Month: September 2018

2018 CFB Picks: Week 5

My allocation of units last week was regrettable. I’m sorry I failed you. We’re going 2 units across the board this week.

Picks

Army (+7.5) over BUFFALO

I really like Buffalo this year, but this is far too many points. This should be closer to a field goal because I really don’t think there’s a big difference between the two. If you’ve followed along closely with this blog the past couple years, you know Army has been the biggest moneymaker around here. They’re 7-2 ATS since 2015 when they’re dogs on the road by more than a touchdown.

It should be noted that stud WR for Buffalo, Anthony Johnson, has a hamstring issue. He’ll either be hampered (hamstrings seem important for a skill position) or out.

DUKE (-4.5) over Virginia Tech

I would’ve told you a week ago that I thought Duke was better than Virginia Tech. And then VT lost to ODU and lost Josh Jackson in the process. And, yes, I’m aware that Duke is also starting Quentin Harris. Two things: 1. Quentin Harris is a better, more stable QB than Ryan Willis. And 2. VT is more reliant on their offense to win games.

The concern with VT heading into the season was that the Hokie defense would struggle after losing so many pros. That concern was soothed when they absolutely dominated FSU on opening night. Turns out, that might’ve been fool’s gold because FSU’s offense is struggling against everybody. Outside of that game, VT appeared to do well against FCS William & Mary, but they were one-upped by a shutout by James Madison the next week against the Tribe.

Then of course, the Hokies gave up 632 yards and 49 points to Old Dominion. I don’t care if they didn’t take ODU seriously, that’s horrendous. That’s not something that is fixed in a week’s time, especially going on the road against a good team with a really good head coach.

WASHINGTON STATE (+2) over Utah

Utah’s offense has just been so remarkably inefficient. The Ute defense has been elite, but I like where the Wazzu offense is headed with Gardner Minshew. James Williams isn’t a game-breaking back, but he does a little bit of everything for them. They’ve got seven guys who already have double-digit catches through four games.

Ever since Leach turned the corner here in 2015, the Cougs are 4-1 ATS as a home dog and have won three of those games outright. Every analytics measure I respect – including mine – has Washington State winning the game. I’m sure the bye week will help out Utah, but I’m not sure that’s long enough to give them a competent offense.

FRESNO STATE (-7.5) over Toledo

Fresno is coming off a bye, which was preceded by a blowout win at UCLA. Toledo is hitting the road for the first time this year, with an inexperienced QB,  and it’s a long trip. I think it’s a two touchdown game.

PENN STATE (+3.5) over Ohio State

It scares the hell out of me, but I don’t think there’s a ton of separation between the two. Once again, the analytics say Penn State should be favored in this game. Dwayne Haskins is really good, but Trace McSorley has established himself as one of the best in the game and has a lot more experience in these big games.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN (+3) over Arkansas State

GSU has taken a step this year and they might just be the better team between these two. Arkansas State’s passing game was supposed to be lethal this year and it just hasn’t been. And the Red Wolves have been terrible at stopping the run this year, which is problematic going against an option team. The Eagles are coming off a bye.

GEORGIA STATE (+7.5) over UL Monroe

ULM was also supposed to be a team that could rack up the points this year, but they’re only averaging 23 per game so far. It’s not easy taking Georgia State, but they’ve played a tough schedule so far. If you look at last week, they were 9 point dogs to WMU at home. Obviously you adjust ratings week-to-week, but it insinuates that WMU is only 1.5 points better than ULM. I’ve got it more like 10. I think the Panthers can win this outright.

Coastal Carolina (+14) over TROY

This game should be around 5 or 6. Even if you adjust for CC probably not having their QB, it’s maybe 7 or 8. But I’ll still take the Chanticleers here. Freshman Bryce Carpenter stepped in during the ULL game and led a huge couple of drives to ice away the game on the road. He was 5-for-5 for 82 yards and a touchdown in the process. I still think Troy is overvalued as a team and they wouldn’t have covered last week against ULM if ULM didn’t shoot themselves in the foot on multiple occasions.

NORTH TEXAS (-7) over Louisiana Tech

I’m not gonna lie, the line stinks out loud. But I have a passion for running into bear traps. Based on performance this year, you could make the argument that the line should be double this. Not that La Tech has been bad, but NT has been rolling people over. My biggest fear is that the Mean Green start to get a little full of themselves, but if it was going to happen, you feel like it would’ve been last week at Liberty after they trounced Arkansas.

Also a little comforting, NT is 9-2 ATS their last 11 as a one score favorite at home with those wins coming by an average of more than 20 points per game.

SAN JOSE STATE (+11.5) over Hawaii

Pretty simply, I think Hawaii is overvalued and SJSU is undervalued. SJSU is also coming off a bye, which is always big, but especially big when you’re preparing for a unique system, which in this case is the Run and Shoot.

This is also a tough stretch for Hawaii in a couple of ways. Not only are they playing a rested team, but they’ve also played more football than anyone else so far, starting in Week 0 and now playing their sixth straight week.

They’re also in a three game stretch that started with a half day trip all the way to Army, flying all the way back to the islands, and now back on the road again. Last year they faced three stretches like this – road game, home game, road game – and they went 0-3 SU, 0-3 ATS and they missed the spread number by an average of 18.2 PPG in those three.

YTD: 18-19 (-7.1u)

Leans

UMass (+13.5) over OHIO

Ohio is just overvalued for what they’ve shown through the first few weeks. I’d like to take UMass, but there’s uncertainty at QB with injuries, they’ve been really bad on the road so far, and it feels like Ohio is going to break loose soon and get back to their level of expectation.

CAL (+2.5) over Oregon

It feels like a trap.

Texas (-8.5) over KANSAS STATE

Also feels like a trap. I just don’t think a Bill Snyder team can be this bad for a whole season.

Cincinnati (-17) over UCONN

Cincinnati should cover this, but I wonder if UConn will have their full attention.

