Mythical Picks – NCAA – Weekend of 11/23/13

Did someone ask how last week’s Mythical Picks turned out?

    I liked Baylor -27.5 over Texas Tech. Baylor won by 29. Yea!

    I liked Washington/UCLA UNDER 61. Total was 72. Boo!

    I liked Duke +3.5 against Miami. Duke won by 18. Yea!

    I liked NC State +7.5 against BC. Not nearly enough points. Boo!

    I liked Florida/S. Carolina OVER 42. Total was 33. Boo!

    I liked Mich/N’western OVER 52. Game was UNDER in 3 OT. Boo!

    I liked Cal +2.5 against Colorado. Cal lost by 17. Boo!

    I liked Oregon St/Arizona State OVER 64. Not even close. Boo!

    I liked Auburn -3.5 over Georgia. Auburn covered. Yea!

    I liked Ok St. -3 over Texas. Ok st. covered easily. Yea!

    I liked Mich St. -6 over Nebraska. State won by 13. Yea!

    I liked USC +3.5 against Stanford. USC won the game. Yea!

    I liked TCU +10.5 against K-State. TCU lost by only 2. Yea!

Now that the dust has settled we can see that last week’s record was 7 – 6. While that is hardly anything to crow about, it does extend my streak of consecutive winning weeks to 6 weeks. Before anyone thinks that I am about to dislocate my shoulder whilst patting myself on the back, the cumulative season record for NCAA Mythical picks remains at a pedestrian 70 – 68 – 2. That is over .500 but not sufficiently over to be profitable against the vig.

No one should take anything written here and use it as the basis for making a real wager involving real money on a real college football game this weekend. Anyone stupid enough to do that also thinks Dancing with the Stars is a prom especially for astronomy majors.

General Comments:

The Linfield College Wildcats finished their regular season schedule with a 6-point win over Pacific College last week. That gives Linfield a 9-0 record for the year and they get to host a Division III playoff game this weekend against Pacific Lutheran. These two teams met before this year on October 5 and Linfield won the game 29-0. Go Wildcats!

Speaking for a moment about Division III football, running back Cartel Brooks of Heidelberg College (Tiffin, OH) broke and NCAA record last week. He ran for 465 yards in a game against Baldwin Wallace carrying the ball 38 times and scoring 3 TDs. Interestingly, the NCAA record that he broke had only stood for 4 weeks. On October 26 of this year, Octavias McKoy (Western Connecticut State University) gained 455 yards in a single game.

Ohio State beat Illinois 60-35 extending the Illini conference losing streak to 21 games. Urban Meyer uttered the truth when he “groused” that the BCS system was not fair but in this case the truth was insufficient to let him escape criticism. In his previous incarnation at florida, Meyer and the Gators got to play in the BCS Championship Game with a loss on the record even though there were undefeated teams out there. Since he never “groused” about the BCS then, lots of folks say he is being hypocritical now. They are right of course and if Coach Meyer wants to have folks think better of his program at Ohio State, here are some things he can do:

    1. Stop scheduling 4 cupcakes at the beginning of the season to pad your record. This year the lineup was Buffalo, San Diego State, Cal and Florida A&M.

    2. Never play another college team in Ohio. You have no meaningful “in-state rivals”.

    3. Do not give up 35 points to a bad team like Illinois or 34 points to an even worse team like Cal.

With these comments out there on the Internet in perpetuity, I guess I will never be able to run for Mayor of Columbus, Ohio. Hi ho…

UNC beat Pitt 34-27. Those are two of the least predictable teams in the country. If they played again this week, I have no idea what the outcome might be.

Maryland beat Va Tech 27-24 in OT. Maryland is bowl-eligible thanks to that win thanks to three early season wins over:

    Florida International (a SHOE Tournament team?)
    Old Dominion (first year up at the Division 1-A level)
    UConn (another SHOE Tournament team?)

Add to those meaningless wins a victory over hapless Virginia in a conference game and you can see why no one will consider Maryland for any meaningful bowl game this year.

Washington State beat Arizona last week 24-17 and that gives 5 wins for the season and 2 chances to secure that 6th win needed to go to a bowl game. They face Utah this week and then Washington in the Apple Bowl game on 29 November.

