Wednesday, December 31, 2014

College Football: The Age of Uneven Performances (And....Harbaugh!!!!)

Tonight's LSU performance is why I hate picking bowl games.

Uneven, distracted defensively and playing way below their level of skill, it's almost impossible to decide who is there to play and who isn't.  Being stubborn however, I'll continue plodding along. Just remember that my picks are worth exactly what you paid for them.

Georgia's running game though.

Maryland was B1G slow last night and they made a very average Stanford team look like world beaters.  I realize that Randy Edsall is a nice guy and all of the sportscasters love him, but I think it's fair to ask just how good of a coach he really is. Maryland looked totally overmatched, and underprepared last night.

The Harbaugh Files

First: Admittedly, as a Michigan fan I'm ecstatic. So anything that I write on this subject has to be first put through a Maize and Blue filter.  I admit this.

All that being said I'm going to try and be somewhat realistic about Michigan next year as Harbaugh is going to have some talent hurdles to overcome.  Michigan needs speed at all positions, an NFL quality running back, talent at WR, defensive support and (most importantly) a quarterback who can do more than just throw it up and hope.

Game management should be better so, based on that and what I'm expecting to be a good Freshman class, my expectations are 8-4 to 10-2 and a good bowl game.

Stubbornly plodding along.

Without further ado.....some picks.  Let's see if we can get some right today.....

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: Ole Miss vs. TCU (-3.5) - What might be the best game of the day will be played when a lot of people are still working. Sadly, since the injury to Treadwell the Rebels have not been the same team. I think TCU is playing for pride here and should cover fairly easily. Ole Miss 17 TCU 35

VIZIO Fiesta Bowl: Boise State vs. Arizona (-3) - As the highest ranked Group of 5 conference champions Boise State gets the consolation prize here. If Solomon is 100% healthy I don't see the Broncos competing with the Wildcats.  As a Michigan fan it pains me to say this, but Rich Rod can coach and I think the Wolverines made a mistake in dismissing him so soon. BSU 10 Ariz 42

Capitol One Orange Bowl Mississippi St. (-6.5) vs. Georgia Tech - The best time to play against Paul Johnson's triple option is at the beginning of the season or in a bowl game. I think Dak Prescott and company have more talent, speed and better coaching than the Rambin' Wreck and will show that off here big time.  Miss St 34 GT 20

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

College Football: The Big XII fires it's shot (and misses badly)

So it turns out that the Big XII could neither produce "One True Champion" or (so far) a competitive product on the field. 

Three bowl games, three losses. In none of the games was there a realistic chance that the Big Twen representative was going to win.

West Virginia looked like a contender for one half, but then blew it in the 3rd quarter and ultimately fell to Texas A&M 45-37 in a game now known more for video images of an aTm assistant going rogue than compelling football.  I'm sure this season will be enough for Mountaineer head coach Dana Holgorson to keep his job, but I'm not all that sure it should be.  The team has regressed since he took over.

What followed was even worse. Not only did OU look inept in a 40-6 shellacking at the hands of Clemson but they looked bad against a team playing a backup QB who has a cheerleader for a coach. There have already been calls by many Sooner opinion makers and alumni for Stoops to go. I'm sure he survives but it's pretty safe to say that this is a team that is heading in the wrong direction.

The night closed with, quite possibly, on of the worst offensive performances ever by the UT-Austin Longhorns as they were demolished 31-7 by an Arkansas team who was not as good this year as the ESPN analysis team made them out to be. How bad were the Longhorns? CultureMap Houston sic'd their resident troll on them to write an intentionally inflammatory hatchet job. You know things are not going well when this happens.

Amazingly however, Baldwin (probably unintentionally) got it right this time.  What happened last night in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl was historically bad. 59 yards of total offense bad.  It was bad enough that the College Football Playoff arguments of both TCU and Baylor were 100% shot down, especially when you consider both of them held up as a signature win beating OU.

And now, for some quick Bowl picks:

Notre Dame vs. LSU (-8) Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. If nothing else, LSU should win comfortably because Notre Dame is 1. overrated and 2. more resembling of a M.A.S.H. unit right now.  LSU 27 ND 10

Georgia(-7) vs. Louisville Belk Bowl.  I really think that the game is going to come down to whether or not Louisville can stop UGA's running attack.  My bet is they don't. UGA 34 UL 13

Maryland vs. Stanford (-14) Foster Farms Bowl. While Pat Forde has already been proven wrong on his 0-10 B1G prediction I think this is another chance for there to be fuel on the fire.  Yes, Maryland is not that good of a team, but there's some evidence that this year's Stanford team is not all that good either, despite coming from the PAC12, which I consider to be one of the strongest conferences this year. Yes, even better than the SEC (as a whole).  Maryland 24 Stanford 21.

Monday, December 29, 2014

College Football: Undo praise for a matchup between two 6-6 teams. (And some bowl picks)

If you read the Chron on Sunday you might be forgiven for thinking the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl was a matchup for the ages between two of 2014's national powers with something real on the line.

Texas Bowl helped re-establish Houston as a 'viable' college football market. Joseph Duarte,$$)

Most recently, the Texas Bowl entered a six-year agreement with the Southeastern Conference, a league it has targeted since inception, to pair with the Big 12. That made possible a Texas-Arkansas matchup, a rivalry that dates to the grudge matches of the old Southwest Conference and the Game of the Century in 1969 between the No. 1-ranked Longhorns and No. 2 Razorbacks.

That's all well and good and romantic sounding but the reality of the situation is that neither the Longhorns or the Razorbacks were especially relevant on the college football landscape this year.

The rest of the Chron story goes on to talk about Houston as a premier college football destination. Again, while the profile for Houston is improving it's still miles behind Dallas as a major player in the game.

When you consider that the College Football Playoff Championship Game will be at Jerry's World, and that the CFP Committee held their final meetings at the Gaylord in Dallas, and that the home of the Cowboys hosts more, and higher profile college games than the home of the Texans you understand how Houston has devolved into a second-tier destination.  In Bowl terms it's probably closer to 3rd tier.

This is not to say that Houston hasn't made improvements, in fact, the city has.  From a college football waste-land to a college football city, there's at least signs that what happens in the City will at least be paid some attention to, even if it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

The Advocare V100 Texas Bowl game tonight might accidentally be fairly entertaining. Because it's the University of Texas-Austin vs. The University of Arkansas-Fayetteville there should be a good crowd and some good energy in the stands. However, because it's reportedly being played on the Texans grass field there's sure to be some pretty poor conditions as well.

All of that said, I'll be watching the game for no other reason than it will be the only show in town. True, it will probably be on mute on TV #2 (on TV #1 will be the Rockets game) I'll still at least keep up with it and am excited that the match-up seems fairly solid.

My good friend Kevin always notes that the Houston Chronicle is one of the best newspapers in the world when it comes to writing glowing, uncritical stories of local institutions. I feel that this is the case here.

Certainly the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl has risen from the ashes to be a compelling 3rd tier bowl, to suggest that it's made Houston into a major college football player is stretching it just a bit.  It keeps the Bayou City from being totally irrelevant, but it doesn't grant it a seat at the adult table.

