The Pi-Rate Ratings

September 22, 2022

PiRate Picks: September 22-24, 2022

After losing most of our imaginary profit made in the first two weeks last week, we happened to be gifted with a week where the numbers seemed to be in our favor. We issued seven selections, including a Money Line Parlay that had eye-popping +204.42 odds. The Wyoming-Air Force rivlary game immediately drew our attention, as the 14 1/2 points were not just a gift, but an outright mistake. It won to start the weekend out on a great note.

We played two short favorites at home, something we rarely like to play. One of them, Maryland over SMU, won. The other was winning until a true freshman quarterback acted like Peyton Manning in the second half of his game, and our own local Vanderbilt Commodores won as a road ‘dog.

We played three totals, and all three won, but two of those were by the skin of our teeth. Oklahoma blew Nebraska off their home field. Thankfully, they ate the last 6 minutes off the clock when any score would have done us in. Notre Dame and Cal covered the 40 1/2 point total by a half point. Once again, we felt the AFA-Wyoming game was a gift with its high total, because the Cowboys historically have slowed down the option and kept this game close and low scoring.

Now to the Money Line Parlay at better than 2-1 odds. Penn State easily clobbered Auburn, as we thought would happen. Texas A&M was in a must-win situation to save Jimbo Fisher’s smoldering seat from becoming inflamed. North Carolina State proved their ranking is valid by topping Texas Tech with little trouble, and voila, we had an outstanding week cashing in six imaginary tickets in seven wagers. The imaginary $700 investment returned $1,294.42 for a fake profit of 85%. For the season to date, our beginning imaginary balance of $1,000 is now worth $1,906.19 a profit gain of 90.6% in four weeks.

That is now in the past. What have we done for you lately? We are about to do a lot by telling you that as wonderful as the numbers looked to us last week, they look that terrible this week. So many spreads are one point away from being plays for us. That one point is where we live. 20-something games were wiped out just because the number needed to be 7 1/2 instead of 6 1/2, 3 1/2 instead of 2 1/2, and 10 1/2 instead of 9 1/2. Buying points or playing teasers are two things we don’t like to do, unless we can play a 3-game, 10-point teaser where we can move spreads from 4 1/2 to 14 1/2, 7 1/2 to 17 1/2, 11 1/2 to 21 1/2 and similar.

Additionally, the totals seem to be a lot more accurate this week. Maybe on Monday, there were some playable totals, but by Wednesday night (when our picks are made), they had moved to unplayable numbers. We found just one game where we live the total this week.

That brings us to the Money Line parlay possibilities. Our philosophy with Money Line parlays is to take no more than three games on a parlay and to get at least +130 odds. Very rarely, we will add a fourth game that we believe has a better than 98% chance that the favorite will win. We could have added fourth games to the two parlays we chose, but that would have only raised the odds from the +130s to the +160s, and we don’t have the 98% confidence rating on either game. So, we are going with just three selections this week, hoping that next week will bring us more selection opportunities.

Selection #1: Southern California and Oregon State Under 70 1/2

It is our belief that this number had to be a little inflated to make it closer to a 50-50 wagering proposition. Still, the public is tending to the Over here. Both teams’ defenses and special teams have contributed to their scoring so far this year. This game figures to have better special teams defense, and both teams’ coaches might be preparing a little more than normal conservative game plans. We think the score could be in the neighborhood of 35-27, 35-31, or 34-28. Even a 38-28 game wins for us. So does a 35-34. It has to get to 38-35, 42-31, and 45-28 before this one loses.

Selection #2: Money Line Parlay at +135.77

Syracuse over Virginia

Georgia Southern over Ball St.

Old Dominion over Arkansas St.

Selection #3: Money Line Parlay at +134.52

Kansas over Duke

Clemson over Wake Forest

Temple over U Mass.

There is nothing special in our parlay picks this week. We simply believe that the chances of winning either one top the odds. We believe each one has a better than 50% chance of winning, and the chance of winning at least one of the two are 90%. Since going 1-1 in these two parlays is a guaranteed profit, we chose to pick these two with very similar odds, even if they are near our minimum odds we like to play.

Remember This: The PiRates never wager real money on these selections. We hope you don’t either. If you do wager real money, please do not use our selections as the main reference for your wagering.

We are not naive. We know there are more than a dozen of you that play our selections. Just because we have begun the 2022 football season with incredible results, there is no guarantee that this will continue. We have enjoyed 17 winning seasons in 22 years with this feature, but a couple of those 5 losing seasons were big losers. Many of our winning seasons returned 8-15% profit, some of those coming in years when the overall stock market returns were better than 15%. You don’t have to deal with the vig when you invest in corporations.

September 14, 2022

PiRate Picks For September 16-17, 2022

That broken clock finally failed to show the correct time on the PiRate Ship. Last week, our five picks came in at 1-4, dropping our profit for the season to $1,211.77 ($1,311.77 left in the imaginary account).

We’re back to where we normally are in September. Usually, when we have a bad week, our saving grace in the past has been Money Line Parlays playing at +140 or higher odds. We had a tough time finding one really good parlay this week. While we like odds in the range of +140 to +180, we couldn’t find the right number of games to make this range work out. We also don’t like to play more than three games in a parlay, so it came down to going with 3 at more than +200 or go to five bigger favorites to get to +155 and change.

We also tend to like to play an odd number of games to eliminate the .500 record that results in a small loss. Of course, when one of those selections is a parlay that pays different than the straight 11-10 odds, a .500 record could be a winning week if one of those wins is the parlay.

Our selections this week are all about the numbers more than the actual teams playing. Without further adieu, here are our selections for the week. Remember: We never wager real money on our picks, and we highly suggest that you follow our lead.

