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Week 10 picks

Time to reveal my plays of the week. These are the 10 games I would bet on if I were a degenerate gambler. For those who don’t know already, the first team listed is my pick, unless it’s an over/under selection. Odds provided by DocSports. If I were you, I’d bet on these games. You can thank me (or hate me) later. I went 6-2-1 last week (I had accidentally picked 11 games the week prior) and I’m hitting 59.5% on the season (53-36-1), so heed my advice!

Oregon State -4.5 vs. USC

This is probably my lock of the week. USC’s secondary can’t match up with the OSU passing attack and the Trojan offense plods too much to keep up. Huge game for Mannion and Cooks.

Oregon State 38, USC 24

Tennessee +10 at Missouri

Missouri should be deflated after last week’s tough loss to South Carolina, while Tennessee is undervalued because it went into a buzzsaw at Alabama and will now be starting a freshman QB named Josh Dobbs, who’s a talented player. The Vols have a chance to win this one outright.

Missouri 24, Tennessee 21

Georgia -3 vs. Florida

I think the return of Todd Gurley will be the difference in this one and the Bulldogs win easily.

Georgia 27, Florida 16

Michigan +4.5 at Michigan State

These two teams always seem to play it close, but the Spartans aren’t used to being the favorites. I expect the Wolverines to come out of the gate playing at a high level, then hold on for the win.

Michigan 20, Michigan State 17

Minnesota +8 at Indiana

The Gophers are a tough, hard-nosed team and I think they’ll pull the mild upset on the road.

Minnesota 31, Indiana 28

Auburn -8 at Arkansas

Even without Nick Marshall, the Tigers should be fine on offense and move the ball well against a very suspect Arkansas defense.

Auburn 38, Arkansas 27

Hawaii +24 at Utah State

I don’t think Hawaii is going to go winless and the Warriors have been coming close the last three weeks. No win this time, but another close one for Norm Chow’s troops.

Utah State 28, Hawaii 25

Ohio State -32.5 at Purdue

The Buckeyes are in juggernaut mode on offense and will make quick work of the Boilermakers.

Ohio State 52, Purdue 17

Arizona -16.5 at Cal

The Bears continue to be decimated with injuries on defense and the Wildcats will take full advantage behind Ka’Deem Carey and BJ Denker.

Arizona 42, Cal 21

Nebraska -6 vs. Northwestern

I think the Cornhuskers bounce back from last week’s loss and easily handle a Northwestern team that just isn’t the same without a healthy Kain Colter or Venric Mark.

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Week 9 picks

Time to reveal my plays of the week. These are the 10 games I would bet on if I were a degenerate gambler. For those who don’t know already, the first team listed is my pick, unless it’s an over/under selection. Odds provided by DocSports. If I were you, I’d bet on these games. You can thank me (or hate me) later. I went 7-4 last week (I accidentally picked 11 games) and I’m hitting 59% on the season (47-34), so heed my advice!

Note: Because I accidentally picked 11 games last week, I’m picking 9 this week.

Auburn -24 vs. Florida Atlantic

The Tigers keep the offense rolling as Nick Marshall has another big day.

Auburn 56, FAU 21

Tennessee +28 at Alabama

This should be an easy game for Bama, but the Vols play hard and should keep this loss fairly respectable.

Alabama 31, Tennessee 10

Texas +2 at TCU

The Longhorns win their fourth in a row as their ground game pounds the Horned Frogs.

Texas 31, TCU 21

Stanford -4 at Oregon State

Sean Mannion comes down to earth a bit and the Cardinal suffocate the Beavers in Corvallis.

Stanford 29, Oregon State 17

Louisiana-Monroe -12 vs. Georgia State

The Panthers remain winless as Brayle Brown has his first stellar game for the Warhawks.

ULM 35, Georgia State 18

Baylor -35.5 at Kansas

If any team stops Baylor this year, it’s not going to be Kansas. I think we’ll see another 60+ point effort.

Baylor 66, Kansas 21

Hawaii +3 vs. Colorado State

After just falling short last week, the Warriors get their first win of the season against the Rams.