TULANE (+14) over Memphis

Tulane can be scrappy, but they haven’t shown much yet and Memphis blew their doors off last year.

EMU (-3.5) over NIU

Maybe if it was 2.5. I believe Chris Creighton has a personal creed that every football game should be decided by a field goal or less.

ECU (-7) over Old Dominion

Not sure how ODU responds this week. Didn’t get a good feeling when I heard an interview with HC Bobby Wilder this morning – Thursday – and he was still going on and on about the VT game. Got another game in two days, chief.

Temple (+13.5) over BOSTON COLLEGE

Temple’s playing a lot better, but BC might have something to prove after laying an egg last week.

APPALACHIAN STATE (-26) over South Alabama

I’m just afraid to pull the trigger and give 26.

LOUISVILLE (+6) over Florida State

Still tough to trust FSU giving points on the road, no?

2018 Season Total Tracker: Week 4

You can find the entire list of totals here.

Unless I missed somebody else, I believe Hawaii is the first team to have their season total decided. Congrats to the Bows for hitting the over before September ends.

5*

FAU (over 8.5) loses 56-36 to UCF

(FAU 2-2)

I thought the Owls might have a chance to steal one, but UCF showed why they’re still kings of the Group of 5. A clear difference between the two was at QB. McKenzie Milton is McKenzie Milton and, I’ll be honest, Chris Robison worries me a little bit.

A win at MTSU this week is a must.

4*

East Carolina (under 3.5) loses 20-13 to USF

(ECU 1-2)

It was a loss for ECU, but that defense does look pretty good. USF’s offense isn’t nearly as good as it was a year ago – they also only managed 25 against Illinois – but the Pirates are definitely improved on that side of the ball.

I’ll admit I may have underrated the addition of DC David Blackwell to the staff. Blackwell came over from Jacksonville State, where they’ve had a number of great defenses. I just figured the dysfunction under Scottie Montgomery would outweigh Blackwell’s impact.

This week the Pirates are either playing ODU at the best or worst time. The Monarchs obviously just had a program-changing win over Virginia Tech. They’re either going to be full of confidence and ready to go or they’re still going to be celebrating.

Florida State (over 8) wins 37-19 over Northern Illinois

(FSU 2-2)

I hate this damn team.

Maryland (over 5) wins 42-13 over Minnesota

(Maryland 3-1)

Quite the first four weeks for Maryland. There’s no telling what they’re going to play like. I’d like to say that this win at least clinches a push with Rutgers and Illinois home games still remaining, but they did lose by 21 to Temple at home.

3*

Florida (over 8) wins 47-21 at Tennessee (under 5.5)

(UF 3-1; UT 2-2)

I’m still not really sure if Florida is any good or not, but it seems fairly clear that Tennessee is not. That was the most winnable game for the Vols in this brutal five-game stretch that they have.

Iowa (over 7.5) loses 28-17 to Wisconsin

It’s not a huge loss for the total, but it does make the Big Ten championship darkhorse bet a lot more difficult. But it was all right there for the Hawkeyes at home and they just let it slip away. They have a championship caliber defense, but a cellar dweller caliber offense.

UNC (under 5.5) wins 38-35 over Pitt (over 5)

(UNC 1-2; Pitt 2-2)

A double whammy in poor developments. Even still, I’m not remotely concerned yet with UNC hitting the over.

But I’ll level with you, the Pitt bet is looking a little bleak. I never have any idea what to expect with the Panthers. Narduzzi is a defensive guy and they haven’t developed a decent defense in three-and-a-half years. I’m pretty much just hoping for a push at this point.

Texas (under 8.5) wins 31-16 over TCU

(Texas 3-1)

If we’re in the trust tree, Texas is starting to feel like a 9-3 team to me now.

Buffalo (over 6.5) wins 42-13 over Rutgers

(Buffalo 4-0)

The Bulls are good.

Michigan State (over 8.5) wins 35-21 at Indiana

(MSU 2-1)

I don’t have much to say. It was big.

 

 

2018 CFB Picks: Week 4

Picks – 2 Units

All of these were given out on late Sunday night on Twitter.

INDIANA (+4.5) over Michigan State 

The line is now +5.

I’d say right now that there’s not a huge difference between the two teams. This line suggests that there’s a 7.5 or 8 point difference between the two. The Spartans have not appeared close to what they were expected to be heading into the season. Indiana’s really been more thoroughly dominant in their three wins than the final scores would indicate.

The Hoosiers aren’t the most explosive offense in the world, but that might suit them just fine in a game that will likely come down to ball control, turnovers, and field position.

MSU is 1-9 ATS in their last ten games as a favorite on the road. The Hoosiers won the last meeting between these two in Bloomington.

Northern Illinois (+10.5) over FLORIDA STATE

The line is now +10.

If FSU is going to suck so hard every week, I might as well recoup some of my loss from the season total bet that is in the shitter.

There aren’t many things that the Noles are good at right now, but if one thing really sticks out is that swiss cheese, turnstile-esque, alleged offensive line that they have. And that O-Line has to go against a character by the name of Sutton Smith. You probably haven’t heard of him, but he’s got 17 sacks in his last 16 games.

NIU can’t score, but at this point they have a Top 15 defense nationally. If the Noles can’t score once again this week, you have to start to wonder when it negatively impacts the mentality of the defense, also. They haven’t necessarily set the world on fire as it is.

TCU (-2.5) over TEXAS

The line is now -3.

I’m still firmly in the anti-Texas group. I’m not gonna be fooled by that 37-14 score they posted over USC. They gained a whopping 77 more yards and that’s with USC lacking any capability to run the ball and a banged-up true freshman QB.

TCU is the first offense Texas will play that actually has more than one dimension. Shawn Robinson made a couple of critical turnovers against Ohio State, but he still threw for 308 yards against the Buckeyes in his fourth career start. They’ve got a bevy of guys who can run the ball efficiently, including QB Robinson.

