The Mythical Picks for the season showed a mythical profit for Week 1. The picks were 7-5-0. The best pick of the week was the Northwestern/Stanford game where I took Northwestern +12 and they won outright plus I took the game to stay UNDER 47.5 and the total score was only 22 points. Naturally, if I were one of those touts selling my selection services, I would scream ex post facto that I had given you a perfect parlay on the game. It will not take you long to go back and see that I did no such thing; I never suggested that would be a good parlay wager.
Notwithstanding early success with Mythical Picking this season, no one should consider even for a moment using any information here as the basis for making a real wager on an actual college football game this weekend. If you do that, you are probably dumb enough to avoid playing Candy Crush because you think it might give you diabetes.
Notre Dame chewed up and spit out Texas last week. The Longhorns managed to generate only 163 yards of offense in the game. Texas Coach Charlie Strong made a move to have someone else call offensive plays from now on. What he actually needs to do is to find some offensive linemen who can block effectively. Absent significant improvement on the OL, it will be a looong season in Austin.
There was good news and bad news for BYU after last week’s game at Nebraska:
BYU won the game 33-28 on a Hail Mary pass with no time left on the clock.
The receiver caught the ball with 5 defenders around him watching him jump up and catch the ball.
BYU lost its starting QB to a foot injury earlier in the game and he will be out for the rest of the season.
Obviously, all of the news coming out of that game was bad for Nebraska but here is a statistical tidbit that I ran across that makes the loss seem even worse:
Nebraska had won its last 30 home openers until last Saturday.
Northwestern not only beat Stanford last week as a double-digit underdog, Northwestern pushed Stanford around for much of the game running the ball for 225 yards against the Stanford defense. On the other side, Stanford’s offense only accounted for 240 yards of total offense.
Penn State lost to Temple for the first time since about 2 months before Pearl Harbor. Penn State led 10-0 in the first half and then Temple’s defense took over the game. Christian Hackenberg is not a nimble QB and the State OL got him sacked 8 times in the game. Penn State had “offensive line issues” last year and they seem not to have been resolved this year. That is not a good omen for Nittany Lion fans…
Utah State beat Southern Utah 14-9. In fact, it took a long punt return for a TD late in the 4th quarter to give Utah State the win. For Utah State fans, they have to hope this was merely a case of “first game jitters” because Southern Utah is not exactly a perennial Division 1-AA powerhouse. To give you an idea how discombobulated the game was, there were 29 punts in the game by both teams. By comparison, both teams only attempted 33 passes in the game. The punt coverage teams got themselves a workout here…
Georgia beat La-Monroe 51-14 covering a 36-point spread by a single point. I think that is interesting because the game was stopped with almost 10 minutes left on the clock in the 4th quarter when the teams had to leave the field for a second lightening delay. Both coaches agreed to have the refs call the game and send everyone home.
I wonder if the Georgia coaches would have agreed to that if they had not covered at that point. Hmmm…
Of course, if you bet on that game in Las Vegas it would have been a “Push” because the terms of the wager on football games there is that the games must go a minimum of 55 minutes to be considered official. Nevertheless, I wonder if that factor went into the decision.
Michigan State beat W. Michigan by 13 points last week but State gave up 365 yards passing that game. W. Michigan is a MAC team and the kind of defense one has come to expect from Michigan State does not do that. Next up for the Spartans is Oregon. Folks in E. Lansing had better hope that defensive performance last week was an aberration or the result of “looking ahead” to Oregon. If it was not, it will be a looong day against the Ducks.
Tennessee beat Bowling Green 59-30 last week. The fact that Tennessee prevailed here is not surprising but what is surprising is that Tennessee gave up 30 points and 424 yards passing to Bowling Green. Just as Michigan State fans have to hope their defense did not bring its best game to the field on opening night, the same goes for Tennessee. They have Oklahoma on tap this week.
Texas A&M beat Arizona St. 38-17. (I took Arizona St +3.5 points in last week’s Mythical Picks so I was not even close on that game.) Christian Kirk scored 2 TDs on a long run and a long punt return and the Aggies offense was typically efficient. Nevertheless, I think the important factor in the game was the Aggies’ front-seven. They were in the backfield all game long on pass plays and on run plays. That was against a significant opponent too; perhaps Texas A&M is a team to watch this year? It is not a good idea to draw firm conclusions on the basis of a single game, but that was an impressive win.
Florida has had offensive woes for the past couple of seasons. However, early indications are that the new coaching staff has lit a fire under the offensive unit. The Gators had 606 yards of total offense last week (379 yards passing). Granted, the opponent was New Mexico State – a perennial contender for my mythical end-of-season SHOE Tournament to determine the worst team in the country. Nonetheless…
I said last week that Wisconsin was a team that liked to run the ball and that Alabama was a team that could stop opponents from running. Consider the stats from that game:
Wisconsin ran the ball 21 times for a total of 40 yards.
