Saturday, October 20, 2018

College Football Week 8 Betting Preview

Week 0: 1-0, +1 unit
Week 1: 3-4, -1.4 units
Week 2: 3-4, -1.4 units
Week 3: 5-2, +2.8 units
Week 4: 4-2, +1.8 units
Week 5: 6-2, +4.08 units
Week 6: 0-7, -7.41 units
Week 7: 3-4-1, -1.24 units
2018 Season: 25-25-1, -1.77 units
Note: All picks are 1 unit

I am in a rush to make it to my tailgate for the MSU/Michigan game. Therefore, I'm just posting my picks and my model's projected spread with no write-up.

Memphis @ Missouri
Pick: Memphis +10 -108 (Model: Memphis +5)

Michigan @ Michigan State
Pick: Michigan State +7.5 -111 (Model: Michigan State +2.5)

UCF @ East Carolina
Pick: UCF -21.5 -106 (Model: UCF -31)

Miami (OH) @ Army
Pick: Army -7.5 -104 (Model: Army -14)

Georgia Southern @ New Mexico State
Pick: Georgia Southern -9.5 -106 (Model: Georgia Southern -19)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

College Football Mid-Season Projections

I decided to do something a bit different this week and break down all the Power Five division races and try to assess each team's playoff probabilities. Using my individual game projections, as well as some guesses about what the committee will do in different scenarios, I calculated each Power Five team's (rough) chance at the playoff as well as winning their division and conference.

SEC West

Alabama is the obvious favorite here- the Tide have better than a 2 in 3 chance of going into the SEC title game 12-0, they could probably afford a loss there and still make the playoff. LSU is the only other team with a realistic chance here as everyone else in the west has two losses. The Tigers would likely have to win out- and their schedule includes Alabama in Death Valley (11 point underdog), Texas A&M on the road (2.5 point favorite) and Mississippi State this week (8 point favorite). 

Alabama: 92% to win division, 75% to win conference, 85% to make playoff
LSU: 7.5% to win division, 5% to win conference, 5% to make playoff

SEC East

This is going to come down to a three horse race between Georgia, Florida and Kentucky. Georgia is by far the best team of the three, but plays the other two in back-to-back weeks away from Athens. I give Georgia a 35% chance of going 11-1, Florida a 6% chance and Kentucky a 5% chance. A 7-1 SEC record will definitely win this division, but there’s a 50/50 chance this division is won at 6-2. Georgia is the definite favorite to make it to Atlanta, and they’d be about a 12 point underdog against Alabama while Florida and Kentucky would be 17-20 point underdogs. 

Georgia: 65% to win division, 14% to win conference, 20% to make playoff
Kentucky: 20% to win division, 3% to win conference, 3% to make playoff
Florida: 15% to win division, 3% to win conference, 3% to make playoff

ACC Atlantic

The winner of this week’s Clemson vs. NC State game will be the overwhelming favorite to win the Atlantic, as they’d have to lose twice to be overtaken by the loser. Clemson is only a 9.5 point favorite at Boston College and only a 14 point favorite against Duke and Florida State, but it would be pretty unlikely for them to drop 2. NC State goes to Syracuse (pick’em) and hosts Florida State (9 point favorites) after this. Clemson has an 83% chance this weekend although with the weakened state of the ACC it could be dicey getting into the playoff at 12-1 if they drop a game elsewhere.

Clemson: 85% to win division, 65% to win conference, 55% to make playoff
NC State: 15% to win division, 10% to win conference, 4% to make playoff

ACC Coastal

“Coastal Chaos” has struck once again as this division is a complete mess. I have Duke at #24, my only ranked Coastal team, but Virginia Tech has not lost in ACC play yet. 7-1 in the ACC will almost certainly win this division: the Hokies have a 20% chance at that, Miami a 5% chance, Duke a 2% chance and Virginia a 1% chance. Being a game up in the loss column gives Virginia Tech the advantage, but all four teams are in play here.

Virginia Tech: 45% to win division, 12% to win conference, 1% to make playoff
Miami (FL): 30% to win division, 8% to win conference, <1% to make playoff
Duke: 20% to win division, 4% to win conference, <1% to make playoff
Virginia: 5% to win division, 1% to win conference, <1% to make playoff

Big Ten East

Ohio State is the favorite, as they have a 32% chance of winning out. They have 3 legitimate tests left, @Purdue, @Michigan State and vs. Michigan. Going 2-1 in those games is probably enough to win the division. Michigan has 3 tests left as well, @Michigan State, vs. Penn State and @Ohio State. I give them a roughly 35% chance of finishing at 10-2 or 11-1. Michigan State could win the division by winning out (4% chance) and Penn State could maybe be in play if they win out and chaos erupts.