Game Picks: Three games today, here's how I see them going down.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Texas aTm & West Virginia (-2) - At one time the Liberty Bowl was the eventual destination of the C-USA champion, now it, like the Advocare V100 Texas bowl is a destination for middle-of-the-pack SEC and Big Twen teams. The AutoZone Liberty Bowl is one step above however.  In this game I think the key match-up is aTm's struggling defense and WV's high-powered offense.  I don't expect much, if any, defense to be played:  aTm 49 WVU 52.  (Note: if you're a fan of Twitter the gimmick account @fauxHolgorson is making its curtain call during this game. Whoever did this has been one of the better fake coach accounts on Twitter for a while now. Follow in if you can)

Russell Athletic Bowl: Oklahoma (-5) vs. Clemson: Call this the "Didn't live up to expectations Bowl" if you want but the key matchup is OU's running game with Perine and Clemson's overrated, but statistically solid, defense.  While Clemson is the ranked team here the ACC has been awful early in bowl games suggesting the conference is not as strong as people imagined.  OU 33 Clem 20.

Advocare V100 Texas Bowl: UA-Fayetteville (-7) vs. UT-Austin: First things first, this won't be a replay of the Game of the Century. In fact, while I think UT-Austin is on the upswing with coach Strong and I truly believe that coach Bielema is one of the worlds great turds, I also think that UA-Fayetteville is one of the better rushing teams in the country.  UA-F 27 UT-A  10.

Houston Texans: When Middle of the Pack is A-OK

Sunday morning, I woke up, checked my Twitter account, and found a couple of angry tweets from a Texans fan suggesting that I "eat crow" as well as a infographic illustrating how I can shove my opinion up my backside. 

Normally, I would just ignore this and go on about my business. However, this guy did two things wrong: 1. He spelled my name wrong. 2. He didn't even get my position on the Texans record correct. While it's true that I predicted the team would go 5-11 this season I also added this disclaimer:

I will say this, I believe that 5-11 is the FLOOR for the Texans and not the ceiling. The ceiling is 8-8 although, for draft picks, that could be just about the worst-case scenario since it would probably mean that the Texans will be out of the running for any of the top QB's in next year's draft.
So, when all is said and done I was one game away from their final result.

Picking NFL games at the beginning of the season is a crap-shoot at best, and should be treated as such. I think it's wise to establish a range and then live with it.  To my way of thinking, the Texans range this last year was 5-11 to 8-8.  That they outplayed (slightly) what many thought to be their ceiling in the face of several injuries speaks volumes regarding the coaching job turned in by Bill O'Brien and his staff.

As it stands I picked 5 of 8 Division champions which is higher than 50% so I'm very happy on that front.  Teams that surprised me were the Texans (discussed), Pittsburgh, Dallas and the Panthers. Teams that turned out to be worse than I thought were the Ravens, Bengals and Eagles.

Now that all is said and done, and with the benefit of perfect 20/20 hindsight, I think the final record of the Texans is just about where they should be.  Throughout the team's history the norm has been somewhere around .500, with a few variations either up (or down) that has led this to be one of the more average teams in the league.

After 13 seasons of play the combined record for the Texans is 88-120-0 in the regular season. In the playoffs the team is 2-2 all time, having made the playoffs in 2011 and 2012 so overall 9-7 is a good year.

The question now is whether or not slightly above average, the Texans will have the 16th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, will be good enough for General Manager Rick Smith to keep his job?

Heading into 2015 the Texans have more questions than answers. O'Brien seems like a quality NFL coach, they are now expected to bring Arian Foster back, one would think they also bring back C Chris Meyers but after that it's a crap-shoot.

Brooks Reed is probably going to be wearing another uniform next year as will Andre Johnson unless both players take huge pay cuts.  The Texans will still be dealing with salary cap problems this off-season but not to the degree that they have the last two years. Heading into the draft the list of needs will probably by much the same as in 2014 (which is concerning) and include QB, OL, LB, DB & WR. If Foster's hamstring issues are worse than expected you can add RB to that list as well.

Minus any breaking news today I'm expecting that Rick Smith will again be in charge of the Texans draft process, a fact that has to be discouraging for fans.

That aside, this was a good season for the Texans and, coming off the 2-14 disaster that was 2014 it is hoped that the future is looking up. 

As for my opinions?  Well, I'm not shoving them up my backside and I'm not eating crow today. Overall I think my opinions regarding the matter were pretty much spot on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

College Football: Pick your coaching poison

Two schools, one that I root for and one that I follow since I did graduate from their university system, fired their football coaches recently.  While Michigan (who I root for) has slowly watched itself devolve over the past couple of decades from National power to B1G mediocrity there are signs that they are finally starting to understand the root-cause of the problem.

That said, Les Miles was always a pipe dream (why leave LSU?) and I've a feeling Jim Harbaugh might be as well. Although I'd be happy to have khaki walking around the UM sideline I still think he's more likely to entertain NFL offers first, after the 49ers (the NFL team I root for ironically) give him the boot after the season.

I realize that most Big Blue fans still harbor delusions of grandeur, but the reality is that Michigan football is in a rebuilding phase. Whoever the next coach is will need to understand that and also will need to understand how to bring a program back to glory in the face of some unrealistic expectations from boosters.  Oh, and then there's the evergreen shadow of Bo.

With that in mind I like the idea of Greg Schiano as the next head coach of the Maize and Blue. Yes, his tenure in Tampa Bay was a disaster but, before that, he resurrected Rutgers and took them just about as far as they could go given their resources.  Say this for Michigan, they are unrivaled when it comes to having resources so that still makes them a coveted job.

The second school, Houston, has just hired Ohio State Offensive Coordinator Tom Herman as the coach who is tasked with fixing the mess caused by nice guy, but poor head coach, Tony Levine. In many ways the UH job is the Michigan job in miniature.

The program has history (although not as much as Michigan), they have had some success in the past (although again, not as much as Michigan) and they have a fan and booster base that's somewhat delusional.

For both schools, football history is stuck in the 80's. While Michigan dreams of the days when mighty Bo Schembechler prowled the sidelines and three yards and a cloud of dust, UH fans are still bitter over the implosion of the Southwest Conference and blame Baylor and certain politicians for their ultimate decline.

Michigan wants a "Michigan Man" while UH just wants offense. I've seen many a supporter talk about UH "lighting up the scoreboard again" with very little focus on actually winning.  And while lesser Houston sports writers have chastised UH for firing Levine, more reasoned thinkers realize that what was brewing over at Cullen Ave. was a disaster that needed to be fixed, fast.

I think the UH hire of Tom Herman was a good hire. I think he's got the coaching pedigree to turn the program around and really compete in the AAC, something Levine didn't have the coaching chops to do.  For Herman I think that job #1 will be: Don't lose the games you should win, be competitive in the one's you shouldn't, and don't do stupid things like lose to Texas State or UTSA.

However, even if Herman accomplishes that there will still be a broad cross-section of UH fans who won't be happy. These are the people who spend too much time in the echo chambers of UH football chat boards.  For Herman I have this bit of advice: Ignore them.  Even if you counter their arguments with facts and wins they still won't be happy.

For Michigan there's a tougher road to hoe. For one, the expectations and stakes are much higher. Secondly, even if Michigan's dreams come true and Harbaugh takes the reins (which, despite the fact I don't think Big Blue will get him, would be outstanding for the program and something I very much want to see) there's still the spectre of Ohio State and Urban Meyer in the distance.

