The Pi-Rate Ratings

October 6, 2021

PiRate Picks–October 9-10, 2021

Last week, time constraints limited this weekly feature to the bare minimum. We have plenty of time this week, so rather than just list the games we have chosen, there’s time to go a little more in-depth with our selections.

First, we made a minimal profit of imaginary revenue last week, as we hit on the long odds 4-game parlay at +372.50 with Texas beating TCU, Wake Forest beating Louisville, South Carolina beating Troy, and Oklahoma State holding on to edge Baylor.

This week presented us with numerous opportunities where certain factors triggered plays. We ended up trimming it to eight parlays, and all but one game coming on Saturday. We had one key Sunday game but could not find an NFL partner for the game, so it attached to other college games to give us the biggest odds of the week. Without further adieu, here are our picks for this week. Remember, this is for entertainment purposes only, and we highly encourage you not to wager real money on these selections, unless you have other research that the information herein merely endorses.

Odds:+153.06
Must WinOpponent
Wake ForestSyracuse
BaylorWest Virginia

This first parlay is cut and dry. We believe that the public is not all that high on the two favorites. Wake Forest is supposed to be weak most years, but Dave Clawson has the Demon Deacons creeping up on Clemson for best in the Atlantic Division of the ACC. Baylor came oh so close to knocking off Oklahoma State in Stillwater last week. Had they pulled that win off, the Bears might be approaching the Top 10. West Virginia has played a tough schedule in a short time, and we feel they might show some fatigue in this game.

Odds:+155
Must WinOpponent
UTSAWestern Kentucky

Obviously, this is not a parlay. It is one of four games where we are picking an underdog to win straight up. Western Kentucky is due to bounce after getting up and playing a close game at Michigan State, while UTSA has quietly started 5-0 with a Power 5 win.

Odds:+160
Must WinOpponent
TexasOklahoma

It hasn’t been often in the last 15 years that we went into the second weekend in October believing that Texas would beat Oklahoma. Oklahoma has been narrowly escaping with wins over mediocre competition. After getting pasted at Arkansas, Texas has begun to look like a team ready to compete for the Big 12 Championship Game. We consider this a tossup game, so we go with the better odds and the underdog.

Odds:+160
Must WinOpponent
NebraskaMichigan

This is more of a system play. Nebraska won by more than 38 points in a conference game and now plays a conference home game the next week. In a high percentage of cases like this, the home team continues to play at the same top level it played the previous week. Additionally, Michigan is on the road for the second consecutive week in a key conference game. This has the look of a traditional upset.

Odds:+161.90
Must WinOpponent
San Jose St.Colorado St.
Bowling GreenAkron

The key game here is the San Jose State-Colorado State game. We feel like the wrong team is favored. However, playing SJSU in a single game does not supply us with the odds we look for when playing Money Lines. So, we added the Bowling Green game to it to make a parlay that has fat payout odds. The betting public may not see how much the Falcons have improved this year, while Akron remains one of the five worst teams in the FBS.

Odds:+188.93
Must WinOpponent
IowaPenn St.
TennesseeSouth Carolina
Arizona St.Stanford

This is the first of three big-odds payouts we are playing this week. In the first game in this parlay, our ratings show Iowa at the present time to be good enough to run the table and make the Playoffs. Penn State looks like a 10-2 team destined to play on New Year’s Day in Florida. Kirk Ferentz may have his best team in Iowa City.

In the second leg of this parlay, Tennessee fits the same criteria that Nebraska faces. They won by 38 points against a conference opponent and play at home this week against another conference opponent. While South Carolina’s defense is considerably better than Missouri’s, their offense is not as sharp, and we believe Josh Heupel’s Vols are sitting on another great performance.

The third part of this parlay is simply a case where we believe Arizona State is clearly superior to Stanford on both sides of the ball and should win by double digits.

Odds:+195.50
Must WinOpponent
South AlabamaTexas St.
Kent St.Buffalo
WisconsinIllinois

South Alabama looks to be 10-14 points better than Texas State, and when we saw the Money Line odds on this game, it was the first one that went into our play pool. Kent State has a score to settle with Buffalo. In the weird Covid year of 2020, The Golden Flashes only managed to get four games in the books. Buffalo was the last, and Kent State went into this game 3-0 and averaging 53 points per game. Buffalo was also 3-0. The Bulls hung 70 points on the Flashes. Kent State gets their revenge this week.

Wisconsin is the best 1-3 team in America. It is odd how many times unforced errors have hurt the Badgers in their three losses. The Badgers don’t particularly like their rival to the south, and we expect UW to win this game by a large margin.

Odds:+241.12
Must WinOpponent
Central MichiganOhio U
BYUBoise St.
CarolinaPhiladelphia

Finally, we come to our biggest odds play of the week. We only found one NFL game we wanted to play based on the Money Line odds, so we had to parlay the Carolina Panthers with a couple of college games.

While 2021 looks like a so-so year for Central Michigan, Ohio is in a state of flux after former coach Frank Solich retired during the Summer. The Bobcats are almost sleep-walking through games this year, which can be attributed to growing pains.

Boise State is a mere shell of its former self under Bryan Harsin. New coach Andy Avalos inherited 16 returning starters, but the Broncos never played up to their potential last year and appear to be repeating it this year. Maybe, they were just a bit overrated?

BYU has shown the world that they were more than just Zach Wilson last year. The Cougars’ defense is top notch, while the offense is a bit more deliberate this year, but it helps the defense perform even better. Other than the fact that the Cougars may be looking ahead a tad to next week’s game at Baylor, everything here looks like a BYU win.

Carolina should be a heavier favorite over Philadelphia. The loss to Dallas has been factored a bit too heavily. We like the Panthers solely because their Money Line odds are so favorable this week.

September 12, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Football September 12, 2021

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 9:56 am

Note: We want to thank all our fans that were part of the opening weekend introduction of the PiRate Ratings Pro Football Simulation Tabletop Game. We were overwhelmed by the number of orders you made for the salute to the American Football League.

If you are interested in knowing more about the game, click on the link below.

