Mythical Picks – NCAA – Weekend of 11/9/13

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

    I liked USC/Oregon St. UNDER 52.5. Game total was 45. Yea!

    I liked Illinois/Penn State OVER 56. Game total was 41. Boo!

    I liked Missouri -11 over Tennessee. Mizzou won by 28. Yea!

    I liked Army/Air Force UNDER 55. Not even close. Boo!

    I liked Florida +3 against Georgia. The game was a Push.

    I liked Florida St/ Miami OVER 61. Total was 56. Boo!

    I liked Wisconsin -9 over Iowa. Wisconsin covered easily. Yea!

    I liked Michigan St -5.5 over Michigan. Another easy cover. Yea!

    I liked Indiana -8 over Minnesota. Indiana lost outright. Boo!

    I liked Nebraska/N’western UNDER 58.5. Total was 51. Yea!

    I liked OK St./Texas Tech OVER 66. Total was 86. Yea!

    I liked OK St. +2 against Texas Tech. OK St. won by 18. Yea!

That would have been a profitable week had these not been merely Mythical Picks. The final tally was 7-4-1. Would that every week’s set of selections would be as successful…

Just in case anyone is tempted to look at those results and think that it would be smart to use this week’s picks as the basis for real wagers on real college football games involving real money, let me assure everyone that would be a truly stupid idea. In fact, if you really contemplated such a course of action, here is an accurate assessment of your acumen:

    You are as wise as the Earth is flat.

General Comments:

The Linfield College Wildcats put an impressive road win on their record last week going to play Willamette College and winning the game 56-15. Linfield had 451 yards on the ground in this game and led comfortably 28-7 at halftime. This was the 30th consecutive Northwest Conference win for the Wildcats; their last conference loss came at the hands of Willamette back in 2008. This week Linfield hosts Puget Sound in McMinnville, OR. Puget Sound brings a 1-6 record to the game and has only held one opponent under 35 points this season. If there were a line on this game, it would be a Ponderosa Spread Game. Go Wildcats!

If you want an example as to what I mean when I say every year that there are just too damned many bowl games, consider this. The calendar is moving toward Thanksgiving when most college football games are on the books; as of this morning there are a bunch of college teams out there with 4 wins for the season meaning that they need to “go on a run” to achieve bowl eligibility and win 6 games for the season. Here is a list of 16 schools in that circumstance. Please tell me which of these teams you really and truly want to watch play yet another game sometime in late December:

    Arkansas State
    Colorado State
    Kansas State
    Mississippi State
    San Diego State
    Texas – San Antonio
    Wake Forest
    Washington State
    West Virginia

Normally, around this time of the year, there is a team outside the BCS power conferences that gets hyped as being deserving of consideration in the “big-boy bowl games”. Well, this year, Fresno State and Northern Illinois are both 8-0; yet, neither seems to have generated any “following” calling for their inclusion in the BCS Bowl Games.

Speaking of generating enthusiasm, the BCS Rankings have done that to a point with the flip-flopping of Oregon and Florida State in the #2 and #3 slots over the past two weeks. There are 5 major teams who are all undefeated for now and I have no difficulty in pointing out the scheduling failures for all of them:

    Alabama: Outside its mandated SEC schedule, they found reasons to play Chattanooga, Colorado State, Georgia State and Va Tech. [Before anyone tells me how Va Tech is a “real opponent”, consider that they lost two games in a row against BC and Duke.]

    Florida State: They opened up their season with Bethune-Cookman, Pitt and Nevada. Yes, they do have an annual rivalry game out of conference against Florida so they get positive points for that.

    Oregon: They only have 3 out-of-conference slots on the schedule to fill and so they selected Nichols State, Tennessee and Virginia as their opponents.

    Ohio State: In addition to a weak conference schedule – over which they have no control – the Buckeyes went out and found Buffalo, Cal, Florida A&M and San Diego State with openings on their dance cards.

    Baylor: They filled their 3 out-of-conference calendar slots with the likes of Buffalo, La-Monroe and Wofford.

Those are shameful schedule choices by those teams. I can cut Alabama and Oregon a smidgen of slack because the in-conference games in the SEC and the PAC-12 provide for quality opponents. Similarly, Florida State had two conference games against Top 10 ranked teams and their date with Florida, so theirs is not a heinous violation from a scheduling standpoint. However, there is no excuse for the opponents lined up by both Ohio State and Baylor.