My last days on a UH chat board were spent talking about football rivalries and which ones were 'hot' right now.  On my list I left off "The Game" because it's been a one-sided affair of late. Yes, Michigan and Ohio State fans still chirp about it but, on the National stage, it's pretty much a non-entity because Michigan has been an overwhelming loser for a while now.  When I pointed this out to a UH fan (again, facts) what proceeded to follow was an avalanche of insults of the "you don't know anything about football" type.

For the new Michigan coach and Herman, this will be the norm from a large portion of delusional fans.  In many cases I wonder if even wins will be enough to overcome that.  For Michigan I sure hope so.  For UH?  I don't think it ever will.

This goes a long way towards explaining why both programs are currently mired in mediocrity.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The 'screwing' of the Big XII - 2014 College Football Playoff edition.

Earlier today the College Football Playoff Committee (a group that has done the impossible and made everyone yearn for the good ol' days of the B(C)S) released their final four:

1. Alabama
2, Oregon
3. Florida State
4. Ohio State.

At 5 & 6 respectively were Baylor and TCU which caused all hell to break loose on Twitter as the fans of the Big XII suddenly realized a couple of truths.....

1. Neither Baylor nor TCU were viewed as elite teams by most of the country.
2. The Big XII is not viewed as a top conference outside of the Big XII schools fan base.

Honestly, they shouldn't be taken all that seriously, at least this year.  Let's look at the standings:

1. Baylor 11-1 (Loss to W Virginia)
1. TCU 11-1 (Loss to Baylor)
3. Kansas State 9-3 (Losses to Baylor, TCU and Auburn)
4. Oklahoma 8-4 (Losses to Baylor, TCU, K-State and Oklahoma State)
5.Texas 6-6
6. West Virginia 7-5
7. Oklahoma State 6-6
8. Texas Tech 4-8
9. Kansas 3-9
10. Iowa State 2-10

Out of the top 4 teams, the only team with a win against a non-conference ranked opponent is TCU, who beat Minnesota in the game that had them ranked ahead of Baylor until the last week. For anyone below the top four, it's really pretty dismal.

Add the relatively soft schedules of Baylor and TCU to the problem that they didn't get to play in a championship game (something CFP chairman Jeff Long made mention of) and you have a body of work that's just not all that impressive.

While Big XII fans (and touts who obviously lost prop bets on either Baylor or TCU) bloviated about how poor the B1G was this year the reality didn't match the rhetoric.

Consider the B1G:

1. Ohio State 12-1 (Lost to Va Tech)
2. Wisconsin 10-3
3. Michigan State 10-2
4. Nebraska 9-3
5. Minnesota 8-4
6. Maryland 7-5
7. Rutgers 7-5
8. Iowa 7-5
9. Illinois 6-6
10. Penn State 6-6
11. Michigan 5-7
12. Northwestern 5-7
13. Indiana 4-8
14. Purdue 3-9

As you can see, there's no demonstrable advantage for the Big XII over the B1G and, except for one bad week at the beginning of the year, neither the B1G or the Big XII did anything to convince you that one is better than the other.

Think about it, neither conferrence really had a signature win over one of the top teams in the other power conferences, neither conference did much but knock each other around. Most of the conference teams signature wins over top 25 teams are in conference.

As a matter of fact, the only reason the B1G is terrible lie existed in the first place was because Ohio State lost to Va Tech way back in week two while Michigan State was losing to Oregon. It was a joke then and a joke now, and it's done the Big XII fan no favors because it's outing them as blind to the reality that their conference is one that teams are looking to abandon, not one that teams want to join.

In summary then, what happened today was neither a screw job or politics. It was the result of two teams not having the opportunity to make the same statement as the third.

Ohio State's 59-0 devastation of Wisconsin was the most impressive win of the day by any school. The Buckeyes destroyed a very good Badgers team who had just beaten a pretty good Nebraska team,

Oh, and before Baylor fans scream 'but Wisconsin lost to Northwestern' let me remind you that your Bears lost to a very pedestrian West Virginia team who only is 7-5 because they got to play against a soft Big XII schedule.

Don't get me wrong, I still think the College Football Playoff is flawed beyond repair. Leave it to the geniuses currently in charge of the sport to make a mess of it. I think that ESPN and their marriage is going to lead to a lot more of this in the future. I predict that there will be arguments like this every year because too many people lack the ability to take an honest look at their teams and admit that, as in the case of Baylor, what happened was, in fact, justified.

Monday, December 1, 2014

College Football: For Your Consideration.

It will never happen but.....

1. Oregon
2. Florida State
3. Alabama
4. TCU

5. Ohio State
6. Baylor.

I realize that ranking Alabama behind both Oregon AND Florida State is considered football blasphemy but....

1. Right now the Oregon loss to Arizona is looking way more impressive than the Alabama loss to Ole Miss.
2. Also, lest we forget, no matter how much we all want to root against them, Florida State is STILL undefeated.  That means something.
3. Yes, I know, Baylor beat TCU (barely) at home and they are holding that up as proof of case that they are the better team.  But, on a neutral field I think TCU holds on and wins. Head to head does matter, but it's not the be all, end all considering all of the factors involved.
4. If Ohio State, with a 3rd string QB, beats Wisconsin in the B1G Championship game they vault into the 4 spot for me.

Final thought on this issue:  The CFP Committee is going to screw this up.  Just watch.

Unrelated:  HOW has Michigan not terminated Brady Hoke & Co as of yet?

Unrelated II: The last time Nebraska released a coach coming off a 9 win season (Frank Solich) it ushered them into the Bill Callahan era.  Be careful what you wish for Corn Huskers.

Unrelated III: Just because you played football at the collegiate and professional level does not make you an expert on A. Fooball and B. What the fan base at a school you never attended is thinking.

Unrelated IV: Turn your radio off whatever local sports talk show you have in your town, on social media, unfollow and mute almost every local talker, analyst, etc.  Your College and professional football knowledge will increase almost immediate.

Unrelated V:  We're reminded that Not all coaching jobs are created equal.  Funny that Iowa is the place to remind us.

Championship game lines are out.  Or, at least, Championship game "week" lines are out since the Big XII is continuing the "one true champion" farce.  Early thoughts:  Oregon is way too high a favorite against Arizona if Solomon is healthy.  I'm thinking that La Tech on the money line (+13.5) might be the best beet of the day.  If SMU is going to win a game this season UConn is a good bet.  Florida State (-3) at Ga Tech feels low. Could be some value on the favorites if the lines stay the same.

Other than that?  Too early to tell.  Will be interesting to see the line for Baylor/K-State once we get a final status on Petty and the boards re-post.

Friday, November 28, 2014

LineSmithing: Nothing this week.

It's Thanksgiving.  So I'm taking the week off.

And while I think there are some fairly decent plays out this week, rivalry games are typically a mess.

So have a fun time and enjoy the Holiday weekend with your family.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Linesmithing: On a down week for College Football there is some opportunity.

It happens this time every year.  The week before Thanksgiving and many of the top schools are either taking bye weeks or playing cupcakes the week before their big holiday rivalry games.  So the SEC schedule this week is crap, as are much of the major conference schedules because most of the big games are happening next weekend.

To be fair, we're rolling off of four plus weeks with some amazing games and matchups. They all can't be riveting TV.

Lines I like:

1. Kansas State @ West Virginia University (-2.5): The bettors really want to like WVU and Dana Holgerson, but he's no Bill Snyder.  To me this game is pretty simple to analyze. The Wildcats don't make mistakes all that often, the Mountaineers do.  Pick: K-State on the money line for the mild upset.