Hawaii 34, Colorado State 27

Iowa -4 vs. Northwestern

The Wildcats are reeling and might be without Kain Colter again. Hawkeyes get the win after playing Buckeyes tough last week.

Iowa 24, Northwestern 17

NC State +32 at Florida State

The Wolfpack always seem to play the Seminoles tough and have won two of the last three meetings. FSU will get the win, but won’t cover.

Florida State 41, NC State 14

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The role of conference realignment in Heisman voting

Last year, Heisman Pundit wrote about how conference realignment gave West Virginia’s Geno Smith a unique advantage in the Heisman race.

While Smith failed to finish in the top 10 of Heisman voting due in large part to a poor showing in a week 8 matchup against fellow Heisman hopeful Colin Klein and Kansas State, one player did end up as the beneficiary of conference realignment in last year’s Heisman voting: Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M.

Heisman balloting is divided into 6 geographic regions: Far West, Mid Atlantic, Mid West, North East, South and Southwest. When the BCS was introduced in 1998, the 6 BCS automatic-qualifying conferences were each mostly contained within a single region: the Pac-10 (now Pac-12) was in the Far West, the ACC mostly was in the Mid Atlantic, the Big 10 was mostly in the Mid West, the SEC was mostly in the South and the Big 12 was mostly in the Southwest. The Big East was more spread out across the east coast.

BallotingRegions

As discussed before, voters have a tendency to vote for players from their region. Looking at voting from 1998 through 2012, with the exception of the North East region, which has had only two finalists in that span, every region on average gives the highest vote totals to players from within that region.

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 10.29.57 AM

Examining a conference breakdown of regional votes over the same period, we see a similar pattern of conference preference by region.

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 10.28.09 AM

Conference realignment has adjusted the relationship between region and conference. More schools are playing in conferences that are concentrated in regions different from where the school is located.  So, in addition to writers and reporters in their school’s region, players now receive more media exposure in their conference’s region.

1998Regions

2013Regions

Texas A&M’s move to the SEC put it in the unique position of being located in Texas, the major media outlet center of the Southwest region, while playing in the SEC, concentrated in the South region.

The Aggies’ conference schedule set up some high profile games played in the South region, namely a marquee match-up with Alabama in Tuscaloosa, which earned Manziel major support in the South region, and nationwide. With no offensive Heisman candidates from the South region and no other candidates from schools in Texas, Manziel was the clear standout candidate in two regions. Manziel went on to receive the highest vote total in every balloting region except the Mid West, where Manti Te’o of Notre Dame (located in the Mid West region) received the highest total. With all of these schools changing conferences, which ones are in the best position to benefit?

Missouri and Texas A&M moving to the SEC, West Virginia moving to the Big 12 and Colorado moving to the Pac-12 provide the most exposure for these schools in a new region. With the structure of the ACC and American Athletic Conference, moves to these conferences does less to help players’ exposure within a region outside of their own. Of course, regardless of realignment, players have to perform well enough to garner Heisman consideration.

Let’s see if anyone steps up to take advantage of the changing landscape.

* * *

The author of this post, Daniel Heard, is a PhD candidate in Statistical Science at Duke University. He has dedicated a significant portion of his research to examining trends in Heisman Trophy voting and developing a model to forecast the voting each year.

You can contact Daniel at danielpheard@gmail.com.

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Week 8 picks

Time to reveal my plays of the week. These are the 10 games I would bet on if I were a degenerate gambler. For those who don’t know already, the first team listed is my pick, unless it’s an over/under selection. Odds provided by DocSports. If I were you, I’d bet on these games. You can thank me (or hate me) later. I went 6-4 last week so I’m hitting 57% on the season (40-30), so heed my advice!

Oregon State -11 at California

The Bears are reeling and the Beavers are rolling right now. Expect more of the same on Saturday

Oregon State 56, California 24

Missouri +3 vs. Florida

No one knows much about Maty Mauk, but the guy can throw. I think Mizzou doesn’t skip a beat with him in the lineup this week and the Tigers get the mild upset.

