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OVERVALUED, UNDERVALUED, OR PROPERLY VALUED 1.0: 2020 NCAA TOURNAMENT

Welcome to the first installment of the 2020 Overvalued, Undervalued, or Properly Valued series.

These rankings are based on the Final Four Index (FFI). The premise is ranking teams based on their similarities to the most successful tournament teams (those that reach the Final Four). The tournament is a different animal and the FFI measures teams in a tournament context and less so on a game-to-game basis like most analytical measures do.

This is an interesting year and may provide some opportunity where a darkhorse or longshot actually has a chance to win it all. The analytics match the narrative that there really aren’t any great teams this year. If you look at KenPom, this year’s best team (Kansas) would’ve ranked sixth last year. In the FFI, there are only two teams with a rating over 100 this year (although that will go up as teams’ SOS go up). There were nine last year.

Also, something worth noting this year: the national average for offensive efficiency is 101.2, the lowest in the history of KenPom’s website (est. 2002). It’s been at least 104 for the last six years.

I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but it seems that a lot of the reduction in offense can be attributed to the deeper three-point line. Teams are still taking a ton of them, but they made percentage is down over a full percent from last year and nearly two percent from 2018.

I say this because I adjusted the rankings last year to account for the three-point renaissance of 2014-2019 that resulted in quite a few teams bucking historical trends and riding threes to the Final Four.

Is that over now? Are three-heavy teams back to being stay-aways? I have no idea. Here’s the rankings.


Full disclosure: all of the data was gathered on Wednesday night and some teams have played twice since then. Things change. I only run data on teams that are seeded 1-11 on Bracket Matrix. Those teams were also picked Wednesday.

The odds were grabbed off of DraftKings on Thursday. What I didn’t know at the time is that DK doesn’t offer any odds on teams from New Jersey, so I grabbed those from Sportsbook.ag for Seton Hall and Rutgers.

The ranking on the left is based on where the odds suggest teams are ranked. The ranking in the parentheses are obviously the FFI.

Properly Valued

T2. Duke +1000 (FFI: 2)

The Blue Devils are the only current team that is Top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Kansas is the only other team that is Top 20 in both.

Vernon Carey might be the National POTY, but riding a freshman big isn’t the easiest way to win a national title. They’ve got other talent, but they need their backcourt to be healthier than they have been lately.

T2. Kansas +1000 (FFI: 1)

As mentioned, the Jayhawks are the only other team to be Top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency so far this season. They were able to survive the road trip to Oklahoma without Devon Dotson, but we’ve seen recently that they struggle when Dotson does. He’s struggled offensively a few times lately and it’s led to a 1-2 record and 55, 55, and 60 points scored as a team.

The good news is that this might be the best defensive team that Bill Self has ever had in Lawrence.

T5. Baylor +1500 (FFI: 6)

Resume-wise, the Bears might be the best team in the country. The lack of fanfare probably has a lot to do with several of their best players being low-profile transfers.

But it’s hard not to notice a team that rolled through Allen Fieldhouse about as easily as they rolled through a road game at Coastal Carolina.

In typical Scott Drew fashion, the Bears are almost over-reliant on second-chance opportunities on offense. But on the flip-side, this is the best defensive group he’s had.

T5. Michigan State +1500 (FFI: 3)

The flaws for the Spartans were clear to see a week ago at Purdue: this team really needs transition points to succeed and it’s also one of Tom Izzo’s worst shooting teams in a while.

But it’s still an Izzo team, which means they’ll be a tough out no matter what when it matters. They also have one of the best guards in the country in Cassius Winston.

T9. Butler +2000 (FFI: 12)

The Bulldogs have one of the most underrated backcourts in the country. Kamar Baldwin is one of the best guards in his own right, Aaron Thompson gives them another ball handler/driver/passer, and Sean McDermott is an elite shooter.

Defensively they’re very good, but a lack of a legitimate rim protector is noticeable and probably not a fixable problem. Derrik Smits will help some, though.

13. Auburn +2500 (FFI: 11)

A rather weak schedule the first two months revealed itself a bit with the back-to-back blowout road losses, but the Tigers are still a Final Four contender again. Last year’s offensive DNA – shooting threes whenever possible – hasn’t quite left this team, but if this team stopped settling so much, they’d be better off.

T15. Arizona +3000 (FFI: 15)

Not surprisingly, the young, talented Wildcats are a nightmare to deal with in Tuscon and pretty beatable anywhere else. It’s hard to take them too seriously until that trend starts to change.

T18. San Diego State +3300 (FFI: 20)

The Aztecs are the only unbeaten left and although the SOS isn’t very high, you can’t write them off as a mid-major pretender, especially this year. They already have three wins over teams who are likely (as of now) to earn at-large bids to the tournament and all three of those wins were away from their home floor.

T21. Florida State +4000 (FFI: 17)

It’s a pretty typical Florida State team. They’ve kinda quietly only lost two games and played the majority of their toughest opponents away from Tallahassee.

23. Penn State +4500 (FFI: 27)

The Nittany Lions are like a lite version of a Final Four team. They’re decent on each end of the floor, but aren’t great at either. They haven’t shown much away from home since November. They’ll have plenty of opportunities though in the Big Ten.

T26. Colorado +6000 (FFI: 22)

I love the Buffs and they’ve started to improve on two of their biggest offensive flaws: turnovers and scoring inside.

T26. LSU +6000 (FFI: 28)

Our first half-team of the blog. An elite offense, but one of the worst defenses you’ll see in this list. Not the most impressive resume at the time right now.

T26. Marquette +6000 (FFI: 32)

We go from a half-team to a largely one-man offense in Markus Howard. He’s enough to scare a 1 seed in a second round matchup, but it’s been proven over his career that the best teams usually find a way to overcome Howard’s prowess on a neutral floor.

T26. Purdue +6000 (FFI: 31)

One of the best defenses in the nation, but a frequently miserable offense away from Mackey Arena. Realistically, the first weekend is probably their ceiling, if they make the tournament at all.

T39. Indiana +8000 (FFI: 44)

Same conference, same state, and the same issues scoring away from their home floor.

T39. VCU +8000 (FFI: 40)

I don’t go through every team sheet, but I’m having a hard time figuring out why VCU would even be in the tournament right now. That’s a lot of weight on narrowly beating a pretty mediocre LSU team at home two months ago.

T46. Oklahoma +10000 (FFI: 46)

Just lost by 14 at home against Kansas without Devon Dotson, so I’m having a hard time picturing it.

T61. Georgetown +12500 (FFI: 43)

Just making the tournament would be an accomplishment for the Hoyas.

T61. Virginia Tech +12500 (FFI: 45)

Would probably be a pleasant surprise just to make the dance in Mike Young’s first year after they lost just about everything off last year’s rotation.

Slightly Overvalued

1. Gonzaga +900 (FFI: 5)

No surprise the Zags are one of the best teams in the country again, but putting them as the slight “favorite” over the rest of the country is probably a bit too far. Most years, they wouldn’t be good enough defensively yet, but who knows this year? They’ve got a really diverse offense, length, and a really solid eight-man rotation. But the annual question remains: can Killian Tillie stay healthy?

T5. Ohio State +1500 (FFI: 10)

The offense is slowly melting off the map and it’s resulted in losing five of six. That blowout road win at UNC put them on the national map in early December, but obviously that’s lost a lot of luster in 45 days.

T24. Florida +5000 (FFI: 39)

Florida does seem to be trending up. The offense has been good for six straight games and it’s not just one guy. They’re getting contributions everywhere and it seems to be a different guy starring every night. Worth keeping an eye on.

T24. Texas Tech +5000 (FFI: 37)

Last year this time they were in the “Highly Overvalued” category because their offense was pretty awful. It got a lot better and they nearly won a national title. They need a similar transformation.

T26. Creighton +6000 (FFI: 36)

Creighton can score, but can’t defend. The story of the Greg McDermott era. It’s a fun era, for the record.

T26. Houston +6000 (FFI: 35)

This is a bit of a rebuilding year for Kelvin Sampson. Last year’s team was a legitimate contender to make the Final Four. This year’s team probably isn’t because they have too many defensive lapses, but they’re an exceptional rebounding team when you consider they don’t start a single guy over 6’7″. I’d buy stock in the 2021 Cougars.

T26. Wichita State +6000 (FFI: 38)

I write this as I watch them complete a 25-point first half at home against Houston. A half that kind of summarizes what their issues are going forward. Right now the Shockers need defense to create offense for them and it’s tough sledding if they don’t get out in transition.

T26. Xavier +6000 (FFI: 41)

They’re not very good right now.

Slightly Undervalued

T26. Iowa +6000 (FFI: 18)

Defense does not live in Iowa, but the Hawkeyes can score any way you want it. They don’t seem to miss Jordan Bohannon much, which isn’t all that surprising, given that he was a sieve defensively and they’ve got enough skill to score a ton. It also helps that Luka Garza has turned into one of the favorites to win Big Ten POTY.

T39. Saint Mary’s +8000 (FFI: 25)

Hard disagree with the rankings, but whatever. They’ve recently lost to Pacific and Santa Clara.

T39. Wisconsin +8000 (FFI: 26)

Adding Micah Potter a month ago may be a difference maker for the Badgers. Scoring was a big issue and adding a guy that can make threes, free throws, and buckets down low is a shot in the arm. Another team worth tracking.

T46. Stanford +10000 (FFI: 33)

The Cardinal are quite an interesting case study in analytics. They’re 15-3, but they’ve played a horrible schedule. Their offensive EFG% is 4th in the country, but somehow only have the 97th best adjusted offense. Usually there’s a pretty strong correlation between the two. The disparity is partly due to the schedule, partly due to the lack of second chances they give themselves, and partly due to their frequency of never giving themselves a first chance (they turn it over a lot).

On the flip side – in spite of the bad schedule – Stanford still ranks 15th in adjusted defensive efficiency.

60-ish. Rutgers +12500 (FFI: 29)

Laugh if you want, but Rutgers is probably going to comfortably make the tournament this year and they’re bringing their elite defense with them. The Scarlet Knights are clearly much better at home, but they’ve got enough guard talent to make things scary for a high seed in a potential second round matchup.

T61. BYU +12500 (FFI: 21)

They really need Yoeli Childs back to really be a factor, but we champion any team that launches threes and makes 40% of them.

T69. Illinois +15000 (FFI: 34)

As soon as I start to think Illinois might actually be pretty good, they struggle to put away Northwestern and Rutgers in back-to-back home games.

