Mythical Picks – NCAA – Weekend of 9/17/16

Last week’s Mythical Picks were mythically profitable once again. Last week I made 14 picks and the record was 9-5-0. That brings the cumulative record for Mythical Picks this season to 19-12-0.

The Best Pick from last week was the UNC/Illinois game:

    I liked UNC – 7.5 and Carolina won by 25 points
    I liked UNC/Illinois OVER 58 and the total score was 71

The Worst Pick from last week was:

    I liked Duke – 4.5 over Wake Forest and Duke lost by 10 points

I shall set out to maintain the level of performance demonstrated in the first two weeks of the college football season – – but history here says that such a continuation is unlikely. Therefore, no one should use anything contained herein as the basis for making a real wager on a real college football game involving real money this weekend. Anyone stupid enough to do so also thinks this is true:

    You think “satisfactory” is a place to manufacture satis.

General Comments:

The Linfield College Wildcats began the 2016 season with a comfortable 48-14 victory over Chapman University. Since Division III schools play a 9 game regular season schedule, that win moves Linfield 20% of the way toward a winning season – and a winning season would be their 61st consecutive one.

This week, the Wildcats travel to Belton, TX – a town located between Waco and Austin – to play the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders. The Crusaders have played twice already this year and are 2-0 having scored 56 points in both games. This could be a “light up the scoreboard game”. Go Wildcats!

Before I review some of the things from last week’s games, let me comment on last night’s Houston/Cincinnati game. It is not a secret that I am rooting for Houston to go undefeated this year to see how the CFP Selection Committee treats them in early December. The Cougars ran their record to 3-0 last night beating Cincy 40-16 – – but the game was not nearly that close. I recorded this game while the Thursday Night Football game was on and then watch the recording until about 1:00 AM. Cincy led 16-12 early in the 4th quarter and Houston’s offense did not show up until the 4th quarter. It was the Houston defense that enabled this win.

Cincy is not a bottom-feeder team by any stretch of the imagination. At the same time, no one – not even the coaching staff there – believes in their hearts that the Bearcats are going to be part of the discussion when it comes to the College Football Playoff. As good as Houston looked beating Oklahoma two weeks ago, this performance dulls their résumé slightly. There may be no such things as moral victories, but this win was not a big win.

Let me start with the Tennessee/Va Tech game which was more of a gala than a football game at the Bristol Motor Speedway in front of about 150,000 fans. Tennessee won 45-24; Va Tech fumbled away the ball 5 times giving the Vols a short field most of the time. Tennessee accepted that largesse and waltzed to an easy win. I do wonder how many of the fans in the nosebleed seats at the track were able to see the ball on the ground for all of those fumbles – or even to see the number of the player who recovered one of them. Here is a comment from Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot on this game:

“Football folderol: Relatively few fans – even with the use of high-powered binoculars – will be able to follow the action between Virginia Tech and Tennessee at the 150,000-seat Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night. But that’s not the point, is it? As with outdoor NHL games and Final Fours played in indoor football stadiums, what attracts people to a gimmick like this is the chance to tell their friends they were there.”

Pitt beat Penn State 42-39 last week renewing a rivalry that had been dormant for about 15 years. I remember when games between these schools would end 17-13; times have changed. Pitt used turnovers to run out to a 28-7 lead and then Penn State mounted a comeback. Penn State has a running back you should keep an eye out for; Saquon Barkley can play football and will get paid to do so one of these days. It took an interception by Pitt in their end-zone to seal this win.

Penn State and Pitt have three more games scheduled meaning that this rivalry may just take hold again. I think that would be a good thing because a game like this is far more interesting to fans than seeing either team beat up on Fugue State.

Central Michigan “beat” Oklahoma State 30-27 last week but the reason for the “win” is that the officials misinterpreted the rulebook and gave C. Michigan a final play they should not have had. That led to a TD and to an Oklahoma State “loss”. By NCAA rules, once the referee declares the game to be over, there is no going back to correct anything at all. So, Oklahoma State is the “loser” here.

This week, Oklahoma State hosts Pitt. It will be an interesting coaching challenge for the staff in Stillwater. Will the team come out flat or will they come out ready to smack anything in front of them that moves? It will be a game to watch…

Northwestern lost to Illinois State (Division 1-AA) 9-7. This looks like it will be a “cover your eyes season” for Northwestern alums. In week 1, they lost to W. Michigan but this loss is even worse. The Wildcats only scored 7 points against a Division 1-AA team. Here are some stats that will explain Northwestern’s lack of scoring and will provide bad omens for Northwestern fans:

    Total yards of offense against a Division 1-AA opponent = 278 yards
    Passing stats were 17 for 41 for 191 yards
    Rushing stats were 31 carries for 87 yards

Speaking of teams that may be looking ahead to long and disastrous seasons, consider:

    Kent State lost in Week 1 to Penn State by 20 points. That is not such a bad loss until you realize the Kent State lost in Week 2 to North Carolina A&T (Division 1-AA) by a score of 39-36 in 4 OTs.

