Mythical Picks – NCAA – Weekend of 11/16/13

First, a quick review of last week’s Mythical Picks…

    I liked Oklahoma/Baylor UNDER 74. Total was 53. Yea!

    I liked Oregon -10.5 over Stanford. Oregon lost the game. Boo!

    I liked Duke -9 over NC State. Duke won by 18. Yea!

    I liked Illinois +10 against Indiana. Not enough points. Boo!

    I liked Va Tech +6.5 against Miami. Tech won the game. Yea!

    I liked Penn St./Minnesota UNDER 48. Total was 34. Yea!

    I liked K-State +3 against Texas Tech. K-State won the game. Yea!

    I liked BYU +7.5 against Wisconsin. BYU lost by 10. Boo!

    I liked Texas -6.5 over W. Va. Texas won by 7 in OT. Yea!

    I liked Nebraska/Michigan OVER 57.5. Total was only 30. Boo!

    I liked Notre Dame/Pitt UNDER 51. Total was 49. Yea!

    I liked Auburn -7 over Tennessee. Auburn won by 32. Yea!

    I liked Alabama – 12.5 over LSU. Alabama won by 21. Yea!

    I liked Alabama/LSU OVER 55. Total was 55. Push.

That was a successful week of Mythical Picks with a record of 9 – 4 – 1. Moreover, that very successful week allowed my cumulative record for NCAA Mythical Picks to creep above the .500 mark for the first time this year at 63 – 62 – 2. When you consider that I have had “winning weeks” for each of the last 5 weeks, that will give you an idea of just how badly I was doing in the first 5 weeks of the college football season.

Notwithstanding the obvious, no one should consider using any information here as the basis for making a real wager involving actual money on any college football game this weekend. Anyone dumb enough to do that would probably try out to become the goalie on a darts team.

General Comments:

I said last week that Linfield’s game against Puget Sound would have been a Ponderosa Spread Game had there been a line on it. Well, Linfield “prevailed” by a score of 79-3; the score seems to be an accurate reflection of the game; Linfield played 5 different QBs in the game. That win takes the Wildcats’ record to 8-0 for the season with a single game left on the road against Pacific this week. Pacific comes to that game with a 7-2 record (3-2 in the Northwest Conference) also having lost last weekend to Willamette. Go Wildcats!

Alabama beat LSU 38-17 last week. The game was tied in the third quarter at 17 apiece. From that point forward, it was all Alabama…

Meanwhile Auburn ran its record for the year to 9-1 with a dominating 55-23 win over Tennessee.

The Iron Bowl game between Alabama and Auburn on 30 November looks to be a very big deal this year – assuming of course that Auburn can deal with a visiting Georgia team this weekend and that Alabama takes care of business on a visit to Mississippi State this weekend before scrimmaging Chattanooga next weekend. Having no ties whatsoever to either school, I will be rooting for them to win all of their games such that Auburn is 10-1 and Alabama is 11-0 when they kick off their game.

Florida State held onto its #2 ranking in the BCS lineup with a 59-3 shellacking of Wake Forest last weekend. That victory also clinched the ACC Atlantic Division title for the Seminoles. Here are two take-aways from that game:

    1. Wake Forest kicked a field goal in the 4th quarter trailing by more than 50 points. Seriously…

    2. Wake Forest played two QBs in the game. Here are the combined passing stats for the two QBs:

      3-15 for 16 yards with 0 TDs and 6 INTs.


The Baylor/Oklahoma game was close and interesting until late in the second quarter when Baylor seemed to flip a switch and then dominated the game – offensively and defensively – from that point on. Oklahoma actually led 5-3 with a few minutes to play until halftime whereupon Baylor ran off 3 TDs in what seemed to be about a minute and a half and the game was over.

Stanford dominated Oregon for 3 quarters and led 26-0. At that point in the game, the Oregon high-octane offense had a total of 186 yards. A blocked field goal try returned for a TD makes the final score (26-20) look a lot closer than the game actually was.

    Would it be cruel to ask if the Ducks have been OH – ver-rated?

Missouri handled Kentucky easily 48-17. Their backup QB – playing for the injured James Franklin – set a school record by throwing 5 TD passes in the game.

