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Week 4 BTBS Picks

Sigh.  Last week I faced a crossroads in terms of the best way to begin phasing out the preseason projections and phasing in 2010 results.  Instead of the more volatile, 2010-heavy method that produced rankings seemingly more realistic in terms of this year's performance (after two short weeks), I chose the conservative, still projection-heavy method that I had been using this year and last.  One method went 33-19-1 (.632) last weekend and one went 26-26-1.  Guess which one I chose?

Last Week's Results

Week 3 Season
26-26-1 .500 72-62-3 .536
Big 12 Games
5-4 .556 15-13 .536
Upset Picks
0-2 .000 5-7-1 .423
0-1 N/A 3-5 .375
"Feeling Safe"
2-3 .400 8-7 .533
"Feeling Queasy"
2-2-1 .500 6-7-1 .464
0-5 point spread
7-8 .467 18-15-1 .544
5-10 points
8-8 .500 18-10 .643
10-20 points
3-9-1 .269 17-23-1 .427
20-30 points
8-1 .889 16-8 .667
30+ points
0-0 N/A 3-6 .333

And no, I clearly did not catch nearly enough hell for calling Mizzou-SDSU a "LOCK" for Mizzou.  We all should have known Mizzou was (nearly) doomed at that point.  It won't happen again, I promise.

So basically my record against the size of the spread fluctuates like a frequency line.  The 0-5 point games are, not surprisingly, more-or-less tossups.  Meanwhile, there is money to be made in the 5-10 point area (though the method I stupidly chose went only .500 here last week).  The 10-20 point spreads are dicey, the 20-30 point spreads are potentially strong, and you should stay away from the 30+ point spreads at all costs (that really goes for Ohio State -44 Eastern Michigan this week).

The new method I'm going with this week takes more of the raw 2010 results into account, and as I mentioned, it had a great week last week.  I'm fully prepared for it to win at about a .400 clip this week ... because Vegas hates me.

How much does Vegas hate me?  How about the fact that 17 of 49 games are projected to within two points of the spread this week?  SEVENTEEN.  That's ridiculous.  So almost half (okay, 35%) of this week's games are complete and total "avoid at all costs" tossups.  Great.  And the Mizzou-Miami game is the worst of the bunch.  The line is Mizzou -20 ... and my projection says Mizzou by 19.95.  That's just mean.  So glad we're going through this exercise, eh?

This week's picks after the jump.  Buyer beware, etc.

Some notes (same as last week's):

  • "LOCKS" signify games where the spread and projection are more than 17 points apart.  At this point, LOCKS are rare, as Vegas seems to have hacked into my damn computer.
  • If there is a "(!)" next to the spread, that means the projection and spread are within 2 points of each other ... and you should probably lay off of these picks if you are the betting type.  There are far too many of these this week.
  • Verdicts in all caps signify games where the underdog is picked to win straight up.
  • Three weeks into the season, we are using a less projection-heavy method for making picks, meaning if a team's first three weeks are a bit of a facade, if they've under- or overachieved to an odd degree, the projections are not around as much to balance that out.  We'll see how it goes.
Date Time Game Projection Spread ATS Verdict
Thurs, 9/23 6:30pm Miami-FL at Pittsburgh (ESPN) Miami by 3.2 Miami -3 (!) Miami (W)
Fri., 9/24 7:00pm TCU at SMU (ESPN) TCU by 18.2 TCU -18 (!) Tcu (L)
Sat., 9/25 11:00am Buffalo at UConn (ESPN3) UConn by 13 UConn -20 Buffalo (L)
N.C. State at Georgia Tech (ESPN) Ga Tech by 7.5 Ga Tech -8 (!) N.C. St. (W)
C. Michigan at Northwestern (BTN) NW'ern by 3.1 NW'ern -7 Cent. Mich. (W)
Virginia Tech at Boston College (ESPN3) BC by 2.4 BC +4 BC (L)
Florida Int'l at Maryland (ESPNU) Terps by 10.6 Terps -12 (!) Fla Int'l (L)
Bowling Green at Michigan (ESPN2) Mich by 24.0 Mich by 25.5 (!) Bowl. Green (L)
Ball State at Iowa (BTN) Iowa by 32.9 Iowa -28 Iowa (W)
Toledo at Purdue (BTN) Purdue by 16.1 Purdue -11.5 Purdue (L)
11:21am UAB at Tennessee (ESPN3) Vols by 21.6 Vols -14 Tennessee (L)
11:30am Central Florida at Kansas State K-State by 8.5 K-State -7 (!) K-State (L)
1:00pm Miami-OH at Missouri Mizzou by 19.95 Mizzou -20 (!) Miami-OH (L)
Air Force at Wyoming AFA by 15.2 AFA -14 (!) Air Force (L)
2:00pm Army at Duke (ESPN3) Duke by 10.4 Duke -6 Duke (L)
USC at Washington State USC by 31.4 USC -22 Usc (W)
2:30pm Alabama at Arkansas (CBS) 'Bama by 25.5 'Bama -7 'Bama(LOCK) (L)
Wake Forest at Florida State (ABC) Fla St by 11.4 Fla St -19 Wake (L)
Stanford at Notre Dame (NBC) Trees by 9.1 Trees -5 Stanford (W)
North Carolina at Rutgers (ESPNU) N. Caro. by 0.9 N. Caro -2 Rutgers (L)
E. Michigan at Ohio State (ABC) Ohio St. by 51.0 Ohio St. -44 Ohio St. (W)
Temple at Penn State (BTN) Penn St. by 21.7 Penn St. -15 Penn St. (L)
Tulane at Houston Houston by 26.0 Houston -19.5 Houston (L)
UCLA at Texas (ABC) Texas by 14.3 Texas -16 Ucla (W)
Arkansas State at Troy (ESPN3) Troy by 17.3 Troy -10.5 Troy (L)
3:00pm Idaho at Colorado State Idaho by 10.9 Idaho -8 Idaho (L)
5:00pm Nevada at BYU Nevada by 8.8 Nevada -4 Nevada (W)
Oklahoma at Cincinnati (ESPN2) OU by 14.2 OU -14 (!) Oklahoma (L)
6:00pm Kentucky at Florida (ESPNU) Gators by 11.9 Gators -13.5 (!) Kentucky (L)
Akron at Indiana (BTN) Indiana by 16.1 Indiana -23 Akron (W)
Ohio at Marshall Marshall by 7.9 Marshall -6 (!) Marshall (L)
Middle Tennessee at UL-Lafayette Mid Tenn by 8.1 Mid Tenn -2.5 Mid Tenn (W)
Georgia at Mississippi State (ESPN3) Georgia by 5.6 Georgia +1 GEORGIA (L)
North Texas at Florida Atlantic FAU by 4.7 FAU -10 N. Texas (W)
New Mexico State at Kansas Kansas by 19.6 Kansas -23 New Mex St (L)
Southern Miss at Louisiana Tech (ESPN3) So Miss by 12.7 So Miss -4 So Miss (L)
6:05pm W. Kentucky at South Florida (ESPN3) USF by 27.3 USF -27 (!) S. Florida (L)
6:30pm Fresno State at Ole Miss (ESPN3) Ole Miss by 4.4 Ole Miss -3 Ole Miss (W)
6:45pm South Carolina at Auburn (ESPN) S. Caro by 0.6 S. Caro +2.5 S CARO (L)
7:00pm Utah State at San Diego State SDSU by 5.4 SDSU -7.5 Utah St (L)
Oregon State at Boise State (ABC) Boise by 10.3 Boise -17 Oregon St (W)
Baylor at Rice Baylor by 12.0 Baylor -7.5 Baylor
San Jose State at Utah Utah by 31.1 Utah -31.5 (!) Sjsu (L)
7:30pm N. Illinois at Minnesota (BTN) Minny by 6.9 Minny -4.5 Minnesota (L)
8:00pm West Virginia at LSU (ESPN2) LSU by 7.5 LSU -8.5 (!) West Va
8:05pm Memphis at UTEP UTEP by 13.7 UTEP -11.5 Utep
9:00pm California at Arizona Arizona by 11.4 Arizona -7 Arizona
New Mexico at UNLV UNLV by 0.8 UNLV -10.5 New Mexico
9:30pm Oregon at Arizona State Oregon by 16.8 Oregon -12 Oregon