Duke beat Miami 48-30. When you see Duke beating Miami by 18 points, you tend to think of a basketball game and not a football game. Nonetheless… Duke could now win the ACC Coastal Division; if they do, that would match them up with Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. The Blue Devils are 8-2 at this point and have had a wonderful season – but they are not in the same category as Florida State.

Speaking of Florida State, they beat Syracuse 59-3 last week. For the second week in a row, the Seminoles’ opponent kicked a field goal in the 4th quarter trailing by 50+ points. I guess avoiding a shutout really is important.

K-State beat TCU 33-31 and the win makes K-State bowl-eligible. Things did not look so good for the Wildcats a month ago. They had a 2-4 record at that time but have now run off 4 straight wins.

Michigan beat Northwestern 27-19 last week – in 3 OTs no less. The score was 9-9 at the end of regulation time without a TD being scored.

Auburn beat Georgia 43-38 on the strangest game-ending play of the year. If you have not seen it on ESPN yet, then you must have been in a coma for the early part of this week.

Colorado beat Cal 41-24 last week. Neither team is any good and I mention this score only so I can include something from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times related to Colorado’s previous game against Washington:

“From The Statistics Do Lie file comes the fact that Colorado dominated Washington in offensive yardage (124 to 40) and time of possession (12:24 to 2:36) in the third quarter of their game Nov. 9.

“And got outscored 21-0.”

South Carolina beat Florida 19-14 dropping Florida’s record to 4-6; that makes 5 consecutive losses for the Gators. Even scheduling the likes of Toledo and Georgia Southern, Florida will need to upset Florida State in the final game of the year to be bowl-eligible.

I know it would take a miracle for this to happen but consider this one of those spectacles it would be fun to watch:

    The Gator Bowl game is played in Jacksonville, FL which is less than 100 miles from the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. Jax is part of Gator Country…

    Now imagine if the Gator Bowl game was between South Carolina (coached by Steve Spurrier) and Ohio State (coached by Urban Meyer).

    The question is, which way would the Gator fans be rooting…?

Baylor beat Texas Tech 63-34. That makes it 4 consecutive losses for Texas Tech with only Texas left on the schedule on Thanksgiving.

Alabama was “workmanlike” if not particularly impressive beating Mississippi State last week by a score of 20-7.

USC beat Stanford 20-17 in the game that had the biggest effect on the rankings and bowl destinations for top teams. The Trojans are 8-3 at this point and have a road game at Colorado this week. They will end their regular season next week against UCLA in what ought to be a very good game.

With regard to the very bad teams in the country, here are some results:

    Kent State 24 Miami (Oh) 6: Another game for Miami without a TD
    Akron 14 UMass 13
    C. Michigan 27 W. Michigan 22
    UTEP 33 Florida Int’l 10
    San Diego St 28 Hawaii 21; Hawaii remains winless for the year

Some less negative results involving bad teams:

    UCF 39 Temple 36: UCF ranked 15th in the country
    Kansas 31 W. Virginia 19: Good win for a bad Kansas team

Florida safety and special teams player, Valdez Showers, has an interesting name. It is a complete sentence.

The Ponderosa Spread Games:

Last week we had 10 Ponderosa Spread Games. The favorites covered in 7 of the 10 games.

Baylor, Boise St., E. Carolina, Florida St., Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Wisconsin covered.

Alabama, Ohio St. and Oregon did not cover.

That puts the cumulative record for favorites covering Ponderosa Spreads at 53-43-3.

This week we have 9 Ponderoda Spread Games:

Indiana at Ohio State – 34.5 (81): Expect Ohio State to run up another score here. The Buckeyes average 19.2 points per game in the first quarter alone; this one should be a rout very quickly.

Marshall – 32 at Florida Int’l (55.5): Marshall has been a Ponderosa Spread favorite two or three times this year. A few years ago, Marshall was a Ponderosa Spread underdog multiple times in a year.

Idaho at Florida State – 58.5 (69.5): Who scheduled this game? Why? To see if Idaho will kick a 4th quarter field coal in this game while trailing by more than 60 points to avoid a shutout? Puh-leeez!

Kentucky at Georgia – 24 (61.5): If you think Kentucky has a chance to win this game, you can get them at +1530 on the money line.

Memphis at Louisville – 24.5 (43):If you think Memphis has a chance to win this game, you can get them at +1650 on the money line.