2. UTEP @ Rice (-7): First off, I like touchdown favorites/underdogs. Especially if I can get a "ties win" edge from the house. In live betting a "push" is often refunded so your potential ROI is slightly higher.  That said, I'm a big fan of UTEP here. Their last win on the road (a 34-0 shellacking of UTSA) was their best win of the season. Rice has been a disappointment this year. Pick: UTEP to cover.

3. Kansas @ OU (-25): To me, this one is fairly simple.  OU has been struggling offensively of late and the Jayhawks have played much better since ridding themselves of the anchor that was Charlie Weis. Pick: Jayhawks to cover.

4. Tulsa @ Houston (-20): I think it's pretty obvious by now that Cougar Head Coach Levine is overmatched in most games. The Golden Hurricane are pretty bad but I think 20 points is a lot to ask of the mess that is the UH offense. Pick: Tulsa to cover.

5. Arizona @ Utah (-4): Put simply, I think the Wildcats are a better team. I also think the "Muss" is overrated as a home-field advantage. Pick: Wildcats on the money line for the mild upset.

You Big Blue Game of the Week:

Maryland @ Michigan (-5): Coming off a horrible win against Northwestern, in which the offense showed little while the defense played well. You might think that Michigan has a chance here.  However, Big Blue's best defensive player (#57 Clark) proved himself an idiot by (allegedly) hitting a woman and has been summarily dismissed from the team. It was a rare occasion where Hoke & Company did the right thing for the program long-term but which could have short-term consequences.  Pick: Maryland to cover.

Other thoughts:

1. UCLA/USC is probably the best game of the week but I'm uncomfortable with UCLA but, right now, the line is UCLA -3.5 which is usually a no-go for me. That said, it's a game I will be watching.

2. With opponents like Stamford, Eastern Kentucky, Charleston Southern and South Alabama the SEC is largely must-miss TV this weekend. They justify playing these patsies due to what they say is the hardest conference schedule in all the land but, this year, that really doesn't seem to be true. Despite their teams being deeply flawed, they're still getting a reputation bump in the CFP rankings. I'm not saying this is wrong, just that it is.

3. SMU has yet to win a game this year. I highly doubt that this will be the week they break through.

4. The highest O/U is Colorado @ Oregon holding at 72.5. Take the under. Oregon will score but Colorado's offense is the worst in the Pac 12.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thoughts: College Football Playoffs, NFL Player Discipline and Kentucky's Men's Basketball Team.

Last night on Twitter I posted this question:

Less Credibility Right Now: NFL player disciplinary process or College Football Playoff Committee? Discuss

I'm going to be honest. It's pretty close.

When you're having to perform advanced logic-gymnastic routines to explain your top four something is wrong.

I've been against how the CFP Committee has been ranking the teams for a while now. It's just gotten worse this week.  The CFP definitely has an SEC bias, despite there being rising evidence that the conference is down this year.

This is a mess.

1. Alabama
2. Oregon
3. Florida State
4. Mississippi State
5. TCU
6. Ohio State
7. Baylor
8. Ole Miss
10. Georgia

1. I get that Alabama has all of the myth and mystery behind them, but they lost to Ole Miss.
2. I'm a fan of Oregon as well, but they lost.
3. The undefeated, defending B(C)S champions are ranked 3rd?
4. Not only did the Bulldogs look inept against 'Bama, but the game wasn't close.

The most disturbing thing is that we're obviously dealing with an entirely subjective process here. There is no objectivity.

For all of it's flaws at least the B(C)S tried to inject some level of data into their numbers.  And the Group of 5 treatment is shameful. 

My rankings:

1. Florida State
2. Oregon
3. Alabama
4. Baylor
5. Ohio State
6. Mississippi State
7. TCU
9. Ole Miss
10. Wisconsin

Also, I would have Marshall ranked somewhere around 20-25. At some point, winning has to matter folks.

Either Roger Goodell must go, or the entire punishment system needs to be re-thought.

This is a mess, and it's a mess created by a man with an out-sized ego and no self-awareness or understanding of how all of this is making him look.

Viewing himself as the White Knight of the NFL has not gone smoothly for Goodell as he's been reminded that, ultimately, it's the owners who pay his salary. Even more troubling is that he seems untethered from any concept of fairness, and has now decided to level punishment based on potential future actions (as he sees them) rather than on the actual crime committed. (In Peterson's case, a plea-bargained misdemeanor.)

There is no semblance of due-process or respect for the collective bargaining agreement, not even a modicum of fairness in the Goodell courtroom and a league that's spinning out of control right now. What we have now is a dual system of punishment that's largely based on two things.

1. Whether or not pictures or video exist.
2. Just how outraged the media, activist groups have decided to be.

That's not justice, it's a freak-show.

Forget losing, will anyone get within double digits of this Kentucky team?

Last night's dominance against the 5th ranked Jayhawks was very, very impressive.  Sure there are injuries and many things that can derail a teams (projected) dream season, but if this team stays healthy they are going to be a handful for anyone in the country.

Kansas tried to hard, in my opinion, to continually drive the ball in the land and get UK into foul trouble. All they got for their troubles were a lot of blocks and fast breaks the other way.  The team that eventually challenges UK (and there will be 1 or 2, I'm sure) will be the team that shoots lights out from behind the arch.

Until then (to quote Uncle Verne) My Goodness!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Linesmithing: Lines I like (And other misc. football notes)

After the College Football Playoff Committee fell in love with the Pac-12 this week and vaulted Oregon into the number 2 spot (over unbeaten and defending B(C)S champion Florida State) and then followed that up with the ultimate shrug of the shoulders to beloved (by ESPN and CBS anyway) Alabama you thought the end of the world was nigh.

And while I'm not overwhelmed by either move (I explained on Monday why the Tide should not be included in the top four) I was surprised that they seem to be so reliant on strength of schedule and so discounting of actual wins and losses.  Regardless, I think it's all going to play out before the season is finished as many of these teams in the top 10 are going to end up playing one another and we're going to end-up with a pretty well-defined Top 4 by the end of the season.  Sure, whoever's at numbers 5 & 6 will raise a stink but I believe that's going to be hollow at best.

Looking to this week, in the lines I like, I believe it's going to be a week for the underdog....

1. Duke (-5.5) vs. Virginia Tech - A week for the underdog except in this game.  I think Duke is hugely underrated by both Vegas and the CFP Committee and is going to show just how good they are against a reeling Hokies team. Does Beemer need to be worried?  Pick: Duke to cover.

2. Ohio State (-12) @ Minnesota - At 7-2 I think the Golden Gophers might be a tougher test than was Michigan State. Coach Jerry Kill is a very good football coach and is getting every last drop of talent out of this team.  Pick: Minnesota to cover.

3. Rice @ Marshall (-21) - After a loss to Old Dominion this Owls team looked done. But two things happened on the way to football oblivion. First, it appears that the ODU team is pretty good and then the Owls have gone and played much better. Pick: Owls to cover.

4. Mississippi State @ Alabama (-8.5) - The Media, and by that I mean ESPN (which backs the SEC Network) and CBS (whose only football property of note is the SEC), are in love with the fighting Sabans. The reason for this is because they desperately need Alabama to be included in the CFP to close their narrative of "bestest conference evah!". I still think Bama is overrated and has a lot of holes, both offensively and defensively. Pick: Miss State on the money line.