Picks I am Feeling Safest About:

Once again, I feel safe about 2-3 picks and queasy about 20.  I'll do my best to name five of each.

  1. Oregon State +17 Boise State.  I think Boise State will win, but Oregon State is built to keep a game like this close.  And hey...letting them keep it close is the least Boise can do to reward Oregon State for painting their practice field blue this week.

  2. Baylor -7.5 Rice.  I'm too far on the Hot Tub Griffin III bandwagon to think this game will end up within anything less than 17 points.

  3. Kentucky +13.5 Florida.  I'm not sure I really feel safe about this one; I just wanted to take the time to mention that I think Kentucky might actually be pretty damn good this year.  But even pretty damn good teams lose by 14+ in The Swamp sometimes.

  4. Bowling Green +25.5 Michigan.  There has been money to make on BGSU all season, and while Michigan should win this one, I'm not sure their defense is good enough to win anything by 26 points or more right now.  I say Michigan by 17-21.

  5. Tennessee -14 UAB. I remain on the "Tennessee's not quite as bad as we think" bandwagon (faint praise, but praise nonetheless), and I think they win this game by 21-24.

And yes, three of my five "safe" picks fall in the dicey 10-20 point range. That should tell you how safe they really are.

Picks I am Feeling Queasiest About:

  1. Wake +19.0 Florida State.  I don't know, this just has "FSU by 28" written all over it for me.  Wake's reeling, and FSU seems to have a slightly better idea for what to do with its athleticism this year.

  2. UCLA +16 Texas.  The ratings like UCLA, in part, because of their great defensive performance against Houston last week.  But their performance was aided by Case Keenum's injury.  Texas' offense has been shaky, but I see something in the neighborhood of Texas 31, UCLA 7 for this one.

  3. Nevada -4 BYU.  The ratings have turned on BYU in a major way, and with freshman Jake Heaps taking all the snaps at quarterback, the Cougs might struggle for a little while.  But their defense is just good enough to pull one of those "Nevada suddenly looks completely incompetent on offense, then goes back to scoring 50 a game next week" games.  If the Wolfpack win this one, then they really have turned a corner.  The big win over Cal was a nice first step.

  4. Ohio State -44 Eastern Michigan.  Make no mistake: Eastern Michigan is terrible, and they are going to get rolled.  But ... 44 points!  What if Tressel calls off the dogs at 49-0, and then EMU returns a fumble for a touchdown or something?  If one should stay away from 30+ point spreads, then 44-point spreads should be treated like they are carrying SARS.  (Remember SARS?  Good times.)

  5. WVU +8.5 LSU.  I've been heavy on the LSU bandwagon all year, and since WVU only seems to play one good quarter per game (though they're absolutely magnificent in that one quarter), I see the Bayou Bengals pulling away late and winning by 14-17.