Month: November 2018

2018 CFB Picks: Championship Week

Georgia (+13.5) over Alabama – 3u
Georgia +415 – 0.5u

I don’t feel great about it, but their seasons don’t suggest this much difference outside of how each of them played at LSU. The line is begging you to take Alabama.

If there’s a “weakness” anywhere its Georgia’s run defense. It’s a concern, but the Tide RB’s really haven’t hit that many home runs this year. They’ve been fairly average when they’ve played really good defenses. The Tide have blown out everybody this year, but they haven’t played a team as balanced on both sides of the ball as Georgia.

Every relevant analytical power ranking will tell you that Georgia is a Top 3 team. Out of principle, you should be taking them with this many points in any scenario. Alabama may be one of the greatest teams ever, but they haven’t had to prove it against an elite team yet.

Fresno State (+3, -120) over BOISE STATE – 2u
Fresno +120 – 1u

I’m gonna be honest, this makes me wildly uncomfortable. I leaned toward Boise State three weeks ago when this game happened. But the line was five points different. Yes, it’s across zero, I know. Boise ended up winning that game, but it was far from convincing.

At this point, the fear of playing on the blue turf has to be wearing off for Fresno. This will be their third trip to Boise in less than a calendar year. I think that matters. The Broncos have one of the biggest home field advantages in CFB, but that diminishes with this much repetition.

Fresno has to still be upset with how that game went three weeks ago. They held the lead heading into the fourth quarter and let it slip away. They’ve been the better team this year. It helps that Boise’s defense has been pretty well beat up the past few weeks.

CAL (+3, +105) over Stanford – 2u
Cal +150 – 1u

I took Cal at +2 two weeks ago when this was originally scheduled. Now I get an additional key point and I’m not giving juice based on…Stanford barely escaping a shootout with UCLA and Cal beating Colorado by two scores. I will say the Colorado game was closer than the score indicated, but Cal’s just done whatever it takes to win this year. This game feels like it just means a lot more to the Bears. Stanford has been a disappointment all year, especially defensively, and I’d expect Cal to pull everything out of the playbook to win this one.

Utah (+5.5) over Washington – 2u
Utah +185 – 1u

I’ll start by saying that Washington won at Utah 21-7 back in September. It certainly gives one pause, but that was a couple months ago and the Utes bottomed out in September. Since then, they’ve only played one bad game and that was the game Tyler Huntley broke his collar bone at Arizona State. Jason Shelley was bad in relief, but has been playing at a similar level to Huntley as a starter.

There really hasn’t been much separation between the two teams the past couple months. At the most, you’d say UW should be favored by a point or two. The difference between Huntley and Shelley isn’t much, if any, and certainly doesn’t justify the Utes being close to touchdown dogs. Shelley may struggle to throw the ball against UW’s elite pass defense, but his ability to tuck it and run might be the difference in what should be a low scoring game.

And maybe most importantly, it’s never a bad idea to take Kyle Whittingham as an underdog. The Utes are 13-3-1 ATS as a dog the last five years.

YTD: 69-63 (+8.9u)

 

 

 

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2018 CFB Picks: Week 13

I’ve tried to remain as quiet as I can this year on what’s been a very lopsided number of marginally bad-to-bad-to-all-time horrific bad beats, but nothing sums it up quite like this past week’s Air Force/Wyoming game where I had Air Force:

All of that was happening while I was at a Charleston rooftop bar with some of the most important, influential people in my life. And to top it off Purdue was in the middle of a meltdown. Not even going to mention the SMU and ULM losses.

I remained calm because I know these types of things come back around, which is why I live by the code of #NeverApologize when you’re on the winning side of a bad beat. Let’s hope that the tides turn in our favor this week.

Better yet, let’s hope these all cover by 30. It’s the last week of the season, everyone deserves happiness.

Luckily, we already started off with a big win with Western Michigan.

