Mythical Picks – NCAA – Weekend Of 10/1/16

As I mentioned yesterday in the NFL flavor of Mythical Picks, last week was about a bland as an oatmeal pizza in terms of picks. I made 18 selections for NCAA games; the record for the week was 9-9-0. That brings the season cumulative record to 35-30-0.

The Best Picks from last week were:

    Auburn +3.5 against LSU. Auburn wins outright.
    Arkansas/Texas A&M OVER 49. Total score was 69.

The Worst Picks from last week were:

    Army – 14 against Buffalo. Buffalo won outright in OT.
    Army/Buffalo OVER 50.5. Total score was 43 even with OT.

Time and tide wait for no man; the next weekend with its slate of NCAA football games approaches. That means I shall press forward with more Mythical Picks; but before I do, I must remind everyone. There is no inside information contained herein; no one should consider anything written here as authoritative. Most importantly, no one should use anything here as the basis for making a real wager on a real college football game involving real money this week or any other week. Here is how dumb you would have to be to do something like that:

    You sprinkle sugar on your pillow to have sweet dreams.

General Comments:

I have to begin with an apology. Last week, I said that the Linfield College Wildcats would host Lewis and Clark College for Homecoming Weekend. Actually, Linfield did not play last week and will host Lewis and Clark this weekend in McMinnville, OR. The Wildcats are 1-1 for the year as they seek their 61st consecutive winning season in football. Go Wildcats!

A couple of weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times taking note of my “fixation” with Linfield College football. Here is what he said:

“If you want a player to go along with your Linfield fixation, here’s one hidden up here in the Pacific Northwest too: wide receiver Cooper Kupp of Eastern Washington, who has put up staggering numbers playing against Pac-12 schools in each of the past four years – on the road, of course. Eastern has put up at least 42 points in each game and Kupp has scored 11 TDs and amassed over 700 receiving yards in the four games. He won a D-2 national player of the year award last year, so it’s not like he’s an unknown, but his games against Pac-12 teams have been amazing:

2013 EWU 49, #25 Oregon State 46: 5 catches, 119 yards, 2 TDs
2014 Washington 59, EWU 52: 8-145-3
2015 #7 Oregon 61, EWU 42: 15-246-3
2016 EWU 45, Washington State 42: 12-205-3

“His grandfather was ex-NFL lineman Jake Kupp and his father (can’t remember his first name) was a QB at Pacific Lutheran who did battle with Linfield a few times. This guy is like the Steve Nash of the Pacific NW – overlooked by all the big schools.”

Going into the 2016 season – Kupp’s senior year – he had caught 311 passes for 4764 yards (15.3 yards per catch) and 56 TDs. In three games this year – the first of which was a win for E. Washington over Washington State – he has caught 29 passes for 379 yards and 5 TDs. He is listed at 6’ 2” and 215 lbs. I will likely not get to see him on TV here on the East Coast unless E. Washington gets into the FCS Championship Tournament and plays an east coast team but that sort of size and those receiving stats say that he ought to get plenty of consideration in next year’s NFL Draft.

Last weekend’s games started on Thursday night with Clemson beating Georgia Tech handily. That was the first win for Clemson at Georgia Tech since 2003. The score was 26-7 but that does not really explain the dominance here. Georgia Tech’s offensive output for the game was a total of 124 yards. Meanwhile, the Clemson offense began to show signs of life in this game running up a total of 442 yards.

It was not a good week of college football in the State of Georgia last week. The other major football program there – the Georgia Bulldogs – were minced by Ole Miss. The score of that game was 45-14; and like the Clemson/Ga Tech game – the score does not really reflect how badly Georgia was beaten. Ole Miss gained 510 yards on 61 plays. Do the math here; that is 8.4 yards per snap. Georgia ran 81 plays and averaged less than 5 yards per snap. With 5 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter, the score was 45-0.

    Oh, by the way, Georgia Southern also lost last week to Western Michigan by a score of 49-31.

    Perhaps the last time Georgia had such a bad weekend, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and his troops were on the march?

Memphis beat Bowling Green last week in a game that was anything but a nail biter. The score was 77-3 and here are some numbers from the game:

    Memphis QB, Riley Ferguson, threw 6 TD passes and ran for 1 TD. Looks to me as if Memphis has a replacement for the recently graduated Paxton Lynch…

    Memphis gained 635 yards. Bowling Green gained 235 yards

One other thing to note from that game … Bowling Green also gave up 77 points earlier this year to Ohio State. Somehow, I do not think “Lucky Sevens” is a popular game on the Bowling Green campus these days.