5. Utah @ Stanford (-7.5) - In this game Utah is suffering from the Oregon hangover. They got whipped by the Ducks, and suddenly everyone thinks they can't play football. It's been a few weeks but people forget that Stanford got whipped by the Ducks as well.  Pick: Utah to cover.

6. Auburn @ Georgia (-2.5) - The mystery that is Georgia continues to befuddle both line-makers and betters. Here's a tip, when Georgia faces a really good defense they struggle. Auburn has a really good defense. Pick: Auburn on the money line.

7. Louisiana State University @ Arkansas (-2.0) - I had to do a double take when I first saw this line. Arkansas is 0-for-Karma in the SEC since Bielema took over. Pick: LSU on the money line.

Weekly Go Blue! but #FireBradyHoke Discussion

Mercifully, there is no Michigan debacle this week as the team enjoys an idle weak in preparation for Maryland and Ohio State to finish the season.  Offensively, this team is broken beyond repair, something we saw in the 10-9 slog-fest win over Northwestern.

I've seen people say that Brady Hoke has not 'had the chance' to lead a team with his type of QB under center. This is a ridiculous argument on it's face when you consider that he's had 4 recruiting classes now to bring 'his type' of QB into the fold. Hoke has so far shown and inability to recruit or make consistently good coaching decisions.  It's time for Michigan to cut ties and bring in a coach with an offensive mind-set. It's looking more and more like letting Rich-Rod go was a hasty mistake.

Also on the coaches hot-seat: Tony Levine.

The University of Houston Cougars are 5-4 and should creep into bowl eligibility with upcoming games against two pathetic teams in Tulsa and SMU after being idle this Saturday.  That said, a loss to a very mediocre Tulane team destroyed any hopes UH could have had at winning the very mediocre American Athletic Conference.

With a new, partially completed (notice all of the bare concrete?) stadium and a renewed energy around campus life and the athletic program in general, these big losses at key moments (Tulane was homecoming) are starting to pile up.

Worse yet, the Cougars have yet to beat a quality team.  They have wins over Grambling State, UNLV, Memphis, Temple and South Florida. Any time they play a team with a quality record, they seem to crater and are overmatched.

If anything, this means that UH will beat SMU and Tulsa but will be beaten by Cincinnati and should finish the season 7-6.  Given the talent and expectation surrounding this team that's very disappointing.  UH should end the Levine experiment and bring in a young, quality Head Coach for next year.  Right now they're playing more reminiscent of the Dana Dimel/Love Coach era than they are the Briles/Sumlin era and that has to be a concern.

Monday, November 10, 2014

College Football Playoff: Alabama will be in EVERYONE's top 4 Tuesday, here's why they shouldn't be.

Go 'Bama. Roll Tide!

All of the College Football nation is gushing over the Tide again, fresh off of their 20-13 Overtime win over the LSU Tigers in Death Valley Saturday and it's already being treated as a given that Alabama will regain their rightful place inside the top 4 in tomorrow's CFP Top 25.

This would keep the SEC at two teams in the top 4 which, again, everyone seems to believe is the rightful order of things.  According to the guesses that I've seen, the following will be the updated Top 10: (Bolded are playoff Top 4 as of now)

1. Mississippi State
2. Florida State
3. Alabama
4. Oregon
5. TCU
6. Baylor
7. Arizona State
8. Ohio State
9. Auburn
10. Ole Miss

I disagree. In fact, had I a vote in matters I'd rank as follows.

1. Mississippi State
2. Florida State
3. Oregon
4. TCU
5. Baylor
6. Arizona State
7. Alabama
8. Ohio State
9. Auburn
10. (tie) Ole Miss & Duke

A few points about how I got to this ranking order:

1. Miss State is still the best team in the country until beaten. Their body of work is the best in the Nation.

2. Florida State is the defending champion and, until beaten, cannot be excluded from any playoff system despite competing in a diminished ACC this year.

3. Oregon's loss to Arizona is looking worse and worse, but there's no denying the Ducks are playing at the top of their game right now. Clearly one of the top 3 in the country.

4. Yes, Baylor beat TCU but, since then, the Horned Frogs have been on a roll destroying some very good teams.  I argue that Saturday's dismantling of K-State is a much more impressive win than was Alabama's escape over LSU. (As a matter of fact, on a neutral field I'm willing to bet LSU/K-State would be pretty close to a pick 'em game.)

5. That loss to West Virginia is a puzzler, and the relatively weak schedule (and the fact that the TCU win over Minnesota is looking better every week) puts them behind the Frogs at this time.

6. Sparky might end up with the best loss of all the teams as UCLA seems to be understanding things late.  The win over ND was nothing short of domination.

7. The loss to Ole Miss is looking worse and worse, and a close win over LSU is not the great thing many are saying.  Look up and down Alabama's schedule, where's the signature "top 4" win?  I guess you could say aTm, who's looking much better all of the sudden, but I still don't think it's better than TCU's win over K-State, Baylor's thrashing of the Sooners or Sparky's win over ND.

8. That loss to Va Tech is going to be an anchor around them, but the win over Mich State helps some. The problem could be that Sparty is not really as good as we've supposed against anything other than blah B1G competition.

9. The loss to Aggie has me questioning this, but I don't see much behind them that would cause me to drop them lower.

10. Ole Miss: They're probably in free-fall right now, but I think they hold on until, at least, the Egg Bowl where they could play a major spoiler role.

10. Duke: Think about this: Is the Miami loss any worse than Ohio State's loss to VaTech? I don't think so. In many ways I think it's better. And if you're not going to take off from Florida State for the ACC then it's not fair to do so for the Blue Devils.

One problem we're seeing with the CFP is that there's still a large dose of SEC bias. This is happening despite a considerable amount of evidence that the conference as a whole is flawed this year. If anything, this could be the year that the Pac-12 deserves the title of "best" in the place of the SEC.  What the Pac-12 is lacking, of course is a broadcast network solely devoted to it's promotion (CBS) and ESPN having a huge financial stake in the success of the SEC Network.

The Pac-12 has Fox, and given their dismal record of college sports that's just not going to be enough to overcome the opinion-making of CBS and ABC.  It's just not.

The Big XII and the ACC are just spinning their wheels, playing the hype game at a level that is far inferior to the Big 2, and the B1G itself is just in shambles right now.  As for the state of Power 5 Conference football?

It's suffering as well.

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.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

10 Games (Week 4): Some progress is better than none at all.

First up: Just shut-up Mr. Solomon. Never-mind that the piece was over-long, poorly-written, and one huge logical fallacy, there's also the fact nobody likes a know-it-all.  Especially a know-it-all who thinks his mistaken moral statement should be your mistaken moral statement. This is just a reminder that some Texans should not dabble in our state sport.

On to the games.

Lather, rinse, repeat.  Last week I went 6-4 ATS and 7-3 SO bringing me to 14-16 ATS and 22-8 SO for the season. The sad thing is, after two pretty good weeks, I'm still trying to make up ground from the awful 2-8 ATS start.  Tougher games this week, but let's see if I can crack .500.

