Wednesday, September 28, 2016

College Football: The Week 5 er...FIVE.

Found out earlier this week that I had an inner ear infection. This is why I've felt like I've had vertigo and an upset stomach that's been getting progressively worse for a while now.  I'd like to blame my previous week's piss-poor FIVE results on this but then I wouldn't have an excuse should I be off again this week.

I just need to accept the fact that I'm in the mother of all slumps early-on this year and handicap through it. As is usual, I feel good about this week's FIVE. I think we might be onto something here.

Then again, if you're fading my selections so-far you're 20-5 so consider that. As always though, these picks are NOT representative of actual wagers I'm making and are for entertainment purposes ONLY. If you're using the analysis of an accountant as a means to determine your real-life wagering please go get some help.

Without further ado, this College football weekend looks tasty.

The Week 5 FIVE:

1. Stanford @ Washington (-3). I get why the Huskies are a favorite here. The public loves them and their coach, and they're playing at home.  While it's a good home advantage, and while I think UCLA last week proved how to contain Christian McCaffrey, I also think that Stanford showed they can still win a game if you shut him down. Stanford 24 Washington 21. Stanford win on the ML.

2. Toledo @ BYU (-4). How crazy is it that we're wondering if BYU QB Taysom Hill is still as good as he was after blowing out both knees?  Of course he's not, but he's still plenty good.  I think that Toledo is plenty good too but I think it's been against weaker competition. I think that BYU's losses against strong competition are better than Toledo's wins over cupcakes. Toledo 21 BYU 38. BYU to Cover -4

3. Northwestern @ Iowa (-12). This is a classic matchup of two teams that I feel get over valued each and every year. Of the two teams,the best win on either schedule is Northwestern's win over Duke. But they also have the worst loss against Illinois State. Iowa lost to the Bison of North Dakota State and then barely beat a hapless Rutgers squad 14-7. Northwestern 14 Iowa 17. Northwestern to cover -12.

4. Arizona State @ Southern California (-10). Pity the House of Troy. Coming in to week 5 they are 1-3 and seem to be nearing desperation. Meanwhile Arizona State, picked to finish last in the division, is 4-0 with an offense that looks to be pretty impressive, and a defense that appears to be total shit. USC can play some defense, but they are a poorly coached team that is self-destructing right now. ASU 38 USC 41. Arizona State to cover +10. (I would go ML but I can't stand that ASU defense)

5. Minnesota @ Penn State. (-3). The Gophers are 3-0 but haven't played anybody. The Nittany Lions are 2-2 and have lost to every good team they've played. The deciding factor here? I think Minnesota can rush the passer and I think Penn State's offensive line is garbage. Still, neither team can light up the scoreboard so I'm expecting a "classic B1G defensive battle"....or something along those lines. Minnesota 17 Penn State 14. Minnesota win on the ML.

Other games of note:

Texas @ Oklahoma State (-2.5). The loss to Cal took a lot of starch out of the "Texas is back" sails and OSU getting trucked by Baylor provided some clarity on the Cowboys as well.  As I see it, this is a pretty meaningful game for both of these schools because the loser finds themselves officially out of Big XII title contention. Although, in reality, neither is really in the conversation anyway because neither team is especially good.  Texas 27 OSU 28.

Virginia @ Duke (-3.5). This is a game that came REALLY close to inclusion in the FIVE. The problem is that, when running the numbers, I see the result being REALLY close to the line. Too close to have any confidence about. Virginia 17 Duke 20.

Oregon State @ Colorado (-18.5). I feel that I know who Colorado is right now, but I haven't seen enough of the Beavers to really have a grasp on them yet. This line feels funny to me, weighted a little too pro-Ralphie, but it could just be that I'm remembering the Rogers brothers' era. OrSt 24 RunRalphieRun 38.

Tennessee (-3.5) @ Georgia. Finally, in the second half, last week the Volunteers looked like the team we thought they might be. And UGA looked like the team I thought they would be this year in their drilling at the hands of a really good Ole Miss team.  Plus, the Bulldogs are going to be missing Chubb it appears. Ouch.  Rocky Top 31 UGA 14.

North Carolina @ Florida State (-12). A lot of the analytical sites seem to think that this line is too pro-Seminal. My numbers tell me that it's very close to what this game should be. Too close, in fact, to merit it more than brief consideration. North Carolina 17 Florida State 30.

Oklahoma (-3.5) @ Texas Christian University. A road game to Ft. Worth is never a fun task, but this TCU team is struggling on offense and REALLY needs a win to convince folks that this year is not a rebuilding one. Kenny Hill Jr. is an undisciplined mess at the QB position. OU 31 TCU 17.

Utah @ California (-2). If Cal's season form holds then they'll show up to play this week, but this is the first REAL defense they're going to face all year. Utah is coming off of an emotional win, but they don't have look-ahead worries so this isn't really a sandwich game. Utah 38 Cal 31.

Western Michigan (-3.5) @ Central Michigan. My gut tells me that this is the week WMU seizes control of the MAC and we see just how good of a job PJ Fleck has done building this program. The problem is my stomach this year has been a little upset. Still. WMU 42 CMU 24.

Louisville (-2) @ Clemson. The "ACC Game of the year" for the second time this season as Lamar Jackson and Company head over to South Carolina to play the fighting Dabos. Either Clemson is going to figure it all out, or they are going to get trucked. I don't think a Seminole-level ass-whipping is on deck here. Louisville 38 Clemson 35.

Arizona @ UCLA (-13.5). Every week I want to select Arizona as my "upset special" and every week I shy away.  But RichRod is going to bag one of these teams eventually and it just might happen during this #PAC12AfterDark game that's sure to be an offensive showcase. BearDown 38 UCLA 42.

And finally......

Wisconsin @ Michigan (-10.5). This is the 3rd week that I've been worried the Wolverines are too big of favorites. The prior two weeks they proved me wrong.  But this week I think they're running teeth-into a Badgers team that's well coached, and really, really good. I'm expecting a game-of-the-year type tussle in the big house.  Wisky 24 Big Blue 27.

Monday, September 26, 2016

College Football: Goodbye Hat. (And other early season thoughts)

Knowing what we think we know about the goings-on in Baton Rogue the firing of Les Miles after a no-good, very bad loss to an Auburn team that's, at best, offensively challenged wasn't all that much of a surprise.  It was only the timing and suddenness of it that made it shocking.  Cam Cameron also being shown the door shouldn't surprise either.

In fact, Miles probably should have been let go at the end of last year. But LSU's AD is a weak sort and he allowed his decision to be influenced by emotion.

Speaking of which, here are a few (non-emotional) thoughts on what's happened over the first 1/4 of the college football season.

1. Be careful what you wish for..... you just might get it.  This holds true in the case of LSU and USC, two schools who have been used to startling success but who appear to be on the cusp of heading into dark water.  Firing a winning coach is a huge gamble, as Nebraska how that's worked out for them, and the next hire is insanely risky, especially if you select the wrong person.

2. My FIVE is worse than Florida International. Who also fired their head coach.  Of course, they went 0-4 and I've gone 0-4 in terms of winning weeks. Last week was 2-3 which, shamefully, represents a modest improvement.  I'm now 5-20 for the early season and need to start turning things around. Either that or, like a smart person, you could start fading my picks and probably do fairly well for yourself.

3. Whither the MAC? I had thought that the MAC conference would be better than it is. In fact, a LOT of my incorrect picks have been on the side of MAC teams.  Of them, only Western Michigan seems to have something resembling a top program this year. Head Coach PJ Fleck should be a hot commodity for B1G coaching positions that are sure to come up after year's end.

4. I missed on Texas aTm early. I thought, incorrectly, that aTm would lose to UCLA and Arkansas. This is because I underestimate their defense, and so far we've seen Good Trevor Knight. The problem for aTm is that the tougher part of their schedule is coming up once they get past South Carolina.  Good Texas aTm in September is something we've seen before. It remains to be seen whether or not they can remain Good aTm in October.

5. I didn't miss on OU. I still think OU is going to finish the season 10-2 and win the Big XII. Looking at early conference play you might say that Baylor is their toughest challenge, but the Bears only have a win over a mediocre Oklahoma State team as evidence they are still any good. TCU appears to be having issues defensively, and Kenny Hill Jr. is just as likely to do something bone-headed as he is to do something great.

6. Florida State has been hurt by injuries, but they lack overall team speed. This is another team that I over-estimated, putting them, along with LSU, in my projected pre-season CFP. The Louisville game exposed them, but I still think they have a decent chance to finish the season strong and end up in a Big Six bowl game. I also think that HC Jimbo Fisher might seriously consider making the jump to LSU in the off-season.

7. How impressive was Texas' win over Notre Dame? I think that's a fair question to ask because it's pretty clear the Golden Domers are not very good this year. Defensively they gave up 38 points to Duke.  Freaking Duke, and not in basketball. With Notre Dame's cupcake-laden schedule they should still be able to make a decent bowl, a better bowl then they should make based on their talent because of their fan-base.

8. Son of "Love Coach" is not the answer at USC. Helton is a good OC, but he's clearly in over his head as the head of the Trojan machine. Yes, I understand that from an administrative perspective USC is a nightmare, and that new AD Lynn Swann might be a train-wreck. But if you had to ask me my early pick for the leader in the Tom Herman Derby I'd say it was the House of Troy.

9. Speaking of coaching changes..... I'm not entirely sold that by simply moving to a Power 5 school Herman would be better off than he is at UofH. Excepting money, but when you think about it he's fairly well compensated already.  Yes, I could see him leaving for USC, but (stay with me here) would he really be in a better position at LSU or Mississippi State than he is at Houston? When I evaluate coaching jobs I rank them according to where a coach is most likely to win.  At Houston he doesn't have to play Saban and the SEC West every year, which is why I think going to big-fish USC makes the most sense.

