Monday, September 28, 2009

College Football Game Predictions AND Results Week 5 2009 Season

Odds were posted according to the College Football Prediction Tracker, Monday, September 28, 2009 10:56 AM. Predictions are based on YPPSYS calculations for the 2009 season based primarily on NAYPPA as calculated from stats available at cfbstats.com and strength of schedule ratings according to the Massey Ratings. However, we tweak those stats in some cases. This week we have a "hybrid" selection based on stats and instinct. We make no warranties as to the truth or accuracy of our information. As always, we do this in good fun only - do not rely on our predictions for anything - and we disclaim any and all liability for any reliance upon our prognostications. Football is sport. May the best team win.

Note this week that there are a great number of games in which the home team is the underdog and that it is likely that the home team is going to win some of those games in upset fashion.

In Division I-A (FBS)

Wednesday September 30, 2009

Louisiana Tech is favored at home by 3.5 points over Hawaii. Our call: Hawaii by 33 points, 47-14. Result: Things again this week are starting vexatiously. Hawaii did not score a TD for the first time in 62 games and lost 27-6 as the Warriors were run over on the ground by the Bulldogs, including 160 yards rushing by Daniel Porter, who treated his offensive line to pizzas in the week prior ot the game. Daniel, play fair! ;-) Just imagine if Porter's appreciation of his offensive line were to spread as a model to backs at other colleges. We could just toss our predictions and prognostications right out the window. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 0-1 W-L in picking the winner and 0-1 against the spread.

Thursday October 1, 2009

West Virginia is favored at home by 17 points over Colorado. Our call: West Virginia by 38 points, 45-7. Result: The Buffaloes had 3 passes intercepted and were stymied by the Mountaineers, who lost 4 fumbles, 35-24, but gained the win behind 220 yards rushing by Noel Devine. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 1-1 W-L in picking the winner and 0-2 against the spread.

UAB is an underdog at home by 9 points (Oct. 2 line)againt Southern Miss. Our call: Southern Miss 34-17. Result: UAB won 30-17. It was the first time in 10 years that the Blazers had beaten the Golden Eagles. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 1-2 W-L in picking the winner and 0-3 against the spread.

Friday October 2, 2009

Louisville is an underdog at home by 6 points against Pittsburgh. Our call: Lousiville by 1 point, 24-23. Result: Pittsburgh won 35-10 after trailing at the half, 10-7, as the Panthers put up 6.6 yards per play to 4.4 for the Cardinals. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 1-3 W-L in picking the winner and 0-4 against the spread.

BYU is the favorite at home by 24 points against Utah State. Our call: BYU by 18 points, 45-27. Result:BYU won by 18, 35-17, as the Cougars put up 6.4 to 4.5 yards per play for the Aggies. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 2-3 W-L in picking the winner and 1-4 against the spread.

Saturday October 3, 2009

Marshall is an underdog at home by 2.5 points against East Carolina. Our call: Marshall by 6 points, 27-21. Result: East Carolina beat Marshall 21-17 as the Thundering Herd could not move the ball on the Pirates in the 4th quarter. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 2-4 W-L in picking the winner and 1-5 against the spread.

Michigan State is an underdog at home by 1 point against Michigan. Our call: Michigan State by 15 points, 35-20. Result: We hated to call this one for the Spartans, as we have a University of Michigan grad in the family, but we do not think the Rodriguez team is there yet. In a heartstopper, the Wolverines, down 20-6 to the Spartans with just a bit more than 4 minutes to play, scored two TDs behind the arm of quarterback Tate Forcier to tie the game, but Forcier was interecepted in overtime and Michigan State scored to win 26-20. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 3-4 W-L in picking the winner and 2-5 against the spread.

North Carolina is the favorite at home by 14 points against Virginia. Our call: North Carolina by 20 points, 41-21. Result: The previously winless Cavaliers turned in a stellar defensive performance, limiting the Tar Heels to 9 first downs and 173 yards total offense to win decisively on the road 16-3. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 3-5 W-L in picking the winner and 2-6 against the spread.

Iowa is the favorite at home by 21.5 against Arkansas State. Our call: Iowa by 9 points, 23-14. Result: The unbeaten Hawkeyes, coming off a big win over the Penn State Nittany Lions last week, struggled mightily to beat the Red Wolves 24-21. Iowa outgained Arkansas State 419 to 297 yards on total offense and 7.0 to 4.6 yards per play. It is interesting to compare the Iowa stats to the stats of the Red Wolves agains the Nebraska Cornhuskers, where the Huskers outgained Arkansas State 494 to 274 yards on total offense and 7.2 to 4.5 yards per play in winning 38-9. The YPPSYS stats based on net average yards per play advantage (NAYPPA) make the Huskers about 3 points better than Iowa on paper. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 4-5 W-L in picking the winner and 3-6 against the spread.

Syracuse is an underdog at home by 7.5 points against South Florida. Our call: South Florida by 20 points, 34-14. Result: The Bulls beat the Orange 34-20 as B.J. Daniels threw for 2 TDs. Syracuse QB Greg Paulus was intercepted 5 times. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 5-5 W-L in picking the winner and 4-6 against the spread.

Purdue is favored at home by 6.5 points over Northwestern. Our call: Purdue by 17 points, 34-17. Result: The Wildcats upended the Boilermakers 27-21, who put up more yards put could not put points on the scoreboard, giving up 5 fumbles. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 5-6 W-L in picking the winner and 4-7 against the spread.

Army is favored at home by 5.5 points over Tulane. Our call: Army by 6 points, 30-24. Result: The Green Wave surprised the Midshipmen, 17-16. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 5-7 W-L in picking the winner and 4-8 against the spread.