Selection 1: Wyoming +14 1/2 vs. Air Force

This is a nice rivalry game, and the last time the margin of this game exceeded 14 points was 2013. Wyoming’s schedule has been considerably stronger than Air Force’s, as Illinois and Tulsa are both stronger than Colorado. Craig Bohl teams tend to be stronger against the run than the pass, so this looks like a good play to be on the side where the top four margins by frequency come with it (3, 7, 10, and 14 points represent the final margin in 1/4 of all college football games).

Selection #2: Wyoming & Air Force Under 46 1/2

For the same reasons above, this game appeals to us for the total. We think this game is more like a 20-17 game, which falls well under 46 1/2 points.

Selection #3: Maryland -2 1/2 vs. SMU

The PiRates really prefer to go with underdogs that we believe should be favorites, but there were no short ‘dogs this week that really jumped off the page. We believe that Maryland is better than a touchdown stronger than SMU. Game outcomes of 1 and 2 points occur just 5.9% of the time, and that includes 5.9% of the time that the favorite and the underdog win by 1 or 2.

Selection #4: Northern Illinois -2 1/2 vs. Vanderbilt

Ditto the game above. Except, Vanderbilt exposed itself by showing its real weakness last week against Wake Forest. The Huskies were somewhat shocked by Tulsa in week one, but they should rebound in week two.

Selection #5: Nebraska and Oklahoma Under 66 1/2

What do you get when you combine a defensive genius head coach coaching in his third ever game against a big rival with a coach making his debut when a few days ago, he was an assistant coach? Usually, you get a hard-fought game that tends to be a little more defense-oriented. The Cornhuskers should play their best game of the season for interim coach Mickey Joseph, while the Sooners may play it a bit more conservatively. An OU win similar to last year’s game, which ended with 39 total points scored.

Selection #6: California and Notre Dame Over 40 1/2

Notre Dame last started a season 0-3 in 2007. Before Irish fans jump out of buildings, they were 0-2 in 2011 with a loss to a weak South Florida team and proceeded to win eight of their next nine games. Cal isn’t the best defensive team in the land, even though the Bears are only giving up 13.5 points per game so far. UC-Davis and UNLV are not offensive juggernauts.

If this game ends 21-20, it beats the total by a half-point. Notre Dame and Marshall combined for 47 points, and Cal’s offense is better than Marshall’s.

Selection #7: Money Line Parlay at +204.42

Penn State over Auburn

Texas A&M over Miami (Fla.)

North Carolina St. over Texas Tech

Auburn barely beat a mediocre San Jose State team last week. A weaker Penn State team than this year’s squad defeated a stronger Auburn team than this year’s squad last year.

If Texas A&M loses again this week, Jimbo Fisher might be sharing a beer with Scott Frost the following Saturday somewhere outside of a football stadium.

Texas Tech’s win over Houston is getting a lot more accolades than it probably should have gotten. N.C. State’s narrow escape over East Carolina probably got too much as well. This is still a Wolf Pack team capable of winning the ACC Title.

September 8, 2022

PiRate Picks For September 9-10, 2022

Last week, the most important part of our PiRate Picks publication was telling you that a broken clock is still correct twice a day. Please remember this, because we have experienced our broken clock accuracy up front this year. For the second week in a row, our selections went 3-0 to give us a 6-0 record to start the season. We know there are about 150-200 new visitors to this site since the 2021-22 College Football National Championship. Get this and get it good–we are not svengali’s. We are not Billy Walters. We aren’t even Brent Musberger and his incredible cast of handicappers. What are we? Really lucky and not much more than that.

Every week, we preface our selections by urging (begging) you not to wager real currency on the selections you read on this site. We know that there are a considerable number of professional speculators in the Nevada gold mines. We don’t have to tell you what to do with your occupation. It’s Joe Tackletrap in Wichita Falls, Texas, who makes $40,000 a year working himself silly that can ill afford to lose $500 that we have concerns about losing $500 because he wagered $100 each on five selections and lost them all, as he saw his mortgage payment money taken away.

Last week, we casually mentioned that there were some people in Nevada that we had information that they were following this site. Wow! We heard from six different people, two of whom represent a consortium of others, telling us they follow this site. And, they were not all from Las Vegas. We have to give some love to the biggest little city in America–Reno. There’s somebody there that sent us a little note.

For one paragraph, let’s pretend that we really did speculate these first two weeks of the football season, wagering $100 ($110) on margins and totals and $100 on the money line parlay. With the 6-0 record, including a parlay that paid back $241.77, our pretend starting bank account of $1,000 would now be worth $1,641.77. Making a 64% profit in two weeks in real life would quickly lead us to cash out and play no more games. That would be our Holiday Fund for this year.

What are the chances that our picks will be perfect again this week? The prior best first three week start we have ever had was a 9-3-1 start to the 2008 season. In most years, September is our worst month, with a big turnaround in October. Thus, we still do not have much confidence in our September picks. It’s merely the law of averages giving us a positive outlier.

Now that we have adequately warned you, we present our picks for this week. We are going with five selections.

Selection #1: Missouri and Kansas State UNDER 56 1/2

Our belief here is that the Wildcats will play a bit conservatively in the first half trying to keep the ball away from the Tiger offense, as Coach Chris Kleiman is a defense first leader. Missouri scored 52 points against a weak Louisiana Tech defense, and our belief is that the totals line might be a tad too high due to this. KSU’s defense pitched a shutout over FCS South Dakota. The Coyotes are not the top team in the Mount Rushmore state, but their offense is consistent. We see this game as a 28-20 win for the Wildcats. That gives us an extra touchdown to be wrong and still be right.

Selection #2: Iowa and Iowa State OVER 39 1/2

Iowa failed to reach the end zone against South Dakota State, winning 7-3 on a field goal and two safeties. The public looked at a Big Ten team’s offense failing to score on an FCS opponent and didn’t realize two important factors. First, South Dakota State is probably better than 60-75 FBS teams. Second, a college football team improves the most during a season in the practices between game one and game two. You can bet that this week in Iowa City, the offensive units in Hawkeye Land have had just about enough of hearing how lame they were in the opener. Over in Ames, Iowa State’s offense is far superior to its defense. Giving up 10 points to SEMO is nothing like Iowa’s holding SDSU to 3. SEMO is a mediocre Ohio Valley Conference team. Iowa will unleash its offense this week and top 20 points. Our hope is that Iowa State will respond in kind and make this a 24-21 game, topping 39 1/2 points.