10. The program that hires Art Briles deserves all that bad press they are going to get. Ken Starr's interview only made the program look worse. They still don't understand that there's a problem, or even what went wrong. Almost the entire fan-base of Baylor still believes that this is all an orchestrated attack because they got good at tackle football. It's a cult of derangement and I still say that if the program is not willing to self-police, and judging by the fact that all of the assistants are still there they aren't, then the NCAA and Big XII (especially) should do the policing for them. Yes, ejecting them from the conference would be messy, but I think it's a necessary step to protect them from themselves.

And finally.....

As is typically the case, there are some spectacular games on deck this coming week.

Connecticut @ Houston (-27.5) I realize that, on paper, this should be a blowout, but UConn and the fighting Diacos upset the Cougars last year. Revenge is a dish.

Stanford @ Washington (-3) An interesting Pac-12 battle that could go a long way toward determining who represents the North in the Pac-12 Championship game.

Texas @ Oklahoma State (-3) Is Texas "back"?  Beats me, but this game might provide us with a little bit of insight.

Buffalo @ Boston College (-17) The Eagles have not looked very good this year and Buffalo can at least play offense. They might not need much defense against BC's pathetic points-scoring unit.

Navy @ Air Force (-7.5) Two undefeated service academies going at it. I don't care who you are that's pretty awesome.

Tennessee (-3) @ Georgia The Bulldogs got housed last week against Ole Miss, and the Vols got a huge monkey off of their backs against Florida.

Tulane (-2) @ UMass Is it possible for negative points to be scored in a game? The total here would have to be remarkably low for you to not take the under.

Northern Illinois @ Ball State (-4) It's time to ponder the possibility that NIU is not good this year.

North Carolina @ Florida State (-12) We'll see about Florida State this week as they take on a decent Tar Heel team that desperately needs a win.

Oklahoma (-3) @ TCU If OU is to turn it around then they need to start here. If TCU is to win the conference they must look much better than they have.

Utah @ California (-1) A very, very interesting matchup in the Pac-12. I'm not sure if  Cal can stop Utah's offense.

South Florida @ Cincinnati (NL) Injuries could tell the tale in this game, but it's a key one for two teams with designs on bigger things later on, who both must win to keep those dreams alive.

Western Michigan (-3) @ Central Michigan. The Chippewas are coming off a horrible loss to Virginia, while Western Michigan is looking to prove it's the best team standing in the MAC.

Louisville @ Clemson (-2) The marquee matchup of the weekend could all but determine the ACC champion. This could be an outstanding game.  Or, yet another blowout.

Arizona State @ USC (-7.5) This would be USC's last stand IMO. IF the Sun Devils come out ans surprise everyone with a win here, watch out.

Wisconsin @ Michigan (-10.5) I expect this line to move toward Wisconsin drastically in the days leading up to Saturday. This feels like a FG game either way.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

College Football: The Week 4 FIVE (With trepidation)

At some point this has to turn around right?

When my numbers are correct it seems I'm unlucky as hell, and when my numbers are off it seems I've not luck then either.  At some point it becomes a mountain to high to climb but we're not near that point yet.  Everyone has slumps, it's just that the tout's refuse to acknowledge theirs.

Let's get to it.

The Week 4 FIVE:

1. USC @ Utah (-3). Last week I predicted Stanford was going to roll over a dysfunctional USC team and I was right. What kept the game from my FIVE was that I wasn't yet sure just how bad USC was. I think I have a pretty good idea of that now.  USC will be starting their Freshman QB but I think the problems with this team run much, much deeper than just Max Brown. Utah to Cover -3. USC 17 Utah 27.

2. Nevada @ Purdue (-6). Aw crap, Another road dog that I'm high on. The thing here is that Purdue is a genuinely awful team that might not win a game this year. Their coach is going to be fired and Nevada, while not all that good, is certainly not an easy out. Nevada to Cover +6. Nevada 27 Purdue 10.

3. San Jose State @ Iowa State (-7). Yet another road underdog. Suggesting that I haven't learned my lesson from last week. However, Iowa State is a pretty horrible football team with a coach who (like Purdue) won't be coaching there next year and SJSU is a decent team who, incidentally, gets their quarterback back healthy. Yes, SJSU's offensive line is an issue, but Iowa State is not a particularly strong team at rushing the QB. SJSU to cover +7. SJSU 24 Iowa State 17.

4. Central Michigan (-3) @ Virginia. Virginia is the worst team in the ACC and it's not really all that close. Central Michigan is the 2nd best team in the MAC (More on the best team later) and they've already played in front of a more hostile crowd in Stillwater, against a better team, than they'll face on Saturday.  Bronco Mendenhall has quite the rebuilding task ahead of him. Central Michigan to cover -3. CMU 28 Virginia 10.

5. Georgia Southern @ Western Michigan (-7). It's possible that this game is a matchup between two eventual Group of 5 conference champions. If any side let's the other down however I think it will be the Eagles. Broncos head coach P.J. Fleck has quietly built an impressive program which should have him jumping to a Power 5 school next year. Note to Fleck: RUN (don't walk) away from Purdue. Last year the Eagles whipped the Broncos 43-17 in a game where the WMU defense was helpless against the GSU run-game. Also, last year's GSU head coach Willie Fitz has moved on to Tulane.  Western Michigan to cover -7. GSU 13 Western Michigan 33.

Games considered, but not included (In other words, the games I'll be telling you I should have chosen sometime on Sunday)

Georgia @ Ole Miss (-7) I want to be a believer in Ole Miss, I really do.  But history says that the week after Alabama teams struggle. I like Ole Miss here because Georgia has looked pretty pedestrian this season but I'm not willing to go all-in.  Maybe a min-bet in? 1/2 a min bet in?  UGA 17 Ole Miss 27.

Florida @ Tennessee (-7). An SEC team that I think is decidedly mediocre playing still another SEC team that I think is mediocre. The difference is the 2nd SEC team is going to be missing their best offensive player, QB Luke Del Rio. Florida 10 Tennessee 27.

Pitt @ North Carolina (-7). All these touchdown spreads and not a good team among them. Head Coach Larry Fedora of the TarHeels needs a signature ACC win. Is Pitt that win? I really don't have much of a feel for this game after what Oklahoma State did to Pitt.  Pitt 23 UNC 24.

Louisiana State (-3.5) @ Auburn. S-E-C (struggles on offense). This game could be so boring that if Musberger was on the call he'd be telling Vegas stories starting midway through the 2nd quarter. Of course, the media will term it "another thrilling SEC defensive battle". LSU 13 Auburn 10.

Houston (-34.5) @ Texas State. I'm never a fan of betting games like this. Houston is coming off of an emotional win over Cincinnati, but has a QB whose shoulder is probably hurt worse than they're letting on. I expect a grind it out type of game that Houston wins by something near the spread. UH 35 Texas State 0.

Army (-14) @ Buffalo. I love this. 3-0 Army has beaten better teams by bigger scores than this. Since you probably don't read down this far you might not know this. Which means you might think this line is out of whack.  It's not. Army 38 Buffalo 3.

Okahoma State @ Baylor (-8). The Bears have not looked good offensively and Oklahoma State's defense showed signs of life against Pitt. The issue? Baylor is balanced while Pitt wasn't. first one to 70 wins.  OSU 63 Baylor 69.  (Take the over)

S. Carolina @ Kentucky (-2). Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops is probably looking forward to the day he can get back onto brother Bob's coaching staff. S. Carolina 17 Kentucky 10.

Stanford (-3) @ UCLA. I think this might be looked back upon as the last stand of the Bruins. I was high on them at the beginning of the season but I clearly neglected to take into account the Mora factor. Stanford 33 UCLA 20.

Arkansas @ Texas aTm (-5.5). I'm still not a believer in the fighting Sumlins, but I have a hard time believing in a team full of "karma" either. Rooting for the ground to open up and swallow both teams in this one.  Arkansas 21 Texas aTm 20.

California @ Arizona State. First one to 100 wins. Cal 68 ASU 70.

Air Force (-3) @ Utah State. The service academies are a combined 8-0.  Let me repeat that: The service academies are a combined 8-0. The 0 has a chance to go here. Air Force 14 Utah State 17.

And finally........

Penn State @ Michigan (-19). The bloom fell off the Harbaugh rose last week against an improved Colorado team.  Can the Wolverines get their mojo back?  Good teams win, great teams cover. I think Michigan is a good team that has the potential to be great, but needs better offensive production, especially from the run.  Penn State 7 Michigan 23.

Good luck this weekend regardless of whether or not you are following or fading. (To be honest, I'd fade a bit until I get back on track.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

NFL Week 2: Being on the right side, with the wrong result.

After taking a whipping Saturday in my FIVE I decided that Sunday would be a good day to take off. Going 0-5 will do that to a person. Still, there's something to be said for just being a fan.  When I considered that I'm traditionally, although not this year, better at college football (3-12 this year) than NFL football (7-5 this year) it seemed the smartest thing to do.

So I spent Sunday watching as a fan.  No picks, no fantasy football this year. Just watching the games for the entertainment factor.

And it sucked.

In fact, unless you have something riding on the games the NFL is one of the more boring sports leagues out there. People say that the NFL is "football at the highest level" and, in terms of on the field talent, this is probably true.  But from a coaching/game flow perspective everything is so risk-averse as to be sleep inducing.

Then, there's this.  On Saturday you have your pick of dozens of games. On Sunday you're stuck with the one game that the NFL feels you should care about.  Since I live in Houston that game was the Texans/Chiefs and it was awful.

