Wednesday, October 29, 2014

10 Games: The end.

Well, I tried to make it through an entire season pretend betting 10 games per week but, as it does, real life has intruded so I'm suspending that idea and instead am just going to offer up some thoughts on some select games that I've had time to look at.  My last week doing the 10 games thing illustrated that you at least have to put some effort into it as I went 3-7 ATS and 2-8 SU.  That leaves me at a very pedestrian 34-36 ATS and 45-25 SU for the season through week 7.

I will say this, even putting it on auto-pilot on some weeks I still came close to 50% for the season ATS and that says something about the fallacies of pay-for-picks handicapping "experts" who (honestly) average around 56% hit rates over time.

Are they worth the money?

I still say no.

Had I been betting real money there are a couple of key things that would have changed those stats.

1. I probably wouldn't have played "10 Games" every week.  Few handicappers really do.  They might pick every game but they weight them and, in most cases, only fire on their top picks.

2. I would have spent more time handicapping the games I would have bet.  I think that much goes without saying.

With all that said, here are the 7 games (this number will change week to week) that I've taken an interest in....

1. Florida State (-4) @ Louisville - The Cardinals are getting way too much love in this game for my linking. Yes, it's at Papa John's stadium and yes, Florida State doesn't look as good this year but I think part of what's going into this line is wishful thinking that Louisville has a chance. My Pick: Florida State to cover.

2. Rice (-6) @ Florida International University. Yes, Rice has been up and down this year and hasn't been close to the same team on the road.  But FIU seems to be on decline and Rice, after losing their first three games, has gone 4-0 since then and is looking more and more like a team that is rounding into form.  My Pick: Rice to cover.

3. Duke @ Pitt (-3.5) This is another scenario where you have two teams on different trajectories. Pitt won their first 3 games but have lost 4 out of 5 while Duke has only lost one game, at Miami. In their last game Pitt had a bit of the dropsies and I just don't think they're a very good team while I picked Duke to win their division. My Pick: Duke, on the money line to pull the mild upset.

4. TCU (-5) @ W. Virginia The Mountaineers are a weird team who can either play great, or play awful depending on the week. They play better at home but TCU is on a roll right now. While I don't think TCU will hang 80+ on WVU I do think they win easily. My Pick: TCU to cover.

5. Indiana @ Michigan (-7) No one likes a 7 point line, me included. However, While Michigan has been a raging dumpster fire this year Indiana has torched the entire landfill. At home, in front of an angry, boisterous Big House crowd I can't see Big Blue messing this one up. My Pick: Michigan to cover.

6. Houston (-9.5) @ South Florida For all of the gloom & doom from the fan base (justified) about the coaching, after 7 games the Cougars have been a modest surprise. The change at the QB position from the rapidly declining O'Korn to converted WR Greg Ward Jr. has given a much needed boost to the offense and the defense, despite injuries to key players, has been solid, an improvement for this team. Yes they still get out-coached and yes they still have glaring weaknesses but they match up well against a South Florida program which is trying to come back from near ruin. My Pick: Cougars to cover.

7. Auburn @ Ole Miss (-2) When two of the top four teams in the inaugural College Football Playoff Top 25 square off you might want to try and pay attention. After beating Alabama fans of Ole Miss were dreaming of an undefeated match-up in the egg bowl with both teams still making the final four regardless of the outcome. Now, the Rebels need a win to stay in the conversation after a loss against LSU at Death Valley. Here's the thing. IF Ole Miss wins and Miss State and Florida State win as well I think the CFP top four is the exact same next week because Auburn would be the 1-loss team with the best loss on the board. If Auburn wins, Ole Miss is probably done but could still play spoiler. The play of Bo Wallace is the key here. My Pick:  Auburn on the money line to win straight up.

Thoughts on the first College Football Playoff Committee Top 25

 - Who you lost to counts.  See Auburn, Ole Miss and Ohio State.
 - There will be no respect given to non Group of Five teams. See: Marshall and ECU
 - Except for at the top, the Group of Five are fairly evenly distributed.
 - Right now, this means nothing. Too many head-to-head games still to play and too many unknowns. I expect that only one of the three currently in the Top 4 will actually make the playoff.
 - I still think Alabama will miss the first playoff in history. I stand by that prediction from before the season.

Monday, October 20, 2014

An update: No ten games last week and ranking Texas college football.

