Mythical Picks – NCAA – Weekend Of 10/31/15

Last week’s Mythical Picks were about as exciting as a plate of day-old mashed potatoes. The record for last weekend was 7-7-0 making the season cumulative record 62-59-4.

The “Best Pick” from last week was taking Oklahoma – 14 points; the Sooners crushed Texas Tech.

The “Worst Pick” from last week was taking Alabama – 15 points. ‘Bama did beat Tennessee but it was nip and tuck to the end.

Nothing in the 3 paragraphs above ought to inspire anyone to use anything here to influence a decision as to which side to back in any sort of real wager on a real NCAA football game involving real money. You would have to be this dumb to do so:

    You think Tiger Woods is an Asian forest.

General Comments:

The Linfield College Wildcats extended their season record to 6-0 last week with a 52-10 win over Whitworth who brought their own 6-0 record to the game. Until last week, Whitworth had not given up more than 20 points in any game. The win puts Linfield on top of the Northwest Conference standings undefeated in conference play. This week the Wildcats take a short journey to play George Fox College in another conference game. George Fox is 1-3 in the conference games and 3-4 overall. Go Wildcats!

Last week, I wrote a “Memo to Self” here to check out Memphis QB, Paxton Lynch. Memphis played a Friday night game last week against Tulsa and I got to see it on the BIG screen at a sportsbook in Las Vegas. Here is the bottom line:

    The kid can play. He can throw long and short. His mechanics need some fine tuning but he can play. He is big (6’7” and 245 lbs) and he moves very well for his size. I think he could be the 2nd QB taken in the draft based on what I have seen so far this year.

About a month ago, I mentioned in one of these Mythical Picks commentaries that fans at Mississippi State had set a record acknowledged in the Guinness Book of Records for the most people ringing cowbells at the same time. I guess the participants at the time are proud to be in that book and are glad to have taken the time to set that prestigious record. Last week, I ran across another Guinness record that seems marginally interesting as we approach Halloween this weekend:

    A man in Taunton, MA took an 817-pound pumpkin; hollowed it out into a “boat”, paddled it on the Taunton River for 3 miles and set the world record for “longest journey in a pumpkin boat (paddling)”. Here is the link

Before anyone asks, I will not be checking the book out to find out how this record differs from whatever record may exist for “longest journey in a pumpkin boat (motorized).”

Vandy beat Missouri 10-3 last week. The Total Line for the game was a ridiculously low 34.5 points and these two teams never came close to threatening to take the game OVER that line. Somewhere in the cosmos, Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes nodded in approval. Missouri has played 4 games in the month of October prior to this weekend. Back on October 3, they beat South Carolina 24-10 and they scored TDs in that game not 8 field goals to get to 24 points. I mention that because those are the only TDs Missouri has scored this month. In their last three games – all losses to be sure – here is the scoring output:

    3 points against Florida
    6 points against Georgia
    3 points against Vandy

Starting QB, Maty Mauk has been suspended from the team for breaking unspecified team rules. Rather obviously, the backup QB still has a few things to learn. Mauk has been reinstated this week and “might start” against Mississippi St. on 5 November. Even if he has “lost his edge” or is a “tad rusty” he has to be able to do better than this, no?

Back in August when polls ranked the teams in the country before anyone had taken a real snap from center, lots of folks thought Auburn would be “a contenda” in the SEC. Surprisingly, Auburn is in last place in the SEC West as of this morning with a 1-3 record in the conference.

The most bizarre ending to a football game last weekend had to be the way Georgia Tech beat Florida State. With the score tied and only a few seconds left on the clock, Florida State lined up for a 56-yard field goal. Tech blocked the kick and a Tech defender chased the ball down as it bounced on the field of play; he then ran around and through the Florida State kicking team for a TD and the game was over. Nick Saban knows the feeling…

These sort of “Kick Six” situations are not as surprising as they are exciting. On a kicking team, you have the kicker and the holder who are generally not the best athletes/football players on the team. Usually, the other 9 guys are large offensive lineman there to keep the kicker safe while he sends the ball through the uprights – hopefully. Big offensive linemen are not the folks you want out there chasing down – or trying to chase down – a speedy “return guy”. That is what happened to Alabama last year and to Florida State last week…

Last weekend was a bad weekend for football in Utah. First, Utah State laid an egg in losing to San Diego St. by 34 points. This loss in conference puts Utah State in a three-way tie for first in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference. Utah State, Air Force and Boise St. are all 3-1 in conference. In the West Division, San Diego State leads with a 4-0 conference record and all the other teams there have at least 2 conference losses.