In the afternoon window I had a choice of either the snooze fest that was the Rams/Seahawks (9-3 final score Rams) or listening to Jim Nantz call a golf match during a football game while Phil Simms just shouted random things at the viewer all game, whether they were related to the action on the field or no.

Why is fantasy football exploding in popularity?  Why are thousands of people openly ignoring the federal ban on sports gaming?

It's because the hard product on the field, for the NFL anyway, is borderline unwatchable.

I didn't even make it through the Sunday night game. I went to bed at halftime.  Monday, however I decided I was going to get back into the picking business.  So I looked at the lines, examined what people were saying, and threw out a couple of plays for the game.

Philadelphia @ Chicago (-3)  O/U 42.5.

My pick was Philly to cover, and the game to go under. Judging by chatter most of the sharp money was on Chicago and the over, and most of the public money as well. At one point I saw that 65% of all money was on Chicago, and 70% was on the over.  I was clearly in the minority but I was OK with that.

Because I trust my numbers.  And my numbers told me that both offenses were going to be mostly overmatched by the defenses, but that Philadelphia had a better chance to score than did Chicago.

And, I was right. Even though I lost on the total bet.

Because mid-way through the 4th quarter the game was well under and only went over because of two silly plays, a pick-six by Jay Cutler, and a punt return for a touchdown by Eddie Royal to bring the final score to 29-14 Eagles. 43.

There will be a lot of touts today talking about "Boom!" and other crap because of those two plays. Acting as if the push they received because of it negated their loss on Chicago, if they don't ignore being on Chicago all together.

The fact is a LOT of people pushed last night, including me. I had a hit with the Eagles plus-3 but gave it back when the extra point was kicked through (barely) after the Royal TD return.

If something like that ever happens to you the important thing is to not get frustrated. You were on the correct side, you just had a bad result.  It happens, don't revamp your handicapping because of it. Alternatively if you're off (as I am now in college football) and it is becoming a trend then you need to take a hard look at your algorithm and see if you're over-weighting something or omitting information.

Also, if you're trusting ESPN's FPI rankings, don't. They have LSU number one and OU number 3. They clearly have a rather large maths error in their formulas. Although, to be fair, I'm not one to talk, because there's an error in mine as well.

Need to fix that.

Monday, September 19, 2016

College Football (Week 3). Recapping an awful, horrible, very bad, no good FIVE

Last week's FIVE  was awful.  We will just admit that the 'road dog' method of including games was wrong and never speak of it again.  I am now officially mired in my worst start to a FIVE season EVER.

The brutal numbers:  0-5 (now 3-12 overall)

Two of the FIVE were missed by a single point, 4 of the 5 were on the correct side of the ledger heading into the 4th QTR, and all of the FIVE were correct at halftime. It was that kind of Saturday.

Once again however I did an OK job picking ALL the games, but the games I selected for my FIVE were a gigantic dumpster fire.

If you're fading these picks (and you probably should be right now) you're killing it.

I however fully plan on turning this mess around.

Here are some games that I'm eyeing for next week:

Nevada @ Purdue (-3) Purdon't is pretty awful, as it's pretty clear that their HC is nearing the end of his tenure after what will be four seasons where they've gotten progressively worse. Nevada isn't what they were a few years ago, but they still have some talent. Not sure I'm keen on ANOTHER road dog though after the mauling I took last week.

Florida State (-6) @ South Florida. The Bulls have a good team, and I expect them to be UH's opponent in the AAC championship game.  Florida State is smarting from the 63-21 shellacking laid on them by Louisville.  Plus, the 'Nole's are banged up. I doubt this one makes the cut but it's a very interesting game.

Central Michigan (-4) @ Virginia. I keep thinking Cavalier's head coach Bronco Mendenhall is going to turn it around. Then I take a look at Virginia's roster and I can't help but think it's going to be a long, long year for the Cavs.

Clemson (-10) @ Georgia Tech. I'm not entirely sure what's wrong with Clemson's offense, but I've a suspicion it's got something to do with bad offensive line play. IF head cheerleader Swinney can fix that....look out.

Florida @ Tennessee (-7.5). With Del Rio potentially out this could be the offensive offense game of the week.

LSU (-3.5) @ Auburn. Auburn at home is not a good thing. Not a good thing at all.

Army(-14.5) @ Buffalo. This is not your father's Army team. They're 3-0 and beating the crap out of teams they used to lose to.

Penn State @ Michigan (-18) There's a lot in this game, none of which I think is all that good for Penn State. Michigan got a wake-up call last week against Colorado. Be interesting to see if it sticks.

Eliminated from Playoff contention:

1. Florida State.
2. Notre Dame
3. The Entire Big XII conference.
4. University of Houston.
5. OU

Things couldn't have gone worse for UofH as they struggled against Cincy, and then their best win finished the evening by looking a whole lot less impressive. Plus, Louisville looks as if it's going to be a tough, tough game. Herman won't have months to prepare for this one.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

College Football: The Week 3 FIVE (Road Dogs Represent)

It's been a suboptimal start for the FIVE this year. But my problem has not been picking games, in fact, I'm up for the year overall, it's been picking the WRONG games to put into the FIVE that I'm counting on for the yearly challenge.

But I've got a good feeling about this week. Hope springs eternal and what not.  To recap, last week I went 2-3 which leaves me 3-7 overall.  As a reminder, the FIVE are not necessarily games I would lay a bet on, but picks in which I have some level of confidence that I've handicapped correctly.

If you're looking to this blog for betting advice you should probably get some help.  This is for my, and hopefully your, entertainment only.

OK, enough preliminaries.....

1. Eastern Carolina @ South Carolina (-3). ECU is coming off of a win against NC State. South Carolina is coming off a loss to a Miss State team that lost to S. Alabama the week prior. The game being played in Columbia makes this interesting, but I think ECU is the better team. ECU 27 SCU 24. Eastern Carolina to cover. (no ML bet because of the game being at SC).

2. New Mexico @ Rutgers (-5.5). This feels like a trap line. There's no way Rutgers should be favored over air right? The Scarlet Knights got whipped by a good Washington team and then beat up on FCS bottom-dweller Howard.  New Mexico beat FCS South Dakota, before losing to in-State rival New Mexico State. This feels like a pick-em pillow fight. NM 17 Rutgers 20. New Mexico to cover.

3. UNLV @ Central Michigan (-13). Again, my thought is that this could be a trap line. This is another case where I think the road dog is in with a chance for the win. CMU should be 1-1, save for a brain fart by officiating and replay crews, and an Okie State team that was way overrated this year. UNLV hung tough with UCLA before lack of depth tired them out. I don't see this as a two TD game. UNLV 24 Central Michigan 27. UNLV to cover.

4. Pitt @ Oklahoma State (-6). If you're sensing a trend this week you'd be right. My play is road dogs. Pitt is going to run the ball down the throat of a porous OSU defense. They're going to control the clock, and struggle defensively to keep up with OSU. All of this makes for a close game. Pitt 27 OSU 30. Pitt to cover.

5. NMSU @ Kentucky (-19.5) Let's just go ahead and make this a road dog sweep. Kentucky has more talent, plays in a better conference, and is playing at home. They have almost all of the advantages they need to make this a blowout.  Their problem? Coaching.  UK is one of the worst-coached teams in the FBS. NMSU 17 Kentucky 27. New Mexico State to cover.

Unlike week 2, on paper week 3 has a bunch of games that look interesting on paper. Here's a rundown of the other games....

Houston (-7.5) at Cincinnati. Coach Tom Herman rested most of his key players last week in a walkover against Lamar (42-0) while coach Tuberville had to play his starters against Purdue. Houston has more talent, is better coached but is playing on the road against a team that's played them close in the past. Houston's defensive backfield will need to contain Cincy's running game and an improved offense. Cincy is going to need to contain Greg Ward Jr. This should be a great game. Houston 35 Cincinnati 20.

Florida State (-2) @ Louisville. On paper, this is the game of the week. Both teams have explosive offenses and FSU is ranked #2 in the country in most polls. But Louisville QB Lamar Jackson has been the breakout star of the early season.  One caveat, Louisville hasn't played anyone good yet. And I think Jimbo Fisher is a better coach than Bobby Petrino.  FSU 28 Louisville 24.

Miami(FL) (-3.5) @ Appalachian State. I'm going to go ahead and put the Canes on upset alert here, because I think the Mountaineers are in with a very real chance to win considering this game is being played in Boone North Carolina. This is a team that ALMOST beat Tennessee, who I think is much better than MI(FL). The U 17 Appalachian State 20.

Oregon @ Nebraska (-3). This one is pretty simple. I think Oregon is on the way down and I think Lincoln is a tough place to play again. UO 27 NEB 30.

Alabama (-10.5) @ Ole Miss. The Rebels have beat the Tide the last two years. But I think the ascension of Hurts to the starting QB role makes Bama's offense way less predictable, as does the play-calling of Layne Kiffin. Should be another good game for Verne Lundquist to call in his farewell season. Bama 24 Ole Miss 20.

Louisiana Tech @ Texas Tech (-10.5). I'm not sure if there is a worse defense in the country than the Red Raiders right now. La Tech 35 TTech 38

Texas aTm @ Auburn (-3.5). I have a hard time picking Auburn to win anything given the awfulness of their QB situation. But I have a hard time picking the Aggies because I don't trust their coach. This one's a push. Texas aTm 17 Auburn 16.

Michigan State @ Notre Dame (-7.5). Here we go with another year where the Irish are overrated. Offensively they are just not an especially dangerous team. Michigan State isn't either, but they still have a solid defense. That said, I don't think they have enough at QB to seriously threaten ND in the way they are going to need to. Michigan State 20 Notre Dame 27.