Highly Overvalued

T2. Louisville +1000 (FFI: 13)

As I begin to write this, they’re up six at Duke with four minutes to go, but whatever. Things are always fluid. They have just recently struggled with Notre Dame and Pitt in addition to getting semi-blown out by Florida State and Texas Tech.

Some people love them, but aside from a home win over Michigan, their best win is probably that road trip to Notre Dame.

Update: The just won at Duke, which makes the timing of this blog very unfortunate. In defense of the rankings, David Johnson was averaging 3.7 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.2 BPG, and 0.1 SPG heading into the game and he put up 19, 4, 7, 2, and 3. That helps.

8. Oregon +1600 (FFI: 16)

And the numbers were compiled before they lost by double digits to Wazzu and snuck out a minor miracle against shorthanded Washington after trailing by 16.

I don’t have a lot of trust in the Ducks. They’ve been down big – or at least double digits -and come back to make it a tight game or led big and had to hold on for dear life in almost every notable game they’ve played. Plus, they’ve lost to Wazzu and UNC.

They have talent, but it doesn’t feel like a national championship team to me.

T9. Maryland +2000 (FFI: 19)

The Terps have talent, but they haven’t done anything on the road yet and the only semi-impressive neutral site win was Marquette. Anthony Cowan is a great guard and he’s had a fantastic career, but it’s been a while since he’s played six really good games in a row.

T11. Kentucky +2200 (FFI: 23)

The Cats are good, but they have one very obvious limitation that’s pretty important in modern basketball: shooting. Cal’s teams are usually growers and not showers, so I’ll hold much judgement for at least another month.

T11. Villanova +2200 (FFI: 24)

The personnel has changed, but the analytical breakdown is nearly a carbon copy of last year. Nobody likes being overrated, but I think Villanova fans can sleep fine at night knowing it’s because they won two titles in three years recently.

14. Virginia +2800 (FFI: 42)

This is the epitome of the natty boost because the Cavalier offense is A-T-R-O-C-I-O-U-S. ATROCIOUS.

T15. Memphis +3000 (FFI: 30)

The Memphis odds were really inflated before the season when they still had James Wiseman and they’re still not at an adequate level. They still haven’t beat anyone noteworthy this year.

Highly Undervalued

T15. Michigan +3000 (FFI: 4)

This isn’t a hill I particularly want to die on, but all six of their losses will likely end up in the Quad 1 variety and they beat the odds-on favorite by 18, so they’re not as bad as it may seem lately. A big reason for that is they’ve played the last six games without Isaiah Livers who’s their second-leading scorer and a 50% three-point shooter. Kind of a big piece.

15-ish. Seton Hall +3500 (FFI: 7)

The Pirates still don’t have Sandro Mamukelashvili and they’re still 6-0 in the Big East with the toughest Big East schedule so far, according to KenPom. Also, they have one of the best – the best? – players in the country in Myles Powell, one of those all-important guards people are always talking about in March. Romaro Gill was already one of the best defensive presences in the game and now he’s scored in double figures for five straight games. A team to watch, for sure.

T18. Dayton +3300 (FFI: 8)

Dayton is way too good to be anybody’s mid-major darling, but it’s still been 17 years since they’ve been above a 7 seed, which means you should still root for them. Obi Toppin gets all the headlines, but this is far from a one man team. The best of their resume is behind them, but you can still score some great wins on the road in the A-10.

T18. West Virginia +3300 (FFI: 9)

Good news, bad news on the Mountaineers. Bad news: you could’ve gotten a way better price before the season. Good news: The price is still too low and it may get better after they played like garbage at Kansas State on Saturday.

Fundamentally, the offense isn’t very good right now, but it’ll improve strides if they can just start taking care of the ball. Among major offensive problems, it’s probably the easiest fix. It really doesn’t take talent to change.

T36. Arkansas +7000 (FFI: 14)

I’m not all-in on the Hogs, but I also don’t want any part of betting against Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe. Two dudes that can go off at anytime. Joe attempts 11 threes a game, which is just the most preposterous stat I’ve come across this year.

Irrelevant

T21. North Carolina +4000 (FFI: NR)

LMAO

T26. Texas +6000 (FFI: NR)

Why is Texas overrated in every sport?

T36. Tennessee +7000 (FFI: NR)

Not even remotely a threat without Lamonte Turner.

T36. Washington +7000 (FFI: NR)

They were a bubble team before Quade Green was out.

T39. St. John’s +8000 (FFI: NR)

Worth noting: three of the four best St. John’s teams in this century were coached by Steve Lavin. They fired him after five years.

Also worth noting: the Red Storm have made the tournament three times since Mike Jarvis was fired. They’ve fired coaches after two of those appearances.

St. John’s is not made fun of enough for their incompetence.

T39. Utah State +8000 (FFI: NR)

Compared to some other bubble teams, I feel like the Aggies should be getting more attention.

T39. Liberty +8000 (FFI: NR)

I think Liberty is good again, but they’ve played a horrific schedule. They’re putting all their eggs in the A-Sun Tournament, I guess.

T46. Cincinnati +10000 (FFI: NR)

Gonna have to do a lot of damage this next month-and-a-half to get any at-large consideration.

T46. UConn +10000 (FFI: NR)

If “Coaches Yelling/Complaining/Completely Melting Down” was a requirement, the Huskies would be a lock for the tourney.

T46. Davidson +10000 (FFI: NR)

Low-key one of the biggest disappointments in CBB.

T46. Mississippi State +10000 (FFI: NR)

Not much to show on the resume so far, but Nick Weatherspoon might turn things around.

T46. Missouri +10000 (FFI: NR)

Between the Porters and Jeremiah Tilmon, it’s just been a series of very unfortunate injury situations for Cuonzo Martin since he started.

T46. NC State +10000 (FFI: NR)

There hasn’t been a good defensive team in Raleigh since Herb Sendek left.

T46. Notre Dame +10000 (FFI: NR)

Haven’t beat a team in KenPom’s Top 50 and they’ve lost to two outside of it.

T46. Oklahoma State +10000 (FFI: NR)

Good think Mike Boynton signed Cade Cunningham or this might be his last year.

T46. Utah +10000 (FFI: NR)

It’s a debate on whether they’re the third or fourth best team in the basketball hotbead of the state of Utah.

T46. Drake +10000 (FFI: NR)

They have to beat UNI for the MVC, which seems unlikely.

T46. Northern Iowa +10000 (FFI: NR)

The Panthers are legitimately good. The schedule hasn’t been very good, but they’re 16-2 and they were up 15 in both of their losses, including a neutral-site affair with WVU. Watch out for UNI.

T59. Texas A&M +12000 (FFI: NR)

This would’ve been a lot funnier a couple of weeks ago, but the Aggies are halfway decent now.

T59. USC +12000 (FFI: NR)

The new Big O is the only thing that keeps them respectable.

T61. Arizona State +12500 (FFI: NR)

Another Hurley that loses his mind without tangible improvement.

T61. Harvard +12500 (FFI: NR)

This should be Yale.

T61. Syracuse +12500 (FFI: NR)

A Syracuse team that can’t defend? Hard pass.

T61. UCLA +12500 (FFI: NR)

They’re 8-9.

T61. DePaul +12500 (FFI: NR)

Actually a team with some teeth on here. They’ve beaten four at-large teams already.

T69. Alabama +15000 (FFI: NR)

Getting better pretty quietly underneath Nate Oats.

T69. Georgia +15000 (FFI: NR)

Anthony Edwards is your only hope, but he’s shown he’s not nearly enough.

T69. Minnesota +15000 (FFI: NR)

Not horrendous.

T69. Ole Miss +15000 (FFI: NR)

Tyree is good.

T69. Penn +15000 (FFI: NR)

This should be Yale.

T69. Rhode Island +15000 (FFI: NR)

They can’t throw it in the ocean.

2019-20 CFB Bowl Picks

 

Saturday, December 21

SMU (-3) over FAU – 3u

This is a home game for the Owls, but I’m not sure that’s the most positive thing for this situation. Yes, FAU rolled in this game a couple of years ago, but SMU is worlds better than the crappy Akron team that showed up in Boca Raton two years ago and were 23-point dogs.

That was an exciting time for FAU then. It was the end of Lane Kiffin’s first year when they effortlessly ran through the C-USA. They won again this year, but now Joey Freshwater is out the door and Glenn Spencer takes over as interim. The players wanted Spencer to get the head job full-time, but the admin went with Willie Taggart. The rest of the staff are likely more worried about their next job.

Part of the fun of bowl season is going on a trip and the Owls don’t get that luxury. What they do get is a 10-2 SMU team from a much stronger conference coming in excited about a week of Boca living. The Mustangs have more talent across the board and put up more efficient numbers than FAU this year, despite playing a SOS that was 40 spots higher, according to Sagarin.

Thursday, December 26

EMU (+11) over Pitt – 2u
EMU +365 – 0.5u

This has to be a disappointing outcome for Pitt. Last year they won the Coastal, got to go to the Sun Bowl, and were once again playing for a Coastal title just a few weeks ago. They lost it and also missed out on the (rumored) opportunity to play in the Pinstripe Bowl in NYC against Michigan State.

Instead they get a trip to beautiful Detroit. They still get a matchup with the green-and-white from Michigan, but it’s the MAC version. I’d imagined they could be more enthused.

Meanwhile, the EMU fanbase should come out in full force for this one. It’s a 36-minute drive across I-94 from their campus in Ypsilanti to Ford Field. The Eagles haven’t won a bowl game since 1987 and now they’ve got their chance against a Power 5 school.

And it wouldn’t be their first P5 win of the season, as they won at Illinois 34-31 back in September. I make fun of Chris Creighton’s teams obsession with playing one-score games, but it’s pretty nice to bet on when they’re catching double-digits against a team that didn’t play a hard schedule and their biggest win was still only 10 points.

Friday, December 27

Wake (+4.5) over Michigan State – 1u
Wake +155 – 0.5u

Everything about the state of MSU’s program is concerning right now and I’ll continue to bet against it. There’s injuries to both sides, but most of the key guys for Wake are expected to go, except for Sage Surratt, who we already knew was going to be missing.

It’s a smaller play because Wake hasn’t been the most consistent team, but I’ll take that over a MSU’s consistently poor play the second half of the season. The Spartans had to beat helpless Maryland at home in the season finale just to become bowl eligible and it almost looked as if they didn’t want to, eking out a 19-16 victory over the 3-9 Terps.

I think if there’s one thing you can depend on it’s Wake’s ability to throw the ball in this game. The weather looks like it’s going to be pretty clear in 40-ish degree weather.