Ohio State: 60% to win division, 45% to win conference, 60% to make playoff
Michigan: 32% to win division, 20% to win conference, 13% to make playoff
Michigan State: 7% to win division, 4% to win conference, 1% to make playoff
Penn State: 1% to win division, 1% to win conference, <1% to make playoff

Big Ten West

Wisconsin and Iowa are neck and neck in my ratings, and although both have 1 loss in conference, Wisconsin holds the head-to-head tiebreaker. Purdue and Northwestern are both better teams than people realize with 1 loss in conference each as well. Given that both Wisconsin and Iowa have to go to Happy Valley and West Lafayette- that opens the door to a real bloodbath here. The realistic playoff chances in the division lie squarely with Iowa, as they are the only 1-loss team.

Wisconsin: 50% to win division, 15% to win conference, 1% to make playoff
Iowa: 35% to win division, 12% to win conference, 3% to make playoff
Purdue: 14% to win division, 3% to win conference, <1% to make playoff
Northwestern: 1% to win division, <1% to win conference, <1% to make playoff

Big 12

Texas is pacing the field here as they’re the only team still undefeated in conference play. The Longhorns have a 15% chance of winning out, and even at 11-1 they should make the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma has a 35% chance of going 11-1 which would put them in the conference title game, although they still have to go to Lubbock and Fort Worth, as well as host West Virginia. I still don’t view the Mountaineers as a legitimate threat given they still have to play Texas and Oklahoma- and the same goes for Texas Tech. Watch out for Iowa State though- the Cylcones have a 12% chance to win out.

Texas: 75% to make conference championship game, 45% to win conference, 30% to make playoff
Oklahoma: 65% to make conference championship game, 40% to win conference, 30% to make playoff
West Virginia: 22% to make conference championship game, 5% to win conference, 3% to make playoff
Texas Tech: 18% to make conference championship game, 5% to win conference, <1% to make playoff
Iowa State: 15% to make conference championship game, 5% to win conference, <1% to make playoff
Oklahoma State: 3% to make conference championship game, <1% to win conference, <1% to make playoff
TCU: 2% to make conference championship game, <1% to win conference, <1% to make playoff

Pac-12 North

Despite having two losses, Washington is still by far the best team in the Pac-12 North. Since only one of those losses was in conference, so long as they win out (44% chance) and Oregon slips up once they’ll be in Santa Clara. Oregon has to play at Utah (5 point underdog) and at Washington State (3 point favorite). Stanford and Washington State are both in the race as well but are not as highly rated as Oregon or Washington.

Washington: 65% chance to win division, 45% chance to win conference, 5% chance to make playoff
Oregon: 25% chance to win division, 15% chance to win conference, 5% chance to make playoff
Stanford: 5% chance to win division, 3% chance to win conference, <1% chance to make playoff
Washington State: 5% chance to win division, 2% chance to win conference, 1% chance to make playoff

Pac-12 South

Utah is the best team in the south and I have them favored in every remaining game. However, they’re a small favorite in many of them, and USC and Colorado are both a game ahead of them in the loss column. USC will be the heavy favorite if they beat Utah this week, as they’ll be 4-1 with wins over their two biggest contenders. Colorado has to play at Washington and was quite fortunate to start 5-0. The Arizona schools are not completely out of it either. Whoever wins this division will have an uphill battle against Washington in the Pac-12 title game, in all likelihood.

USC: 50% chance to win division, 15% chance to win conference, 3% chance to make playoff
Utah: 35% chance to win division, 15% chance to win conference, 1% chance to make playoff
Colorado: 10% chance to win division, 3% chance to win conference, 1% chance to make playoff
Arizona State: 3% chance to win division, 1% chance to win conference, <1% chance to make playoff
Arizona: 2% chance to win division, 1% chance to win conference, <1% chance to make playoff


The two teams outside the Power Five conferences to watch out for are Notre Dame and UCF. The Irish will certainly be in if they win out, which they have a 27% chance of doing. I think they’ve got a good chance at 11-1- they’d probably get in over a 2-loss Power Five champ, and would be in the same ballpark as a 1-loss Oregon or 1-loss Clemson. UCF has a 54% chance of reaching the AAC title game 12-0, and about a 40% chance of going 13-0. I think that the Knights are not going to get in over any 1-loss power teams, but if it comes down to 13-0 UCF or 11-2 Texas, 11-2 Clemson, 11-2 USC etc. I think that they’d have a shot.