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

HomeVisitorPiRateMeanBias
LouisianaOhio U23.319.222.3
LouisvilleCentral Florida0.31.1-0.8
IllinoisMarylalnd-14.3-12.2-11.2
Miami (Fla.)Michigan St.10.39.411.3
MichiganNorthern Illinois20.323.524.3
ArmyConnecticut35.734.538.9
MassachusettsEastern Michigan-15.9-14.8-16.5
TempleBoston College-22.4-21.3-22.0
West VirginiaVirginia Tech9.79.18.3
BuffaloCoastal Carolina-8.7-7.0-9.9
PittsburghWestern Michigan15.816.517.5
OklahomaNebraska25.622.524.0
IndianaCincinnati-3.9-3.1-4.3
Texas A&MNew Mexico35.335.936.9
ColoradoMinnesota4.93.31.4
WyomingBall St.3.44.37.7
Kansas St.Nevada8.97.37.4
Notre DamePurdue0.52.30.8
ClemsonGeorgia Tech26.727.129.6
Washington St.USC-12.8-11.7-14.6
FloridaAlabama-13.3-10.1-13.9
Wake ForestFlorida St.8.77.18.4
IowaKent St.26.423.929.4
Louisiana TechSMU-4.5-4.9-7.0
Ohio St.Tulsa23.423.425.6
KansasBaylor-15.1-17.4-19.6
ToledoColorado St.16.516.315.3
DukeNorthwestern-11.6-10.3-12.5
ArkansasGeorgia Southern30.029.229.1
MemphisMississippi St.-13.7-13.3-11.4
WashingtonArkansas St.17.517.820.1
UTSAMiddle Tennessee14.114.912.3
LibertyOld Dominion35.636.337.6
MarshallEast Carolina5.06.04.4
Southern Miss.Troy-10.5-9.1-10.2
Texas TechFlorida Int’l.26.226.223.4
Georgia St.Charlotte14.212.312.0
San Diego St.Utah-6.1-6.7-6.5
GeorgiaSouth Carolina29.029.231.7
Penn St.Auburn-0.91.41.7
Air ForceUtah St.10.39.011.1
North CarolinaVirginia14.812.817.8
LSUCentral Michigan12.514.914.8
North TexasUAB-8.8-8.7-8.9
VanderbiltStanford-14.2-16.1-14.9
TexasRice33.231.332.0
Ole MissTulane14.315.612.6
Boise St.Oklahoma St.-2.7-2.8-0.9
BYUArizona St.2.10.62.1
UNLVIowa St.-32.7-32.2-33.9
UCLAFresno St.18.116.215.8
HawaiiSan Jose St.-3.5-4.3-2.2

This week’s FBS vs. FCS Games

FBSFCSPiRate
KentuckyChattanooga30.2
MissouriSE Missouri29.4
TennesseeTennessee Tech30.7
SyracuseAlbany21.5
RutgersDelaware23.5
Miami (O)Long Island25.5
AkronBryant9.2
Appalachian St.Elon27.7
Oregon St.Idaho21.2
CaliforniaSacramento St.22.3
Bowling GreenMurray St.5.2
Florida AtlanticFordham27.4
HoustonGrambling28.8
South FloridaFlorida A&M15.5
Texas St.Incarnate Word13.5
OregonStony Brook32.4
North Carolina St.Furman27.1
Louisiana-MonroeJackson St.11.6
South AlabamaAlcorn St.23.3
New Mexico St.South Carolina St.1.5
ArizonaNorthern Arizona16.3

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

RankTeamRating
1Alabama132.3
2Georgia128.5
3Oklahoma126.4
4Clemson121.7
5Iowa St.120.6
6Ohio St.119.5
7Cincinnati119.2
8Auburn118.2
9Texas A&M117.8
10North Carolina117.7
11Iowa117.6
12Florida116.8
13Penn St.116.0
14U S C115.7
15Wisconsin114.7
16T C U114.4
17Ole Miss114.0
18Texas114.0
19Oregon113.5
20Miami (Fla.)113.4
21U C L A113.0
22West Virginia112.9
23Indiana112.4
24Arkansas112.3
25Arizona St.111.7
26L S U111.4
27Utah110.5
28BYU110.3
29Maryland109.6
30Oklahoma St.109.5
31Coastal Carolina109.1
32Michigan108.6
33Purdue108.6
34Notre Dame108.3
35NC State108.1
36Kentucky108.0
37Mississippi St.108.0
38Louisiana106.9
39Virginia Tech106.9
40Wake Forest106.8
41Liberty106.8
42Oregon St.106.3
43Missouri106.2
44Colorado106.2
45Michigan St.106.1
46Minnesota106.0
47Washington105.6
48Virginia105.6
49Kansas St.105.4
50Nebraska105.3
51Stanford105.1
52Baylor104.9
53Boston College104.8
54Boise St.104.3
55UCF104.0
56Pittsburgh103.3
57Texas Tech102.9
58Tulane102.9
59Appalachian St.102.8
60Northwestern102.5
61Tennessee102.4
62Army102.1
63Louisville101.7
64South Carolina101.5
65Florida St.101.3
66Houston101.2
67San Diego St.101.1
68Nevada100.6
69Rutgers100.4
70San Jose St.100.4
71Central Michigan100.4
72Washington St.99.6
73California99.6
74Fresno St.99.3
75Tulsa98.4
76Toledo98.3
77Miami (Ohio)97.9
78Buffalo97.6
79Wyoming97.4
80SMU97.2
81Air Force97.0
82U T S A96.9
83Georgia Tech96.8
84Marshall96.7
85Troy95.4
86Ball St.95.3
87Syracuse94.9
88East Carolina94.6
89Illinois94.5
90U A B94.2
91Kent St.94.0
92Memphis93.7
93Hawaii93.1
94Florida Atlantic92.5
95Arizona92.2
96Georgia St.91.7
97South Alabama91.4
98Eastern Michigan91.0
99Arkansas St.90.1
100Utah St.89.8
101Western Michigan89.7
102Northern Illinois88.9
103Louisiana Tech88.7
104Duke88.5
105Ohio88.3
106USF88.2
107Texas St.87.8
108Vanderbilt87.0
109Western Kentucky86.2
110Middle Tennessee86.1
111Georgia Southern85.9
112Colorado St.85.3
113Rice84.8
114New Mexico84.8
115U N L V84.7
116Navy84.6
117Kansas84.5
118Southern Miss.83.4
119North Texas82.4
120Charlotte80.9
121Florida Int’l.80.6
122Temple80.4
123U T E P76.6
124UL-Monroe75.6
125Akron75.2
126UMass72.8
127Bowling Green72.4
128Old Dominion72.3
129New Mexico St.69.4
130Connecticut67.7