Oklahoma State (+7) over Texas A&M – 2u
OSU +220 – 0.5u

Our first game with big “sitting out for the NFL Draft” implications and it’s double-positive for the Pokes. Chuba Hubbard says he’s gonna play and if that’s not good enough, the Aggies best defender — DT Justin Madubuike — is going to sit out. Madubuike is essential in both phases of the game. He’s led the team with 22 TFL the past couple of years and also led the team in sacks this year.

A&M played a pretty tough schedule, but I think it’s made them a bit overrated. Your typical power rankings will say they played five Top 10 teams this year, and I don’t really disagree with that. They went 0-5 and lost by an average of 18 points. Other than that, there’s not much to the resume. Outside of Kyle Field, their two performances were a 7-point win at 4-8 Ole Miss and a 4-point win on a neutral field against 2-10 Arkansas.

USC (+2) over Iowa – 2u
USC +110 – 0.5u

Fair warning, I’m like -12u on Iowa games this year. Nate Stanley is my mortal enemy and I’d like to see him go out in flames for all of the headaches he’s caused me this year.

But for some analysis outside of personal vendettas: I think the Iowa secondary is going to have problems with all of the USC receivers that have elected to play in the bowl game.

The pass defense looks pretty good on the surface for the Hawkeyes, but they haven’t really played that many good passing teams. They’ve only played three teams in the Top 40 of the country in passing yards per game: Iowa State, Purdue, and Minnesota. ISU threw for 323 at 9.3 YPA, Purdue threw for 327 for 6.5 YPA (with a backup QB), and Minnesota threw for 368 at 9.4 YPA.

Full disclosure: Iowa went 3-0 in those games, but they were all by less than a touchdown and I think it’s fair to say that they were especially fortunate in the ISU and Minny games. I’m not sure they can survive again in a near road game against the Trojans in San Diego.

Wazzu (+3) over Air Force – 2u
Wazzu +130 – 0.5u

We return to the wonderful world of the Cheez-It Bowl, which gave us the greatest game in the history of football last year. Four quarters and an overtime, nine interceptions and 17 combined points. It was fantastic theater.

I don’t totally get why Air Force is favored in this one. They went 10-2 compared to Wazzu’s 6-6, but their best win was…Colorado, who doesn’t power rate in the top half of the FBS. They beat the Buffs in OT a week after they had a dramatic win over an overrated Nebraska team. Meanwhile, Wazzu rolled Colorado by 31 a few weeks later.

AFA has the ability to keep things close by controlling the TOP and running out the clock, but Wazzu is in the same ballpark as the only two teams the Falcons have lost to this year, both by double digits.

I’m not here to disparage the troops, but Air Force is 1-8 against Power 5/ND schools since 2007. That’s how little they face this type of competition. Less than once a year and the only win is this year over a team that finished on a 2-6 slide.

Saturday, December 28

Memphis (+7) over Penn State – 1u
Memphis +230 – 0.5u

I might’ve been the world’s biggest Penn State supporter this year that wasn’t a Nittany Lion fan at heart — and it paid handsomely — but I recognize their offensive flaws. They’ve been cycling through RBs in a mediocre running game and Sean Clifford’s been unhealthy after an up-and-down season.

I’m not fully bought in to the “motivation is the biggest factor of bowl season” mantra, but there might be something to be said for this New Year’s Six game that the Group of 5 gets to play in. They’re 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS, with the only loss coming by a half point. They were also 3-1 SU in the three years before that in BCS games.

The play on this was downgraded because Mike Norvell is no longer involved, but Memphis had a great staff overall.

The only game PSU covered in the last four games of the season was a back door-ish cover against OSU when they were getting buried, but got back in to the game on a series of flukish fumbles.

Oklahoma (+14) over LSU – 1u

I’m not sure that Oklahoma really has a chance to win this game, but there’s a similar thought process here as there was when I picked OU to cover against Bama last year. Once again, people are just dismissing the Sooners like they’re a walkover for the #1 seed.

And once again they have the explosiveness to make even a blowout look close when times get tough. OU is the perfect team to rack up points when it doesn’t seem like it matters. The Alabama game was a good example last year and the K-State game this year was perfect. They damn near won the KSU game just piling on garbage points.

LSU’s defense has looked better in recent weeks, but I’m not convinced they’re the real deal. They’ve faced one explosive offense this year – Alabama – and gave up 41. They also faced a decent offense in Texas and gave up 38. Other than that, it’s been a parade of mediocre. They still managed to give up 37 to Ole Miss and 38 to Vandy, two teams who combined to go 3-13 in the SEC.

Oklahoma’s offense isn’t as potent as years past, but they still average 40+ and Jalen Hurts’s dual-threat ability provides a facet LSU hasn’t seen very much this season.

The Sooner D still isn’t great, but better than in their past couple of appearances in the playoffs and CeeDee Lamb still gives them the best offensive playmaker in the game.

Clemson (-2) over Ohio State – 4u

clemson3.png

Sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is and this is one of those times. There’s no stone-cold facts that make this a great bet, but I just watch the two teams and believe in Clemson more.

I don’t have any numbers at the ready that support this, but whenever I watch OSU, I feel more-and-more convinced that if a team can get to Justin Fields and get him out of rhythm, they can beat OSU.

As always, Clemson has a sick pass rush. They get a month of Brent Venables prep and that pass rush should provide some pressure against Fields. As good as Fields can be, if the Tigers can keep him bottled up in the pocket, he’ll miss some throws.

I also love the month of prep for Dabo Swinney, Jeff Scott, and Tony Elliott against the vaunted OSU pass rush and Chase Young. This is a group that has gone 8-2 SU and 9-1 ATS in their last 10 postseason games. I trust them to be the better prepared team against a rookie HC.

Update on late Friday night:

clemson4.png

clemson5

 

Monday, December 30

Florida (-14) over Virginia – 2u

I don’t know what to say other than Florida is better in about every phase of the game. Bryce Perkins is a great player, but he can’t do it all. Since Kyle Trask has taken over as starting QB, the Gators have beaten every non-Top 5 team by at least 11.

UVA has played two Top 40 teams all year. They were both Top 15 – like Florida – and lost by a combined 60 points.

Tuesday, December 31

Wyoming (-7) over Georgia State – 2u
Wyoming/GSU under 49 – 1u

There are two things overvaluing GSU this season: their win over Tennessee in Week 1 and the fact that many don’t realize that stud QB is still playing for GSU, but he’s playing on a torn ACL and is way less effective without his ability to run.

Ellington ran for 67 YPG pre-torn ACL and four TDs. Since then he has ran for -5 yards and 0 TDs. It’s a big difference in the offense.

Wyoming has its problems offensively, but I expect them to give the ball more to third-string QB Levi Williams more. Sean Chambers got hurt and backup Tyler Vander Waal has gotten the majority of the snaps since then. The problem is that Vander Waal stinks and he’s now making it easier on HC Craig Bohl by entering the transfer portal and giving Bohl the out of playing Williams more. Williams is a dual-threat like Chambers and should be more in-tune with the offense after 15 bowl practices.

It would be a bit of a surprise to me if this game even gets over 40 on the total.

Wednesday, January 1

Alabama (-7) over Michigan – 1u

This is the squarest bet you can find, but it’s just impossible to envision Michigan hanging with the Tide unless five more key players choose to sit out for Alabama. Tyrell Lewis and Trevon Diggs are sitting out for the Tide defense, but I don’t think that’s enough to make a difference. The insane WR corps for Alabama’s offense is still intending to take the field and that’s probably enough.

Minnesota (+7.5) over Auburn – 1u
Minnesota +240 – 0.5u

Auburn’s played the tougher schedule and is probably the better team, but if there’s one weakness to find in these two teams, it’s probably the Auburn passing game. I’m not one to doubt PJ Fleck with a month to motivate his team.

Thursday, January 2

Cincinnati (-7) over BC – 2u

Anthony Brown has been out at QB for months and his replacement has not shown the ability to remotely match his production. Now, AJ Dillon is also sitting out. David Bailey is a good replacement, but he’s gonna have to hold it down, otherwise there’s a big dropoff in his second-string for the bowl game.

BC is also dealing with a substitute teacher as interim HC. Steve Addazio got fired and now the WR coach – with no HC experience – is taking the reigns for the month.

Indiana (+1.5) over Tennessee – 1u
Indiana +115 – 0.5u

The two teams have had fairly similar seasons: they’ve beaten who they’re supposed to beat and lost to who they should. UT hasn’t faced many teams with the ability to throw like IU can and it may be the difference.

Friday, January 3

Ohio (-7.5) over Nevada – 4u

I thought Nevada was butt cheeks before they lost several starters on defense due to suspension. The Wolfpack are the worst 7-5 team I can remember in recent history.

The Bobcats have a 2.0+ YPP margin despite playing a schedule that was nearly 20 spots higher than Nevada. They ended the season on a 118-27 run over the last couple of weeks. They lost to a really good Louisiana team by 20, otherwise their five losses were by an average of 4 PPG.

There’s not a single discernible edge for Nevada in this game.

Ohio is 6-1 ATS their last 7 bowl games.

 

 

 

2019 CFB Season Win Total Recap

First off, here’s all the plays before the season. If you’re new, all of the 3*-5* confidence picks are actual bets.

It was another great year for the win totals. 14-5-1 for +26*. Of the five losses, four of them were plus money bets. After starting this a couple of years ago, the bets have gone 38-17-6 (69%) for +58.3*.

While slightly less profitable than the 2017 season, this was the most successful year, top-to-bottom. The 2* picks were 19-10-1 for +16.4*. Anything above the 1* picks were a total of 33-15-2 (also 69%) for 42.4*.

Across the board for all 130 teams in the country, the result was 73-50-7 for +45*.

There are also four teams still alive in the conference championship games this weekend: Oregon (+300), Baylor (+1800), Boise (+110), and Louisiana (+1350). Five of the other six picks all would’ve been playing in the title if not for losing head-to-head games with teams that won their divisions.