Mizzou 24, Florida 17

Baylor -33 vs. Iowa State

The Bears get that incredible offense back on track at home against the Cyclones. Huge game for Lache Seastrunk.

Baylor 63, Iowa State 21

Oklahoma State -7.5 vs. TCU

The Horned Frogs continue to struggle and OSU finally gets its offense back on track.

OSU 35, TCU 21

Utah +4 at Arizona

Utah keeps its momentum going after last week’s upset of Stanford, slows down Ka’Deem Carey in outright win.

Utah 31, Arizona 27

Ohio -16 at Eastern Michigan

The Bobcats bounce back from last week’s loss to Central Michigan with a good all-around effort vs. Eastern.

Ohio 38, EMU 17

Maryland -6 at Wake Forest

The Terps get CJ Brown back and Stefon Diggs has a big game as Maryland rolls.

Maryland 31, Wake Forest 17

Ohio State -18 vs. Iowa

The Buckeyes are well-rested after a bye week. Braxton Miller with the monster game as OSU takes it to the Hawkeyes.

Ohio State 45, Iowa 17

Georgia -6.5 at Vanderbilt

The Bulldogs bounce back after the upset loss to Mizzou as Aaron Murray comes through once again.

Georgia 27, Vanderbilt 17

OVER 63.5 Florida State at Clemson

Not sure who will win this one, but I think points will be scored a-plenty. Let’s give the edge to the home team in a barn burner.

Clemson 41, Florida State 38

Stanford -4.5 vs. UCLA

Lots of people picking the Bruins in an upset, but Stanford’s defense is too good (and proud) to get taken advantage of two weeks in a row. Stanford gets serious and comes away with the solid win.

Stanford 34, UCLA 24

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HP’s mid-season All-Americans

melvin-gordon

Here are my mid-season All-Americans.

Note: I pick a fullback because, after all, it is still a position in football (albeit a dying one).

Another note: I also pick an offensive line unit as opposed to individual OL players because otherwise I’d be pretending that I knew how well an individual lineman was performing from week to week.

OFFENSE

QB — Marcus Mariota, Oregon

He’s got 25 touchdowns running and passing. And no turnovers. That says it all.

RB — Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

He’s been crazy explosive, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry.

FB — Kiero Small, Arkansas

He’s turned into a real weapon in the Razorback offense.

WR — Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

On his way to shattering Pac-12 receiving records.

WR — Antwan Goodley, Baylor

Already has five catches of 60-plus yards.

WR — Mike Evans, Texas A&M

Johnny Football’s No. 1 target and slayer of the Bama defense.

TE — Eric Ebron, North Carolina

Physically gifted tight end who can block as well as catch.

OL  UNIT — Texas A&M

One of the reasons Johnny Manziel is able to run around and improvise so much is that this unit gives him so much time and space to do so.

DEFENSE

DE — Vic Beasley, Clemson

The nation’s sack leader with 9 and the best end in the state of South Carolina.

DE — Michael Sam, Missouri

He’s got 10 tackles for loss already this season.

DT — Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh

Has a remarkable eight sacks and 12 tackles for losses despite playing on the interior.

DT — Leonard Williams, USC

Leads USC in tackles — rare for a lineman — and tackles for loss.

OLB — Anthony Barr, UCLA

Already has four forced fumbles and 10 tackles for loss.

OLB — Shaquil Barrett, Colorado State

Tied for the national lead with 12.5 tackles for loss.

ILB — Chris Borland, Wisconsin

Has 56 tackles, including 16 against No. 4 Ohio State.

ILB — C.J. Mosley, Alabama

The Tide’s field general on defense leads the team in tackles with 48.

CB — Ifo Ekpre-Olumu, Oregon

A true shutdown corner and one of the reasons for the much-improved Duck defense.

CB — Jason Verrett, TCU

Has 10 pass breakups and a pick so far this season.

S — Deone Bucannon, WSU

As hard a hitter as there is in college football; has four interceptions, 64 tackles.

S — Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama 

Instinctive player with two interceptions returns for touchdowns already this year.