Ohio State (-2) @ Oklahoma. This would have been the game of the week had OU not lost to Houston to open the year. I think the Sooners are going to be OK once they get to conference play, but I think tOSU is too much for them here. Ohio State 28 OU 17.

South Alabama @ Louisiana-Lafayette (-3). A lot of people are going to get this wrong due to the fact that USA beat a bad Miss State team in week one. U La La is decent and has an outside shot at winning the SunBelt conference. USA 10 U La La 30.

Southern California @ Stanford (-9). We are about to see just how deep the USC dysfunction really is. USC 10 Stanford 31.

University of Texas at Austin (-8) @ California. This is not your last year's Cal team. This Cal team is struggling to find itself, play defense, and develop it's new QB.  Head coach Dykes is someone who everyone seems to think will be the next HC at Texas Tech.  I ask you this: Why would Tech be interested in hiring a slightly older, slightly less interesting, slightly less good looking copy of Kingsbury?  UT-A 23 Cal 3.

And Finally......

Colorado @ Michigan (-20). So much talk this week about Kordell Stewart and the answered prayer. So little talk about how 1. That throw should have never been made because Colorado fumbled the ball on a previous play in the drive but was called down. (in the dark days before instant replay). 2. Michigan is much better this year, Colorado is much worse (albeit, improving). Coach Harbaugh remembers that game in '94 although most of the players on the current roster don't. I think this one is going to get ugly.  Colorado 7 Michigan 42.

If you're thinking this college football season keeps getting better and better you're right. Strap in and buckle up, it's going to be another roller coaster of a weekend. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

College Football (Week 3): An early look at some intriguing lines.

College Football week two was "supposed" to be awful. Full of on-paper mismatches and games that were predicted to be blowouts. And while it was certainly not week one, it was still entertaining and exciting and provided us with all the fun that we could want for over 17 hours on Saturday.

Week 3 should be better.  Because the line-up of games is outstanding.

That said, taking an early peek at the lines there are some things I see out there which really pique my interest.  Here are a few.

Houston (-7.5) @ Cincinnati. This line is going to need to move toward Cincy for me to be interested, but I think it's a fair representation of how the public views this game right now.

Florida State (-3.5) @ Louisville. The temptation in this game is going to be to take Louisville because they've romped to date. But quality of competition matters, and FSU has had the better of that. I'll be watching this one closely.

New Mexico @ Rutgers (-4). At this point I'm not sure Rutgers should be favored over air. This game will receive strong FIVE consideration.

Miami (-4.5) @ Appalachian State. The fighting Richt's go TO App State to potentially get upset. Watch this one closely.

Oregon @ Nebraska (-3). Maybe the biggest contrast of styles game of the weekend. Lincoln is a hard place to play, and the Huskers seem to be doing well to start the season.

PITT @ Oklahoma State (-6.5). I've got concerns as to whether or not OSU can stop Pitt's rushing attack. But I have equal concerns as to whether or not PITT can stop OSU's passing attack. Good, under the radar, matchup here.

Alabama (-9.5) @ Ole Miss. A big revenge game for Bama, against an Ole Miss team that's talented, but who likes to step on itself from time to time. Angry Saban is my favorite Saban of them all.

ECU @ SC (-4.5). I thought this was a mistake at first. I'm already on this game (at ECU +6) but, due to the rules, can't claim it for the FIVE yet. I just hope the line doesn't move too far toward ECU before Wednesday evening.

La Tech @ Texas Tech (-11.5). With TTech's awful defense I'm unsure if I can ever select them again this year. This is a fade team because they are going to give up points to everyone.

Texas aTm @ Auburn (-4). I'm conflicted here. On the one hand aTm has looked pretty good so far and Auburn has not. On the other hand Auburn is a talented team. But there's a possibility that aTm kills all four Auburn QB's behind that porous line.

Michigan State @ Notre Dame (-7.5). Sparty is down (from last year), but I'm not sure they're more than a touchdown down to the Dome.

Ohio State (-2.5) @ Oklahoma. Game in Norman, OU rebounded and Ohio State has displayed a powerful offense one week, and a killer defense the next. I wouldn't be surprised to see OU go off the slight game-time favorite here.

USC @ Stanford (-6.5). Game played  down on the farm. I think we're going to start to see just how deep the dysfunction at USC really goes here.

UCLA (-3.5) @ BYU. Chosen Rosen is good, but I'm not sure he has much of a team around him. Still, they could have enough to beat a pretty decent Cougar team, but I'm not sure by how much.

Texas (-7.5) @ Cal. The Longhorns are going to tell us in this game if they are real, or not. I think it's the former but I'm taking a wait and see stance on them.

And finally......

Colorado @ Michigan (-19.5). The first "real" test of the season for Big Blue comes in the form of an improved Buffalo team. This game scares me a little because Blue had Penn State and then Wisconsin the two weeks following.

Look for the FIVE on Thursday morning. I'll be selecting from these games.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

College Football (Week 2): Even when you're bad, you're good.

Week 2 they told us would suck. It would be horrible, full of blowouts and mismatches and....

OK then.

Even on a week where the schedule is less than amazing on paper college football provided us with amazing finishes, overtime games and the ridiculous in the form of a Hail Mary lateral that never should have happened. FCS schools continued to look good, and win in some cases, against their FBS older brothers, teams we thought were really good might not be so, some teams we thought weren't going to be that good might be, and Kenny Hill Jr. is an idiot.

So, we're right on schedule then, heading into a week 3 schedule that promises to be loaded with big games and even more chaos.

Here are some thoughts on individual games, starting with my FIVE.

1. It was another losing week (2-3, 3-7 overall) for the five, but another week where, overall, I was better than average picking all the games. What this means is that my selections are doing OK, but my method for selecting confidence points is flawed.

Louisville (-15) @ Syracuse. Lamar Jackson is the real deal. This entire Louisville team is pretty good to boot. We're going to find out a LOT about them in week 3, but for now they appear pretty strong.

Texas Tech @ Arizona State (-3). Simply stated, Tech's defense is perhaps the worst I've ever seen. Ever. Ballage for the Devils had 13 touches, and scored 8 touchdowns. You almost have to be trying to allow someone to do that. Kliff Kingsbury is a good offensive coordinator. Unfortunately, for Tech he's their head coach.

Boston College (-17) @ UMass. The most amazing thing here is that BC actually scored some points. I didn't expect UMass to score much, but I did think they could stop an anemic BC offense. I was two points away from being correct.

Ohio @ Kansas (-3) Kansas should never be favored, against anyone. Period.

S. Carolina @ Mississippi State (-7) S.C. is discovering the joy of having Will Muschamp be your head coach. I thought this team should have played MSU close. I forgot that Muschamp can't coach his way out of a paper bag.

Next week should be great, starting on Thursday when UofH has an interesting game with Cincinnati.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

National Football League. (What if?)

I tend to focus more on College Football than the NFL, but I think there are a few pretty good games to chew on in NFL week 1.  More importantly, there are quite a few questions that need to be answered.

What if? 

...Trevor Siemian is good at playing a tackle football quarterback?

Carolina (-3) @ Denver

Then Denver could be REALLY scary because they still have that defense. I still think Carolina is among the top of the class in the NFC, but I see some things brewing that could spell trouble.

Carolina 17 Denver 3

...Jacksonville is better than we thought?

Green Bay (-5.5) @ Jacksonville.

I like what the Jaguars have done with their lineup, and I love the young talent on this team. I could see a world where Bortles and Rodgers get into a shoot-out. I could also see a shellacking.

Green Bay 27 Jacksonville 20

...Houston really IS better than their 9-7 mean?

Chicago @ Houston (-6)

Let's be honest. So far Houston Texas' NFL franchise is more famous for it's cheerleaders (who leverage social media well)  than anything they've done on the field. But, if Osweiler can play and JJ Watt is healthy and Miller runs the ball well.........Nah.  But they still can beat Chicago, at home, methinks.

Chicago 10 Houston 23.

...Atlanta sucks again?

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta (-3)

Atlanta has been a carnival more than a football team the last couple of years. I think Tampa Bay is getting a little better, but I don't think they're ready to win yet. That said, I really want to see marked improvement from Jameis this year.

Tampa Bay 17 Atlanta 23

....My Oakland hunch is correct?

Oakland @ New Orleans (-1.5)

Then Drew Brees and Co. are in a ton of trouble, because I don't think they're going to be very good this year.  New Orleans is always overrated due to the reputations of Drew Brees and Sean Payton. The problem is, neither guy can play defense. Something the Saints haven't been able to do much of either.

Oakland 38 New Orleans 17

The season starts tonight.  I'm not expecting much in the way of entertainment.

College Football: The Week 2 FIVE. (We all need a little bit of something)

Last week was just one of those weeks. Yes, it was bad. 1-4 bad. The kind of bad that makes you want to saddle up to the bar and order a some rounds while dumping $20's into the video poker machine.

But things are looking up, because we have a full weekend of football coming our way and a fresh new FIVE, ready to go....

1. Louisville (-15) @ Syracuse. If you weren't impressed with the performance of Lamar Jackson last week for Louisville then it's possible that you didn't see the game?  While Louisville romped Syracuse had a workman-like 33-7 win over Colgate. I think the Cardinals are just too much. UL 52 SU 10 Louisville to cover 15.

2. Texas Tech @ Arizona State (-3) While I'm not yet totally ready to buy into the "Texas Tech is a contender this year in the Big XII" story, I am ready to buy into the "Arizona State is not very good" story. I think Tech gets the upset here. Texas Tech 38 Ariz State 31. Texas Tech to pull the upset on the ML.