Here’s the results for the actual bets:

Team O/U Total Price W L Result $
Arkansas under 5.5 -140 2 10 W +3
Baylor over 7.5 -115 11 1 W +3
FIU over 7.5 +105 6 6 L -4
Florida over 8.5 -135 10 2 W +4
GA Southern over 6.5 -120 7 5 W +3
Hawaii over 5.5 -130 9 4 W +3
Indiana under 6.5 -125 8 4 L -5
Notre Dame over 9 -120 10 2 W +3
Nebraska under 8.5 -110 5 7 W +3
New Mexico under 4.5 -130 2 10 W +4
Northwestern over 6.5 +110 3 9 L -3
Penn State over 8.5 -110 10 2 W +3
Rutgers under 3 -105 2 10 W +3
Temple over 6.5 -140 8 4 W +3
Tennessee under 6.5 +125 7 5 L -3
Tulane over 5.5 -150 6 6 W +3
Uconn under 2.5 -115 2 10 W +3
Virginia over 7.5 -140 9 3 W +3
VT over 8 -125 8 4 P 0
WVU over 5.5 +150 5 7 L -3
Total 14-5-1 +26

THE GOOD

Most of it was good, but Arkansas, Baylor, Hawaii, and Nebraska all cleared by 3.5 games and New Mexico by 2.5 games. The Nebraska play should’ve been 4* or 5* bet, but all of the hype around them got in my head a little and I couldn’t fully commit.

Rutgers and UConn both had extremely low totals, but also both won the games you thought they would win and never came all that close to winning anything else.

Penn State, Florida, and Notre Dame were also fairly easy for as high of totals as they were.

A win in the Commonwealth Cup would’ve been awesome for VT, but some pushes are better than others. The Hokies looked like a 6-6 team at the absolute best through four weeks before Hendon Hooker took over at QB.

THE BAD

Two of the five losses were both by a half of a game and both were plus-money, but losses are losses.

WVU was much closer to cashing than the market price suggested, but ultimately came up short. There were a couple of close losses, but more close wins. More disappointing was the 21-point loss they had at home against Texas Tech late in the year when they outgained the Red Raiders, but had four turnovers. Jarret Doege took over at QB in that game and things seemed to get better from there in the last few weeks.

Tennessee probably should’ve been a winner, but the Kentucky game was a killer. The Cats outgained them despite having a WR at QB, but had five trips into Vol territory result in 0 points. After losing at home to Georgia State and BYU, the Vols went 5-3 in conference play despite giving up more points against the SEC than they scored. They were outscored 112-30 by the three actually good SEC teams that they played.

THE UGLY

Northwestern was pretty bad. Only needed four more wins. I admittedly got swept up a bit in the Hunter Johnson hype, but more than anything it was a Pat Fitzgerald-respect pick with plus-money. Turns out Hunter Johnson and every Northwestern QB stinks and there was good reason I didn’t have to pay the juice on that one.

The under on Indiana lost by a couple. I figured they’d be 3-0 in the non-con and 0-4 against the typical Top 4 of the East. What I didn’t anticipate was their three crossover opponents – Nebraska, Purdue, and Northwestern – all finishing 3.5 games under their season total expectations. They still haven’t beaten a Big Ten team with a winning conference record since 2008. But there’s definitely something to be said for winning the games you’re supposed to win and they did that eight out of eight times.

I pretty much knew the FIU pick was over when they lost to WKU at home in Week 2. The Hilltoppers were better than expected this year, but that was one FIU really needed. They were 2-2 in close games, so it’s not like it was bad luck or anything. The Panthers were just really horrific on the road, going 0-5 and were only close once. They had to upset Miami late in the year just to get bowl eligible.

Here’s the 2* plays that went 19-10-1 for +16.4*:

2.png

Not gonna post the 1* because who really cares, but they went 40-35-5 for +2.6*. Can’t wait for next year.

2019 CFB Picks: Week 12

Well, it’s been a brutal 36 hours since I posted the plays on Twitter.

UNC forced overtime last night and then predictably lost by 7 in OT. Around the same time, it was announced that La Tech had three major suspensions for their game against Marshall tonight.

Bowl season can’t get here soon enough.

*313 UNC +4.5 – 3u
*313 UNC +165 – 0.5u

It’s probably always a good bet to grab points whenever the gaggle of mediocre ACC teams are playing each other. UNC has played seven ACC teams this year and six of them have been one-score games. Pitt has played five ACC teams and three of them have been one-score games. They both beat GT comfortably and Pitt lost by 16 to Virginia.

That also extends into the history of these two teams. They’ve played eight games this century and they’ve all been one-score games. UNC has won this matchup six straight years and covered five of those games.

UNC has played the tougher schedule this year, I actually think they’ve been playing better than Pitt, and I think they’ve got more motivation in this game. The Heels sit at 4-5 with three games left. Pitt already has their bowl bid wrapped up. While they still have an outside shot to win the Coastal, it’s unlikely and after winning it last year, I’m not sure they have a strong desire to be Clemson’s sacrificial lamb again.

Sam Howell is a big reason I like the Heels. He’s by far the best QB Pitt has faced since the Panthers saw Dillon Gabriel (not a huge fan). Gabriel threw for 338 and two scores. Howell’s really only played one bad game all year. Despite being a true freshman, he’s had some of his best games on the road and led a 16 play, 75-yard TD drive to nearly take down the defending national champs. Kid has stones and I trust him way more than Kenny Pickett on the other side

Pitt has the better D probably, but UNC is no slouch. They’ve only given up more than 25 on three occasions: App State, VT (in 6 OTs), and UVA. Common thread with those offenses: dual-threat QBs. Kenny Pickett is not that.

Not for nothing, it could be a weak crowd tonight with the Steelers playing on TNF.

*315 LT +4.5 – 2u
*315 LT +180 – 0.5u

Would not bet this at all now with this information dropping last night and the line moving as high as 7:

J’Mar Smith is obviously the starting QB and is very important. Redshirt freshman Aaron Allen is his backup and has thrown nine career passes. He was a pretty big recruit for them, but obviously probably won’t be able to fill Smith’s shoes.

Adrian Hardy is their leading receiver. Not as big of a deal because they have a ton of receivers.

James Jackson is their fourth-leading tackler and has forced three fumbles this year.

But I’ll still tell you why I liked La Tech before the news.

I’ve heard people reference Marshall playing a tougher schedule – which is true – but the Herd have had a tough time even pulling away from the weaker teams on their schedule.

A big part of that is Marshall’s inability to finish drives. Their yardage and efficiency numbers are okay, but they rank 83rd in third down conversions and 106th in red zone scoring. La Tech’s D has holes, but they’ve been pretty good at the bend-don’t-break style. They’re 7th in the country only allowing 64% scoring in the red zone.

On the other side, La Tech’s offense has been explosive both running and passing the ball and they’re averaging 52 PPG over their last four games. Marshall’s D has been solid against lesser offense, but has given up 52 to Cinci, 31 to FAU, and 31 to Ohio.

Team Rankings has LT 8.5 points better than Marshall over each of their last five games and would favor them by 5. Marshall’s 0-5 ATS at home this year,

320 K-State -14 – 1u

I thought maybe WVU would have a bowl push in them with some winnable games at the end of the year, but last week was clearly the most winnable with Texas Tech at home and the Mountaineers got their doors blown off. They haven’t scored 20 points in any of their last four games. Now they face a pretty solid defense in K-State that was even able to hold Oklahoma down until desperation time.

You can pick on the Wildcats’ run defense, but WVU is one of the worst rushing teams in the country.

335 Minnesota +3 – 2u
335 Minnesota +140 – 0.5u

I think if you’re looking for a letdown spot for Minnesota, the real opportunity is next week against Northwestern. Not that they’ll lose, but they may come out sluggish. I just don’t see it happening this week. It’s an evening game in Kinnick, it’s a huge game for division/conference/playoff races, and not many can rival PJ Fleck in motivational speeches.

I’m not going to lie, I leaned with Minny last week, but there was a part of me that did wonder if the Gophers could do it against a high-level opponent. Obviously they showed that they can do more than pick off bottom-feeders.

And they showed that they can do it offensively through the air against a Top 10 defense, which is key heading into this week, I think. The Gophers run more than almost anybody else in the country, outside of option teams and a couple of select others. Now Iowa has to account more for the passing game after Tanner Morgan dropped a series of bombs on Penn State’s head to Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson.

I think that big play ability may be the deciding factor in this game. Iowa has lost three close, low-scoring games this year because they couldn’t make those types of plays against Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin. They finally made one on their last play against Wisconsin last week when it was too late. Before that 75-yarder to Tracy, Nate Stanley was averaging 4.9 YPA. The Minny defense ranks 11th in the country, only allowing 6.0 YPA on the year. Brandon Smith might be Iowa’s best WR and he’s likely still out.

*353 Wyoming +6 – 3u
*353 Wyoming +200 – 0.5u

Sean Chambers is still out at QB for Wyoming, but I think that might be a little overvalued in the marketplace. Tyler Vander Waal doesn’t have the running element that Chambers has, but is a comparable passer and started ten games last year. I’m not saying QB isn’t an important position for them, but they run it nearly 70% of the time. They’ve got four RBs that average at least 5.0 YPC.

The Utah State run defense is okay, but they do give up nearly 200 YPG on the ground and the pass defense is enough of a nightmare that even Vander Waal should be able to have a decent game.

Jordan Love is going to have to carry the Utah State offense. The Cowboy run defense is just too good, allowing less than 100 YPG on the ground and only 2.9 YPC. Love has had a good couple of weeks, but the passing game hasn’t been nearly as reliable as it was a year ago.

Wyoming has been battle-tested on the road. They won at Texas State in Week 2 and while 0-3 in trips to Boise, San Diego State, and Tulsa, they lost by a combined 10 points.

372 Auburn +3 – 2u
372 Auburn +130 – 0.5u

Maybe I’m the sucker here, but this line just smacked me in the face when I saw it. I don’t think there’s much separation between these two teams, if any.

The numbers slightly favor Georgia on each side of the ball, but Auburn’s by far played the more difficult schedule. Georgia has played two Top 30 teams all year: Florida on a neutral site and Notre Dame at home. Auburn has played four in the Top 30 and three of them were on the road, with the fourth being the neutral site game against Oregon.

Also the numbers are a little skewed for Georgia defensively. They shutout both Kentucky and Missouri (both at home), but Kentucky was starting a WR at QB in a monsoon and Missouri didn’t have Kelly Bryant at QB, instead giving Taylor Powell his first start of his career.

Georgia just hasn’t played a really good offense all year, while Auburn’s defense has had to prove much more and did so by holding the LSU juggernaut offense to 23 points.

Auburn also gets leading tackler Jeremiah Dinson back and stud defensive end Marlon Davidson, as well.

It’s hard to pound the table too much for either offense being better than the other. It’s probably a slight edge to Georgia, but again it’s come against an easier schedule. They’ve played two road games all year and it was against Vandy and Tennessee before the Vols kind of got the ship righted.

Last thing: pointing out that Bo Nix is a freshman isn’t really all that relevant anymore when it’s mid-November and he’s already played road games at LSU, Florida, Texas A&M, and played Oregon. He’s got plenty of experience now.