No other opponent is going to do that to Wisconsin for the rest of this season.
I mentioned some tough losses for teams in the commentary above, but here are two other losses that have to be gut-wrenching:
Kansas lost at home to Division 1-AA South Dakota State. Kansas trailed in the game at halftime 31-7 then fought back to make a game of it in the second half. But still… This was the first game of the David Beaty Era at Kansas. It looks as if it might just be a short era.
Washington State lost at home to Division 1-AA Portland State. The magic that Mike Leach seemed to be able to work in Texas does not seem to translate to southeastern Washington; Leach is now 12-26 at Washington State. The Cougars only have two more games (a transcontinental trip to play Maryland this week and Wyoming) before starting PAC-12 games. It could be another looong season in Pullman…
Here is an unusual football stat:
Maryland return man, William Likely, ran back 8 punts against Richmond last week for 233 yards and a TD. Yes, he averaged 29 yards per punt return. But that is not all…
Likely also ran back two kickoffs for 63 yards.
So, on 10 special teams’ plays Likely gained 296 yards and scored a TD.
That is what you would call an un-Likely performance.
Altee Tenpenny was a running back at Alabama who transferred to UNLV but was kicked off the team there for unspecified “rules violations”. Too bad. I was hoping to be able to refer you to an image of him getting nailed on a running play. You know someone somewhere will find a way to describe him as “tough as nails”…
The Ponderosa Games:
Last week there were 8 Ponderosa Games and the favorite covered in 7 of them. In all the time I have been tracking these sorts of games, I do not recall a week where the favorites did so well against the spreads.
Baylor, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, NC State, Oklahoma and USC covered.
Arizona did not cover.
This week, we have 10 Ponderosa Games:
USF at Florida State – 28.5 (54): Probably the best you can say about this game is that it involves “in-state rivals”.
Fresno St. at Ole Miss – 30 (55): This spread opened the week at 26.5 and has climbed steadily all week long.
Miami (Oh) at Wisconsin – 32.5 (52): Wisconsin is not going to be in a good mood after the thrashing it took from Alabama. I would be tempted to take the game to go OVER only because Wisconsin might run it up and score 53 all by themselves. But I shall resist that temptation…
Hawaii at Ohio State – 41 (65): The outcome of this game ceases to be in doubt as soon as the grounds crew is finished lining the field.
Tulane at Georgia Tech – 29 (55): This spread makes sense when you realize Tulane lost to Duke by 30 last week.
Middle Tenn. St at Alabama – 35.5 (56): See comment for the Hawaii/Ohio State game above… Oh by the way, Alabama is 0-5 against the spread in its last 5 games against C-USA teams. Do you care?
Ball St. at Texas A&M – 30 (63.5): Ball St. beat VMI 48-36 last week. They are not going to score anywhere near 48 points this week. Oh by the way, Texas A&M did not cover against the spread any of its home games last year. Do you care?
South Alabama at Nebraska – 27.5 (54): Will Nebraska suffer a hangover from its final second loss last week to BYU or will they come onto the field spring-loaded into the pissed-off position? My guess is the latter…
Idaho at USC – 43.5 (66): How would you like to be the coach at Idaho and have to come up with a pre-game motivational speech for this game that does not make you sound like a total bonehead?
UCLA – 30 at UNLV (65): Even on the road, UCLA is a 30-point favorite here…
Games of Interest:
(Fri Nite) Utah State at Utah – 12 (44.5): Utah looked good on defense beating Michigan last week while Utah State’s offense could not do any business against Divisinon1-AA Southern Utah. So what we have here is an in-state rivalry game where it appears defenses will dominate. In that case I love the idea of getting 12 points if points are going to be scarce. I’ll take Utah St. plus the points.
Buffalo at Penn State – 19.5 (52.5): This game is interesting because it may shed light on future games involving Penn State. The offensive performance last week against Temple was pathetic. Is that an endemic problem? If so, you can look to play against Penn State down the line in Big 10 games. For this week, I do not see where 53 points will come from given the Penn State offense from last week and the still competent Penn State defense. I like the game to stay UNDER.
E. Carolina at Florida – 20.5 (53): This spread opened the week at 15, then jumped to 18 and has climbed from there. Florida trounced New Mexico St. last week; E. Carolina beat a Division 1-AA opponent by 8 points. Those two opponents are not that much different in terms of capabilities. Make this a venue call. I like Florida to win and cover.
Temple at Cincy – 7 (55): This is purely a “go-to-school game”. Is Temple for real after manhandling Penn State last week? I have no idea but this game might provide more info…
LSU – 5 at Mississippi St. (50): LSU had to cancel its game last week due to weather so this is their first time in the barrel. Mississippi State handled S. Mississippi easily even though it did not cover a 21-point spread. The spread here has slowly been getting bigger all week long and since I think this is a venue call, I’ll take Mississippi State plus the points here.