    Savannah State (Division 1-AA) lost to Georgia Southern in Week 1 by a score of 54-0. Last week, Savanna St. lost to So. Mississippi 56-0. I sure hope those folks got two nice paychecks from those Division 1-A schools to act as a punching bag…

    Ohio beat Kansas 37-21. Remember Kansas students stormed the field after the team beat a Division 1-AA opponent at home in Week 1. Well, Ohio University is not exactly a national powerhouse and they too went to Kansas for a game and came out with a dominant win. The Big 12 season has not begun for the Jayhawks…

    Duke lost to Wake Forest 24-14. Wake is not a good offensive football team so this is not a good showing by the Duke defense. Bad omen …

    Kentucky lost to Florida 45-7. That is not unexpected except for the magnitude of the loss and the fact that the Kentucky TD came in the 4th quarter when it did not matter at all. Recall in Week 1 that Kentucky lost the second half of its game to So. Miss 27-0 to seal a come-from-ahead defeat.

Michigan beat UCF 51-14. Last week, I said that if UCF really wants to be considered seriously by the Big 12, they could not lose this game by 50 points. Well, they succeeded in avoiding that ignominy; they only lost by 37. Michigan blocked 2 punts and 2 field goal tries in the game. Perhaps some special teams blocking drills would be in order in Orlando this week?

BC beat UMass 26-7. If BC cannot get to 30 points against UMass, I wonder if they will get to 30 points against anyone this year.

Nebraska beat Wyoming 52-17 which is not all that unexpected. Here is what was a tad surprising; at the start of the 4th quarter Nebraska only led 24-17.

Clemson was a 36.5-point Ponderosa favorite over Troy last week. Clemson won the game 30-24 which is not spectacular for a team that was considered as the #2 team in the country in the pre-season rankings. Oh, and it is not as if Troy scored late to make it look closer than it really was. At the start of the 4th quarter, Clemson led 13-10.

Notre Dame beat Nevada 39-10 – just covering a 28-point Ponderosa spread.

Alabama beat W. Kentucky 38-10 – just missing a cover on a 28.5-point Ponderosa spread.

Ohio State beat Tulsa 48-3. When the 1st quarter ended, the score was 3-3; then came the deluge. Ohio State pays a visit to Oklahoma this week …

Oklahoma manhandled La-Monroe 59-17 after losing in Week 1 to Houston. The score at halftime was 42-0.

There were some other “squash games” last week:

    Texas beat UTEP 41-7. I said that if Texas lost, Charlie Strong might need to hire a food taster in Austin. Texas took care of business.

    Washington beat Idaho 59-14. As I said last week, at least Idaho did not have to travel very far to get its ass kicked.

    Iowa beat Iowa St. 42-3. I can’t wait for that Big 12 Conference showdown between Iowa St. and Kansas.

Georgia scheduled Nicholls St (Division 1-AA) as a breather for Week 2 but was surprised at hard the win was. The Bulldogs only won 26-24. Just so you know, Nicholls St is not one of those Division 1-AA powerhouses that you might expect to sneak up on a big time school. Since 2010 the overall record for Nicholls St is 13-55…

Mississippi St beat S. Carolina 27-14 last week. This was a nice recovery for the Bulldogs after losing to S. Alabama in Week 1.

The LSU football cauldron came to a simmer last week. In the opening week loss to Wisconsin, the LSU offensive woes were obvious to most observers. This week, LSU hosted Jacksonville St (Division 1-AA) and once again they did not move the ball. Finally, the coaching staff removed starting QB, Brandon Harris and replaced him with Danny Etling who transferred to LSU from Purdue. Under Etling, LSU was able to move the ball against this Division 1-AA defense and ultimately won the game 34-13. I know that there are no “bad wins” in football, but LSU fans tend to expect more against Division 1-AA opponents.

Missouri beat E. Michigan 61-21. What surprised me here was that Missouri could score 61 points on anyone other than Comatose State. Is E. Michigan really that bad?

Utah beat BYU 20-19 in the renewal of The Holy War rivalry. BYU scored a late TD to get within a point and chose to go for 2 instead of going for a tie. The try failed and Utah won the game.