P.S. Auburn was also a FG underdog two years ago when they won 40-17. Not saying, just saying.

P.S.S. Auburn is 11-1-1 ATS and 8-5 SU their last 13 as a single-digit home dog.

*376 OK State -17 – 1u

I don’t totally trust the Pokes defense to play well enough, but I’ll still make the small play here.

I think if there’s one guarantee in this game it’s that Chuba Hubbard is going to have a field day. He’s the best RB in the country and he’s going up against one of the worst run defenses in the country.

Kansas is hard to predict, but it feels like a good situation for OSU. They had a string of difficult games, are coming off a bye week, and don’t have anything major to look forward to next week.

382 Baylor +10 – 1u
382 Baylor +310 – 0.5u

This is a principle play more than anything. The fact that it’s only one unit is a show of respect for the Sooners, but this is about seven points more than it should be if you’ve been watching OU lately.

The defense was hoping to get better under Alex Grinch. It looked like they might be early in the season, but it’s hard to see with their last two performances. They’ve given up 89 points combined to Kansas State and Iowa State, a couple of decent offenses, but certainly neither performance is acceptable if you want to be an elite team.

*388 Michigan -13.5 – 2u

I understand the recent history of this game, but MSU is trending really poorly as a program right now. They’ve got guys leaving the program mid-season left and right, the injury report is a mile long, they’re blowing 25 point home leads to Illinois, and the aging head coach is as defiant about the program’s flaws as ever.

I’d expect MSU to still play hard despite everything going on, but I just don’t know that they have the horses to make this a game. I referenced all the injuries and player transfers they have, but they also have lost leading tackler, second-leading sacker, and team captain Joe Bachie from the defense due to a PED suspension.

MSU has played a bit tougher of a Big Ten schedule so far, but consider that they’re 2-4 in the league with a -56 point differential. The Wolverines are 4-2 with a +79 differential. That’s a per game difference of 22.5 PPG between the two teams.

Even admitting MSU has played a tougher Big Ten schedule, look at the difference in performances in common opponents: UM 17 points better against Wisconsin, UM 20 points better against PSU (adjusting for home field), and UM 26 points better against Illinois (adjusting for home field).

Again I’ll reference Team Rankings power ratings for each team’s last five games, where they would have Michigan favored by 27.5 in this game, a full two touchdowns more than the current spread.

ATS: 57-49-1 (+1.4u)

ML: 17-27 (-1.9u)

 

 

 

2019 CFB Picks: Week 9

 

114 GEORGIA STATE (-1) over Troy – 2u

Saturday, 7:00 PM, ESPN+

The Panthers have quietly been one of the biggest surprises in college football this year. They had a win total set at 3.5 and they’re already 5-2 with wins over Tennessee, Army, and Arkansas State. The offense has made big strides, averaging 34.4 PPG. Dan Ellington has been a big part of that as the QB has averaged nearly 300 yards of offense.

I think a lot will be on Ellington’s shoulders Saturday. The Troy run defense has been great again. If the Trojans can limit RB Tra Barnett (no easy task), Ellington may be the best running option, in addition to taking advantage of Troy’s pass defense that’s second-worst in the country in YPG.

Troy’s been a disappointment so far this season after the departure of HC Neal Brown. They’re 3-3 with wins over FCS Campbell and two of the ten worst teams in the FBS. They’ve given up at least 42 in all three of their losses.

I like the home team in what could be a shootout.

119 Eastern Michigan (+4) over TOLEDO – 2u
119 EMU +160 – 0.5u

Saturday, 3:30 PM, ESPN+

Win or lose, watching an EMU game I bet on is always the worst 3.5 hours of my Saturday. It’s brutal, but I’ll sign up for it again.

Toledo is always tough in the Glass Bowl, but they’ve had an awful last couple of weeks and EMU is always a good bet as an underdog. They’re on a run of 18-5 ATS as an underdog with 10 SU wins in that stretch.

After beating WMU at home three weeks ago, the Rockets have gone 0-2 SU and ATS and have missed the spread number by 40 and 35 points the last two weeks.

Both QB situations are up in the air for these teams, but I think any way you slice it, it favors the Eagles. Mitchell Guadagni missed last week for Toledo and Carter Bradley was not good in his absence and now Bradley is questionable himself. It’s unclear if Guadagni will go, but the way Jason Candle was talking to the media this week, it sounded as if Guadagni would still be out.

Mike Glass was out last week for EMU and he’s questionable for this week, as well. Here’s the thing: even if he can go, EMU might be better off with backup Preston Hutchinson, whose stat line looked like this in his first career start against preseason division favorite WMU:

hutchinson

134 EAST CAROLINA (+2) over South Florida – 2u
134 ECU +115 – 0.5u

Saturday, 3:45 PM, ESPNU

I continue to like the trajectory of Mike Houston’s squad and it’s always good to bet against Charlie Strong.

The ECU progression on offense has been a bit slow, but appeared to take a decent jump after the bye week. They just put up 483 yards against UCF on the road. QB Holton Ahlers didn’t crack 200 passing yards in the first three weeks, but has done so in the past four games, and just went over 300 yards for the first time against the Knights. Demetrius Mauney is back at running back and the true freshman with high-major talent will continue to get better.

This is the second straight road game for USF. They just got beat up defending the option up in Annapolis and now they travel again to face a hungry team whose confidence continues to grow.

138 RUTGERS (+7.5) over Liberty – 1u

Saturday, Noon, BTN

I know Rutgers is garbage, but this seems a bit ridiculous. The Scarlet Knights have been so bad on offense, but Liberty is averaging six more points than them against FBS competition. When you look at raw numbers, the line makes a little bit of sense, but just consider that Liberty has played one borderline Top 50 team this year and Rutgers has played five of them. The essential differences in the schedule: Liberty has played Hampton, Maine, New Mexico, and Buffalo while Rutgers has played Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, and Indiana.

I think the Knights have enough to keep it tight in what should be a low-scoring game.

149 Western Kentucky (+5.5) over MARSHALL – 2u
149 WKU +185 – 0.5u

Saturday, 2:30 PM, Facebook

I talk about WKU every week, so I’m not sure what else to say. It’ll probably be another low-scoring game. WKU’s points allowed against Group of 5 teams this year: 14, 13, 3, 8, 14. They’re a very disciplined team. They rank 6th in the nation in penalties per game and tied for 37th in giveaways per game. They get a Marshall team that’s coming off an emotional win at FAU and hasn’t shown the offensive explosiveness to challenge the Hilltopper D.

172 MIDDLE TENNESSEE (+2.5) over FIU – 2u
172 MTSU +115 – 0.5u

Saturday, 3:30 PM, NFL Network

4-3 against 2-5, but it’s another one where you have to consider the schedule. Both teams have played an FCS team, otherwise only two of the teams FIU has played are above the worst FBS team MTSU has played all year. FIU has feasted at home against horrible teams. MTSU has already played four road games. They lost to Duke at home, but otherwise it’s been smooth sailing. Based on the eye test, I really liked what I saw from MTSU last week on offense and they should continue to get better with Stockstill at the helm.

173 Florida Atlantic (-13.5) over OLD DOMINION – 2u

Saturday, 3:30 PM, ESPN+

This should probably be a TD more. FAU started with Ohio State and UCF, ever since they’ve averaged 37.4 PPG. Old Dominion hasn’t cracked 24 points in a game all year and they’ve averaged 16.1.

207 Notre Dame (-105) over MICHIGAN – 2u

Saturday, 7:30 PM, ABC

Go Irish. I’ve thought they were better from the jump and nothing has swayed my opinion. I’ll trust Ian Book over Shea Patterson.

ATS: 44-41-1 (-4.05u)

ML: 14-21 (+0.93u)

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019 CFB Picks: Week 8

7-12 ATS last week. 3-7 ML. It was a bad week, no two ways around it. We’re sticking with the system, but we’ve refined things. The system is still up, but it could be better and that’s the way it’ll be moving forward. All ATS picks are 1.5u this week and ML picks are still 0.5u.

317 Duke (+3) over VIRGINIA
317 Duke +140 ML

I think what you’ve started to see with the Virginia offense is that it’s pretty much all up to Bryce Perkins. Perkins is a good player, but it’s shown diminishing returns as the season has gone along. They haven’t eclipsed 350 total yards in a game since that comeback win over Florida State, where more than half of their yards came on the last three drives of the game.

UVA caught Notre Dame in a letdown spot and capitalized in the first half. Since then, their last six quarters of offense: five turnovers, five punts, two turnover on downs, one end of game, four field goals, and one missed field goal.

The Cavs haven’t been able to run all year. They’ve averaged 2.6 YPC on the season. Not helping that number is the 27 sacks they’ve given up (5.5 per game). I wouldn’t expect that to get much better against a Duke run defense that’s given up just 3.5 YPC.

Things won’t be that easy for the Duke offense either, however. The UVA defense has been nearly as good as the run offense has been bad. But they did just lose stud CB Bryce Hall. Hall was a defensive leader and a projected Top 10 pick in the draft.

Duke’s offense isn’t eye-popping, but after the opener with Alabama they’ve scored 45, 41, 45, 30, 41 the last five weeks.

333 Coastal Carolina (+6.5) over GEORGIA SOUTHERN
333 Coastal +200 ML

Full disclosure, I don’t think I’ve ever hit a bet on Coastal, including last week. But it’s been a few days and I’m ready to get hurt again.

But this really has more to do with GSU and the disappointing run they’ve been on. They haven’t had one single impressive performance in five games. A square might point to that narrow defeat at Minnesota, but they gained 198 yards. They kept in the game with a blocked FG TD, a fumble return TD, and two short scoring drives due to Minnesota turnovers. They’re coming off a bye, but their most recent performance was having to score a last second TD just to force OT against lowly South Alabama.

385 Old Dominion (+16.5) over UAB

This is a big weekend for UAB doing special things for children in hospitals, so admittedly it’s kind of a scummy pick. It’s big of me to not take the money line and merely cheer for a 14-point UAB win. The raw numbers don’t look great for ODU, but half their games have been road games against Virginia, VT, and Marshall. They’ve also played a home game against WKU, who just might win the C-USA.

A big reason to like ODU to cover here is their run defense. UAB is a run-first offense and ODU has given up just 3.3 YPC this year. Spencer Brown is still out at RB for the Blazers. Lucious has been a solid replacement, but he’s really only ran against the drecks of college football. Tyler Johnston has put up solid numbers at QB for UAB, but it’s come at somewhat of a cost. He’s thrown nine INTs already.