Pitt beat Notre Dame 28-21 putting an end to any outside chances Notre Dame may have had for inclusion in a major bowl game this year.

In Minnesota’s 24-10 win over Penn State, neither team scored in the second half of the game. I just know that was a joy to watch…

Indiana beat Illinois 52-35. That makes 19 consecutive losses in the Big 10 for Illinois.

Fresno State beat Wyoming 45-10; Fresno State remains unbeaten for the year. This game was 14-10 at the half and then it was all Fresno State after that.

UNC beat UVa 45-14. The score is a good indicator of the non-competitive nature of that game.

Texas beat W. Virginia 47-40 in OT last week. What happened? Did Texas forget how to tackle again?

Vanderbilt beat Florida 34-17 last week. That was the first win for Vandy at Florida since 1945 – around the time when hostilities were coming to a close in WW II. This loss puts Florida below .500 for the season.

Kansas State beat Texas Tech 49-26. That makes it 3 losses in a row for Texas Tech and this game was not close at all; the score at halftime was 35-10. Consider:

    Texas Tech had 11 more first downs than did K-State.
    Texas Tech had almost 100 yards more total offense than did K-State.
    Texas Tech held the ball longer than did K-State.

And yet, Texas Tech lost by 23 points at home.

Texas A&M beat Mississippi State 51-41. As good as the Aggies are on offense and as good as Johnny Manziel is at QB, that is how mediocre the A&M defense is. The only other games where Mississippi State got themselves “north of 40 points” were against Alcorn State and Troy. In addition:

    Mississippi State had more first downs than did the Aggies.
    Mississippi State had more total offense than did the Aggies.
    Mississippi State held the ball almost 10 more minutes than did the Aggies.

And yet, Mississippi State lost by 10 points.

In a surprising result, BC beat New Mexico State 48-34. The surprise is not that BC won; New Mexico State is a SHOE Tournament team. The surprise is not that BC scored 48 points; that is about average for a New Mexico State opponent. However, consider:

    New Mexico State had 9 more first downs than BC.
    New Mexico State completed 26 more passes than BC.
    New Mexico State had 150 more yards passing than BC.
    New Mexico State won the turnover battle.
    New Mexico State won the time of possession battle.

And yet, New Mexico State lost by 2 TDs.

Speaking of New Mexico State and its SHOE Tournament status, here are some of the results for those horrid teams last week:

    Bowling Green beat Miami (Oh) 45-3 last Saturday and then Kent State beat Miami (Oh) on Wednesday night this week. In 10 games this year – all losses – Miami (Oh) has scored a total of 96 points.

    E. Michigan beat W. Michigan 35-32 last week. That probably means that W. Michigan will be the higher seed in the SHOE Tournament because E. Michigan is a certifiable mess.

    Navy beat Hawaii 42-28 extending Hawaii’s winless record to 0-9.

    La Tech beat S. Mississippi 36-13 extending S. Mississippi’s winless record to 0-9. S. Mississippi has lost its 9 games by an average of 31 points. In their last 4 games, the Golden Eagles have lost by a combined score of 207 – 54.

    Middle Tennessee State beat Florida International 48-0. Florida International has one win this year – over S. Mississippi by one point.

    North Texas beat UTEP 41-7. UTEP has one win this year – over New Mexico State. In their last 3 games the Miners have been outscored 143 – 21.

    Old Dominion beat Idaho 59-38. Idaho becomes the only Division 1-A team to lose to ODU this year.

There is a RB for Arkansas State named Sirgregory Thornton. Who knighted him? King Dunlap? King Hill? Bernard King? Freddie Mercury?

Coaches On A Hot Seat:

A couple weeks ago, I suggested that Ron English with only 11 wins in five seasons at E. Michigan might be on a hot seat. Well, it turned out to be an ejection seat after an audio recording of him ranting and using homophobic slurs became public.