Boise St. beat Washington St. 31-28. The Cougars have dug themselves into an 0-2 hole before PAC-12 conference play begins. Not a good situation there …

San Diego St. beat Cal 45-40. The important outcome of this game was that Aztec running back, Donnell Pumphrey, broke Marshall Faulk’s school rushing record. Pumphrey rushed for 281 yards and 3 TDs against Cal and now has 4,651 yards rushing for his career at San Diego St.

Last week, I took the Texas Tech/Arizona St. game to stay UNDER 80 because I thought it was too early in the season for both offenses to be ready for that kind of output. Here is how wrong I was:

    Final score was Arizona St. 68 and Texas Tech 55
    Tech QB, Pat Mahomes, threw for 540 yards and 5 TDs – – and lost.
    Ariz St. RB, Kalen Balladge, scored 8 TDs (7 rushing and 1 receiving)

Texas Tech was a terrible defensive team last year and it would surely appear as if that is the case again this year. Twice last year, Texas Tech scored more than 50 points in a game and lost that game; they did it again last week. In 13 games last year, Tech surrendered a total of 567 points (43.6 points per game). There are 128 schools that play Division 1-A football; I am too lazy to look it up, but I would be shocked if there were 5 schools that allowed more points per game last year.

Army won again last week and has started the 2016 season at 2-0. It has been 20 years since that happened at West Point and looking at the schedule, it just might be that Army can get to 6 wins and be bowl eligible; there are some games there against weak programs. If you are a fan of the Cadets and you believe in omens, the last time Army started a season at 2-0, it went on to a record of 10-2…

Louisville beat Syracuse 62-28 last week and the Cardinals’ QB, Lamar Jackson, accounted for 610 yards of offense and 5 TDs by himself. Louisville has a big game coming up this weekend against Florida State in Louisville.

There are several other good games on the calendar for this weekend:

    Ohio State/Oklahoma: Surprisingly, this will be only the third time these schools have ever played one another.

    Alabama/Ole Miss: Alabama has lost the last two games against the Rebels; I suspect Nick Saban has reminded the team of that once or twice this week.

    Notre Dame/Michigan St.: Why did these schools stop scheduling one another in the first place?

    USC/Stanford: PAC-12 conference play starts with a key game.

    Oregon/Nebraska: This has the makings of a shoot-out.

You know that I like to find players with unusual names in sports. Today, let me introduce you to Equanimeous Tristan Imhotep J. St. Brown. He is a sophomore WR from Anaheim CA at Notre Dame. I wonder what it is like for him to fit his full name into the fixed boxes on a school application form…

The Ponderosa Games:

Last week there were 15 Ponderosa games. The record for favorites covering in those games was 9-6-0.

Miami, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio St., Texas, Washington and Wisconsin covered.

Alabama, Baylor, Clemson, Oklahoma, Oregon and UCLA did not cover.

That brings the season record for favorites covering in Ponderosa games to 14-10-0.

This week we have 11 Ponderosa Games:

(Fri Nite) Baylor – 31.5 at Rice (66): Another fine example of Baylor’s out-of-conference scheduling…

Iowa St at TCU – 24.5 (61.5): The oddsmaker must not like TCU’s offense here…

Georgia St. at Wisconsin – 35 (51): This game should cease to be interesting in the second quarter.

Florida Atlantic at K-State – 25.5 (48.5): More mediocrity in out-of-conference scheduling…

N. Texas at Florida – 36 (51.5): Oh please…

Texas St. at Arkansas – 30.5 (61): A glorified scrimmage?

Ohio at Tennessee – 27 (58): Ohio beat Kansas by 2 TDs last week; here is an idea of how good Ohio is.

La-Monroe at Georgia Southern – 26 (58): Put this game on TV and I wonder if it would draw an audience of a thousand viewers.

Old Dominion at NC State – 24 (59): One more tune-up for State before conference games begin.

Hawaii at Arizona – 24 (64): Hawaii has given up 150 points in 3 games so far this year.

Idaho at Washington St – 26.5 (68.5): These schools are about 10 miles apart. That is the only thing interesting about this game.

Games of Interest:

E. Michigan – 2.5 at UNC-Charlotte (66.5): I asked above if E. Michigan could be as bad as they looked giving up 61 points to Missouri. Well, Charlotte is definitely not very good and E. Michigan is only a 2.5-point favorite here. Ergo

Florida St. – 1 at Louisville (67): Louisville has averaged 66 points per game in its first two games this year; they are not going to do that against the Florida State defense. This game has CFP implications all over it – for these two schools and for Houston who has to face Louisville down the road apiece. Just a hunch, but I’ll take Florida State to win and cover on the road here.

