Mythical Picks – NCAA – Weekend of 11/24/12

Let me recap last week’s mythical selections:

    I liked Air Force -22 over Hawaii. Air Force won by only 14. Blech!

    I liked Mich. St. -7 over N’western. Mich. St. lost outright. Blech!

    I liked Temple +3.5 over Army. Temple won by 31 points. Mmm!

    I liked Arkansas/Miss. St. Under 55.5. Game went Over. Blech!

    I liked Wash St. +23 against Ariz St. Not enough points. Blech!

    I liked USC -3 over UCLA. USC lost the game. Blech!

    I liked LSU -18 over Ole Miss. LSU won by only 6. Blech!

    I liked Texas Tech/Ok. St. Over 71.5. Game went Over. Mmm!

    I liked Wake Forest +24 over Notre Dame. Not enough points. Blech!

    I liked Ohio St +2.5 over Wisconsin. Ohio St. won outright. Mmm!

    I liked La Tech +3 over Utah St. Utah St won by 7 in OT. Blech!

    I liked Baylor +13 against K-St. Baylor won outright. Mmm!

    I liked Baylor/K-St. Over 74. The game went Over. Double Mmm!

    I liked Stanford +21 against Oregon. Stanford won. Mmm!

    I liked BYU/San Jose St. Under 48. Total was 34. Mmm!

As you can see, that was a mythically unprofitable week with a record of 7-8-0. I still cannot believe that LSU gave up 35 points to Ole Miss… Oh well, I shall have to do a bit more studying to have better results this week – particularly because there are so many rivalry games this weekend.

Despite my willingness to take my analysis deeper this week, no one should take anything here as sufficiently insightful that it is worthy of being part of a decision process for making a real wager on a college football game that involves real money. Anyone stupid enough to do that ought to qualify for a 75% discount from any psychic who offers some form of mind-reading technique.

General Comments:

This week’s iteration of Mythical Picks is out early to accommodate the Thanksgiving holiday. Many of the lines used here will change by game time but we do what we have to do…

The Linfield College Wildcats won their first round playoff game in the Division III football tournament last weekend defeating Pacific Lutheran 27-24. The Wildcats’ defense won this game creating 5 turnovers in the game, which produced three touchdowns for the Wildcats. Linfield will host a second round Division III tournament game this Saturday against North Central College from Naperville, Illinois. The North Central Cardinals bring a record of 9-2 with them. Only once – in the first game of the season – has North Central been held to less than 21 points. Go Wildcats!

As the college football game of “Coaching Musical Chairs” gets underway, here are some questions to which I have no answers:

    Who will hire Bobby Petrino? He will get a job somewhere – but where?

    Can Jon Embree possibly be back at Colorado next year?

    Does Sonny Dykes get credit for La Tech’s good season or is that going to be seen as the leftovers from the “Derek Dooley Era” down there?

    David Cutcliffe has Duke bowl-eligible. Is that a résumé builder or what?

    With Miami giving themselves a bowl ban – hoping to mellow impending NCAA punishments – where might Al Golden look to land?

    Is Randy Edsall really of the caliber to coach in the Big 10?

    With Mike Price retiring from coaching, who wants to coach at UTEP?

    With Jeff Tedford out at Cal, might they entice Mike Bellotti to leave ESPN?

Here is one more question for which I do not have an answer at this time:

    With Maryland and Rutgers joining the Big 10, which team is going to be a Legend and which one is going to be a Leader?

I believe that Southern Mississippi (0-11) is the only Division 1-A team that has not won a game this year. In those 11 losses, the Golden Eagles have given up 412 points (37.5 points per game) while their offense has only produced 212 points (19.3 points per game). Basically, they have been outscored 2-to-1 over the course of 11 games and that is pretty bad. They close out the season this week on the road against a Memphis team that is pretty bad in its own right. This is the first year since 1993 where Southern Mississippi has had a losing record.