PiRate Ratings By Conference

American Athletic Conference
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Cincinnati119.0118.0120.6119.2
UCF103.6102.5105.9104.0
Tulane102.7101.4104.5102.9
Houston101.6100.2101.9101.2
Tulsa98.498.698.198.4
SMU96.597.597.697.2
East Carolina94.693.795.494.6
Memphis92.993.594.793.7
USF88.687.788.388.2
Navy85.184.384.584.6
Temple79.681.180.480.4

AAC Averages96.696.297.496.8

Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Clemson120.6121.0123.3121.7
NC State108.6107.8108.0108.1
Wake Forest107.2106.0107.3106.8
Boston College104.5104.9104.9104.8
Louisville101.4101.0102.6101.7
Florida St.101.0101.4101.4101.3
Syracuse95.495.294.294.9

Coastal Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
North Carolina116.7116.8119.7117.7
Miami (Fla.)113.8112.5114.1113.4
Virginia Tech107.8106.4106.4106.9
Virginia104.9106.9104.9105.6
Pittsburgh102.9103.9103.3103.3
Georgia Tech96.996.996.796.8
Duke88.589.887.388.5

ACC Averages105.0105.0105.3105.1

Big 12 Conference
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Oklahoma127.6125.0126.5126.4
Iowa St.121.1119.3121.4120.6
T C U114.9113.6114.6114.4
Texas115.0113.0113.9114.0
West Virginia114.5112.6111.6112.9
Oklahoma St.110.0109.6108.8109.5
Kansas St.105.8105.8104.7105.4
Baylor105.5105.1104.1104.9
Texas Tech102.9103.7102.1102.9
Kansas87.384.781.684.5

Big 12 Averages110.5109.2108.9109.5

Big Ten Conference
East Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Ohio St.118.8119.0120.8119.5
Penn St.114.7115.8117.4116.0
Indiana112.0111.9113.3112.4
Maryland111.0109.3108.3109.6
Michigan107.8108.9109.2108.6
Michigan St.106.5106.1105.8106.1
Rutgers99.4101.6100.2100.4

West Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Iowa117.0116.5119.4117.6
Wisconsin114.1114.0116.0114.7
Purdue108.4107.8109.6108.6
Minnesota104.9106.0107.3106.0
Nebraska105.0105.5105.5105.3
Northwestern102.6102.5102.3102.5
Illinois94.294.694.794.5

Big Ten Averages108.3108.6109.3108.7

Conference USA
East Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Marshall96.796.796.996.7
Florida Atlantic91.493.392.792.5
Western Kentucky85.287.086.486.2
Middle Tennessee85.785.587.186.1
Charlotte80.181.181.580.9
Florida Int’l.79.780.581.780.6
Old Dominion72.072.672.272.3

West Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
U T S A96.897.496.596.9
U A B94.594.293.994.2
Louisiana Tech89.089.687.688.7
Rice84.884.784.984.8
Southern Miss.82.684.283.483.4
North Texas82.782.482.082.4
U T E P77.077.775.176.6

CUSA Averages85.686.285.985.9

FBS Independents
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
BYU110.2109.5111.1110.3
Notre Dame107.4108.6108.9108.3
Liberty105.6106.9107.8106.8
Army102.0102.0102.3102.1
UMass74.273.670.672.8
New Mexico St.69.870.667.869.4
Connecticut68.369.565.467.7

Indep. Averages91.191.590.691.1

Mid-American Conference
East Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Miami (Ohio)99.797.496.697.9
Buffalo98.297.297.497.6
Kent St.93.695.593.094.0
Ohio87.289.188.588.3
Akron77.075.073.675.2
Bowling Green73.073.470.972.4

West Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Central Michigan101.199.8100.2100.4
Toledo98.898.497.798.3
Ball St.96.296.193.695.3
Eastern Michigan92.790.989.591.0
Western Michigan90.090.388.889.7
Northern Illinois90.488.587.988.9

MAC Averages91.591.089.890.8

Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Boise St.104.3103.8104.8104.3
Wyoming96.797.398.397.4
Air Force96.896.797.497.0
Utah St.89.590.689.389.8
Colorado St.85.385.185.485.3
New Mexico85.085.384.084.8

West Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
San Diego St.101.5100.9100.9101.1
Nevada99.9101.5100.3100.6
San Jose St.100.9101.099.4100.4
Fresno St.97.699.7100.699.3
Hawaii93.492.793.193.1
U N L V85.584.284.684.7

MWC Averages94.794.994.894.8

Pac-12 Conference
North Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Oregon112.1113.4115.0113.5
Oregon St.106.2106.1106.5106.3
Washington104.6105.9106.3105.6
Stanford104.8105.9104.6105.1
Washington St.99.5100.399.199.6
California97.2101.5100.199.6

South Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
U S C115.2115.0116.7115.7
U C L A112.7112.9113.3113.0
Arizona St.111.1112.0112.0111.7
Utah110.6110.6110.4110.5
Colorado106.7106.3105.6106.2
Arizona92.892.091.892.2

Pac-12 Averages106.1106.8106.8106.6

Southeastern Conference
East Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Georgia127.9127.9129.9128.5
Florida116.0117.9116.6116.8
Kentucky107.4109.2107.5108.0
Missouri106.1106.8105.8106.2
Tennessee102.6101.9102.6102.4
South Carolina101.9101.6101.2101.5
Vanderbilt87.686.886.787.0

West Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Alabama132.4131.0133.5132.3
Auburn118.6117.4118.7118.2
Texas A&M117.3118.2117.9117.8
Ole Miss113.9114.0114.1114.0
Arkansas112.8112.5111.5112.3
L S U110.5111.7112.0111.4
Mississippi St.108.1108.3107.5108.0