 

TCU (+5) over Oklahoma State – 4u
TCU +170 – 1u

Oklahoma State has seemingly nothing to play for. They’ve clinched their bowl birth, they’re coming off two emotional games with rival OU and WVU, and they’re heading out on the road with a battered Justice Hill at RB. TCU is 5-6 and they’re playing for a bowl game. Gary Patterson has missed a bowl game just twice in his 17 years as a head coach. Grayson Muehlstein will be fine at QB for the Frogs. It hasn’t been a strength position all year and Muehlstein honestly might be their best player at the position so far. The Cowboys have laid eggs at Baylor and Kansas State on the road and without much reason for motivation this week, I don’t see why you ride them here.

MTSU (+3) over UAB – 3u
MTSU +135 – 1u

UAB has the C-USA West all wrapped up and this game means nothing to them. MTSU absolutely has to have this game to have a chance at the East. Brent Stockstill is in his final home game.

WISCONSIN (-10.5) over Minnesota – 3u

The line is kind of stinky and Minnesota is playing for a bowl game…however, the Gophers have been routinely roasted by teams that can run all year. Illinois hung 55 on them, Nebraska had 53, Iowa had 48, and Maryland had 42. Three of those games were on the road. PJ Fleck can’t clap his way to win this game.

Stanford (-6.5) over UCLA – 3u

I like UCLA and think they are headed in the right direction, but their games against top 30 teams have resulted in losses of 31, 28, 24, and 7 points this year. The unscheduled bye last week helps Stanford this week. JJ Arcega-Whiteside returns to the lineup and he’s a big difference maker. UCLA may be improving, but they’re still soft in the trenches and I think they get bullied by Stanford.

Troy (+10.5) over APP STATE – 3u
Troy +330 – 0.5u

Essentially, I think Troy has come on really strong in the second half of the season. The metrics/lines are still relying upon App State’s blazing start and the Sun Belt East is on the line in this one. If you went on the past month or so of play, Troy would only be a dog of less than a touchdown.

OLE MISS (+13) over Mississippi State – 2u
Ole Miss +400 – 0.5u

This is all Ole Miss has to play for and they can get some big plays against this defense. Whether the Rebels cover or not is going to come down to how efficient they are in the red zone.

FIU (+3, -105) over Marshall – 2u
FIU +140 – 1u

Another huge game in terms of the C-USA race and FIU has to put up or shut up at home. Marshall’s defense is superior here, but when it really boils down to it, football tends to come down to QBs. I’ll take FIU’s James Morgan who has a 26-5 TD-INT ratio with a 65% completion percentage against the young Isaiah Green who has a 12-7 TD-INT ratio with a 54% completion percentage. I think Morgan will make more plays in a big game.

Washington (+3) over WASHINGTON STATE – 2u
Washington +130 – 1u

I so badly want to believe in the Cougs, Mike Leach, and Gardner Minshew. However, I can’t deny how much their offense plays into Washington’s scheme defensively. The Huskies love when you aim short and hope for a play. They’re one of the nation’s best when it comes to hunkering down when it becomes a scoring opportunity. On the other side, it’s a game for Myles Gaskin. Wazzu is just not as solid in the trenches as you’d like defensively, and for as much as a I doubt Jake Browning as a big-time QB, he can do enough to keep the Cougs off balance. The Huskies have won five straight with the last three coming by an average of 30 points.

AIR FORCE (-14.5) over Colorado State – 2u
AFA/CSU Over 63 – 1u

Neither has really anything to play for in terms of the postseason, but it’s senior day for Air Force and they’re a prideful bunch. With that said, both offense match up well with the defenses here and I think we should see some points.

Colorado (+12.5) over CAL – 2u
Colorado +380 – 0.5u

I wouldn’t say Buff players were happy Mikey Mac got fired, but they seemed happy that the burden was off their shoulders. They now get to play carefree with a bowl game on the line and they face a Cal team that really struggles to put points on the board.