360 UTAH (-13.5) over Arizona State

I like Jayden Daniels in the long-term, but I just don’t think this is the game for him and I think ASU is going to really be counting on him to compete in this game. Daniels is a true freshman. He’s had four games that were decent to very good. Opponents in those games: Kent State, Sac State, Colorado, and Wazzu. Not a good defense to be found there.

He struggled against MSU and Cal. In fairness, they won both of those games, but they scored a combined 34 points. MSU and Cal are both half teams and both of their halves are the defense.

Utah is not a half team. Their offense ranks 7th in FPI and 13th in SP+ and they haven’t even been fully healthy this year. With Zack Moss back in the fold, the Utes are dangerous in Rice-Eccles.

414 NORTH TEXAS (-7.5) over MTSU

We’re going back to the Mean Green well. Last week was unfortunate with Mason Fine getting hurt. Turns out it was his non-throwing shoulder and he’s expected to play this week. I’m not sure what you hang your hat on with MTSU this week. They’ve played one good game all year against Marshall at home. They’re not really good at anything and they’re just 5-10 ATS their last 15 on the road.

344 IOWA (-17.5) over Purdue

I’m a Purdue guy so this hurts to take, but I have to take any personal bias out of it. I will mention that Jeff Brohm is 2-0 SU and ATS against Kirk Ferentz since he took over.

But that’s a small sample size and a bigger one is that Iowa has only given up 10.2 PPG this year. Purdue is occasionally explosive, but the only time they have been since Sindelar got hurt is at home against Maryland and the second half against Minnesota after they were already getting blown out at home. The Boilers can’t run the ball and it’s hard to see them throwing on an Iowa defense that knows they’re one-dimensional.

The defense is how Iowa covers this game, but the offense will have to do something. I think this might be a bounceback game for the Hawkeye offense. They’ve looked awful the last two weeks, but Purdue is not Michigan or Penn State defensively. They’re vulnerable and the Boilers don’t have nearly the pass-rush that UM or PSU had and that’s been the real problem for Iowa’s offense. I think they exorcise some demons here.

364 MIAMI (OH) (+2.5) over Northern Illinois
364 Miami OH +120 ML

I promise you this is never going to be fun, but this is the perfect time to bet on Miami. Their profile has been wrecked with games at OSU, Iowa, Cincinnati, and WMU. NIU stinks and shouldn’t be giving points on the road here. They’re coming off a great win at Ohio, but that sticks out as an outlier.

312 SYRACUSE (+3.5) over Pitt
312 Syracuse +145 ML

I hate Syracuse, but the system is the system. You can’t trust anything in the ACC Coastal division.

328 MARYLAND (+6.5) over Indiana
328 Maryland +180 ML

Last week looked really bad for Maryland, but they just have to stay out of their own way. They had a 50 yard bomb called back on their first drive last week. They also had a perfect wheel route dropped by Anthony McFarland in the first half. On top of that, Piggy threw a pick-6 right at the end of the half to put them down 30-14 at halftime when they probably should’ve been up 28-23.

If they can avoid big mistakes this week, they’ll compete. IU has built a resume off Rutgers, UConn, and Eastern Illinois. They played tight games with Ball State and an overrated Michigan State team. OSU boat raced them in Bloomington. Maryland should be able to run in this game.

324 GEORGIA STATE (+6) over Army
324 Georgia St +200 ML

Sad as it is to say, Army is still overrated and Georgia State is still undervalued. I don’t know what the total is here, but the over seems like a play.

ATS: 39-36-1 (-3.3u)

ML: 12-17 (+1.33u)

 

 

2019 CFB Picks: Week 7

11-6-1 ATS last week for +4.4u and 5-7 on money line picks for +1.15u.

1 unit on every spread pick and 0.5 units on every money line pick, with the exception of SJSU and Navy. Those are both full unit picks.

Thursday

8:00 PM

107 Syracuse (+4.5) over NC STATE
107 Syracuse +170 ML

I don’t really have anything profound to say other than trust the system. It’s a matchup of two teams who’ve been disappointing thus far and they’ve both been blown out on the road by mediocre teams, although I will say it’s happened twice to NC State.

9:15 PM

106 TEXAS STATE (+3.5) over UL Monroe
106 Texas State +140 ML

Texas State is gonna get better this season as Jake Spavital develops the program. They’ve been pretty good at home this year. This is a nightmare scheduling spot for Monroe. They’re coming off a big game against Memphis, it’s a short week to prepare, they’re on the road, and they’ve got a potential look-ahead spot with App State on the horizon next week. Oh, and Texas State is coming off a bye.

Saturday

12:00 PM

158 TENNESSEE (+7) over Mississippi State
158 Tennessee +220 ML

The Vols have largely been dogshit this season, but for as much as you can like a team that lost by 29 at home, I liked Tennessee against Georgia. Kylin Hill could be a problem for them, but I found the offense so much more intriguing with Brian Maurer at QB.

12:30 PM

132 DUKE (-17.5) over Georgia Tech

Tech is really bad. Duke had a big turnover problem in the first half last week, but the second half showed once again how good they can be. They’ve murdered teams they’re clearly better than.

2:00 PM

142 EMU (-1) over Ball State

Feels like a minor “breakout” game for the Eagles. They started off with three straight road games and they played pretty well, including a win at Illinois. They’ve played like crap the last two weeks, but after 4 of 5 on the road, this feels like an opportunity. Ball State has been a surprise to start the season, but this is their third straight road game and they’re coming off the high of a big win at NIU last week. I feel like before this season, the line would’ve been around 7-10 points in EMU’s favor and then it opened as a pick’em.

3:30 PM

172 HOUSTON (+7.5) over Cincinnati
172 Houston +240 ML

Feels like a terrible spot for Cincinnati. They are coming off a huge win at Marshall and an even bigger win against UCF last week. Their social media squad was creating glorious shit-talking videos after the UCF win. They just got ranked. Now they have to go on the road against a Houston squad that flourished without D’Eriq King and is coming off a bye.

178 WISCONSIN (-10.5) over Michigan State

It may be like 14-3, but it’s just hard to envision MSU scoring enough to cover this game. If you’re biased toward Wisconsin, you’ll focus on the Michigan domination. If you’re biased against Wisconsin, you’ll focus on the Northwestern struggle. If you’re me, you’ll focus on Wisconsin only giving up 5.8 PPG through five games this year. They’ve pitched three shutouts. Yes, Michigan was their peak and Northwestern was also their low. Otherwise, they’re up 158-0.

With a Sparty offense that always seems to be searching for something and coming off a road game against Ohio State, I don’t think they’ll be up for the challenge in Madison. Only time that Chryst and Dantonio matched up, it was a 30-6 rout for the Badgers in East Lansing.

202 CLEMSON (-27) over Florida State

There’s just so much blowout potential around this game. To start, Clemson won 59-10 in Tallahassee last year. That’s a good place to start.

I’ve never seen anybody as good as Dabo at spinning things so much that he makes his juggernaut of a football team feel like they’re underdogs. It’s an elite skill. I can’t imagine  what he was drumming up in the bye week after they just snuck past UNC and everybody started throwing them out of the Top 5.

Since Willie Taggart came to FSU, the big issue for Florida State has been the O-line and now they have to go up against this nasty defensive front and Brent Venables has had two weeks to prepare.

148 ARIZONA STATE (pick) over Washington State

Sad to say, but Wazzu might just stink. They blew out a couple of horrible opponents to start the year, had to come back to win over a mediocre Houston squad, gave up a million in the second half and lost at home to dreadful UCLA, and then got drilled at Utah.

4:00 PM

181 San Jose State (+120 ML) over NEVADA

The Spartans love to air it out and they’ll be going against one of the worst pass defenses in college football.

176 VANDERBILT (-14.5) over UNLV

It’s been a tough start to the season for the Dores, with an 0-5 ATS record and 1-4 SU. But this feels like the perfect time for them to get rid of some frustrations against a 1-4 UNLV team that hasn’t cracked 20 points since the opener against Southern Utah.

5:00 PM

134 COASTAL CAROLINA (-4.5) over Georgia State

GSU has been a team of peaks and valleys so far and they’re coming off a big peak, upsetting Arkansas State last week. Coastal has been very solid to start the year, including that win over Kansas. The offense has been very efficient and they should be able to take advantage of a Panther run defense that gives up 6.0 YPC.

7:00 PM

189 North Texas (+3.5) over SOUTHERN MISS
189 North Texas +150 ML

I think it’s a big bounceback week for the Mean Green after a bye and that weird Houston loss when D’Eriq King abruptly quit the season before the game. This is a matchup they’ve owned since Seth Littrell took over. They’re 3-0 SU and ATS against USM with an average cover of 16.8 PPG.

192 WKU (+5) over Army
192 WKU +175 ML

WKU is suddenly a darkhorse candidate to win the C-USA. I didn’t remotely believe in them at the start of the year, but the defense appears to be legit. They’ve held conference foes to 14, 13, and 3 points so far. They’ve been very good in both phases of the game and obviously the run defense will be important against Army.

193 Charlotte (+5.5) over FIU
193 Charlotte +175 ML

Last week might have been a get right game for FIU, but Charlotte is coming off a bye after a disappointing performance against FAU. The 49er defense has looked questionable to say the least, but they’ve played road games at Clemson and App State. This won’t be as big of a challenge and I think the offense should be able to control the ball some against an FIU run defense that’s been poor.

7:30 PM

123 Navy (-105 ML) over TULSA

Navy just might be back to being top dog among the service academies and I’m not sure the market has caught up after the disappointment of last season. They’ve been +12.8 PPG against the spread this year and now they get a Tulsa team that has to be reeling after blowing a huge lead at SMU last week.

204 IOWA (+3.5) over Penn State
204 Iowa +155 ML

Just a disastrous offensive performance last week for the Hawkeyes at Michigan. A lot of blame was placed on Nate Stanley and while he did deserve quite a bit of it, that O-line deserved just as much. Penn State’s a tough defense to bounce back against, but there’s no way Iowa can be worse. Of course they also get to play this one at home in a night game.

I’ve been as high as anybody on the Nittany Lions from the start of the season, but they’ve played a pretty soft schedule so far. Pitt is decent, but otherwise this Iowa defense is miles better than anybody Penn State has seen.

Iowa is 14-6-1 ATS in their last 21 as a home dog. That stretches all the way back to 2000 when their coach was…Kirk Ferentz. They’ve been better than the number by an average of almost a TD per game.