I have zero concern with a hangover from the Ohio State game for the Frogs. Gary Patterson is as good as it gets for preparing a team. And he owns Texas at this point. The last four years the Frogs have won this matchup by an AVERAGE of 30 points. They haven’t given up more than 10 points in any of those games. Since 2003, TCU is 47-7 as a road favorite and they’ve covered five of seven in the last couple years.

VANDERBILT (+2.5) over South Carolina

I will ride the Vandy train until it goes off the rails. South Carolina could be good. I don’t know. We haven’t seen anything to prove that they are.

I know Vandy is good at this point. They were dominant in the first two games against lesser opponents and then there was last week at Notre Dame. They lost the turnover battle 3-0, including a fumble at the one-yard line, missed a field goal, and settled for a field goal at the three. They lost by five, but they outgained the Irish and honestly looked like the better team in the final three quarters once they got settled down.

I’ll gladly take the 2.5, even though I don’t need it.

LOUISIANA MONROE (+7) over Troy

The line is now +4.5.

Always a good feeling to get 2.5 points of value. I’m not sure I’d take it at 4.5, but it should probably be 2.5 or 3.

Troy’s coming off of the big win at Nebraska. This is a big letdown spot for a couple of reasons. For starters, any time a Group of 5 beats a Power 5, you worry about the next week. And it’s a double whammy because Troy has the euphoria of the win, but honestly it didn’t really prove that much about them as a team. Why? Because it’s unclear if Nebraska is any good. They weren’t last year. They lost their opener at home to Colorado. And they didn’t have the services of stud freshman QB Adrian Martinez.

It could give the Trojans confidence, but it’s false confidence. Don’t forget, they were just a couple of weeks removed from being absolutely undressed by Boise State at home.

There’s also the part where Troy had a huge win last year at LSU and followed it up with a 19-8 loss at home to 4-8 South Alabama. I’m sure Neal Brown will remind them of that, but still.

Picks – 1 Unit

Clemson (-15) over GEORGIA TECH

Things I like:

  • Clemson just had a tune-up game against the option with Georgia Southern and gave up 7 points
  • The new cut blocking rules this year have made the option less effective
  • Clemson’s defense – especially up front – is ridiculous
  • GT is 1-9 all-time as a home dog of 7 points or more and hasn’t come close to covering under Paul Johnson

Mississippi State (-9) over KENTUCKY

I don’t know if Kentucky is actually good or not, but Mississippi State might be a Top 10 team and I’m going to hit you with the stat of all stats.

Here we go.

As a home underdog of 7 or more points, Kentucky has lost 18 straight and gone 3-15 ATS in those games with an average straight-up defeat of 22.2 PPG and an average ATS defeat of 8.0 PPG.

UNLV (+7.5) over ARKANSAS STATE

It’s late and I’m tired, but essentially it’s this: UNLV is a good running team, ASU has a poor rush defense. ASU relies on the pass, UNLV has a good pass defense. It should be 3 or less on the spread.

Texas State (+7) over UTSA

I guess the best way to put it is that I think both teams are somewhat equally bad. UTSA is 1-7 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite and they’ve scored a touchdown or less in four of those games.

Eastern Michigan (+12) over SAN DIEGO STATE

It’s only a single unit because EMU is on their third straight road game, but I’m not totally sure that it matters. EMU is just a dirty, grimy, grinding team…that has kind of learned how to throw the ball a little bit.

SDSU is coming off a big, dramatic win over Arizona State. I will say that I don’t think it matters much that Christian Chapman is out because he’s been a liability for years.

EMU is 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games as an underdog, which have all occurred in about a two-year span.

YTD: 14-13 (+1.0u)

Leans

Florida Atlantic (+13.5) over UCF

I don’t think UCF is two touchdowns better than FAU, but they’ve definitely had the more impressive start, even if it did come against atrocious teams.

Akron (+18.5) over IOWA STATE

This game is sandwiched between Iowa and Oklahoma on one side and TCU, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia on the other side for Iowa State. However, I think that letdown/look-ahead spot might be mitigated by Akron just beating Northwestern. Also tough to gauge how the Zips respond to beating their first Big Ten foe in literally forever.

MARSHALL (+5) over NC State

Tough to get a real read on either team yet, but Marshall might be a better team right now and they’re catching points at home.

PURDUE (+7) over Boston College

It’s the same angle on Purdue as last week. Just to vent a little in this space: Bill Connelly (who you should be following) does something called “Postgame Win Expectancy” where he takes the box score, runs it through the number machine, and it spits out how often that team would typically win the game based on the box score. Purdue is 0-3. Their PGWE is 3-0. They only had a 6% chance of going 0-3 and they are 0-3. Terrific.

Ohio (+8) over Cincinnati

I think Ohio is better than they’ve played so far, but Cincinnati has looked really good.

WAKE FOREST (+7.5) over Notre Dame

It’s hard to believe in a team that’s so one-dimensional offensively. Especially when they need to cover 7.5 on the road against a very underrated coach. However, Brandon Wimbush might be able to get it going this against a weak Wake pass defense.

GEORGIA STATE (+7.5) over Western Michigan

I still don’t think Western Michigan is good.

Rice (+14) over SOUTHERN MISS

I’m not sure Rice is horrendous.

Kansas (+7) over BAYLOR

Initially wrote this one down when Kansas was +9.5. I’m not sure the Jayhawks are better than Baylor, but they’ve definitely shown a lot more so far.

IOWA (+3) over Wisconsin

Probably would’ve taken this if Wisconsin hadn’t actually gone through with losing to BYU. This would almost assuredly be more points, as well. It’s also very difficult to believe in Iowa’s putrid offense so far, especially after their performance against the Badgers last year.

Arizona State (+17.5) over WASHINGTON

Washington’s offense has been pretty underwhelming so far and ASU provides a unique look defensively. Wouldn’t expect experienced QB Manny Wilkins to be intimidated going against the crowd in Seattle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 Season Total Tracker: Week 3

You can find the entire list of totals here.