Notre Dame: 55% chance to make playoff
UCF: 12% chance to make playoff

College Football Week 7 Wrap-Up

There's always at least one weekend in October where a bunch of top 10 teams fall. This year it happened in week 7 as Georgia, West Virginia, Penn State and Washington all lost. The chaos has opened up a whole host of new playoff scenarios, and opened things up for a lot of fringe playoff contenders.

Top 25

Win out probabilities are in parenthesis. This is a probability of winning out until the conference championship game, not including the conference championship game. In lieu of comments on the top 25 this week, I'm posting some mid-season division/conference/playoff projections later today.

1. Alabama (68.4%)
2. Clemson (40.7%)
3. Ohio State (31.8%)
4. Oklahoma (34.8%)
5. Georgia (35.5%)

6. Penn State (17.5%)
7. LSU (7.4%)
8. Michigan (8.7%)
9. Notre Dame (26.7%)
10. Washington (44.4%)

11. UCF (53.9%)
12. Texas (14.9%)
13. Wisconsin (7.4%)
14. Mississippi State (0.8%)
15. Utah (11.6%)

16. Iowa (5.8%)
17. Iowa State (12.4%)
18. NC State (3.9%)
19. Purdue (2.1%)
20. Appalachian State (51.8%)

21. Texas A&M (4.3%)
22. Boston College (2.4%)
23. Fresno State (31.0%)
24. Duke (2.3%)
25. Michigan State (3.8%)

Picks Recap

2018 Season: 25-25-1 -1.77 units

Last week was OK, going 2-4-1. I won on Purdue, who smacked Illinois, and Eastern Michigan who finally won a close game against Toledo. I lost on UNLV who choked away the cover late, Wisconsin who got rolled by Michigan, New Mexico who lost a thriller to Colorado State, and Virginia Tech who barely beat UNC. I pushed on Northwestern- happy I got them at -3 before it went up to -3.5.

Friday, October 12, 2018

College Football Week 7 Betting Preview

Week 0: 1-0, +1 unit
Week 1: 3-4, -1.4 units
Week 2: 3-4, -1.4 units
Week 3: 5-2, +2.8 units
Week 4: 4-2, +1.8 units
Week 5: 6-2, +4.08 units
Week 6: 0-7, -7.41
2018 Season: 22-21, -0.53 units
Note: All picks are 1 unit

Wisconsin @ Michigan

Wisconsin has been pretty far outside the spotlight ever since their loss to BYU but they've put up some solid numbers over the last few weeks, with a nice win in Kinnick over Iowa and blowout wins over New Mexico and Nebraska. The Badgers are still a solid team, definitely one of the 15 or so best in the country. They shouldn't be double digit underdogs against anyone outside the top 5, and Michigan is yet to show they belong in that conversation. My line is Michigan -3.

Pick: Wisconsin +10

Virginia Tech @ North Carolina

UNC was last seen turning the ball over an obscene amount on a Thursday night against Miami. They've had 16 days to prepare for this game- but I still think they're going to get blown out here. Their only win all year is a nailbiter against Pitt, and they have not been competitive in any of their losses- I was at the Cal game and that was not as close as the score indicated. Virginia Tech is a decent team, and while they're reeling a bit right now I have them as 14 point favorites here.

Pick: Virginia Tech -6

Nebraska @ Northwestern

This line is just crazy to me. Nebraska is one of the teams I've been selling all year, and Northwestern is one of the teams I've been buying all year. Nebraska has done nothing all year that indicates this should be a pick'em on a neutral field- their best game all year was probably last week, a 17 point loss to Wisconsin. I'm not alone here- Northwestern is #47 to Nebraska's #81 in Sagarin, Northwestern is #58 to Nebraska's #71 in S&P+, Northwestern is #59 in the Massey Composite to Nebraska's #103. This is a slam dunk for Northwestern, I have them favored by 15.

Pick: Northwestern -3

Purdue @ Illinois

It is a big indictment on Rutgers that the best team Illinois has beaten, according to Sagarin, is Western Illinois. It also shows that Illinois is really bad- they may have the better record, but Purdue is 8 points away from being 5-0 and has a solid win over Boston College. Illinois is one of the five worst Power Five teams in the country and should be approaching a 20-point dog here, I have Purdue by 18.5.