West Virginia beat BYU 35-32 last week. BYU’s record dropped to 1-3 and that probably makes some of the alums unhappy. However, the Cougars have covered against the spread in all four of their games; so if the alums are “getting down” on BYU each week, perhaps the alums are quite satisfied. In college football, there is winning on the field and there is winning at the sportsbook. Optimally, a team will do both…

Houston needed a big win to hold the attention of the CFP Selection Committee because they did not have a quality opponent on the schedule for last weekend. They got the big win they needed crushing Texas St. 64-3 on the road.

Buffalo beat Army 23-20 in OT dropping the Cadets’ record for the year to 3-1. Check the Worst Picks from last week above; I got everything wrong about this game. Army dominated on the field gaining 444 yards of offense to 264 yards for Buffalo and Army had a chance to win in the final seconds but missed a short field goal. Here is an unusual stat from the game:

    There were 9 fourth-down conversion attempts in the game.

    Army was 4 for 6 on fourth down conversions

    Buffalo was 2 for 3 on fourth down conversions.

Louisville beat Marshall 59-28 and Lamar Jackson threw for 417 yards and 5 TDs in the game. The Marshall passing game was anemic at best; they threw the ball 21 times and completed 9 passes for a total of 59 yards. Louisville gained 682 yards and Marshall gained 185 for the game. Louisville turned the ball over 3 times in the game and still won by 31 points.

UCF beat Florida International 53-14 last week and FIU responded to that drubbing by firing head coach Ron Turner. Yes, Ron Turner and Norv Turner are brothers. Ron Turner had been at FIU since 2013 and his record there – including this year’s 0-4 start – was 10-30-0. Let me say politely that a record of 10-30 with C-USA opponents is not a glowing entry on one’s coaching résumé.

Florida led Tennessee 21-0 in the first half but Tennessee dominated the second half to win the game 38-28. Tennessee is now 4-0 for the season and this win is significant because Florida had the top ranked defense in the country going into the game. Coming back from the 3 TD deficit is difficult against almost any team but doing that against a good defense is even more impressive.

Auburn beat LSU 18-13. Les Miles got fired after the game; Gus Malzahn gets to keep his job at least for the time being. Let me just say that this was a close game primarily because neither team played very well. Auburn’s 18 points came on 6 field goals.

Alabama beat Kent St. 48-0. Nick Saban is a Kent St. alum so perhaps he took pity on the Golden Flashes. Alabama did not score in the 4th quarter of the game and played plenty of subs. Here is a measure of the dominance:

    Kent St had 5 first downs in the game.
    Kent St. had a total of 140 yards on offense.

Mississippi St. beat UMass 47-35. Seriously, Mississippi St. allowed UMass to get 35 points in a game. UMass actually led at the half 14-13.

Kentucky beat South Carolina last week 17-10. That has to sting if you are a South Carolina fan. This is the third straight loss for the Gamecocks against Kentucky and it gives South Carolina 2 conference losses already this year. Going into this game, Kentucky had given up 131 points in 3 games (43.6 points per game); South Carolina managed to get 10.

Wisconsin beat Michigan St. 30-6 and shut Michigan St. out for the second half. The Spartans had more yards and more first downs in the game but Wisconsin scored 3 INTs and was efficient when they had to be:

    Wisconsin converted 7 of 16 third down conversions
    Wisconsin converted 2 of 2 fourth down conversions

Michigan pummeled Penn St. 49-10. Michigan ran up 515 yards on offense and held Penn St. to only 191 yards of offense. There isn’t a lot more to say here, right? Well, Michigan intercepted a pass, recovered a fumble and sacked the Penn St. QB 5 times. This was a beatdown.

Iowa beat Rutgers 14-7. Two weeks ago, Iowa lost to Division 1-AA North Dakota State; last week they beat Rutgers by 7 points. I wonder which game is more embarrassing… Rutgers had more total offense and more first downs in the game here – and still managed to lose at home.

