Usually, the SEC and PAC 12 are among the most difficult games to handicap — data analysis veers wildly from week to week because of the remarkable parity. On the other hand, the AAC and the B1G are ordinarily a bit easier. But this year makes practically no sense: SEC games have been closer to data predictive modeling; the P12 is not all over the place — good teams are winning; and it is the AAC and B1G that have been erratic as hell.
I think we can chalk some of that up to coaching, at least last week anyway. Consistency is always hard to milk out of college athletes, but has grown even less predictable the last two years or so. And, I’m honestly running out of alternative hypotheses: It very well may be the effect of NIL. A man who just left the Shoney’s breakfast bar isn’t going to want to stop at McDonald’s and grab a few McMuffins. I think you see that playing out at places with notoriously generous pay-for-play too: Texas, Miami among them. And I think what we will see in the future is that the effect of these short-term payouts will sabotage a lot of soaring careers before they even get off the tarmac. Tyler Van Dyke, Kayshon Boutte (insert your other favorite no-show, DGAF guy here).
Anyway, just an observation. I think this offseason I may create a new database that predictively models based on a post-NIL world (assuming there’s something to this). We’ve never seen so many talented teams, so ill-prepared, with so many disinterested players. I’m willing to entertain the pay-for-play hypothesis.
So, on to GAM for Week 5.
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Half a dozen games to go through today: One we like, one we love, an underdog to consider, one to steer clear of, a ginormous spread worth your time, and a mortal lock.
Not With A 10’ Pole and Stolen Money
Kansas State -7.5 vs Texas Tech:
Tech came back from two scores down at home and beat their hated rival, No. 21 Texas, in a heated overtime game...with their fat backup quarterback...and a coach who was on a high school sideline 10 months ago.
A bit north of Lubbock, Kansas State traveled to Norman, and dominated the mistake-prone No. 6 Sooners...with Adrian Martinez...a week after losing at home to Tulane.
So, the question is: who’s going to be hungover worse?! The numbers actually like Tech to cover this (+.1.80). But, I don’t trust either of these guys this week. This is a four-alarm, stay-the-hell-away game.
One We Like
Mississippi State -3.5 vs Aggie:
Huzzah, a good one! No reason to think the Bulldogs won’t move the ball on the Aggies, or that the Aggies can move the ball against more than a stiff breeze — especially without their sole weapon, Ainias Smith. Trash passing game + rebuilt OL + hurt Ainias = CLANGA -7.18. Odd to think this is the first Top 50 opponent-adjusted passing team that Texas A&M has faced, but those boys are going to be running side-to-side for five hours, and Leach is a much better coach at home ATS.
I like this one. Dawgs by a TD.
Kent State -11 vs. Ohio
Has anyone had a tougher schedule than Kent? At Georgia, at Washington, at Oklahoma. And they were a pain in the ass against all three of those teams, covering two out of three games, and missing the backdoor against UW by half a point. They finally get someone in their weight class, finally get a home game, so the data reward them accordingly over a somewhat improved Ohio squad with a still-really gross defense. Kent State is 7-0 ATS as a home favorite the last three years in MAC play. Numbers support that again here.
KSU -14.77 at 84%
One We Love
Arkansas +16.5 vs Alabama
I love Sam Pittman. He’s a dude. But this is ultimately a game about matchups, and it’s a terrible one for the Hogs. Spread option team vs. the nation’s best rush defense. Rebuilt OL vs one of the Top 3 front sevens in all of football. Nation’s worst secondary vs. the Nation’s No. 2 offense (No. 6 passing attack). And an Alabama team that seems to have finally figured out a two-deep and package rotation on the line, at CB, and at WR.
Just way too many horses. The Pigs will play hard though
Ginormous Spread Worth Your Time
Georgia -28.5 at Mizzou
We’re now in the heart of conference play. So, what qualifies as “ginormous” is going to vary wildly from the absurd 40-point spreads you see when Blueblood State clears the bench vs. East Popcorn Academy. But, I think four touchdowns in a road SEC game plus the hook, qualifies. And we’ll take the Dawgs here.
Some things don’t show up in the data. Like how incredibly pissed off UGA is going to be after last week’s shambolic game vs. Kent State. Mizzou is playing far better defense this season, but it is still a mistaken-prone offense with a five-star WR that can’t get the ball, and a running game that runs hot-and-cold like a Hollywood starlet.
It’s not quite at the 80% mark, but -30.09 sounds good to me. Kirby has been outstanding OTR in SEC play against the number — better than at home actually.
UGA: 44-13-ish sound about right?
Underdog With Bite
UTEP -3 at Charlotte:
Not only do we have a nice underdog game; we’ve got a game where the wrong team is favored for all kinds of reasons. These teams have atrocious defenses, both of them. And UTEP has an atrocious offense (except vs. Boise State, apparently).
But, 1. Charlotte has broken even in TOs this year (despite playing some nasty games against Power 5 big boys), 2. The 49ers are at home and two time zones ahead — the jump-ahead adjustment is always worse, 3. UNCC has a very competent passing offense — UTEP has a piss-poor secondary, 4. And UTEP is a terrible road cover — historically in the neighborhood of 30%.
Take the home team getting a FG and with the outright win. Not every team has Bachmeier under center or Avalos ruining their program. UNCC -7.02
Navy +15 at Air Force:
Here comes this week’s seal-clubbing. It’s not often the service academies get to inflict misery on one of their fellow servicemen. But, when they do, 1. It’s usually Air Force doing the clubbing, and 2. Navy on the road has usually the recipient.
Not sure why this one is just -15, TBH. By all indications, AFA should be somewhere in the -18 point range. AFA is 8-1 vs. Navy the last 9, 7-2 vs. the spread, has covered the last six at home vs. Navy by +11.8 PPG, and the Middies have scored 17 points in their last three trips to the mountains.
Chair Force in a romp (for option teams, I mean) AFA -20.43
RIP, Naval Academy.
Want some more of these? I crank the data for just about every single game over at my companion site: (Almost) Giving Away Money. Check it out, and prosper
...except for last week, when everyone on earth outside of Las Vegas lost their ass.
Georgia gonna’ cover 28.5 at woeful Mizzou?
This poll is closed
Yes. Maybe even by halftime.
Nope. They’re not as good as advertised and/or Mizzou is a little better than their record.
Mizzou lands a last-second backdoor cover, I lose this month’s rent money, my wife makes me sleep on the couch, and I’m reduced to selling plasma and furtive late night excursions to the "book store"