Let me begin with a review of last week’s Mythical Picks:
I liked S. Carolina -12. Gamecocks won by 17. Yea!
I liked Utah/Utah State Under 51. The game went Over. Boo!
I liked BYU/Virginia Under 50. Total was only 35. Yea!
I liked Ok St. – 12.5. Cowboys covered. Yea!
I liked Syracuse +8.5. The Orange lost by only 6. Yea!
I liked Georgia – 2. Bulldogs lost to Clemson by 3. Boo!
I liked TCU +4.5. Horned Frogs lost by 10. Boo!
I liked Pitt +10.5. Not nearly enough points. Boo!
It should be pretty clear from these results that I am not someone in possession of tightly held inside information relative to the games that might only be divined by the National Security Agency. Just in case that is not crystal clear to anyone, let me state that only a dumbass would use any information in here as the basis for making a real wager on a real college football game this weekend involving real money on this or any other weekend. Anyone that stupid probably thinks the Gaza Strip is an Egyptian belly dance.
Ten years ago, Florida/Miami would have been a nationally telecast game in the late afternoon time slot – or perhaps in prime time. Sports Illustrated would have had photogs on the sidelines; Keith Jackson would have been at the mic. However, the Canes have not been a top-shelf program for a while now and the ACC has not been regarded as a great football conference for an even longer while. Florida plays Miami this week and the kickoff is at noon EDT with the game on ESPN2. That time slot used to be reserved for second tier Big 10 games in the past such as Indiana/Northwestern. How the mighty have fallen…
The football remnants of the Big East – now called the American Athletic Conference – did not fare well in the first week of action. Louisville is projected to be the powerhouse of this conference and it opened with a solid win albeit over Ohio University. In addition, Cincy trounced Purdue last weekend; Purdue carries the cachet of a “Big 10 school” but the truth is that Purdue is hardly a powerhouse program. Consider:
Since 1960, Purdue has won 10 games in a season exactly once (1979). Granted, they had only a 9-game schedule until 1964; but since then…
In that same 53-year stretch, Purdue has won 4 or fewer games in a season 21 times.
Cincy was favored in the game – - but not by 5 TDs.
And those games are the good news for the AAC to balance out the following:
1. UConn lost at home to Towson by 15 points. Towson is a 1-AA program.
2. USF lost at home to McNeese St. by 32 points. McNeese St. is a 1-AA program.
3. SMU lost at home to Texas Tech by 18 points. Texas Tech is a middling Big 12 program.
I read somewhere that USF paid McNeese St a $400K fee to come to Tampa nominally to be a sacrificial lamb. I do not think anyone in the USF athletic department would like to answer this question publicly:
How’d that work out for you?
Oh one other thing… Texas Tech used a walk-on freshman as its QB for the game at SMU. All he did was to go 43-60 passing (72% completion rate) for 413 yards and 41 points.
I suspect that the entire coaching staff at UConn is polishing their résumés by the time this hits the streets. If the Huskies can lose to Towson by 15, think about what it might do against actual Division 1-A competition down the road.
Michigan State beat W. Michigan last week by 13 points. However, Spartan fans should not dislocate their shoulders patting themselves on the back just yet. Michigan State got 2 defensive TDs in the game and they only averaged 3.75 yards per offensive play.
Kentucky hosted Western Kentucky to open the season. Bobby Petrino took the job at W. Kentucky after doing his penance for his horndog behavior at Arkansas. Petrino’s charges beat Kentucky by 9 points demonstrating two things:
1. Kentucky is indeed the worst team in the SEC
2. Bobby Petrino can coach and will be involved with a bigger program than W. Kentucky soon.
Oklahoma State beat Mississippi State 21-3. I am not shocked at the margin of victory [see above] but I am surprised at the way the Cowboys achieved it. They did not allow a TD for the entire game – and that has not been the way OK State has played for the past few seasons. Last year, their defense got steamrollered a couple of times; here they came close to pitching a shutout against a middling SEC team.