YTD: 61-54 (+5.15u)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 CFB Picks: Week 12

Gonna keep it real brief this week. The MLs have been helping me personally this year, just haven’t posted them, so I’ll add them this week.

3 Units

Bowling Green (+7) over AKRON
Bowling Green +230 (0.5u)

It would help if Kato Nelson doesn’t play, but it’s not like the Zips offense is any good with him in there anyway. I think BGSU has had a boost since Jinks got fired and they’ve got the offense to make this a game and potentially steal one.

Air Force (+3, -120) over WYOMING
Air Force +115 (1u)

Wyoming has had a nice streak in this series, but the only thing the Cowboys are actually good at is defending the pass and that’s really not an important trait against an option team. The Cowboys are 4-6 and the best team they’ve beat is 118th in the country, according to S&P+.

SMU (+8.5) over Memphis
SMU +295 (0.5u)

I’ll continue to ride the SMU train. They got backdoored last weekend, but it was still a hell of an offensive performance. They can score on Memphis, who’s been pretty poor on the road all year.

SOUTHERN MISS (+3, -120) over Louisiana Tech
Southern Miss +120 (1u)

Not sure why Southern Miss are home dogs in this one. Their starting QB is probably still out, but the backup has been better than the numbers indicate. Keep in mind that his two starts have come against Top 20 defenses nationally, according to S&P+. The Golden Eagles beat Marshall and lost to UAB on the road by three in those two performances. Not sure how you consider the backup – Tate Whatley – a detriment at this point.

2 Units

CAL (+2) over Stanford
Cal +115 (1u)

Cal’s pass defense should be able to slow down the Cardinal, especially with a hobbled, or potentially absent, JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Bears have held their last four opponents to 12.5 PPG and those opponents included Washington, Washington State, and USC. The offense has its struggles, but this Stanford D is not your older brother’s Stanford D.

TCU (+2) over BAYLOR
TCU +115 (1u)

Yeah sure, the Frogs 47-10 loss at West Virginia was ugly last week, but perhaps you caught Baylor’s 58-14 loss to the Mountaineers a couple weeks before. Neither team is a real prize, but I can at least trust TCU’s defense against a non-elite offense. And that’s really the only unit I trust out there. The Frogs are having a down year, but a big part of that is some horrendous turnover luck. That can’t last forever.

UL-Monroe (+8.5) over ARKANSAS STATE
ULM +270 (0.5u)

Both teams have been on fire lately. The winner puts itself in a good position to win the Sun Belt West. Arkansas State was a bit stronger early in the season, but if you based this line off the past month, it’d be a three point spread at the most.

1 Unit

OKLAHOMA (-35, -120) over Kansas
OKLAHOMA/Kansas under 69

I think it’s hard to lose both of these because I just don’t think Kansas can score enough, despite some of Oklahoma’s troubles defensively. The past three games between these two have looked like this in Norman: 56-3, 44-7, 52-7. KU hasn’t scored 20 points in a game against Oklahoma in its last eight meetings. Sooners will score. They always do.

YTD: 53-46 (+3.4u)

 

 

 

2018 CFB Picks: Week 11

4 Units

NC STATE (-16.5) over Wake Forest 

Against teams in the Top 75 of CFB this season, Wake is 0-5, losing by a margin of 26.8 PPG. Four of those games were at home. Now they head out on the road against an NC State team that has been rock steady at home. And they do it without their starting QB, Sam Hartman.

And that’s a shame for the Deacs because one area where you can really take advantage of the Pack is in the passing game. While Hartman wasn’t exactly an elite passer, he at least had been building experience. He’s replaced by Jamie Newman, who is 9-19 for 83 yards, 0 TDs, and 2 INTs for his career. This will be his first start. And he doesn’t even have a full week to prepare. This game is Thursday night in Raleigh. While the pass defense isn’t great as a whole, they do get after the QB and it could be a night full of duress for Newman.