8:00 PM

150 OREGON STATE (+14) over Utah

A lot of points for Utah to be laying against a team on the upswing that’s had two of its best weeks back-to-back than it has for years. Oregon State can move the ball both ways and they won’t quit until the bitter end. Could be one where we need a late one to sneak in the back door.

179 Florida (+13.5) over LSU

I’m not gonna lie, I’ll be scared. An LSU team that can pass is a scary proposition.

I gotta tell you though, I’m exhausted with the narrative around Florida. Before the season any time the “Who’s the preseason Top 10 team that won’t finish in the Top 25?” question was asked, every damn answer involved Florida. They beat Miami to open the year and it’s “both teams stink.” They win at Kentucky, losing their starting QB mid-game, and it was “lucky.” They beat Top 10 team Auburn at home and “outside of two big plays” it’s an even game, as if explosive plays aren’t a way to judge football teams.

Anyway, Go Gators. They’re 6-0 and have a more impressive resume than the team giving 13.5, but whatever.

10:30 PM

206 SAN DIEGO STATE (-3.5) over Wyoming

Sorry, still upset about Florida. Afraid this game might be like 9-6 or something.

11:00 PM

152 ARIZONA (+6.5) over Washington
152 Arizona +190 ML

Arizona feels sneaky kind of good. Washington feels sneaky kind of not good.

ATS: 32-24-1 (+2.9u)

ML: 9-10 (+2.85u)

 

 

 

2019 CFB Picks: Week 6

Tweeted out on Wednesday:

Thursday – 8 PM

306 ECU (+11.5) over Temple
306 ECU +330 ML

This game kicks off 15 minutes from when I’m typing this, so let’s hope it’s a winner. I think ECU should be a team that trends well as the season goes on, the further they get from the Montgomery Era and transition into the Houston Era. The lack of offensive production so far is concerning, but it’s a tough spot for Temple. They’re on the road in a short week and it’s sandwiched between a win over a Power 5 team and a tilt with Memphis next week.

I’ll be deleting all of this if I see it’s going poorly. (Editor’s note: WHAT A BACKDOOR!!!)

Saturday 

12:00 PM

324 ARMY (+3) over Tulane
324 Army +130 ML

You have a moral obligation to take Army as a home dog. It’s only the third time it’s happened in the last 3.5 years. The Knights are 8-3 ATS their last 11 as an underdog – no matter the location – with five straight up wins. These two have matched up a couple times over the last few years. Tulane won both, but they were both coin flip games.

It’s gonna be a run-fest in West Point. That should favor Army. They’ve had a great run defense for years and held Michigan to 2.4 YPC in Ann Arbor. Tulane is more creative, but obviously don’t have near the talent. Of course Army also runs the ball more than anybody in the country and the Green Wave have been below-average in run defense efficiency.

355 Iowa (+3.5) over MICHIGAN
355 Iowa +145 ML

This feels like a potential breakout spot for Michigan, but based on what we’ve seen so far,  Iowa is the play. I’ve been a Wolverine doubter from the jump, but they’ve even been worse than I expected. I think the defenses are fairly even, but I do think the Hawkeyes have a better chance to run the ball successfully and I think they have the better QB.

373 TCU (+3.5) over IOWA STATE
373 TCU +145 ML

2-2 with an OT win over Northern Iowa seems like the worst-case outcome for ISU based on how they’ve played for the most part. There are two ways to look at that: either they are bound to get some good fortune soon or they have a hard time finishing things and this is how it will continue. Honestly, I don’t know what to think. They’re four games in and they just continue to have turnovers at the worst time, not convert fourth-and-shorts, miss kicks, get kicks blocked, etc.

It’s hard to ever bet against Gary Patterson and TCU. The offense has been fairly one-dimensional so far, but the passing game seems to be getting better. It’s important to remember Max Duggan is a true freshman. He’s had a slow start, but still has a 7-0 TD-INT ratio. He went 8-11 last week for a couple TDs and should only continue to grow. The run game continues to be dominant.

393 Utah State (+27.5) over LSU

LSU’s been good through four games, but they have shown that they can be a bit vulnerable defensively in the passing game. Jordan Love and Utah State have a lot more to prove in this game and USU will sling it. Obviously this game means much more to the Aggies and I’d expect them to battle until the end. With a matchup with Florida on the horizon, I’m not sure this game has the full attention of the Bayou Bengals.

12:30 PM

313 BC (+6.5) over LOUISVILLE
313 BC +195 ML

The market has dropped quite a bit on BC after the Kansas debacle. I think what we’ve learned since then is that BC isn’t as bad as it looked and Kansas wasn’t as good as it looked. It was an outlier game and a horrific night for the Eagles.

Louisville is improved, but I still think they’ve got a lot to prove in an expected close game. They beat EKU and WKU. They had a nice comeback against FSU, but then got roasted at the end of the game and lost by dougle-digits. They also have the 18-point home loss to Notre Dame. Just because they’re better than last year, doesn’t mean they should be giving nearly a TD to a fairly comparable team.

3:30 PM

318 WVU (+11) over Texas
318 WVU +325 ML

Kind of a weird game to predict, but they should be charged up in Morgantown. WVU had a shaky start, but have since blown out NC State and won on the road at Kansas. Texas is banged up in the secondary and they’ve got the Red River Shootout next week.

358 MINNESOTA (-14) over Illinois

Should be a bit of a revenge game for the Gophers after last year. Minnesota was inconsistent last year and they got blown out by the Illini around the same time they were crushing Wisconsin on the road and Purdue at home. You could consider it a letdown spot after last week’s big road win for the Gophers and next week’s battle against Nebraska, but I think PJ Fleck will have them ready.

366 NAVY (+3.5) over Air Force 
366 Navy +160 ML

The home team has won six straight in the series. Navy was in it the whole way with Memphis last week, despite Malcolm Perry being banged up for most of it. Perry’s status was questionable this week, but it looks like he’ll play. Based on performance this year alone, I’m not sure what would make you think AFA is much better than Navy, let alone 3.5 point road favorites.

372 BUFFALO (+3.5) over Ohio
372 Buffalo +140 ML

Buffalo has been much better at home and Ohio hasn’t proven anything so far this year. Should probably be a pick’em game, at most for the Bobcats.

382 GEORGIA STATE (+7.5) over Arkansas State
382 Georgia State +240 ML

It’s been an emotional season for Arkansas State and they’re coming off a massive road win at Troy. They’ve also got a big game with Louisiana coming up. Georgia State peaked with a win at Tennessee to start the season and has been floating since. However, they’ve played three of four games on the road and I think they’ll be inspired this week after a bye and with the game at home.

4:30 PM

343 Arizona (+4.5) over COLORADO
343 Arizona +180 ML

Idk, it’s what the system tells me to do. Colorado is coming off a bye. They had a big win over ASU and they’ve got Oregon on the horizon. Laviska is a maybe.

6:00 PM

336 CMU (+6) over EMU
336 CMU +190 ML

I can’t think of the last time EMU has won a game in convincing fashion. They beat Illinois and then needed a blocked punt returned for a TD to pull out a miracle win over Central Connecticut State. CMU has been scrappy and should improve the longer Jim McElwain is there.

7:00 PM

387 UMass (+26.5) over FIU

UMass is on a winning streak

7:30 PM

392 OHIO STATE (-20) over Michigan State

I’m not saying MSU won’t cover, but this is the ultimate square dog game where the only reasoning is “it’s too many points.” It seems like a lot until the game starts and you remember how bad the MSU offense is and OSU’s skill guys make you realize that MSU is no longer defending Arizona State and Northwestern.

8:00 PM

325 Pitt (+5) over DUKE
325 Pitt +160 ML

I think the Pitt defense is actually pretty good. Duke is coming off the high of that blowout win at VT, but it looks a lot better now than it probably will at the end of the season.

396 UTEP (-1.5) over UTSA

This is a horrendous game and I don’t recommend watching it. I’ll be glued to the screen.

10:30 PM

352 STANFORD (+16.5) over Washington

I refuse to believe Stanford is going to suck all season.

ATS: 21-18 (-1.5u)

ML: 4-3 (+1.7u)

 

 

2019 CFB Picks: Week 5

1-2 last week for -3.4 units. Far from the worst betting week of my life in terms of losses, but it was extremely aggravating. I’ve mentioned it before, but I pour hours into a numbers-based algorithm every week in CFB and CBB. Nearly every bet I make comes from the system, but I also typically leave out a good chunk of the bets the system tells me to make after I go through the games and look for key stats, injuries, etc.

It worked out pretty well last year, my first year of utilizing the algorithms, by far my best year of betting. But at times I got in my own way and that’s what I feel like I’m doing now. Because I was exhausted when I “handicapped” last week, I just passed on a lot of games because I didn’t have the energy to get too deep in it. I would’ve gone 12-7, instead of the 1-2 I ended up with.

We’re not doing that anymore. I hit 55% in CBB on 300 games last year, went +18.1 units, and from a behind-the-scenes view it was a mild disappointment from what could’ve been. 55% is basically the gold standard from professional sports bettors.

From now on, we’re letting it rip.  The Twitter ants can say whatever they want, we’ve got 19 games on the slate this week for a unit a pop. Throwing a half unit on all underdog money lines except USA. In full disclosure, I took four games out. Two for QB injuries, two for choosing not to bet against the best football teams in the country that can name their score.

Picks

Wazzu (+6) over UTAH

The Cougs blew a big lead last week after building a 32-point lead in the second half. They lost four fumbles in the second half and gave up a punt return TD. That doesn’t seem repeatable. The Utes getting ripped up in the passing game does. USC’s third-stringer tore them up, what is Anthony Gordon gonna do?

South Alabama (+16) over ULM

The status of Tra Minter feels like a big deal for the Jags, but they do trot a ton of guys out their at RB. Monroe has been sup-par against the running game. Love this game if Minter takes the field.

Hawaii (+2.5) over NEVADA

I don’t think Nevada is very good. Purdue appears to stink and it still took a 5-0 TO advantage for the Pack to beat them at home. They lost by 71 to Oregon. They’ve just been okay to beat some terrible opponents the past couple weeks.

Duke (+2.5) over VT

I liked VT heading into the season, but they just appear to not be very good. Duke’s defense appears to be pretty good. Quentin Harris is a dual-threat guy that I think will rip up a still very vulnerable VT defense.

Buffalo (-2.5) over MIAMI (OH)

Miami has played some stiff competition, but Buffalo’s offense has at least shown flashes and the defense has held up for the most part.