Florida State beat Miami (FL) last week 41-14. The game was not as close as I would have preferred since this was a game between 2 of the Top 10 teams in the country, but Florida State is clearly the better team and the deeper team. Miami did not quit in this game; they were just over-matched. I have said before that I really like Jameis Winston and how he plays QB; this week, I want to say the Miami RB, Duke Johnson, is tough running back who is fun to watch. He left the game with a leg injury and reports say he is out for the rest of the year. In any event, I wish him a speedy and full recovery…

Ohio State beat Purdue last week 56-0. Recall, last week I said that the only way Ohio State can continue to get even a mention in the BCS championship Game discussions is for two of the teams above them to lose AND for them to continue to run up scores on the sad sacks left on their schedule. Purdue was one of those sad sacks…

Penn State beat Illinois 24-17 in OT last week. The only reason that game is worth mentioning is that it was the 18th consecutive loss for Illinois in Big 10 games.

Staying in the Big 10, Wisconsin beat Iowa 28-9 holding Iowa to only 3 field goals in the game.

Michigan State laid the wood to Michigan last week. The score was 29-6, which does not seem like a “thrashing”, but consider that Michigan was held to minus-48 yards rushing for the afternoon. For the game, Michigan averaged less than 3 yards per offensive play. That is an old-fashioned ass-kicking…

Nebraska beat Northwestern 27-24 on a last-second Hail Mary pass. That puts 5 losses in a row on the Northwestern record – and if you recall from above, they are a team that still has a shot at bowl eligibility should they find 2 wins in their final 3 games against:

    Michigan (at home)
    Michigan State (at home)
    Illinois (on the road)

USC dominated Oregon St. last week. Both teams are now 6-3 for the season, but USC looked truly superior last Friday night.

Georgia was shut out in the second half against Florida but held on to win 23-20. Perhaps as they get some injured players back, the Bulldogs can finish the season strong…

Auburn beat Arkansas 35-17 last week. Auburn is now 8-1 playing an SEC schedule and the team only won 3 games all last year. The Iron Bowl game against Alabama could be very interesting this year.

Oklahoma State beat Texas Tech 52-34 last week. That is 2 losses in a row for Texas Tech after a string of 7 straight wins to open the season. Tech’s last 3 games are against:

    K-State (at home)
    Baylor (at home) [Bet the OVER]
    Texas (on the road).

Missouri beat Tennessee 31-3 and you would be on the mark if you looked at that score and concluded that Missouri’s defense just plain dominated the game.

In terms of games involving really bad teams last week:

    Northern Illinois crushed UMass 63-19. I am not sure looking at the stats if the game was that close.

    Toledo beat E. Michigan 55-16. It was 38-10 at halftime.

    La-Lafayette beat New Mexico State 49-35. The story here is that New Mexico State led this game at halftime 28-14; then the wheels came off the wagon…

    Marshall beat So. Mississippi 61-13. The score was 28-0 at the end of the first quarter. That makes it 20 losses in a row for So. Miss and that is the longest losing streak in Div-1A football since Temple lost 20 in a row during the 2004/05 seasons. The Golden Eagles have a first year head coach, Todd Monken, at the helm; I hope he rented instead of buying…

Here is a college football player with a great name. Corn Elder is a WR for Miami. If he has kids, do they call themselves Children of the Corn? If he names a son Corn, would that create a situation where the family names might be Corn the Elder and Corn the Younger? Lots of questions there…

Coaches on a Hot Seat:

Before going to the Ponderosa Spread Games and other weekly features here, allow me to insert a list of 7 coaches who might be in “less-than-comfortable situations” with regard to their continued employment. Please note, I am not advocating that any or all of these guys need to be fired. This is hardly an exhaustive list but consider:

    Tim Beckman (Illinois): A 3-5 record this year on the heels of a 2-10 record last year is a bad omen – in addition to that 18-game losing streak in conference games…

    Mack Brown (Texas): He lost 2 games in a row back in September and that is blasphemy in Austin. Also, there will be a new AD in town real soon…

    Ron English (E. Michigan): This year’s record is 1-8 with all the losses coming after an opening day win over a Div 1-AA opponent. As of this morning, his record with E. Michigan is 11-46.

    Todd Monken (So. Mississippi): See above…

    Dan Mullen (Mississippi State): This is his 5th year in Starkeville and his SEC record stands at 13-23 as of this morning. The 4 wins this year have come over Kentucky and three out-of-conference cupcakes.