Temple at Penn State – 8.5 (51.5): Penn State lost soundly to Temple last year; it was the first time that had happened to the Nittany Lions since Steamboat Willie introduced the world to Mickey Mouse. Temple this year seems to be a tad less than it was last year losing in Week 1 to Army; Penn State so far seems to be a better than average team. I like Penn State at home to win and cover.

Colorado at Michigan – 19 (55): Colorado must be improving because when I saw this game on the card, I expected Michigan to be about a 30-point favorite. I will have to pay more attention to Colorado…

New Mexico at Rutgers – 6.5 (57): This game is interesting because New Mexico lost to New Mexico St last week and Mew Mexico St is a bad football team. Here New Mexico has to travel about 2000 miles to play a “Big 10 team” and they are less than a full TD underdog. Cue Arte Johnson here:

    Verrrry interesting …

Florida International – 1 at UMass (47): This game has “SHOE Tournament” written all over it…

Army – 4 at UTEP (46.5): This is one of the Army opponents I referenced above that is not so fearsome. I’ll take Army to win and cover here and to get off to a 3-0 start for the season. Get on the Army bowl-eligibility bandwagon…

BC at Va Tech – 6 (41): It will be a low-scoring game so I will take BC plus the points here.

La Tech at Texas Tech – 10.5 (80): I am 100% certain that Tech will cover here.

New Mexico St. at Kentucky – 21 (67): Kentucky has been embarrassed twice already this year but the Aggies are not nearly as good as either So. Mississippi or Florida. Nonetheless, Kentucky cannot lose at home to this caliber of competition without risking banishment from the SEC. I like the game to stay UNDER because I do not think much of either team’s offense.

Oregon at Nebraska – 3 (74.5): I said above that this game has the makings of a shoot-out; the Total Line here says the oddsmakers agree with me. I’ll take the game to go OVER.

UCLA – 3 at BYU (49.5): In terms of emotion and intensity, this game has to be a come-down for BYU after playing Utah last week. However, that close loss and the way they lost (see above) might get the team fired up. I think this will be a defensive game so I’ll take it to say UNDER.

Miami (Fl) – 4 at Appalachian St (51.5): The Total Line here opened at 55 and dropped to this level almost immediately. Do not be shocked by the low spread here; App St. lost to Tennessee in Week 1 but the game went to OT. App St. is not a football blueblood but this team is pretty good. Miami rarely leaves the state to play an out-of-conference game like this one. Purely a hunch, but I’ll take Appalachian St plus the points at home.

Pitt at Oklahoma St. – 4.5 (61): I do think that the Cowboys will be ready to play here and will have put their “unfair loss” last week behind them. At the same time, I think Pitt will ready to play too after its big win over rival Penn State last week. I like this game to go OVER.

Michigan St. at Notre Dame – 7 (50): Michigan State took last week off; I suspect that they have been pointing to this game for a long time now. Notre Dame looks good on offense but the defense leaves something to be desired. I like Michigan St. plus the points here.

Duke at Northwestern – 3.5 (44.5): One – and possibly both – of these teams is going to have a bad year in 2016. Watch this game the way you would watch a hit-and-run accident…

Ohio St. – 1 at Oklahoma (63): If Florida St./Louisville is not the best game of the weekend, then this one is. If Oklahoma loses here, they are out of the CFP picture absent extraordinary circumstances. Ohio State has tuned up for this game against significantly inferior opponents; they will be challenged here very differently. I like Urban Meyer in this situation more than Bob Stoops; there is no other way to say that. I’ll take Ohio State here and lay the point and I like the game to go OVER.

Alabama – 11 at Ole Miss (55): This spread opened at 9 points and has crept up all week long. I think Alabama will run the ball down the Rebels’ throat here and I think the Alabama defense will make Ole Miss one-dimensional – they are not going to run on that defense. Yes, Ole Miss has beaten Alabama in each of the last two seasons, but I do not think that will come close to happening here. I like Alabama to win and cover here.

Mississippi State at LSU – 14 (45): I agree with the oddsmakers here; this is going to be a low-scoring game and that means this line is fat, Fat, FAT. I’ll take Mississippi St. plus the points here.

USC at Stanford – 9 (52): Short and sweet here, I like this game to go OVER.

Texas – 7 at Cal (81.5): Neither team will win because of its defense but the Cal defense is the one that bothers me more. I’ll take Texas here and lay the points.

Finally, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel recalled the words of former Florida State coach, Bobby Bowden, discussing one of his “student-athletes”:

“That boy don’t know the meaning of the word fear. In fact, I just saw his grades, and that boy don’t know the meaning of a lot of words.”

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