It is indeed that time of the year again. College football is on the move starting this weekend – actually on Thursday of this week. Therefore, it is time to dust off the template for Mythical Picks – NCAA Flavor – and to take a moment to remind folks what this is about.
Every week, I will first review how last week’s Mythical Picks turned out. After that, I will make some general comments about college football and I will specifically keep you up to date on the season progress of the Linfield College Wildcats from McMinnville, OR. I have no ties to that school whatsoever except for the fact that about 8 or 9 years ago I read about their amazing streak of winning seasons in football that stretch all the way back to the 1956 season. If the Wildcats have a winning year again this year, it will be their 58th consecutive winning season in football and that is a record no other school can match.
After that, I will identify the Ponderosa Spread Games for the week. These are games with a large spread – hence the name Ponderosa from the old TV series, Bonanza. I noticed years ago that favorites did not cover much more than half the time in games with spreads of 24 points or more and so I have “tracked” these games for years – not to try to develop a betting system but just because I found it interesting. Twice in the last 5 seasons, favorites covered “Ponderosa Spreads” very comfortably; twice in the last 5 seasons, favorites have been below .500 covering “Ponderosa Spreads”; last year, favorites covered more than half the “Ponderosa Spread Games” but would not have yielded a betting profit against the vig.
Later in the year, I will try to identify 8 teams for a mythical post-season tournament to identify the single worst team in the country this year. The idea is that the eight teams will play a single elimination tournament and the winners get to go home and stop playing. In the end, there will be a single losing team that I will identify as the SHOE Team for the year where SHOE is an acronym for Steaming Heap Of Excrement. This feature will not begin until the season is about half over because I think that pre-season and early season polls are nonsense.
After those preambles, I will identify Games of Interest for the weekend. “Games of Interest” is a highly subjective term; what it means is that they are games that interest me for some reason. I will make a selection in most of those games but in some, I will explain why I would not bet on the game with your money.
That is what these weekly features will be about. No one should think that I have any special inside information on any game that I mention here. These are mythical picks made for fun. If anyone uses any of the information here as part of the basis to decide which side to back in a real wager involving real money, that person can be clearly identified as a fundamental building component of the universe. Along with the electrons, protons and neutrons, that person would clearly be a moron.
Linfield College does not begin its 9-game season (they are in Division III, the Northwest Conference) until September 14 when they travel to Abilene Texas to play Hardin Simmons. Last year, Hardin Simmons visited McMinnville and Linfield won that game 49-35.
It will be interesting to see how the officials enforce the new rule this season that mandates ejection from the game for a player “targeting the head” of an opponent with a hit.
Sometime during the season, the NCAA will likely announce their findings and the outcomes of its investigation into Nevin Shapiro’s allegations about paying players at Miami. Here are two predictions about what will happen when the NCAA does that:
1. No one will be able to explain how it can possibly have taken two-and-a-half years to get from the accusations to whatever the conclusions may be.
2. No matter what penalty is visited upon Miami, there will be a loud chorus of protests from people who are angry that the penalty was too harsh/too light/whatever.
The NCAA super-sleuths and the less-than-transparent Infractions Committee reached a new low in terms of credibility yesterday. Johnny Manziel will be suspended for half of the first Texas A&M game against Rice this weekend. That will “resolve” the infraction issues that have been alleged. Really? Dez Bryant and AJ Green would like to know how that was the outcome…
This is the last season of existence for the BCS. Please understand that as flawed as the BCS has been, it is better than the Bowl Game mechanism that existed before the BCS was invented. I will cry no crocodile tears when it is gone, but understand that it was an evolutionary step up the ladder for college football.
The Big 10 has ditched the Legends and Leaders division names – finally. Now the spotlight for naming stupidity shines on the Mountain West Conference where one division is the Mountain West Mountain and the other division is the Mountain West West. Seriously…
With all of the conference movement and expansion over the past couple of years, it may have slipped the minds of some folks that there are 6 schools that play Division 1- A football that are not affiliated with any conference. Here is a quick rundown on those teams:
Notre Dame: Went to the BCS Championship Game last year and were trounced by Alabama. Defense was their calling card last year; it should be the same this year.
BYU: Along with Notre Dame, BYU stands head and shoulders about the other independent schools. Defense was a big part of their success last year.
Notre Dame and BYU gave us one of the best games of the year last year. Notre Dame trailed at halftime but won after holding BYU scoreless in the second half. When they meet again this year, hopefully the game will be as exciting.
Navy: They have been competitive and successful on the field against some big name schools in the past few years.
Army: Success has eluded the Cadets in recent years.
Nonetheless, the Army/Navy game is never a walkover despite the records of the individual teams.
New Mexico State: The Aggies are independent because their conference – the WAC – simple disintegrated. They were a doormat in a bad league last year and I cannot imagine that they recruited a ton of blue chip prospects in the situation where no other conference rushed to take them in.
Idaho: The Vandals are in a similar situation to New Mexico State. They too were in the WAC last year and found no new conference home for 2013. They were bad last year – particularly on defense. They will probably be bad again this year.
One of the great player names in college football this year is Alabama CB, HaHa Clinton-Dix. No, his mother was not on laughing gas in the hospital when she filled out the name slot on his birth certificate. His given name is Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix.