Pick: Purdue -10.5

UNLV @ Utah State

Utah State has been one of the surprises of the season, demolishing everyone in their path save a close loss at Spartan Stadium. I think they're getting too much credit here though. UNLV is a solid team- they've taken care of business in their two easy games (UTEP and Prairie View) and while the blowout loss to New Mexico doesn't look great, it was by far their worst result of the season. I have the Rebels at #106 and the Aggies at #44- this line should be a bit lower, I have it at Utah State -18.

Pick: UNLV +27

Toledo @ Eastern Michigan

Eastern Michigan has been incredibly unlucky to lose 4 games in a row. They've dropped one possession heart-breakers to Buffalo and Western Michigan, and lost OT games to San Diego State and Northern Illinois as well. Toledo is the team to beat in the MAC West, but Eastern Michigan cannot be ruled out simply on the basis of their 2-4 start. I have the Eagles as 4 point favorites here so they're the pick.

Pick: Eastern Michigan +2.5

New Mexico @ Colorado State

New Mexico bounced back from an upset loss to Liberty by smashing UNLV last week. I am still not sold on Colorado State being anything more than one of the worst teams in FBS- they nearly capitulated against San Jose State last week and their best win is against an absolutely horrid Arkansas team. New Mexico is a respectable G5 team, and Colorado State is not. I have this line at New Mexico -6.5.

Pick: New Mexico PK

College Football Week 6 Wrap-Up

This was the one Saturday all season where I barely watched any football- I was at an event all weekend with pretty bad service so I mainly only saw highlights throughout the week. I caught the end of Texas/Oklahoma and Texas A&M/Kentucky but that was about it. Overall, I think it was an OK week to miss- the Red River Shootout certainly delivered but the Saturdays will only get more exciting from here as we get deeper into conference play.

Top 25

The number in parenthesis is the probability of winning out until the conference championship game.

1. Alabama (68.6%)
2. Clemson (41.1%)
3. Georgia (32.8%)
4. Ohio State (45.7%)
5. Oklahoma (32.3%)

Clemson makes a big move up to #2 after thrashing a decent Wake Forest team on the road. Combined with other ACC contenders struggling, and Clemson's win out probability is up 18 percentage points this week. Oklahoma only falls a little bit for the last second loss to Texas, and they still have almost a 1 in 3 chance of reaching the Big 12 title game at 11-1.

6. Penn State (23.9%)
7. Notre Dame (29.2%)
8. Wisconsin (6.2%)
9. Washington (27.4%)
10. UCF (40.5%)

Notre Dame's win out probability nearly tripled as the Irish handily beat Virginia Tech in what was the biggest test left on their schedule. I have the Irish favored by at least a touchdown in every remaining game, they're 7 point favorites at Northwestern, 8.5 point favorites vs. Syracuse and 7.5 point favorites at USC. A 12-0 Notre Dame team is a lock for the playoff, but it'll be interesting to see how the committee handles a 11-1 Notre Dame, I think they'd have a decent shot.

11. Texas (15.3%)
12. Michigan (1.9%)
13. Auburn (0.7%)
14. Mississippi State (1.2%)
15. LSU (0.8%)

The middle of the Big 12 is so strong that Texas is likely to drop another game even though they'll be favored the rest of the way out. However, if they do manage to run the table and then beat Oklahoma or West Virginia in the Big 12 title game, they'll almost certainly be in. A lot of other rating systems seem to be putting Michigan in the top 10 but I'm not quite there yet- their next 3 games will tell a lot though. If any team can get in the playoff with two losses, it might be the Wolverines who figure to play four legitimate playoff contenders in the regular season.

16. NC State (4.1%)
17. Miami (FL) (4.0%)
18. Boston College (2.1%)
19. Utah (8.0%)
20. Texas A&M (2.0%)

NC State has established themselves as the challenger to Clemson in the ACC Atlantic, and next week's showdown in Clemson is shaping up to be a division championship game. Boston College is still a solid team though and can't be ruled out to pull some upsets over teams like Miami. The Hurricanes are probably not as likely to win the Coastal as people think though- Virginia Tech still does not have a loss in conference and Virginia and Pitt are showing signs of life.

21. Fresno State (22.4%)
22. Florida (2.8%)
23. Missouri (0.6%)
24. Iowa State (5.8%)
25. Iowa (2.0%)

Fresno State is the best team in America that no one is talking about. They lost a nailbiter at Minnesota but have dominated in their other games, including wins over UCLA and a solid Toledo team. They'll cruise until November matchups with Boise State and San Diego State. Iowa State is 2-3 against the toughest schedule in America right now and is well positioned to ruin someone's season, perhaps West Virginia's this week.