Selection #3: Florida and Kentucky OVER 52 1/2

Florida came through for us last week, winning as an underdog when we believed the wrong team was favored. Kentucky overcame a slow start and eventually slaughtered a decent but not spectacular Miami of Ohio team. We believe that the Florida team that almost beat Alabama in 2021 before the team quit on former coach Dan Mullen has returned. If they could score 29 on Alabama last year and 29 on a tough Utah defense in week one, the Gators should put the chomp on Kentucky’s defense for more than 35 points. Can Kentucky’s offense produce 17 points or more? We think they Wildcats will top 20 points, and thus we believe the total in this game will top 56.

Selection #4: Arizona +11 1/2 vs. Mississippi State

This game is a tad different from how we normally play home underdogs. We tend to like our home dogs to get 1 to 7 points. We are making an exception here because it is our belief that few too people saw how the Wildcats went to San Diego State on the Christening of their new stadium and spoiled the party for the home team. We have been keeping our eyes on Coach Jedd Fisch since his arrival in Tucson. It is our beliefe that ‘Zona may have found their football equivalent of Lute Olson. His pedigree is about as incredible as a long-time assistant coach can own. Going up against a Mike Leach-coached team, this late night desert dogfight is going to give us reason to brew an evening pot of coffee. This could be the most entertaining game of Week Two, and we expect the home team to be in it for the entire 60 minutes. What’s great about this selection is that the superior SEC is having to play at the Pac-12 opponent’s home field rather than watch the Pac-12 team make the 2,000+ mile trip to the Southeast. Mississippi State could win this game 31-21, 34-24, 38-28, 35-24, 38-27 and still not cover. We tend to believe that this game will be a 3 to 7 point game in either direction.

Selection #5: Money Line Parlay at +172.97

Central Florida over Louisville

Arkansas over South Carolina

Florida over Kentucky

Louisville looked terrible in a blowout loss at Syracuse and did not look ready to play. Coach Scott Satterfield is sitting on a scorching hot seat, as he has had UL detractors since his hiring. At the same time, Gus Malzahn has quickly become a favored coach in Orlando, and Central Florida looks like a real contender for the American Athletic Conference Championship. In addition, UCF has had this game circled on their schedule and calendar. UL won this game on a pick six last year. The Cardinals are headed to an ambush in Orlando.

The Arkansas-South Carolina game should be quite interesting as two very good SEC teams face off in Fayetteville. We were a bit concerned with Spencer Rattler’s performance against Georgia State, as it was a little too similar to the performances he turned in at Oklahoma, which cost him his starting spot. Arkansas has a much better pass rush and secondary than Georgia State, and their offense at times pushed Cincinnati’s defense around. We see Pig Sooey winning by 10-14 points if not more.

Kentucky has defeated Florida twice in four years, after going mutiple decades without a win over the Gators. Billy Napier has quickly become a favorite in the Swamp almost on par with Steve Spurrier. He probably is the most like former Gator coaches Ray Graves and Doug Dickey than Spurrier or any coaches since. The Gators will be prepared and ready to play every week. Napier is part of both the Nick Saben and Dabo Swinney coaching trees. He knows how to run a program, and his year at Louisiana proved it. Kentucky and coach Mark Stoops are not exactly chopped liver. The Wildcats have a potent team with an NFL prospect under center. Will Levis could be a top three pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Kentucky could be the second best team in the SEC East, but they could be the third or fourth best too. We believe that the Gators will come into this game not resting on their laurels after pulling off the biggest win of Week One. Napier won’t let them get swollen heads. We’re going with Florida in a thriller, and we see the Gators winning 38-28.

September 1, 2022

PiRate Picks–September 1-5, 2022

You know what they say about a broken clock being accurate twice a day? The PiRate Ratings happened to hit the right time on our broken clock in week one. We began the season with three totals’ plays in Week 0, and by luck, all three won. So, we start the season 3-0 against the spread, but are our picks a broken clock that happened to get lucky and be broken on the right time, or did we legitimately begin the season on a winning note?

In most years, our picks begin seasons on a somewhat mediocre beginning and then hit a hot spot in October and early November. What are we to make of a 3-0 start, where if we had begun with an imaginary bank account of $1,000 and wagered $100 on each of the three picks, we would have $1,300 in our account today? Maybe, if we were smart enough, we’d cash in our winning 30% profit and go away for the season. Not many people can make a 30% profit on an investment in one year.

Ah, but here’s the rub. In actuality a 30% profit on $0 is still $0. We could lose every pick we make the rest of the season, and we will have the same amount of real money we would have if we won every wager the rest of the year, because out real investment in this is $0. We never wager real money on these picks, and please don’t do so either.

Some of you do wager for real. We hope this site is merely an addendum to your process.

We have chosen three more selections in Week 1 of the College Football Season, and the three selections involve three different types of wagers. We are going with one side, one total, and one Money Line Parlay with a potential payoff of 141.77%.

Selection #1: Florida + 2 1/2 vs. Utah

Utah probably has three key games this year, where if the Utes go 3-0, they might be 13-0 when the College Football Playoff Committee chooses the four big teams. This is one of those three. I’d really like to see this game move to 3 1/2 points, because about 1 of every 11 college football games end with a 3-point spread. However, this one is a game where we believe the wrong team might be favored. Florida was much better than their record last year. The Gators basically mailed it in the second half of the year, and Dan Mullen was shown the door. New coach Billy Napier has restored the faith at the Swamp. While this Gator team has some vulnerable areas, maybe on the offensive side of the ball, the thought here is that the defense will be fired up and play above their heads in Napier’s first game. While the average of the three PiRate Ratings show Utah to be more than a 6-point favorite in this game, the thought here is that the Gators will be a touchdown better than their real worth, and that makes Florida a slight favorite. Getting 2 1/2 points when the underdog looks like a 55% outright winner is enough to work and make this a pick.