3. Boston College (-17) @ UMass. Pretty short and sweet here. I'm not sure Boston College's offense can SCORE 17 this year, much less beat anyone by more than that. Boston College 13 UMass 0. UMass to cover 17.

4. Ohio @ Kansas (-3). Talk about your irrational exuberance. Kansas gets one (sort of) field rushing win over Rhode Island (FCS, last year's record, 1-10) and suddenly bettors think they are running the table.  I'm kidding, of course, but Ohio is not horrible.  Ohio 27 Kansas 28. Ohio to cover 3. (I would have bet them on the ML but I already have one straight up upset in the FIVE with Texas Tech)

5. S. Carolina @ Mississippi State (-7). This week's SEC pillow-fight brings us one team that stretched itself to beat....Vandy, and another team that lost to U. S. A. (South Alabama). How Miss State is a TD favorite here is beyond me. This feels like a FG game.  S.C. 17 Miss St. 20 S. Carolina to cover.

Games considered but which did not make the cut. (Like Ms. Delaware in almost every Ms. America pageant.)

Cincinnati (-6) @ Purdue. True, Cincinnati did not look good last week early, Starting slow before finally putting away UT-Martin  28-7. And the Boilermakers defense against Eastern Kentucky?  There's a LOT to suggest that Cincy is going to run away with this. EXCEPT, they get Houston next Thursday on a short week and could be looking ahead. This game was originally in my five but I took it out because the last point brings in too much uncertainty.  Cincy 35 Purdue 24

Arkansas @ TCU (-7.5) This could be the weekend's most compelling game. And I wanted to put it into my FIVE but I've got a mental block against backing coach Bielema. That said, I think Arkansas is in here with a real chance. Arkansas 24 TCU 27.

Iowa State @ Iowa (-15). This intra-State rivalry CAN produce some surprises. But I don't think it will this year. Iowa is the MUCH stronger team.  Iowa State 3 Iowa 28.

BYU @ Utah (-3.5). Maybe the best part of bowl season last year was Brent Musberger calling these two teams in the Las Vegas Bowl. The good news is that QB Taysom Hill got one last year of eligibility. The bad news is I have zero idea of what this Utah team has.  BYU 27 Utah 28. (Or, Utah could win/lose by 50. I really don't know)

North Carolina (-9) @ Illinois. I don't know about you but I'm not ready to say that any program coached by Lovie Smith is a college football contender. That said, I think 9 is a high number for this game. UNC 27 Illinois 24.

Virginia Tech @ Tennessee (-11.5). Will be interesting to watch only because its being played at a race track. This is the game where I, sort of, expect UT-Knoxville to start putting it together. Plus, I've a sneaking suspicion that App State might be a tougher out this year than Va Tech. Va Tech 10 UT-Knoxville 38.

UNLV @ UCLA (-26). Either UCLA is going to be angry that they lost to aTm and are going to try and put a whupping on UNLV, or they're going to go full-on Mora and come out unfocused and struggle. This is Mora, I'm betting the latter. Plus, UNLV is on the ascendancy right now. UNLV 24 UCLA 35.

Washington State @ Boise State (-10.5) Last year the Cougs blew one to Portland State and then started slowly turning it around before finishing with a good season. This year they had better be fully woke because Boise on the Blue Turf is serious stuff. Wazzou 27 Boise 35.

Lamar @ Houston (N/L). Something to watch for:  Does Greg Ward Jr. play. I don't think he should if his shoulder is sore. Cincinnati is Thursday. Lamar 3 Houston 56.

Penn State @ Pitt (-5.5). This line keeps creeping toward Pitt and might get to 6 or 6.5 by game day. If it gets to 7, I'd jump all over Penn State. PSU 24 Pitt 27.

Rice @ Army (-10). I just wanted to include this game so that I could write about the Black Knights being a 10 point favorite.  Pretty cool. Rice 10 Army 35.

And finally......

UCF @ Michigan (-35.5)

I hate big lines like this.  I understand them, but I hate them.  Because no matter what Michigan does it will be looked at by the National Press as "meh". Next week is an improved Colorado team, and then Big Blue starts conference play.  In the middle of that they need to take care of business and dispatch UCF with prejudice. This is a school who's talent well is dry. George O'Leary might be a folk hero there, but he left this program with little to work with.  I also want to see Speight continue to improve, and a power running game emerge.  UCF 6 Michigan 59.

Good luck to you if you're betting, don't forget to NOT take any of these picks to heart or you might be backed off for sheer insanity.  Seriously, I'm an accountant in Houston for goodness' sake.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

College Football: A look at "blowout" lines for Week 2

Where College football week one was a master class in excitement, competitive games and sheer entertainment, week two is looking like it's going to be a snoozer in comparison.  There are a LOT of double digit lines out there where huge favorites play against teams that are overmatched on paper in games that don't appear to offer much in entertainment (unless you are a fan of the favorite) or betting action.

Except in rare cases, (when I feel the favorite team is overrated by the public) I HATE big lines. And I hate betting large favorites to cover.  The reason for this is two fold.  First, you need a lot of things to go right to get to the numbers. Second, you need nothing to go wrong.  As we saw in week one, both are problematic.

With that in mind however it would be remiss to admit that there is value to be had when looking at "big" lines. Especially if you're trying to decide whether the underdog can cover.  I'm going to try and take a look at that here.

Central Michigan @ Oklahoma State (-20.5) Cover potential: 20% 

OSU beat Southeastern Louisiana 61-7 while Central Michigan beat Presbyterian 49-3. In prior years I would have said that the Chippewas are the favorite to cover, but the team has a LOT of questions this year and a win over bad FCS opposition doesn't tell us anything. Of course, neither does OSU's big win over a middling FCS opponent. That said, I think OSU has too much speed and talent for this MAC team that I view as a middle-of-the-pack type of opponent to handle.

UCF @ Michigan (-35.5) Cover potential: 10%

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is using these early games as tune-ups to get his team ready for conference play.  As a result, he's letting the starters go deeper than he normally would after running up the score. UCF is a shambles as they try to dig out of the talent hole left by O'Leary. UCF covers if Michigan has been reading their own good press.

Wyoming @ Nebraska (-24.5) Cover potential: 33 1/3%

Nebraska had a comfortable win last week over a bad Fresno State team, and it was emotional as they said their proper goodbyes to Sam Foltz. Wyoming beat NIU at 3:35AM Central time on an outstanding play that you probably weren't awake to see. Both of these things are emotionally draining for different reasons. That said, I think this Nebraska team is going to be pretty solid.

Troy @ Clemson (-36) Cover Potential: 50%

The question you have to ask yourself here is whether or not you think Clemson's offense struggled against Auburn because of Auburn's defense, or if it's because they have issues. If you think the former then you bet them to cover, if the latter, then you bet Troy. To be honest, absent some more data, this one is a coin flip at this point.

Tulsa @ Ohio State (-28.5) Cover Potential: 55%

Let me make one thing clear: A high cover potential does not mean that I think Tulsa has more than the slimmest of chances to pull the upset. But I do think they can keep it within 4 TD's.  The reason for this is because Ohio State is coming off a 73-10 shellacking of Bowling Green and, oh yeah, Oklahoma is next week.

Akron @ Wisconsin (-24) Cover Potential: 40%

Wisconsin is coming off of a huge, emotional win over LSU, in Lambeau Field. Back in the comfortable confines of Camp Randall, I could see a down week coming. Akron struggled somewhat with VMI. That's not good for the Zips but I think they're in with a chance to cover.

Nevada @ Notre Dame (-28.5) Cover Potential: 25%

Call this the "Brian Kelly" uncertainty principle. IF Kelly goes full time with Kizer at QB I think ND runs up the score and hides sometime in the 1st half.  But, and this is possible, if he continues to try and shoe-horn Zaire in at QB the offense is way less efficient and the Wolfpack could sneak in under the line.

Western Kentucky @ Alabama (-28) Cover Potential: 1%

Do I really need to say anything other than it's Bama, at home, against a directional school? There won't be the personal vendetta that existed last week against USC but WKU is going to find itself way overmatched here.  If they do cover, it would be late and of the backdoor variety.

SMU @ Baylor (-32) Cover Potential: 10%

I still have questions about Baylor, and they are one QB injury away from total disaster. To be fair though you can say that about a lot of teams.  Still, Baylor is a team that I'm probably going to lay off of for the first half of the year until I see the long-term viability of this team.

Idaho @ Washington (-37) Cover Potential: 30%

The only reason I rate this as high as I am is because 37 is a HUGE number. That said, I still think the Huskies (though overrated) have a better than average chance of getting there against one of the worst teams in the FBS.  A team so bad the Sun Belt conference told them "thanks, but no thanks."

Louisiana Monroe @ Oklahoma (-46) Cover Potential: 15%

Here's the thing, I do think that OU is a pretty good team. Who just got beat by a better team in Houston. I also think they're going to be angry. And history has taught us that an angry OU, coming off a loss, under Bob Stoops is typically a run-up-the-score OU.  Sorry ULaMo.

UTEP @ Texas (-28) Cover Potential: 60%

A young Texas team coming off of an emotional-as-heck victory over Notre Dame? A UTEP team who has circled this game? I can see UT-Austin coming out flat and UTEP playing over their heads for at least a half. Then talent should kick in but it might not be enough for the cover.

Eastern Michigan @ Missouri (-25) Cover Potential: 75%

Given, Eastern Michigan is now, and has always been, terrible at tackle football.  But I'm not sure that Missouri has the offense needed to score 25+ points against air.