5*

Florida Atlantic (over 8.5) wins 49-28 over Bethune-Cookman

(FAU 2-1)

The score didn’t end up the prettiest, but the Owls had a 29-0 lead after the first quarter and just kind of coasted.

Absolutely massive game at UCF on Friday. It’s not a necessity to get a win, but it would certainly help ease my stress level.

4*

Maryland (over 5) loses 35-14 to Temple (over 6.5, 3*)

(MD 2-1; Temple 1-2)

Stunning, to say the least. The largest of eggs laid by the Terps. A staggering lack of production from either of Maryland’s QBs. After a really strong two weeks, you hope that it’s just a mental lapse looking ahead to Big Ten play. Speaking of which, a home game with Minnesota this week is basically a must-win if they’re going to do anything more than push.

On the Temple side of things, I guess this keeps their over alive. Still feels pretty unlikely, though. But for the second straight season, a change in QB has jump-started things. Anthony Russo looked solid for his first start, which just happened to be on the road against a Big Ten squad.

Florida State (over 8) loses 30-7 to Syracuse

(FSU 1-2)

There will be no spin zone this week. This is without a doubt one of the worst bets I’ve ever made, all things considered. They might go 3-9.

3*

Duke (over 6) wins 40-27 at Baylor

(Duke 3-0)

It may not seem like a big deal to beat a team that was 1-11 a year ago, but after Daniel Jones went down at QB, there was some worry.

But Quentin Harris took over and did a fine job. He wasn’t the most efficient passer, but made some big ones and provided a rushing element.

The most daunting thing about taking the over with the Blue Devils was the two road games against Power 5 teams and a matchup with Army as their first three games of the season. Coming out of this stretch 3-0 is a huge win.

LSU (under 7) wins 22-21 at Auburn

(LSU 3-0)

I’d like to issue a formal apology to Coach O. I was wrong about the Tigers. At this point, 7-5 seems like the absolute worst case scenario

Nebraska (under 6.5) loses 24-19 to Troy

(Nebraska 0-2)

Hard to believe the Huskers could only give up 253 yards and still lose to Troy at home. Obviously, they need Martinez back. Even if he does come back soon, road games with Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Northwestern are still left on the schedule. As is Michigan State at home.

Pitt (over 5) wins 24-19 over Georgia Tech

(Pitt 2-1)

Pretty much had to have this one and they probably need to win @ UNC this week, too. They’ve got a tough schedule.

Buffalo (over 6.5) wins 35-28 over Eastern Michigan

(Buffalo 3-0)

This one is looking pretty good. The Bulls had two games that I would call toss-ups the past two weeks and they’re 2-0 and things are looking pretty favorable with the remaining schedule. Tyree Jackson has been incredible.

Illinois (under 4) loses 25-19 to USF 

(Illinois 2-1)

The Illini are better than I expected, specifically on defense. I don’t need to explain that a 3-0 start would be problematic with the under at 4. Grandpa Lovie’s squad was leading late before a total blown coverage allowed USF to take the game. We dodged a bullet.

We’ll see if the Illini are favored the rest of the way.

Texas (under 8.5) wins 37-14 over USC

(Texas 2-1)

Good win for the Horns, but its unclear if USC is any good. Still feel pretty good about the under here.

UCLA (over 5.5) loses 38-14 to Fresno State

(UCLA 0-3)

Yeah, this just isn’t gonna happen. They might be favored over Arizona at home. Otherwise, they’re gonna have to pull five upsets. Not gonna hold my breath.

 

 

 

2018 CFB Picks: Week 3

5-3 last week. I’m not gonna lie, it got a little lengthy this week. If you’re not fond of words, I suggest just looking for the bold letters. This week we’ve got three lists, an FCS section, and a 46.5 point dog. I even took a game that most people might actually watch, so that’s nice.

Picks

ARMY (-6) over Hawaii

BODY CLOCK GAME

Big time body clock game, fellas. Hawaii makes their way all the way to the east coast for a noon EST kickoff, which is equal to 6 AM on the islands. The Bows played one game last year that was morning time locally and it was a 38-0 loss to Utah State.

Hawaii has obviously looked good so far, but I think this is a tough spot for them and Army should be ready. The Black Knights just went against a pass-heavy offense and limited Liberty to 14 points.

I don’t think it’s a question that Army will be efficient with the option against Hawaii’s poor run defense. Navy had a field day running against them, but just couldn’t get any stops defensively. The Bows gave up 250+ rushing yards on five occasions during Mountain West play last year.

Overall, I just think Hawaii is due for a stinker. They’ve been better than advertised so far, but the best team they’ve played – Navy – ranks 100th in S&P+.

PENN STATE (-35) over Kent State

I don’t really need to get into the X’s and O’s of this thing. Kent State might be a little better than anticipated, but they’re obviously no match for the Nittany Lions.

And James Franklin has proven over the past couple years that he’s not afraid to run up the score a bit if he can, with results like 51-6, 66-3, 56-0, and 52-0.

Rutgers (+3) over KANSAS

I was very happy for Kansas last weekend. However, Jayhawk football has had so much difficulty having any kind of success, but they’ve been even worse at sustaining any type of success. They haven’t won back-to-back games since the first two games of the 2011 season when Turner Gill was HC.

Since then, here’s how they’ve followed up wins since 2012:

  • 2012: lost 25-24 to Rice at home (they were -12)
  • 2013: lost 23-14 at Rice (they were +6)
  • 2013: lost 54-16 to Texas Tech (they were +16.5)
  • 2013: lost 34-0 at Iowa State (they were +4)
  • 2014: lost 41-3 at Duke (they were +11)
  • 2014: lost 23-0 to Texas (they were +10.5)
  • 2014: lost 34-30 to TCU (they were +27.5)
  • 2015: j/k they didn’t win in 2015
  • 2016: lost 37-21 to Ohio (they were -3)
  • 2016: lost 34-19 at Kansas State (they were +23.5)
  • 2017: lost 45-27 to Central Michigan (they were -3)

So to recap, they’re 0-10 defending a win and 2-8 ATS. On average, they missed the spread by 11.5 points per game (that includes the two wins).

