Sorry this is late, I’m on Day Three of a migraine. I’m just copying and pasting some entries from the (Almost) Giving Away Money site here. Ignore what you want, use what you want — that site tends to be a bit more granular and mathy than our short proceedings here, The plus-side, is that I include error bars and confidence intervals!
Not with a 10-foot Pole and Stolen Money
Vanderbilt +38 at Florida — The Gators love running it up and covering late on the hapless at home. The ‘Dores are about as hapless as it comes too. But UF faces a two-game swing that is undoubtedly affecting concentration: at LSU next week, then the Cocktail Party.
Like Cincy, it’s just as likely you see a beatdown as a distracted home team. Data says: Florida 52 - Vandy 17. And that is way, way too close for comfort to take either one.
Marshall +20 1/2 vs ODU — The Monarchs are better than their record, and the Herd offense has given away a ton of games already. ODU doesn’t have an effective defense, but it does appear that their short passing offense can keep the Herd off the field enough to limit the worst of the damage. This is the closest rivalry in the country, in terms of physical distance, so I would guess that both teams give their best effort.
While the numbers suggest that Marshall gets a 23, 24-point cover, MU has been awful this year at doing so — even notching two S/U losses as a favorite. Nah, pass.
New Mexico State +31 1/2 at Nevada — The Wolf Pack should smoke the Aggies. But again, this is where exigencies and tight numbers come into play. After a tough opening season, and after beating down Boise State on the Smurf Turf, Nevada gets a relatively light few weeks. Will they take their foot off the gas? Can NMSU be just respectable enough? Numbers say: Nevada 48 NMSU 17 — and that half point is absolutely toxic. I’m running away from this game like Bo Nix facing a child support order.
Mizzou -19 vs. North Texas -- The Tigers have one of the worst non-Vandy SEC defensive lines I think I’ve seen in a very, very long time. They are apt to get ran over by anyone with a pulse.
Does UNT have a pulse though? The Mean Green run exactly the kind of scheme calculated to give MU fits: an uptempo, ground-based attack, that plays analytical football — they simply refuse to punt on most downs. Talent-wise, it shouldn’t be close. And MU will be able to score on the Eagles. But will the get it together enough to cover 19? Numbers suggest they can. But, it’s going to take playing their “average” game, and UNT to give up a ton of short fields with their customarily-abundant turnovers and failed 4th down attempts.
That’s asking for a whole lot of things to go right at one time. Skip it.
South Carolina +11 at UT: Don’t let that Vawls spread fool you. This team sucks and has to win running the ball. They’re not going to be able to line up and blow the Gamecocks off the field. USCe is playing too well on defense.
After running all the numbers, I get a composite of Tennessee by 12, and even then, it’s only at 54%. So, by a whisker, the data says the Vols cover. Yet, I just don’t like or trust UT. Personally, I bet on USCe to cover and I regret it some now. But I can’t tell you to do that, and the data aren’t strong enough to recommend betting that UT wins and covers either. Up to you. But this is a point spread toss up.
Games I Like
Michigan State -5 at Rutgers: The RU defense vs. MSU offense figure to mostly wash out. The biggest difference between the two in is when the Scarlet Knights have the ball. They’re going to have a tough time scoring, as they have all year. Sparty keeps the chains moving a bit more and win what data suggests is a defensive scrap. Two well-coached, disciplined teams, who hang on to the ball. What a refreshing concept.
MSU by -7.28-plus, at 81%
Liberty -19 vs. MTSU — Guess what, boys? Liberty is back on the menu! MTSU has been impressively consistent in their shittiness — about 90th in total defense and offense. Meanwhile, the Flames have been great defensively all year, with intermittent periods of waking up on offense. The best news for Hugh is that this MTSU team will be the worst overall defense LU has played all season, and for all that, Liberty has still cobbled together a 4-1 overall record to go with its 4-1 ATS record.
We tend to take trends, and until he consistently proves us wrong, we’ll go with Freeze’s boys to bully the Blue Raiders up front, pound the ball using Malik — which was a missing part of their offense, and get after it on defense. This is a toughness and talent game: Liberty has too much of both: Flames by 22.23, CI 91%.
Arizona State -13.5 v. Stanford: This really is simple: The Sun Devils biggest enemy this year is the Sun Devils. If they show up and play disciplined, there’s not a team in the P12 that comes within a TD of them on a neutral field (I already ran the data; Oregon is close, at +7.24 points). But getting them to play disciplined is a very different thing. They are sloppy and unfocused at time, esp. on the road. Mercifully, they’re at home, and it’s a nationally broadcast night game. I expect the Herminator will have them keyed up. He’s 3-1 ATS on these national broadcasts.
Stanford is a better team than you think, and the computers like them better than your eyesballs do...until I ran a simulation throwing out the game that got Clay Helton fired, and then their road performance drops significantly.
Herm has not been great as a home favorite; but he has been good ATS this season. Not coincidentally, this is the best team he’s ever had. But, SU has also been good ATS. They’re 2-1 OTR as an underdog. I’ll take the hot hand and trust the numbers here. Tempe’s 4.3 point home field (among the best in the P12) will matter a lot.