UNC beat Pitt 37-36. Pitt’s run defense was very good; it held UNC to 28 yards on the ground. However, the Pitt passing defense was bad last week and has not been good all year. In the last 2 games, Pitt has given up 993 yards in the air. I suspect the defensive backs’ coach at Pitt will be taking some Xanax as he looks at the film for this game. Pitt ran the ball well here gaining 281 yards on 55 carries.

Duke went to South Bend and upset Notre Dame 38-35. In Duke’s 2 games this year against Division 1-A opponents, they had scored a total of 27 points; the Notre Dame defense gave them 38. The game was about as close on the stat sheet as it was on the scoreboard. Consider:

    First Downs: Duke 24 Notre Dame 24
    Time of Possession: Duke 30:35 Notre Dame 29:25
    Offensive Plays: Duke 74 Notre Dame 74
    Total Offense: Duke 498 Notre Dame 534
    Interceptions: Duke 1 Notre Dame 1

Here is one stat that was a bit lopsided:

    Fumbles: Duke 0 Notre Dame 4 (lost 2 of them).

UVa got its first win of the season last week beating C. Michigan 49-35. There were seismic shifts in this game. Virginia led 28-0; then C. Michigan tied the game at 28-28; then Virginia took command again. One stat for the game might be a bit ominous for UVa fans. C. Michigan had 402 yards passing in the game. That does not bode well for UVa once ACC conference games hit their schedule. Several teams in the ACC have potent passing offenses.

Baylor beat Oklahoma St. 35-34. Oklahoma St. had 30 first downs in the game while Baylor only managed to get 20. However, Baylor ran up 517 yards of offense to 466 for Oklahoma St. The reason here is that Baylor executed big plays all day long. Baylor averaged 8 yards per snap compared to 4.6 yards per snap for Oklahoma St.

Out west, Oregon lost to Colorado 41-38. Maybe Colorado is actually a good football team this year. Their record is 3-1 and that loss was to Michigan in Ann Arbor. This is the second loss this year for Oregon.

Stanford beat UCLA 22-13. With 6 minutes left in the game, UCLA led 13-9. Stanford scored to take a 16-13 lead with 24 seconds left to play and then got a Scoop-and-Score for another TD as time expired. This game was closer than the score might indicate.

Utah beat USC 31-27. USC led 27-17 after the first play of the fourth quarter and then gave it up. Leading 27-24 late in the 4th quarter, USC coach Clay Helton elected to punt on 4th and 3 from the Utah 37 yardline. That did not work; Utah got the ball and marched the field for the winning TD. USC is now 1-3 for the season and 0-2 in PAC-12 games. That is not something that USC fans are used to seeing. There have been whispers that Coach Helton is on a hot seat out there despite the fact that this is the first year of his contract. Losing a 10-point lead in the 4th quarter of a conference game is not going to cool down his seat very much.

Arizona St. beat Cal 51-41. The Total Line for the game was a measly 81 points and these teams blew by that comfortably. To give you an idea of the offensive dominance in the game, the teams combined to run 173 offensive plays (almost 3 plays per minute) and gained a total of 1091 yards (6.3 yards per snap). Arizona St. was 10-20 on third down and 2-2 on fourth down conversions. Cal was 7-17 on third down and 1-1 on fourth down conversions.

    In 4 games this year, the Cal defense gave up 31 points to Hawaii in the opener. Since then they have given up 139 points in the next 3 games.

    Arizona St. is 4-0 this year – not necessarily thanks to their defense. In those 4 wins, the defense has allowed opponents to score 137 points (34.25 points per game).

Looking forward to a couple of things this week:

    After Texas St. was crushed by Houston last week (see above), they play down a bit in class this week taking on Incarnate Word. Playing against “big guys” such as Arkansas and Houston, Texas St. was outscored 106-6. From here on out, they are paired with teams of similar stature.

    Florida Atlantic and Florida International (see above) square off this week. This game almost surely has implications for the SHOE Tournament. For the moment let us consider this the Bottom-feeder Bowl.

The Ponderosa Games:

Last week there were only 4 Ponderosa Games and the favorites covered in all 4 of them. That brings the season record for favorites covering to 23-16-0.

Alabama, Houston, Louisville and Temple covered.

This week we have 4 Ponderosa Games.

Rutgers at Ohio St. – 38 (60): This should be ugly.