    Will Muschamp (Florida): This year’s record stands at 4-4 and none of the 4 wins would be considered “signature wins”. Moreover, he is 0-3 against Georgia in games proximal to the “Great Outdoor Cocktail Party”. If the Gators are blown out by Florida State on 30 November, this seat will get very hot! Is he really much of a step up from Ron Zook?

    Bo Pellini (Nebraska): After ranting about the unworthiness of Nebraska fans to the point where he needed to have a fireside chat with his superiors at the school and with 2 losses on the record already, he may have some ‘splainin to do come January.

The Ponderosa Spread Games:

Last week we had 10 Ponderosa Spread Games and the favorite covered in 6 of them.

Marshall, Northern Illinois, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Toledo and Utah State covered.

E. Carolina, La-Lafayette, Texas and UCLA did not cover.

The cumulative record for favorites covering in Ponderosa Spread Games this year stands at 41-38-3.

This week we have 7 Ponderosa Spread Games.

Louisville – 28 at UConn (49): Huskies average less than 17 points per game and have never scored more than 21 in a game this year.

Florida State – 35 at Wake Forest (54): Wake only gives up 19.9 points per game this year – but they have not played anyone like FSU yet…

UAB at Marshall – 24 (67.5): This line opened the week at 20.5 points and has been climbing steadily all week. This is two weeks in a row that Marshall is a Ponderosa Spread favorite; I do not ever recall that happening in the past.

Colorado at Washington – 28 (61): Colorado has 3 wins this year; 2 of them are against Div 1-AA schools.

UTEP at North Texas – 25 (57): UTEP gives up 41 points per game and their lone win came at the expense of New Mexico State.

Kansas at Ok. St. – 31 (54): Since the beginning of October, Kansas is 0-5 with a cumulative score of:

    Opponents: 209
    Kansas: 79

BC – 24 at New Mexico State (61): After this game, NM State finishes the season against Florida Atlantic and Idaho in two games either of which might be the nadir of college football for the year.

The SHOE Candidates:

Last week I narrowed the SHOE Candidate list down to 12 teams (call them the “Dirty Dozen”) with 5 other teams on the “Watch List”. This week, one of the teams from the “Watch List” goes onto the “Dirty Dozen”. For the week, I will remove Temple from the Candidate List because it took Rutgers until the final minute to beat them and I will replace Temple with Purdue who curled up into a ball against Ohio State and lost 56-0. Oh by the way, that makes two consecutive shutouts for Purdue.

In addition, Air Force comes off the “Watch List” after a win over Army last weekend. Akron’s third win of the season removes them from the list too – but the team they beat, Kent State, needs to go onto the Watch List. Also added this week is Memphis with a 1-6 record.

Here is the “Watch List”:

    Kent State

Here is the Candidates List – aka the “Dirty Dozen”:

    E. Michigan
    Florida Int’l
    Miami (Oh)
    New Mexico State
    So. Mississippi
    W. Michigan

Games of Interest:

This week is an unusual week of football. Normally, college football on Thursday night features a game or games between teams you probably do not care about very much. Thursday night is usually the time for teams from the MAC or the MWC to come out and play – and sometimes if you are lucky, you might get an AAC game. It is truly low-grade ore.

This week, Thursday night college football features two excellent games involving very good teams and both could have significant bearing on rankings and stuff like that. FS1 has the Oklahoma/Baylor game while ESPN has the Oregon/Stanford game.

Over on NFL Network, their game this week is the Redskins/Vikings. I will be hopping back and forth among these games – as I always do – but the NFL game will be my third priority this evening and that is a first.

(Thurs Nite) Oklahoma at Baylor – 15 (74): In six home games this year, Baylor averaged just over 70 points per game. Oklahoma is definitely the best team – and the best defense – to visit Waco this season so I would not look at the Total Line and feel confident that Baylor will approximate it alone. For the season – home and away – Baylor averages 718 yards per game total offense. Wow! I think the Sooners can slow Baylor down a bit – they only give up 19 points per game – so I like this game to stay UNDER.

(Thurs Nite) Oregon – 10.5 at Stanford (61): Oregon averages 632 yards per game and 56 points per game. Stanford is not a scoring machine; they average only 33 points per game. I do not think that the Stanford defense – good as it is – can keep this as a one-possession game late into the fourth quarter as it did last year. If you hear a roar coming from the south, that is probably all the Florida State students and fans rooting for Stanford in this game. I like Oregon to win and cover here.