Ponderosa Spread Games:
Please note that I do not include in Ponderosa spread Games any contests between Division 1-A teams and Division 1-AA teams. Early in the season, there are a bunch of those tune-up games; I just ignore them. For example, this week Oregon plays Nicholls State and is a 59-point favorite. How can that be interesting? In addition, Tennessee is a 50-point favorite over Austin Peay. Oh swell… For the opening week, we have 9 Ponderosa Spread Games…
W. Michigan at Michigan State – 28 (44.5): Michigan State is hardly an offensive juggernaut. To cover this number, they may need to hold W. Mich to a TD. If you were to play this game – and you ought not to do that – take it to stay UNDER.
Florida Atlantic at Miami – 32 (53.5): This game should be a rout by halftime.
UMass at Wisconsin – 44.5 (52.5): This game should never have been scheduled in the first place.
C. Michigan at Michigan – 31.5 (52): Another early-season mismatch…
Buffalo at Ohio State – 35 (56): If Ohio State is scheduling Buffalo, it ought to be the Bills and not the Bulls
Temple at Notre Dame – 30 (53): Temple had plenty of trouble dealing with Big East teams last year and now they open against Notre Dame. An interesting prop bet might be:
Will Temple’s score reach double digits?
New Mexico St. at Texas – 42 (57.5): No offense to Texas but there is no way I am going to lay 42 points against any team that does not have chalk lines drawn around their defensive players.
Rice at Texas A&M – 27.5 (no line): The Aggies will not need Johnny Football to run roughshod over Rice – but they will have him in the second half.
Wyoming at Nebraska – 29 (65): Nebraska is bigger and stronger as a team than Wyoming but they may not be faster. That is a lot of points that the Huskers have to cover…
Games of Interest:
(Thurs) UNC at S. Carolina – 12 (56): I think S. Carolina is a powerhouse team and UNC is still trying to shake off the effects of its probation status. I think S. Carolina’s defense will be very good this year so I’ll take S. Carolina and lay the points here.
(Thurs) Utah St, at Utah – 2.5 (51): Utah St was the surprise winner in this matchup last year in OT. Utah St. won with defense last year and did not graduate all of the contributors on defense so you can expect them to play a similar style this year. I like this game UNDER.
(Sat) BYU – 1 at UVa (50): BYU wins with defense. UVA has a new defensive coordinator whose mandate is to put in an attacking system. If the UVa players have even begun to catch on to that new system, it might give BYU’s pedestrian offense a lot of trouble. I like this game UNDER.
(Sat) Alabama – 20.5 vs. Va Tech (46): This is a neutral site game in Atlanta. These lines have moved a lot. Alabama opened as an 18-point favorite and it is at 21 points at a couple of sportsbooks as of this morning. The Totals Line opened at 49 and dropped like a rock to this level; one sportsbook has it at 45 this morning. Alabama is chasing another national championship; Va Tech is a good team but seems to be overmatched here. However, Alabama tends to win with defense and not by running up scores. I will just watch this game and see if Alabama looks like a championship contending team again this year.
(Sat) Idaho at N. Texas – 15 (56.5): Do not bet on this game. Both teams are awful and yet Idaho is more than a 2 TD underdog… A butt-kicking by N. Texas will definitely put Idaho on the SHOE Tournament Selection Committee’s radar.
(Sat) Mississippi State vs. OK State – 12.5 (60): This game is on a neutral field in Houston TX. I think OK State might be the best team in the Big 12 this year. Mississippi State is a lot better at home than on the road. I like OK State to win and cover here.
(Sat) Penn St – 8.5 vs. Syracuse (51.5): There was a time when this match-up determined the winner of the Lambert Cup symbolizing Eastern Football supremacy. This year, it is an interesting match-up because Penn State is trying to continue playing “big boy football” with only 65 scholarship players. I think that line is awfully fat so I’ll take Syracuse with the points here.
(Sat) Georgia – 2 at Clemson (72): Both teams have lofty goals and high expectations for the season; one of them is not going to be very happy on Sunday morning. I know the SEC is a better conference than the ACC. I think Georgia is a better team than Clemson. Moreover, I know playing at Clemson gives the Tigers a nice advantage. I think this will be one of the three best games of the weekend and possibly the most interesting one. I like Georgia to win and cover.
(Sat) LSU – 4.5 vs. TCU (50): This is technically a neutral field game being played in Arlington TX. However, Google Maps will show you that Arlington is about a nine-iron from the TCU campus. LSU had eleven players declare for the NFL Draft last year; even for an SEC school, that is a lot of talent to have to replace. I like TCU to win outright here so I’ll take them with the points for sure.
(Sat) Northwestern – 6.5 at Cal (58): That is not a typo. Northwestern is favored by almost a full TD on the road against a PAC-12 team. In fact, the line for this game opened at 8.5 and has dropped from there. There is no way I would bet this game but it is interesting in the sense that it may provide insight for future picks.
Is Northwestern going to be much better than it has been this year?
Is Cal going to be a doormat in the PAC-12?
Are the pre-season analyses accurate or asinine?
Keep your eye on the stats – or watch the game if you have a chance – but keep your money in your pocket.
(Sat) Boise St. at Washington – 3.5 (52): This is a rematch of the Las Vegas Bowl Game from the end of last season. Boise St. won that contest by 2 points. I do not understand this line. Boise St. is ranked in the pre-season polls – which I know are meaningless – and Washington is not. Nonetheless, the Huskies are favored by 3.5 points and the line has been going up all week long. It has been a long time since Washington’s home field advantage was some kind of a fearsome thing. Do not bet this game.
(Mon) Florida St – 10.5 at Pitt (49): Purely a hunch, but I like Pitt with that many points.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………