The loss by Mississippi State here will likely prevent them from being the mirage team that they were last year. The Bulldogs won their first 7 games last year and found themselves ranked solidly in the Top 25. This was a mirage because of their schedule that allowed them to be 7-0 which was Jackson State, Auburn, Troy, South Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Middle Tennessee State. That was pillow-soft. Sadly, for Mississippi State, they had 6 more games to play against better competition and the Bulldogs lost 5 of those 6 games. However, it is how they lost that made them a mirage team. The closest they came in those 5 losses was losing by 14 points to Northwestern in a bowl game.
Meanwhile, Nebraska’s defense did just about everything it could to lose the opening game against Wyoming last weekend – but the offense just did bail them out by a score of 37-34. Nebraska not only gave up 34 points to Wyoming – hardly a program that strikes fear in the hearts of opponents – but it allowed Wyoming to get 35 first downs and 602 yards of offense. That is not a good omen for Nebraska in conference play…
Penn State beat Syracuse by 6 points last weekend and started a true freshman at QB. That may not announce that Penn State football is back, but it is something to keep an eye on in the Big 10 over the next year or so.
Iowa lost to N. Illinois last weekend. Big 10 teams are not supposed to lose at home to MAC teams when the Big 10 team leads at the end of three quarters.
Northwestern went to Cal and took care of business there winning 44-30.
E. Washington went to Corvallis to play Oregon State and E. Washington came from behind to win 49-46. Do not think this was a fluke; E. Washington had 625 yards of offense. Until Saturday, E. Washington had never beaten a PAC-12 team; as of today, its record against the PAC-12 stands at 1-9. Oh by the way, E. Washington is a Division 1-AA program; Oregon State scored 46 points against a Division 1-AA foe and lost the game. Say what…?
North Dakota State went to Manhattan, KS and beat Kansas State in the opener by a score of 24-21. Oh, by the way, North Dakota State is a Division 1-AA program.
Fresno St beat Rutgers in OT when Rutgers went for a 2-point conversion and failed to convert. Folks might remember the score (52-51) but another thing to look at is Fresno’s QB, Derek Carr – who happens to be the younger brother of David Carr who went to Fresno State and was the overall #1 pick of the Houston Texans in the NFL draft once upon a time. Derek Carr had a good day last weekend. He was 52-73 passing for 456 yards and 5 TDs.
Seriously, he threw 73 passes in one game. I guess they do not worry about “pitch counts” at Fresno State…
Boise State lost to Washington 38-6 to open the 2013 season. Maybe that portends a down year for the Broncos; we shall see. However, since Coach Chris Petersen has been at Boise St., the team record now stands at 84-9. What that says to me is that Coach Petersen is indeed a good coach and must be mesmerizing on the recruiting trail because I never read about any of the highly touted 5-star prospects going to Boise for a visit.
Notre Dame beat Temple 28-6 and had some gaudy stats for the game. The Irish gained 543 total yards in the game. However, that was Temple and next on the Irish dance card is Michigan. Don’t spread it around, but Michigan is better than Temple.
Alabama took care of Va Tech last weekend thanks to Christion Jones who scored on a 72-yard punt return, a 94-yard kickoff return and a 38-yard pass reception. Not a bad day at the office…
I said that Idaho would draw the attention of the SHOE Committee if it lost badly to N. Texas in the opener. Well Idaho lost 40-6. The Committee has taken note…
Texas A&M beat Rice 52-31 and everyone is focusing on Johnny Manziel, his performance and his behavior on the field. What would bother me if I were part of the A&M coaching staff is that the Aggies’ defense gave up 31 points to Rice. That is not a “slam-the-door defensive performance” …
San José St shut out Sacramento State in game 1. Last year, San José St was in the BCS top 25 at the end of the year (ranked 24th to be exact) and there are folks who think the Spartans will be good again this year. Starting with a shutout – even against a Division 1-AA opponent – is a good way to start.
Tulsa won 11 games last year. They opened this year against Bowling Green – not to be confused with any team that might aspire to be in the final BCS Championship Game. Tulsa lost to Bowling Green 34-7. Yowza!
