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Thursday, September 01, 2005

College Football Picks - Week One


The system I'm going to work with (for entertainment purposes only) is a combination of Todd Beck's power rankings compilation and general handicapping. I'm going to use Todd's data to filter out games, and then I'm going to break down the handful of "arbitrage opportunities", with the results being my picks of the week.

Here are this week's considerations:

Utah (-7) v. Arizona
Utah returns 10 starters from last year's team and debuts a new coach, Kyle Whittingham. Mike Stoops brings 14 starters back from his first Arizona team. Arizona has won only four games over the last three seasons and is 2-7 ATS on the road over the last two years. The Utes, on the other hand, are an astounding 20-4 ATS over the past two seasons, including 10-0 ATS out of conference and 10-2 ATS at home. The Utes beat Arizona 23-6 in Tucson last September.

Cincinnati (-10) v. Eastern Michigan
Cincinnati returns only six starters, while EMU brings back 13 starters from 2004. Since 1992, EMU is 2-14 ATS out of conference, but they are 5-5 ATS on the road over the past two seasons. The Bearcats were 4-1 ATS at home last fall.

UConn (-18) v. Buffalo
Buffalo returns 15 starters from last year's team, and UConn brings back eleven. Over the past two years, Buffalo was 0-6 ATS in non-conference games, including 0-3 ATS against Big East opponents, and 1-6 ATS in September games. Buffalo was 0-6 on the road in 2004 and covered only once, while the Huskies won and covered their last three games of the season. Connecticut shut out Buffalo 29-0 in 2004.

SDSU (+9) v. UCLA
UCLA returns 15 starters from last year's edition, and SDSU brings back 12. There are a lot of trends pointing towards the under in this one (point total is 51.5): the under is 11-3 in games UCLA is favored the last two seasons, including 6-1 when they're favored by 3.5-10 points, and exactly the same rule applies for the Aztecs, where the under is 11-3 in games where they are the underdog and 6-1 in games where they are underdogs of between 3.5-10 points. UCLA beat SDSU 33-10 in Los Angeles last year.

NMSU (+10) v. UTEP
Mike Price returns 11 starters from last year's incredible run, and the Maverick, Hal Mumme, has 14 guys back as he takes the helm at NMSU. With Mumme at the helm, who knows what th hell will happen here. I'm figuring UTEP will run the Aggies out of the building, but the cappers like NMSU. Therefore, I'm not playing it.

Auburn (-7) v. GT
Chan Gailey brings back 14 starters from 2004, and Tommy Tuberville has 12 back from last year's undefeated Tigers. Tech was 5-2 ATS in non-conference games in the last two seasons, including 2-1 ATS against the SEC. They were also 9-6 ATS as underdogs and 6-4 ATS on the road, including 5-1 ATS last year on the road. Auburn, however, was only 1-5 ATS when favored by 3.5-10 points in the last two seasons and has not covered in a home game when they're favored by 7.5-10 points in the last 13 years. The cappers like Auburn, and I lean towards the Jackets, so I'll hold back from this one as well.

Wake Forest (-8) v. Vandy
Vandy returns twelve starters, and the Deacons bring back 15 from last year. Wake has not performed well when favored (only 1-7 ATS over the past two seasons). Both teams limped into the postseason, with Vandy going 1-2 SU and ATS and Wake going 0-3 SU and ATS. Again, there's a conflict, as I lean Vandy but the caps say Wake. Therefore, I'm sitting out.

Clemson (+2) v. A&M
The Aggies bring back 17 of their starters from 2004, and Tommy Bowden returns to the hot seat with 13 of his starters back. The Aggies are only 2-8 ATS on the road over the past two seasons, and Clemson is 11-2 SU and 7-5 ATS at home during that same period. Last year's matchup at Kyle Field saw the Aggies whip Clemson 27-6.

Baylor (-1.5) @ SMU
Guy Morris has 14 starters back, and Phil Bennett's Mustangs have 18 starters back, but since both teams stunk last year, who knows if that is good or bad. Baylor has been 14-7 ATS over the past two seasons, while SMU has been 8-15 ATS during the same period. The Bears were 7-3 ATS in 2004, but SMU was an equally impressive 4-1 ATS at home in 2004. They last met two seasons ago in a Baylor 10-7 home win. This is a big game for both teams, and it should be intensely played based on the quality character of the respective coaches.

Wyoming (+23) @ Florida
The Cowboys return 17 starters, and Urban Meyer has 15 returnees in his first season as Gator coach. There are not a lot of trends to work with here, and I would not want to bet against Chris Leak and Urban Meyer in their first game, so I'll pass on this one.

South Florida (+21.5) @ Penn State
South Florida returns 14 starters, and Joe Pa returns 17 starters. Again, not much to work with here, but it should likely be a low scoring affair, which makes me lean towards South Florida.

So after all of that, here's the final picks:

Utah -7 v. Arizona
Cincinnati -10 v. Eastern Michigan
Clemson +2 v. Texas A&M
Baylor -1.5 @ SMU


Blogger Scott said...

I'm already mad at myself. I promised myself that I would not underestimate the value of returning starters, and first week out of the chute, I betray that principle in taking Cincy who had only six returning starters. On top of that, my gut really liked Vandy, and I was too weak-minded to buck the "experts". Hopefully I rally with my other three picks, but if not, I'm not going to wait long to throw the vaunted "formulas" out the door.

Fri Sep 02, 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger Bert said...

A&M loses already? Well, there is always the Red Raider Shootout...

Thu Sep 08, 11:58:00 AM  
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