This will be the last iteration of the NCAA flavor of Mythical Picks for the season. Please keep the cheering down to a dull roar. I have never – and will not begin now – to try to make picks for bowl games that mean precisely nothing. I may have something to say about college football or have a pick for a single game somewhere down the road. In such a case, I will incorporate it into one of the daily rants. Specifically, I will continue to “report” on the progress of Linfield College football in the 2015 season via daily rants.
Oh, not to worry, the final seedings for the imaginary – yet more interesting than three quarters of the actual bowl games – SHOE Tournament appear below…
Last week’s Mythical Picks were plain vanilla in terms of outcome. The record last week was 9-8-0 leaving the season record at 102-97-5.
The “Best Pick” of the week was taking Texas/Texas Tech Over 72; the total score went north of 90 points.
The “Worst Picks” of the week were all of the 8 losses. Other than the Stanford minus 4 pick, none of them were even close.
No one should use any information here as the basis for making a real wager on a real college football game this weekend should such a wager involve real money. If you are dumb enough to do that, you also probably think:
A love triangle is a problem best solved in geometry class.
The Linfield College Wildcats won their third round game in the NCAA Division III football tournament beating Cortland State 38-22. That puts the Wildcats’ record at 11-0 for the season and puts them in the “Elite Eight” for those playoffs. This week, the Wildcats host the next round of the playoffs when the Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders bring their 11-1 record to McMinnville. The Crusaders only loss for the year was on Halloween to Hardin-Simmons by 3 points but the Crusaders avenged that loss in the Division III playoffs beating Hardin-Simmons by a score of 37-19. It should be a good game. Go Wildcats!
Last week, Memphis beat SMU 63-0. The interesting stat from the game was that Memphis QB, Paxton Lynch threw for 7 TDs. What makes it even more interesting is that he threw those 7 TD passes in the first half of the game. The score at halftime was 56-0. To say SMU “struggled” in the game is a monumental understatement; obviously, the defensive unit had no clue how to stop Memphis; on the other side of the ball, the SMU offense gained only 97 yards of offense for the day and turned the ball over 5 times. Remember this performance when you see the seedings for the SHOE Tournament below.
In another game that had SHOE Tournament importance, E. Michigan came from ahead to lose to Central Michigan 35-28. E. Michigan led 21-7 at the half – – and then gave up 28 points in the third quarter. You may be sure that you will see E. Michigan in the SHOE Tournament below.
Wyoming beat UNLV last week 35-28 giving the Cowboys 2 wins for the year and dropping their seeding in the SHOE Tournament.
UTEP came from behind to beat N. Texas 20-17. That was UTEP’s 5th win for the year meaning they could not possibly have fit into the SHOE Tournament. But N. Texas has been a fixture for that tournament for quite a while now. Here is how the game was so close:
UTEP total offense was 256 yards
UTEP fumbled 6 times and lost 5 of them
N. Texas total offense was 205 yards
N. Texas lost 1 fumble and threw 1 INT
N. Texas penalized 10 times for 112 yards
Aren’t you glad you missed that game?
Akron beat Kent State 20-0 last week but the stats for the game were very lopsided. Akron had the ball for 40:59 in the game; Akron held Kent State to 135 yards total offense; Akron held Kent State to 10 yards rushing on 20 rushing attempts. Adding insult to injury, Akron also recovered three fumbles in the game. Now look at the final score of 20-0 and you will wonder how it could have been so close…
Kentucky led Louisville 24-7 in the first half. The final score was Louisville 38 and Kentucky 24. Not much more to say about that one…
In games that actually mattered last week, Houston disposed of Navy 52-31. At the end of the 3rd quarter, it was 38-17; the outcome here was not seriously in doubt. That victory puts Houston in this week’s AAC Championship Game against Temple (more about that game later). Houston QB, Greg Ward, Jr. led the Cougars’ offense throwing for 308 yards and 3 TDs. Navy gets the week off to prepare for its game against Army next weekend.
Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State 58-23 to win the Big 12 Championship for the year. It turns out that State’s 10-0 record was a mirage…
Ohio State beat Michigan 42-13 but the game was actually still in doubt at halftime when Ohio State only led 14-10. Ohio State’s running game returned to life last week:
Ezekiel Elliot ran for 214 yards and 2 TDs
JT Barrett ran for 139 yards
Total rushing yards for Ohio State were 396 yards
Total offense for Michigan was 364 yards.
However, Ohio State will not play in the Big 10 Championship Game because Michigan State beat Penn State handily 55-16. This game was also still in doubt at halftime when Michigan State only led 20-10. However, the second half belonged exclusively to Michigan State.