Maryland is an underdog at home by 14 points against Clemson. Our call: Clemson by 8 points, 28-20. Result: The Terrapins upset the Tigers, 24-21 in a battle of two evenly matched teams. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 5-8 W-L in picking the winner and 5-8 against the spread.

Duke is an underdog at home by 15.5 points against Virginia Tech. Our call: Virginia Tech by 12 points, 28-16. Result: The Virginia Tech pass defense is leaky, as the Duke passing game gave the Hokies all they could handle before the Blue Devils went down 24-16. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 6-8 W-L in picking the winner and 6-8 against the spread.

Minnesota at home is seen as even against Wisconsin. Our call: Minnesota by 6 points, 34-28. Result: The Badgers won 31-28. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 6-9 W-L in picking the winner and 6-9 against the spread.

Ball State is an underdog at home by 6 points against Toledo. Our call: Toledo by 25 points, 35-20. Result: Toledo was lucky to pull out the win in the last minute, 37-30, after trailing 30-29 with less than a minute to play. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 7-9 W-L in picking the winner and 7-9 against the spread.

Kentucky is an underdog at home by 16.5 points against Alabama. Our call: Alabama by 30 points, 44-14. Result: Alabama won 38-20. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 8-9 W-L in picking the winner and 8-9 against the spread.

Miami of Ohio is an underdog at home by 26.5 points against Cincinnati. Our call: Cincinnati by 28 points, 35-7. Result: Cincinnati won 37-13. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 9-9 W-L in picking the winner and 8-10 against the spread.

Eastern Michigan is an underdog at home by 4.5 points against Temple. Our call: Temple by 17 points, 27-10. Result: Temple won 24-12. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 10-9 W-L in picking the winner and 9-10 against the spread.

Georgia is favored at home by 1 point over LSU. Our call: Georgia by 7 points, 24-17. Result: LSU rallied in the last minute to win 20-13. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 10-10 W-L in picking the winner and 9-11 against the spread.

Stanford is favored at home by 4.5 points over UCLA. Our call: Stanford by 7 points, 21-14. Result: Stanford beat the Bruins 24-16. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 11-10 W-L in picking the winner and 10-11 against the spread.

Boston College is an underdog at home by 5.5 points against Florida State. Our call: Boston College by 14 points, 24-10. Result: Boston College won 28-21. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 12-10 W-L in picking the winner and 11-11 against the spread.

Iowa State at home is seen as even against Kansas State. Our call: Our stats also see this game as even. We go with the defense and call it for Kansas State 21-20. Result: Kansas State beat Iowa State 24-23. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 13-10 W-L in picking the winner and 12-11 against the spread.

Louisiana Monroe is favored at home by 2 points against Florida International. Our call: ULM by 30 points, 37-7. Result: The Warhawks won 48-35. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 14-10 W-L in picking the winner and 13-11 against the spread.

Wake Forest is favored at home by 1 point over North Carolina State. Our call: Wake Forest by 7 points, 24-17. Result: Wake Forest won 30-24. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 15-10 W-L in picking the winner and 14-11 against the spread.

Northern Illinois is favored at home by 6.5 points over Western Michigan. Our call: Result: Northern Illinois by 8 points, 35-27. Northern Illinois won 38-3. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 16-10 W-L in picking the winner and 15-11 against the spread.

Texas Tech is favored at home by 38 points over New Mexico. Our call: Texas Tech by 24 points, 45-21. Result: Texas Tech beat New Mexico 48-28. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 17-10 W-L in picking the winner and 16-11 against the spread.

Navy is favored at home by 2 points (Oct. 2 line) over Air Force. Our call: Air Force by 3 points, 31-28. Result: The game went into overtime and Navy won 16-13. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 17-11 W-L in picking the winner and 16-12 against the spread.

UCF is favored at home by 9.5 points over Memphis. Our call: UCF by 12 points, 21-9. Result: UCF won 32-14. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 18-11 W-L in picking the winner and 17-12 against the spread.

Notre Dame is favored at home by 13.5 points over Washington. Our call: Notre Dame by 9 points, 30-21. Result: The game went into overtime and the Fighting Irish won 37-30. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 19-11 W-L in picking the winner and 18-12 against the spread.

Illinois is an underdog at home by 6 points against Penn State. Our call: Penn State by 10 points, 31-21. Result: Penn State won 35-17. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 20-11 W-L in picking the winner and 19-12 against the spread.

Florida Atlantic is favored at home by 3 points over Wyoming. Our call: Wyoming by 4 points, 21-17. Result: Wyoming won 30-28. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 21-11 W-L in picking the winner and 20-12 against the spread.

Buffalo is an underdog at home by 10 points against Central Michigan. Our call: Buffalo by 2 points, 26-24. Result: Central Michigan won 20-13. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 21-12 W-L in picking the winner and 21-12 against the spread.

Bowling Green is favored at home by 3 points over Ohio. Our call: Our stats also see this game as even. We give the edge to Bowling Green 24-20. Result: Ohio won 44-37. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 21-13 W-L in picking the winner and 21-13 against the spread.

Nevada is favored at home by 4.5 points over UNLV. Our call: UNLV by 7 points, 35-28. Result: Nevada beat UNLV 63-28. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 21-14 W-L in picking the winner and 21-14 against the spread.

Baylor is favored at home by 22 points (Oct. 2 line) over Kent State has no official line yet. Our call: Baylor by 39 points, 46-7. Result: Baylor won 31-15. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 22-14 W-L in picking the winner and 21-15 against the spread.

South Carolina vs. South Carolina State has no official line. Our call: South Carolina by 45 points, 52-7. Result: South Carolina won 38-14 after a scoreless first quarter in which the overmatched Bulldogs showed battle prowess. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 23-14 W-L in picking the winner and 21-15 against the spread.