So I’m gonna go ahead and take Rutgers. They got murdered by Ohio State, but that always happens. #PeopleForget they were 4-3 against teams outside of the Top 25 last year. They also didn’t spend week one losing to Nicholls State.

Vanderbilt (+14.5) over NOTRE DAME

I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but Vandy might be Top 25-ish good. MTSU and Nevada aren’t exactly murderer’s row, but they’ve been really good. Kyle Shurmur is playing like you’d expect a third-year starter to play. They’ve ran the ball really well, although that’ll obviously be tougher against the Irish.

But Vandy’s also been exceptional stopping the run so far, only giving up 150 total rushing yards on 2.5 YPC. Which means Brandon Wimbush is going to have to be effective through the air. Brandon Wimbush has completed 54% of his passes for 467 yards, 1 TD, and 4 INTs.

UAB (+4) over Tulane

I’m playing the flip-flop game with UAB. I feel like this is gonna be a grinder and they’ve bounced back from losses pretty well under Bill Clark.

North Texas (+7) over ARKANSAS

I thought the expectation for Arkansas this year was that they could make a bowl if things went their way, but they would probably be better late in the season. That appears to be the case as the Hogs dropped one at Colorado State, who looked dreadful in their first two games.

North Texas has predictably been tearing it up offensively and may have a defense to go along with it. They gave up 23 points to SMU, but all 23 came in the fourth quarter after the game had been decided.

The Mean Green can rack up yards through the air with the best of them, averaging nearly 460 yards per game so far. Arkansas just gave up 389 yards to CSU last week and its been a recurring issue. The SEC isn’t known for teams that air it out, but two that do – Missouri and Ole Miss – put 448 and 368 on them in 2017.

Arkansas has the better talent, but they’re at a disadvantage whenever Mason Fine drops back for NT. The Mean Green will be able to score points. I’m not sure the Hogs are far enough in their transition from Bielema-offense to Morris-offense for them to win by two scores in a shootout.

Ohio State (-13) over TCU

I don’t like to go purely on gut instinct, but I’ve just got a feeling Ohio State is going to blow TCU’s doors off. I wasn’t quite as high on the Frogs this year as last and they haven’t really done anything to make me feel better. The SMU score ended up not looking so bad, but it was a struggle for a while. Granted, the weather wasn’t great.

But Shawn Robinson is still pretty inexperienced at QB and that’s a problem against the Buckeyes.

TCU’s a really good program, but they’ve not fared particularly well whenever they play elite teams, at least recently. They looked like they were close to Oklahoma’s level last season until the two took the field together. The results were two Sooner blowout victories. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same here.

Picks *SPECIAL FCS EDITION*

Northern Iowa (+20) over IOWA

This is mostly a situational spot, but the Panthers are usually a decent bet when playing one of the big in-state schools. Here’s how they’ve performed in those games:

  • 2017: 42-24 loss to Iowa State
  • 2016: 25-20 win over Iowa State
  • 2015: 31-7 loss at Iowa State
  • 2014: 31-23 loss at Iowa
  • 2013: 28-20 win at Iowa State
  • 2012: 27-16 loss at Iowa
  • 2011: 20-19 loss at Iowa State

You get the picture. I’m not telling you they’re going to win, but history says you’re not going to see them in one of those 66-0 blowouts. They’re a Top 25 FCS team and they’re coming off a bye week after a disappointing 26-23 loss to #15 Montana on the road.

They’ll be charged up for the Hawkeyes. And this game is sandwiched between Iowa State and Wisconsin for the Hawks, which are two of the three biggest games for them on the schedule. Letdown spot, potentially.

Murray State (+37.5) over KENTUCKY

The Wildcats are obviously coming off a huge win for them, finally beating Florida. So we’re looking for a letdown spot here. If we’re looking at recent history, the last big win for UK was probably at South Carolina last year. They followed that up with a loss at home to Florida (who ended up 4-7).

The year before, they won at Louisville, but that was the last regular season game of the year. FWIW, they lost the bowl game by 15 to Georgia Tech.

But going back to 2015, after the Cats beat #25 Missouri, they responded by having to finish off a 6-5 FCS Eastern Kentucky team in OT.

And that’s really the only three times Kentucky’s been in this situation under Mark Stoops and I would argue that the win in Gainesville was the biggest of them all. Letdowns are natural and somewhat expected and with Mississippi State up next for BBN, it’s a prime spot for Murray to hang around. I’d prefer a first half line here, but they’re not out. If I find one later in the week, I’ll tweet it out.

Rhode Island (+10) over UCONN

Well, UConn appears to be dreadful. They’ve played two pretty good teams, but still, losing your first two games by an average of 47 points after the excitement of the start of the season has to really take the wind out of the old sail.

Here’s UConn’s performance against FCS schools recently:

  • 2017: 27-20 win over 4-7 Holy Cross
  • 2016: 24-21 win over 6-5 Maine
  • 2015: 20-15 win over 6-5 Villanova
  • 2014: 19-16 win over 5-7 Stony Brook
  • 2013: 33-18 LOSS to 13-3 Towson

To sum that up, the Huskies are +0.6 PPG in their last five meetings with FCS teams.

And Rhode Island is coming in hot. They were predicted to finish last in the CAA, but shoved it down everyone’s throats with a road victory at #15 Delaware in the opener. Last week, they rolled over Albany in a game that wasn’t even as close as the final score indicated. The Rams were up 45-7 heading into the fourth quarter.

I just might sprinkle a little on the +270 money line.