Meanwhile, Iowa beat Nebraska 28-20 running the Hawkeyes’ record to 12-0 and setting up an Iowa/Michigan State game for the Big 10 Championship this weekend.
UNC ran its record to 11-1 beating NC State 45-34. Actually, this game was over very early on. UNC led 35-7 at the end of the 1st quarter. UNC goes on to play Clemson in the ACC Championship Game this weekend.
Clemson played a rivalry game last week beating South Carolina 37-32. The ACC might not have a CFP participant if UNC wins the Championship Game. The Selection Committee has done everything but spell out that UNC’s body of work for the year is not real good. Even though UNC is 11-1, consider:
The loss is to South Carolina – a 3-win team.
One win is over North Carolina A&T (Division 1-AA)
One win is over Delaware (Division 1-AA)
The SEC could be in for turmoil too if Florida were to beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Florida has two losses and the last one was to Florida State in which the Florida offense scored no points. However, a win over Alabama would mean that Alabama would have 2 losses also and would not be a conference champion. Let me say this unequivocally:
If you are someone who desperately wants to see the CFP expanded to 8 teams, you have to root very hard for Florida to win on Saturday. If the SEC has no team in the CFP field, the cries to expand the tournament will hit a crescendo.
Personally, I like the 4-team field well enough to hope merely for a good competitive game for me to watch.
In rivalry games:
Washington beat Washington State in the Apple Cup
Oregon beat Oregon State in the Civil War
Alabama beat Auburn in the Iron Bowl
Ole Miss beat Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl
The Ponderosa Games:
Last week there were 3 Ponderosa Games and none of the favorites covered.
Appalachian State, Central Michigan and Oregon failed to cover.
That brings the season record for Ponderosa favorites covering to 38-49-1. That is one of the most unbalanced season records I can recall since I started tracking this sort of thing in the mid-90s.
There are no Ponderosa Games on the schedule this week and the only college game on tap for next week is Army/Navy. Even though Army is not very good this year and Navy is ranked at #23 in the country, I doubt that there will be a Ponderosa number on that rivalry game. I believe the final record for Ponderosa games will be 38-49-1.
The SHOE Tournament:
The CFP determines the National Champion. If there were a SHOE Tournament, it would determine the worst team in the country, the SHOE Team – the Steaming Heap Of Excrement. Here is how that tournament would operate:
A Selection Committee (me) would pick the 8 teams to contend for this level of ignominy and then would seed the teams where the #1 seed is presumably the worst team in the country. However, that level of sordidness would be determined on the field.
The seeded teams would play in the normal seeding order #1 hosts #8 and #2 hosts #7 etc. Here is the kicker:
The winners can stop playing but the losers have to soldier on and play again the following week.
One team will wind up losing 3 games in the SHOE Tournament and be this year’s SHOE Team.
Without further ado, here are the teams for this year’s Tournament:
#1: Kansas – 0-11, losing margin of 31 points per game, worst defense in the country
#2: UCF – 0-11, worst offense in the country
#3: N. Texas – 1-11, lost to 1-AA Portland State 66-7
#4: La-Monroe – 1-11, win over 1-AA Nichols St., plays New Mex St. this week, so what?
#5: Wyoming – 2-10, losing margin is 15 points per game; lost to E. Michigan
#6 E. Michigan – 1-11, losing margin is 17 ppg, beat Wyoming and lost 10 in a row.
#7: Oregon St. – 2-10, losing margin is 18 ppg; 110th in offense and 117th in defense.
#8: SMU – 2-10; see above for last week’s debacle; a late surge of stink got them here.
Games of Interest:
Texas at Baylor – 20 (68): This is a meaningless game; so why is it a game of interest? Well, the anticipated resurgence of Texas football seems to be delayed just a tad and the Texas fanboys cannot be happy playing a game on a weekend where just about everyone else taking the field has a reason to do so. It looked for a while as if Texas might be bowl eligible and get themselves to a minor bowl game but the bottom fell out of that market over the last month. The Longhorns rank 104th in the country on offense and 86th on defense; that is not a recipe for success. Baylor will go to a bowl game but they had their eyes on something much bigger until losing last week to TCU in a monsoon. I put this game on the list to demonstrate why I do not pick bowl games. Neither team has any burning desire here; neither team will achieve anything of value from a win. So, the question is simple; which team will show up at kickoff playing hard as opposed to going through the motions? The answer to that question usually points to the team that will cover the spread in such a game and the answer to that question is best derived through mind-reading skills.