Selection #2: Michigan and Colorado St. UNDER 61 1/2

The question here to us is, “Can Michigan score over 50 points in this game?” The reason we ask this is that Colorado State is likely to score 10 points or less trying to break in a new offense with a new coach and without the necessary players to make it work? Michigan figures to win this game by more than 4 touchdowns, more likely 5 touchdowns. A score of 45-10 looks about right here, and that’s 6 1/2 points less than the total for this game.

Selection #3: Money Line Parlay–3 games at +141.77

Pittsburgh over West Virginia

TCU over Colorado

Houston over UTSA

The Backyard Brawl to start the season is an incredible first game rivalry. Pittsburgh lost a lot of talent off last year’s team, but the Panthers had a good bit of depth. Meanwhile, West Virginia is slowly building up their talent level, but the Mountaineers have a long way to go. In fact, this could be the year where the game with Kansas determines which team finishes last in the Big 12. Pittsburgh looks 10-13 points better to start the season.

TCU starts a new era in Fort Worth for the first time since 2000. Sonny Dykes tries to give the Horned Frogs a little more offense and brings more of a passing game, air-raid style. After surprising some people in the 2020 Covid year and guiding the Buffs to four consecutive wins to start his tenure in Boulder, Colorado has since gone 4-10. This game looks like a 10-14 point win for TCU.

Houston figures to contend along with Central Florida as Cincinnati’s top competitors in the American Athletic Conference. While UTSA is a top of the food chain team in CUSA, they are not ready to stake a claim to second best team in the Lonestar State after Texas A&M. Even playing in San Antonio, the Cougars are at least a touchdown better than the Roadrunners.

Season to Date

Beginning Bankroll (not real): $1,000

Imaginary Investment Last Week: $300

Outcome 3-0

Imaginary return $600

New Bank Account: $1,300

August 25, 2022

PiRate Picks for August 27, 2022

It’s football time in America! Yes, as of this writing on Thursday morning, August 25, football that actually counts in the standings is just 48 hours away.

Every year on Thursdays, the PiRate Ratings submit our selections in a just for fun environment. We never wager real money on our selections, and we encourage you not to do so either. That said, from past experience, we know that at least three dozen of you do monitor our selections and unfortunately risk your mortgage money on what you see here. In the case of two syndicates, there are systems where our weekly ratings are used to help figure which games to play. Last year, we discovered that one of these syndicates includes a very famous person. We don’t have permission to divulge this person’s name, and we are not even 100% sure this person knows that we now know, but a mutual friend in Nevada let the news slip.

It was our hope to feature some guest handicappers this year, but apparently that isn’t working out. When we last tried this feature, a smart and successful female handicapper totally dusted everybody else with a big profit, and we believe she chased away a lot of the guys that didn’t want to be shown up by “a girl.”

The opening week of the college football season only gives us seven games between two FBS teams. There are additional games between FBS and FCS teams, but unless something totally jumps out at us, we will not include FCS teams in this weekly feature.

Something else is new here this year. In the past two years, we have received a lot of comments from you stating that it was impossible for an average Joe to replicate our selections, because we searched all the sports books for the best odds. Most of you that do wager have accounts with one or at most two books. So, we are only going to use one book this year. Because it is the largest and legal in the most states, we will use the odds from Fanduel. Let us make this clear: we have zero relationship with Fanduel and do not receive any financial benefit from them. We only chose to use them because they are now legal in 17 states with another soon to join.

This year, we also plan to deviate from our normal plan of attack that we have used in year’s past. In recent years, we almost exclusively played Money Line parlays where the odds were +120 or more. With an average odds of about +145 odds, winning just three parlays out of seven returned a profit, albeit a small one of 3.5%.

This season, we plan to issue more straight sides and totals selections. We will most likely play no teasers, even though in the past, we did quite well with them. But, that required playing multiple books. One other thing we will not do this year, even though it has probably been our most reliable method in the 20+ year history of this site, is to play both sides or middling. This is an arbitrage gamble that requires playing one side immediately upon the publication of the opening line with belief that the line will move enough to allow you to take the exact opposite side with another selection. Say that the line between State and Tech opens at State by 9.5. Then, by Thursday morning the line has moved to State by 11.5. If you wagered on Sunday night taking State and giving the 9.5 points and then on Thursday, you took Tech and the 11.5 points, you would be guaranteed to win at least one of those selections. But if the final outcome of the game found State winning by 10 or 11 points, something that happens in about 1/6 of all college football games, you win both wagers. Winning both wagers just 1 out of every 19 attempts returns a profit. Doing so requires us to release two of these features a week–one late Sunday night, and then another on Thursday. We did this when we charged a nominal fee for the picks, but this is 100% free and open to the public, and please believe us, it is worth exactly what you are paying for it.

That said, let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about the opening selections for the 2022-23 College Football Season. As we mentioned, there are only seven games on the slate, and our belief in college football odds is that the margins are really accurate to start the season. The line originators and Sharp bettors have months to study the opening week, and they receive beneficial information to alter the spreads. We believe the value to start the season is on the totals, namely because the non-sharps bet a lot of money and frequently alter the number just enough to make it in the favor of the contrarian view.

Thus, we have isolated on three games where we believe we have the advantage playing the totals, and here they are:

#1: Connecticut and Utah State — UNDER 59 1/2

Jim Mora, Jr., takes over at UConn in what is a total rebuild from scratch. The Huskies were once strong enough to make the Fiesta Bowl, but now they have fallen to the point where they had to rally to beat Yale last year. We expect Mora to play a more conservative style of ball this year, trying to shorten games to hide the Huskies’ severe lack of depth. We also believe UConn’s defense will benefit from having to defend more plays, and there will be improvement in the defensive numbers.