Next Ten: West Virginia, Appalachian State, Purdue, Virginia Tech, Kentucky, Oregon, Duke, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Northwestern

Picks Recap

2018 Season: 22-21 -0.53 units

Last week was a bloodbath. I gave up all of my gains on the year and then some with an 0-7 week. I managed to lose in all sorts of ways- Wisconsin looked like a sure bet to cover before Nebraska scored twice in garbage time, UMass was winning most of the game and imploded in the fourth quarter, San Jose State came all the way back against Colorado State and then choked.  Not a week I'll forget any time soon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

College Football Week 6 Betting Preview

Week 0: 1-0, +1 unit
Week 1: 3-4, -1.4 units
Week 2: 3-4, -1.4 units
Week 3: 5-2, +2.8 units
Week 4: 4-2, +1.8 units
Week 5: 6-2, +4.08 units
2018 Season: 22-14, +6.88 units
Note: All picks are 1 unit

Nebraska @ Wisconsin

Once again, I'm picking against Nebraska. In the preseason, I said that this was the least talented Nebraska team in recent memory, and that they had almost no shot at a bowl. The Cornhuskers have been even worse than I realized and are barrelling towards a 2-10 season. I still think that Wisconsin is a fringe top 10 type team, and my model has the Badgers as 29 point favorites here, so they're the pick.

Pick: Wisconsin -18.5 -105

Notre Dame @ Virginia Tech

I think that Virginia Tech is taking a bigger penalty for their loss to Old Dominion than they deserve. Sure, Florida State is nowhere near as good as we thought in week 1, but Duke is quite a solid team this year and the Hokies just dismantled them in Durham. Lane Stadium at night is always a tough environment but I don't think that Notre Dame should be getting 6.5 points here. This is my #10 team on the road against my #15 team, so I have this line set as a pick'em.

Pick: Virginia Tech +6.5 -105

Syracuse @ Pittsburgh

On Sunday afternoon, I go to Pinnacle and CRIS to look at all of the lines for the upcoming week to see what plays jump out to me before I write this post up in mid-week. This game wasn't even on my radar screen on Sunday because the number opened at Syracuse -6.5, which I thought was low but reasonable compared to my number of Syracuse -9. For some reason this has been bet down significantly to Syracuse -3.5 though- perhaps people are pricing in a hangover factor from the Clemson game. Syracuse will be hungry to break the top 25 for the first time in over a decade though.

Pick: Syracuse -3.5 -110

Old Dominion @ Florida Atlantic

This is not the Florida Atlantic of last year, as they've disappointed in pretty much every game so far except UCF. After starting out around #40 in my preseason rankings, they've slipped all the way down to #73 now. I was on Old Dominion last week and I am once again this week- the Monarchs should not be two touchdown underdogs against any C-USA team, save North Texas. My number here is Florida Atlantic -7.

Pick: Old Dominion +14 -103

ULM @ Mississippi

Ole Miss has also been a big disappointment this year. The win over Texas Tech was nice, but no FBS team should be allowing 41 points to Southern Illinois. Alabama and LSU predictably tore them to shreds as well. I wouldn't take Ole Miss -22.5 against any FBS team except for the UTEPs and Texas States of the world- ULM is a middle of the road Sun Belt team that should be able to cover this. My number is Ole Miss -13.5.

Pick: ULM +22.5 -106

USF @ Massachusetts

USF is getting a decent bit of hype now just because they're one of the last fourteen undefeated teams, but they are not that good. Their wins are over FCS Elon, Georgia Tech (#56 in my model), a nailbiter over Illinois (#115) and East Carolina (#114). UMass is not as good as I thought they were in the preseason, but they're a decent bit better Illinois and East Carolina and they should not be getting 2 touchdowns at home. I have the line here at USF -6.

Pick: Massachusetts +14.5 -110

Colorado State @ San Jose State

San Jose State is unlucky to still be winless. The Spartans went to 5OT with Hawaii last week and nearly beat UC Davis. They're one of the worst fifteen or so FBS teams but Colorado State is a little worse in my eyes. They got smacked by FCS Illinois State in their last game, and are really only road favorites here by name recognition. I have this line at San Jose State -5.5 so the Spartans are the obvious play here.

Pick: San Jose State +2.5 -102