Delaware State (+46.5) over WESTERN MICHIGAN

Listen, I get it. This one is disgusting. Delaware State is disgusting. But it’s a principle thing. There are certain teams that should never be giving 46.5 points and Western Michigan definitely qualifies. They’re not a Top 100 FBS team. Their defense appears to be hot garbage so far, giving up 55 at home to Syracuse and 49 on the road at Michigan (35 in the first half). Wouldn’t you say a good performance for WMU would be, say, winning 56-10? Yes? They wouldn’t cover. Give me the Hornets and give me the 46.5.

YTD: 7-7 (-0.7u)

Leans

MICHIGAN (-35) over SMU

SMU looks terrible and Michigan’s offense looked capable of at least piling up the numbers against weak competition last week. I still don’t trust Harbaugh and his 32 Power offense enough to lay this many points, though.

South Florida (-10) over ILLINOIS

I liked Illinois last week and they came through, but USF’s offense looks like it’ll keep humming with Blake Barnett at QB. Just don’t have a full read on either team yet, however.

Eastern Michigan (+5) over BUFFALO

EMU may actually have a decent offense this year, but they still seem to convert yards into points. Not sure how either team reacts here after big road wins for both.

Arkansas State (-1) over TULSA

I think Arkansas State is going to be the better team, but the Red Wolves just spent last Saturday getting mauled for 3.5 hours by Alabama and Tulsa looked decent against Texas.

PURDUE (+7) over Missouri

I’m not going full homer here, but the public is all over Mizzou, yet the line has only come down a half point. Purdue’s not good, but they’re a couple of plays away from 2-0. Mizzou has looked good so far, but they did lose this matchup by 35 points at home last year.

UTAH (+6.5) over Washington

The half point is a big deal and I don’t believe quite enough in Utah to actually buy it. But Rice-Eccles is a really tough place to play and Utah might be the best team in the Pac-12 South.

 

 

 

2018 Season Total Tracker: Week 2

You can find the entire list of totals here.

5*

Florida Atlantic (over 8.5) wins 33-27 over Air Force

This was big after last week’s blowout. And it really wasn’t as close as the six-point spread indicates. The Owls appear to be in good hands with Chris Robison at QB, going 33-40 for 471 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INTs. Tune-up this week with Bethune Cookman before a big one at UCF in a couple weeks.

4*

Maryland (over 5) wins 45-14 at Bowling Green

I was worried about a letdown for the Terps and we almost had it. They trailed 14-10 at halftime against a pretty toothless BGSU team. But a 28-0 fourth quarter ended all those concerns. The Terps only gave up 158 yards of total offense.

Florida State (over 8) wins 36-26 over Samford

NEVER A DOUBT, BOYS!!!

It wasn’t pretty, but it’s not a big surprise after the opening night disaster and the fact that Samford’s a lot better than I’m sure most people realize. Sagarin ratings have them better than 30% of FBS teams.

But of course there’s a high standard in Tallahassee and we need nine wins. A positive sign was that Francois was able to produce a bunch of offense through the air and the Noles won the turnover battle convincingly.

Not good news: they gave up a ton of yards and Ricky Aguayo’s confidence might be completely gone.

East Carolina (under 3.5) wins 41-19 over UNC

Obviously not a positive development, but my opinion on the Pirates still hasn’t changed much. They can be really good on offense, but inconsistency is a staple under Montgomery. They beat NC State in Week 2 in 2016 to move to 2-0 and ECU still ended up 3-9.

3*

Buffalo (over 6.5) wins 36-29 over Temple (over 6.5)

On the surface, this seems like good and bad, but this was by far the better result. I gave up on Temple after the first game. They suck and there’s really no excuse for it. Buffalo has hope and this puts them in a great position.

Central Michigan (over 4.5) loses 31-7 to Kansas

Things are bleak with the Chipps. I’m gonna need John Bonamego to do what he does best and that’s win football games.

Duke (over 6) wins 21-7 at Northwestern

Great win for Duke and they’ve looked like a possible 9 or 10 win team so far. But it’s not all good news. QB Daniel Jones is now out indefinitely, which means the Blue Devils go from a possible first-round pick to a guy that’s thrown 15 career passes. Yikes. If you’d like to try and spin it, the Blue Devils haven’t been winning because of stellar offense and they’ve still got four very winnable games left at home this year.

Florida (over 8) loses 27-16 to Kentucky

Hard to find any positives. I knew the Gator offense might take some time to develop, but I didn’t think they’d be giving up 457 yards to Kentucky. I’m not saying they’re a lost cause, but tough to hang your hat on much so far.

Iowa (over 7.5) wins 13-3 over Iowa State

It was unwatchable, but eight hideous wins still pays. I was kind of expecting the offense to lead the way for the Hawkeyes this year, but that defense is dominant.

I’ll admit I’m a little worried about this week. Northern Iowa is a really good FCS program and it’s always a grind when UNI takes on one of the big in-state programs. They’ve beaten Iowa State at least a couple of times lately. And this game is sandwiched between Iowa State and Wisconsin.

Michigan State (over 8.5) loses 16-13 to Arizona State

This just doesn’t give the Spartans a lot of room for error. Obviously they still have to play the other big three from the East – fortunately two at home – and road games with Maryland and Indiana, who have both looked pretty solid so far. They also have a road game with Nebraska late in the year, which you would imagine is a team that will be quite a bit better late in the season than they are now.

Nebraska (under 6.5) loses 33-28 to Colorado

We’ll see if this bet ever actually comes to fruition after the Akron cancellation, but this felt like a game the Huskers had to have with their brutal road schedule.

 

 

2018 CFB Picks: Week 2

Predictably, it was a losing week to start at 2-4. Also predictably the leans were 5-4. I’m not afraid to admit I tend to struggle early in the year. That’s why everything bet is only a unit.

With that said….HERE’S EIGHT LOCKS OF THE CENTURY

Picks

ARMY (-8) over Liberty

This reeks of an overreaction to Week 1. Liberty unexpectedly rocked Old Dominion, who was supposed to be fairly decent by C-USA standards. However, I’m still looking at the big picture of Flame football here. This is their first year in FBS. The last three years they’ve been 6-5 at the FCS level. Meanwhile, Army is coming off a 10-win season. They struggled at Duke, but I’m a big believer of the Blue Devils this year.

