faster than Stanford’s but Stanford is less thin especially at LB. The trend is Stanford will be in it for a half and then…

    USC-UCLA will determine the South Pac-12 Championship rep. Something seems off in the land of Troy, not that anyone else in the Pac-12 weeps about that [we all hate SC as an article of faith], and for whatever reason UCLA seems to have had a collective brain transplant after their face plant in Berkeley several weeks ago. I think the “Faux Bears” can pull it off. Someday UCLA might even get their own fight song, but until then they’re still the “Southern Branch” of UC.

    On Notre Dame, the issue about the gaudy record is that it’s built on miracles and jobbery [Stanford], and SC always gets up for that game especially in LA, and especially if UCLA just beat them in the City Championship of LA. While every champion has a little luck, ND has used all of theirs and then some.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 16, 2012 at 11:32 am


      Enjoy the game…

  • Doug  On November 15, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    What number would trip you to bet under in the Ga Tech – Duke game? Would you bet over anything above 60?

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 16, 2012 at 11:37 am


      Ga Tech is a 13.5 point favorite over Duke this morning and the Totals Line is 68.

      If the totals Line were 60, I would take Over. If the Totals Line were 70 I would take Under. If I had to make a pick against the spread, I’d take Duke with the points.

      However, if I were in a sportsbook in Las Vegas, I would make no real wagers on this game.

      • Doug  On November 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm

        I agree, but this game could get weird in a hurry. Neither team has a defense and both can score points in a hurry. They got 69 last year!

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