theknightswhosay

Archive for October, 2016|Monthly archive page

Week 10 Top 25 and Comments

In College Football, College Football Playoff, General LSU, History, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 30, 2016 at 5:11 PM

Housekeeping

I haven’t been been doing my weekend blog with everything going on with the election. I don’t want to say anything about my political leanings here, although I would mention that since 1984 the LSU/Alabama game has corresponded with the party that won the presidential election. When a Republican won, LSU beat Alabama; and when a Democrat won, Alabama beat LSU. For more on the series see here and this is a list of other related blogs.

LSU-Alabama Rivalry since 2000.

LSU-Alabama Rivalry since 2000.

Anyway, my weekly schedule may change slightly if I have a reaction to the first College Football Playoff rankings, which will be released on Tuesday afternoon. If I post on Tuesday, I most likely will not post on Wednesday. One reason I’m posting today is so the blogs can be more spread-out.

Contrast with Other Rankings

I usually ignore the polls, but I think there are some important things to address with the losses that took place over the weekend.

Apparently, because some teams lost, Nebraska essentially gets a mulligan. The best team the Huskers have beaten is Wyoming, but they stay in the top 10 despite a loss. I can’t even take that seriously. LSU lost to Wisconsin by 2 points and fell 16 spots, but now losing a close game to Wisconsin is like losing to Alabama I guess despite the Badgers’ two losses.

Other than now-#22 (my #30) Oklahoma St., Baylor has beaten NO ONE and now has a loss to a Texas team that didn’t even get a single top 25 vote THIS WEEK. But the Bears stay 13th.

I understand Western Michigan being a lot lower than I have them because for me they’ll keep going down while for the polls (assuming wins) they’ll keep going up despite not having any tough opponents coming up, whereas the only way a team like Baylor, West Virginia, or Nebraska fails to get quality wins in the coming weeks is if they lose again and fall below Western Michigan anyway. Nebraska might have to lose twice though.

I’m hoping the college football rankings exercise some greater degree of sense, but I suspect they’ll give the three Power-5 teams I just mentioned the benefit of the doubt more than they deserve.

Discussion of My Rankings

I didn’t have the time and energy to look it up for my last rankings blog, but I wanted to mention that last week is the first time Colorado has been ranked in my top 25 since September 30, 2007. The Buffs finished that season 6-7 after losing to Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide in the Independence Bowl.

Colorado QB Cody Hawkins throws a pass in the upset of Oklahoma in September 2007.

Colorado QB Cody Hawkins throws a pass in the upset of Oklahoma in September 2007.

Due to the large number of losses, Colorado just barely remains in the top 25 this week despite the bye.

As I anticipated, Alabama remained #1 despite the Clemson win (while the Tide was idle). It also helped Bama that USC and Kent St. won.

Clemson had another close call, but being that the game was on the road, this does nothing to diminish how many points they get. I only lower the reward or penalty if the home team wins a close game (defined as overtime or within 3 points) since home field accords an advantage or about 3 points. The Tigers were just too far behind to surpass the Tide in one week.

Ohio St. won of course, but it also helped that Wisconsin (the Buckeyes’ best win) won. Texas A&M’s best win had been Tennessee, which lost. The Aggies also didn’t gain very much by beating New Mexico St.

Western Michigan fell two spots during the bye week, but this fall will probably continue as the Broncos will play the lower-rated MAC teams in the coming weeks.

Tennessee still has the best schedule, which is why they remain so high; and again, it also helps that so many other teams lost.

The Power-5 teams between 7 and 21 are well-positioned to move up into the top 5 or top 10 with quality wins. I don’t have some vendetta against the teams in that range, but some of them haven’t played the better teams in their respective conferences yet.

One example was Washington, who hadn’t really played anyone before this week. But they beat a good team this week, so they move up. Baylor lost to a mediocre team, so they remain un-ranked. The Bears still have chances for quality wins though.

Boise St. is another team that I expect will fall in the coming weeks since the Broncos do not play anyone better than #100 Hawaii until November 25.

Boise St. was upset by Wyoming, which as I mentioned played Nebraska earlier in the season. So this is one reason why the Huskers didn’t fall lower.

The conference standings tightened because Minnesota joined the top 40 while the number of SEC teams in the top 40 remained the same. Arkansas fell out as a result of its bye week, but Kentucky moved into the top 40.

South Carolina’s upset of Tennessee also hurt the SEC because it knocked the Vols out of the top 10 but did not add South Carolina to the top 40 (the Gamecocks are now #50). It may increase the number of bowl-eligible SEC teams when we get to that point though.

The ACC was hurt slightly by Clemson’s win over Florida St. since it knocked the Seminoles out of the top 25, while a loss may have put both in the top 10. Also, Wake Forest loss to Army, which took the Demon Deacons out of the top 40.

Top 25

rank/team/prev
1 Alabama 1
2 Clemson 2
3 Michigan 3
4 Ohio St. 8
5 Texas A&M 5
6 W. Michigan 4
7 Penn St. 10
8 Washington 17
9 Boise St. 6
10 Louisville 9
11 Tennessee 7
12 Wisconsin 18
13 Auburn 15
14 Nebraska 11
15 Houston 21
16 Virginia Tech —
17 Wash. St. 20
18 Florida 23
19 Oklahoma 19
20 South Florida —
21 West Virginia 13
22 N. Carolina 12
23 App. St. 25
24 Utah 14
25 Colorado 22

All 128 teams

Out of rankings: (16) Florida St., (24) Navy

Advertisements

SEC Wednesday #9

In College Football, General LSU, SEC Wednesdays on October 26, 2016 at 5:36 PM

Last Week

The line I saw had Alabama favored by 19 even, so I guess that’s the first tie. There were some bookies that had Alabama a 19.5-point favorite briefly, but I’m not going to claim that I decided based on that.

I was right about UMass again. I guess people just keep looking at their record and figuring they’ll get blown out. It seems like someone would catch on. Sometimes I wish I lived in Las Vegas.

I got Missouri clearly wrong. I knew they might allow some points, but I’m a bit shocked by how many. Vanderbilt scored 47 against the Blue Raiders, and the Commodores usually have a much less productive offense than the Tigers, so I thought Mizzou could win a shootout by at least a touchdown.

Arkansas keeps me guessing too. I didn’t think Auburn was that much better than Ole Miss, but sometimes Auburn just knocks you down early and keeps going. That happened to LSU a couple of years ago on the Plains. I was confident Auburn was going to lose another conference game after they beat LSU, but now I’m less confident. If someone manages to beat Alabama, we could have a very interesting SEC West race.

