Hard to start much better than a 5-0 Labor Day (and really, I gave you the blessing on Alabama and USC too; 7-0 is damned tough to beat).
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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.
So, what do we have on tap for Week 2? Winners, baby. Nothing but winners. I do the math so you don’t have to.
Not with a 10’ Pole and Stolen Money:
There were a lot to chose from here (most were in the ACC and SEC), and analytically there are a lot of 50-50 stinkers this week. So, we’ll take the most obvious stay-away game of all-time: Boston College +3 at Virginia Tech.
The Eagles pulled a no-show at home and let Rutgers kick their butt from one end of Chestnut Hill to another. We haven’t seen Bostonians slaughtered by such a soft invading force like that since Crispus Attucks. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech’s offense and special teams were gross on the road, as the Brent Pry era got off with a field-goal loss to Old Dominion. Again.
If you think you have an angle on either of these teams, you’re lying to yourself.
One We Like:
Alabama -20 vs. Texas
The numbers like Alabama here, -24.39.
Despite playing La-Monroe at home, and scoreboard gussying up, the Longhorns offense did not exactly acquit itself well, analytically speaking. Aside from just tallying 383 yards in a feast or famine offensive, they are 100th in overall efficiency, 59th in explosive drives, 64th in rushing efficiency, and 95th in per-play efficiency. (Alabama’s defense, BTW, is 4th against the rush and pass, 3rd overall, 11th in per-play efficiency, and creates a havoc/negative play on 39% of all snaps). The Horns were somewhat better passing (32nd), which led to better overall drive efficiency (20th), but you probably don’t want to have to drive the field against the Warhawks. More disconcerting is that the OL surrendered three sacks, and Ewers got hit on 17% of his dropbacks.
Offensively, for UA, the matchup is even better. The Horns are in the 30s or 40s for every meaningful efficiency category, and surrendered a tidy 14 of 19 through the air. (And the punting game was a disaster; that may loom large). This Longhorn defense can be got.
No need to buck trends here, take Alabama by 24-26
One We Love:
Auburn -23 vs. San Jose State
The Spartans haven’t traveled very well, and are underperforming spread projections by -6.8 PPG. The composite analysis is impressed with Auburn, less so with SJSU. With naive data sets, Auburn should win this by 26 or so. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt with the non-MWC underperformance of San Jose State
Auburn covers something like 37-10. Tank is going to have a good day.
Ginormous Spread Worth Your Time
Ohio State -43.5 vs. Arkansas State
This is a whole lot of points for a team that hasn’t been very good at covering large numbers. But, they do face the undermanned Red Wolves, who trotted out one of the sorriest secondaries you ever saw last year. Butch is trying to get better through the portal, but that’s going to take a few years.
We’ll say that OSU gets their offense back on track, even without JSN. ASU’s rebuilding OL, an iffy QB, and the Wolves’ road record ATS vs. P5 teams don’t engender much optimism either: They’ve lost by 51 PPG vs Power 5 teams over the last five years.
It’s close, but we’ll trust the modeling. Arkansas State’s defense makes Baby Jesus sad. OSU -46.71, 63-17ish
Michigan -50.5 vs. Hawaii
I spent two hours by hand-cranking out an analysis of Michigan -50.5 vs. Hawaii, and then wrote about 700 words on it. This spread literally broke my modeling. And, despite the absurd half-hundy here, it’s probably too low by a full touchdown.
Take the Wolverines. And here’s why.
Underdog With Bite
Memphis -5.5 at Navy
If I have ever been mortally certain about one thing, it is that Navy absolutely owns Memphis’s ass in Annapolis. They are helpless before the running game, and particularly against Navy.
“But Navy lost to Delaware last week!” I hear you say. Yes, yes they did. That is the FCS No. 10 team in the nation, Delaware: The Blue Hens aren’t scrubs. A top flight FCS school is at least as good as a lower-middling G5 team. And Memphis is every bit of lower-tier group of 5 team...only without Delaware’s defense. FFS, Mike Leach almost ran for 100 yards last week.
Let that perverse shit sink in. Mike. Leach.
Want some more data points? Memphis’ defense is 111th against the rush; 120th against the pass, 128th in disruption rate; 123rd in havoc. They can’t play defense. Period. Navy may not win, but this will be close, and Memphis will get gashed repeatedly on the ground.
Take the Midshipmen at home, and I am not ruling out an “upset.” I’m half-counting on it, in fact. (Composite UM -2.16)
There were very few good candidates this week, to be honest. And I’m scared that two of the teams I’m leaning most towards, because they have been a bit flaky. But, sometimes you’ve got to just trust it.
Washington State +17 at Wisconsin
The best thing you can say about the Coogs effort against a meh Idaho team last week was that they did not lose to an FCS opponent. Otherwise, they were a hot mess. The Cougars were getting pummeled at the LOS, gacked up three fumbles, couldn’t generate much offense, had a woeful 16% havoc rate, and defensively forced just 23% no-gainers or negative plays. Against an FCS team. At home.
Then they get to come drag that sorry OL up to Camp Randall. This has been one of the biggest movers of the season. It opened at UW -11 on 8/28. It’s now -17. And for good reason.
This could be a bludgeoning if it were anyone other than Chryst coaching, but it will likely be the tasteful 23-24 points the Composite predicts. Typical Wisconsin running game / defensive snuff porn.
Don’t screw this up, Chryst. Take UW -23.44; we’ll call it 30-7 Badgers
Will Auburn cover -23.5 at home versus San Jose State?
This poll is closed
Because everything about Bryan Harsin is weird, Auburn improbably wins by 23.5 points
Want some more of these? I crank the data for every single game every week over at my companion site: (Almost) Giving Away Money. Check it out, and prosper. It’s the best five bucks you’ll spend
outside of that one truck stop handjob off I-95 back in 2008.