The new playoff system will probably become more understandable when we get to the point of selections and other bowl games; at the moment, the water is pretty turgid. If I understand this correctly, the Big East is currently one of the conferences that is guaranteed a seat at the BCS table for a major bowl game payout. Under the new system, it will not have a guaranteed entry into the playoff structure but will have to “compete” in terms of rankings and selection criteria with the champions of other conferences such as C-USA, MAC, MWC and Sun Belt for a “shared automatic berth” in the tournament. Let me translate the message that the college football folks are trying to send to the Big East Conference:

    Please take your ball and go home. That is all…

This is the time of year when you can have fun checking to see if there are enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of the bowl games. I always root for there to be a deficit just because I would love to hear from the NCAA how they would justify breaking their own rules in order to get more money from some bowl committee somewhere.

Prior to beating #1 ranked K-State last week, here are the teams that Baylor had beaten in 2012:

    Sam Houston State

Baylor lost to everyone else on their schedule this year. That should put into perspective the magnitude of the upset last week…

The NCAA loves to run promos about student athletes who will go on to be pros in field other than athletics. Ah yes, the noble student athlete… Well, today one of those student athletes finds himself under arrest for illegal possession of a gun and making terroristic threats to a fellow student at UTEP. I wonder what field he will be going pro in…?

John Gagliardi has been the head football coach at St. John’s (Minnesota) for 60 years. He announced his retirement over the weekend. At age 86, he must have figured it was time to smell the roses. Gagliardi has won 489 games in those 60 years – more than 8 game per year on average.

The Ponderosa Spread Games:

Last week the favorites covered in 1 out of 3 Ponderosa Spread Games, failed to cover in another one and the third game pushed.

Notre Dame covered.

Florida State did not cover.

Boise State pushed.

That brings the season total for favorites covering to 38-34-2.

This week we have 5 Ponderosa Spread Games. These could well be the last ones for the 2012 college football season. Next weekend has an abbreviated college football schedule; the week after that has the Army/Navy game and that game will absolutely not be a Ponderosa Spread Game. That pretty much leads up to bowl games where there are no Ponderosa Spreads and where I cease to give a rat’s patootie about college football.

Utah – 24 at Colorado (53): These are the two newest members of the PAC-12. Neither is a factor in the conference yet but Colorado is just plain awful…

Maryland at UNC – 24.5 (54): There is no doubt that UNC can score points but remember that they scored 50 points in one game this season and still lost by 18 points…

Idaho at Utah State – 39.5 (57.5): Idaho is awful and a win for Utah State gets them the conference champion berth in a bowl game. This game should be over by midway through the second quarter.

Auburn at Alabama – 32 (46): Seriously, in a rivalry game of this magnitude can you believe that point spread?

BYU – 30 at New Mexico State (48.5): New Mexico State is a bad team and BYU has a very good defense. The outcome of this game should not be in doubt very long.

The SHOE Tournament Teams:

Here are my eight seeds – and others still on the radar as of this week. Remember, this is a mythical tournament where the loser has to continue playing until we have identified – on the field – the worst team of the year. The SHOE Team is the Steaming Heap Of Excrement for the year…

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

Here are the teams still on the radar:

    UNLV: They play Hawaii this week
    Memphis: They play Southern Mississippi this week.
    E. Michigan: They play N. Illinois this week.
    Washington St.: They play Washington this week.

Games of Interest:

There is a predominance of big rivalry games this weekend. That makes for great entertainment but not necessarily for great wagering opportunities. Please do not succumb to the temptation to wager on a game simply because you plan to watch it on TV. That is not a good money management strategy.

(Thurs Nite) TCU at Texas – 8 (58.5): I think this game will be a lower scoring game than the Totals Line here. I like the game to stay Under and because I think the game total could stay in the low-to-mid 40s, I also like TCU plus the points.