I beat the spread either way with Kentucky, but it was nice to be right about the win as well when the Wildcats hit the winning field goal. Some LSU fans wanted to hire Dan Mullen a couple of years ago, but he’s having all kinds of trouble this season. The Bulldogs were lucky to even have a chance to win really, because Kentucky had a first and goal up 10 in the fourth quarter before a fumble was returned all the way to the other end zone for a State touchdown.

I’m going to be interested to see how many SEC teams can make bowl games. Kentucky and Vanderbilt are only two wins away from bowl eligibility apiece. It’s not looking good for Mississippi St. or Missouri, but South Carolina might still have a chance.

Vanderbilt won. It wasn’t pretty, but it counts as a win. I don’t pick a line for FCS opponents.

Once again, I felt pretty good about my LSU pick at halftime. I guess I’ll have to take the points in two weeks, although I certainly lived to regret doing that with Alabama last year. LSU and Alabama have each beaten the game-time spread in three consecutive games.

I didn't get a shot of the live stats, but this was the peak of Fournette's yards per carry on a school-record-breaking night.  This is also potentially relevant to the Ole Miss-Auburn game next week.

I didn’t get a shot of the live stats, but this was the peak of Fournette’s yards per carry on a school-record-breaking night. This is also potentially relevant to the Ole Miss-Auburn game next week.

I’m not shocked that LSU had some long TD plays, but I am shocked that we shut them out in the second half. Last year was so brutal when they had the ball, and having watched the Alabama game, I knew they were capable again this year. We were lucky to hold them to field goals a couple of times in the first half. I don’t know where our second half on defense came from, but maybe it’s the new practice schedule. We are much fresher in the late third and early fourth quarter than we used to be. (I don’t know about the late fourth since the second string was in, but I’m guessing we’ll see next game.)

So I was 2-3-1 against the spread. The only winner I didn’t get was Middle Tennessee, so 6-1 in that category. My records are now 59-11 and 28-32-1 against the spread.

SEC WED

Next Week

I think Kentucky has been playing with a bit of an edge, and Missouri has been playing poorly, so I don’t understand Missouri being favored by 5.5. Like last week, I’m going to take the points and Kentucky to win. All of Kentucky’s SEC wins have been close, so I don’t expect it to be a runaway though.

Florida is favored by 7.5 against Georgia. Georgia has been very up and down, but I think they play up and down depending on the opponent. I’m taking the Bulldogs and the points, but I guess Florida is more likely to win.

I’m picking Mississippi St. to beat Samford, but it could be close. Samford plays in a good FCS conference and is 6-1. No line.

Ole Miss is playing at home, and of course that’s an advantage. I don’t think they stay within 4.5 points of Auburn though. I don’t think Auburn accomplishes anything close to last week, but winning by 7 or more seems very likely. Before LSU, Ole Miss lost to Arkansas, Auburn’s victim last week. Auburn may not have someone to run for 70 yards at a time (although WR Eli Stone did run for 78 in one play), but I don’t see the Rebel defensive front showing up all of a sudden to stop all the weapons Auburn has on the ground.

Auburn RB Kamryn Pettway runs over an Arkansas defender on the way to the goal line.  Pettway rushed for 192 of the Tigers' 543 rushing yards on Saturday.

Auburn RB Kamryn Pettway runs over an Arkansas defender on the way to the goal line. Pettway rushed for 192 of the Tigers’ 543 rushing yards on Saturday.

Georgia won @ South Carolina by 14, albeit after running back an onsides kick after a touchdown. I don’t see why Tennessee shouldn’t do as well or better after a bye week. The line is 13.5.

It’s really hard to judge the Texas A&M/New Mexico St. line of 43.5. The NMSU Aggies aren’t good, but I think they’re a good bit better than Prairie View, which lost 67-0. (Prairie View is an A&M school as well; this is all very confusing.) I expect the margin of victory to be somewhere between the 21 points by which TAMU beat Arkansas and the 67 points by which they beat Prairie View; but that doesn’t help, so I have to look more at the opponent.

Since upsetting New Mexico and nearly beating the 19.5-point spread against Kentucky, NMSU has had a couple of bad losses, to Troy by 46 and to Idaho by 32. So my guess is TAMU will beat the spread even though there are a variety of things than can stop a team from winning by over 40. Recent years don’t always help, but I think it’s also instructive that NMSU lost to Florida by 48 and Ole Miss by 45 last year. Also, LSU won by 56 two years ago. For perspective, LSU only scored 10 points in their win over Ole Miss that season.

Week 9 Top 25 and Comments

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 24, 2016 at 5:17 PM

This blog is mostly about the rankings, but I wanted to mention I have updated the LSU/Ole Miss Rivalry blog. LSU earned its 40th win over Ole Miss in Baton Rouge and 60th in the series overall. I hadn’t fully updated it after the last two games, so the last few paragraphs are new. Also, it’s not too early to check out the Alabama Rivalry page.

Western Michigan and Washington (and Baylor)

I know the obvious first criticism a lot of people will have is Western Michigan is in the top 4 and Washington is not even in the top 15.

I’ll talk about Western Michigan first. The only other team that has won 8 games so far is Alabama, and as I’ll get to in the next section, Alabama is such a clear #1 that in all likelihood they’ll be able to take a week off and stay #1. So despite Western Michigan’s having beaten two Big Ten opponents, there is still a significant gap in reward for playing a top schedule.

One of Western Michigan’s weakest wins was over FCS opponent North Carolina Central, but that’s a good FCS opponent. So when some teams would have taken a hit in points for playing an FCS opponent, that didn’t happen here.

Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell led the Broncos to their third consecutive Michigan MAC trophy with the win over Eastern Michigan.

Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell led the Broncos to their third consecutive Michigan MAC trophy with the win over Eastern Michigan.

Although the MAC has several teams that are in the bottom fourth of FBS football, the Broncos have not played many of the particularly weak opponents on their schedule yet. Not to worry though because they don’t play an opponent in the top 100 for the next month, so their point total will not increase very substantially. This will give other teams, particularly those in power conferences, plenty of opportunity to pass them up.

Normally a team like this doesn’t get so high in the first place, but (along with the front-loaded schedule) things happen. They would be a spot lower if Penn St. doesn’t block a field goal and return it for a touchdown against Ohio St. They would be a spot lower if Tennessee scores a touchdown in the first overtime instead of a field goal against Texas A&M.