Utah State is coming off a stellar year, but we expect the Aggies to be a tad weaker in 2022, at least at the beginning of the season until some young but talented players get some seasoning. The Aggies are favored by 28 1/2 points, and that almost entices one to risk it just on the number alone, but we don’t like playing either side on a spread this large. What we expects is that the game will be lower scoring than expected, something like 38-10 in favor of Utah State. That’s more than 10 points lower than the total for this game.

#2 New Mexico State and Nevada UNDER 49.5

What do you get when a team loses its head coach, its superstar quarterback, and a boatload of players in the Transfer Portal? Obviously, you get a much weaker team. What do you get when a program that has struggled to remain in FBS football brings in a quality head coach with an excellent staff? Well, in year one, it could be even worse than before for a month or two, but what happens when the new coach still believes you succeed in football by running the ball over and over until you can surprise the defense with a pass?

Nevada is basically starting over from scratch after former head coach Jay Norvell made what looks like a lateral move from Reno to Fort Collins. Superstar QB Carson Strong now plays (or sits) for the Philadelphia Eagles, and a lot of key players left Nevada when Norvell left. New coach Ken Wilson has never been a head coach before, and he brings in a staff that have more of a conservative, defense-first pedigree. The Air Raid offense gives way to a more pro-style with an emphasis on using tight ends rather than going 4 wide.

Former Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill might still be in The Cities directing a Gophers’ program that might be the equal of rival Wisconsin in the West Division of the Big Ten. Epilepsy caused him to eventually give up the job, and after a couple years as an assistant, Kill resumes head coaching duties in Las Cruces. Kill hired longtime Division 2 head coach Tim Beck as his offensive coordinator. Beck’s offensive philosophy includes some of the “let your offense be your best defense” tendencies. He used to be a defensive assistant. Add to this that Kill likes to control the clock and keep defenses off the field, and the Aggies figure to give up less points in 2022 than they did in 2021.

There is a lot of smart money on New Mexico State’s side, and the margin has come down to 8 1/2 points. If it was 10 1/2, we might have wagered on the Aggies, but we believe that the inexperience on Nevada’s side in game one combined with the concentration on New Mexico State’s playing a more ball-controlled game, will lead to a final score in the neighborhood of Nevada 24 New Mexico State 16.

#3 Hawaii and Vanderbilt OVER 53 1/2

Here we go the other way with a total, and 53 1/2 is a high total to wager on the Over. Hawaii suffered more personnel losses by defections than Nevada, as former coach Todd Graham was accused of abusing his players. Graham was fired, and former superstar and local hero quarterback Timmy Chang was hired without any past head coaching experience. To make matters worse, Hawaii is having to play in a makeshift stadium for the second consecutive season after Aloha Stadium was condemned and deemed not repairable. The Rainbows are playing on their campus soccer stadium with temporary bleachers, and no more than 9,300 fans can attend games. There is minimal home field advantage, even though opponents have to make two, three, four, and even five-hour time zone changes to play in Manoa.

This year’s Hawaii team will most likely return to the Run and Shoot offense used by the school when Chang played and used by new offensive coordinator Ian Shoemaker at Eastern Washington. Hawaii will have very little running success against even the weakest SEC defense, so expect the home team to pass the ball more than 50 times in this game. What it means is that total scrimmage plays might exceed 160 in this game.

Second year Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea is a defensive-minded coach after being the DC at Notre Dame, but he quickly discovered last year that Vanderbilt plays Matador Defense. Except, when the Commodores saw red, it was the opponent that charged through the 11 black and gold capes. Georgia scored 35 first quarter points in Nashville. By the end of the season, Lea had changed quarterbacks from strict and immobile dropback passer Ken Seals to dual threat Mike Wright. Wright was able to dodge a lot of the pass rush from the worst offensive line in the SEC in the last 10 seasons, and Vandy actually had some decent offensive games in November. We wouldn’t be at all surprised if true freshman A.J. Swann doesn’t see action in this game as well, and although Swann is a pro-style QB, he is much more mobile than former starter Seals.

The Commodores have no big stars in their receiver corps, but they have eight or nine decent receivers, including two tight ends that can force safeties to stay between the hashes, leaving cornerbacks on an island against the wideouts. Because the linebackers will have to prevent Wright from running on the numerous RPOs. Even though the VU offensive line is still the worst in the SEC, against the weak UH defensive line, Wright should have a field day, and Vandy should easily top 35 points in this game, possibly 40.

As weak as the Vandy offensive line is, the entire defense is not much better. The Commodores gave up 36 points per game last year, including giving up 21 to a Colorado State team that averaged just 23.7 points per game and 28 points to a 1-11 UConn team that averaged just 12 points per game against the rest of their FBS schedule and only scored 21 against Yale.

Combine a game that is likely to have 160 scrimmage plays with two weak defenses, and two underrated offenses, and the final score starts to look like 42-38 with either team capable of winning. Vanderbilt is favored by 8 1/2 points, and almost all of the notable computer ratings favor Hawaii by 3-10 points (our PiRate Ratings favor Vandy by about the same as the spread). Thus, we think 53 1/2 points could be passed in the 3rd quarter of this game.

December 1, 2021

PiRate Picks–December 3-4, 2021

A November To Remember!

The last three weeks of PiRate Picks have seen an incredible winning streak only seen twice before at this site. In that time, we wagered on 11 different Money Line parlays and single games, all at odds of +150 or more. At 100 imaginary dollars per imaginary wager, we have seen an imaginary return of $2,770.35, for an imaginary profit of $1,670.35. That comes to an imaginary return on investment of 152% !