Iowa – 15 at Purdue (45): Iowa scored no TDs last week; Purdue has not scored in its last two games. Such a bad game…

NC State at Duke – 9 (56.5): NC State does not deserve consideration as a SHOE team, but they are not a good football team this year. Duke will be going to a bowl game this year and so long as complacency does not set in, Duke should win here. I’ll take Duke to win and cover at home.

Illinois at Indiana – 10 (76.5): The Total Line opened the week at 72 and jumped to 75 almost immediately. It has crept upward from that point and looks as if it will go even higher. Neither team is any good so that line looks awfully fat to me. I’ll take Illinois plus the points.

Va Tech at Miami – 6.5 (43.5): As the Total Line suggests, this should be a low scoring game. With Duke Johnson out for Miami, I will take Va Tech plus the points here.

Penn State at Minnesota – 2.5 (48): The Total Line opened here at 52 and has been dropping all week long. I do not think it has dropped enough; I’ll take this game to stay UNDER.

W. Michigan – 2.5 at E. Michigan (58.5): Both teams have been – and still remain – on the “Dirty Dozen”. The only wager you should consider making on this game is if someone allows you to bet that it will be a royal mess. Both teams arrive at the kickoff with 1-8 records. E. Michigan is 125th in the nation in scoring defense; they allow 45.6 points per game. W. Michigan ranks 121st in the nation in scoring; they only score 15.3 points per game. Any telecast for this game should have these words on the bottom of the screen:

    Avert Your Eyes!!

K-State at Texas Tech – 3 (59.5): Tech needs to avoid its third loss in a row lest they find themselves relegated to a fourth-level bowl game in December. K-State has 4 wins this year and needs two more wins to go to any bowl game at all. They have Kansas at the end of the season but somehow they need to find another win on the schedule. I think this is where they find it so I’ll take K-state plus the points here.

BYU at Wisconsin – 7.5 (55): I think this game will be a low-scoring slugfest between two teams that like to run the ball. In that circumstance, the hook on top of a full TD’s worth of points is most enticing. I’ll take BYU plus the points.

Texas – 6.5 at W. Virginia (56): Both teams underachieved what their fans had in mind for this year despite Texas only losing 2 games. Since those two losses, Texas has scored 30+ points in 5 straight games. I think they are too much for W. Virginia so I’ll take Texas to win and cover even on the road.

Nebraska at Michigan – 7 (57.5): Remember, Michigan was held to minus-48 yards rushing against Michigan St. last week. And they are favored by a TD here… Nebraska’s defense is not in the same category as Michigan State’s. I would not bet this game for real, but for mythical purposes only, I will take the game to go OVER.

Hawaii at Navy – 17 (53): Damn! That is a long way for an 0-8 team to fly to play a football game…

Notre Dame – 4.5 at Pitt (51): I do not know where 51 points will come from in this game unless there is a Pick Six and a kick return for a TD. Neither offense is particularly good; both defenses are better than adequate. I like this game to stay UNDER.

Auburn – 7 at Tennessee (55): Auburn runs the ball for 306 yards per game; can Tennessee stop that? Tennessee’s total offense is 356 yards per game; I think Auburn can stop that. I’ll take Auburn to win and cover and take their record to 9-1.

UCLA – 1.5 at Arizona (56.5): Both teams are bowl eligible; there is no motivation edge here. Make this purely a venue call. I’ll take Arizona at home plus the points.

LSU at Alabama – 12.5 (55): This is the best game on Saturday. Only once this year (against Texas A&M) has Alabama allowed more than 10 points in a game. They lead the nation in scoring defense allowing an average of 9.8 points per game. LSU is not having one of its vintage years, but it is still a superior opponent for Alabama to anyone they have faced since Texas A&M. Can you imagine the furor that an LSU victory here might cause on the college football websites? I like Alabama at home to win and cover and I like the game to go OVER.

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

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  • Doug  On November 8, 2013 at 7:18 am

    I am late getting my comment up due to travel, but that gives me a chance to say the Ducks laid an egg last night.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 8, 2013 at 12:09 pm


      Indeed they did. For the first three quarters of that game, they were completely out-classed. The game was not as close as the final score might lead one to believe.

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