Marshall – 3 at Ohio (60): Marshall looked good on defense against Purdue in the opener last week. I know Purdue is not a good team, but Ohio opened against Idaho and Idaho is indeed a bad team. This is C-USA versus the MAC. This game ought to be on a Tuesday night on ESPN-7. Purely a hunch, I’ll take Marshall and lay the points.
Minnesota – 5 at Colorado State (54): Minnesota acquitted itself very nicely against a good TCU team; its defense played very well against a high-powered offense. Colorado State is not TCU. State warmed up for this by sparring with perennial punching bag Savannah State. I think Minnesota is the better team but I do not like the fact that they have to play at altitude here. This could be an interesting game, but I’ll pass…
Oregon St. at Michigan – 15 (45.5): This is Michigan’s second straight PAC-12 opponent and last week’s encounter with Utah did not end well for Coach Harbaugh in his Michigan debut. That game was on the road and this one is back in Ann Arbor where things might be more friendly to the Wolverines – – unless of course they fall behind by 2 TDs. Oregon State opened with a tune-up against Weber State and held Weber State to 7 points. I did not see enough from Michigan’s offense to have great confidence in their ability to score so I see this as a low-scoring game. I’ll take Oregon State plus the points.
Georgia – 20 at Vandy (50): Vandy lost its opener by 2 points to W. Kentucky; Georgia is a lot better than W. Kentucky. However, what Vandy has going for it is a decent defensive unit. If the Vandy offense can score 10 points, that means Georgia needs 5 scores to cover. That’s a lot. I’ll take Vandy plus the points at home.
Boise St. – 2.5 at BYU (54.5): BYU should be buoyed by that “Hail Mary win” at Nebraska last week and their home crowd should fire them up too. However, they have to go with their backup QB here. Meanwhile, Boise St. beat Washington – not a top-shelf team from the PAC-12 – by a field goal at home. Oh, and Washington had a chance to tie the game with a late FG that was off the mark. I like BYU at home plus the points.
Notre Dame – 11.5 at UVa (48.5): UVa showed some defense against UCLA last week and I do not expect Notre Dame to complete 80% of its passes again this week. I see a much lower scoring game than the ones that both teams played last week. Therefore, I’ll take UVa plus the points here.
Bowling Green at Maryland – 7.5 (70): Maryland got almost 300 yards and a TD from one return man last week (see above). Bowling Green threw for 365 yards against Michigan State last week (see above) and gave up 59 points. AYKM…? I’ll take this game to go OVER.
Washington St at Rutgers – 3.5 (63): This game opened as a “pick ‘em” game and probably went up because people saw that Rutgers pounded a Division 1-AA foe last week while Washington St. lost to a Division 1-AA foe last week. Plus there is that transcontinental flight … Fortunately for the Cougars, the kickoff time is not until late afternoon. I have no reason to believe that Rutgers is an offensive juggernaut and Washington St. ought to be sluggish from the long flight. I’ll take this game to stay UNDER.
Oklahoma – 2 at Tennessee (62.5): This is the kind of game we need to see more of in terms of non-conference scheduling. Tennessee can score; they got 59 last week. Tennessee did not stop much of anything last week giving up lots of yards and 30 points to a MAC team. Oklahoma is not a MAC team. I like the game to go OVER and I like Oklahoma to win and cover on the road.
Rice at Texas – 15 (48.5): This is not a betting game; this is a “pay attention game”. Texas was manhandled last week by a good Notre Dame team but this is Rice and not Notre Dame and the game is in Austin. If Texas loses straight up, things will be ugly in Austin by midnite Saturday night…
Oregon at Michigan St. – 4 (65): I am going to choose to ignore last week’s results for both of these teams because I believe that both teams were looking ahead to this game. Both of these teams are good; neither one faced a good opponent last week. Someone with too much time on his hands generated these trend stats:
Since 2000, Oregon is 4-1 against the spread (ATS) as a road underdog
Since 2000, Oregon is 10-3 ATS in nonconference road games.
Here is a fact; not a single player on any of the Oregon teams from 2000 – 2010 that helped to generate those trend stats will be on the field for the game on Saturday. Make this a venue call; I’ll take Michigan State to win and cover at home.
UCF at Stanford – 19 (46): The Total Line here opened the week at 43 and has been going up all week long. Both teams suffered embarrassing losses in their opening game last week. UCF lost to FIU and Stanford lost to Northwestern. Comparing the opponents, Stanford lost to the better squad and Stanford was on the road in that loss. If UCF could not score on FIU last week, how are they going to do that against Stanford this week? And if Stanford could not score on Northwestern… I think this has the makings of a game where neither team gets out of the teens and UCF may struggle to get to double digits. I like the game to stay UNDER.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………