Several weeks ago, I said that it seemed as if the concepts of offensive football as practiced in the US in 2013 had not made their way to Mike London at UVa. Well, the Cavaliers are now 2-8 having lost their last 7 in a row – 6 of those by double-digits. This is Mike London’s 4th season at UVa; that means these are the guys that he and his staff have recruited and inculcated into their program. As of this morning, his record at UVa stands at 18-28. His seat ought to be hot and getting hotter…

I mentioned Will Muschamp last week as a coach with a warm seat. It just got hotter with Florida’s loss at home to Vandy last week [see above]. Florida’s record stands at 4-5 and they are not a cinch to make it to 6-6 – which is bowl-eligible in addition to break-even. For the record, the last time Florida finished below .500 was in 1979.

Here is a new addition to the “Hot Seat List”. Brady Hoke at Michigan has been there since the start of the 2011 season. He arrived in Ann Arbor with folks saying that he was directly from the “Bo Schembechler tough-guy school of football”; his record at Michigan looks good at 25 – 10 until you look to see that it is only 14-7 in the Big 10. His team beat Ohio State in his first season and lots of folks thought Michigan would be a Top 10 team in 2012. That year, the Wolverines played 5 ranked teams (including a bowl game) and lost to every one of them. This year half of the team’s 6 wins to date have come at the expense of C. Michigan, Akron (by 4 points) and UConn (by 3 points). Northwestern, Iowa and Ohio State are left on the schedule…

The SHOE Candidates:

There are no changes in the Watch List or the Candidates List from last week.

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

Importantly, Florida International plays UTEP this week in a game that could easily support the label “Race to the Bottom Game”. Florida Atlantic takes on S. Mississippi and Akron visits UMass in two other games involving bad teams. Curmudgeon Central will be checking those games out – while wearing eye protection of course.

The Ponderosa Spread Games:

Last week we had 7 Ponderosa Spread Games. The favorites covered in 5 of those games.

Florida State, Marshall, North Texas, Oklahoma State and Washington covered.

BC and Louisville did not cover.

The cumulative record for favorites covering Ponderosa Spreads this year now stands at 46 – 40 – 3.

This week we have 10 Ponderosa Spread Games.

Indiana at Wisconsin – 24 (71): The spread here opened the week at 18.5 points and shot up to 23 points almost immediately; it seems to have settled at this level. Wisconsin is 4-1 in conference play but trails Ohio State by a game because it lost to Ohio State back in September. They rank 6th in scoring defense in the country giving up only 15.2 points per game. Indiana is 4-5 and needs to find 2 more wins to be bowl eligible but that looks impossible with this game and with Ohio State staring them in the face next week. Indiana ranks 10th in the country in scoring averaging 43.1 points per game.

Syracuse at Florida State – 39 (57.5): This game should be very ugly very quickly.

UAB at E. Carolina – 28 (65.5): UAB gives up 40.3 points per game; E. Carolina scores 39.1 points per game.

Texas Tech at Baylor – 27.5 (85): This is an interesting game. The spread opened the week at 24.5 points, jumped to this level in about 24 hours, and stabilized. The Total Line opened the week at 80 points, rose almost immediately to 83 points and has climbed to this level this morning. It is not often that you will see a team with a 7-3 record as the underdog in a Ponderosa Spread Game. Given the way the Tech defense has played the last three games, I think I’ll take Baylor and lay the points here.

Wyoming at Boise State – 24 (68.5): In the last 3 games, Wyoming has given up a total of 151 points. Boise State is in the first quintile in terms of scoring…

Iowa State at Oklahoma – 24 (50): Iowa State ranks 90th in the country in passing offense; it compensates for that by being 98th in the country in rushing offense.

Utah at Oregon – 27 (64.5): The Ducks are probably not going to be happy come kickoff time.

Ohio State – 33.5 at Illinois (67): Given the generally weak schedule for Ohio State, the only way to keep their name in the BCS discussion is to go out and clobber the weak sisters on the schedule. Hello, Illinois… Oh, Illinois has the worst rushing defense in the Big 10 and Ohio State averages 301 yards per game. This game will be ugly.

Alabama – 24 at Mississippi State (52.5): Mississippi State is a much better team at home than they are on the road and the Bulldogs seem to pull off a shocking upset at home once a year. That has not happened yet this year and is not likely to happen this week…

Troy at Ole Miss – 28 (68.5): Ole Miss has 6 wins this year including wins over Texas, LSU and Arkansas. Troy’s 5 wins have come at the expense of UAB, Savannah State, South Alabama, Georgia State and W. Kentucky. Ka-beesh…?