SEC Averages111.7111.8111.8111.8

Sunbelt Conference
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Coastal Carolina109.8107.1110.3109.1
Appalachian St.102.2101.9104.4102.8
Troy95.195.495.795.4
Georgia St.92.391.491.591.7
Georgia Southern85.986.485.485.9

TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Louisiana107.6105.3107.9106.9
South Alabama91.791.890.791.4
Arkansas St.90.191.189.290.1
Texas St.89.186.987.487.8
UL-Monroe76.276.573.975.6

Sun Averages94.093.493.693.7

Conference Ratings

RankConferenceRating
1Southeastern111.8
2Big 12109.5
3Big Ten108.7
4Pac-12106.6
5Atlantic Coast105.1
6American Athletic96.8
7Mountain West94.8
8Sun Belt93.7
9Independents91.1
10Mid-American90.8
11Conference USA85.9

Saturday’s TV Games of Interest

All Times Eastern Daylight

12:00 Noon

Indiana vs. Cincinnati: The Bearcats could pick up some much needed schedule strength with a road win against the Hoosiers, although Indiana’s big loss to Iowa may not make a CU win all that influential to the Selection Committee down the road. As of this publication, it has not been decided if this will be the ABC or ESPN game.

Buffalo vs. Coastal Carolina: Why do we call this important? Coastal Carolina has a chance to run the table for a second consecutive regular season, and this figures to possibly be their second toughest game on their schedule. If the Chanticleers win this one on the road, then possible a road game against Appalachian State on October 20 will be all that stands in CCU’s way of going 12-0 and competing for a NY6 Bowl. This game will be on ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Oklahoma vs. Nebraska: We don’t expect an exciting game in this one, but it marks a very important 50th anniversary. On Thanksgiving Day of 1971, the number one Cornhuskers visited Norman to face the number two Sooners in the “Game of the Century.” We believe it was the game of the second half of the century, as the 1946 Army-Notre Dame game at Yankee Stadium was just as big.

On that great day 50 years ago, the lead changed hands three times with Nebraska tailback Jeff Kinney diving into the end zone late in the fourth quarter to give the ‘Huskers the 35-31 win. Oklahoma went on to the Sugar Bowl and destroyed a 9-1 Auburn team that had Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan at quarterback. The final score was 40-22, but it was 40-6 before Coach Chuck Fairbanks emptied his bench.

Nebraska met undefeated Alabama in the Orange Bowl for the national title. The game was a blowout by halftime, as Nebraska cruised to a 38-6 win. Nebraska finished first in the polls, and Oklahoma finished #2. Colorado, which only lost to Nebraska and Oklahoma edged Alabama for #3, while the Tide fell to #4. This was the only time in history that the #1 team beat the #’s 2, 3, and 4 teams in a season.

As for this year’s game, Oklahoma should win by a lopsided score, but maybe Nebraska will play its best game under Coach Scott Frost and make it interesting. Catch this game on Fox.

West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech: The Hokies look strong enough defensively to compete with all their ACC brethren, while West Virginia is a work in progress under second year coach Neal Brown. The Mountaineers are a different team at Mountaineer Field than they are on the road. This should be a stern test for Justin Fuente’s squad. This one airs on FS1.

3:30 PM

Florida vs. Alabama: Florida might have a bit of a quarterback controversy between starter Emory Jones and exciting backup Anthony Richardson. Jones tossed two interceptions against South Florida’s defense. Richardson ran for 115 yards and a touchdown on just four carries, and he was three for three for 152 yards and two touchdowns through the air.

Alabama has no controversies. The Tide look unstoppable with what should be a rebuilding year. Can they manhandle the Gators in Gainesville? A 20+ – point win looks highly possible. This game is CBS’s first SEC game of the season.

7:30 PM

Penn St. vs. Auburn: This is Bryan Harsin’s first test as Auburn’s head coach. Penn State is not all the way back as a power, but playing them at Happy Valley is quite difficult. Expect a potentially lower scoring game, but it should be highly competitive and worth watching. It’s the ABC prime time game.

10:15 PM

BYU vs. Arizona St.: After dominating Utah Saturday night, this BYU team looks just as tough or even tougher in 2021 than it looked in 2020 with an All-American quarterback now starting for the New York Jets. Meanwhile, Arizona State has quietly started 2-0 with two creampuffs.

The Sun Devils have withstood some major accusations with potential illegal recruiting, so bad, that an insider has claimed that an incredible tell-all book about the transgressions would be a bestseller.

This figures to be ASU’s last chance for multiple seasons to make hay before their sun sets with numerous punishments, that is if the NCAA has any investigators remaining. This game airs on ESPN.

10:45 PM

UCLA vs. Fresno St.: After Saturday’s Oregon win at Ohio State, Fresno State’s close loss to the Ducks on September 4 looked a lot more impressive. The Bulldogs won’t be intimidated by the 2-0 Bruins, coming off a big win over LSU plus a week off.

UCLA didn’t need the week off after beating LSU at the Rose Bowl, but the Bruins won’t be hurt by the bye week. This should be an action-packed and exciting game, and Fresno State could still be there in the fourth quarter with a chance to win. Catch this game on the Pac-12 Network.

Wide Variety In Styles This Year

The up-tempo offenses of the recent decade have some new company with teams going the other way. The hurry-up no huddle teams are still to be found in great numbers. However, some coaches are killing the clock trying to play ball-control and taking all the time off the play clock between plays.

Here’s an exceptional case in point to show the extremes from yesterday. Central Michigan played ball-control yesterday against FCS opponent Robert Morris. They gave RMU just 38 scrimmage plays (30 runs and 8 passes). The total of 119 plays looked like a game from the 1950s. In Madison, WI, Eastern Michigan was also held to 38 plays and 92 total yards against the Badgers in a game that had just 113 total plays. Several additional games were limited to less than 130 scrimmage plays, something that has been a rarity in recent seasons. Troy and Liberty combined for just 114 scrimmage plays.