The Clemson/Georgia game was very interesting to watch. Georgia dropped in the polls with the loss but it has the ability to redeem itself through its SEC conference schedule. Had Clemson lost, any hope they had to be in the discussion for a major BCS bowl slot was dead. Looking ahead, Clemson has two tough games on its schedule:
Florida State visits Clemson in October
Clemson goes to South Carolina at the end of November.
If Clemson can avoid tripping over itself in one of its other games this year, those games will be very important ones for folks who like to tattoo tiger paws on their bodies.
One of the great player names in college football this year is Silverberry Mohoun (DT- Cincy). If, by chance, he were the love-child of Jay Silverheels and Halle Berry, I might get that first name. Other than that, it is just a great name…
Ponderosa Spread Games:
Last week the favorites covered in 3 of the 8 Ponderosa Spread games.
Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin covered.
[Aside: Wisconsin was a 44.5-point favorite and won 45-0]
Miami, Michigan St., Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio St. and Texas A&M did not cover.
This week, we have 9 Ponderosa Spread games:
UCF – 24.5 at Florida Int’l (53): Other than some kind of fabricated “in-state rivalry”, who cares?
Ok St – 26 at Texas-San Antonio (60): Can Ok St. prevent a TD in a second consecutive game?
San Diego St at Ohio St – 27.5 (54): San Diego St. lost by 3 TDs to E. Illinois last week at home. Now they go on the road and play a much better opponent…
S. Miss at Nebraska – 28.5 (60): Huskers need to play a lot better defense to cover this number.
UAB at LSU – 34.5 (62): LSU showed offense last week; that could make them a contender this year.
Buffalo at Baylor – 27 (66): Buffalo got 20 points on Ohio State last week and Baylor can/will score points. This game could go OVER .
Hawaii at Oregon St – 27 (53): Beavers lost to E. Washington last week giving up 49 points and are a Ponderosa Spread favorite here. Hawaii must feel really good about that…
Idaho at Wyoming – 27.5 (65): The Cowboys just missed beating Nebraska last week. Idaho is a big step down from Nebraska.
San José St. at Stanford – 26.5 (49): Stanford did not play last week; lots of folks think they should be very good this year. However, lots of folks also think San José St will be very good this year. This game might actually be interesting to watch; most Ponderosa Spread games are not.
Games of Interest:
The “mismatch of the week” would appear to be S. Carolina State (Div 1-AA) at Clemson. At the moment, the line is 52.5 points.
The schedule-mavens for college football understand the pecking order of football. Last night, the NFL opened with the Super Bowl Champion Ravens taking on the Denver Broncos. The college folks ceded the TV time to the NFL; they put nothing of value up against that game. The only two games from last night matched Florida Atlantic and East Carolina in something of a less-than-Titanic struggle and Sacramento State at Arizona State in a nail-biter of a game that ended up 55-0. [By the way, that is two consecutive shutouts pitched against Sacramento State by Division 1-A opponents. Think the folks doing the scheduling there have taken note?]
Maine – 3 at UMass (46): This is interesting because this is a Division 1-AA team on the road playing a Division 1-A team (albeit one that has not been Division 1-A all that long) and the Division 1-AA team is favored. Cue Arte Johnson. Verrry interesting…
Florida – 3 at Miami (49.5): Miami ran for 300 yards last week – but that was against Florida Atlantic and this is Florida. Miami RB, Duke Johnson, accounted for 186 of those rushing yards. If he is a star-on-the-rise, he can show it this week against a solid Gator defense. Florida has not been an offensive-minded team for several years now. I like this game to stay Under.
Miami (OH) at Kentucky – 17 (56.5): Do not bet on this game! It is interesting only because:
The line opened at 13.5 and continues to rise. Could it be 19 by kickoff?
Kentucky stunk against W. Kentucky last week losing by 9 points.
Miami stunk against Marshall last week losing by 4 TDs.