Lamar @ Houston (-35.5) Cover Potential: 80%

Houston has everything working against them this game. First, they are coming off an emotional win on National TV. Second, they have Cincinnati next week (one of there tough games this year) on a Thursday. Finally, quarterback and catalyst Greg Ward Jr. is suffering from soreness in his throwing shoulder and might sit out the game. I expect a workmanlike performance from the Cougars and a grind-it-out type of victory.

UNLV @ UCLA (-26) Cover Potential: 70%

UNLV is on the upswing and UCLA just got punched solidly in the mouth. The Bruins are a team desperately searching for an identity. I think UNLV has one and should be in with a good chance to come inside the spread.

College Football: An early look at lines. (Week 2)

Right now, there are people getting paid to go onto sports talk radio and tell you that any given line is "how Vegas sees the game" or (my favorite) "Who Vegas thinks will win."

The understanding of lines, and how they are set, is probably the biggest misunderstanding in the gaming industry and, is quite often used by casinos to separate gamblers from their money.

It's important to note that lines, especially in close games, are not "who Vegas thinks will win" but are instead where the number needs to be set, in the minds of the bookkeepers, in order to ensure an even distribution of bets on either side of the line.

There will always be exposure, games where the books find 70% of all money on one side or the other, and no amount of line tweaking is going to change that.  But the books understand a couple of things:

1. They have the Vig, which is mathematically unbeatable.
2. They understand that the betting public is, by and large, stupid and prone to be wrong.

There's a reason the sports books cater to touts, and the action they bring. It's because the touts are wrong a majority of the time. (Regardless of the stats they cherry pick to convince you otherwise.) The Sports books LOVE touts.

My entire FIVE is an experiment to see if the recreational bettor can, with just a little bit of research (and luck), crack 53% (the number generally accepted as needed to turn a profit considering the Vig) over the course of a season. That's why one bad week or, conversely, one good week is neither the end of the world or a big victory. The key is consistency, over the long-run.

All that said, here are some of the early lines that I'll be considering for tomorrow's FIVE:

(Listed in no particular order)

Louisville (-14.5) @ Syracuse
Cincinnati (-6) @ Purdue
Arkansas @ TCU (-7.5)
Iowa St. @ Iowa (-15)
BYU @ Utah (-3)
Boston College (-17) @ UMASS
North Carolina (-9) @ Illinois
Va Tech @ Tennessee (-11.5)
UNLV @ UCLA (-26)
Ohio @ Kansas (-2.5)
Texas Tech @ Arizona State (-2.5)
Washington State @ Boise State (-12.5)
S.Carolina @ Mississippi State (-6.5)
Penn State @ Pitt (-5)
Rice @ Army (-10)

All of these games are under consideration, and much of it will depend on how lines move over the next 24 hours (I'm writing this on Tuesday evening for Wednesday AM publication.)

Schedule wise, this week is far inferior to week one. But from a betting perspective there may be more interesting games out there where profit could be made.  Part of the reason for that is because the public now has a sample set to run off of, so they can overreact to what they saw in week one.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

College Football: (Week One) The Misery Index. (OK, so your team lost...)

You know the drill (unless you are an Alabama fan) the football season starts and you are full of hope and optimism. You look at the roster, the schedule, your coaching staff (unless you are LSU) and you think "this is OUR year".  The year your team finally reaches up and grabs the brass ring of the College Football Playoff where they will then go on a run and play in the CFP Championship game. Where. They. Will. Win.

You've already planned your travel, have asked everyone in your family, in advance, for additional travel money for your birthday and Christmas.  All that's left to do is navigate 13 games (12 if you're in the Big XII). It's all out there in front of you, destiny and one of the ugliest championship trophies ever designed.

Then the mostly 18-22 year old young men on which you are basing all the aspirations of your life go out and get thumped. Not only do they just lose, they do so, in your mind, in the most soul-sucking way. All is lost. Cancel Christmas and go ahead and plow down the football stadium.  No reason to move forward now. You've made the snap-decision to give up college football for a year. You'll take up gardening, or go for long Saturday hikes instead. You're not watching this crap school's team again until they hire a coach who can actually win.

This is all well and good except, and you know this, you won't be digging in the gardenias next Saturday, you'll be doing what you always do: Watching College football and hoping against hope that you can still make it as a one-loss team.

With that in mind it's time to take a look at the misery index, the amount of trouble that teams are in given the fact that they lost a high-profile game in week one.  And while it's silly to say that any team is eliminated from the CFP after one loss, some losses are worse than others.

1. Notre Dame (Misery index: 2.0) Yes the loss to Texas was a stunner, totally unexpected to fans-of-Irish-Eyes. However.

Reasons to hope: It was a loss on the road to a team that has an outside chance to win the Big XII. Texas will be ranked after beating you and you still have that long list of cupcakes "traditional rivals" on your schedule that will allow you to pile up wins. You also have some games with the relatively soft (this year) ACC and a game against USC, which looks to be as soft as a pillow this year. (more on them later.)  Plus, you're Notre Dame, and the CFP is BEGGING to get you in because you have what every college wants, a huge, nationwide, fan-base.

Reasons to despair: You have a good QB in Kizer, but your head coach seems intent on making sure everyone gets a participation award. This means that you're sure to see Zaire play at least some on the coming weeks.

Still, if Brian Kelly can figure out that Kizer is a stud, you still have the pieces in place to get to the playoff and make a run.  Dry those Irish Eyes.

2. Ole Miss (Misery Index: 4.2) Index does not include the potential that you're going to have to vacate all wins this year due to NCAA investigation.

Reasons to hope: Lookit, despite the fact that you blew a pretty good lead on Monday Night it was clear in that collapse that there's a ton of talent on this team. Kelly is a good quarterback and Engram was a stud WR in defeat. All in all your Rebels are a good team that played a bad game. Unfortunately.....

Reasons to despair: There is a growing thought that your coach is just not hardwired to win big games. His offense is great, but it's a one-trick pony. You may never just "run out the clock" when you need to.  And your QB is related to Jim Kelly (who, BTW, was looking GREAT on TV last night. Good to see) who is best known for losing four straight Super Bowls.

Still, if you can put it together against the SEC you'll automatically get the SEC "shine" that should still get you into the playoffs.

3. LSU (Misery Index: 6.8) Les Miles' seat is uncomfortably warm right about now.

Reasons to hope: You still have Leonard Fournette, and a pretty good o-line that can carry you to the win in a LOT of games. You also have a decent defense. And your schedule is still favorable this year.

Reasons to despair: You also are coached by a man who doesn't seem to understand how to run an advanced offense, or how to properly use the assets at his disposal.  And Cam Cameron is a fossil wrapped in a relic offensively. Also, Brandon Harris is your starting QB which is a problem. A BIG problem.

On the bright side, it appears that Charlie Strong and Kevin Sumlin can possibly do enough to save their jobs so you might win the Tom Herman derby next off-season.

4. OU (Misery index: 8.0) You should BEG the preseason rankings people to rank you 11-25 in the future.

Reasons to hope: Mixon looked good, and your defense played well (at times), plus you're playing in a Big XII conference that didn't exactly appear to be world-beaters over the weekend. Plus, if UH runs the table and you do as well you might get in if the ACC, Pac-12, B1G and SEC beat themselves up. Alabama appears to be a lock, but the other three slots are still wide-open.

Reasons to despair: It is really starting to appear that Bob Stoops should have fired Mike Stoops instead of Brent Venables a few years back. And Baker Mayfield showed early signs of having a Trevor Knight "Oh my Gawd" fall apart year following a good year. Plus, UT-Austin looked pretty damn salty against Notre Dame, and you couldn't even beat them LAST year when they weren't that good.

To be honest this feels like an 8-4 OU team, which is what we see when they play without that chip on their shoulder all too frequently.

5. USC (Misery index: 9.9) Abandon Hope, all ye who enter here. (Sort of)

Reasons to hope: OK, you lost, 52 to freaking 6.  But this is Alabama and they have a history of doing this to teams in week one. Plus, the only team in the Pac-12 that looks to be pretty good was Stanford.

Reasons to despair: Where to we start? You got housed by Alabama and your team didn't just seem to quit, they rolled up into the football equivalent of the fetal position. There was a time that you couldn't even cleanly execute the center/QB exchange. Also, Son of "Love Coach" appears to be slightly in over his head. This wasn't just a whooping, it was a soul-sucking whooping.

On the bright side, you have the Los Angeles Rams to distract you this year.

Extra Credit: Mississippi State. (Misery index: off the scale) This, is bad.

Reasons to hope: Wait until NEXT year!!!!

Reasons to despair: You just got beat by a school that's only been playing tackle football since 2009. AND you were a 20+ point favorite to boot. Add to this the fact that your head coach is desperately searching for a way out of town and you have a long, ugly road ahead of you.

Oh well everyone:  On to Week 2!!!!

College Football: (Week 1) We made it out alive.

College football Saturday kicked off at 7:30AM EST and finally finished Sunday morning at 4:30AM EST. That means if you were somehow able to watch it all you gorged on 21 hours of non-stop, continuous football action.


I, did not.  In fact I started the day with Game Day on ESPN, watched UH/OU and then spent the rest of the day cooking food, drinking various forms of alcohol and figuring out where to set my 3 TV's to get the biggest bang for the buck.

There were a lot of choices.

I've recapped most of them on my last post so I'll just stick to Sunday and Monday here, and then throw some dirt on the first FIVE of the season which started, as most do, rather less good than planned.

If there was a theme on Saturday, Sunday and Monday night it was this:  Bad coaching makes good teams into bad teams very quickly. Whether it's Gus Malzahn doing questionable things with his quarterback rotation, or running the High School based, Wing-T offense (Odessa Permian represent) or Brian Kelly inexplicably going back to the Zaire well or even Hugh Freeze refusing to slow down his offenses tempo when he had a lead and the situation called for it, many of the losses that we saw were the result of bad coaching on the part of the losing side.