It’s also worth noting that if you control for number of playing weeks, Boise St. and Texas A&M would both be ahead of Western Michigan. That imbalance will be corrected when the Broncos have a bye nest weekend.

As for Washington, they did play a non-conference game against a Power-5 opponent, but it was Rutgers, one of the worst Power-5 teams. The Huskies’ best win is over Stanford, but that’s by far their best win; and Stanford has two other losses. The second-best win was over Idaho. Third-best was 2-5 Arizona, which has only a single win over an FBS opponent.

I’m convinced that the 16 teams ahead of Washington would also be undefeated against that schedule so far, and I suspect several others would be as well. Basically, it would be anyone who would beat Stanford and have some reasonable level of consistency apart from that.

Western Michigan wins: #55, #57, #62, #68, #70, #99, #115. As I mentioned, they also beat North Carolina Central, which is undefeated (5-0) against FCS opponents and has also lost to Duke.

Even if a good team has an 80% chance to beat numbers 55 to 70 and a 95% chance to beat the other three, that team would only have a 28% chance of going undefeated thus far.

Washington wins: #33, #73, #90, #95, #98, #108. The FCS opponent, Portland St., is only 1-3 within the FCS and also has a loss to San Jose St.

So Western Michigan has beaten five teams that are better than Washington’s second-best win. Washington’s third-best win is only marginally better than Western Michigan’s sixth-best win. I add in FCS games differently, but it’s possible that the latter should be the seventh-best win.

However, unlike Western Michigan, Washington’s schedule the rest of the way is pretty tough. It’s not SEC West, ACC Atlantic, or Big Ten East tough; but @Utah, @Cal, USC, Arizona St., @Washington St. isn’t something against which many teams would go undefeated.

If you were wondering about Baylor, the Bears also only have one win over a top-70 team, but in their case it’s #47 Oklahoma St. Baylor has played 3 teams ranked #119 or worse and has a win over FCS team Northwestern St., which has no wins over any Division I opponent.

#1 This Week and Next

Back to Alabama, the Tide gained about 0.18 in points for beating an undefeated team with a top schedule in Texas A&M. Since Clemson actually lost points during its bye week (I’ll give other examples of how you’re at the mercy of prior opponents during a bye week), the Tide has an advantage of almost 0.20.

Alabama's Jonathan Allen helped put Texas A&M away by returning a fumble for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Alabama’s Jonathan Allen helped put Texas A&M away by returning a fumble for a touchdown in the third quarter.

So even if Clemson beats Florida St. (which has had a very good schedule as well), giving a team its third loss doesn’t help you at as much as giving a team its first loss. Unless it’s just a terrible day for Alabama’s previous opponents and a great day for Clemson’s, I don’t think it’s possible for Alabama go get passed up.

Michigan plays Michigan St., which isn’t a big opportunity for points.

Bye Weeks, Florida, and North Texas

Most teams do lose ground during bye weeks. Tennessee fell one spot, but when you get in an area where the teams are packed closer together, you can fall six spots like Florida St. did. Of course it also depends on teams around you and prior opponents.

Florida actually gained ground as Stanford, Arkansas, and South Florida all lost. The Gators were also assisted by wins by North Texas and to a lesser extent Vanderbilt. They also had prior opponents who lost, but sometimes an opponent with fewer wins has its point total increase more rapidly with a win. For instance, Alabama’s quality as an opponent didn’t change as much because Alabama’s winning percentage didn’t change.

North Texas’s quality as an opponent more than doubled. The Mean Green got a quality win over Army, and the two other teams who had beaten them had huge wins (for them anyway). SMU beat Houston, and Middle Tennessee beat Missouri.
Anyway, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest also had byes, but since none of their prior opponents’ ratings improved so much, they were also passed by Florida.

SEC

So the SEC reclaimed its #1 spot in my conference standings and also has the best average ranking. There are now 5 SEC teams in the top 25, 7 SEC teams in the top 40, and 11 SEC teams in the top half of FBS (or top 64). The ACC has more top-40 teams with 8, but half of them are not in the top 25.
LSU is still not in the top 25, but I suspect the Tigers would make it in with a win over Alabama in two weeks.

Arkansas is also idle next week, so it’s possible Arkansas and/or LSU could fall out of the top 40 simply as a result of not playing. On the other hand, losses in the 35 to 50 range are not uncommon, so they could also get lucky and move up slightly. Arkansas’s next opponent is Florida (who plays Georgia in Jacksonville this weekend), and then the Hogs play LSU.

Top 25

rank/team/prev
1 Alabama 1
2 Clemson 2
3 Michigan 4
4 W. Michigan 7
5 Texas A&M 3
6 Boise St. 8
7 Tennessee 6
8 Ohio St. 5
9 Louisville 14
10 Penn St. 16
11 Nebraska 11
12 N. Carolina 12
13 West Virginia 15
14 Utah 17
15 Auburn 23
16 Florida St. 10
17 Washington 13
18 Wisconsin —
19 Oklahoma 19
20 Wash. St. 24
21 Houston 9
22 Colorado —
23 Florida —
24 Navy 21
25 App. St. —

All 128 teams

Out of rankings: (18) Pittsburgh, (20) Stanford, (22) Arkansas, (25) South Florida

SEC Wednesday #8

In College Football, Preview, Rankings, SEC Wednesdays on October 19, 2016 at 3:45 PM

Please see here for my blog about the LSU-Ole Miss series, the second-longest football series for LSU.

Last Week

I had almost no luck this week. There is usually one week that just wipes me out, and this might be it this year.

I was glad that Mississippi St. was supposed to lose by more than a touchdown according to most spreads, because I almost got tripped up by the overtime thing again. Of course I’m not so glad I got 0 right on Saturday.

My LSU pick looked good after the first half, but then this happened in the first 13 minutes of the second half (not that as a fan I’m complaining)…

lsu

I slept through the game, so I don’t know how Vandy beat Georgia, but I guess it’s just Georgia’s ridiculous habit of playing down to their opponents. On second thought, I shouldn’t have given UGA credit for beating South Carolina by 14 since they only managed to do it by running back an onsides kick.

Florida did the same thing against Missouri and also scored two defensive touchdowns. A 19-14 final score would have been just about right in that one.

I don’t know what it is about Arkansas that gives Ole Miss so much trouble that even a week off doesn’t allow them to prepare for. I just hope it carries over into the next game unlike last season (although the difference last season was Ole Miss had a bye week between Arkansas and LSU, and LSU was the one to play Arkansas the week before).