As you may, or may not, have noticed, I didn't list my customary "10 games" pick'em last week and there's a reason.  I was recovering from illness.  I tried to do it for week 7 with little review due to my illness and the results were (in a word) terrible.

Try 3-7 ATS and 4-6 SU terrible.

It'd be easy to try and beg off sick and say that those results shouldn't count against my season totals but....I made the picks so they do. I'll be back next week with 10 games and updated season totals.

Texas College Football:

After Texas aTm's thumping at the hands of the fighting Sabans there's a lot of talk about "who's got the best team in Texas right now?"  I think, going into the season, the consensus was that aTm had the hole-shot with Baylor acting as the heir apparent should the Aggies stumble.

Well, the Aggies have clearly stumbled leaving the top spot open. The obvious answer is to suggest that Baylor is now the top Texas program but their 41-27 loss to Couch Burnin' U has folks asking questions.

As I see it, the State's rankings go like this:

1. Baylor
2. TCU
3. aTm
4. UT-Austin
5. Texas Tech
6. UT- San Antonio
7. UH
8.Texas State
9. Rice
10. UTEP
11. North Texas
12. SMU

I don't think there's much argument regarding numbers one and two, after all, they've met on the field and TCU just demolished Oklahoma State. I still give the nod to aTm over UT-Austin because I think the talent advantage is still there.  That said, ask me next year and I feel there's going to be a big shake-up with UT-Austin moving closer to the top of the chart.

5-7 is hard. I think Tech is overrated and that their coach is one of the reasons why. I still put UTSA ahead of UH because (put simply) they beat them soundly.  UH is improving but they are a team with a ton of talent and zero college level coaching to speak of.  Texas State gets the nod over Rice because I think they'll beat them head-up.  The bottom 3 are interchangeable, but I truly believe that SMU is a huge mess right now and might occupy that position for the next few years.

Maybe not surprisingly, I see the top 5 as having way more volatility over the next few years than the bottom five. Whether you like them or not this UT-Austin team is playing hard for Coach Strong and I think he's going to build them back into a winner, provided the alumni give him time.

I still think the move to the SEC will be good in the long-term for aTm but that doesn't mean that Coach Sumlin is the one who's going to lead them.  I think Sumlin will be gone after the end of either this year or next year and the Aggies will then have to decide if they want to be a football crazy Kentucky in the conference, or something akin to their old-role in the Big XII (which is where I think their cap is). In short, aTm will never be able to compete with the Alabama, Auburn and LSU's in the SEC West because they don't have near the resources or tradition to do so.

They should always have good seasons however, should beat a big team here and there, and they should compete for a division title once every 4-5 years.  Just like it should have been in the Big XII.  That it wasn't illustrates just how poorly ran the program has been running in recent years.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

10 Games (Week 7) At the wire.

After a week sick with a kidney infection I'm getting in this post right before kick-off on Saturday.,,,

Last week I went 7-3 ATS and 5-5 SU putting me at 31-29 ATS and 43-17 SU for the season. With a lot of upsets you would have done well last week betting the underdog money line.

Without further ado.....

1. Texas vs Oklahoma (-17) - Ah the Red River Shoot-out, Rivalry umm Show-down?  PC issues aside it has always been and will always be the Shoot-out.  The Longhorns defense is a little bit underrated this year and you never know which OU team will show up.  I THINK this will be the good, OU team that's creative offensively and takes risks, Stoops teams tend to do that after a loss. UT-Austin 10 OU 35

2. Georgia (-3) @ Mizzou - The Gurley mess, as UGA sells his jersey on their website currently, while the player is suspended, for over $100 each is indicative of everything that is wrong with the NCAA.  Without Gurley UGA is not nearly as good of a team,  UGA 17 Mizzou 20

3. Duke @ Georgia Tech (-3.5) - Heading into the season the rumors were Paul Johnson was on the hot-seat. Apparently, early success has not tempered the anger of the check-scratchers. Johnson and the Ramblin' Wreck seem determined to make the decision difficult.  Duke 17 Ga Tech 24

4. Auburn (-3) @ Mississippi State - Arguably the biggest game of the day. After watching Miss State dominate aTm I've having a hard time picking against them. That said, I think Auburn is much better than people thought and has a real chance to win in Starksville.  And, again, this is Miss State, which has historically been a middling SEC team, Aub 24 Miss State 20