This is not to take anything away from Clemson, UT-Austin or Florida State. All three teams looked good and each is going to have a say in their conference championships methinks. But bad coaching is always bad coaching and it seems to be a constant when evaluating the losing side.

Before you suggest that I'm piling on, that's not true, because I've got my own personal bad to own up to:  Last week's Five.

1. Tulane on the ML for the upset over Wake Forest. L (0-1) - OK, to be fair, had I gone conservative and picked Tulane to cover (+17) the 3-7 score would have made me look smart. Instead, I pulled the trigger on the upset call failing to realize that Tulane has one of the worst offensive lines in the history of man.

2. FIU to cover 9.5. L (0-2) - For one half this was looking like a great pick. Then the 2nd half happened and FIU crumbled. The final score was 34-13 as it just took Indiana a little bit to get their offense on track. c'est la vie.

3. Clemson to cover -7.5. L (0-3) - Yet another pick that looked halfway decent late, until it didn't. It's not exactly a back-door loss as much as it's overestimating how bad Auburn was. They aren't that bad and their defense is better than I gave them credit for. In fact, they should have won this game.

4. Arkansas State to cover -3.5. L (0-4) - Not only did the Red Wolves not cover, they got destroyed 31-10 by a Toledo team that I think is only 2nd tier in the MAC, at best. I had ArkSt in with a chance at the Sun Belt Title. I'm going to have to rethink that over the next few weeks.

5. Houston to cover 12. W (1-4) - If only I had made this my "upset special" we might have been on to something.  By now I'm sure you've seen the highlights of the game. But what you didn't see was how the Cougars physically dominated the Sooners in almost all aspects of the game.  It hasn't been covered much in the media, but the hit that a UH put on Perine that knocked him out of the game was sudden and stunning. That's the type of hit that Perine typically puts on his opposition.

So, it's 1-4 to start the season which is actually an improvement over an 0-5 start last year.  The good news? I rebounded in week 2 and for much of the rest of the season.  Let's see if we can do the same starting next week.

On paper the list of games next week is not near as strong as what we had this week. But it's still college football, and it will still be chock full of surprises.

Now, let's all go get some rest.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

College Football: Thoughts on Saturday, Sept 3rd

By the time the Alabama game ended I was bleary eyed. It had been a long, long day of college football. A spectacular day full of upsets, blowouts, close games and 3 OT thrillers. And while I admit that I didn't stay up for the last one, Wyoming beat NIU in 3OT's somewhere around 3:30 AM CST, I did watch quite a lot of it.  Here are my thoughts on the same:

1. Alabama is good, Nick Saban is evil.  The win over USC proved some things that I thought would be true. Clay Helton, son of Love Coach, is not going to be the head coach to get the Trojans back to the top of the mountain. Alabama is going to be incredibly good, Lane Kiffin is a good OC, and is going to get a HC job again, and promptly run another program into the ground.

2.The SEC is NOT good  this year. Outside of Alabama who looked good? LSU and Auburn have no offense and lost because of it. Florida might have a good team, but they're weak at the skill positions. (Del Rio is overrated as a QB IMO). Miss State has a coach who wants out so badly he can't hardly stand it (and they have no QB). Georgia and Texas aTm looked pretty good, but do you think either can beat Bama?

3. The Big XII had an awful first Saturday, with OU losing and TCU struggling. Only Baylor won big, against lesser competition. They desperately need Texas to look good against Notre Dame today. Otherwise they might want to invite Houston to join this year, if they want a place in the CFP that is. Oh, and Kansas won a game for the first time in almost two years.

4. Houston is good. The biggest surprise to me is not that UH won, it's that they looked to be a physical match for the Sooners. Houston had just as many, if not more athletes on the field as the Sooners, and they appeared to be better, stronger, faster throughout the lineup. Want to see something scary? Go find the video of the Houston LB knocking OU running back Perine out of the game in the 1st half. Usually you see Perine giving those hits, not taking them.  Herman has a monster on his hands.

5. Good day for the B1G. Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin all looked good. And yes, there are questions about Michigan State (who struggled) and we know that there are bad teams in this conference (Hi Rutgers!) but the big guns looked like big guns and if things continue then "The Game" this year could be spectacular.

6. The ACC is not going to be very good.  The UNC loss hurt, and the Clemson win was not spectacular. In fact, outside of Clemson it's hard to look at the ACC and say that they have any other team that's belonging in the Top 10.Miami looked good, but against lesser competition. The ACC is looking to Florida State...and hoping.

7. The PAC 12 had an awful day.  And I'm not just talking about USC. Washington State lost to an FCS opponent for the 2nd straight year, Arizona lost to BYU. Oregon and Arizona State looked average.  And UCLA's vaunted offense struggled in College Station vs. the Aggies. At least it appears that Stanford is a real contender.

8. All of that said, it's JUST ONE DAY, and every year we're reminded that an early loss, especially in week one, is not the worst thing in the world. Nor is an early win the biggest sign of future success.

9. We need to ban preseason polls. They make no sense, are not worth anything, and they skew the conversation. Clemson did not look like the #2 team in the country, and two of the top 5 lost.  Let's skip the polls and just play the first 5 or so weeks before we worry about ranking teams.

10. Yesterday was a long, exciting, spectacular day. I can't wait for next week where the matchups are nowhere near as exciting, but still should provide a surprise or three.

11. My five this week was a shambles, as it is week one every year.  That said, in all games I did better than average. What I need to do (again) is improve my confidence rankings. I'll have a full 5 write-up later today or tomorrow.

12, Two final thoughts.....
       1. Some Kansas fans rushed the field after beating FCS Rhode Island, a team who went 1-10 last year.  While it is funny, and Kansas fans are lashing out on social media, you can kind of understand why they did this. Their last win was 34-14 over Iowa State. November 8, 2014.
      2. The best thing you're going to see from yesterday was Nebraska's missing man formation in memory of teammate Sam Foltz, who was tragically killed in a car accident in the off season.  Well done Huskers.

Friday, September 2, 2016

College Football: The Morning After (Best Opening Weekend In a While)

ESPN, as they do, is hyping this college football opening as THE BEST OPENING WEEKEND EVER!!  And while I'm not sure about that, ever being a long time after all, I do know that the schedule of games this long opening weekend is pretty strong.  As is typically the case, with no pre-season games, revolving-door rosters, we're bound to get a shock or three as good teams who will probably end up the season pretty strong stumble out of the gate.

Because of this fact all of the analysis and voodoo that college football "experts" and betting "experts" claim to have boils down, in many cases, to blind, random, luck on week one.

Last night was a good example of that.  As Tennessee struggled to squeak past Appalachian State in overtime, winning by falling on a fumble by their own QB in the end zone, people who predicted the Volunteers to run away with the game had egg on their faces, and touts who gave out App State on the ML were proclaiming themselves geniuses. And then the final drive happened, and the App State ML touts faded away while the App State "cover" folks told us that they knew it all the time and we could know it too for just $500 for the entire season.

All of this is fine except, they didn't know it. NO ONE knew it. This is a game that I passed on because Tennessee is just too much of an unknown. I THINK they're going to be good by the end of the season (and they survived here) but I'm not sure. I will say this, which should cheer up Vols fans. People forget that it was the same Michigan team that lost to App State that finished 9-3 which included a win over the then Tim Tebow-led (and Urban Meyer coached) Florida Gators in the Gator Bowl.  So, they have that going for them.

Louisville looked good but they looked good against the 125th power-ranked team in the country. To be honest, playing a tough FCS team might have been a tougher out than Charlotte. Leonard Jackson appears to be the honest, real-deal at QB though. It will be interesting to see what he can do against better.

My "FIVE" had a rough start. I picked Tulane on the ML, which, in retrospect was a mistake. Had I picked them to cover I would have been feeling much better about the state of things this morning. I was right about one thing however: Wake Forest isn't going to be very good. The thing that I was wrong about was that Tulane had any talent on the roster at all.  Offensively anyway. I still think there's going to be value in betting toward Willie Fitz's side, but to cover, not to win with that pitiful offense.

FIU looked like they were going to salvage my start against Indiana, until halftime, when they suddenly decided to just up and stop playing. The result was a missed cover leaving me with an 0-2 start and looking toward tonight's Toledo/Arkansas State (ASU to cover) tie to get me off the ground so I have a CHANCE on Saturday to have a winning first week. I always start slow however, I think the last two years I've gone 0-5 in week one (due, in part, to stupid decisions [see above]) so there's always hope (and week 2).

Coach Mason of Vanderbilt should be on the hot seat. His team did everything imaginable last night to NOT win the game against South Carolina.  Speaking of the Gamecocks, they looked horrible. They were sloppy, inefficient, offensively inept. In essence, a Will Muschamp team.

Either Minnesota is not as good as we thought or Oregon State is better than we thought. I'm not sure which is true yet.

Connecticut, (24-21 over Maine), Cincinnati (28-7 over Tennessee Martin) and Rice (beat 46-14 by Western Kentucky) all showed poorly and gave rise to a lot of Big XII expansion jokes on social media last night.  But one game, even a poorly played one, shouldn't matter. In fact it doesn't matter. That's why UH, even IF OU houses them, which I don't think will happen, and Cincinnati still appear to be the front-runners to me.

4 more days left in this opening weekend. Pace yourself.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Five: Kicking off 2016 with a bang (hopefully)

With college football starting Thursday September 1st it's never a bad idea to kick off this year's 5 in style.