Indiana is an underdog at home by 17.5 points against Ohio State. Our call: Ohio State by 10 points, 20-10. Result: Ohio State won 33-14. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 24-14 W-L in picking the winner and 21-16 against the spread.

Vanderbilt is an underdog at home by 10.5 points against Mississippi. Our call: Mississippi by 3 points, 24-21. Result: Ole Miss won 23-7. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 25-14 W-L in picking the winner and 21-17 against the spread.

Arizona State is favored at home by 5 points over Oregon State. Our call: Arizona State by 7 points, 24-17. Result: Oregon State won 23-17. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 25-15 W-L in picking the winner and 21-18 against the spread.

Rice is an underdog at home by 13 points against Tulsa. Our call: Tulsa by 24 points, 38-14. Result: Tulsa won 27-10. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 26-15 W-L in picking the winner and 22-18 against the spread.

Mississippi State is an underdog at home by 6 points against Georgia Tech. Our call: Georgia Tech by 4 points, 21-17. Result: Georgia Tech won 42-31. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 27-15 W-L in picking the winner and 22-19 against the spread.

Texas A&M at home is seen as even with Arkansas. Our call: Texas A&M by 7 points, 30-23. Result: Arkansas blasted Texas A&M 47-19. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 27-16 W-L in picking the winner and 22-20 against the spread.

Tennessee is favored at home by 2 points over Auburn. Our call: Auburn by 2 points, 38-36. Result: Auburn won 26-22. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 28-16 W-L in picking the winner and 23-20 against the spread.

San Diego State is favored at home by 16.5 points over New Mexico State. Our call: San Diego State by 27 points, 44-17. Result: San Diego State won 34-17. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 29-16 W-L in picking the winner and 24-20 against the spread.

TCU is favored at home by 28 points over SMU. Our call: TCU by 27 points, 41-14. Result: TCU won 39-14. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 30-16 W-L in picking the winner and 25-20 against the spread.

Boise State vs. UC Davis has no official line. Our call: Boise State by 42 points, 45-3. Result: Boise State won 34-16. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 31-16 W-L in picking the winner and 25-20 against the spread.

California is an underdog at home by 6.5 points against USC. Our call: USC by 14 points, 31-17. Result: USC won 30-3. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 32-16 W-L in picking the winner and 26-20 against the spread.

UTEP is an underdog at home by 14.5 points against Houston. Our call: Houston by 31 points, 52-21. Result: Hard to believe this one. UTEP won over Houston 58-41 after Texas beat UTEP 64-7 the previous week, downing a Houston team that had just vanquished Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Sometimes the game of football has its own rules. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 32-17 W-L in picking the winner and 26-21 against the spread.

Oregon is favored at home by 31 points over Washington State. Our call: Oregon by 33 points, 47-14. Result: Oregon won 52-6. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 33-17 W-L in picking the winner and 27-21 against the spread.

Idaho is an underdog at home by 3.5 points against Colorado State. Our call: Idaho by 2 points, 30-28. Result: Idaho won 31-29. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 34-17 W-L in picking the winner and 28-21 against the spread.

Miami of Florida is an underdog at home by 6.5 points against Oklahoma. Our call: Oklahoma by 11 points, 38-27. Result: The Sooners without Bradford are shadows of yesteryear. Miami upset the Sooners 21-20 as Oklahoma took a meaningless field goal with 4th and 11 at the Miami 21 with 4:23 to play. If the coaches are not playing to win, you are going to lose, and deservedly so. W-L and Odds: For the week we are 34-18 W-L in picking the winner and 28-22 against the spread.

In Division I-AA (FCS)

undefeated (4-0) 2nd-ranked Villanova at home against undefeated (4-0) 5th-ranked William & Mary - we call it for William & Mary, 24-21. Villanova won 28-17.


In Division III

How many points will the top-ranked Mount Union Purple Raiders score against Baldwin-Wallace? - 52? Mount Union won 30-0. The Purple Raiders lost so much offensive firepower through graduation from last year's national champions, that they will only be able to repeat if the defense is able to hold the score of opponents down. It will be interesting to see how the magic of Larry Kehres develops in 2009 with a completely different team than in 2008.

In Division II

How many points will the up-and-coming and - this season - seemingly very dominant Ouachita Baptist Tigers score against the Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils? - 56? The Tigers fell on their tails and the Boll Weevils beat them 34-32 in a substantial upset.

How many points will the top-ranked Grand Valley State Lakers score against the thoroughly outclassed Tiffin Dragons? - 58? The Lakers won 47-21.

That's a special game in Allendale, Michigan, honoring the one-millionth fan. GVSU Football writes at its home page:

"... Grand Valley State athletics is celebrating the year of fan and Lubbers Stadium will host its one-millionth fan during the annual Family Day contest....

• "White Out" The Grand Valley State football team will wear white jerseys and white pants vs. Tiffin. The actual game worn jerseys will be available for purchase at the University Bookstore....

• The official "White Out" t-shirts are available for $9.95 at the University Bookstore. You can purchase the t-shirts in the University Bookstore or order them online at ubs.gvsu.edu. In store pickup and UPS shipping are available for online orders....

For ticket information call 616-331-3200 or go online at www.gvsulakers.com."

W-L and Odds: For the week we are 36-20 W-L in picking the winner and 28-22 against the spread.