(Fri) LSU – 12 at Arkansas (51): Back in July, this is one of the “home games against a potential powerhouse” that Arkansas counted as a win for themselves as they maneuvered their way into a BCS Championship Game slot. Yeah, right…! Based on the record so far, the only way Arkansas makes it to a minor bowl game is if there are not enough teams eligible for bowl games and the NCAA has to open the floodgates. LSU will not be in the SEC Championship Game or the BCS Championship Game, but they do not want to be relegated to a bowl game that happens between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Even on the road, I think LSU pounds the bejeepers out of Arkansas here. I’ll take LSU and lay the points.

West Virginia – 1 at Iowa State (68.5): The Mountaineers have been in a freefall for a while now and are not yet bowl eligible. Check it out for yourself; WVU used to be 5-0 back on October 6; now they are 5-5. In their last 5 games (all losses), West Virginia has given up 248 points which is ever so slightly less than 50 points per game. Not to worry, Iowa State’s offense is not likely to lay 50 points on the Mountaineers – even at home. Purely a hunch, but I like West Virginia to find ways to keep Iowa State out of the end zone here, so I’ll take West Virginia and lay the point.

Washington – 11.5 at Washington State (51): This is the Apple Cup Game; this is a huge rivalry game. Last week, I thought that the Washington State team would rally behind the coaches in the wake of accusations by a team member that the coaching staff had abused the players. Washington State got crushed last week. I think that trend will continue here. I like Washington to win and cover.

Arizona St. at Arizona – 3 (68): This is another rivalry game; however, both teams are already assured of a bowl invitation so there is not a huge motivational edge to either side this weekend. Both teams can score and both defenses have shown a proclivity to give up points. I like this game to go Over. Frankly, I am surprised the Totals Line for this game is less than 72-74…

Georgia Tech at Georgia – 13 (64.5): Here is another rivalry game. Georgia Tech will play in the ACC Championship Game – thanks to Miami’s self-imposed bowl ban this year – no matter what happens in this game. Georgia has a whole lot to play for. Georgia will play Alabama for the SEC Championship no matter what happens here but if Georgia loses this game they will have 2 losses and they might not make it to the BCS Championship Game even if the beat Alabama. They are not going to lose; in fact, I think they are going to win BIG. I’ll take Georgia and lay the points.

Michigan at Ohio State – 3.5 (54.5): This game opened with a 5-point spread and dropped to this level very quickly. Ohio State is undefeated – as is Notre Dame – but Ohio State cannot go to a bowl game or the BCS Championship Game thanks to Hyper-Hypocrite, Jim Tressel. So this is their huge rivalry game AND their bowl game for 2012. Michigan is good but not great and Michigan is on the road. I do not like that half-point hook on top of the field goal in the spread line, but I will still take Ohio State to win and cover at home. In a way, I hope Michigan wins outright because if they do not, the bleatings and the wailing from the Ohio State fans will reach intolerable levels about 15 minute after the final whistle blows. They will all point to everything that is denying their heroes a chance to be BCS champions except the single most important thing:

    The fans and the school administrators enabled Hyper-Hypocrite Jim Tressel to keep trying to bend the rules to his advantage to the point where he and all the rest of the school officials got caught so conclusively that they are on probation and cannot participate in bowl games. Maybe the fans of Ohio State will remember this when it comes to deifying Urban Meyer some time down the road? Nah…

UVa at Va Tech – 10.5 (49.5): This is a “WGARA Rivalry Game”. That stands for a Who Gives A Rat’s Ass Rivalry Game. Neither team is any good; neither team is relevant outside a 50-mile radius from campus except to alumni. That line smells fat to me because both teams are mediocre. I’ll take Virginia plus the points.

Kentucky at Tennessee – 13 (61): Both teams have already fired their coaches so that gives you an idea just how important this game might be. Back in the 60s, Frank Sinatra sang Something’s Gotta Give; that should be the theme song for this game. Both teams are 0-7 in the SEC this year; one of them has to win this game – unless the football gods take it to OT and then drop a tornado on top of Rocky Top to end the game. Tennessee is bad; Kentucky is a SHOE Tournament possibility. I cannot take Kentucky on the road so I’ll make this a pure venue call an take Tennessee to win and cover.