My records fall to 53-10 and 26-29.

SEC WED

Next Week

The pollsters seem to think last week is a prediction of next week, but I don’t always buy that. For instance, I don’t think it’s likely that Alabama will win by nearly three touchdowns over Texas A&M just because they beat Arkansas and Tennessee more easily than predicted. I think if anything it’s harder to do it again after having that much success two weeks in a row. I think these are both legitimate top 5 teams (I don’t think Tennessee was necessarily, especially given what happened to Georgia), so I’m pretty skeptical of that. I do think it will be awfully tough for A&M to win that one on the road though.

This is how the Alabama season has gone: won by way more than expected, won by slightly more than expected, won by much less than expected, won by more than expected, won by less than expected, won by more than expected, won by more than expected. They haven’t won by more than expected three weeks in a row yet.

UMass hasn’t beaten much of anyone, but they usually make a respectable showing of themselves, as they did against Florida and Mississippi St. I don’t know if South Carolina would beat anyone but the worst FBS teams by 3 touchdowns.

Middle Tennessee lost to Vanderbilt by a lot, and I don’t think Vanderbilt is a lot better than Missouri. The Tigers have had a rough few weeks, but they usually find their offense out of conference. If Vandy can score 47 against this team, Missouri can score over 60. Mizzou might allow 40, but they should cover the 6.5.

If two teams are equal, the road team should lose by about a field goal. I’m really unclear on why Auburn is clearly better than Arkansas, so I’ll take Arkansas and the points, which is what I should have done last week.

Apart from the second game and the last few minutes against LSU in the third game, Mississippi St. has not played very well, while Kentucky has played better than I expected. I’m going to take Kentucky to win and with the three extra points too of course.

Tennessee St. is a pretty good FCS team, but I think Vanderbilt will manage to win. ESPN doesn’t show a spread for these, so I skip that part.

LSU is favored by 5.5. Ole Miss fans used to talk about good Bo and bad Bo when Bo Wallace was with the team, but I think that characteristic caught on. As I indicated, I was a little taken aback by the loss to Arkansas after winning the two previous games by an average of 25.5 points. The game before those two wins was the 5-point loss to Alabama.

I honestly don’t know which Ole Miss team shows up, nor do I know if the first-half LSU team from last week shows up. I think LSU can end up winning something like what Arkansas did last week. It could be a 3- or 4-point game and the LSU defense can hold on like they did at the end against Mississippi St. It’s a tough choice though. It could go to overtime and LSU could win by 6 or 7, but I guess if you add in the approximately 1 in 3 chance Ole Miss has of winning, on balance it’s best to take the Rebels with the points.

Week 8 Top 25 and Comments

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 16, 2016 at 2:22 PM

Please see here for my blog about the LSU-Ole Miss series, the second-longest football series for LSU.

The conference standings are interesting. The standings on my site are only looking at the top 40.

There are FIVE SEC teams (LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky) in numbers 41-55, however. The winner of LSU and Ole Miss at the very least should join the top 40 next week, which would help the SEC assuming no one else falls out. Although it may help in traditional polls, the unexpected bye weeks did not help LSU and Florida in my ratings.

The ACC is higher in those standings because it has a mass of four teams (Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, U. Miami, and Georgia Tech) between 26 and 37.

This is also useful background for why Clemson came ahead of Alabama in the computer ratings. I am keeping Alabama #1, however, since if the Tide win next week they will certainly be #1. I had said I THOUGHT Alabama would be the natural #1 this week, but beating an undefeated team is better than beating a one-loss team. Also, Alabama isn’t as far from #1 now as they were last week. Clemson is idle next week, so they would be unlikely to remain #1. Texas A&M with a win could be #1, but I can’t be sure.

Alabama will look to continue its success at Tennessee as the Tide return home to host the Texas A&M Aggies.

Alabama will look to continue its success at Tennessee as the Tide return home to host the Texas A&M Aggies.

Given how high Penn St. is right now, Ohio St. may jump Michigan with a win next week; but I would not expect the Buckeyes to compete for #1 just yet. However, since Alabama has a bye week and Texas A&M plays New Mexico St. on the 22nd, Ohio St. could be playing for the #1 spot in the next two or three weeks.

The #1 spot is the only change I’ve made to the formula and the only change I plan to make going forward. I anticipate that regardless of what happens, I will follow my formula for #1 at the latest after the games of November 5 when Ohio St. will play Nebraska. Also on that date Alabama plays LSU, Texas A&M plays Mississippi St., Michigan plays Maryland, and Clemson (after playing Florida St. the week before) plays Syracuse.

I know Tennessee is oddly high for a two-loss team, but the Vols have had the best schedule by far to this point after playing four ranked teams in consecutive weeks. However, none of their future opponents are currently ranked and none have been ranked since early last season. Tennessee’s next three weeks are South Carolina, bye, and Tennessee Tech. Many teams will have the opportunity to pass them up during this time. I don’t envy the Tennessee coaching staff’s job in trying to keep the team motivated, so a loss in one of the remaining games is quite possible (November SEC opponents are Kentucky, Missouri, and Vanderbilt). Despite that, there aren’t huge point opportunities.

I’m still waiting on someone else to surpass the three-team “mid-major” group, but it may take a couple of weeks. The absence of another major team is one reason Tennessee did not lose a spot on this blog (although they were one spot higher in the computer last week). This could change on October 29, when Nebraska will play Wisconsin, Florida St. will play Clemson (as mentioned), and Washington will play Utah.

West Virginia, the Big XII’s best hope (in the near future anyway), may help itself with wins in the next two weeks, and the winner of Arkansas and Auburn should move up into that range as well.

rank/team/prev
1 Alabama 1
2 Clemson 4
3 Texas A&M 3
4 Michigan 2
5 Ohio St. 5
6 Tennessee 6
7 W. Michigan 9
8 Boise St. 8
9 Houston 13
10 Florida St. 15
11 Nebraska 20
12 N. Carolina 22
13 Washington 7
14 Louisville 24
15 West Virginia 17
16 Penn St. 11
17 Utah 21
18 Pittsburgh —
19 Oklahoma —
20 Stanford 19
21 Navy 12
22 Arkansas —
23 Auburn 25
24 Washington St. —
25 South Florida —

Full 128

Out of rankings: (10) Wake Forest, (14) Arizona St., (16) Wisconsin, (18) Virginia Tech, (23) Air Force

LSU-Florida Reaction, Previews, & SEC Wed. #7

In College Football, General LSU, Preview, SEC Wednesdays on October 14, 2016 at 7:35 PM

LSU-Florida

So if you haven’t heard, the LSU-Florida game got resolved. The downside is LSU loses a home game next year (and will have FIVE SEC road games) and will play one fewer game this season.