For the year, after five weeks, we are thus far 204-76 W-L in picking the winner, including a number of games that had no official line, and we are now a 118-116-2 against the spread. This latter figure should improve progressively through the season via our YPPSYS system which is based primarily on yards per play and schedule difficulty, a system which becomes more accurate as the season wears on.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

College Football Game Predictions AND Results Week 4 2009 Season

Odds were posted according to the College Football Prediction Tracker, Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:04 AM. Predictions are based on YPPSYS calculations for the 2009 season based primarily on NAYPPA as calculated from stats available at cfbstats.com and strength of schedule ratings according to the Massey Ratings. However, we tweak those stats this week where we think it advisable, as it is still too early in the season to rely on stats alone, as our miserable prognostication record last week proved. This week we have a "hybrid" selection based on stats and instinct. We make no warranties as to the truth or accuracy of our information. As always, we do this in good fun only - do not rely on our predictions for anything - and we disclaim any and all liability for any reliance upon our prognostications. Football is sport. May the best team win.

Air Force is favored at home over San Diego State by 16 points. Our call: Air Force by 12 points, 30-18. According to cfbstats.com, Air Force ranks first in the nation in rushing offense with 344 yards per game and is going against an Aztec defense, much improved through coach Rocky Long, which is allowing 3.75 yards per play rushing, about average for FBS teams. The critical element for San Diego State is to get their passing game in gear against the Falcons, whereas, for the Falcons the starting QB was injured in the last game and is questionable to start. Result: Air Force won 26-14 but the Aztecs put up more total offense and held the Falcons to 243 yards rushing. They gave away the game via 4 intercepted passes and 2 fumbles for the loss, as Reggie Rembert returned one fumble for a score and interecepted two passes for Air Force. The Denverpost.com online has the final score erroneously as 26-8 [last consulted Sunday, September 27, 2009], obviously having gone to print before the last second TD of the Aztecs raised the score to 26-14. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 1-0 W-L in picking the winner and 1-0 against the spread.

Alabama is favored at home over Arkansas by 17.5 points. Our call: Our stats favor Alabama by 18 points not including the home field advantage, but the Razorbacks this year have a strong offense which ought to keep it close in spite of superior Crimson Tide personnel. We call it 38-35 for Alabama. The potent Razorback passing offense, ranked 2nd in the country behind Texas Tech in yards per game gives the Razorbacks the nationally 2nd-best team in total offense which is facing a Crimson Tide secondary that is not as good as the Alabama rushing defense, which ranks 2nd in the country in allowing only 42 yards per game, accounting for the Alabama rank as the 3rd-best team in the nation in total defense. Result: We saw this game and were very impressed by the Crimson Tide and very unimpressed by a disarrayed Razorbacks team as Alabama held Arkansas to 254 yards total offense and won easily 35-7, gaining 6.5 yards per play to a mere 3.8 yards per play for the Razorbacks, which by our stats makes Alabama the better team by 24 points, not counting the home field advantage, so that this result reflects the actual strength of both teams. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 2-0 W-L in picking the winner and 1-1 against the spread.

Arkansas State is favored at home over Troy State by 2 points. Our call: Arkansas State is favored in our stats by 13 points. We call it 27-14 for Arkansas State. Result: The Troy Trojans rolled up 507 yards total offens, 373 passing, and beat the Red Wolves 30-27. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 2-1 W-L in picking the winner and 1-2 against the spread.

Auburn is favored at home over Ball State by 32.5 points. Our call: Our stats favor Auburn by 31 points, but the Ball State defense is so weak that Gus Malzahn should have a field day. We call it 54-7 for Auburn. Auburn is ranked 8th in total offense this year and is facing the nation's 79th-ranked team in total defense. Result: The Tigers won 54-30, gaining a stupendous 8.5 yards per play to 3.9 for the Cardinals, who exposed some Auburn defensive weaknesses. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 3-1 W-L in picking the winner and 1-3 against the spread.

BYU is favored at home over Colorado State by 16.5 points. Our call: The official line is a relatively large spread for a game matching two undefeated teams. Our own stats favor BYU by only 7 points, including the home field advantage, 24-17. Result: BYU won 42-23, capitalizing on two interceptions and a blocked punt for TDs in the first quarter. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 4-1 W-L in picking the winner and 1-4 against the spread.

Boston College is favored at home over Wake Forest by 2.5 points. Our call: Boston College by 17 points, 20-3. The Eagles lead the nation in net average yards per play allowed by their defense, 2.8 yards per play, but still managed to lose to Clemson in their opener, 25-7. Result: Boston College won in overtime 27-24 in a very lucky win as Riliey Skinner tossed two TDs in the last 3:44 of the 4th quarter to send the game into extra play. Wake Forest dominated the game, gaining 7.5 yards per play to only 5.4 for the Eagles. It was a tragic loss for the Deamon Deacons. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 5-1 W-L in picking the winner and 2-4 against the spread.

Bowling Green is the underdog at home against Boise State by 17 points. Our call: Boise State by 14 points, 35-21. The Falcons offense fizzled in their last game against a weaker Marshall team after staying close in the previous game to a strong Missouri team. Result: Boise State rolled 49-14 averaging a sensational 8.8 yards per play to 3.8 for the Falcons. Who is going to keep this team from going undefeated during the regular season? We see no one in their schedule who will even come close. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 6-1 W-L in picking the winner and 2-5 against the spread.

Central Michigan is favored at home over Akron by 16 points. Our call: Central Michigan by 12 points, 31-19. Result: Central Michigan won 48-21. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 7-1 W-L in picking the winner and 2-6 against the spread.

Cincinnati is favored at home over Fresno State by 16 points. Our call: Cincinnati by 17 points, 38-21. Result: Cincinnati beat Fresno State 28-20 in a game in which the Bearcats had severe problems with Fresno State rushing, while outgaining the Bulldogs by an enormous 8.5 yards per play to only 5.3 yards per play, but stil being outgained in yardage as Fresno State ran 74 plays to only 42 for Cincinnati. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 8-1 W-L in picking the winner and 2-7 against the spread.