La-Monroe at Auburn – 32.5 (56): Remember that Auburn won last week without scoring a TD. Here the spread is 32.5. What does that say about La-Monroe?

Rice at So. Mississippi – 24 (59): Rice is 0-4 losing by a cumulative score of 157-73. So. Miss is 3-1 outscoring opponents 165-79.

Kentucky at Alabama – 35 (57): I doubt last week’s win over South Carolina will mean a whole lot here. If you think Kentucky can win, the Money Line odds stand at +13,000 this morning…

Games of Interest:

(Fri Nite) Toledo at BYU – 3.5 (52.5): As mentioned above, BYU has covered in all four games this year. BYU has lost its last 3 games to Utah, UCLA and West Virginia by a total of 7 points. Toledo is not on a par with those teams and BYU is at home. I’ll take BYU to win and cover.

(Fri Nite) Stanford at Washington – 3 (45): This is a heavyweight match in the PAC-12 North. Stanford has injuries in its defensive backfield and Washington can throw the ball a bit. Normally, in low scoring games I prefer to take points. Nonetheless, I make this a venue call and I’ll take Washington to win and cover at home.

Buffalo at BC – 18 (39): BC scored 42 points last week against Division 1-AA Wagner. Earlier this year they scored 26 against UMass. In their other two games against real opponents they scored a total of 14 points. And they are favored by 18 here? I’ll pass…

Memphis at Ole Miss – 14.5 (67.5): The Total Line opened at 64 and has been climbing slowly during the week. Both teams can score; there is not a lot of doubt about that. I think this one will be a shoot-out. I like the game to go OVER.

Tulane – 2 at UMass (42.5): This game has great significance for the upcoming SHOE Tournament…

K-State at W Virginia – 3 (54): K-State is 2-1 this year but those wins are over piddling opponents (Missouri St. and Florida Atlantic). W. Virginia is not an elite team, but they are more than a few rungs up the ladder from the schools K-State has beaten. I like West Virginia at home to win and cover here.

UVa at Duke – 3.5 (62): Virginia is suspect on pass defense (see above); Duke likes to throw the football. UVa has lost 16 consecutive road games; this game is in Durham NC. I like Duke to win and cover.

Notre Dame – 10 at Syracuse (74): The spread here opened at 13 points and fell to this level almost immediately; Meanwhile, the Total Line opened at 69 and shot up in about 48 hours. I do not understand what is going on here so I’ll forego a selection. But the game is still interesting because of these large line moves.

Florida Atlantic – 6.5 at Florida International (53): The SHOE Tournament Selection Committee (consisting of Me, Myself, and I) is focused on the outcome here…

E. Michigan at Bowling Green – 2.5 (66): Bowling Green has given up 77 points to 2 different teams this year and they are a favorite in this game? I would not bet on this game with your bankroll.

Miami (FL) – 7 at Georgia Tech (53.5): Miami had a week off to allow freshman QB, Brad Kayaa to absorb the whole offense while Georgia Tech got stuffed by Clemson (see above). I do not think Miami is back to the very top rung of college football that it inhabited 20 years ago, but Miami is a good team and it is getting better. I like Miami to win and cover on the road.

Wisconsin at Michigan – 10 (45): I can’t remember where I saw this stat so I cannot cite the source but Michigan leads the nation in tackles for a loss and in QB sacks and the Michigan defense has held opponents to 6 for 50 on third-down conversions. That makes them tough to deal with anywhere and this game is in Ann Arbor. I’ll take Michigan and lay the points.

Louisville – 2 at Clemson (68): The spread opened with Clemson as a 2-point favorite but it flipped as the week wore on. I think that Clemson has the kind of defense that might be able to keep Louisville’s Lamar Jackson from running wild; the Clemson defense is fast and athletic. DeShaun Watson and his cohorts on the offense for Clemson have not performed the way people thought they would but there is plenty of talent on that side of the ball. I’ll take Clemson plus the points here and I’ll take the game to stay UNDER.

UNC at Florida State – 10.5 (69): I think both teams will move the ball and score against the other team’s defense. I like this game to go OVER.

Tennessee – 3 at Georgia (52): This is a test for the Tennessee coaching staff. The Vols beat Florida last week for the first time in forever in an emotional game. The team is looking toward a shot at the SEC East slot in the SEC Championship Game; they are better than Georgia but not if they let down and start to think this is a piece of cake. I will bank on Butch Jones and his assistants to have Tennessee ready to play. I’ll take Tennessee and lay the points on the road.