It’s hard to expect the run game to bail Newman out. NC State has an elite run defense, holding five of their last six opponents under 100 rushing yards, only allowing 2.8 YPC in that timeframe.

Defensively, the Deacs just don’t do much well. It’s hard to find a strength. They’ll be up against one of the best QBs in the nation in Ryan Finley and an offense that has put up 88 points the last two weeks against better defenses than Wake’s.

Maryland (+3) over INDIANA  

This feels like a lot of credit for an Indiana team that’s played one decent game since the middle of September. They’ve been sliding since that time. Here’s their Percentile Performance and national ranking over the season, according to S&P+:

Indiana

As you can see, it’s been a steady decline for the Hoosiers since starting Big Ten play after facing a pretty soft non-conference schedule. Maryland on the other hand, has been the most predictable roller coaster in the country.

Maryland

As you can see, the same team doesn’t show up two weeks in a row. The reason for liking the Terps this week isn’t just that they’re coming off a poor performance, it’s that all of those games where they were under 78% came against teams that are currently Top 40ish. Indiana is not that right now.

Maryland has a hard time scoring if they can’t run the ball, but they should be able to do that against IU. The Hoosiers are about average against the run, but they’ve given up over 4.5 YPC in each of the last three games.

On the other side, Indiana has lacked any type of big plays on offense. Explosive plays may be a big factor in this game. Indiana ranks 123rd on offense and 87th on defense, while Maryland ranks 5th on offense and 16th on defense. In what figures to be a game played in the 20’s, those big chunk plays could be the difference.

Also what has to worry you if you’re Indiana, despite throwing a lot of shorter routes, Peyton Ramsey has been prone to interceptions. He’s thrown ten for the season and five of those have come in the last three games. The Terps have intercepted more passes than anybody else this season. Again, the potential for game-changing plays.

3 Units

MINNESOTA (+12.5) over Purdue 

Purdue’s in a similar situation it was two weeks ago. They were coming off a big home win over Ohio State and headed out on the road to Michigan State and looked awful. Now they’re coming off another big home win over Iowa.

It’s possible that Purdue learned its lesson after the MSU game and beating Iowa didn’t cause the same week-long party that Ohio State did, but there are some matchups that will also help Minnesota in this game.

Purdue has an explosive offense, but they’re a pass-heavy oriented team. They’re not incapable of running, but they just kinda choose not to most of the time. That negates some of what’s Minnesota’s biggest flaw: stopping the run. The Gophers have had some atrocious defensive games, but the worst have come against run-heavy teams with a dual-threat QB: Illinois, Nebraska, and Maryland. They gave up 48 points to Iowa, but that was largely a function of four offensive turnovers. The Hawkeyes only averaged 5.3 yards per play, which is below average.

On the other side, Minnesota has become a more explosive passing team with Tanner Morgan under center. Turnovers have been a concern with him, but Purdue tends to play pretty soft coverage with a young secondary. The Gophers shouldn’t have trouble gaining yards. The test will be if they can convert scoring opportunities into touchdowns.

WEST VIRGINIA (-13.5) over TCU 

TCU’s offense stinks out loud at this point. They haven’t had a good game since Week 3 against Ohio State, which as we’ve seen more of the OSU defense, is less impressive than we thought at the time. They haven’t scored over 30 since Week 2 and they play in the freaking Big 12.

The Frog defense is a lot better, but they’ve had problems slowing down elite offenses. Oklahoma put up 52. OSU put up 40 in Dwayne Haskins’ first big game start. They were able to limit Texas Tech to 17 points, but it was third-string QB Jett Duffey’s first start and the Red Raiders were content playing a slower pace in that game and still beat the Frogs in Fort Worth.

SMU (-18) over UCONN 

UConn has kept it within 18 in only three games all season: FCS Rhode Island, UMass, and USF somehow. They have absolutely nothing to play for, they might be the worst team in the country, and they face a surging SMU team that has turned it on since the bye week.