Bowling Green – 25 at E. Michigan (56.5): E. Michigan is +1650 on the money line. I wonder if there will be 1650 E. Michigan fans in the stands during the 4th quarter of this game. If there are, I would love to know why…

Cal at Stanford – 32.5 (56.5): A huge rivalry game with a monstrously large spread.

Ga State at Arkansas State – 24 (57): I am sure that someone somewhere cares about the outcome here.

New Mexico at Fresno State – 31.5 (66): Fresno State has still not lost a game this year.

The SHOE Teams:

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I prefer to think of myself as a voice crying in the wilderness and that voice is finally heard by someone somewhere. My SHOE Tournament idea has taken root…

Earlier this week on CBSsportsline.com, there was an article suggesting a 4-team playoff involving the worst teams in the conferences that automatically qualify for the BCS. The idea was to find the worst team in those conferences. Sound familiar?

My SHOE Tournament involves 8 teams and it includes all the Division 1-A teams – except those that are in their first year up at that level. One other difference is that the CBSsportsline.com model involves fan voting which immediately removes it from the realm of rational thinking.

Nevertheless, I thank Jeremy Fowler of CBSSportsline.com for the affirmation of my concept.

It is time to prune my candidates list significantly. From the “Watch List” I will remove Kent State, Kansas, Memphis and Temple.

I will take four teams from my 12-team candidates list and put them onto the “Watch List” as the season comes to a close. Therefore, as of now the Watch List is:

    E. Michigan
    Kentucky
    Purdue
    UConn
    UTEP

That leaves these 8 teams tentatively seeded from the worst (at #1) to the least worst (at #8).

    1. So. Mississippi
    2. New Mexico State
    3. UMass
    4. Miami (Oh)
    5. Hawaii
    6. Florida International
    7. Idaho
    8. W. Michigan

Games of Interest:

Nebraska at Penn State – 2 (50): The Total Line opened the week at 55.5 and sank to 52 almost overnight and it has continued to drop as the week progressed. I am not enamored with either defensive unit here so I think the total line has dropped too low. I like this game to go OVER.

Illinois – 6.5 at Purdue (56.5): If Illinois does not break its conference losing streak here, they ought to consider scrapping football. Illinois is a bad team; Purdue is a really bad team. On average, Purdue scores 12.7 points per game and gives up 38.0 points per game. Because these are only mythical picks, I’ll take Illinois and lay the points – even on the road.

UConn at Temple – 8.5 (51): These are two really bad teams and I have no idea where 51 points will come from. I’ll take the game to stay UNDER.

Michigan State – 7 at Northwestern (41): If Michigan State wins here, they are in the Big 10 Championship Game; Northwestern needs to win out to be bowl-eligible having lost their last 6 games in a row. Therein lie the motivation factors for this game. I like the better team with its motivation here. I’ll take Michigan State to win and cover on the road.

Duke – 5 at Wake Forest (49): Duke is 8-2 and going to a bowl game; as noted above, they could also find themselves in the ACC Championship Game. Wake Forest needs to win this game and the next one against Vandy to become bowl-eligible. I see both teams “going for it” here and so I like the game to go OVER.

Wisconsin – 16 at Minnesota (50): Both teams have equal 8-2 records at the moment but a look at the schedules says that Minnesota has lost its 2 games to Iowa by 16 points and Michigan by 29 points. Wisconsin is better than both Iowa and Michigan so it would seem that some 8-2 records are more equal than others. I think Wisconsin rolls here; I’ll take the Badgers and lay the points.

Hawaii at Wyoming – 6 (62): Such a bad game… Hawaii is winless with an 0-10 record; Wyoming has lost its last 4 games and has given up 199 points in those 4 losses. OUCH!! Just for fun, I want to take this game to go OVER.

Michigan at Iowa – 6 (46): With a 3-3 record in the Big 10, Michigan cannot win the Legends Division and it has its huge rivalry game with Ohio State next week. There is a good likelihood that they will look past this road game to that rivalry game at home in Ann Arbor next week. Therefore, I’ll take Iowa at home to win and cover.

Arizona St. – 2.5 at UCLA (61.5): UCLA needs a win here to tie Arizona St for the lead in the PAC-12 South and to keep pace with USC who seems to have a walkover scheduled with Colorado. We know Arizona St. will press the pace in the game and should score more than a couple of times; UCLA also knows how to score averaging 37 points per game for the season. Arizona State has won its last 5 games impressively; UCLA has won three straight and although they have two conference losses they came against Oregon and Stanford – both games on the road one week after the other. I smell a shootout; I’ll take this game to go OVER.