New Mexico St at La-Monroe “pick ‘em” (59): La-Monroe is a SHOE Tournament team playing a final game against a 3-win team and it is a “pick ‘em” game. People in Monroe, LA must have better things to do than to attend this monstrosity of a game.
W. Virginia – 5.5 at K-State (58): At least K-State has a reason to play hard in this game; the Wildcats have 5 wins and need 6 to be sure of a bowl invitation. I think this will be a high-scoring affair so I’ll take K-State plus the points and I’ll take the game to go OVER.
Temple at Houston – 6 (54.5): The Total Line opened the week at 57 and dropped quickly to this level where it seems to have settled. This is the AAC Championship Game and it matches a team that wins with offense (Houston, ranked 15th in the country) against a team that wins with defense (Temple, ranked 19th in the country). Make this a venue call, I’ll take Houston to win and cover.
USC vs. Stanford – 4.5 (58.5) [Game is in Santa Clara]: The spread here opened at 3.5 and the Total Line at 61. This is for the PAC-12 Championship and a win for USC would lock the PAC-12 out of the CFP. USC enters the game with 4 losses on its sheet; no amount of chaos involving upsets this week will result in a 4-loss team playing in the CFP. USC has a revenge factor going for it here; Stanford beat USC at Stanford earlier this year. I think the Total Line has moved in the wrong direction; I like this game to go OVER.
Florida vs. Alabama – 18 (40) [Game is in Atlanta]: The spread here opened at 15 and has climbed slowly but steadily to this level during the week. I am not a “trend bettor” but Alabama has won the last 4 games between these two teams by a cumulative score of 143-47. The Alabama defense is peaking; they have given up 41 points in their last 4 games. Florida struggles on offense and wins on defense; against Florida State the only points the Gators could muster was via a safety. I doubt Florida can play “grind-it-out-offense” and be even marginally successful here. The question is:
Do they have a repertoire of “trick plays” they can go to in dire circumstances?
Normally, when I expect a low scoring game, I prefer to take the points particularly three scores worth of points. However, in this case I can easily see Florida scoring only once in the entire game. For two excellent defensive squads, I will just take this game to stay UNDER.
Air Force at San Diego St. – 6.5 (50): The Total Line opened at 52.5 and dropped to this level almost immediately. This game is for the Mountain West Championship. Both teams run the ball most of the time and they both do it effectively as demonstrated here:
Air Force is 3rd in the country in rushing yards per game (323.2)
San Diego St. is 15th in the country in rushing yards per game (235.5)
Air Force holds an edge there, but with regard to defending against the run:
San Diego St. is 4th in the country against the run (95 yards per game)
Air Force is 34th in the country against the run (139.5 yards per game).
If San Diego St. can limit the Air Force running game, the Falcons do not have a potent pass attack to resort to. For the year, Air Force only averages 138.6 yards per game meaning they rank 120th in the nation. I like San Diego St. to win and cover here.
UNC vs. Clemson – 4.5 (67.5) [Game is in Charlotte]: The Total Line for this game opened at 63 and shot up to this level in about 24 hours. At first glance, this game looks like a shoot-out. Clemson averages 503 yards per game and UNC averages 496. So the ball will just be racing from one end of the stadium to the other, right? Maybe not… The Clemson defense only gives up 288 yards per game and it is on defense where Clemson enjoys the advantage here; UNC allows 395 yards per game. Purely a hunch – and mixed with a bit of a wish for some degree of chaos in the final week for the Selection Committee to deal with – I’ll take UNC plus the points here and I’ll root for them to win the game to produce said chaos.
Michigan St. – 4 at Iowa (51) [Game is in Indy]: The winner here is the Big 10 Champ and will be a shoo-in for the CFP. Right now, Iowa is ranked 4th and Michigan St. is ranked 5th by the CFP Selection Committee so in essence this is a play-in game for the CFP. Iowa finished the season at 12-0; some folks have downgraded that accomplishment saying that Iowa did not have to play any of the best Big 10 teams and was “less than adventuresome” in its out of conference scheduling. Nonetheless, the last time an Iowa team went undefeated for an entire season was back in 1922; so this is a big deal. The expectation here is for an old-time, smash-mouth football game; neither team gets fancy on offense and both teams play tough defense. I smell a low-scoring game here so I’ll take Iowa plus the points.
Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. It is an appropriate way to bring the college football regular season to a close:
“From the ‘Sometimes These Headlines Just Write Themselves’ file:
“B1G awards: U-M’s Butt named Tight End of the Year”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………