Arizona State (+5) over CAL

They’re pretty much the same team and I like taking the Sun Devils here after Cal had that thrilling win on the road over Ole Miss and has to play Oregon on the road next week. Arizona State has been a yo-yo through the first four weeks and I’d expect a strong effort after a disappointing loss last week.

UCLA (+6.5) over ARIZONA

It’s hard for me to buy in with UCLA, but Arizona has some serious flaws too and the Bruins should have some renewed confidence on offense after a strong fourth quarter last week.

UMASS (+7.5) over Akron

Akron has faced stiffer competition so far, but at the end of the day it’s an 0-4 SU, 0-4 ATS team laying 7.5 at another 0-4 SU, 0-4 ATS team. UMass stinks, but Akron isn’t much better.

USC (+10.5) over WASHINGTON

I’m not sure if third-stringer Matt Fink can keep it going after a strong showing against Utah, but UW might’ve showed their colors when they played Cal at home. Remember how much they were replacing this year. Every other game they’ve had a big talent advantage. USC can play with them.

UAB (-3) over WKU

The line stinks to high heaven, but we’ll take it anyway. UAB lost a lot from last year and a slow start to this season against Alabama State led to some belief that the attrition was taking its toll. But they’ve looked great the last two weeks. I don’t think WKU is awful, but still, I would’ve thought this would be closer to a TD spread.

Iowa State (-3) over BAYLOR

The scores/results of the Cyclones the first two weeks weren’t really indicative of what happened for the most part in terms of game control, efficiencies, etc. That showed last week when they laid waste to Monroe. It’s tough to get a feel for Baylor. They’ve played three awful opponents. They dominated the first two and then eked out a win over Rice last week.

OKLAHOMA STATE (-4) over Kansas State

I’ll be honest, this one scares me, but we’re gonna let it ride. K-State is coming off a bye week and their last game was a road win at Mississippi State. They’ve looked great through three games. But Oklahoma State is also really good and they’ve had to play three of their first four on the road. I like that it’s a night game in Stillwater.

Louisiana Tech (-8.5) over RICE

Rice has been scrappy the first few weeks, but that’s about it. La Tech should be able to air it out against a Rice Pass D that’s been ripped to shreds.

OLD DOMINION (-3) over East Carolina

You like ODU because they’ve given both Virginia and VT games their past couple of games. You’re nervous about ODU because they might be in a letdown spot here.

Penn State (-6.5) over MARYLAND

Another game that makes me nervous. Maryland’s offense was great at home the first two weeks, although the level of competition isn’t nearly what they’ll face on Friday night. Penn State’s defense appears to be one of the best in the league and may shut down Maryland’s run game. The Nittany Lion offense does make me nervous, though. They have been pretty shaky the past couple games.

Wake Forest (-6.5) over BOSTON COLLEGE

BC’s defense stinks, specifically against the pass and that’ll be a problem against Wake, who’s been one of the most efficient through the air in the country.

AUBURN (-10) over Mississippi State

I was wrong about the MSU game last week when I picked against them, but watching the game, I felt like I was more off on Kentucky than the Bulldogs. Auburn’s shown themselves to be a Top 10 team in the country and they should have a better chance at slowing down Kylin Hill.

OKLAHOMA (-27) over Texas Tech

Big number, but the Sooner offense appears to be just as potent with Jalen Hurts running the show. The Red Raider defense does appear to be at least decent, but this is a different level. Alan Bowman is out at QB for Tech, which means Jett Duffey is likely taking over. Duffey is more of a dual threat, but the Sooners should be used to it. They’ve already faced D’Eriq King and DTR.

TCU (-15) over Kansas

A poor showing from the Frogs last week, but I think this is a good matchup for them to get back on track. This is all about the run game. Kansas has been great running the football, but TCU has given up just 1.9 YPC. QB Carter Stanley has been pretty good the past couple weeks, though. Kansas has been okay against the run, but did give up 151 to AJ Dillon. TCU wants to run it down people’s throats and has done so.

ATS: 10-10-2 (-3.7u)

In The System, But Left Out 

Houston +7.5

I do feel like the line has gotten out of control, but there’s just no telling what Houston is without D’Eriq King.

UNC +27

I’m not betting against Clemson. They’re 12-4 ATS their last 16.

Ole Miss +38

I’m also not betting against Alabama.  Ole Miss has improved their defense, but they might not hit double digits against this defense, even if its not highly regarded for Alabama standards.

Ark State +7

Logan Bonner is out at QB1 for Arkansas State. He’s been strong in the first four games with a 10-1 TD-INT ratio and the backups have rarely played.

 

2019 CFB Picks: Week 4

A 6-1-1 week last week basically got us back to even after a horrific Week 2. As much as I love the slate this week from a viewership standpoint, I hate it is a bettor. There’s not a lot of great spots, but I tried to give a few thoughts on the bigger games of the week.

Picks

STANFORD (+10.5) over Oregon – 2u
Stanford/Oregon under 58 – 1u

I just can’t pass it up. I hate it, but it must be done. Stanford stock might be at an all-time low since 2009 and we’re buying. It’s equally as much of a sell on Oregon as anything. The Ducks are as untrustworthy on the road as anybody. They’re 4-11-1 ATS their last 16 on the road. and 4-12 SU. I’d like to believe in Oregon, but no way can you take them here with how little they’ve proven away from Autzen Stadium. Mario Cristobal seems like a fine guy, but the way he handled the end of that Auburn game is a prime example of  why it’s hard to trust him.

Last week, I discredited David Shaw coming off a loss as part of my justification for taking UCF. That turned out to be correct. What I like here is Stanford as a home dog. They’re 9-0 ATS and 8-1 SU in their last nine games as a home dog. Shaw himself is 4-0 ATS and SU and has covered by an average of 17 PPG.

Kentucky (+6) over MISSISSIPPI STATE – 2u

In short: I don’t think Mississippi State is very good, with or without Tommy Stevens. I’m not sure Kentucky has proven much yet either, but I think they’re fairly even teams and the line is about three points off. And that’s assuming Tommy Stevens will play and at 100%, which seems optimistic at the moment.

I didn’t think it was a huge deal that UK lost Terry Wilson at QB. Sawyer Smith showed some real flashes in his first start last week, but the obvious flaw was 3 INTs. I’d expect him to be better this week, especially against a weaker D than he played last week against Florida.

The Kentucky defense has been fairly solid so far. Stevens won’t be at full strength for the Bulldogs if he plays. I think MSU will need to rely on the run game and that’s where the Cats should succeed on defense. They gave up 2.4 YPC last week until a last minute end-around gave the Gators a 76 yard touchdown.

Cats are 5-2 ATS and 5-2 SU in their last seven as a road dog of a TD or less with a +11.4 average ATS margin.

ATS: 9-8-2 (-0.3u)

Leans / Thoughts On Other Games

USC (+3.5) over Utah

This is always a tricky one. Utah should win, but USC still has the talent on the perimeter if Slovis can get the ball out to his weapons.

Cal (+2.5) over OLE MISS

Just a couple of years ago, the total on this game probably would’ve been in the 70s. Now, it’s 41.5. That’s wild. I feel like Cal has grown much more accustomed to this style of play, but this game kicks off at 9 AM local time for them.

Michigan (+3.5) over WISCONSIN

I hope I’m wrong about this one. But, compared to the preseason line, the spread on this game has swung so much based on how they’ve played against mediocre-to-bad teams. The Badgers have gone 110-0 against their opponents, but USF is on an epic slide and CMU is one of the worst teams in CFB. Michigan was just okay against MTSU and went to double OT against Army.

Army’s a tricky opponent and I don’t think you can make a big difference in evaluation on the Wolverines just because they struggled against a unique opponent.

The Badgers clearly have looked better so far, but it feels like the market has overreacted to games that are fairly meaningless.

NORTHWESTERN (+9) over Michigan State

This is the biggest rat line I’ve seen in a while. NW doesn’t deserve to be this big of a dog based on recent history, but the offense has looked horrendous. MSU has at least shown flashes on offense this year.

Washington (-6.5) over BYU

If you’re just comparing lines, the USC -4 line in the same situation compared to the Huskies only being favored by 6.5 at BYU is sketchy. That essentially suggests that UW would only be favored by 2.5 over USC on a neutral and I’d take the Huskies for 5 units in that situation. But on the flip side, it feels like Vegas is starting to adjust to the Cougars and UW really hasn’t proven much so far.

Louisville (+6.5) over FLORIDA STATE

I think the teams have been pretty comparable so far, if not favoring the Cards as a better team. However, this feels like a game where FSU exercises some demons for me and Louisville hasn’t had a road game yet.

Auburn (+3.5) over TEXAS A&M

Have you heard it’s Bo Nix’s first true road game as a true freshman QB? It’s a factor, but an uncappable one. A&M is on their backup RB. This game has been unpredictable the last few years.

PITT (+11) over UCF

I can’t trust Pat Narduzzi as far as I can throw him, but the Pitt D has had a good showing so far. I’m not actually about to bet against Taylor Gabriel and this UCF O though.

Illinois (+13.5) over NEBRASKA

My gut instinct was to take the Illini and my numbers supported it, but it’s hard to trust that defense against an offense that could be very explosive.

GEORGIA (-14.5) over Notre Dame

I’m a supporter of the Irish long-term this season against their schedule, but this is setting up against them. Their D is relatively weak up the middle and they have to go against one of the best running games in the country and it’s a rare night game in Athens.

Louisiana (+3.5) over OHIO

I think the Cajuns have been better through three weeks and I think they can run all over the Bobcats. They’ve also been great as a road dog of less than a touchdown. However, I can’t fully commit with their recent performances against mobile QBs. Nathan Rourke might be able to put Ohio on his back here.

RUTGERS (+8) over Boston College

This probably would’ve been a play, but is now a complete stay-away with McLane Carter out at QB for Rutgers. BC just got rocked at home by Kansas, but Arthur Sitkowski is one of the worst Power 5 QBs I’ve ever seen and he’ll get the start for the Scarlet Knights.

SMU (+9.5) over TCU

I really wanted to take the Stangs here, but their history against TCU scared me off. They’ve actually covered the spread their last two trips to Fort Worth, but they’ve been much bigger spreads. TCU is just 2-14 ATS their last 16 ATS as home favorites and I think the Frogs have an inflated status after crushing a damaged Purdue team, but the talent disparity is big here.

West Virginia (-4) over KANSAS

I’m still of the belief that Kansas pretty much sucks and that game last week was more of an indictment of Boston College. I think WVU is still much more talented, despite the amount of replacements they had to make this year.

Baylor (-26.5) over RICE

I like Baylor a lot this week, but it’s just not in my nature to lay 26.5 on the road.