Games of Interest:

(Fri Nite) Washington at UCLA – 3 (61): The Huskies cannot win the PAC-112 North but they are bowl-eligible with a 6-3 record. UCLA might still win the PAC-12 South if things break right for them. Looking at the stats and the schedules, these teams look very well matched. I do think that the two defenses here are better than the Total Line would indicate so I’ll take the game to stay UNDER.

Miami (FL) – 3.5 at Duke (61): Ten years ago, a game between these two teams would have been a Ponderosa Spread Game for sure. Both teams still have a chance to win the ACC Coastal Division title meaning that they would get the honor of being cannon fodder for Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. Miami has lost 2 games in a row (Florida State and Va Tech); Duke is a step down in competition from those two teams. Nonetheless, because of the venue, I’ll take Duke plus the points.

C. Michigan – 3 at W. Michigan (52.5): Such a bad game…

NC State at BC – 7.5 (53.5): NC State is 3-6; none of those wins came against ACC foes. In their 6 conference losses, only one was by less than 12 points. Theoretically, they could still become bowl-eligible if they win out. BC is 5-4 coming into this game and needs only one win over a mediocre schedule (NC State, Maryland, Syracuse) to make it to a bowl game. Since those last two games are on the road, it would behoove BC to win this one. BC will ride on Andre Williams rushing; NC State will stack the defense to stop him. NC State has no fearsome weapons, which is a good thing because BC’s defense is pretty ordinary. I sense a low scoring game so I’ll take NC State plus that generous helping of points.

UNC at Pitt “pick ‘em” (53): You say you like Pitt. They are the team that lost to Navy but also beat Notre Dame. Sounds pretty “up-and-down” to me. You say you like UNC. Oh, you must mean that team who lost to E. Carolina by 24 points and beat BC by 24 points. Such a model of consistency… Do not bet on this game.

Purdue at Penn State – 21.5 (45): Since September 7, Penn State has alternated wins and losses for the season. They lost last week to Minnesota; ergo… Purdue has been far more reliable this year. Other than a win over division 1-AA Indiana State, Purdue has not won a game. In its 8 losses, Purdue has been shut out twice and scored 14 points or less in 5 of the other losses. Their best offensive showing this year came in a loss to N. Illinois by a score of 55-24. This is another game not to bet on because Penn State is not good enough to lay more than 3 TDs worth of points and Purdue is not good enough to bet on against a team in Division 1-A.

Florida at S. Carolina – 12.5 (42): S. Carolina can still win the SEC East; it will take a lot of things falling exactly into place, but it can happen. One of the things that has to fall into place is a win over a reeling Florida team. Florida needs to find 2 wins in its remaining schedule to make it to one of the minor bowl games in mid-December. After this game, they have Georgia Southern and then Florida State. Yes, I know Florida has had injuries but the fact is that the team is not playing well on offense and the defense seems to have been worn down; they have lost 4 games in a row. I cannot see them winning here but that is a lot of points to lay against a team with a decent defense. I’ll take the game to go OVER.

Michigan at Northwestern – 3 (52): Anybody remember when both of these teams were considered Top 25 teams? In Big 10 play, these teams have a combined record of 2-8 and the Big 10 is not laced with powerhouses this year. Michigan has lost 3 of their last 4 games; Northwestern has lost its last 5 games – but they did have a Bye Week last week. I mentioned above that Brady Hoke arrived in Ann Arbor to a chorus of praise about how he was from the “tough-guy school of football”. Well, Mr. Tough Guy, you are a 3-point dog to Northwestern and no one has ever equated them with being “tough guys”. Purely a hunch, I’ll take the game to go OVER.

Cal at Colorado – 2.5 (67): I do not want to put too fine a point on this, but Colorado is a bad team. The record says 3-6 but the wins came over Colorado State, Central Arkansas and Charleston Southern. In Pac-12 play, Colorado’s closest game was a 22-point loss to UCLA. And they are the favorite here … because … Cal is also a bad team. Their only win came over Portland State and they rank 124th in the country in scoring defense giving up an average of 44.7 points per game. In their 9 losses, the best defensive effort they had was against Arizona where they gave up only 33 points. The only thing Cal does reasonably well is throw the ball (345 yards per game) and one of the things that Colorado does not do well is defend against the pass. I’ll take Cal plus the points here – while holding my nose.