I understand the SEC insurance policy will kick in for the South Alabama buyout. Reportedly South Alabama offered to play on the LSU bye week of 10/29, and LSU was not interested. So far the Texas A&M game is still scheduled for 5 days after the Florida game (the date when LSU was originally going to play South Alabama).

The upside is LSU still keeps the 7 home games for this season, Although the Tigers now finish with five consecutive opponents who are currently ranked, two will be separated by a bye week and only two of those five will be on the road. LSU has not played a ranked team yet this season, although Wisconsin and Auburn are currently ranked.

I doubt it will be two top-10 teams at game time like it was back then, but I think of the 2007 match-up every time Florida @ LSU is brought up.

I doubt it will be two top-10 teams at game time like it was back then, but I think of the 2007 match-up every time Florida @ LSU is brought up.

Also, despite all the road games next season, LSU also avoids having to go on the road in consecutive weeks next season. There will be two potentially brutal stretches though: @Florida/Auburn/@Ole Miss and @Alabama/Arkansas/@Tennessee/Texas A&M. At least that A&M game will be on a Saturday.

Florida loses two home games this year in the process (for a loss of one net, same as LSU), but let that be a lesson to them. When a program used to reacting to hurricanes calls you and tells you that you need a better backup plan than “we’ll delay the game a few hours,” listen.

I thought this was a pretty good take on what happened. It suggests that Florida reacted to LSU with paranoia, and that was part of the problem: http://www.outkickthecoverage.com/what-really-happened-with-lsu-and-florida-101316

SEC Wednesday #7

Last Week

I mentioned my aggravation with the Tennessee/A&M ATS “loss” in the rankings blog. You shouldn’t ever have to cheer for the team that you didn’t pick to score. If A&M wins in regulation with a field goal, I win. If they win in the first overtime with a touchdown, I win. But since they win in the second overtime with a touchdown, which means Tennessee played even better, I lose.

Kentucky likes to just barely beat the spread, so at least I won that one. I think they beat it by 4, but Vandy was close to sending that game into OT.
I was somewhat reluctant about Auburn, but they’ve been doing quite well on offense. Random stat I noticed: Sean White completed 14 passes for 204 yards with only 4 incompletions.

I was just plain wrong about Alabama. I could have backed into it with another late TD, but it was not to be. Maybe LSU will be able to get the Golden Boot back this year even though the game is in Fayetteville.

Most of the game Georgia was ahead either 14 or 7, but thankfully time expired with them ahead by 14.

I am finally back to a winning record against the spread. I was not hopeful about that happening again a couple of weeks ago. My records are now 49-8 picking winners and 25-24 against the spread.

SEC WED

Next Week

I guess for next week I’ll start out with the non-conference games. Lines were taken from the ESPN site on Wednesday to be consistent with other weeks.

BYU is kind of a tough nut to crack. I don’t understand beating Toledo by 2 at home and then running away with a game at Michigan St. Missouri beat BYU last year despite having an awful season, but the game was in Kansas City. I’ll take the Bulldogs and the points, but I’ll pick the Cougars to win.

I think the line has gotten out of control for LSU/Southern Miss. I think it opened at 21. It’s now 25.5. So 31-7, for instance, wouldn’t be good enough. I’ll take the Golden Eagles. LSU has some serious injuries on offense. If they’re up by between 17 and 21 at halftime, I don’t think they’ll be trying too hard to outscore the opponent in the second half.

USM is coming off an ugly road loss, which may have helped to inflate the line, but they did win by 9 at Kentucky earlier in the year. In the other road game a couple of weeks ago, the Golden Eagles beat UTEP 34-7, so last week may have just been an aberration. It could be a blowout, but I think the unnecessary bye week could have put a damper on LSU’s momentum.

Georgia by 14 hosting Vandy is a good line. Vandy is roughly equivalent to South Carolina and this will be between the hedges. I’ll take the Dawgs, who I think have been improving overall.

Alabama is favored by 12.5. I’m thinking they’ll win by 3 to 10 points, somewhere around there.

Florida has looked shaky and as mentioned is banged up. Despite the manhandling LSU gave them, Missouri should be able to keep it much closer. I’ll take the Tigers +13.5.

As mentioned, Arkansas has been a bit flat. Ole Miss was playing very well before the bye week. I think they can win by more than 7.5. I’m sure they want revenge from the last two years. I don’t really understand how in both 2014 and 2015 they lost to Arkansas but beat Alabama, but anyway.

Other Games

I was going to do some kind of preview of other games, but the only thing outside of the SEC that excites me much is Ohio St. @ Wisconsin. So far Ohio St. hasn’t shown any symptoms of having a young, mostly inexperienced team, but the only thing that looked like a major challenge previously was Oklahoma. The Sooners are not nearly as good as they were projected to be though.

Of course Wisconsin beat LSU, although both teams are a lot different now from what they were then. The Badgers had a surprisingly easy victory over Michigan St., another team that has proven not to be very good after making the Playoff last year. The Badgers’ only loss was by 7 @Michigan. The home field may make the difference here as well.

ESPN’s FPI gives the Buckeyes a 71% chance to win. I’d put money on Wisconsin if you gave me 7:3 odds.

The only other non-SEC game I plan to watch is UCLA @ Washington St. Both teams can have fun offenses, although as an SEC fan, I may get frustrated with some of the defensive play. There may be good defensive players, but it’s hard to keep up they barely have time to catch their breath between opponents’ possessions.

Possible LSU-Florida Resolutions

In College Football, General LSU on October 12, 2016 at 6:45 PM

This is a little bit long. Feel free to browse the headings. SEC Wednesday will be posted tomorrow or possibly Friday and possibly in conjunction with other previews.

First I wanted to mention the passing of Mike VI. His last day outside (meaning outside of his den, not outside of his enclosure) was Saturday. At least there wasn’t much time between him being a seemingly normal happy tiger and the end. Saturday Down South had a nice spread about him as well.

Even though Mike VI didn’t seem to enjoy the stadium much, it will still be sad to have a home game on Saturday without him. He and Mike III (1958-76) both enjoyed national championships in their first football seasons, so maybe whoever Mike VII is will be a good luck charm in his first year as well. Weird that within just a few months, LSU had to get a new head coach, a new Voice of the Tigers, and now a new tiger. Too much change for my tastes.

