Mythical Picks – NCAA – Weekend of 12/1/12

And so, without further ado, let us see how last week’s Mythical Picks turned out:

    I liked Texas/TCU Under 58.5. Game total was 33. Mmm!

    I liked TCU +8 against Texas. TCU won straight up. Double Mmm!

    I liked LSU -12 over Arkansas. LSU won by only 7. Blech!

    I liked WVU -1 over Iowa State. WVU won by 7. Mmm!

    I liked Wash. -11.5 over Wash. St. Wash St. won the game. Blech!

    I liked Arizona/Arizona St. Over 68. Total was 75. Mmm!

    I liked Georgia -13 over Georgia Tech. Georgia covered. Mmm!

    I liked Ohio St. -3.5 over Michigan. Ohio State covered. Mmm!

    I liked UVa +10.5 against Va Tech. Tech won by only 3. Mmm!

    I liked Tennessee -13 over Kentucky. Vols won by 20. Mmm!

    I liked Oregon St. +10 against Oregon. Not enough points. Blech!

    I liked Ok St. +7.5 against Oklahoma. Sooners won by only 3. Mmm!

    I liked Miss St. +2 against Ole Miss. Not even close. Blech!

    I liked S. Carolina +4 against Clemson. S. Carolina won. Mmm!

That was a mythically profitable week of picks with a record of 10-4-0. There is no way I can duplicate that record this week because there are only 19 NCAA football games on tap for this weekend and of the 19, there will not be 14 games I care about.

In any event, no one should consider anything here as sufficiently insightful to use the information as the basis for deciding which side to back in a real wager involving real money on a college football game this weekend. Anyone dumb enough to do that would also find a way to starve to death while being locked in a supermarket.

General Comments:

The Linfield College Wildcats continued their undefeated season last weekend with a 30-14 win over North Central College in the Division III football tournament. That puts Linfield in the quarterfinals of the tournament for the 5th time in the last 10 years. Linfield has had winning records in football for the last 57 years but in the last 4 years, they have really been outstanding posting a record of 42-4 over that span. This weekend, Linfield will host the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the Division III tournament. Wisconsin-Oshkosh brings a 12-0 record to the game and their smallest margin of victory this year has been 9 points. Go Wildcats!

I read somewhere about the buy-out provisions in Gene Chizik’s contract at Auburn. When Chizik was fired, that set in motion a series of payments that he will receive from Auburn over the next 3 years. Each month, Chizik will get $208,300 and all he has to do is to stay away from Auburn and not coach their football team. Over the course of 36 months, he will get $7.5M to stay at home. How do you get a deal like that?

In the midst of the Alabama/Auburn “contest” last week, I got an e-mail from a former colleague who is a big SEC football fan although he did not go to either Alabama or Auburn. In fact, to say that he hates both teams might be an understatement. The halftime score was Alabama 42, Auburn 0 and it might not have been that close; here is his comment:

“Auburn is nothing more than sand castles on the beach. They look good until the Tide rolls in. Then … Catastrophe!”

Back in the first week of the college football season, Oklahoma State demolished Savannah State 84-0. Well, just to complete the story, Savannah State finished the season with a 1-10 record; its only win came over Edward Waters College. Candidly, I did not know that Edward Waters College played football until I checked on Savannah State’s season. I mention that here so that Oklahoma State fans, coaches and players can savor that victory from earlier this year.

Back in August, USC was ranked as the #1 team in the country. In fact, people figured that USC and Oregon would play for the PAC-12 championship this weekend and were already looking at the USC/Oregon meeting in the regular season as a tune-up game for playoff game. Please remember those prognostications each and every year when you see pre-season polls or even early season polls. They are meaningless; in fact, if librarians had to file them, they would put them in the “Fiction” section.

    USC lost 5 games this year including 4 losses in their last 5 games.

    USC was not in the Top 25 in the final poll as ranked by the AP, the coaches or the BCS.

    A few of the football powerhouses ranked ahead of USC include Kent State, Northern Illinois, Northwestern and Utah State.


      Has a team that was the pre-season #1 team ever finished the season as an unranked team?

ESPN will telecast the Rose Bowl game on New Year’s Day. You have to know that the folks on mahogany row in Bristol CT are quietly rooting for Nebraska to win the big 10 Championship Game this weekend over Wisconsin. Should Wisconsin win that game, Wisconsin would be in the Rose Bowl and the Badgers would bring a record of 8-5 with them to the game. Teams with 8-5 records usually go to the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, not the Rose Bowl. The suits at ESPN would rather not have to publicize Wisconsin as a team you should tailor your schedule around.

Last weekend, 19th ranked Louisville lost to UConn in 3 OTs. Meanwhile, 21st ranked Rutgers lost to Pitt by 3 TDs. So much for the ranked Big East teams…

Stanford beat UCLA 35-17 last week and the two teams play again this weekend in the PAC-12 Championship Game. I never saw that one coming back in September; how about you?