At the other extreme, Marshall did something rarely done in college football history. They ran 100 plays in their win over UNC Central. They gained 700 yards. Arkansas State just missed 100 with 99 plays; they scored 50 points against Memphis, and they lost! North Texas had 96 plays against SMU and scored just 12 points.

August 26, 2021

PiRate Picks For August 28, 2021

Welcome to all the newcomers to the PiRate Ratings site for the 2021-2022 football season. Saturday, we have the fortune of having a dress rehearsal for the college football season. Nine FBS teams will be in action, as one FBS team plays an FCS opponent.

The PiRate Ratings enjoy issuing picks against the spread or money line on Thursdays each week until January. Because we are most concerned with Money Line Parlays, there are only five options to combine games this week, and many of the books do not issue a line for FBS vs. FCS games. So, in a quest to obtain the best odds, there really are just four games.

This presents multiple issues that basically make it close to impossible to issue a real wager, because the options don’t fit our paradigm. Let’s take a look.

First, before we get started, you must know and understand one thing. We offer these selections purely for the fun of it. It is math and not gambling to us. We NEVER bet on sports. We play with a pretend bankroll that never runs out. We wager the same amount of fake currency on every selection–$100. It could just as easily be $5, $10, $1000, $5000, whatever, but $100 is an easy number and typical of many wagers in real life.

Second, we urge you with everything we can say about it to NOT use this weekly feature as betting advice, unless you have legitimate advice or are a professional, and then this becomes a secondary reference.

Third, we hunt around for the best possible odds on our pretend wagers. You may or may not be able to find the same odds we do, because you would have to search at the exact same time we do. Because, we are not limited to just the legal books available to us in our state of Tennessee, where betting is legal, we might pick a parlay based on a sports book that is only for people in Nevada, or New Jersey, or even off shore.

Okay, now that you know the ground rules, here is our specialty–Money Line Parlays. The money line is different from the spread of a game, but the number is the equivalent of a spread. If a team is favored by 7 points, their money line is going to be roughly -330, and if a team is a 7-point underdog, their money line is going to be roughly +250.

How does a Money Line work? If the line is a negative number, if you wager the amount of the negative number and win, you will receive $100 plus the amount you wagered. So, if you wager on a team at -300, and you bet $300, if the bet wins, you will get back $400 (your investment money plus $100). If you lose, you are out the $300. On the other hand, if the line is a positive number, you can win that amount of money with a $100 wager. So, if the line on a team is +300, you can wager $100, and if the team wins, you receive $400 (your investment money plus $300).

In Money Line wagers, all that matters is that the team you picked wins the game, be it by 1 point or 63 points. Obviously, if Alabama is playing Mercer, the odds are going to be such that to win $100, you will have to put up maybe $100,000. So, if you bet $100 on Alabama at -100000, when Alabama wins, you receive $100.01. Would you risk $100,000 to win one penny?

When you wager on more than one money line to win as one bet, this is called a parlay. Let’s say that you like Mississippi State to beat Arkansas and Oklahoma State to beat Texas Tech. Mississippi State’s money line number is -275. Oklahoma State’s money line number is -250. By combining these two wagers into one bet, with $100 riding on the outcome, instead of attempting to win a little more than $36 on MSU and $40 on OSU, by combining the two games into a parlay, you stand to win almost $91 if both teams win. If you bet them individually, you would only win $76, so by combining the two, you win $15 more. Of course, if one team wins and the other loses, your losses would be less by playing the games separately.

The question you most likely wanted to ask while reading the above paragraph is, “Why risk playing two separate games that both teams you selected must win and still not get even money?” Did you ask it? The answer to that question is, “You are correct; why wager $100 to just win $91 and then have to be right twice to cash it?” You can bet a regular game against the spread and get 11-10 odds, just a fraction better than the odds of the parlay above.

The ultimate answer is that we are only looking for parlays that pay better than even money. We really don’t want to play any parlays at less than +120 odds, where we would win $6 for every $5 wagered.

The next question you might have is, “Isn’t finding two teams to win and pay off at +120 going to require me to bet an underdog to win outright?”

Our answer to you is, “Yes, but we don’t look for many two-team money line parlays. Let’s take a look at another example with three teams.

Let’s say that we believe that Washington will beat Oregon State, and the money line is -260.

We also believe that Army will beat Temple, and the money line is -240.

And, we believe that Wisconsin will beat Purdue, and the money line is -250.

If you wager $100 on these three teams to win, and all three teams win, your payout is just under $175 plus the $100 you wagered for almost $275 ($274.62 to be exact.)

Let’s take a look at 5 wagers, where we win two and lose three at these odds

We bet $500 at $100 for 5 wagers.

On the two winning wagers, we receive $275 * 2 or $550.

Invest $500 and win $550 by being right 40% of the time. In one week, we have made a 10% return on an investment. What investment on the Stock Market makes a 10% gain in one week after you have paid the commissions on the trip?

Ah, but here’s the rub: how often can you wager on 5 money line parlays that average +175 and win 40% of the parlays? Most people fall into this trap and only win about one of five of these parlays. At 20% success, you lose $225 a week for a 45% loss. Now, where can you loses 45% in the stock market in one week? We put our real money in high-cap value stocks with durable competitive advantages, long histories of consistent increases in earnings, and long histories of consistent dividend payouts. The pretend money is just fine for football wagering.

By now, you want to know who we are picking in Week 0 of the college football season. Maybe, you have figured it out already. We don’t have any official picks this week, because there are not enough games to come up with a parlay better than +120.

Here is a practice parlay that is not an official pick, but shown here to show you what we mean.

The three games involved are: Nebraska versus Illinois, UCLA versus Hawaii, and UTEP versus New Mexico St.

Let’s say that we think Illinois will upset the Cornhuskers, UCLA will take care of Hawaii, and UTEP will win the big rivalry game.

Here are the three Money Lines for these three games.

Illinois +215 vs. Nebraska

UCLA -875 vs. Hawaii

UTEP -390 vs. New Mexico St.

This parlay calculates to +341. If we wager $100 on this game, and Illinois, UCLA, and UTEP all win, we receive $441 in our account (The $100 we wagered plus the $341 on the win).