Clemson is favored at home over TCU by 1.5 points. Our call: TCU by 10 points, 21-10. Result: TCU won 14-10, as the Horned Frogs averaged 5.9 yards per play to 4.5 for the Tigers. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 9-1 W-L in picking the winner and 3-7 against the spread.

East Carolina is favored at home over Central Florida by 11.5 points. Our call: East Carolina by 3 points, 20-17. Result: East Carolina won 19-14, as the UCF Knights averaged 5.8 yards per play to the winning Pirates only 5.1 yards per play, a very poor statistic, considering they threw 41 passes. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 10-1 W-L in picking the winner and 4-7 against the spread.

Florida Atlantic is favored at home over Louisiana-Monroe by 4 points. Our call: Louisiana-Monroe by 3 points, 38-35. Our stats can lead to extreme results early in the season and sometimes need to be adjusted, otherwise they would make Monroe about a 3-TD favorite, which we thought is a bit extreme against an Atlantic team that has faced tough competition (ranked the toughest schedule thus far by Massey Ratings). Result: LA Monroe won 27-25. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 11-1 W-L in picking the winner and 5-7 against the spread.

Florida International is the underdog at home against Toledo by 1 point. Our call: Toledo by 14 points, 31-17. Result: Toledo won 41-31. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 12-1 W-L in picking the winner and 6-7 against the spread.

Florida State is favored at home over South Florida by 13.5 points. Our call: South Florida by 1 point, 31-30. Result: Hey, we called this win. Sometimes there is such a thing as destiny. South Florida won 17-7 in Tallahasee as Tallahasee hometown boy redshirt freshman QB B.J. Daniels, who used to live on the Seminole campus and whose father used to be the housing director at FSU, stepped in for injured starting QB Matt Grothe and carved himself a name in Florida history, as the Bulls beat one of the big three in Florida (Florida, Florida State, Miami of Florida) for the first time. Bruce Daniels, the father of B.J. is quoted at Fanhouse as saying about the event afterwards: "You can't even make this stuff up". W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 13-1 W-L in picking the winner and 7-7 against the spread.

Georgia is favored at home over Arizona State by 11 points. Our call: Georgia by 7 points, 30-23. Result: Georgia won 20-17 on a 37-yard field goal on the final play of the game as the Bulldogs gained 5.4 yards per play to only 3.4 yards per play by the Sun Devils. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 14-1 W-L in picking the winner and 8-7 against the spread.

Georgia Tech is favored at home over North Carolina by 2.5 points. Our call: North Carolina by 4 points, 21-17. Result: Georgia Tech won 24-7. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 14-2 W-L in picking the winner and 8-8 against the spread.

Houston is favored at home over Texas Tech by 1 point. Our call: Texas Tech by 1 point, 42-41. Result: Houston won 29-28, equalling the spread and showing that the Cougars are for real. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 14-3 W-L in picking the winner and 8-8-1 against the spread.

Iowa State is favored at home over Army by 10.5 points. Our call: Iowa State by 3 points, 24-21. Result: Iowa State won 31-10. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 15-3 W-L in picking the winner and 8-9-1 against the spread.

Kansas is favored at home over Southern Miss by 13 points. Our call: Kansas by 9 points, 43-34. Result: Kansas won 35-28. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 16-3 W-L in picking the winner and 9-9-1 against the spread.

Kent is favored at home over Miami (Ohio) by 7.5 points. Our call: Kent State by 7 points, 28-21. Result: Kent State won 29-19. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 17-3 W-L in picking the winner and 9-10-1 against the spread.

Kentucky is the underdog at home against Florida by 21.5 points. Our call: Florida by 24 points, 27-3. Result: Florida won 41-7 as the Gators put up 7.3 yards per play to the Wildcats 2.8. as Heisman-winning quarterback Tim Tebow was injured. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 18-3 W-L in picking the winner and 10-10-1 against the spread.

Maryland is the underdog at home against Rutgers by 1 point. Our call: Rutgers by 7 points, 24-17. Result: Rutgers won 34-13. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 19-3 W-L in picking the winner and 11-10-1 against the spread.

Memphis is favored at home over Marshall by 3.5 points. Our call: Marshall by 7 points, 30-23. Result: Marshall won 27-16. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 20-3 W-L in picking the winner and 12-10-1 against the spread.

Michigan is favored at home over Indiana by 21 points. Our call: Michigan by 17 points, 38-21. Result: Michigan won 36-33. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 21-3 W-L in picking the winner and 13-10-1 against the spread.

Mississippi State is the underdog at home against LSU by 13 points. Our call: LSU by 3 points, 24-21. Result: LSU won 30-26. Talk about a goal line stand to end the game as LSU held off what looked like a sure loss of the game, here is the play-by-play from ESPN:
"Mississippi State at 3:53 LSU MSST
1st and 10 at MSST 50 Tyson Lee rush for 6 yards to the LSU 44. 30 24
2nd and 4 at LSU 44 Christian Ducre rush for 11 yards to the LSU 33 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at LSU 33 Christian Ducre rush for 13 yards to the LSU 20 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at LSU 20 Christian Ducre rush for no gain to the LSU 20.
2nd and 10 at LSU 20 Tyson Lee pass incomplete to Chad Bumphis.
3rd and 10 at LSU 20 Anthony Dixon rush for 18 yards to the LSU 2 out-of-bounds for a 1ST down.
1st and Goal at LSU 2 Anthony Dixon rush for 1 yard to the LSU 1.
2nd and Goal at LSU 1 Timeout LSU, clock 01:22.
2nd and Goal at LSU 1 Anthony Dixon rush for no gain to the LSU 1.
3rd and Goal at LSU 1 Timeout LSU, clock 01:14.
3rd and Goal at LSU 1 Tyson Lee pass incomplete, broken up by Chad Jones.
4th and Goal at LSU 1 Tyson Lee rush for no gain to the LSU 1."
W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 22-3 W-L in picking the winner and 14-10-1 against the spread.

