Monday, August 29, 2016

Picking Big 12 games against the spread

Last year I publicly humiliated myself by trying to pick some Big 12 games against the spread. I've decided to try and again with the week one games so that you can all marvel at how brilliant I am or else point and laugh at how horribly off my selections end up being. History says the latter is more likely, I guess we'll see.

Part of the problem last year is that when you don't actually bet and you just make picks for ignore home and away and take bad chances. I'm not going to change the part about betting, I think gambling is a foolish vice, but I'll try and make more measured picks and see what happens.

Baylor vs Northwestern (no line)

Obviously the Bears gonna roll the whatever NW St's mascot is's.

Pick: Baylor will win, can't guess against the line obviously.

Oklahoma -10 at (ish) Houston

Everyone's models on Oklahoma are based on what they did last year against a schedule that was decimated by injuries. Meanwhile the Sooners played four opponents a year ago that relied heavily on the QB run game: Tennessee, Texas, K-State, and Clemson. They went 2-2 in those games and looked out-toughed in the losses and vulnerable to the QB run game in every contest save for against the Wildcats.

This game is going to be a very useful barometer for whether the Sooners can match the hype this year or if they are still vulnerable to A) solid teams that aren't missing their QB or B) the QB run game. In a few weeks they'll face another barometer of whether they can hang with teams that also have elite talent (Ohio State).

In the meantime, I'm not giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Pick: Oklahoma wins but fails to cover.

Kansas State +15 at Stanford

Boy is that ever a lot of points for a team that's replacing their QB facing another team that normally overachieves but were devastated by injuries a year ago. It kinda looks like the oddsmakers just said, "okay so Arkansas beat KSU by 22 points and Stanford basically = Arkansas so..."

Stanford does return McCaffrey and will be playing from the comfort of their own stadium. It'll also help the Cardinal a great deal to have extra time to prepare for the Wildcat offense, which is pretty unique in college football. All that said, I think the markets currently (almost perpetually, really) undervalue K-State.

Pick: Stanford wins, fails to cover.

West Virginia -9.5 vs Missouri

Amongst my various non-consensus takes on the coming season is my firm belief that West Virginia is overrated and won't survive their grievous losses on defense from graduation/injury. Meanwhile, Missouri is probably going to be pretty good on defense and can't possibly be that bad again on offense with Drew Lock now solidly entrenched as the starter in a new system.

At the very least it seems unlikely that West Virginia's offense will be able to drop enough points to cover that spread but I think Missouri might actually have the better team.

Pick: Missouri wins outright

Oklahoma State vs Southeastern Louisiana (no line)

Only interesting thing here will be whether the Cowboys can run the ball or not. Last year doing so even against lower level competition was a real struggle.

Pick: Pokes roll

Kansas vs Rhode Island (no line)

I pause here to remind everyone that Kansas hasn't won a football game yet for David Beaty...people this could be it.

Pick: Celebration in Lawrence!

Texas +3.5 vs Notre Dame

Wow, the money must be pouring in on Notre Dame to give Texas that many points. I'll preview this one over at Inside Texas but I think most of the decisive match-ups in this game are either draws or favor the Irish save perhaps for Sterlin Gilbert vs Brian VanGorder.

Both of the possible Notre Dame starters at QB would start at Texas, for instance. That seems likely to have an impact on this game.

Pick: Notre Dame covers

The rest of the games aren't even worth mentioning. What do y'all think?


  1. I obviously agree that OU will tested by Ward as he gave everyone fits last year. Houston's WR's are dinged up so OU may play a lot of man and spy him. Limiting him to one big run and no big passes should be the goal.

    This will also be a good test of OU's running game. The Cougars front is strong and will challenge OU's preferred strategy of handing the ball to Perine 25 times.

    Regardless of what Herman says, this is a huge game for their program. Win on Saturday, and they basically have another CFP bowl sewn up AT LEAST. Therefore, OU winning by any margin is a big win and sets up an epic game in Norman with Ohio St.

    1. I'm sure OU will play man and that may very well work out, but if UH is willing to run Ward a lot it'll still come down to some mano y mano in the trenches. Who's going to spy him? Parker?

      I'd agree the scariest possibility in this game for OU is that Houston's movement oriented front mucks up their still-gelling O-line and prevents the run game from getting going.

      I'm sure Herman and Stoops are both all-in on this game. I bet Stoops is privately annoyed that what should have been a nice tune-up could instead be a battle royale. They've already got one of those coming down the pipe...

  2. RE: spy --> Parker, W Johnson, or Caleb Kelly.

    OU's first five games include four teams I think will end up in the top 20 and two that are legitimate CFP candidates.

    S&P and FPI both vastly underrate UT, Houston, TCU, and Ohio St. I'd put the win probabilities for these games at 70, 70, 50, and 50, respectively.

    1. I don't think Willy J will be the spy, has to be someone that doesn't already have a primary coverage responsibility, so a safety or a linebacker. I think Evans or Parker are the best options, maybe Thomas but I don't know if I'd trust him.

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