The biggest match-up reason to like this game is the Black Knight rushing attack. If you can’t stop the run against a triple option team, chances are you’re not gonna win. Liberty did a good job containing ODU’s running game last week, but the Monarchs were one of the worst rushing teams in the country a year ago. Which takes me back to a year ago. The Flames gave up 225 rushing YPG on an average of 5.5 YPC.

If you’re looking for specifics, Liberty played a triple option attack in Kennesaw State last year. They gave up 498 rushing yards. I repeat: FOUR. HUNDRED. NINETY-EIGHT. RUSHING YARDS.

COASTAL CAROLINA (+10) over UAB

I’m still a little skeptical of UAB. They opened with a 52-0 win over Savannah State, but that doesn’t really say much. The Tigers are 13-86 the past decade and they play in a bad league.

My skepticism with the Blazers originates from what felt like a 2017 season where almost everything went right. They won four games by a touchdown or less last year, including one at home against this Coastal team. The teams they beat soundly: Alabama A&M, UTEP, Rice, and Southern Miss. They weren’t a model of consistency either, losing games to both Charlotte and Ball State, who combined for three wins all year.

Coastal was the opposite in terms of “luck”. They went 1-5 in games decided by one score. They opened with an expected loss to South Carolina, but I was impressed they put together four scoring drives with none of them coming from a short field.

I just don’t think these teams were nearly as far apart as their records would indicate a year ago (and Coastal was without their HC all year, btw). The line here suggests that on a neutral field, UAB is almost two touchdowns better. I don’t see it at all.

VANDERBILT (-8) over Nevada

I know there’s little expected of Vandy this year, but man this seems low. I was really impressed with the Dores second half against MTSU in the opener. They only gained 99 yards in the first half and took a 14-7 lead into the break, thanks to a defensive TD.

But in the second half, Vandy was essentially perfect offensively. They only had three possessions, but all three resulted in TDs. The drive chart looked like this:

  • 7 plays, 92 yards, 4:25 TOP
  • 12 plays, 80 yards, 4:56 TOP
  • 12 plays, 80 yards, 7:04 TOP

Vandy’s known for defense, but they slipped last year and the slide was expected to continue this year. It’s only one game, but the Dores looked sharp against MTSU. The only scoring drive they gave up took 15 plays, seven minutes, and MTSU had to convert four third downs. Maybe most notable is that they limited the explosive plays, only allowing two plays of 20+ yards and none over 30.

Nevada put up an eye-popping 72 points last week, but it came against a Portland State team that went 0-11 last year and the Pack really poured it on in the second half against a team that appeared to totally give up. Nevada was expected to improve this year, but they were still 3-9 a year ago and weren’t really competitive against above average teams.

Vandy obviously struggles to do much in the SEC, but they’ve still handled their business the past couple years against Group of 5 teams.

Memphis (-6) over NAVY

This one’s pretty simple. Navy got blown out by Hawaii because they couldn’t defend the pass at all. Memphis can really pass. The Midshipmen are also coming off that long trip to the islands. It takes half-a-day at best to get back to Annapolis. Memphis should be well rested after a tune-up game with Mercer. Really tough spot for Navy.

It should be noted that it may be a little windy and wet for this one. Nothing extreme, but could be viewed as a negative for Memphis.

North Carolina (-16.5) over EAST CAROLINA

Hate losing a couple points of value here, but ECU is truly awful.

Here’s their results against Power 5/Top 25 teams last year:

  • 56-20 loss at West Virginia
  • 64-17 loss at home to Virginia Tech
  • 61-31 loss at home to USF
  • 63-21 loss at UCF
  • 70-13 loss at Memphis

UNC has their own share of problems right now, but they’re good enough right now to win by 21+.

UTSA (+16) over Baylor

I still haven’t figured out why the consensus seems to be so high on Baylor. UTSA didn’t have a strong showing in Week 1 – but despite my doubts of Arizona State – I still would’ve put them at least a tier or two above Baylor. Unlike last year the Bears won their opener against the FCS, but the Bears were favored by 41 and didn’t come close against an Abilene Christian team that has seven wins the last three years. They gave up 466 yards of total offense and 7 yards per play. ACU didn’t have that many yards in a single game last year.

Of course Baylor scored their points, but they’re playing a much better team this week on both sides of the ball.

UTSA has had to replace some playmakers this year, but this is probably the time to mention that the Roadrunners won in Waco last year. That seems notable.

I could be wrong about Baylor, but I’m going to need to see a 1-11 team do more than beat Abilene Christian before I can remotely believe they should be laying 16 on the road.

HAWAII/Rice over 70

What we’ve learned through two weeks is that Hawaii can really rack up the points. 102 of them through two games.  So far the template has been for the Bows to get up big early and then allow the opponent a bunch of late touchdowns. I will take that.

Rice has been an awful program for a while now and as it relates to the over, the Owls have given up 40+ in 14 of their past 26 games. They should be able to score as well against Hawaii. Rice has put up 58 points through their first two. Their strong suit is running the ball and Hawaii just gave up 326 rushing yards to Navy and might be a little banged up after going against the option.

ILLINOIS (-9.5) over Western Illinois

Illinois sucks, but they should be able to handle this. Remember last year they had an opening week scare against Ball State, but responded well the next week by shutting down WKU. We’re hoping for the same after a scare against Kent State.

Lovie’s been a disaster in Champaign, but they really haven’t had any of these types of losses. His only FCS opponent was his first game as HC and they won 52-3.

If the Illini can’t cover this number over the projected 7th best team in the Missouri Valley, they should probably just fire Lovie now.