NC State
is seen as even at home against Pittsburgh - 0 points. Our call: Our stats also see this game as even, but the home field advantage gives our nod to NC State by 3 points, 27-24. Result: North Carolina State won 38-31. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 23-3 W-L in picking the winner and 15-10-1 against the spread.

Navy is favored at home over Western Kentucky by 29.5 points. Our call: Navy by 39 points, 49-10. Result: Navy won 38-22. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 24-3 W-L in picking the winner and 15-11-1 against the spread.

Nebraska is favored at home over Louisiana-Lafayette by 27 points. Our call: Nebraska by 35 points, 45-10, based on a 10-point home field advantage calculation. The Huskers ignominiously and impossibly lost to Virginia Tech last week in the final minutes in a hard-to-be-believed scenario of incompetence, so it is likely that they will take out their wrath on the Ragin' Cajuns, to little purpose. Only when the Cornhuskers show that they can again win against the big boys will the doubts of football analysts everywhere be stilled in judging that the Big Red has been resurrected, and that moment has not yet arrived, and may not arrive this season, given the timid offensive philosophy that marks the current coaching constellation, which could be labeled the "Cornflakes" offense and is a sad remnant of Callahan days. Result: The Huskers won 55-0, averaging 7.2 yards per play to the Ragin' Cajuns 3.5. Louisiana-Lafayette had lost 31-3 to LSU the week before. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 25-3 W-L in picking the winner and 16-11-1 against the spread.

Nevada is the underdog at home against Missouri by 7 points. Our call: Missouri by 17 points, 34-17. Result: Missouri won 31-21 as the Tigers averaged 6.6 yards per play to 4.9 for the Wolf Pack. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 26-3 W-L in picking the winner and 17-11-1 against the spread.

New Mexico is favored at home over New Mexico State by 10.5 points. Our call: New Mexico by 4 points 21-17. Result: New Mexico State won 20-17. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 26-4 W-L in picking the winner and 18-11-1 against the spread.

North Texas is the underdog at home against Middle Tennessee by 6.5 points. Our call: Middle Tennessee by 3 points, 27-24. Result: Middle Tennesse State won 37-21. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 27-4 W-L in picking the winner and 18-12-1 against the spread.

Northern Illinois is favored at home over Idaho by 16 points. Our call: Northern Illinois by 5 points, 30-24. Result: Idaho won 34-31. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 27-5 W-L in picking the winner and 19-12-1 against the spread.

Northwestern is favored at home over Minnesota by 2.5 points. Our call: Minnesota by 7 points, 31-24. Result: Minnesota beat Northwestern 35-24. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 28-5 W-L in picking the winner and 20-12-1 against the spread.

Ohio State is favored at home over Illinois by 14 points. Our call: Ohio State by 13 points, 34-21. Result: Ohio State shut out the Illini 30-0. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 29-5 W-L in picking the winner and 20-13-1 against the spread.

Oregon is the underdog at home against California by 5 points. Our call: Cal by 10 points, 34-24. Result: Oregon demolished Cal 42-3. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 29-6 W-L in picking the winner and 20-14-1 against the spread.

Oregon State is seen as even at home against Arizona. Our call: Our stats see Arizona as 20 points better but the Oregon State home venue is worth 10 points. Arizona by 10 points, 27-17. Result: Arizona beat Oregon State 37-32. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 30-6 W-L in picking the winner and 21-14-1 against the spread.

Penn State is favored at home over Iowa by 10 points. Our call: Penn State by 4 points, 21-17. This could be the battle of the day. Last year Iowa lost 4 games by a total of only 12 points. Our stats make the Nittany Lions 9 point favorites without the home field advantage of 12 points, but we can not see Iowa losing by more than a TD, if at all. Result: The Hawkeyes stunned the Nittany Lions 21-10. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 30-7 W-L in picking the winner and 22-14-1 against the spread.

Purdue is the underdog at home against Notre Dame by 7 points. Our call: Purdue by 2 points, 23-21. The Notre Dame defense is the weak link in the team. Result: Notre Dame won 24-21. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 30-8 W-L in picking the winner and 23-14-1 against the spread.

Rice is the underdog at home against Vanderbilt by 7.5 points. Our call: Vanderbilt by 24 points, 38-13. Result: Vanderbilt won 36-17. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 31-8 W-L in picking the winner and 24-14-1 against the spread.

South Carolina is the underdog at home against Mississippi by 4 points. Our call: South Carolina by 3 points, 27-24. Our stats see this game as even, not including the home field advantage, which gives the edge to the Gamecocks. Result: South Carolina won 16-10 in a game of two evenly matched teams. Result: W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 32-8 W-L in picking the winner and 25-14-1 against the spread.

Stanford is favored at home over Washington by 7 points. Our call: When one looks at the stats, it is impossible to see how the Huskies beat USC, and those same stats make the Cardinal a big favorite by about 24 points, even though one would normally expect a close game. We subjectively reduce the edge to 10 points and call it for Stanford by 10, 27-17. Result: Stanford won 34-14 as Toby Gerhart rushed for 200 yards on 27 carries. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 33-8 W-L in picking the winner and 26-14-1 against the spread.

Temple is favored at home over Buffalo by 3 points. Our call: Our stats favor Temple by 6 points without the home field advantage, i.e. 9 points total, but Buffalo is stronger than its stats indicate, as it gave the game away to Pittsburgh. Temple always seems to manage to lose to Turner Gill, so we call it for Buffalo, 27-24. Result: Temple beat Buffalo 37-13. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 33-9 W-L in picking the winner and 26-15-1 against the spread.