Les Miles visiting with Mike VI in a picture Miles posted on Twitter in May.

Les Miles visiting with Mike VI in a picture Miles posted on Twitter in May.

I also want to express condolences and/or best wishes for those truly affected by Hurricane Matthew, before I start criticizing.

Background: It was NOT necessary to postpone the game to another weekend.

SB Nation writes: “Nine Floridians died in Hurricane Matthew. The direness of the forecast, combined with Florida’s potential loss of home game revenue, should trump any conspiracy theories about the Gators postponing the game because they’re scared of losing and falling in the standings. (Yes, those theories exist.)”

It’s not a conspiracy theory. It’s the only reasonable explanation the game didn’t get played like the other relevant games. Florida had an insurance policy for the game. I don’t think they lost very much if anything. How much would they gain by playing in the SEC Championship game and potentially a CFP bowl? There was never a “dire” forecast for Gainesville. I don’t know if they think Florida is the size of Connecticut or what.

This was the cone (the area of potential travel) for the hurricane at approximately the time the decision was made on Thursday.

This was the cone (the area of potential travel) for the hurricane at approximately the time the decision was made on Thursday.

How many deaths were there in Gainesville? How many were there in Tampa, where a game was played Saturday? How many were there in Miami Gardens, where a game was played Saturday? How many in Boca Raton, where a game was played Sunday? How many in Columbia, SC, where a game was played Sunday (under what appeared to be partly cloudy skies)? Even if someone did die in one of those places, they didn’t die because a game was going to be put on the next day. People die every day.

The implication that if you played the game Saturday, Sunday, or Monday lives would have been put at risk in a meaningful way is silly. If that is the case, why did all these other schools risk death?

A few thousand in the Gainesville area lost power and there was a light drizzle at some point. In other words, an unremarkable day in the Deep South. If my power were out, I’d be more likely to want to go to a game in my town personally. How is it that the risk to life and limb was so high in Gainesville but not in places that were both closer to the storm and closer to the Atlantic? There could have been a major tempest in Gainesville, and how would that have prevented playing the game on Sunday or Monday?

There was a game scheduled for Orlando (Tulane @ UCF) that was moved to another week, but it happened to be a mutual bye week for the two teams involved. I’m not sure they wouldn’t have played it had that convenient option not been available.

Location of major games and the approximate path of the hurricane.

Location of major games and the approximate path of the hurricane.

The only reasonable conclusion to reach is that Florida didn’t want to play the game. They had major injuries on defense, the starting QB was coming off an injury, and they didn’t want to play LSU and get banged up some more. Also, they got to watch Tennessee lose, and if the Vols lose next week (against Alabama), Florida will be poised to win the East by half a game. There are just too many coincidences for anything else to make sense.

If there were genuine concern about playing it in Gainesville, they should have expressed a willingness to move the game. Instead they delayed and delayed a final announcement until late in the day on Thursday. Before that announcement, they insisted the game would be in Gainesville on Saturday as scheduled.

Baton Rouge was also available.

LSU was available to play the game either at home or away any time (within reason) on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, with or without hotel rooms. LSU also offered to pay the Gators’ travel expenses and provide hotel space had they chosen to play in Baton Rouge.

I get not wanting to play a road game (not that I buy the idea that there was any reason not to play the game in Gainesville on Sunday), but I would imagine at least a few Florida fans would have made the trip. The campuses are about 8 hours apart by car if one obeys the speed limit, but there are a lot of Florida fans in between Gainesville and Baton Rouge. About 5 of the 8 hours of travel are within the state of Florida. It being a large state school, I imagine there are a plenty of supporters and alumni who would have had much more comfortable driving distances. I’m from Louisiana, and it’s not uncommon to come across Florida fans there as well. I say that because I think they could have gotten a lot more Florida fans than normal into Tiger Stadium.

So there is almost nothing LSU wasn’t willing to do to get the game played Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. The only problem was Florida. LSU AD Alleva did say the ultimate decision to postpone the game was made by SEC Commissioner Sankey, so he refused to get too critical in a radio interview I heard, but I’ve also read elsewhere the commissioner doesn’t have authority to schedule an uncooperative team for a different date.

Other examples of rescheduled or moved LSU games

The Tigers didn’t have a great home-field advantage when they played South Carolina in a relocated game last year, and that was a fan base much less likely to make the trip anyway. Not as many people show up to impromptu home games. Given the prices, I don’t blame any season-ticket holder who isn’t willing to pay another penny toward a football game that the season ticket package doesn’t cover.

After Katrina, LSU moved what was supposed to be a home game to Tempe, AZ, to play the Sun Devils. Arizona St. donated the profits, but from the football side of things, it was a definite road game.

There are a couple of other things of note from that season.

The LSU-North Texas game, which was supposed to have been the opener, was rescheduled to October 29. Was that a mutual bye week? No, another team (ULM as I recall) had to move its schedule around.

Also, due to Hurricane Rita, the LSU-Tennessee game (which happened to be the home opener for one Les Miles) was postponed to a Monday. Given all the evacuees from Katrina still in the area, Tennessee had to fly in before the game and fly out after the game.

Like Tennessee did with its 2005 trip, LSU also offered to go to Gainesville without using hotels.

Remaining scheduling options

Since the decision to postpone the game indefinitely, LSU has been less in a mood to bargain with Florida. I’ll talk about where LSU’s position is right or wrong.

One idea was that LSU should cancel South Alabama, Florida should cancel Presbyterian, and LSU @ Florida could be played on 11/19. There is absolutely no reason to buy a team out and lose a home game. It’s ridiculous. It costs the local economy in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to lose a home game, and many businesses desperately need every game given the kind of summer Baton Rouge had. Also, that was supposed to be Senior Night. But I’ll talk below about potential alternatives for LSU keeping the 7 home games (3 of which have already been played and another this weekend).

I do fault Alleva for what he said about playing Florida on 10/29, LSU’s scheduled bye (this would involve moving up the Georgia-Florida game a week, but that decision should have been made already if it’s going to be made). He said he doesn’t want to play if Alabama isn’t going to play on that day. Well, Joe, Alabama isn’t going to play on that day. Georgia doesn’t want to go along with it anyway, not that they have a good excuse other than obstinence. Something about arranging for extra seats to be brought in. I don’t know why that can’t be done on 10/22 instead of 10/29. The Jacksonville Jaguars do have a game, but most stadiums can make changes like that in 24 hours.