Oregon – 10 at Oregon St. (64.5): The line opened at 12.5 and plummeted to this level in less than 24 hours. They call this game The Civil War; it is indeed an intense rivalry. Oregon St has played against some good running teams with good running backs (Wisconsin, USC, UCLA) and kept them in check; if the Beavers can do that here they can win this game. I do not think Oregon State can win (They are at +300 on the money line this morning if you do.) but I think they have a good shot to stay within this spread. I’ll take Oregon State plus the points.

Florida at Florida State (no lines): Here is another huge rivalry game. When lines are posted, you can do whatever you want with them. I see a low-scoring game meaning I would be predisposed to take points in the contest. Nevertheless, I would need to see the lines and to see the reports about who was playing and who was not for both sides. I suspect Florida will be the underdog because they are on the road and because Florida State is a highly ranked team with only a single loss this season. If that is the case, I will consider Florida a very live underdog…

Oklahoma St. at Oklahoma – 7.5 (72.5): This line opened at 9 points and dropped to this level this morning. I do not think it is low enough; I like Oklahoma State plus the points here.

Mississippi St. at Ole Miss – 2 (54.5): This is a “Down South Rivalry Game”. After losing three in a row, Mississippi State got the train back on the rails last weekend. Meanwhile, Ole Miss gave LSU a good game but came up on the short end of the score. Venue matters a lot in a game like this but I think talent matters even more. I like Mississippi State plus the points here.

S. Carolina at Clemson – 4 (61.5): Here is yet one more big-time rivalry game for the weekend. S. Carolina goes on the road here – albeit not exactly an arduous journey – and shows up with the far better defensive unit for the game. I do not think that Clemson has seen defenses of this caliber in the ACC more than once this year and so I am not sure why S. Carolina is an underdog by more than a field goal. With S. Carolina at +160 on the money line, I think that is one way to look at this game. However, I’ll be more conservative here and take S. Carolina plus the points.

Notre Dame at USC (no lines): With Matt Barkley out, the Trojans will need to put together a defensive game plan to keep this one within reach. Notre Dame’s defensive game plan is the same every week; play hard and limit the opponent’s scoring opportunities severely. When the lines finally do go up, I suspect that the Totals Line will be in the high 40s or low 50s. If that is the case, I want the game to stay Under. I can see Notre Dame winning this game 17-13; I can also see USC winning by the same score…

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

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

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  • David Egbert  On November 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    You don’t think Wisconsin against Penn State is a game of interest?

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    David Egbert:

    Not really… Wisconsin has lost 4 times and their most impressive win of the year probably was over Utah State back in September. This team has been a disappointment for the year.

    Penn State is a nice story considering that many felt they might not win 3 games all season long.

    However, this game is not a long-standing rivalry and it does not affect much of anything in the national football scene.

    Since you asked, Wisconsin is favored by 2.5 points and the Totals Line is 45. I would take Penn State plus the points or I would take the game to go Over.

  • rugger9  On November 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Belotti at Cal might make for an interesting hire, two Ducks coaches in a row.

    However, most of the local press thinks it will be Hue Jackson of the Cincinnati Bengals and ex-Raider head coach or Ron Rivera the Carolina head coach in the first level, with MacIntyre of SJSU, Dykes of La Tech and the like at the next level.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm


      You are clearly closer to this situation than I am. However, looking at your list of candidates, my first reaction is that a PAC-12 school should be able to do better.

      Jackson and Rivera hardly covered themselves in glory in NFL head coaching stints. Looking around college footbal, it seems to me as if La Tech and San Jose State are a pretty big step down from the PAC-12.

      We shall see. I think Belotti should get another head coaching gig – – assuming that he wants one of course.

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