Leans

Arkansas State (+36) over ALABAMA

I’m always afraid to bet against Bama, but the Tide play at least one of these games every year and they tend to take it a little easier. For instance, last year they beat FSU in a big first game, kinda coasted through Fresno and CSU, and then obliterated Vandy 59-0 and Ole Miss 66-3 the next two weeks.

I think this is a similar type situation right before the Tide open SEC play next week. It also helps that Arkansas State can really pass and the secondary is a bit of a question mark still for Bama.

Maryland (-16) over BOWLING GREEN

BGSU’s defense is atrocious and I think the Terps will put a big number on them, but a little worried about a letdown and they’re on the road here.

Wyoming (+20) over MISSOURI

Still a Wyoming believer. Still not a Derek Dooley believer. Probably would take it if it were at 21.

Fresno State (+2.5) over MINNESOTA

I think Fresno’s the better team, but Minnesota might be better than I thought.

Arkansas (-13.5) over COLORADO STATE

Colorado State appears to be horrible, but it seems like something Arkansas could screw up early in the Chad Morris tenure.

Penn State (-8.5) over PITT

I still think the Nittany Lions are going to be very good.

BOISE STATE (-31.5) over UConn

Really impressive performance by Boise last week and it’s the home opener. UConn looked terrible against UCF and now they get to go on a road trip to the blue turf. Fun.

ARIZONA STATE (+6) over Michigan State

I will do a total 180 on Herm if they win this game. It’s a dangerous spot for the Spartans.

YTD: 2-4 (-2.4u)

 

 

2018 Season Total Tracker: Week 1

You can find the entire list of totals here.

Going to try to do this every week, but I think I quit after about a month last year. No promises. Not going to touch on all 19 of the 3* plays, but just a few of the more significant results from week-to-week.

5*

FAU (over 8.5) loses 63-14 to Oklahoma

(FAU 0-1)

Uhhhhhhhhh, well, could’ve been better! In the grand scheme of things, it’s only one loss and it’s a game that was a planned loss. With that said, I’d feel a lot better if it had been the slightest bit competitive for at least a quarter.

The positive news is that the schedule obviously gets exponentially easier – aside from a road trip to UCF – and things will only get better. It also helps to know that FAU started off on maybe a worse foot last year – getting wrecked by Navy at home – before eventually steamrolling the entire C-USA.

I’m not officially worried yet, but I’d really appreciate a win over Air Force this week.

4*

East Carolina (under 3.5) loses 28-23 to North Carolina A&T

(ECU 0-1)

This was a much more positive development. I felt I generously gave ECU five winnable games this year and this was clearly the most likely and the Pirates blew it. A&T even gifted them 14 penalties (for 113 yards).

But ECU turned the ball over three times and only averaged 4.0 yards per play. They’re terrible and I have no sympathy for them.

Maryland (over 5) wins 34-29 over Texas

This was HUGE. Obviously, things still aren’t the best surrounding the program around College Park, but it doesn’t appear to have affected the on-field product yet.

Again, the offense is pretty damn good without Max Bortenschlager running the show. The Terps didn’t put up monster numbers, but 400 yards and 34 points against what’s supposed to be the Big 12’s best defense is a pretty good day.

With that game out of the way, Maryland has a great chance to start off 4-0.

Florida State (over 8) loses 24-3 to Virginia Tech

Prepare to get spin zoned off the planet.

Things can’t get any worse/uglier. I don’t know if this makes it any better, but a lot of FSU’s problems last night were self-inflicted. I’m not sure the penalties will go away because it’s kind of a Willie Taggart special, but I assume Willie might reconsider going Wildcat on 3rd & Goal from the 10 from here on. I also assume they won’t lose every turnover battle 5-0. I also assume that Ricky Aguayo will make the majority of his short-to-intermediate kicks. I’m also assuming the Noles won’t have a touchdown called a non-touchdown every game, in which the Noles for some reason hurried up to snap the ball instead of lobbying for a review and on said hurry-up snap got whistled for a false start.

There were also some positives from last night, believe it or not. After all, before that garbage time drive after the game-ending fumble, FSU’s defense had only given up 235 yards of offense. I also thought Deondre Francois was halfway decent aside from the desperation interceptions.

The obvious issue that I’m not sure gets solved is the offensive line. Hard to do much of anything when you can’t block, regardless of how much talent you have at the skill positions. VT blitzed all night and the Noles didn’t have many answers.

But the O-Line can be minimized if the Noles can just be better on first down. They’re still in the early stages of installing the offense and you’d think things will get a lot crisper as the season goes on. If they can just get drives started with positive plays, Taggart’s tempo offense becomes a lot more lethal. Your O-Line doesn’t have to be that good if you can just wear the defense out with superior athletes operating at a high pace.

But clearly there’s still a long way to go. I’m not giving up yet, though.

Just forget I said any of this if they lose to Samford.

3*

Tennessee (under 5.5) loses 40-17 to West Virginia

The Vols were dogs heading in, but you never really know what to expect in Week 1, especially under a new head coach. Obviously, they can get a lot better, but I’m not sure they have enough time with that brutal five-game stretch starting in three weeks.

There’s still three wins built in to the schedule with some truly awful competition, but the offense still isn’t near where it needs to be to face top teams in the SEC. There were some individuals that performed well against WVU, but 300 total yards of offense against a defense that is borderline Top 100 isn’t much to write home about.

Temple (over 6.5) loses 19-17 to Villanova

There’s really no sugar-coating this one. It was an unmitigated disaster. There’s really nothing good to say about it. I’d almost prefer they keep losing the next couple weeks, so at least the Buffalo and Maryland overs can keep going.

Texas (under 8.5) loses 34-29 to Maryland

This was a doubly great game for the totals. From a Texas perspective, they looked largely the same as they did a year ago. They still don’t have a true feature back to work with and the pass game still has its peaks and valleys and ends up fairly mediocre.

UCLA (over 5.5) loses 26-17 to Cincinnati

Not an ideal start for the Chipper. At least the defense was pretty good.