Washington State beat Washington by a field goal in OT to win the Apple Cup. Washington State finishes the season at 3-9 and with plenty of controversy surrounding the football program. Washington is 7-5 for the year and will get an invitation to a minor bowl game somewhere. If Wisconsin loses to Nebraska this weekend, maybe Wisconsin and Washington can meet in the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium in NYC. That ought to draw a crowd of at least 15,000.

Rice finished the season at 6-6 making them bowl eligible. That does not happen very often…

In two of last week’s “Futility Games” here is what happened:

    So. Mississippi lost to Memphis by 18 points. So. Miss finished the season at 0-12 and they are the only Division 1-A team to go winless for the year. By the way, Memphis is not a good team…

    Hawaii led UNLV 34-0 at the end of 3 quarters and won the game 48-10. Both teams stink; their combined record is 4-20. That brings to mind how many blackbirds were baked in a pie…

The Ponderosa Spread Games:

The favorites covered in 2 of the 5 Ponderosa Spread Games last week.

Alabama and BYU covered.

UNC, Utah and Utah State did not cover.

The season record for favorites covering Ponderosa Spreads stands at 40-37-2.

There are no Ponderosa Spread Games this weekend; and since the only college game next weekend will be the Army/Navy game, there will be no more Ponderosa Spread Games for the year. Once again, the oddsmakers have been able to take mismatched games and to set the spread such that a system wager on either the favorite or the underdog in all of the games would be unprofitable. I have been following this sort of thing for more than a decade – and recording those results here for about 6 years. Only in 2008 and 2010 was there a profitable angle for Ponderosa Spread games; in both of those years, betting the favorite to cover in every game would have shown a profit.

The Shoe Tournament Teams:

Here they are; these are my 8 worst Division 1-A football teams in the country for 2012 – – excluding the four teams that only joined Division 1-A this year. The idea here is to seed the teams and then have them play each other in single elimination format – – except the loser of the game has to continue to play on until there is only one team left prone on the field as the SHOE TEAM. That would be the Steaming Heap Of Excrement Team for 2012.

    #1 Seed: So. Mississippi 0-12
    #2 Seed: Akron 1-11
    #3 Seed: Idaho 1-11
    #4 Seed: New Mexico State 1-10
    #5 Seed: UNLV 2-11
    #6 Seed: E. Michigan 2-10
    #7 Seed: Colorado 1-11
    #8 Seed: Kansas 1-11

Games of Interest:

(Thurs Nite) Louisville at Rutgers – 3 (43.5): Call this game the “Jailbreak Game”. Both schools are leaving the Big East to join another conference. That must make the Big East Pooh-Bahs really happy… Louisville has lost two games in a row; Rutgers lost last week. Nonetheless, these two teams are at the top of the Big East standings at the moment with Rutgers holding a 1-game lead over Louisville. Neither team is an offensive powerhouse so this game should be low-scoring – as the Totals Line would indicate. Therefore, I will take Louisville plus the points.

(Fri Nite) Northern Illinois – 6.5 vs. Kent State (57.5): This is for the MAC championship and both teams are in the BCS Top 25 ranking. Northern Illinois lost its opening game to Iowa by one point back on 1 September. Since then they are undefeated and have scored 30 or more points in every game. Let me be clear about this, Northern Illinois has not played a top-shelf schedule; consider that they have beaten:

    Kansas – see SHOE seedings above
    Akron – see SHOE seedings above
    E. Michigan – see SHOE seedings above
    UMass – first year playing Division 1-A football
    Tennessee-Martin – not yet playing Division 1-A football

Kent State lost its second game of the season to Kentucky back in early September. Since then they are undefeated and in only two games was the margin of victory one score. You can find Kent State at +220 on the money line at a couple of sportsbooks and they are at +210 just about anywhere a money line is posted. I think Kent State has a good chance to win this game outright. If I wanted to be aggressive, I would take Kent State on the money line at +220; if I wanted to be more conservative, I would take Kent State plus the points.

(Fri Nite) UCLA at Stanford – 8 (43.5): Did Stanford’s win last week over UCLA provide some kind of “revenge angle” for this game or did Stanford’s win last week over UCLA demonstrate that Stanford is the better team? Frankly, I think it is a lot more of the latter. I do not, however, like the idea of laying more than a TD in this game so I will simply play the game to go Over. But I do think Stanford is the better team…

Ok. St. – 4.5 at Baylor (86.5): You read that correctly; the Totals Line is 86.5 points. What you have here are two teams that can move the ball and two teams that do not stop opponents all that well. [Baylor has given up more than 500 yards per game to their opponents this season] Baylor has played very well in its last two games beating then #1 ranked K-State followed by a win over Texas Tech. Oklahoma State is only 1-3 on the road this year. Both teams are already bowl-eligible. I think Baylor is on a roll so I’ll take them to win and cover.

Oklahoma – 6.5 at TCU (60.5): Oklahoma has a good defense; TCU has a decent offense but nothing special. TCU has a good defense; Oklahoma has scored a lot in its last 4 games but the opponents there were Iowa State, Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State – none of which are defensive powerhouses. I think this game will stay Under and I like TCU plus the points at home.