Having a bye hasn’t done us much good the last few Alabama games, has it? But I do understand not wanting to play @Florida one week and to host Alabama the next. Not to mention that I don’t think Ole Miss on 10/22 will be a picnic either.

I made a proposal that would allow LSU to play the Arkansas game on 10/29 instead, but I don’t know if that’s too much better.

Brett McMurphy made a proposal that might work. It wouldn’t give Alleva the desired home game on 11/19 or the bye before Alabama, but it would have two good selling points: (1) It would be what should be an easy home nonconference game before Alabama instead of a road conference game the week before Alabama, and (2) LSU would not lose a home game.

However, it would involve some other teams. First, Georgia Southern and Georgia St. would have to move their game from 11/19 to 11/26, when they are both free. This would enable the Georgia St.-South Alabama game to move from 10/29 to 11/19, which in turn would enable LSU to host South Alabama on 10/29. This frees up 11/19 for LSU, when they can play Florida, provided Florida cancels its game with Presbyterian.

There is a similar arrangement that could take place with South Alabama, Georgia State, and ULM switching some games around instead of involving Georgia Southern.

Perhaps some of these teams can be tempted with future schedule considerations (and corresponding substantial financial incentive) with LSU and Florida.

There is another option which seems like it would make Alleva happy but perhaps not Florida. Both the South Alabama-LSU and Florida-Presbyterian games are canceled and LSU plays Florida on 11/19, BUT the game is played in Baton Rouge instead of Gainesville.

Future Years if Game is in Baton Rouge

I know no one would think it’s fair for Florida to go to Baton Rouge three years in a row (although this is their fault), but I have an idea to resolve that. Instead of LSU playing @ Tennessee next year, they host Tennessee and play @ Florida. The scheduled Tennessee @ Florida game would be played in Knoxville instead. That way everyone keeps 4 home games and 4 road games in the conference schedule. Just reset the home and home at that point. So LSU would start playing @ Florida (and Florida @ Tennessee) in odd years, and at home in even years. The non-annual SEC East opponent can be a road game for LSU in even years going forward. Tennessee’s non-annual SEC West opponent can be a road game in odd years going forward.

Changing even to odd is not unprecedented. Mississippi St. went to LSU in 1991 and 1992. Kentucky (which used to be an annual series) went to LSU in 1987 and 1988, and LSU went to Kentucky in 2001 and 2002. Alabama went to LSU in 1991 and 1992. LSU went to Ole Miss (actually Jackson) in 1991 and 1992, and Ole Miss went to LSU in 2001 and 2002. I’m sure there were many such situations that did not involve LSU as well.

Anyway, personally I hope the game gets played even if it involves LSU giving up the bye week and not having a home game on the 19th, but I don’t really want the game to be played if it means LSU having one fewer home game this year. If the game does not get played, something needs to be done about the division championship rules, at least for this season.

Week 7 Top 25 and Comments

In College Football, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 10, 2016 at 11:11 AM

I’ll talk about it more with my SEC Wednesday feature, but of course the big game was Texas A&M and Tennessee. Overtime is one of the ways you can be right but still get the spread wrong. They were exactly even through 60 minutes, so if you assume Tennessee has 6.5 extra points, picking Tennessee should be a win. What makes it even more annoying is that if Texas A&M had scored a touchdown to win in the first overtime (even if the Vols didn’t score at all), Tennessee would have still been the correct pick. Going even longer without being outscored only proved me more right, yet it made me wrong according to the bookies. I’m just glad I didn’t put actual money on it.

Anyway, I did pick the correct winner at least. Tennessee didn’t fall very far naturally because A&M on the road in overtime is the least-costly loss you can have right now and also because Tennessee had the most points going into the week. Still, I decided the fair thing to do was to move them below Ohio St. I think it’s too early for a team with a loss (despite the circumstances) to be in the top 5; but of course if they beat Alabama, they will be in the top 5 next week. Putting Alabama #1 and switching Tennessee with Ohio St. were the only changes I made from the computer. If Alabama wins, I expect them to be the natural #1, so maybe next week I can go without changing anything at all.

In one of the most amazing plays this season, Tennessee forced a fumble in the last moments just as it appeared Texas A&M was going to put the game away.  The turnover led to the tying touchdown.

In one of the most amazing plays this season, Tennessee forced a fumble in the last moments just as it appeared Texas A&M was going to put the game away. The turnover led to the tying touchdown.

I don’t think 8-10 are that good, but the more credible teams keep losing or having bye weeks.

How the mighty have fallen when you realize Washington beat Oregon and got jumped by Ohio St., who beat… Indiana?

I know Florida St. has two losses, but they keep playing competitive opponents. I did make losses slightly less devastating this year, but it helpss that they’re not bad losses. Despite the margin of victory Louisville had, it just counts as one loss to a decent team.

rank/team/prev

1 Alabama 1
2 Michigan 3
3 Texas A&M 5
4 Clemson 4
5 Ohio St. 8
6 Tennessee 2
7 Washington 6
8 Boise St. 15
9 W. Michigan 11
10 Wake Forest 14
11 Penn St. —
12 Navy —
13 Houston 7
14 Arizona St. —
15 Florida St. —
16 Wisconsin 12
17 West Virginia 9
18 Virginia Tech 25
19 Stanford 13
20 Nebraska 16
21 Utah —
22 N. Carolina 17
23 Air Force 20
24 Louisville 24
25 Auburn —

Full 128

Out of rankings: (10) U. Miami, (18) Arkansas, (19) Florida, (21) Maryland, (22) Baylor, (23) Cal

Open Letter to Athletic Directors

In College Football, General LSU on October 6, 2016 at 6:25 PM

To whom it may concern:

I realize this is not your primary concern, but I believe that canceling an important SEC game – even if it might not alter the divisional results (although stranger things have happened) – should be avoided if at all possible. This seems to be a likely result of the LSU-Florida postponement from this weekend.

I am writing to the various athletic directors who could be involved in a solution. As an LSU fan, I first contacted Mr. Joe Alleva, but I thought it appropriate to also send this to others to appeal to their sense of fair play. These things are not easy to accomplish, I understand that, but no matter what people are going to be inconvenienced with a natural disaster of what could be a significant magnitude. I felt it was very positive between the two fan bases when the LSU-South Carolina game was moved last year.

LSU and Florida do not have a mutual bye week. However, Florida and Georgia have a mutual bye week on 10/22. If Florida plays Georgia on 10/22 instead of 10/29, that would allow Florida to play LSU on 10/29, when LSU’s bye is currently scheduled.