1. Auburn (-9) @ Kansas State. - I always have a tough time going against Coach Snyder at the stadium bearing his family's name. Plus, I think Auburn is a little overrated this year.  AU 24 KSU 21

2. Florida @ Alabama (-14.5) - People are suggesting that Gator HC Will Muschamp needs a good year and a signature win to keep his job. I don't know about the good year, but I don't think on the road at Alabama is the best place to get that signature win.  Plus, I'm unconvinced the Gators are any good.  UF 10  Bama 35

3. Oklahoma (-10) @ West Virginia - Coach Dana Holgerson have the Mountaineers playing better football this year, but I think Oklahoma has one of the best teams in the Country. OU 42 WVU 24

4. Clemson @ Florida State (-20) - How fast the mighty have fallen. Head cheerleader Dabo Sweeney seems at a total loss with how to handle this Clemson team. While Florida State is not the juggernaut they were last year, they're still plenty good.  CLEM 20 FSU 34

5. University of Nevada-Las Vegas @ Houston (-20) - I have to admit to almost spitting out my coffee when I saw this line.  UH, by 20?  Over anything other than air?  Houston would need to play a perfect game to cover here, I don't think HC Tony Levine is capable of getting that out of his players. UNLV 27 UH 28

6. Miami @ Nebraska (-7.5) - Of all the games on the schedule this week I think this one is the toughest. The Corn Huskers looked terrible last week but I think they were overlooking McNeese State. I'm not all that sure Miami is a very good team.  The U 14 Neb 35

7. California-Berkeley @ Arizona (-10.5)  - Cal is running on fumes. Coach Sonny Dykes is a sentimental favorite of mine (I was growing up in Midland when Spike Dykes was a local legend) but I like team Bear Down here. Cal 17 AZ 38

8. Virginia @ BYU (-15) - BYU is a tough team to play at home. They have a good QB (although not a Heisman candidate as some are saying) and pretty strong defense. But the Cavaliers are showing a penchant for finding "a way".  Virginia 17 BYU 24

9. Mississippi State @ Louisiana State University (-10) - Last week the Tigers pushed. This week I think they cover against an overrated Miss State team.  MSU 13 LSU 41

10. Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech (-8) - So, which is the real Va Tech?  The team that beat Ohio State at the Horseshoe or the mess that lost to ECU in Blacksburg?  I'm thinking it's the former. Plus, the Rambling Wreck is none too happy with Paul Johnson I'm hearing. GT 7 VaTech 27

Bonus Games:

Utah @ Michigan (-6.5) - Right now it's unclear which of Michigan's four starters who sat during the Miami(OH) game will play against Utah.  The Wolverines are going to need them back if they want to cover this game, especially Funchess.  That said I don't like the Wolverines chances here as their overall lack of team speed is going to be exposed (again).  The term 'Big Ten slow' comes to mind unfortunately.  Utes 24 Michigan 21

Bethune-Cookman @ UCF (no line posted) - There might be a line for this, but I can't find it and it doesn't appear that the Westview Superbook has one posted.  If one shows up before Saturday I'll update this.  Until then I think this is one of those FCS vs. FBS games that might surprise some people. Bethune-Cookman already has an FBS (sorta) win on their schedule against FIU. I don't think they can beat UCF, but they might keep it closer than the experts think.  BCU 17 UCF 31

I'm getting this out of the way early this week, and I realize that there might be many line-moves in advance of the games.  If there are any significant moves I'll update throughout the week.  I'm going to try this going forward, to make it more accurate re: game day betting conditions.

Good luck.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

College Football 10 Games: (Week 3) Starting to get a better feel for it.

So, in week 2 I went 6-4 ATS and 7-3 SO.  That puts me at 8-12 for the season ATS (which shows just how bad a terrible week can be) and 15-5 SO.  Clearly I'm doing an OK job picking winners but not such a good job on how much they're going to win by.  If you were betting money-line, this would be OK but you wouldn't make any money.  Let's try to get a strong week ATS going here.

As a bonus this week I'm going to throw in a game I wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole, but for which I have some thoughts on.

Without further ado....

1. Baylor (-34) @ Buffalo  - These huge spreads typically give me reason to pause.  But with Baylor and their laugher of a non-conference schedule I still think the Bears are OK.  BU 63 BUF 10

2. Virginia Tech (-11) vs. Eastern Carolina - Coming off of a big road win against the Buckeyes the public loves them some Hokies.  I'm going to fade them b/c of emotion and the fact that ECU is not half bad.  Hokies win, but close.  VT 27  ECU 20

3. Brigham Young (-14) vs. Houston - Last week against Grambling State meant nothing. This Cougar team is still awful.  BYU 42 UH 14

4. Georgia (-6) vs. South Carolina - Gurley will run rampant, SC is still trying to put it together. The biggest miss that I had in the pre-season was predicting them as an SEC contender. That said, this game is a must-win if they want to stay in the hunt.  UGA 24 SC 21

5. Oklahoma (-21) vs. Tennessee - We keep hearing how the Vols are "back". This game will go a long way to telling us if this is true or not.  OU 35 UT 10

6. Maryland (-4.5) vs. West Virginia - Given the B1G's no-good awful Saturday last week I'm surprised they're favored in foosball.  Maryland 20 WVU 35

7. Texas Tech (-2) vs. Arkansas - I don't like Beilema as a coach but I think Arkansas is more talented than the Red Raiders. That said, I think Kingsbury gets it done.  ARK 20 Tech 24

8. Texas Christian (-8.5) vs. Minnesota - Again, at this point how can you pick the B1G for anything?  TCU 27 Minn 14

9. Oklahoma State (-13.5) vs. UT-San Antonio - For two weeks now I've been burned by the Sr. laden Road Runners.  I'm a believer.  OSU 27 UTSA 20

10. University of California - Los Angeles (-6) vs. Texas-Austin - The Longhorns are a program in deep distress. UCLA has looked good on one side of the ball, but not the other, for two weeks now. I think this is finally the week we see what UCLA can really do. UCLA 56 UT-Austin 10

Bonus picks: (Games I would not touch due to a variety of reasons)

Michigan (-31) vs. Miami (OH) - Ironically, the Wolverines are favored by the exact same amount that Notre Dame whupped them by last Saturday.  Right now, as much as I'm rooting for them, I can't pick Michigan to beat air by 31 points.  Go Blue 35 RedHawks 27

Iowa (-15.5) vs. Iowa State - What game have the Hawkeyes played this year to make you think they're 16 points better than the Cyclones?  This shows the power of pre-season perception (that the Hawkeyes would contend in the B1G) taking over common sense.  Iowa 14 ISU 27

Good luck this week and Go Blue!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Houston Texans: On the record for 5-11

The NFL regular season starts this evening so I thought it might be a good time to go on record for the Texans season. Last year, I predicted they would go 9-7 and barely missing the playoffs. Despite that being horribly wrong I should note that I was much more accurate than most of the paid sports writers in Houston, almost all of them suggesting double digit win totals and a Division title/deep playoff run.

So, without further ado:

Week 1: vs. Washington - Loss
Week 2: @ Oakland - Loss
Week 3: @ NY Giants - Loss
Week 4: vs. Buffalo - Win!
Week 5: @ Dalla - Win!
Week 6: vs. Indianapolis - Loss
Week 7: @ Pittsburgh - Loss
Week 8: @ Tennessee - Loss
Week 9: vs. Philadelphia - Loss
Week 10: Bye
Week 11: @ Cleveland - Win!
Week 12: vs. Cincinnati - Loss
Week 13: vs. Tennessee - Win!
Week 14: @ Jacksonville - Loss
Week 15: @ Indianapolis  - Loss
Week 16: vs. Baltimore - Loss
Week 17: vs. Jacksonville - Win!

