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.

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