Tennessee is favored at home over Ohio by 22 points. Our call: Tennessee by 25 points, 32-7. The Vols played much too unimaginatively on offense against UCLA and Florida and lost those games, in spite of playing strong defensively. If Tennessee can get its offense rolling this year to match the tremendous improvement in defense, it will be tough to beat this team the rest of the year. Result: Tennessee won 34-23. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 34-9 W-L in picking the winner and 26-16-1 against the spread.

Texas is favored at home over UTEP by 36 points. Our call: Texas by 43 points, 49-7. Result: Texas won 64-7 after leading 47-7 at the half. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 35-9 W-L in picking the winner and 27-16-1 against the spread.

Texas A&M is favored at home over UAB by 13.5 points. Our call: Texas A&M by 21 points, 42-21. Result: Texas A&M won 56-19. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 36-9 W-L in picking the winner and 28-16-1 against the spread.

USC is favored at home over Washington State by 45.5 points. Our call: Ordinarily our stats would favor USC by 52 points, 59-7, but it is hard to favor this USC team by too many points as long as it is being inexplicably run by an allegedly "partying" quarterback who was certainly co-responsible for their loss against Washington. We initially favored USC for the national championship this year, but only with QBs like Barkley or Mustain at the helm. Has Pete Carroll lost his touch as he has gotten older? It could be. You do not lose to a team like Washington without some serious coaching issues. With Corp at the helm, we favor Washington State 7-6. Our call of 59-7 goes with Barkley and Mustain. Result: USC won 27-6 as Matt Barkley returned at QB to run the USC offense. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 37-9 W-L in picking the winner and 28-17-1 against the spread.

Utah is favored at home over Louisville by 14 points. Our call: our stats see this game as even, so we call the game by 3 points for the Utah home field advantage 27-24. Result: Utah won 30-14. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 38-9 W-L in picking the winner and 28-18-1 against the spread.

Virginia Tech is the underdog at home against Miami of Florida by 2 points. Our call: Miami of Florida by 14 points, 28-14. Nebraska should never have lost to the Hokies last week and it is unlikely that the Hurricane coaching staff will stumble as badly as the Husker coaching staff did against the coaching skills of Frank Beamer, who has less player talent to work with. Result: The Hokies annihilated the Hurricanes 31-7, with the Miami loss meaning that there are no undefeated ACC teams left after only a maximum of four games this season. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 38-10 W-L in picking the winner and 28-19-1 against the spread.

Wisconsin is favored at home over Michigan State by 3 points. Our call: Wisconsin by 4 points, 31-27. Result: Wisconsin beat Michigan State 38-30. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 39-10 W-L in picking the winner and 29-19-1 against the spread.

Wyoming is the underdog at home against UNLV 4 points. Our call: UNLV by 6 points, 30-24. Result: Wyoming won 30-27. W-L and Odds: Thus far this week we are 39-11 W-L in picking the winner and 29-20-1 against the spread.

After an unprecedentedly bad week in prognosticating against the spread last week by means of our YPSSYS yards per game and schedule difficulty system, it looked after the first nine games on this list as if things could get much worse, as we were 2-7 against the spread the first nine games. Thereafter, however, the leaf turned, and we were 27-12-1 against the spread the rest of the way, finishing at 39-11 in calling the winner and 29-20-1 against the spread. For the year, after four weeks, we are thus far 168-56 W-L in picking the winner, including a number of games that had no official line, but still negative 90-94-2 against the spread. This latter figure should improve as the season wears on and as the yards per play stats and schedule difficulty rankings become more accurate. [note the updated correction of the stats because of some previous errors]

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Sky is Falling : Chicken Little, Andre Kostolany and Tales of Poor Coaching at USC and Husker Nebraska or How to Lose Football Games Ignominously

Psychological studies have shown that the difference between a champion and an equally talented non-champion in athletic competition is the absence of fear in the champion, who plays to WIN and is not afraid of losing, while the non-champion is afraid of losing and plays not to lose. Hence, more often than not, the champion WINS and the non-champion LOSES.

Which sort of coach a football coach is, is easy to see by the way he coaches the game. In a college football game played on September 19, 2009, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, having the stronger team most of the day, managed to lose to Virginia Tech 16-15 in the closing seconds because of the NU coaching staff's fear of losing, which led to totally false game strategy and tactics. The Virginia Tech head coach, Frank Beamer, on the other hand, who has a very successful career record of WINNING, did what he needed to do to WIN. That's coaching!

For this Husker fan, the totally inexcusable and ignominious Husker 16-15 loss to Virginia Tech in the closing minutes and seconds is the tale of Chicken Little, struggling mightily not to lose, but LOSING in the end. Whoever calls the offensive plays at Nebraska and determines the offensive game strategy for the Huskers is not the right fit for the Cornhuskers. It is a gut feeling.

Against Virginia Tech, the Huskers did not score a touchdown, played like eggshells on offense the closer that they got to the goal line and were lucky to have the nation's best kicker in Alex Henery, who kicked 5 field goals. The Huskers, having many bonafide scoring opportunities, were unable to punch the ball into the end zone due to a bland uninventive scheme of playcalling on offense. It was awful.