Last week, we placed a governor on our wagering engine informing you that we had guaranteed ourselves a winning season in imaginary funds, and we had no plans to give the imaginary windfall profits back to the books. We selected two high odds parlays at +201.37 and +150.77. Both of them won for us, although we had to sweat out Alabama’s beating Auburn.

This week being Championship Week, there are few options to choose from with just a tad over a dozen games. We did not have a parlay jump off the sheet. We had to go looking for value and really found very little. If this were for real, we would pocket our profits and withdraw it from the books. But, to not play any parlays would mean you have no reason to read this week’s publication. So, we painstakingly compared odds trying to shop for an extra 5% benefit, and we came up with two parlays that have the odds we want.

If this is your first visit to this site or this weekly feature, here is an important disclaimer: We never play these selections for real. It is strictly an exercise in mathematical fun. We strongly urge you not to play these picks, unless they simply verify the selections you have already considered. We know that about 25-30 of you reading this feature would be considered professional handicappers/players in Nevada and offshore. We don’t worry about your profit/loss from wagering, because that’s your profession and you look at dozens of references. But, if you are reading this and have a legal account with one of the big handicapping corporations, you most likely won’t be able to play these selections at the odds we issue, because we shop around until we find the best odds. In order to replicate our odds, you would have to open accounts with six different books that we have found the best odds this year. Next year, it could be different books entirely.

Here are our two parlays for this week.

December 3-4

Odds:+185.49
Must WinOpponent
Kent St.Northern Illinois
PittsburghWake Forest


Odds:+205.60
Must WinOpponent
Oklahoma St.Baylor
San Diego St.Utah St.
GeorgiaAlabama

November 23, 2021

PiRate Picks–Thanksgiving Week

A Windfall!

It wasn’t the best ever for the PiRate Ratings, as we’ve had greater than 200% returns on investment in a handful of weeks in the last 17 years, but last week’s 171.2% ROI was our best in the last three years. We played six wagers last week, ranging from +159.65 to +360. We lost the +360, but we won the other five selections for an imaginary gain of $1,027.74 on an imaginary investment of $600.

Coming this late in the year, if we play a bit conservatively the rest of the year, we will be guaranteed of having our 5th winning season in the last 6 years and our 14th winning season in the 17 years we have been pretending to wager. For the season, our imaginary 54 wagers at $100 per game for $5,400 in imaginary currency has returned an imaginary $6,337.83, for a profit of $937.83, and a ROI of 17.4%. Hopefully, you have seen the word “imaginary” a few times to this point. We hope you get what we’re saying; we do not wager real money on these parlays.

We are issuing just two parlays this week. The odds were not what we hoped for, as too many games have very large Money Lines. Additionally, our plan is to play one, two, or three games in each parlay while receiving odds better than +120 and preferably better than +150. Having to ask four teams to win for us is basically one too many. Alas, we had to issue a 4-game parlay this week to bring the odds up above +150.

Here are the two parlays we have selected this week. If either one wins, we are guaranteed to have another winning week. If both win, we may retire for the season and enjoy our imaginary winnings. If neither win, we will have given back a little of our profits.

Odds:+201.37
Must WinOpponent
Ball St.Buffalo
Georgia St.Troy
MemphisTulane

Odds:+150.77
Must WinOpponent
Central MichiganEastern Michigan
Old DominionCharlotte
UCLACalifornia
AlabamaAuburn

November 17, 2021

PiRate Picks–November 17-20

Last week, we had a lot of difficulty isolating potential Money Line parlays where the numbers and our method meshed. In the end, we could only issue three selection parlays. So, guess what happened? We won big! How big? How about a Return on Investment of 96.8%? Yes, we almost doubled our imaginary weekly investment, and that ballooned our imaginary profit for the year to 10.63%. With more than $500 in imaginary profit to play with, we are loosening the reins a bit this week, because the third week in November historically has been the week with major upsets of teams thinking they have sure wins in the bag prior to playing their penultimate rival the following week. It isn’t exact as much as it used to be; USC and UCLA are playing this week, and both rivals have additional games. Some of the games we are choosing as big upsets do not necessarily fit this category, but in this case, Game 12 for these teams may be even more important than playing an arch-rival. We will explain each pick separately this week to show you why.

One of the weekly questions we receive at our email is “where do you get those payout odds?” First of all, it’s amazing how many of you email us when we don’t give out the email address. Sure, it can be found elsewhere, but to go to that much trouble to find it actually means a lot to us, and because of that, we try to answer every one of them without using a form response.

Here’s how we do it. We bookmark almost 2 dozen sports books, which include Las Vegas, Off shore, and those now legal in the various states that legalized sports betting and forced every radio and TV station to carry 30-40 ads per day, making it like it is election season 24/7/365. From these 2 dozen books, we then note which specific book has the best odds on each college football game. Contrary to what most people might do, where they look for the game and then wager due to their thought on the outcome, we look at the number and then wager based on the advantage we believe we gain by the number being off by a 5% or more. For example, if State U is listed at -225 vs. Tech, and we believe the Money Line should be -240, and there are 15 other books with the game between -240 and -250, we consider that a 6.25% advantage for us. Anything over 5% presents a possible choice.

Next, we then begin to combine these games into parlays that return a minimum of +120 odds. We rarely play a parlay at +120. We are usually more interested in parlays of +150 or better, where winning the parlay 30-40% of the time will produce a net profit. Of course, the key is that our own inside data must present the 5% or better advantage, not just one book over the other books.

Another question we receive often is, “which book has the best money line odds?” We cannot answer that question, because it changes from week to week. Just about every parlay we select in a given week comes from a different book than every other parlay for that week. This week, we are going with six different selections, using four different books. If you want to know which single book would be the best one and only book where you choose to open an account, we are not qualified to give you that answer, because the answer would change from week to week.

Let’s get started with this week’s selections.