The SHOE Committee is watching closely… I repeat, do not bet on this game!
South Florida at Michigan St. – 23 (43.5): Michigan St. plays tough defense and USF only gained 340 yards on offense against McNeese St. last week. Michigan St. did not show much offensive firepower last week but USF allowed McNeese St. to score 51 points. I tend not to like games with spreads in excess of 3 TDs, so my decision is to pass here. But I am tempted to take Michigan St…
Houston – 3 at Temple (67.5): Temple was over its head against Notre Dame last week; the Irish DL dominated play. No one should confuse the Houston defense with the Notre Dame defense just as no one should think that Houston can have as easy a time with the Temple defense as it had with the Southern University defense last week. I like Temple plus the points here and I like this game to stay UNDER.
Cincy – 8.5 at Illinois (54): This game is interesting because:
This is the second Big 10 opponent for Cincy to start the season. Are they auditioning to join the conference?
The line opened at 13.5 and dropped. Nonetheless, it is all over the place. One book has it as low as 7.5 and another has it as high as 10.5.
The game may be interesting, but I would not bet on it.
S. Carolina at Georgia – 3 (55.5): One of the best games of the week… The schedule-maker in the SEC did not save all of its big games for the end of the season; these are two heavyweights playing each other a week after Labor Day. No one can accuse Georgia of opening up this season with a pair of cupcakes. First Clemson and now S. Carolina… If Georgia loses here, I think they can kiss goodbye any pretense that they belong in the BCS Championship Game. I think that is the basis of this line – but I think S. Carolina is as good as Georgia so I’ll take S. Carolina plus the points.
Utah St – 10 at Air Force (60): The spread opened at 6.5 points and has been rising all week; the Total Line opened at 54 and jumped to this level almost immediately. I like Utah State; they lost to Utah last week but Utah is better than Air Force. My issue here is the spread; Air Force runs the ball as their primary offense and that takes time off the clock and can keep the game close. I think the line is fat; I like Air Force plus the points.
Oregon – 21.5 at UVa (61): Oregon is the better team; let that statement stand unopposed. UVa will try to run the ball and manage the clock and keep the pace of the game under control. That is not going to make Virginia a winner but I think it will keep the score down. I like the game to stay UNDER.
[Aside: Keeping the pace of the game down may not matter. Last week Oregon had 71 offensive plays and less than 20 minutes of possession for the game. Yes, that was against Nicholls State but still, they averaged 3.5 snaps per minute of possession. Yowza!]
Syracuse at Northwestern – 12 (57): Syracuse changed conferences to join the ACC and they open this season against two Big 10 opponents. What’s up with that?
Navy at Indiana – 13 (67): Talk about a line moving, this one opened at 5.5 points… One sportsbook has it as high as 13.5. Indiana did score 73 points last week but that was against Indiana State – which is probably only slightly better than Comatose State.
Texas – 7 at BYU (55): The Texas offense had better be ready to face a very different defense this week. Last week they played a less than mediocre New Mexico State defense; this week they play a very good BYU defense. I like BYU at home plus the points here.
W. Kentucky at Tennessee – 13.5 (58): W. Ky – under the tutelage of Bobby Petrino for this year – started out the season beating Kentucky and now take on another SEC team. That is a fat line for a team (the Vols) who are not exactly world-beaters against a team that wants to show everybody they “belong” with a solid coach at the helm. Just a hunch, but I’ll take W. Kentucky plus the points here.
E. Michigan at Penn State – 23 (48.5): Not a betting game from my perspective, but interesting to see if the Penn State freshman QB can have another solid game…
La-Lafayette at K-State – 10 (60): This game is a litmus test for K-State after spitting-up on their shoes against North Dakota State in the opener. Do not bet here; watch and see…
Notre Dame at Michigan – 3.5 (51.5): One of the best games of the week… Last year, Notre Dame did not give up a rushing TD until the BCS Championship Game against Alabama; the Irish return 8 of the 11 defensive starters from last year. I think this will be a defensive game. I’ll take the game UNDER.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………