Texas at Oklahoma St. – 2.5 (70): Texas had a week off to prep for this game while Oklahoma State had a tough game at Baylor last week losing by 11 points. I like the freshman QB for Texas, Shane Buchele; I wish I liked the Texas defense nearly as much. By the same token, the Oklahoma St. defense is not nearly an elite unit giving up about 6 yards per offensive play. I’ll take the rested Texas squad here plus the points.

Arizona St. at USC – 10.5 (65): Short and sweet here … USC needs to win this game at home badly but that line is FAT. I’ll take Arizona St. plus that basketful of points.

Baylor – 17 at Iowa St. (60.5): I do not understand this line at all; I would have expected Baylor to be a much bigger favorite here – other than the fact that they are actually traveling outside the State of Texas which is a rarity for that program. I’ll just pass on this one and see what happens here…

Oklahoma – 3.5 at TCU (70): Neither team’s offense is reliably good – or bad. I think the defenses will come to life in this game so I’ll take the game to stay UNDER.

Finally, if you have read these things over the years, you know that I enjoy finding players with unusual names. BYU has a defensive tackle named Handsome Tanielu. Trust me, my parents never considered naming me “Handsome”.

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

3 thoughts on “Mythical Picks – NCAA – Weekend Of 10/1/16”

  1. Interesting notes today. The thing about USC is that everybody else in the conference hates them so their games are always circled. They do have too much perceived talent (as defined by the various and sundry scouting mags) to be 1-3, but the teams they’ve lost to aren’t slouches either (Bama, Stanford, Utah are all unbeaten). The worst one I see is the beating by Alabama, and there are always rumors about a prima donna environment that never would have existed under McKay. ASU is also unbeaten (shouldn’t be, but at times my Cal Bears are the Pac-12’s BoSox) but more due to luck than sheer talent. IF USC can get the passing game untracked (plenty of video from last week on how to do that) they will (probably) win and cover. In general (aside from Alabama), the defense is solid enough to slow ASU down enough.

    BYU is a good program, and as independents are scheduling up in weight class, so to speak. Toledo’s a good team too, this might be the best game to watch for competitiveness.

    AFA versus Navy should also be a good one, if you like triple option. The C in C trophy seems to be much more competitive than usual this year. Cadets and Midshipmen do not hold back on the field, either.

    Cal-Utah depends upon which Bears team shows up. If they play like they did against Texas, they will win. Last year in SLC they coughed up six turnovers and lost by six points, so the key stat to monitor is easy to find. I don’t know why Cal is favored given that the Utes are unbeaten and appear to be lucky as well.

    Stanford-UW will settle the Pac-12 North in its essentials, given that the Ducks have lost to Colorado in Eugene and will probably need both of these to get two losses to climb past. Possible, but not likely. Your analysis hits on the critical point, can Stanford defend the Huskies? I think that they will IF they shorten the time for the QB to make decisions, and it’s the defense plus McCaffrey that has made the Cardinal 3-0.

  2. Well, I was mostly right. One of the travesties in the Cal-Utah game was a clear bias in the officiating toward the Utes. Between calls and non-calls picking up the flag (worth 30+ yards on the Utes’ last drive) as well as some interesting spots of the ball, it is a wonder the Bears pulled it off. Yes, even in the Pac-12 a ball that hits the deck five yards in front of a receiver is “uncatchable” and there was no holding back that would otherwise make sense of the PI call that gave the Utes 1st and goal at the 2 at the end of the game. Two of the Utes’ TD drives were gifts from the officials with second chances at key points. This may take a topical rant, since officiating has been an issue for a while now throughout college sports, and games need to be left to the athletes. Too much more of this and we’ll have the WWE.

    On Stanford-UW, it is clear that try as he might with another couple-hundred-yard night, McCaffrey needs a sidekick against the really fast teams to win games, like Chris Owusu (out with a concussion IIRC), otherwise teams will assign two spies to him. That means ND, Oregon (probably), WSU (maybe), Colorado (probably) and Cal (maybe) could take advantage of this problem, leaving Rice, Oregon State, and Arizona (possibly) on the outside unless Shaw fixes the issue. Shaw is the right coach to do so, however.

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