Odds:+270
Must WinOpponent
MissouriFlorida

Dan Mullen has lost the locker room. After firing multiple coaches, the Gators’s defense quit on their coach, while at the same time, the new defensive coordinator was not ready against weak FCS Samford. Missouri has an offense capable of scoring 50 points against this Gator defense. The Tigers and Gators have some bad blood, and the head coaches even displayed animous last year. Both teams are now playing for a minor bowl game. Florida’s players could care less about a possible Birmingham or Gasparilla Bowl bid. Missouri’s players realize this is a good step forward for the future. At +270 and playing at home in a cold Columbia, Missouri, climate, where the temperature will be in the low 50’s with a wind chill in the 40’s, everything is in Missouri’s favor to pull off the upset and becoming bowl eligible.

Odds:+160
Must WinOpponent
Old DominionMiddle Tennessee

This one does not fit the upset pattern listed above. It is a different theory entirely. Old Dominion head coach Ricky Rahne is accomplishing incredible things in 2021. ODU was one of the teams that did not play football in 2020. Their roster was decimated with just 7 of their starting 22 players from 2019 suiting up this year. The Monarchs looked more like Connecticut and Massachusetts when the season commenced in September. After a 1-6 start with the win over FCS Hampton, ODU looked like a potential 1-11 team. However, Rahne and his staff kept the team’s confidence level high and made adjustments on both sides of the ball, and the Monarchs have won three consecutive C-USA games to put themselves into contention to win out and become bowl eligible. Looking at just the last three weeks, ODU clearly looks superior to Middle Tennessee, and at +160, we’re willing to risk $100 in imaginary bucks that they will win their fourth game in a row and then beat Charlotte next week to become a bowl team.

Odds:+360
Must WinOpponent
SMUCincinnati

We couldn’t resist this one. Cincinnati has been sneaking by with 20 minutes of good football per game since winning at Notre Dame. That sufficed in narrow wins over weak Navy, Tulane, Tulsa, and South Florida teams. SMU can stake themselves to a three touchdown lead if the Bearcats don’t play a first 30 minutes like they did against the Irish. It is our belief that Cincinnati will lose a game before the end of the regular season, and they will have to beat SMU, East Carolina, and most likely Houston to get to 13-0. Playing like they have since Mid-October, we don’t see a path to 13-0. With the odds this high and with SMU capable of outscoring the Bearcats, we are willing to take a little more risk calling for an outright upset.

Odds:+159.65
Must WinOpponent
Northern IllinoisBuffalo
HoustonMemphis

Normally, we release this feature late on Wednesday or on Thursday morning. We had to move the release up to Wednesday at Midday because of the Northern Illinois-Buffalo game that plays tonight. The Huskies generated a big difference in the money line in our belief. We believe NIU should be in excess of -250 against the Bulls, so this became an automatic play. Combining NIU with Houston was done because this game had the best odds with the same book that had the best odds for NIU, and it moved the parlay to greater than +150. We think Houston might actually be the best G5 team at this point.

Odds:+303.09
Must WinOpponent
East CarolinaNavy
ClemsonWake Forest
West VirginiaTexas

The +303.09 payout odds on this game is the perfect example of finding better numbers. If we played this same parlay at the same book from the previous parlay, the odds would have been around +275. That’s a difference of more than 9%, and that’s where winning edges come from.

All three of these games feature small favorites playing teams with specific liabilities that can be exploited by the favorite. East Carolina can exploit Navy’s weak pass defense while hiding a vulnerable pass defense that Navy cannot exploit. Clemson’s defense is strong enough to limit Wake Forest to 24-28 points, and the Demon Deacon defense gives up 30 points to opponents before kickoff. Even the mediocre CU offense will score 31 points against WFU. West Virginia playing at home in November is a tough out. Texas is a dying rose and without Bijan Robinson, we are not sure that the Longhorns could win on the road against Marshall at this point.

Odds:+235
Must WinOpponent
ColoradoWashington

Washington fired coach Jimmy Lake this week after losing to Arizona State. They play rival Washington State next week. The Huskies are just not talented overall, and their 4-6 record is well-deserved. Having to play on the road with little to no depth and at high altitude, we don’t expect UW to have their A-game this week. Colorado is 3-7 with a road game against Utah next week. This is senior day, and CU’s players know in the back of their heads that this is their chance for one more victory. This has the look of a 20-17 game either way, and at +235, we will take the home underdog to come out on top.

Remember that the PiRates never wager real money on these games, and we highly suggest you do not either. At this time of year, you need all the extra cash you can get, and losing a couple hundred of those greenbacks because of what you have read here is so not in the holiday spirit.

November 11, 2021

PiRate Picks–November 11-13, 2021

We almost made it, but a small miss is as good as a long mile. Last week, with a fourth consecutive winning week looking promising, a couple of fourth quarters went against us, and alas we suffered a tiny loss of 0.9%, or less than $5 on $500 invested in imaginary currency.

For the year, our net profit is now 4.88%, so we are still in the black, just barely. This week, we delayed by a day putting this feature online. The reason is that we did not like the overall numbers and wanted the betting public to help us out by moving the money lines just enough for our program to show the parlays to have an edge by finding the best lines. After looking at 11 different books, we still could only find three wagers to play. Four more were monitored closely and might have eventually moved to make them playable, but we like to publish this before Noon on Thursday, and the movements aren’t moving this morning (Thursday at 9:30 AM EST).

These next two weeks historically have seen monumental upsets in college football when teams that appear to be superior to the opponents they are playing have hidden depth issues. It’s not just players that don’t dress out. By this point in the schedule most college teams have 10-20 players that are playing with minor injuries and are not the same as they were four weeks ago. We look for teams that win consistently through the first week in November but tend to lose power ratings while winning, because instead of producing a statistics box that looks like a 20-point win, they produce a statistics box of 15-17 points, and then 10-14 points. We do not update our ratings by final score. We look at the statistics and make a score adjustment based on the domination or lack thereof and then update. A team that wins by 28 points and is out-gained by 50 yards where the opponent lost fumbles in the Red Zone may actually receive credit for a 14-point “effective win.” A team that wins by 11 points but ends the game at the opponent’s five yard line and chooses to take a knee may receive credit for an 18-point effective win.