I understand Florida-Georgia is a difficult game to move because of TV and logistics with the neutral site and the prospect of LSU going to Florida the week before the Alabama game is not ideal, but that’s the simplest option.

There is a second option I noticed, but it’s more complicated.
(1) South Carolina can play Florida on 10/22.
(2) This would free up South Carolina’s date of November 12. UMass has a bye week on November 12, so all this would do to South Carolina’s schedule would be to switch UMass and Florida (while obviously UMass’ bye week would move up to 10/22).
(3) LSU can play Arkansas on the mutual bye week of 10/29.
(4) This would make both LSU and Florida available on 11/12. (Arkansas would then have a bye on 11/12)

Thanks for your time.

Former head coaches Les Miles and Steve Spurrier after the relocated LSU-South Carolina game last season.

Former head coaches Les Miles and Steve Spurrier after the relocated LSU-South Carolina game last season.

LSU/Florida and SEC Wednesday #6

In College Football, General LSU, Preview, Rivalry, SEC Wednesdays on October 5, 2016 at 5:26 PM

NOTE: The LSU-Florida game has been postponed indefinitely.  If it is not rescheduled, this would give LSU about a 7% chance of winning the remaining games.

LSU and FPI

Obviously there are a few big games to be excited about in the SEC, and I’ll talk more about this in the picks section, but I wanted to expound upon something I added to the last blog at the last minute. I mentioned there is a 4% chance that LSU still has only two losses after the regular season (meaning games before championship week). There is a 10% chance LSU finishes the regular season with 3 losses or fewer. I calculated this from the FPI numbers released by ESPN.

I'm skeptical of some of these numbers.

I’m skeptical of some of these numbers.

It seems like FPI doesn’t factor in recent results in the respective series. LSU has owned Texas A&M and has been owned by Alabama. We’ve seen A&M start strong before without much to show for it by the time we get to late November. I honestly would not be surprised if LSU is favored by the time we get there. I’m not saying this to prematurely brag about LSU but to say that I don’t think home field is enough to give LSU more of a chance to beat Alabama than the Tigers will have to beat A&M. Also, I was surprised the likelihood of LSU beating Arkansas was so high.

I found it interesting that despite the location of the LSU/Florida game (series blog), both the FPI and the commentators seem to think LSU has this. Some of them are more confident than I am, but as I’ll explain, if I had to pick the winner, I’d guess LSU is more likely. Steve Spurrier, who I guess is now a PR spokesman for the Gators, didn’t do much to dissuade me of that notion either.

LSU has about a 25% chance to finish 5-2 or better, which would give Ed Orgeron at least the same record that he had as the interim coach at USC. That might seem counter-intuitive since the Tigers should be favored against everyone but Alabama and (possibly) A&M, but I’ll give an example. If your chance in one game is 60% and your chance in the next game is 60%, you only have a 36% chance to win both games (roughly LSU’s chance of beating Florida and Ole Miss). That’s just the way odds work.

SEC WED

Last Week

A lot of things went about as I expected, so you can just read the link above about why things happened as they did. I expected Tennessee to win a fairly close game. I hoped it was going to be by 4 instead of by 3, but my prediction was still pretty smart although unlucky. This isn’t all about getting it right, it’s partly about describing what kind of game we might have.

I said Ole Miss would win by between 17 and 21 points, and they won by 20, so it’s nice to get something that specific right. 5-2 with a shenanigans incorrect pick in Athens is pretty good. It’s a fluke in the gambling rules more than anything. If it were up to me there would be two exceptions. (1) If you took the points in an overtime game, you should automatically win, and (2) if a team scores a touchdown on the last play (not in overtime), they should get credit for 7 points unless there is a try.

I’m back at .500 (22-22), which is not easy to do when you force yourself to pick games you’re not comfortable with. If I picked a similar number of games from all over college football but only lines I liked, I’d like to think my winning percentage would actually make money at a sports book.

As to the one I more clearly got wrong (although I was only off by a few points), there was a Florida fumble near the goal line where obviously another touchdown could have allowed me to win. I usually cheer for Vanderbilt as the traditional underdog of the SEC East, so I was disappointed they didn’t do more with the opportunity, but it’s predictable.

On the other hand, since I picked Florida with the points the last two weeks, I was disappointed with their performance. I hope the Gators will be similarly disappointing to their fans next week. I know a few Florida fans, and I’ve enjoyed being on the right side. Anyway, I thought it was going to be a bad day when I started out with that one, but as they say, it’s not how you start.

I didn’t even mention that I got all the winners right, not that it was particularly hard this week as long as you had the Vols. My overall record in picking winning teams is 44-8.

Next Week

Only six conference games this week.

It appears Leonard Fournette will NOT play for LSU against Florida. This makes me more nervous, but I just don’t think LSU will revert back to the way they played against Auburn just because of being on the road. If they play better than in that game, they should win. Still unclear who the Florida QB is or whether both will play. Also still unclear if the game will actually happen at the date and time currently scheduled.

LSU went far above and beyond the line last week of course. The Tigers may get half the yards and half the points, but that should still be enough to win. As I mentioned previously, Florida has been disappointing of late. -3 isn’t enough for the ATS (against the spread) to be different.

I already mentioned Auburn. Obviously the Tigers would rather be at home, but I don’t think Mississippi St. is the toughest venue in the SEC. They’re not the better team either. Once again I’ll reluctantly take the visitors -3.

Texas A&M is favored by 6.5. I think that’s a bit too much, but Tennessee is overdue for a loss, so I will split my prediction there.

Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight looks downfield in Week 1 against UCLA.

Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight looks downfield in Week 1 against UCLA.

Kentucky is favored by 3 at home. If they could do it to South Carolina, I see no reason why they can’t do it to Vanderbilt.

I think 13.5 is too much for Alabama. Too many recent Bama @ Arkansas games have been close. I know a few were blowouts, but this is not an Arkansas team that will finish with 3 or 4 wins like the one that lost 52-0 a few years ago. So I’m not picking the upset, but I think the Hogs will keep it within about 10.

Georgia/South Carolina can happen a number of ways. Georgia did play a lot better last week than in any previous game, so if they can maintain, it could be over at halftime. On the other hand, it might be hard to show up in an opposing stadium with any kind of momentum after the heartbreak of last week. Even if it’s the latter, I could still see the Bulldogs winning by 7 or more with a late touchdown or something, so I will give the Gamecocks 7.