Later, Utah suffered their first loss of the year to USC. Utah still leads the PAC-12 South by a full game over USC and UCLA but with their loss to USC, they lose out in a tie-breaker with the Trojans. However, Utah holds the advantage over UCLA. Therefore, you can be sure that Utah will be rooting for UCLA to beat USC when those two teams meet down the road.

Stanford dominates the PAC-12 North with a 5-0 conference record. Surprisingly, Washington State is second in the PAC-12 North with a 3-1 conference record and those two teams meet in Pullman WA this weekend. Last week Stanford beat Washington 31-14; that score was reflective of the game on the field. Two questions:

    How did Stanford lose to Northwestern in the first game of the year and only score 6 points? In the 6 games since that opening loss, Stanford has scored 256 points – just a tad over 42 points per game.

    What defense in the upcoming games might hold Stanford under 30 points? Here are Stanford’s opponents:

      Washington State – unlikely
      Colorado – unlikely
      Oregon – unlikely
      Cal – unlikely but at least this is a big rivalry game
      Notre Dame – could happen…

If a time-traveler from the 1970s arrived here this morning and saw that Northwestern beat Nebraska last week giving Northwestern a 6-2 record for the year while dropping Nebraska to 3-5, he might wonder if his time machine had malfunctioned and sent him to a planet in another galaxy as well as to a different point on the time continuum…

Last week, Oklahoma pounded Texas Tech winning by 36 points and looking as if they were at least that much better than Tech. Meanwhile Oklahoma St. pummeled Kansas into submission by a score of 58-10. Oklahoma is 6-1 for the year; Oklahoma St. is 7-0 for the year; neither team is considered one of the top two teams in the Big 12.

Since I mentioned Kansas above, the team is in the midst of yet another miserable season. Demonstrating the Fundamental Premise of the Malevolent Universe – – no matter how bad things are, they can always be worse – – here is a disheartening reality for Kansas football fans, assuming of course that there are still some of that species around:

    Kansas University is still paying off Charlie Weis on his contract.

Michigan St. beat Indiana 52-26 last week and just looking at the final score one might think this was a cake walk for State. It was not. At the end of the 3rd quarter, State led 28-26 and the game was still in doubt.

UMass led Toledo 14-3 after the first quarter and led 28-10 at the half. UMass was a 12.5 point underdog so folks who took the points had to be feeling pretty good at that point. Unfortunately, Toledo won the second half in a rout 41-7. That gave Toledo a 51-35 win and gave UMass backers a loss in a game they thought they had in the bag.

Speaking of wagering, Old Dominion University is 0-7 against the spread so far this year. From a wagering perspective, that can just as valuable as a team that is 7-0 – so long as the bettor has been regularly backing ODU’s opponents.

Bowling Green beat Kent St. 48-0. I am not at all surprised that Bowling Green scored 48 points here; they are a team that focuses on playing up-tempo offense. What does surprise me is that Bowling Green could shut out any Division 1-A team.

Temple came from behind to beat E. Carolina last week raising their record to 7-0 for the season. Temple has been winning by playing strong defense; the Owls rank 112th in the country in total offense. This week, Temple steps up in class from opponents such as E. Carolina, Cincy and UMass. This week the Owls host Notre Dame at Lincoln Financial Field in Philly. ESPN Game Day will be in Philly and the game will be nationally televised. Remember that time-traveler from the 1970s I conjured up earlier? This game and the focus on this game would convince him that he was somewhere on a planet in the Xygork Nebula…

I read a piece – – cannot find the reference now – – that said it was possible that Temple would play Marshall in the Miami Beach Bowl sometime before Christmas this year. Bowl projections in October are about as useless as pre-season rankings from polls but I do have two things to say about that projection:

    1. If – I said IF – Temple were to beat Notre Dame this weekend, you may be certain that they will be playing in a more prestigious bowl game than the Miami Beach Bowl and that their game will not be before Christmas.