So, over all I've got the team at 5-11.  Given the weakness of the first three teams on the schedule however (games I have all marked as losses) that could improve to 8-8 IF the team starts off well.

That said, all of the teams that fans of the Texans are looking at as "weak" on the schedule also have fans that are looking at the Texans as if they are a sure win. It cannot be ignored that this team a.) has a 14 game losing streak in games that count and b.) looked like a hot mess against both Arizona and San Francisco.

I will say this, I believe that 5-11 is the FLOOR for the Texans and not the ceiling. The ceiling is 8-8 although, for draft picks, that could be just about the worst-case scenario since it would probably mean that the Texans will be out of the running for any of the top QB's in next year's draft.

I don't go too much into the NFL regular season predictions (preferring to focus on the college game (which, to be honest, I watch a lot more of because I find NFL games boring) but here's how I see the rest of the divisions shaping up.

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts
2. Tennessee Titans
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
4. Houston Texans

AFC North

1. Cincinnati Bengals
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Cleveland Browns

AFC East

1. New England Patriots
2. Miami Dolphins
3. New York Jets
4. Buffalo Bills

AFC West

1. Denver Broncos
2. San Diego Chargers
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. Oakland Raiders

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. Carolina Panthers

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers
2. Detroit Lions
3. Chicago Bears
4. Minnesota Vikings

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. Washington Redskins
3. New York Giants
4. Dallas Cowboys

NFC West

1. Seattle Seahawks
2. Arizona Cardinals
3. San Francisco 49ers
4. St. Louis Rams.

Yes, as a 49ers fan that last one HURTS, but I think the losses in the middle of the defense (Bowman and Whitner) are going to be too much for the team to overcome and they're going to suffer against the run and TE pass this year.

No predictions for the playoffs yet.  Enjoy the game tonight and enjoy the season.

10 Games: Week 2 (Hoping for a bounce-back)

Complete with two bonus picks this week (not counted in the Stats) since the UH game has no line and well, Michigan.

1. Kansas St (-12) vs Iowa St - I think the score here will be whatever Snyder wants it to be. Iowa State is awful.  KSU 42 ISU 7

2. University of Southern California vs. Stanford (-3) - At the Farm, I normally take Stanford, but I've a feeling this USC team is going to be a little bit different than prior years. USC 27 Stanford 25

3. Michigan State vs. Oregon (-14) - Everyone loves the Ducks. I like the Spartan defense. We'll see who's correct. MSU 27 Oregon 30

4. Virginia Tech vs. Ohio State University (-11) - I think OSU is going to continue to struggle mightily VT 17 OSU 24

5. Brigham Young University vs. Texas (-3.5) - There's no David Ash, which could hurt the Longhorns chances. Last year BYU blew them out. I think they'll be more competitive this year. BYU 27 UT 21

6. Air Force (-2.5) vs. Wyoming - Two mediocre teams really. AF 31 Wyoming 35

7. Colorado State vs. Boise State (-10.5) - Boise is a myth this year, Colorado State is not. At least, I think that's how it's going to go. CSU 27 BSU 17

8. Washington State (-4) vs. Nevada  - I'm having a hard time picking WSU for anything considering their dismal state at QB. WSU 28 Nevada 34

9. Arizona (-7) vs. UTSA - Yes, the Roadrunners looked good against Houston, but that was the pitiful Cougars. Arizona is a good team this year.  AU 56 UTSA 20

10. Southern Methodist University vs. North Texas (-2)  - I understand they were playing a better Texas team but a shut out?  SMU is leaking water.....  SMU 10 UNT 35

Bonus picks:

University of Houston vs. Grambling State (No line)  - The 2nd game at TDECU Stadium cannot possibly go any worse than the first right?  Right?  I don't think there's any way UH could possibly lose to this school but Oh Lord if they do.  UH 35 GSU 17

The (2nd) Big game of the week: (Even I'll admit Michigan St./Oregon is the game to watch)

Michigan @ Notre Dame (-4) - Closing out the rivalry under the lights with Touchdown Jesus looking on?  Count me in for that as must-watch TV.  Both teams humbled lesser, marginal FBS programs in week one but now have to think that this will be their coming out party. Notre Dame is ranked around 16th and Michigan is among "others receiving votes".  That said I think the teams are pretty equal.  I have no basis for this pick other than that I'm a Wolverine fan....

Go Blue 42 Notre Dame 38

Here's to a game fitting of a series ender.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

From the Waiver Wire: News, notes & other stuff (Labor Day Weekend Edition)

A lot of ground to cover:

J.J. Watt gets paid. - The best player on the Texans roster (and quite possibly, the best defensive player in the league) gets paid like it. Yes, there are people (mainly in Houston's media and among the usual idiots who grouse about anything) who don't like this deal but I would argue it had to get done. We can go back and forth about the ethics of someone who plays a game making $100 Million until the contract kicks in but it won't change the fact that JJ received market value.

The NFL's "homophobia" is a red herring. - The real problem here is that Sam is not talented to justify putting up with all of the distractions. In part, he brought this on himself by dabbling with the reality series and generally making a hash of it PR wise.  True, ESPN shares some of the blame for making up stories where none existed but, at the end of the day, players like Sam are a dime a dozen and it's not unusual to see them NOT get selected to a practice squad.  It's less homophobia than it is the reality of life in the NFL.

So goes Bo.  - The Astros are a long-running mess and (apparently) this issue has been brewing for a while. As is their wont, Houston's sports media is suddenly bursting at the seams with anecdotal evidence regarding the issues with both Porter and (Astros GM) Lunhow. The question now being: Why weren't these issues reported before? For all of the homer stories reporting that the Astros are "doing it the right way" the preponderance of evidence is suggesting they are not.

The keys to the Carr - I guess that about does it for the career of Matt Schaub.  With Derek Carr taking over in Los Angeles you have to think they'll just keep Matt Schaub around long enough to ensure they have a back-up in case the kid starts off slowly.  If Derek Carr has even a modicum of success it wouldn't surprise me to see Schaub cut from the roster before season's end. You don't pay $8MM for a back-up after all.

Making his Case. - Congratulations go out to Case Keenum who gets a 2nd chance and a new lease on his NFL life with the St. Louis Rams.  Will he succeed?  I don't know. I think he's too slow through his progressions to ever really be a viable NFL quarterback but I do wish him well.

Yup, they Cooged it. - The University of Houston football program can't seem to get out of its own way. Every time there are signs of promise they tend to fail in a spectacular manner. This trait has become known as "Cooging it" amongst some of the alumni.  On Friday, the Cougars Cooged it badly, losing to UT-San Antonio 27-7 in a game that wasn't that close. Coach Tony Levine is receiving support from some of the more clueless members of local alt-media but that's mainly because (oddly) they like his interviewing style.

In reality, the Coogs have a head coach who doesn't appear to be a viable College head man and a roster that's got talent at spots, but huge gaping holes at spots as well.  This, and they seem to be totally overmatched on the sideline. For UofH to win consistently they need to return to their short-passing game which finds WR's in space and allows them to make plays.  They also need to remember how to play defense.

It's the basics that the team failed at on Friday and that's almost all on the coaching staff.