Oregon State at Arizona State – 14 (64): The Total Line for this game opened the week at 70 and has dropped all the way to this level as of this morning. Given the offensive proclivities for both teams, I think it dropped too low. I’ll take the game to go OVER.

Georgia at Auburn – 3.5 (63.5): After some rather pedestrian pairings this week, we finally come to a game between two good teams. With a gaudy 9-1 record, you might be surprised to learn that Auburn ranks 108th in the country in passing offense (only 173 yards per game). Not to worry, however, they rank 3rd in the country in rushing averaging a robust 320 yards per game. Auburn scores 3 points per game more than Georgia; Auburn allows 8.5 fewer points per game than Georgia. This will not be easy but I think Auburn is the better team and I’ll take them to win and cover at home.

Oklahoma State – 3 at Texas (63.5): Texas leads the Big 12 Conference with a 6-0 record; Ok St. is still in the running with a 5-1 record. [Don’t forget Baylor in this mix with a 5-0 record.] Ok St. has Baylor next week and Texas has Baylor on December 7 so this is a big game for both teams. State scores 6.5 more points per game than Texas and they give up 5 points per game less. That sounds like enough of an advantage to overcome the home field advantage and a 3-point spread. I’ll take OK State to win and cover.

Michigan State – 6 at Nebraska (41.5): Michigan State clinches the “Legends Division” title with a win here; Nebraska would have the same record as Michigan State in conference – and a head-to-head victory – if they were to win. While neither team has a lot of national buzz at the moment, this is an important Big 10 game. The Spartans’ defense only gives up 11.3 points per game; I do not care what conference you are in, that is impressive. Neither offense throws the ball well or often. I like Michigan State to win and cover here even on the road.

Stanford – 3.5 at USC (46): Stanford has won the last 4 games in this series including last year when it beat the then-#2 Trojans 21-14. However, the game that has to still stick in the craw of USC fans happened back in 2007 when USC was a 40-point favorite over Stanford and the Cardinal won the game straight up. Is this the week for pay-back? Is this the week where Stanford suffers a let-down after last week’s game against Oregon? I think that is exactly what will happen here so I’ll take USC at home plus the points.

TCU at K-State – 10.5 (47): TCU needs a win here plus a win over Baylor in their final game of the year to be bowl-eligible. That seems like an awfully tall order for a team that has trouble scoring. K-State has 5 wins in its pocket already but it has the “security blanket” of playing Kansas in the final game of the year. I think K-State is the better team here but that line looks fat to me. I’ll take TCU plus all those points.

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

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  • Doug  On November 15, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Two thoughts: You must spend a lot of time reading box scores (what we used to call the agate section) to mine all the data you include here. My guess is that your wife takes out the trash and walks the dog.

    Second, when I lived in Birmingham, the Iron Bowl was played annually at Legion Field. I cannot remember a time when Auburn fans did not consider themselves the underdog. Auburn is the stepchild in every relationship with Bama. They may win at home this year, but that will not change the psychology of the two schools.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 15, 2013 at 8:50 am


      I do read the “agate section” but not nearly as much as you imply in your note. I take out the trash; we do not have a dog; my wife does 99% of the cooking and the travel planning.

      As I noted in these Mythical Picks, I am rooting for both schools to win all of their games leading up to the Iron Bowl. It should be a great game!

  • david egbert  On November 15, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Never bet against my Badgers when they are at Camp Randall or the Kohl Center.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 16, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      david egbert:

      Note that I did not even make a Mythical Pick involving Wisconsin this week in their role as a Ponderosa Spread favorite over Indiana.

  • Steve  On November 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Regarding Wake Forest kicking a field goal in the 4th quarter trailing by more than 50 points, I was there and, while not particularly happy, was relieved to see that at least it wasn’t going to be a shut-out.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm


      I guess that makes it something less than totally meaningless – but not much…

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