    2. If the Miami Beach Bowl features Temple and Marshall in the week before Christmas, the stands will be at most 30% full.

We are coming up to the point in the season where college football gets verrrrry interesting. [/ Arte Johnson] Coming up soon:

    Ohio State has to play Michigan State and Michigan. Those games should be a lot more interesting and exciting than the Ohio State/Rutgers game was.

    Baylor and TCU will meet and the winner will definitely be in consideration for the College Football Playoff. Baylor will have to make a go of it without starting QB, Seth Russell who broke a bone in his neck last week.

    LSU and Alabama both take this week off to prepare for their game next week.

    The Florida State/Clemson game next week will likely decide the ACC Atlantic Division champion.

    Duke/UNC – a major rivalry game in any year – could decide the ACC Coastal Division champion.

Add to all of those game the bit rivalry games that happen all over the country in the late stages of the year. This is the time when college football fans get their adrenaline flowing.

Since I mentioned the Temple Notre Dame game above, here are some player names you might hear during that game:

    Jager Gardner – RB – Temple (wish his middle name was “Meister”)

    Cole Luke – CB – Notre Dame (wish his middle name was “Hand”)

    Praise Martin-Oguike – DL – Temple (wish his middle name was “The Lord”)

    Prosper Mekoba – DL – Temple (live long, my man)

    Equanimeous St. Brown – WR – Notre Dame (seriously…)

    Drue Tranquill – S – Notre Dame (a big hit could be “The Tranquilizer”)

The Ponderosa Games:

Last week there were 6 Ponderosa Games. The record for favorites covering in those games was 1-4-1 bringing the season total for favorites covering to 24-32-1. I know the season is not over, but that is more “out-of-balance” than I recall seeing this late in most seasons.

Oklahoma State covered.

Baylor, Boise St., Marshall and W. Michigan did not cover.

N. Illinois played to a “push”.

This week, we have 8 Ponderosa Games.

(Fri Nite) Wyoming at Utah State – 26 (49): The spread here opened the week at 23.5 points and has climbed steadily to this level during the week. Wyoming is a bad team; Utah State is a good team but not a consistent team.

Troy at Appalachian St. – 24 (55): The spread here opened the week at 22 points and has climbed steadily to this level during the week. Troy is a bad team. Appalachian St. is a good team that is not widely recognized as such; they rank 5th in the country in total defense as of today.

Oklahoma – 39.5 at Kansas (61): The total Line here opened the week at 66.5 points and dropped quickly to 62 points and has continued easing down as the week progresses. Kansas ranks 123rd in the country in total defense and 102nd in the country in total offense. Yowza!!

Oregon St. at Utah – 24 (54): Utah needs the game to stay atop the PAC-12 South; they should be “upset” at their performance last week and Oregon St. is not very good…

UCF at Cincy – 27.5 (60): The spread here opened the week at 23.5 points and has risen steadily to this level. UCF is winless this year; if you think this is the week for them to get their first win you can find them at +2600 on the Money Line.

W. Kentucky – 24 at Old Dominion (66): Old Dominion is 0-7 ATS this year (see above)…

UTEP at So. Mississippi – 25.5 (58): So. Miss is 9th in the country in total offense averaging 506 yards per game. UTEP is 104th in the country in total defense allowing 477 yards per game. Ka-beesh…?

Tulane at Memphis – 32 (63): Tulane gives up about 240 yards per game passing. Memphis loves to throw the football averaging 358 yards per game. My guess is Memphis throws for 350 yards here.

The SHOE Teams:

As the season progresses, the fetid aromas wafting from various football teams gets stronger and more nauseating. Here are some highly odoriferous teams:

    E. Michigan: 1-8: That win came against Wyoming

    Kansas: 0-7: Losing by an average of 31.2 points per game.

    Miami (Oh): 1-7: 125th in the country on defense giving up 444 yards per game

    La-Monroe: 1-6: Losing by an average of 26.7 points per game

    New Mexico St.: 0-7: Losing by an average of 26.6 points per game.