College Football: 10 Games (Rough Start)


There's no sugar-coating it, I took a whuppin' over the first weekend of College Football. Teams I thought would come out strong didn't and teams I thought would struggle didn't either.  All in all that makes for a pretty rough first week out of the box.

The gory details:

Week One Straight-Up: 7-3

Week One Against the Spread: 2-8.

Where I went Wrong:  The worst mistake that I made over the first weekend was that I forgot to apply my own cardinal rule and assume that teams making big changes on the lines might struggle more than teams that aren't. I also assumed that some teams would reload while some would struggle.

Of all my picks my biggest error was aTm-South Carolina. I was surprised at how little talent SC has at key positions such as wide receiver and quarterback. I also wasn't sure if aTm's defense would hold up.  It did, aTm rolled, and I'm sitting here with egg on my face.

I also made the mistake of assuming UH football was any good at all.  What a disaster by the Cougars.  Tony Levine should be fired, but he won't be, and that program is going to continue its downward spiral.

The best news is that this is only week one and there are plenty of weeks remaining for me to get it back.  As with any enterprise, sports betting* is a long-term proposition and the idea is to come out ahead over time.  I'm sure there are 100's of handicappers chest-beating about going eleventy-zillion and 0 last weekend but let's see how good they are over the entire season.

On to week two and, hopefully, a return to respectability.

*Reminder: In most cases, I am not actually placing these "bets". They're just picks to see if I can finish the season over 50%, which would theoretically make it a profitable season. These posts are for entertainment purposes only and should be taken with a very large grain of salt.

Monday, August 25, 2014

College Football: 10 Games (Week 1)

Here. We. Go....

1. Texas A&M vs. SC (-10.5) - Leaning towards the Gamecocks here with the points. While aTm is set to have  fairly strong offense, their defense (as a matter of fact, every defense Sumlin has coached) has been atrocious. I think SC is going to be the eventual champion of the SEC so it makes little sense to go against them here. SC 45 aTm 21

2. UTSA @ UH (-12) - Opening up their new stadium, with O'Korn returning and a roster full of speed you have to think the Cougars are going to win big. If they don't, then questions about Levine's quality as a HC are sure to resurface. UTSA 7 UH 52

3. UCLA (-21.5) @ UVA - My pick as the eventual winner of the College Football Playoffs should roll here. This game could be the coming out party for Miles Jack and Brett Hundley. UCLA 63 UVA 10

4. Rice @ ND (-24.5) - I'm not sure if ND's overrated offense can score 25, much less against a pretty good 2nd tier team as Rice.  I think ND wins, but I think the Owls cover. Rice 17 ND 24

5. WVU @ 'Bama (-26) - The trendy pick is WVU, thinking that Coach Dana Holgerson needs a big year to keep his job. He does need a big year, but it's not going to start off well against a Tide team that's reloaded. WVU 3 'Bama 42

6. Clemson @ UGA (-8) - Struggling a little bit with this one. Both teams have lost a lot in the off-season so there's a huge unknown factor here.  That said, I think UGA is still going to be pretty good while I see a big fall-off for Clemson. Clem 14 UGA 35

7. Florida St. (-17.5) vs. OSU - 'Noles roll.  That is all. Fl. St 56 OSU 20

8. North Texas @ Texas (-24) - Call me crazy, but I like North Texas here.  Not to win mind you, but to beat the spread against a team with a new coach and uncertainty at several positions. N.Texas 21 UT-Austin 35

9. Wisc vs. LSU (-4.5) - Running against type I think Wisconsin wins this game outright. Wisc 24 LSU 21.

10. Boise State vs Ole Miss (-10) - This year, we'll be able to quiet the Boise State crowd early. Boise State 14 Ole Miss 42.

I will never bet on Michigan, but will discuss the game every week:

Appalachian State @ Michigan (-34.5) - Go Blue and all of that but 34 1/2 points?  I hope Michigan wins, and if they don't, I think this is the end for Hoke, but I don't see them covering this.  App St 24 Blue 42

Regardless, good luck to you this weekend and here's hoping your teams, and wagers, are winners.

Friday, August 15, 2014

College Football: 10 Games Introducton

Many people are pointing at August 28th as the first "day" of the 2014 College Football season. That's not true.  The first game to be played is Sam Houston State University vs. Eastern Washington University pitting the pre-season number 1 ranked FCS team in all the land against the National runners-up the last two years running.

Eastern Washington has a great college QB and a heck of an offense.  Sam Houston has a lot of questions with a new coach (and new players at key offensive position) so this game could either be a back n' forth monster (Remember: EWU is going to have very little game tape on Sam) or it could be a blowout either way.

Unfortunately, there are no lines on FCS football (yet) so we'll omit them from our weekly 10 game ATS challenge and focus instead on the games that begin August 28th.

This year, to reflect wagering reality, the lines in question will come from the LVH Superbook as reported by the linemakers for Sporting News.  Bets and predictions are accurate as of the day of the post only, and I'm not going to track any line moves.

The goal, as you've seen before if you've read my blogs for any length of time, is to spend just an average amount of time on 10 games per week in an effort to crack 50% and (theoretically) turn a profit.

As a reminder: Since I don't live in a State where sports gambling is legal and my day job would not look kindly on me engaging in illegal activity I will not actually be placing these bets. Consider this more a social experiment to see if a normal schlub can obtain similar results as the so-called "services" which really just exist to take your money.

I won't spend more than 10 minutes researching each game, and I'll always provide a Michigan prediction (because I'm a fan) although I'd never lay money on them.  I'll also try to include Texas teams (when possible) because I live in Houston.

It's important to remember that I'm not predicting these to be the 10 "best" games of the week.  These games will be the ones that I think have profit potential.

Right now I'm in the process of selecting the 10 games for the first game of the week.

Good luck this year, and make some money.

Monday, August 11, 2014

College Football: The New Playoff should be easy to predict....

...provided the members of the panel are honest brokers.

IF you believe, as do I, that winning one's conference is a prerequisite to winning the National Championship then 4 of the 5 winners of the major conferences should get an invitation to the dance.  Yes, there will be exceptions if, should one year, two conferences have a down year or a 4-loss division winner pulls an upset but, for the most part, it should be pretty clean.

If you run on that assumption then it makes sense that your College Football Playoff predictions would mirror your Conference predictions.  This lies outside rankings, numbers, 30 people meeting in a room etc.  It's just simple math.

Because of this I'm predicting the following 4 teams will receive invitations to the newly minted College Football Playoff:

1. Ohio State (Champions - B1G)
2. Florida State (Champions - ACC)
3. UCLA (Champions - PAC 12)
4. South Carolina (Champions - SEC)

I think SC goes in with 2 losses but, by upsetting Alabama, they get the 4th seed. UCLA (with one loss) probably deserves the 2 seed but will get the 3 seed because....West Coast.  Florida State and OSU will battle all year long for the first seed, with OSU winning out after an impressive B1G Championship rout over Iowa.

In the Championship Game I think it will be Ohio State and UCLA with the Bruins coming out on top for the championship in 2014/2015.

And yes, I've backed that up on a futures wager in Las Vegas.  That would be the Bruins at 25/1

The weekly pick-em and odds tracker will be up before the first games are played on the 28th of August. At that point I'll continue my mission to prove you can beat 50% (and turn a profit) without an expensive gaming service and with just a modicum of research. (after all, we all have jobs right?)

Good luck this season, make a ton.

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