Why isn’t this an official pick? We believe that Illinois might have been an excellent pick against the spread when the Illinois-Nebraska game spread opened at -9 1/2. But, it has come down to -6 1/2 as of this writing. Sharp money was wagers on Illinois +9 1/2, and also on Nebraska -6 1/2. A three-point middling is too good to be true. Playing both sides, the Sharps only need to have the game win both sides one out of every 19 times (5.26%) to make a profit. The spreads of 7, 8, and 9 account for 10.8% of all FBS college football games. That’s double the amount needed to make a profit. The key is the Sharps can find these spreads when they open. Also, playing the opening lines is the most effective way to win for a Sharp.

The UTEP-New Mexico State game is the biggest issue in this parlay. One axiom that older Sharps believe in is not to rely on a losing program to have to win for you to win. The Miners are probably a 3-9 team, which is almost a good year for this program. The Aggies are really weak and should be an underdog in every game, but this is their big rival, maybe bigger than playing New Mexico. The I-10 rivalry frequently is a tossup game.

Two out of three of these games are iffy. The chances that Illinois pulls off the upset of Nebraska are not good enough to have faith in this parlay winning. Scott Frost is in deep cow poo if the Cornhuskers don’t win at least six games and earn a bowl bid, and losing to the weakest Big Ten team will turn the heater on in his heated seat. This will be Bret Bielema’s first game as Illinois head coach, and he brought in an offensive coordinator that runs a system totally different from what the Illini ran under Lovie Smith. Expect growing pains.

We hope this gets you pumped for next week, when there will be more than enough games to play some parlays.

August 23, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Football For August 28

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 3:00 am

Monday, August 23, 2021

This Week’s PiRate Ratings
Date:August 28, 2021
TeamTeamPiRateMeanBias
IllinoisNebraska-3.8-4.0-3.4
UCLAHawaii19.720.419.9
New Mexico St.UTEP-4.5-4.7-5.3
Fresno St.Connecticut20.221.126.5

FBS vs. FCS

FBSFCSPiRate
San Jose St.Southern Utah23.8

It’s called Week 0. Four FBS college football games will kick off the 2021 season. Included in the quartet of games is a Big Ten conference game with an old Big Ten coach returning to a new Big Ten school to face another coach that is sitting on a very hot seat.

On the West Coast, Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins host Hawaii, and a good showing with no injuries could set the Bruins up for a potential upset of LSU next week.

If you have followed our site so far this year, you have now seen the preseason ratings and predictions for all 130 FBS teams. Here are those ratings in full.

The PiRate Ratings for August 23

RankTeamRating
1Alabama130.2
2Oklahoma128.1
3Georgia125.2
4Iowa St.124.8
5Clemson122.2
6Ohio St.121.9
7U S C119.4
8Florida118.2
9Texas A&M118.1
10North Carolina117.7
11Miami (Fla.)116.9
12Cincinnati116.5
13Auburn116.1
14T C U116.0
15Wisconsin115.9
16Texas115.6
17Indiana115.5
18Ole Miss113.3
19Arizona St.113.1
20Oklahoma St.113.1
21Penn St.113.1
22Iowa112.8
23Oregon112.5
24West Virginia112.3
25L S U112.1
26Washington112.1
27Utah111.9
28U C L A110.5
29Notre Dame110.2
30Mississippi St.110.1
31Arkansas109.5
32BYU109.2
33Louisiana109.2
34Coastal Carolina108.4
35Wake Forest107.7
36Kentucky107.4
37Maryland107.2
38Oregon St.106.9
39Missouri106.4
40Minnesota106.1
41NC State106.1
42Northwestern105.8
43Colorado105.7
44Liberty105.5
45Virginia Tech105.3
46Boston College105.2
47Michigan104.9
48Baylor104.5
49Kansas St.104.4
50Tennessee104.0
51Boise St.103.9
52Purdue103.7
53Florida St.103.5
54Nebraska103.2
55Michigan St.103.0
56Stanford103.0
57UCF102.8
58Virginia102.7
59Washington St.102.5
60Louisville102.1
61Texas Tech101.9
62Appalachian St.101.0
63South Carolina100.8
64Houston100.7
65San Jose St.100.3
66Pittsburgh100.2
67San Diego St.100.2
68Tulsa100.1
69Army100.0
70Miami (Ohio)99.7
71Central Michigan99.7
72Tulane99.0
73Nevada98.8
74Wyoming98.5
75California98.4
76Georgia Tech98.2
77Buffalo98.0
78Ball St.97.4
79Toledo96.7
80Air Force96.5
81Georgia St.96.5
82Illinois96.4
83Fresno St.95.3
84East Carolina95.3
85U A B95.2
86SMU95.0
87Rutgers95.0
88Arizona94.6
89Hawaii94.6
90U T S A93.9
91Ohio93.5
92Marshall93.4
93Troy93.4
94Memphis93.2
95Syracuse92.9
96Kent St.91.7
97Georgia Southern91.6
98Eastern Michigan91.4
99South Alabama91.2
100Western Michigan91.0
101USF90.4
102Navy90.3
103Vanderbilt90.1
104Arkansas St.89.9
105Duke89.8
106Colorado St.89.0
107Texas St.87.8
108Florida Atlantic87.7
109Northern Illinois87.5
110Rice87.1
111Louisiana Tech86.5
112Utah St.85.8
113New Mexico85.7
114Kansas85.4
115U N L V84.9
116Southern Miss.84.4
117Middle Tennessee83.7
118Western Kentucky82.7
119North Texas81.7
120Temple81.6
121Akron79.8
122Charlotte79.5
123Florida Int’l.79.0
124Connecticut76.7
125U T E P76.0
126UL-Monroe75.6
127UMass73.1
128Old Dominion71.4
129Bowling Green70.8
130New Mexico St.69.7

American Athletic Conference
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Cincinnati116.3115.3118.0116.5
UCF102.5101.2104.8102.8
Houston101.199.5101.6100.7
Tulsa100.2100.399.7100.1
Tulane98.897.5100.699.0
East Carolina95.394.396.295.3
SMU94.395.495.495.0
Memphis92.492.894.393.2
USF91.089.790.690.4
Navy90.890.090.390.3
Temple80.682.481.981.6
AAC Averages96.796.297.696.8

Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Clemson120.9121.5124.0122.2
Wake Forest108.0106.7108.3107.7
NC State106.5105.8105.9106.1
Boston College104.7105.3105.7105.2
Florida St.103.4103.6103.5103.5
Louisville101.7101.4103.2102.1
Syracuse93.793.192.192.9
Coastal Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
North Carolina116.4116.7119.9117.7
Miami (Fla.)117.1116.1117.7116.9
Virginia Tech106.4104.9104.7105.3
Virginia102.1104.1101.8102.7
Pittsburgh99.8100.9100.1100.2
Georgia Tech98.098.398.398.2
Duke89.791.288.589.8
ACC Averages104.9105.0105.3105.0

Big 12 Conference
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Oklahoma129.3126.7128.2128.1
Iowa St.125.3123.5125.6124.8
T C U116.6115.1116.3116.0
Texas116.7114.5115.6115.6
Oklahoma St.113.5113.2112.5113.1
West Virginia113.8112.0111.1112.3
Baylor104.9104.8103.8104.5
Kansas St.104.9104.7103.5104.4
Texas Tech102.0102.8100.8101.9
Kansas88.185.682.585.4
Big 12 Averages111.5110.3110.0110.6

Big Ten Conference
East Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Ohio St.121.1121.3123.2121.9
Indiana114.9115.0116.4115.5
Penn St.111.7112.8114.6113.1
Maryland108.7106.9105.8107.2
Michigan104.3105.1105.3104.9
Michigan St.103.5103.0102.5103.0
Rutgers94.196.394.595.0
West Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Wisconsin115.2115.2117.3115.9
Iowa112.3111.6114.5112.8
Minnesota104.6106.1107.6106.1
Northwestern105.8105.8105.8105.8
Purdue103.6102.9104.5103.7
Nebraska102.8103.4103.3103.2
Illinois96.096.496.996.4
Big Ten Averages107.0107.3108.0107.5

Conference USA
East Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Marshall93.493.493.693.4
Florida Atlantic86.788.687.887.7
Middle Tennessee83.483.184.783.7
Western Kentucky81.783.682.882.7
Charlotte78.879.680.279.5
Florida Int’l.77.978.980.179.0
Old Dominion71.271.971.271.4
West Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
U A B95.495.294.995.2
U T S A94.094.593.493.9
Rice87.087.187.387.1
Louisiana Tech86.987.485.286.5
Southern Miss.83.385.284.584.4
North Texas82.181.781.481.7
U T E P76.377.274.476.0
CUSA Averages84.184.884.484.4

FBS Independents
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Notre Dame108.8110.6111.2110.2
BYU109.2108.2110.3109.2
Liberty104.3105.6106.5105.5
Army100.099.8100.2100.0
Connecticut77.478.674.276.7
UMass74.874.070.573.1
New Mexico St.70.371.167.669.7
Indep. Averages92.192.691.592.1

Mid-American Conference
East Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Miami (Ohio)101.999.298.199.7
Buffalo98.597.597.998.0
Ohio92.294.494.093.5
Kent St.91.393.490.591.7
Akron81.879.678.179.8
Bowling Green71.672.168.870.8
West Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Central Michigan100.599.199.599.7
Ball St.98.498.395.597.4
Toledo97.596.795.896.7
Eastern Michigan93.191.289.891.4
Western Michigan91.291.690.191.0
Northern Illinois89.387.086.187.5
MAC Averages92.391.790.491.4

Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Boise St.103.9103.3104.3103.9
Wyoming97.798.499.598.5
Air Force96.496.396.996.5
Colorado St.88.888.889.389.0
Utah St.85.686.685.285.8
New Mexico85.886.285.285.7
West Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
San Jose St.100.8101.199.0100.3
San Diego St.100.699.9100.2100.2
Nevada98.499.798.498.8
Fresno St.93.795.796.795.3
Hawaii94.894.194.794.6
U N L V85.884.384.684.9
MWC Averages94.494.594.594.5

Pac-12 Conference
North Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Oregon111.0112.4114.1112.5
Washington110.9112.4112.9112.1
Oregon St.106.7106.7107.3106.9
Stanford102.6103.9102.4103.0
Washington St.102.3103.2102.1102.5
California95.7100.599.098.4
South Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
U S C118.8118.4120.9119.4
Arizona St.112.4113.5113.6113.1
Utah111.8112.1111.8111.9
U C L A110.5110.5110.6110.5
Colorado106.4105.8104.9105.7
Arizona95.294.594.094.6
Pac-12 Averages107.0107.8107.8107.5

Southeastern Conference
East Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Georgia124.8124.5126.3125.2
Florida117.0119.4118.1118.2
Kentucky106.7108.8106.8107.4
Missouri106.2106.9106.2106.4
Tennessee104.1103.1104.6104.0
South Carolina101.1101.0100.4100.8
Vanderbilt90.989.989.690.1
West Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Alabama130.4128.8131.3130.2
Texas A&M117.4118.3118.6118.1
Auburn116.4115.2116.6116.1
Ole Miss113.3113.3113.2113.3
L S U111.0112.4112.8112.1
Mississippi St.110.2110.4109.7110.1
Arkansas110.1109.9108.5109.5
SEC Averages111.4111.6111.6111.5

Sunbelt Conference
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Coastal Carolina109.2106.4109.6108.4
Appalachian St.100.5100.0102.5101.0
Georgia St.97.096.296.396.5
Troy93.193.493.793.4
Georgia Southern91.792.191.291.6
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Louisiana109.8107.6110.4109.2
South Alabama91.691.590.691.2
Arkansas St.89.891.088.889.9
Texas St.89.486.787.287.8
UL-Monroe76.476.573.975.6
Sun Averages94.894.194.494.5

Conference Ratings
1Southeastern111.5
2Big 12110.6
3Pac-12107.5
4Big Ten107.5
5Atlantic Coast105.0
6American Athletic96.8
7Sun Belt94.5
8Mountain West94.5
9Independents92.1
10Mid-American91.4
11Conference USA84.4

September 16, 2020

The Big Ten Reverses Course

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 5:53 am

The Big Ten Conference has decided to resume football in 2020, reversing its decision to wait until the Winter/Spring of 2021. The league hopes to begin playing in late October and most likely play an 8-game schedule, concluding on December 19 with the Conference Championship Game.