Texas A&M at LSU – 4.5 (71): This should be a fun game to watch; there will be footballs flying all over the place for at least 55 of the 60 minutes. If LSU cannot get pressure on Manziel, he should have a field day throwing the ball here. I think the Aggies will score a lot on an uncharacteristically generous LSU defense. If LSU goes back to what it has done in previous years and runs the ball a lot, it might be able to control the tempo of the game and keep their defense on the sidelines. I doubt that the Aggies’ defense can hold LSU to a minimal scoring day. I like this game to go OVER.

BYU at Notre Dame “pick ‘em” (54.5): In 10 games this year, BYU has only given up 27 or more points twice. Both teams are 7-3 but it seems as if BYU has a slight edge on both offense and on defense this year. South Bend is a huge home field advantage for Notre Dame, but I’ll take BYU to win here.

Baylor – 9.5 at Oklahoma State (79): This is probably the best game of the weekend. Baylor’s record is 9-0; Oklahoma State’s record is 9-1. Imagine the hype for this game had Oklahoma State not gagged against a mediocre-at-best West Virginia team earlier this year. Lost in the stratospheric scores put up by the Baylor offense is the simple fact that Baylor ranks 7th in the nation in scoring defense allowing only 17.4 points per game; three Big 12 opponents were held to 14 points or less. None of Oklahoma State’s opponents play that kind of defense. Do not misunderstand, Oklahoma State’s defense is potent too; it is 14thin the country in scoring defense allowing only 19 points per game. I have a hunch that the defenses in this game are going to give a good accounting of themselves so I’ll take this game to stay UNDER. In any event, this is must-see-TV…

Oklahoma at K-State – 4.5 (54.5): It appears that OU QB, Blake Bell, will not start this game due to a concussion; freshman QB, Trevor Knight is expected to be at the helm. In addition, the Sooners will be without the services of RB, Damien Williams and WR, Lacoltan Bester both of whom are suspended for this game. Here are some arcane stats I ran across:

    Oklahoma ranks 116th in the country in stopping punt returns
    K-State ranks 1st in the country in average yards gained per punt return

K-State seems to have gotten their act together in the past few weeks while OU looked awful against Baylor. K-State is no Baylor, but I think they can win and cover at home.

Missouri – 2.5 at Ole Miss (57): Mizzou has a 1-game lead over S. Carolina in the SEC East but they have this game and then one against Texas A&M they need to win to be sure of playing in the SEC Championship game. The reason they need to maintain that lead is that they lost head-to-head to South Carolina in OT 3 weeks ago. James Franklin is expected to be back at QB for Mizzou; that cannot hurt. Ole Miss will not participate in the SEC Championship Game and they have known that for a long time now, but Ole Miss is a lot tougher at home than they are on the road. I am tempted to take Ole Miss plus the points but I prefer to take the game to go OVER.

Utah at Washington State – 1.5 (53.5): For Washington State the deal here is “Win and you’re in” – in a bowl game is what I mean. Utah’s last 7 opponents have been:

    BYU (win)
    UCLA (loss)
    Stanford (win)
    Arizona (loss)
    USC (loss)
    Arizona State (loss)
    Oregon (loss)

Meaning no disrespect at all, Washington State is a step down in competition from that lineup. I think Utah can win the game so I’ll take Utah here plus the points.

Finally, here is a comment about a coach on a hot seat from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

“And in other college football news, the Florida Gators fired Will Muschamp. I’m kidding! No they haven’t. Yet. Just wanted to get used to what that will look like in print.”

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

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Comments

  • Doug  On November 22, 2013 at 7:53 am

    As you said, if Duke wins out they will play FSU for the ACC Championship. But that is still not certain, as UNC will need to beat Duke to salvage a winning season from the scrap pile they created early this year. It doesn’t get much press outside NC, but this is a big game for both teams. And they are playing in Chapel Hill this year.

    If Carolina wins, I think Virginia Tech will be the team that faces FSU. That might be a better game if Bud Foster can figure out what happened to his defense.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On November 25, 2013 at 11:58 am

      Doug:

      From what I have seen so far this year, Florida State is head-and-shoulders above everyone else in the ACC. Clemson is a very good team and FSU beat them by 5 TDs.

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