5. Oregon (-6.5) @ UCLA - At the beginning of the season I picked UCLA to win it all in the College Football Playoff. Of course, when I made that pick I thought they had an offensive line. I was wrong about that, but Oregon doesn't have one either so, if my pick is going to be accurate, this is a must-win game for the Bruins.   Oregon 31 UCLA 34

6. TCU @ Baylor (-8) - When the season started the conventional wisdom was that the winner of OU/Baylor would win the Big Twen. Now it seems that this is the key game. TCU's defense is amazing, Baylor's offense could be even better with a reportedly pain-free Petty at the helm. Still, I think it will be close. TCU 27 Baylor 31

7. Alabama (-9) @ Arkansas - Real short, beware angry Tides.  Bama 42 Hogs 17

8. Houston vs. Memphis (-8) - Fire Tony Levine is a thing and the Cougars are in free-fall. Memphis, for a few years a door-mat is actually playing good ball this year. Things continue to crumble in the 3rd Ward.  UH 10 Memphis 31

9. LSU (-1) @ Florida - This has  the potential to be one of the ugliest games of the year. Neither team has a quarterback and, for the first time in recent memory, LSU's defense is porous at best. LSU 17 FU 24

10. Ole Miss @ Texas A&M (-2) - I realize that the Aggies are the favorites here but how can you pick against the Rebels?  I think we finally get the high scoring game that everyone has been looking for this year finally however. Although, if it's a blow-out, I think it goes the way of Mississippi. I don't thing the Aggie offense is clicking. Ole Miss 48 aTm 42

Our weekly bonus look at the train-wreck that is Michigan:

Penn St. @ Michigan (-1) - I about spit out my cranberry juice when I first saw that line. At this point Michigan shouldn't be favored against air.  As a matter of fact, I'm looking at the rest of the schedule and am struggling to get Big Blue to 4 wins. This is an awful team. Penn St 24 GoBlue 10


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ten Games: (Week 6) After 3 straight winning weeks, a couple of games got me.

It all started out OK. I was winning the first three games and then the bottom dropped out on some underdogs that I thought had a chance to cover.  Such is College Football.

In Week 5 I went 4-6 ATS and 8-2 SU so that puts me at 24-26 ATS and 38-12 SU for the season.  The good news is that I'm just one great week from breaking out of mediocrity.  The bad news is I've been stuck in mediocre for most of the year.  It's time to turn it around and this appears to be the week to do it.

Even better, this promises to be one of the best weekends of the College Football season as we finally start to hit the meat of conference play and several good teams are playing each other.  Finally, we will start to get some real information that will mean that Top 25 rankings will start to matter.

Here we go....

1. Arizona @ Oregon (-23) - The thing about the Ducks is that they get some crazy lines. The O/U for this game is 70.  I think Arizona is a little underrated but I'm not sure how they handle Oregon at Autzen.  Take the over, but I'm thinking you might take AZ to (barely) cover.  AZ 30 UO 50

2. Texas Agricultural & Mechanical University @ Mississippi State (-1.5) - What a difference a week makes. Heading into last week you would have thought the Aggies to be the favorites.  But the Bulldogs destroy LSU and the Aggies struggle against Arkansas and.....That said I'm still not a believer in Mullins and I think the Aggies are the more talented team.  aTm 42 MissSt 38

3. Stanford (-2) @ Notre Dame - Even though Notre Dame fans are incapable of talking about Michigan without being catty I can talk about Notre Dame reasonably. I think the Irish have a good team this year and I think Stanford will be a very valid test.  Everett Golston is a good college QB and the Irish are very talented at the skill positions. Plus, they're at home which is huge for them. Stan 21 ND 24

4. Alabama (-6) @ Ole Miss - Expect the Grove to be hoppin' as ESPN Game Day is scheduled to make their first appearance there.  While SEC dribblers like Paul Finebaum are hyping the Tide as the number one team in all the land, I think it's fair to say that there's still a lot of football to play before we crown them King.  Bama 27 Ole Miss 17

5. Oklahoma (-5) @ Texas Christian University - Like Alabama, OU has received a lot of run as the "leader on the course" in terms of the best team in the Country.  Certainly, this is one of Bob Stoops' most talented teams in years and it still appears that the winner of the OU/Baylor tie later this year is the playoff representative for the Big Twen. (since the B1G has collapsed, I think they have the hole-shot.) Again though, there's still a lot of football to play.  OU 35 TCU 20