Letdown potential for the Mustangs as they come off of games with Cincinnati and Houston and look forward to Memphis next week. However, they’ve looked like a determined team and a bowl game is in their sights and they probably need this one to make it. They faced a similar situation when they beat Navy – when it wasn’t clear they sucked – for their first win of the year, had Houston Baptist the next week with the UCF game following. They beat HBU by 36 in that sandwich spot.

SYRACUSE (-21) over Louisville 

Well, it appears Louisville is ready to quit with Petrino’s firing almost inevitable at this point, their defense is pathetic, and Syracuse has put a ton of points on everybody not named Clemson. There’s a potential for a letdown with the Orange as they face Notre Dame next week, but I’m not sure it’s possible to be less focused than Louisville right now.

2 Units

TEXAS TECH (+1) over Texas 

It’d be a bigger play if not for the constant juggling act at QB for Texas Tech. Texas has been overvalued all year and Texas Tech has been undervalued. Something to watch for here is the opportunistic Tech secondary. Sam Ehlinger’s done a good job taking care of the ball all year, but Adrian Frye, Vaughnte Dorsey, and Damarcus Fields all get their hands on a lot of balls.

Oregon (+3.5) over UTAH 

Oregon’s tough to predict, but I feel like you have to take them with Tyler Huntley out at QB for Utah. Huntley had a ton of experience and was a steady hand for the offense. He now gives way to redshirt freshman Jason Shelley, who went 4-11 for 59 yards in relief at Arizona State last week.

Temple (+4) over HOUSTON 

Anthony Russo should be able to keep it going from last week against a weak pass defense. The Owls have a capable run game as well and Ed Oliver’s injured knee is a big blow to the Cougars usually good run defense.

D’Eriq King showed that he was human last week against SMU and now he faces a Temple defense that’s one of the best in the country defending the pass. It was a rough game defensively for Temple against UCF last week, but that performance was much more the exception than the rule.

North Texas (-14, (-120)) over OLD DOMINION 

North Texas should be able to rack up a ton of points against a terrible defense, but the Mean Green’s last couple of road performances are limiting the play a bit here.

UCF (-25.5) over NAVY

Everything about this game suggests UCF is going to roll big. Navy’s been rag-dolled by everybody the past month. Their defense is terrible in both phases. They were in San Diego two weeks ago, Cincinnati last week, and now Orlando. All while juggling the ridiculous schedule of a service academy student. UCF is a machine. But Navy does have a tendency to make some games look a lot closer than they are given their style and this is a sandwich spot for the Knights after Temple last week and Cinci next week. That’s why we’re only going for the two units.

YTD: 49-41 (+4.9u)

2018 CFB Picks: Week 10

Picks were posted on Monday night, but thought I’d add a little here.

5 Units

OLE MISS (pick) over South Carolina

This is the battle of the supremely average SEC teams, but I’m of the opinion Ole Miss is slightly less average (better) than South Carolina, they’re at home, and they’re coming off a bye.

I’m counting on the Ole Miss offense to put up a bunch of points. They’re among the best in the country – going for 70+ on two occasions this year – and the only times they’ve been held under 37 points have come against Top 20 defenses. USC ranks 54th, according to S&P+. They gave up 490 yards to Missouri and 458 to Texas A&M.

The secondary for the Gamecocks has several guys with injuries and they’re going against one of the best WR corps in the nation. Maybe the best feature of USC’s entire team is that they haven’t given up big plays in the pass game. With a weakened secondary going against an explosive Ole Miss team, it could be a recipe for more deep balls for the Rebels.

On the other side of the ball, South Carolina has been pretty blah since the first few weeks of the season. They haven’t put up 400 yards of offense in a game since Week 4.

They haven’t shown a propensity for the big plays like Ole Miss. If they get themselves in a shootout with the Rebels, I don’t think they can string together a bunch of long drives to keep pace without making mistakes. The Cocks are 104th in turnover margin this year, while Ole Miss is 21st.