Kansas at West Virginia – 20 (71): This game is of interest because I would have expected the spread to have been big enough to give us another Ponderosa Spread Game for the year. Neither defense is any good. The difference here is that West Virginia’s offense can light it up and Kansas’ offense cannot. I like West Virginia to win and cover.

Boise State – 9.5 at Nevada (60): Both teams are already bowl-eligible but I think that Boise State has a motivation factor going for it. Boise has already lost twice this year and that is not the way Boise has come to think of itself in recent times. I think the seniors on the team do not want to be the team that lost three times. I’ll take Boise State and lay the points.

Alabama – 7 vs. Georgia (50.5): This is for the SEC Championship and almost assuredly for the slot opposite Notre Dame in the BCS Championship Game. Georgia has heard for the last couple of weeks that they have played a patsy schedule this year dodging games against Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M in the SEC schedule rotation. So, this is the week for the Bulldogs to show that they belong in the conversation as one of the top teams in the country. I think this will be a defensive game so a full TD’s worth of points is very attractive. I’ll take Georgia plus the points.

Texas at K-State – 11.5 (63): It is hard to imagine K-State making it to the BCS Championship Game after its poor showing against Baylor so the question now is if they will be motivated to come out and play hard in this game or just be satisfied to go to one of the BCS Bowl games. I think it is the former and not the latter; this is the final home game for a lot of seniors on the K-state team and I do not see them just going through the motions. If K-State is motivated, this game will turn into a shootout; and I do not think that Texas can keep up with K-State when the game turns into a shootout. I like K-state at home to win and cover.

Florida State – 14 vs. Georgia Tech (62): This is the ACC Championship game. Georgia Tech is here because Miami imposed a bowl-ban on itself this year hoping to ameliorate upcoming NCAA sanctions in the Nevin Shapiro mess. When Miami declared itself “bowl-ineligible”, it could not lay in this conference championship game because the ACC is contractually bound to send its champion to some bowl game. So, Georgia Tech backed into this game; there is no polite way to put it. And I think they are drastically overmatched here. Florida State is 10-2; in 4 of those wins, they went over 50 points; in 7 of the wins they have been over 40 points. The Georgia Tech defense is hardly a great unit; they have given up 40 or more points in 6 games this year. I like Florida State to win and cover.

Nebraska – 3 vs. Wisconsin (49): When these teams met in Lincoln, NE back in September, the Cornhuskers won 30-27. Now they will play again in Indianapolis to see which team is the Big 10 champion and goes to the Rose Bowl. Nebraska has not been much of a road team this year. Consider:

    Lost by 6 at UCLA
    Lost by 25 at Ohio State
    Won by 1 at Northwestern
    Won by 4 at Michigan State
    Won by 6 at Iowa.

Like it or not, the Cornhuskers aren’t in Nebraska anymore… Meanwhile, Wisconsin has not lit it up on the road either. Consider:

    Lost by 3 at Oregon State
    Lost by 3 at Nebraska
    Won by 24 at Purdue
    Won by 48 at Indiana
    Lost by 3 at Penn State

Both teams beat bad/mediocre teams on the road and lose to good ones. So, the question here is simple: Is either of these teams a good team such that the other one can lose to it on the road? I do not want to try to unravel that conundrum so I’ll just take this game to go Over.

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

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  • rugger9  On November 29, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    One of the amusing clips from the prequel press conference was UCLA’s Mora getting asked repeatedly whether his team tanked the game to avoid facing Oregon. The LA Times writer apparently has a history of asking stuff like this to rile up the coaches, but I don’t see a player at the college level slacking off, even if “instructed” because the lack of effort would get noticed immediately leading to pine splinters and no NFL contract.

    Stanford had just beaten Oregon at Autzen the week before, how did this rube think Stanford would be a large enough step down?

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 29, 2012 at 3:20 pm


    The Times writer you refer to is TJ Simers and he has done this kind of thing for years and years. Usually, he does this to get some kind of outrageous reaction from the person being interviewed – and he often gets just that. Then he writes columns based on the outrageous reacton(s).

    I do not know TJ Simers personally, but I suspect this entire “confrontation” was created with the sole purpose of creating column material. I do not think he actually believes that UCLA “tanked” the game and I am confident that he knows that the coaches would never have suggested – let alone instucted – that the team tank the game.

    Simers achieved his end. People are reading his column and talking about his outrageous assertion – – and that is good for him and for the LA Times.

    By the way, TJ Simers is on the list of “Columnists I Read” on the left margin of this website. I enjoy his stuff…

  • David Egbert  On November 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Wisconsin has lost 3 games in overtime and 2 more by3 points. The badgers may not be up this year but don’t count them out!

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 30, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      David Egbert:

      IF Wisconsin makes it to the Rose Bowl, they will be happy to see that they do not have to face Oregon. Based on what I have seen, Oregon is just too fast for Wisconsin to deal with.

      • David Egbert  On November 30, 2012 at 4:02 pm

        I would agree with you. Sadly, speed kills The Big 10!

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