6. Louisiana State University @ Auburn (-8) - Those of an SEC persuasion, suddenly aTm fans mostly, have spent all year telling me that Auburn was ready for a fall.  I believe this is wishful thinking and it's LSU that's looking like the team who is going to take a step back.  Oh that offense Les.  LSU 27 AU 34

7. Texas Tech @ Kansas State (-8.5) - Tech's coach may be sexier than yours but he doesn't seem to be all that much better. TTU 21 KSU 42

8. Nebraska @ Michigan State (-11.5) - All Nebraska seems to have offensively is Abdullah. I expect Sparty to shut him down convincingly.  NU 10 MSU 38

9. Arizona State University @ University of Southern California (-11.5) - At this point I'm having a hard time trusting the Trojans.  ASU 28 USC 27

10. University of Central Florida @ University of Houston (-3) - My problem with the Cougars is that they don't have a qualified head coach. Plus, they've looked terrible at home. UCF 24 UH 10

Bonus Round:

Michigan @ Rutgers (-3) - Coming off the embarrassment in the Little Brown Jug game I'm hard pressed to pick Michigan for anything.  #HokeMustGo is not only a thing, it's an imperative.  More importantly, the Wolverines need to re-think everything they are doing about college football. The program is in free-fall.  They need fresh thinking to turn it around. GoBlue 10 Rutgers 31

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ten Games (Week 5): Thursday night would have been epic.

As I posted yesterday I've been on the road of late for work so I'm skipping the Thursday night games for this week's listing.  That's good because I thought UCLA wouldn't cover and OSU would.  As in most cases, the thing about gambling is pure, blind luck.

On to tomorrow's games:

1. Iowa (-9) @ Purdue - Purdue is in the running, with Kansas, Vandy and possibly Colorado, for the uncoveted title of "worst program in the big 5 power conferences." Iowa isn't very good but they're heaps better than this mess of a Boilermaker program.  IU 28 PU 7

2. Northwestern @ Penn St. (-9.5) - For all of the talk of a "Franklin miracle" the reality is Bill O'Brien left the cupboard full over in Happy Valley.  NW 14 PSU 35

3. Tennessee @ Georgia (-17) - While I think the Bulldogs win this game I don't think that it will be by all that much.  TU 24 UGA 34

4. Maryland (-3.5) @ Indiana - The Terrapins have a ton of offensive talent and an underrated defense. This is often obscured by their horrendous uniforms. UM 42 IU 35

5. Arkansas vs Texas A&M (-9) - [Game played at Jerry's World in Arlington, TX] - There's a lot of sharp money coming in on the Razorbacks because of their 1st half showing last week. It's a mistake to think that this Aggie team cannot run them into the ground.  Ark 20  aTm 48

6. The University of Texas - Austin (-12) @ Kansas - I don't see any way the Jayhawks can keep it within two touchdowns. Charlie Weiss is a disaster of a HC.  Missing Mangino yet Kansas? UK 3 UT 35

7. Stanford (-7.5) @ Washington - I'm not the biggest fan of UW coach Peterson, and I think he still has a long way to go to get the team he wants.  Stan 27 UW 10

8. Cincinnati @ Ohio State (-17) - I've watched Cincy play a couple of times this year, and I've also seen Ohio State play.  I think Cincy is underrated here.  Cincy 24 OSU 34

9. Rice (-8) @ Southern Miss - The only thing going through my head here is 45-42 Old Dominion.  I think Rice wins but, where at the beginning of the season I had them as a C-USA contender, I now think they are a team in free-fall.  Rice 37 SMU 35

10. Missouri @ South Carolina (-5) - There are a few games that I could have placed in the 10th slot but I went with this one because I truly believe the Gamecocks are going to roll.  MU 10 SC 37

Bonus Game:

Minnesota @ Michigan (-13) - Technically it's a trophy game and the Little Brown Jug makes hearts twitter in the Midwest. In reality it's a game between two coaches who desperately need a win and who's jobs might be in jeopardy regardless.

Either way I'm not expecting a compelling football game.

Gophers 17 Go Blue! 20

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ten Games (Week 5): Administrative note.

My Ten Games picks will be up tomorrow. Clearly I will not be using the Thursday games.

Sorry business travel and real life has interfered with fun and games.

Sports Section