Placekicker — Andy Phillips, Utah

He’s a perfect 11 for 11 this season.

Punter — Zac Murphy, Miami (OH)

He leads the nation with a 47.7 average.

Punt returner — Kevonte Martin-Manley, Iowa

Already has two TDs, averaging nearly 26 yards per return.

Kickoff returner — Ty Montgomery, Stanford

His work in the return game is the most positive thing going on at Stanford the last two weeks.

All-Purpose runner — Marion Grice, Arizona State

He has 10 touchdowns on the ground, 5 through the air. His 15 total TDs lead the nation.

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The round up

Here’s the latest chatter about the Heisman…

The buzz surrounding Mariota and Mannion is good for the state of Oregon.

Is Jameis Winston ready for a ‘Manziel’ moment against Clemson?

This Heisman voter likes Mariota.

Bryce Petty is launching Baylor’s offense to new heights.

Gregg Doyel has Mariota as his front runner, too.

As you can tell, Mariota’s hype is picking up steam.

There’s always Super Bowl Bets and 2014 World Cup Betting.

Gus Malzahn called Johnny Manziel the greatest that ever played, along with Cam Newton.

Is Manziel even better this year?

Bobby Bowden says Winston is as good as anyone FSU has ever had.

This voter likes Tajh Boyd.

Brett Hundley could makes his case for the Heisman against Stanford.

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Week 7 picks

Time to reveal my plays of the week. These are the 10 games I would bet on if I were a degenerate gambler. For those who don’t know already, the first team listed is my pick, unless it’s an over/under selection. Odds provided by DocSports. If I were you, I’d bet on these games. You can thank me (or hate me) later. I had my first losing week of the season last week, going 4-6, but I’m still hitting 57% on the season (34-26), so heed my advice!

Here are this week’s picks:

Texas A&M -6.5 at Mississippi

Johnny Football had two weeks to prepare and I think the Aggies come out on fire in this one. I think we’ll see lots of scoring with A&M pulling away at the end.

Texas A&M 45, Ole Miss35

Stanford -9 at Utah

The Utes just don’t have the dynamism to attack the Stanford defense. Meanwhile, I think the Cardinal will snap back from a tepid offensive performance last week.

Stanford 34, Utah 13

LSU -7 vs. Florida

Florida has excellent corners and this will be a tough challenge for Zach Mettenberger, but I think the wheels come off Tyler Murphy a bit and LSU asserts itself on defense.

LSU 24, Florida 14

Oregon -13 at Washington

I think Washington invested a lot in its loss to Stanford last week. That was a game that better-suited UW’s style. This one, not so much. The Huskies get some points but can’t stop the Oregon juggernaut.

Oregon 52, Washington 35

Northwestern +10 at Wisconsin

The Wildcats nearly pulled off the upset of Ohio State last week and I think they’ll bounce back and beat Wisconsin outright as Venric Mark has a big game.

Northwestern 27, Wisconsin 24

Alabama -27 at Kentucky

The Tide are quietly putting together a nice stretch of defense, having allowed no touchdowns in its last 12 quarters. I think there’s a chance that streak goes to 16 against the Wildcats.

Alabama 38, Kentucky 9

Oregon State +2 at Washington State

I’m a little surprised that WSU is favored in this one. Sean Mannion has another huge day and the Beavers get the mild upset.

Oregon State 42, Washington State 28

Boise State -7 at Utah State

Without Chuckie Keeton, I don’t think Utah State will get much done on offense. Joe Southwick should play well and lead the Broncos to an easy win.

Boise State 31, Utah State 10

Nebraska -15 at Purdue

The Cornhuskers are actually starting to roll a bit with Tommy Armstrong at QB. But Taylor Martinez should also be back from injury as well and the Nebraska offense should overwhelm Purdue.

Nebraska 49, Purdue 21

Baylor -17.5 at Kansas State

The Wildcats have played fairly tough the past two weeks but I don’t think they can stop the Baylor offense. The Bears won’t score 70, but they’ll score over 45 and win this one going away.

Baylor 52, Kansas State 27

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