And I grant you that the Ole Miss is a terrible defensive team, but Tennessee is nearly as bad and USC was only able to put up 27 points last week at home, coming off of a bye.

4 Units

Air Force (+7) over ARMY

Everyone knows I’m an Army guy, but I think it’s Air Force here who’s better equipped to win the battle of the option (or at least more equipped to cover the spread).

The Air Force defense is 18th against the run, while Army comes in at 93rd, according to S&P+. And the Falcons have been much more battle tested. Every offense they’ve played so far this year is in the Top 75 in rushing efficiency, with the exception of FCS Stony Brook. Army, on the other hand, has faced just one opponent in the Top 75 all year.

The only offenses to have a decent amount of success against Air Force this year have done it through the air. Army has thrown it 68 times all year.

Of course there’s a lot of familiarity between the two and that should help out the Army run defense, but familiarity has favored the Falcons in this matchup. They’ve won 18 of the last 21 against Army and covered 16 of them.

3 Units

OREGON STATE (+14) over USC

Unfortunately for me, but good for you, you can get the Beavs at +16.5 right now thanks to JT Daniels’ injury status being upgraded.

This is mostly a fade against USC. Their average performance away from home the past two years is that of, well…an average FBS team. When they’re at the Coliseum, they play like a Top 25-30 team. I thought they had turned a corner a couple weeks ago and took them at Utah, but there doors were blown off by much more than the 41-28 score indicated and Daniels was bad in the game.

It helps that a young Oregon State team under first year coach Jonathan Smith was able to break through with their first Pac-12 victory in a dramatic comeback at Colorado. Three of the last four times USC has made the trip up to Corvallis, the Beavs have walked away with outright victories. Twice they were more than two touchdown dogs.

NORTHWESTERN (+9.5) over Notre Dame

I don’t know the exact figure, but I’m sure you’ve heard it/can find it if you try hard enough, but ND’s record ATS after Navy is bad.

They’re also coming back from a long road trip out to San Diego and now have to go on the road again. Evanston doesn’t provide the most intimidating of environments typically, but I’m sure Ryan Field will be alive with a night kick and the Irish in the stadium. Here’s hoping the majority of the crowd is wearing purple.

And it helps that it’s also November. Northwestern is an annual “grower”, frequently peaking as the season comes to an end. They’re 12-4 ATS in their last 16 November games.

I don’t know how much the Wildcats can score, but I do think they can slow down the Ian Book show. NW has only given up 300+ on one occasion this year and it took 51 attempts to get those 329 yards.

2 Units

BAYLOR (+8) over Oklahoma State

Letdown spot for the Pokes and Baylor should be at their best after a drubbing to West Virginia last Thursday and the need for two more wins to reach bowl eligibility, a goal I imagine is pretty important for them after last year.

VIRGINIA TECH (+2) over Boston College

Bounceback week for the Hokies after last week’s debacle. On the other side, BC is coming off a big win in the Red Bandana game and they’ve been underwhelming on the road this year.

Ohio (pick) over WESTERN MICHIGAN

The Broncos have been giving up big plays all year and Ohio might be the most explosive offense in the league. It’s Solich time.

LOUISIANA MONROE (+7.5) over Georgia Southern

Monroe had a disappointing start, but they should be in prime form after two wins and a bye week to prepare for the GSU option attack.

Southern is coming off the biggest win the program has had in a few years and next week they’ve got a matchup with their other big Sun Belt East foe in Troy. Dangerous spot for the Eagles.

SMU (+13) over Houston

Houston’s terrifying, but SMU is getting better as the season progresses under Sonny Dykes. They’ve had some really good defensive performances the past month. The run game has hit the skids for the Mustangs, but Ben Hicks has been prolific lately and pass defense is where you can hurt the Cougs. Just have a feeling SMU keeps it close with a bowl within reach and a night home game against one of the best teams in the league.