As a reminder, I will be handicapping 5 games that will count toward my season-long stats. These are games that I do not necessarily consider plays, but games in which I feel fairly confident about. The idea, at the end of the season, is to finish north of 53% which would be a profitable season by Las Vegas standards, taking into account the Vig.  I'll keep running tabs every week as to my progress and the posts will remain up including the date/time of posting although they're probably written well before the post is actually published. In most cases I'm probably writing this on Wednesday evening. (I will guarantee that it's almost in all cases for that matter).

As such, all lines will be taken from via oddsshark and will be accurate as of 7:00PM Central Time the Wednesday before the games start. (That's what time it is right now, as I'm writing this on Wed. August 31st and I plan to make it a routine and keep it that way.) If there's any deviation from this, I will note it in the individual post.

Reminder: These picks are for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered either an invitation for wagering, or a solicitation of a wager which would be illegal.

Disclaimer: If you're taking pick advice from a rotund, 40-something accountant from Houston, get some professional help.

And so, without further ado:

The First Five of the 2016 College Football Season!

1. Tulane @ Wake Forest (-17) - Tulane might be an angle that I work hard in the early going. Their head coach has a history of turning programs into winners quickly.  Plus, I don't think Wake Forest is all that good.  Tulane 27 Wake Forest 17.  Tulane on the ML for the upset.

2. Indiana (-9.5) @ Florida International. There are a couple of things that I look for in a 5 upset First is a favorite with a weakness, 2nd is an underdog that can exploit said weakness. You have both in FIU. Indiana 35 FIU 31. FIU to cover 9.5

3. Clemson (-7.5) @ Auburn. In order to think Auburn can cover you have to think they're going to be pretty good this year.  I don't and they shouldn't.  Clemson 45 Auburn 17. Clemson to cover 7.5

4. Toledo @ Arkansas State (-3.5) There's a lot to like about a strong MAC vs. Sunbelt matchup, especially an Ark State team that could surprise some people this year.  Toledo 24 Ark State 38. Arkansas State to cover -3.5

5. Oklahoma (-12) @ Houston. I've been pushing this game as one of the early season games of the year for a while now. I think it's a game of the year type and I truly think that Houston can win outright.  For entertainment purposes however....Oklahoma 33 Houston 31. Houston to cover 12.

Of course, these five aren't the ONLY games being played during one of the better opening weekends in recent college football memory.  As will be the norm, I'll look at some of the other games (and the Michigan game) but they don't count toward the season stats. Some of these games ALMOST made the 5 but were eliminated due to an uncertainty, or just a funny feeling I had handicapping.

Georgia Tech (-3) @ Boston College. Boston College is going to have a spectacular defense, Georgia Tech is going to test that with what should be their best team to date. Georgia Tech to cover in Ireland, but only by a little. GaTech 17 Boston College 9

Missouri @ West Virginia (-10) Every year I want to believe that WVU is the real deal and every year I just cannot do it. The reason for this is because I think Dana Holgerson is a fantastic offensive coordinator, but a horrible head coach.  That said, Mizzou is going to suck.  Mizzou 10 WVU 45. (Left out of the 5 due to the Holgerson factor)

UCLA @ Texas aTm (-3). aTm is a popular pick here, but Aggie fans are relying on Trevor Freaking Knight.  And Sumlin is losing this team.  Give me Rosen and my questions about Mora as a HC any day.  UCLA 38 aTm 24 (Knight with 3 INT's in the game)

LSU (-10) @ Wisconsin. Fournette is amazing, LSU needs a quarterback. Lather, rinse repeat.  But Wisky is no slouch itself running the ball right? We've seen the pondering B1G team vs. the fast/athletic SEC story before. LSU 31 Wisc 3. (out of the 5 because LSU's QB could throw a dozen INT's, or none.)

Georgia (-2.5) @ North Carolina. This one could go any which way to be honest. I think UNC is going to win their ACC division this year, I have no idea what to expect from Georgia. Georgia 17 UNC 31. (But I would lay off this game way off. Like, on the other side of town off)

USC @ Alabama (-11.5). We've seen this game before: Alabama is a big opening favorite against a name opponent on week one. The pundits try to talk themselves into believing it will be a close game. Trust me, it won't. USC is overrated.  USC 10 Alabama 38. (Unless USC is for real. out)

Clemson (-7.5) @ Auburn. If you pick Auburn you have to think the Tigers/War Eagle/Plainsmen are going to be good. They're not. Clemson 45 Auburn 3 (Only thing keeping me from putting this in my five is prior history with Clemson. They're a 'me' killer.)

Notre Dame (-3) @ Texas. The sexy upset pick for just about every pundit who doesn't work for NBC. (Who has the ND football contract you see). I think Texas is better, and should make a bowl game, but this game won't advance that argument.  ND 28 Texas 14.

Brigham Young @ Arizona (-1.5). Taysom Hill gets the start for BYU. This is a feel good story and the team is much better with him in the lineup. But coach RichRod has a real team this year in the PAC12. BYU 24 Arizona 28. (Too close to call.)

Ole Miss @ Florida State (-4). Honestly, I'm surprised the line is this close. Ole Miss 13 Florida State 27. (My worry is if Ole Miss comes out angry due to all of the negative press they've absorbed.)

And finally.......

Hawai'i @ Michigan (-40.5) After watching Hawai'i flail around against Cal it's easy to see why people are saying Michigan will beat them by 80.  I don't think that happens on the 1st game of the season with a new QB in place.  Much of the optimism surrounding Michigan has to do with how they finished the year last year. People are quick to forget that Michigan team got progressively better as the year went on. Largely due to the improving play of Rudock.  The Wolverines should win comfortably, but it will be closer than 40 methinks.  Hawai'i 7 Michigan 38.

Good luck to all of you if you're choosing to wager this Holiday weekend.

College Football: The UFC/Boxing Fight Card View of Full Weekend 1.

College football is back.  And, if you're like me, this makes this weekend one of the better weekends of the year.  It doesn't hurt that there are watchable games on tonight through Monday.  Good games even. Some you might not have considered.

When I think of this weekend I think of either a UFC or boxing fight card.  From that view, let's take a look at some of the more interesting match-ups.

Thursday, September 1st. (The Pre-show)

The UFC does this more than boxing, it schedules fights on a "pre" show that's either streamed online or aired on an alternate channel before the Pay-Per-View.  That's how I view Thursday.  Here are the key matches. Which also provides a guideline for what I plan to watch this weekend.

Opening bout: Appalachian State vs. Tennessee (6:30PM CT, SEC Network)

Tennessee is a prospect from whom big things are expected this year. App State is the plucky underdog that was very good in a smaller promotion, but is trying to prove themselves in the big leagues. App State has a puncher's chance, but I think the Vols are just too good.

Bout 2: Indiana @ Florida International (6:30PM CT, ESPNU)

You've maybe heard of one of these fighters, at least you THINK you remember something about them but, you're not sure.  One thing is for sure, there could be some offensive fireworks here.

Bout 3: Rice @ Western Kentucky (7:00PM CT, CBSSN)

Two guys who made their bones battling it out in smaller promotions go at it in the most undercard of undercard bouts. This is like when Legacy and XFC square off in MMA. I give the edge to Western Kentucky here, but I think Rice scores a little.

Bout 4: South Carolina @ Vanderbilt (7:00PM CT, ESPN)

Hey, you know these guys right? The one was a former title contender with a big name that got dropped, but is promising to come back stronger than ever. The 2nd is a plucky contender who is always a tough out.  I have Vanderbilt in this with a good chance to knock off the aging former contender. South Carolina has a long way to go.

Bout 5: Oregon State @ Minnesota (8:00PM CT, BTN)

This will be billed as the "main event" of the evening but we all know that the prior bout was the best one. Imagine a shop-worn, beaten up, but flashy. former contender facing off against a tough, tough man. Oregon State is going to head to Minnesota to get whipped. It's a paycheck fight.

Friday, September 2nd. (The undercard)

These games are going to be more hit and miss. There are a lot of mismatches designed to promote prospects, and fights where a prospect plays against a last-minute replacement fighter. Still, there's some hope.

Bout 6: Army @ Temple (6:00PM CT, CBSSN)

Army is the aged old pro, fighting because that's all they know how to do. Temple is a career mid-card fighter looking for one more run.  Temple rolls.

Bout 7: Colorado vs. Colorado State. (7:00PM, CT, ESPN)

It's no secret that these two fighters don't like one another all that well, they grew up together in the same neighborhood, trained at the same gym etc. And while both have fallen on hard times they still can be expected to put on a show. Plus, one of them, at least, appears to be on the cusp of a career resurgence. Should be an interesting game to watch.

Bout 8: Kansas State @ Stanford (8:00PM, CT, FS1)

Kansas State is the old, former champion limping into the hometown of the upstart challenger in search of one last fight. As we kick off coach Bill Snyder's final year let's hope for his sake that they still have at least a puncher's chance this year. Probably not in this game against the Cardinal but somewhere.

Bout 9: Toledo @ Arkansas State (8:00PM, CT, ESPNU)

Again, while the game above would have been the main event, I think this has the potential to be the much better game. These are two fighters that, when you hear their names, you THINK you remember seeing them once before but aren't sure. I think this is going to be a spectacular game with Arkansas State getting the win.

Saturday, September 3rd (Fight Night)

It's madness. I touch on a lot of these games in my Week 1 Five, but to my mind there are four main events, OU vs. Houston, Wisconsin vs. LSU, UCLA vs. aTm, and Alabama vs USC.

But, there are a TON of other good games on Saturday, and college football always has a way of providing a surprise or three.

Then, the best part?  There are still games to come on Sunday and Monday.

College Football is back.  Thank goodness.

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