You will also notice that since early in the season, we have stopped playing NFL parlays in this feature. The variance in the games is making it impossible for our method to isolate on enough games to make a favorable parlay. We think there are two reasons for this. First, even though there are lousy teams like Detroit, there are no dominant teams that can be counted on to win when they are favored by less than a touchdown. Second, now that many millions more people can legally wager, the odds no longer move by large enough amounts to create favorable odds. There are 60+ college games to find favorable numbers, and the public may not find a Mountain West Conference game worth much, while we do. There are 13-16 NFL games per week, and even Detroit, San Francisco, and Miami get heavy action. We’d like to play three underdogs this week, but the numbers are not favorable according to our program.

Here are our three selections for this week. Remember, we never wager real money on these picks. If we don’t, do you think you should?

Odds:+185
Must WinOpponent
East CarolinaMemphis

Odds:+205.47
Must WinOpponent
Kansas St.West Virginia
Air ForceColorado St.
Oklahoma St.TCU

Odds:+152.71
Must WinOpponent
LouisianaTroy
OklahomaBaylor
OregonWashington St.

November 3, 2021

PiRate Picks–November 4-6, 2021

Filed under: PiRate Picks_College & Pro — Tags: , — piratings @ 4:45 pm

Are we maybe on to something? Well, maybe, we are on to a minor something. Three straight winning weeks but just minor victories are maybe the equivalent of winning three straight football games by less than a touchdown; we’re 3-0, but the pollsters aren’t going to award us for the wins. We’re the Oklahoma of the current Playoff Rankings.

For the year, our imaginary bank account is in positive territory by 5.607%. On $4,000 in imaginary funds, we have had a return of $4,224.28.

Our big wins last week included picking Michigan State to win outright over Michigan, and then hitting on a nice parlay at +250 with Utah State beating Hawaii and San Jose St. topping Wyoming. The Group of 5 conferences have returned slightly better on our investment than the Power 5 conferences, and we chalk that up to the numbers not being as perfect on these games due to lack of action by the masses. Now that wagering is legal for several million people, it’s like 50 more Las Vegas’s were created overnight, and these millions want to wager on the Alabama’s, the Georgia’s, the Ohio State’s, and the Oregon’s. The Mid-American Conference, and The Mountain West Conference–Not so much. While we cannot wager on MAC games now that they are playing their midweek November schedules, and this feature comes out very late on Wednesday, we have other G5 games to consider.

Before getting to the five selections we have made this week, let us answer a couple of questions we have received this year concerning this feature.

Q. How do you determine your odds when you bet on these games, or pretend to?

A. Good question. We have seven different online sites that list multiple sports books’ odds. All told, we monitor 23 different sports books looking for the best odds. We isolate on those games where we believe the Money Line odds are slightly off just enough to add 5% or more of the total potential payout if we win. So, if most of the books show State at -150, but Big Boy Bets has it at -145, we take advantage of the benefit. Combine two or more of these, and instead of a payout of +130, we might get +150. That’s a big difference and can lead to a profit instead of a loss.

Once we have chosen the games we want, we then try to arrange them in parlays where the odds are much better than Even Money. Let’s say we have State at -200 and Tech at -150 and wish to combine them into a parlay. Now, there is an easy way if you don’t want to do the math. Simply go online to a handicapping site that offers free parlay calculators. But, being math nerds here on the PiRate ship, we like to show you how to do it yourself. It isn’t that hard; a calculator is all you need. There are three easy steps.

Step 1: Take the odds of the two games and divide 100 by each and then add one. (100/200) + 1 = 1.5. (100/150)+1 = 1.667.

Step 2: Multiply the two results. 1.5*1.667 = 2.50.

Step 3: Subtract 1 from step 2 and multiply by 100. (2.50-1)*100 = 150

The parlay odd on this 2-game combo is +150. If we wager $100 and win the parlay, we will receive $250 back (The $150 + our $100 investment).

Q. Last week, you had a parlay that I could not replicate in any way, involving Central Florida over Temple and Kansas State over TCU. You showed +348.93. How did you get that number?

A. We received nine notifications about this. If you looked back later that day, you discovered what we did wrong. We chopped off one part of the parlay. Rice was the third game in that parlay. Nevertheless, it lost. That was a typing error on our part, and we are sorry.

Q. Why do you always mention that we should not take your parlay choices as advice and not to wager on them unless we already have prior research that your picks justify? How could we possibly know in advance which games you will pick? The chances of picking the same parlay are about like hitting the lottery.

A. Here’s where we are coming from. We are old PiRates. We don’t have a ton of disposable income to throw away and give to billionaires. We already do that when we buy a bar of soap, toothpaste, or gasoline for the car. Why give up any more? Additionally, if we actually had real money involved in this procedure, we would be too hesitant to ever make even one pick. We’d find something wrong with every potential selection. So, we’d never release even one parlay to you. By making sure you know that we wager $0 on our selections, you know that we have no worries about the games. We hope you join us in having no worries.

If you can take our picks and do something with them, then it is up to you to determine how you will use this information. We know there are two different groups that monitor our ratings and make selections based on how the three ratings differ.

Without further adieu, here are this week’s picks.

Date:
November 4-6
Odds:+182.86
Must WinOpponent
LouisianaGeorgia St.
Penn St.Maryland
New MexicoUNLV

Odds:+178.57
Must WinOpponent
NevadaSan Jose St.
Iowa St.Texas
Fresno St.Boise St.

Odds:+160
Must WinOpponent
WyomingColorado St.

Odds:+158.63
Must WinOpponent
North TexasSouthern Miss.
Michigan St.Purdue

Odds:+135.34
Must WinOpponent
UtahStanford
OregonWashington
Miami (Fla.)Georgia Tech

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