And the Husker problems are deeper than that. Typical for things that are not right at Nebraska offensively is this play-by-play of the Huskers at the end of the 3rd quarter, leading 12-10, with a 1st and goal at the Virginia Tech 6-yard line:
1st-6, VT6 1:55 Neb committed 10 yard penalty [offensive holding]
1st-16, VT16 1:55 Neb committed 5 yard penalty
1st-21, VT21 1:55 Z. Lee incomplete pass to the left
2nd-21, VT21 1:43 Neb committed 10 yard penalty [offensive holding]
2nd-31, VT31 1:43 Z. Lee incomplete pass to the right
3rd-31, VT31 1:14 Neb committed 5 yard penalty
3rd-36, VT36 1:14 Z. Lee rushed to the left for 1 yard loss
4th-37, VT37 0:35 A. Henery punt, touchback
Is that what one calls home-field advantage? Virginia Tech had no penalties at all called upon it in the 2nd half. Indeed, one would have to research hundreds of thousands of games to find four penalties for 30-yards against the offensive team in that part of the red zone in that manner. If the penalties were justified - which must be assumed - that is offensive coaching at its worst, with that many penalties then being a product of poor offensive coaching leadership and most likely questionable playcalling, which - if instinctively wrong - subconsciously unnerves the players into avoidable mistakes or actively puts them into game positions where they are prone to errors. Either that, or the Hokies have been taught how to draw offensive holding penalites in the red zone. You have to think of everything. NU has a history of losing to the Hokies because of penalties. A bad penalty call on Nebraska turf probably cost the Huskers the win last year. The coaches hold the players responsible for such penalties, but in reality, the ultimate cause is poor coaching in a given game situation.

Things like this do not happen to Urban Meyer.

Leading 15-10 with 2 minutes to play, here is the play-by play, Nebraska possession:
Nebraska - 2:07
1st-10, VT46 2:07 R. Helu rushed up the middle for 2 yard gain
2nd-8, VT44 2:03 Z. Lee rushed to the right for 3 yard gain
3rd-5, VT41 1:56 Z. Lee rushed to the right for 4 yard gain
4th-1, VT37 1:51 A. Henery punt, no return
Virginia Tech - 1:44
1st-10, VT12 1:44 Neb committed 5 yard penalty
1st-5, VT17 1:44 T. Taylor sacked by J. Crick
2nd-6, VT16 1:20 T. Taylor passed to D. Coale to the right for 81 yard gain
1st-3, Neb3 1:11 T. Taylor sacked by M. O'Hanlon
2nd-11, Neb11 0:35 T. Taylor incomplete pass to the right
3rd-11, Neb11 0:33 T. Taylor passed to D. Roberts to the right for 11 yard touchdown. 2pt attempt failed, T. Taylor pass to D. Roberts
Virginia Tech - 0:21
VT kicked off, R. Burkhead returned kickoff for 18 yards
Nebraska - 0:18
1st-10, Neb15 0:18 Neb committed 5 yard penalty
1st-15, Neb10 0:12 R. Carmichael intercepted Z. Lee for 6 yards
With 1:51 left in the game Nebraska had a clear chance to seal the game by going for 1st down on a 4th and 1 at the Virginia Tech 37-yard line or by trying to kick a field goal, within Henery's proven long-distance range. If the first down is made, the game is over - i.e. the WIN was a heartbeat away - for the courageous. The defense had been playing so well that even if either of these options had not been successful, little in terms of field position vs. a punt would have been lost, and the defense would surely have then been fired up enough to hold the Hokies back, who needed a touchdown to win and had to go the length of the field.

Instead, the Huskers played the coward's card and punted: 4th-1, VT37 1:51 A. Henery punt, no return, giving Virginia Tech the option to win -if they so desired, and they took it. The Hokies "smelled" the Husker fear of losing, for nothing else can explain what happened then, as the Hokie quarterback passed for 81 yards and then for 11 yards for the TD. The "fear of losing" Husker defense gave the Hokie quarterback NINE seconds to find a receiver on the touchdown pass. The offense is usually happy if the QB gets 3 seconds. Those are grievous coaching faults. Players have to know what to do and what not to do in critical game situations. That is the coaching staff responsibility.

Are the Huskers back? No, they are not, and their return is unlikely with the current offensive coaching coordination or the vulnerable strategy of a Chicken Little defense when the chips are down. Things like that do not happen to Urban Meyer. Nebraska deserved to lose because they did not play to WIN.

On a different note, by the way, a similar deserved fate befell the Trojans of USC as USC lost ignominiously to Washington 16-13, a team that went 0-11 in 2008.

Throughout the game, USC stuck with its opening - very ineffective - quarterback and an equally ineffective offensive game plan going nowhere, under the motto that a pre-game QB decision and game strategy would by followed, regardless of the actual game progress.

Why the USC offensive coordination did not at least try a different quarterback when clearly needed to shake up their own offense and opposing defense is anybody's guess. Apparently, they were hoping things would improve. They did not - and there is a reason for this.

Coaching football is like investing. The late great German investment guru André Kostolany wrote that there was one significant difference between a successful professional investor like himself and less successful other investors. Most investors, said Kostolany, too early sold their good investments for a profit to take their gains (for fear of losing them) whereas a professional investor like himself would hold on to such good investments for a much longer period of time and thus make a much greater profit.

Similarly, said Kostolany, a top investor like himself would get rid of a bad investment quickly, taking a loss soberly, whereas the average investor would stick to that bad investment (for fear of losing money) much longer in the foolish hope that the losses already incurred would be recovered, which they often are not. In fact, more losses often follow.

When things are not working, they should be changed immediately.

Hoping and waiting for improvement where there is no good reason to expect it is the fool's strategy. Sticking with a quarterback choice or a game strategy when it is not working is a cardinal error in coaching and top coaches can be spotted by their ability to stick with winning strategies and tactics when winning and their ability to QUICKLY change and adjust their strategies and tactics when losing. Right now, as far as offensive and defensive coordination at USC are concerned, the winners went to Washington.

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