ASU -15.8 to 17.9, at 87%.
Ohio State -20 1/2 vs. Maryland: Expect a lot of TOs here, and OSU to blast the Terps late at home. I would guess UMD gets some freebies on offense, but this is just a bad matchup. You can’t throw the ball 55 times on the road in the Shoe and win. And that’s what ‘Lia will have to do. Ohio State of October looks nothing like OSU of Labor Day. Buckeyes -23.44 or greater, at 87%
Ole Miss -6 vs. Arkansas: Numbers say that the Hogs are in for a little losing now that their competition has improved. To beat Ark, you have to line up and run right at them and prevent KJJ from getting loose. Ole Miss can do both. It’s still not a very talented UA team. I do like this game a lot. The algorithm produced something consonant with what our eyes tell us: at home, the Rebels do too many things that Arkie has a hard time with and it’s a solid play. OM -7.76 to 11.38, at 86%.
Red River Shootout: OU - 3 1/2 vs. Texas: That bad game against Arkansas has really soured us on the fact that Texas has mostly been a machine otherwise this season. By every practical metric, the Longhorns are the better squad here and should be favored, in fact.
And so that’s what we’re going with: the UT defense gets gashed a few times, but OU is too inconsistent. Meanwhile, the Longhorns roll up and roll over for a straight-up win at the Fair. I love their new identity: they’ll platoon backs at you 60 times a game and dare you to man-up and stop them. If the UT/Ark. game were played this month, I think they’d beat the hell out of the Hogs.
Watch: now that I’ve praised them, Sark is gonna’ lay an egg. LOL. But this was the game he was hired to win. I think he will; even better, the number thing he will.
Texas covers 3 1/2 at 88%, and Texas wins S/U at 74%
USC -3 vs. Utah - In some ways Utah’s reliance on explosive plays is very similar to Ole Miss — it’s not a strategy you can lean on all season. When one team out-talents you, can you win up front, hang on to the ball, and put together enough drives and points to limit the damage?
The data suggest that Utah will not be able to do so.
The Utes will score, and it will likely come via giant plays, busted coverages, long runs, and the like. But that’s not a 60-minute strategy, and Utah has never been able to pull it off in the Coliseum — and rarely against the Trojans’ speed in general.
The CI isn’t at the 90%+ threshold I like to use, but frankly most games this week haven’t gotten there either. (The Bookies again did their numbers well again)
But, for all that, Southern Cal is the call: 27-21, CI 86%
Coastal - 19 1/2 at Ark. State — I’m ordinarily reticent to drop anything on a CC road game with a big number. But, adjusted data suggests a 27.72-point win at a P level of 99%. Arkansas State’s defense is simply bad at everything, though they do play harder at home. If this were in Coastal, the Chanticleers would be favored by an unreal 39 points.
But, I’ll trust the numbers here again, and say that 27-28 does sound about right when the nation’s No. 5 offense faces the very worst defense in the country. In adjusted terms, the Red Wolves offense has put up points, but it’s not done so in ways that are sustainable — the 118th least explosive team in the country vs. the 9th best one in preventing big plays (and the No. 3 overall in forcing TOs vs. the 117th in TOM). The final thing is that ASU can’t run the ball. Godspeed trying to beat this Coastal team through the air, where they have picked off 11 passes this season so far.
Bad game for the Wolves if Coastal gets off the bus. I think it’ll be a bit sloppier than a home beating, but enough to cover this large-ish number.
Alabama -14.5 at Texas A&M — What happens when a one-dimensional ground game gets shut down and then a very bad quarterback has to try and win throwing against one of the nation’s best pass rushes and secondaries? Or when a secondary is content to let Bill O’Brien dink-and-dunk down the field all game? Data says Tide by 26.11 at 97.6%.
Given that Alabama’s average MOV over conference teams has hovered at close to 25 points for the last 8 years, the projected performance values are very much in line with historical numbers. There’s also the matter that when Aggie loses, it loses. Jimbo has a sub-.500 record ATS at A&M following a loss.
This number is probably far too low. Take it and run
Texas State +3 1/2 vs. South Alabama — There is a 78% chance that USA wins this game by more than 8 points on a spread of 3 1/2, and an 89% chance they do from 4-8 points.
USA certainly are the better team this year, or at least have played like it. They are both near the bottom-ish in offense, but South has played better defense, has far better special teams, and has been much more disciplined — TSU is one of the most heavily penalized teams in the country. Back-of-the-napkin maths tell me that TSU loses almost 4 drives per game to offensive penalties and lets opponents stay on the field for about 1.5 more offensive scoring drives.
It won’t be pretty, but the Jags are the call. 27-13
Georgia -14 at Auburn: Want to see someone who the computers love more than your eyeballs? The Georgia Bulldogs. Factoring in Auburn’s absurd homefield advantage (even using my adjusted formula, at 5.93 points, it’s among the best on the mainland), the algorithm loves the Bulldogs to line right up and kick the shit out of this soft Auburn team.
Defense travels...so does line play. And Georgia is better at both of them. Want to see the ridiculous number being generated here? It actually sounds right too when you really think about it.
Georgia by 19.12 - 24.89, at 98.7%