    North Texas: 0-7: 111th in the country on offense and 118th in the country on defense.

    Tulane: 2-5: Losing by 27.0 points per game

    UCF: 0-8: Last in the country in total offense (258 yards per game)

    Wyoming: 1-7: Lost to e. Michigan; 99th in the country in total defense.

These are merely 9 bad teams; there are others that I will omit here for the sake of brevity…

Games of Interest:

(Fri Nite) Louisville – 11 at Wake Forest (43): This game is interesting because it would appear to be a low-scoring defensive game. Wake plays solid defense; Louisville and BC slugged it out in a low scoring game last week. That is a fat line indeed. I like Wake Forest plus the points.

Clemson – 10 at NC State (51): Some folks think Clemson will be a tough out in the College Football Playoff come January – – assuming they beat Florida State next week. I do not know if I agree with that optimistic outlook, but I do think they are significantly better than NC State. I like Clemson to win and cover.

Maryland at Iowa – 17 (53): Iowa has its eye on the Big 10 Championship Game; Maryland has its eye on the sewer drain the season is rushing down. Maryland loses by an average of 15.3 points per game; Iowa is +17.7 in scoring margin. I like Iowa to win and cover.

Ole Miss – 7.5 at Auburn (57.5): Ole Miss needs the game to stay in contention for the SEC West title and a slot in the SEC Championship Game. Auburn needs the game just because they need a win badly. I think there will be plenty of scoring here so I’ll take the game to go OVER.

Arizona at Washington – 5 (58): Washington is 120th in the country on offense averaging only 334 yards per game. Arizona is 116th in the country on defense allowing 452 yards per game. With apologies to Frank Sinatra, Something’s Gotta Give here. I have no idea what will happen so I’ll just watch for general interest.

Stanford – 10.5 at Washington State (61): Lots of line movement here… The spread opened the week at 13.5 points; the Total Line opened the week at 66 points. Washington State has been a pleasant surprise for folks on the Palouse this year but I think Stanford is a couple of steps higher on the ladder than State. I like Stanford to win and cover here and I like this game to go OVER.

Georgia vs Florida – 2 (46) [Game is in Jax]: Without Nick Chubb, the Georgia offense went from a shotgun to a pop-gun. Florida has a solid defense and I have not seen QB play from any of the Georgia QBs that makes me think they can do business against the Florida defense. I’ll take Florida to win and cover.

USC – 5.5 at Cal (59.5): If USC can play this week the way they played against Utah last week, they will win this game handily. If the Trojans lose here, they can pretty much kiss any PAC-121 championship aspirations goodbye. I’ll take USC and lay the points.

Notre Dame – 11 at Temple (50): Temple is 9th in the country on defense allowing only 308 yards per game. However Notre Dame gains an average of 499 yards per game. Looking at this from the other end of the telescope, Notre Dame’s defense allows 370 yards per game while Temple’s offense generates only 346 yards per game (112th in the country). I think Temple is outclassed here. I’ll take Notre Dame to win and cover.

Ga Tech – 6 at UVa (54): Tech should run the ball well and score on Virginia; Virginia should score on a really mediocre Tech defense. I like the game to go OVER.

Oklahoma St. – 3 at Texas Tech (79): Texas Tech is a bad defensive football team ranking 127th in the country giving up an average of 562 yards per game. Tech can score so I think this game will end up with a score that resembles an NBA halftime score. I like this game to go OVER.

Tennessee – 9 at Kentucky (57): I think Tennessee left a lot on the field last week against Alabama and Kentucky’s defense is pretty good. Make this a venue call; I like Kentucky plus the points.

Texas-San Antonio – 7 at North Texas (56): Game is interesting because both teams are bad…

Idaho – 7 at New Mexico State (63.5): Game is interesting because both teams are bad…

Va Tech – 2 at BC (38): Game is interesting because neither team has a propensity to score but both play good defense. I’ll take the game to stay UNDER.

Miami (FL) at Duke – 13 (48.5): With a new coach in Miami, I think the team rebounds enough here to cover that fat line. I’ll take Miami plus the points.

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