This will pose big problems with the PiRate Ratings for two reasons, which I am sure the folks at Illinois, Indiana, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue, Iowa, and Northwestern didn’t consider when considering whether or not to return.

The PiRate Ratings will have to recalculate to a 90-team environment from a 76-team environment. Our ratings use sample size in the algorithm and maintain a mean rating of 100.0 (or 100.0 is par value). By the time the Big Ten commences playing, other teams will have played as many as seven game, and their updating criteria will be quite different from the teams just starting play. Even though the Big Ten will be self-contained and play only inside its own environment, for ranking and rating purposes, these teams must be compared on the same par value, which means in order to re-install the Big Ten’s original preseason ratings, the other 76 teams will have to be recalculated, and to be quite honest, not only have we yet to cross that bridge, we cannot find it on a map!

In addition to the recalculation, we will have to create new formats on our spreadsheets and input the new algorithmic formulae for 90 teams (or 76 + however many Big Ten teams play).

Note to Pac-12, MWC, and MAC officials: if you plan on reconsidering your league paradigm this year, please make those decisions known by Noon Saturday!

October 9, 2019

PiRate Ratings Picks For October 10-14, 2019

Yuck, Yuck, Yuck, I want more luck!  That’s a saying that goes back to the 1960’s, when a certain PiRate Captain was in school trying to impress this really cute blonde-haired, blue-eyed tomboy classmate.  It so happened that she and he were outside on the playground, and he was trying to teach her how to hit foul shots on the basketball goal.  She kept barely missing on those foul shots, when he made this little ditty up as it came to mind.  And, voila!  The pretty girl made three shots in a row.  The rest is history.  In the 1970’s, This girl would go on to become the star of her high school basketball team, setting the all-time single-season and career scoring marks.  She then enjoyed a four-year career as a starting guard for a Division 1 college team, playing in the NCAA Tournament.

 

The Captain figured it wouldn’t hurt to repeat that mantra in hopes that it would turn around the recent misfortunes of the PiRate Ratings.  The ratings in recent weeks have been just barely missing.

How much do you pay for these selections?  Remember, you usually get what you pay for, and that’s what these selections have been worth this season.  So, let’s hope we get more luck this week.

Without further adieu, here are the selections you should avoid like the plague.

 

PiRate Rating Selections

 

10-point Teasers, 3-game parlays

 

#1

Pick

Opponent

Spread

Syracuse

NC St.

+14.5

Virginia

Miami

+12.5

New Mexico

Colorado St.

+13.5

 

 

#2

Pick

Opponent

Spread

Indiana

Rutgers

+38

Navy

Tulsa

+11

Texas

Oklahoma

+21.5

 

 

#3

Pick

Opponent

Spread

Temple

Memphis

+16

Nebraska

Minnesota

+17.5

Boise St.

Hawaii

-1.5

 

 

#4

Pick

Opponent

Spread

Eastern Michigan

Ball St.

+9

Central Michigan

New Mexico St.

Pk

Arizona St.

Washington St.

+11

 

 

#5

Pick

Opponent

Spread

Oregon St.

Utah

+23.5

Ole Miss

Missouri

+22

Ohio

Northern Illinois

+3.5

 

 

#6

Pick

Opponent

Spread

Baylor

Texas Tech

-1

Vanderbilt

UNLV

-4.5

Wisconsin

Michigan St.

-0.5

 

 

#7

Pick

Opponent

Spread

Florida

LSU

+23.5

Nevada

San Jose St.

+8

Alabama

Texas A&M

-6.5

 

 

#8

Pick

Opponent

Spread

Florida Atlantic

Middle Tenn.

-0.5

UAB

UTSA

-2

Notre Dame

USC

-1

 

 

#9

Pick

Opponent

Spread

New England

N.Y. Jets

-6.5

Baltimore

Cincinnati

-1

Cleveland

Seattle

+12

 

 

#10

Pick

Opponent

Spread

New Orleans

Jacksonville

+11.5

Miami

Washington

+13.5

Arizona

Atlanta

+12.5

 

 

#11

Pick

Opponent

Spread

Denver

Tennessee

+7.5

Detroit

Green Bay

+14.5

Carolina

Tampa Bay

+8

 

 

Davey19  Selections

 

Pick

Opponent

Spread

UL-Monroe

Texas St.

-3

Virginia

Miami (Fla.)

+2.5

Colorado

Oregon

+21.5

Illinois

Michigan

+22.5

Nebraska

Minnesota

+8

Arkansas

Kentucky

+7

Air Force

Fresno St.

-3

Coming Friday–We will issue three money line selections, one an outright upset winner currently listed at +200, and two parlays.

 

 

March 10, 2019

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For Sunday, March 10, 2019

Today’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

Home

Rating

HCA

Visitor

Rating

Spread

Lipscomb

109.0

3.0

Liberty

105.9

6.1

Radford

102.7

2.5

Gardner-Webb

99.3

5.9

Hofstra

106.5

0.0

James Madison

93.8

12.7

William & Mary

97.6

0.0

Delaware

94.7

2.9

Northeastern

105.6

0.0

UNC Wilmington

94.7

10.9

Charleston

103.4

1.0

Drexel

95.2

9.2

Siena

95.4

2.5

Iona

97.7

0.2

Canisius

95.1

0.0

Monmouth

93.3

1.8

Northern Iowa

99.1

0.0

Bradley

99.5

-0.4

Colgate

102.1

2.5

Navy

92.8

11.8

Bucknell

101.4

2.5

Lehigh

100.3

3.6

Wofford

112.9

0.0

East Tennessee St.

106.6

6.3

UNC Greensboro

105.5

0.0

Furman

107.9

-2.4

North Dakota St.

97.5

0.0

Oral Roberts

92.8

4.7

South Dakota

97.4

1.0

Purdue Fort Wayne

98.7

-0.3

Cincinnati

111.8

3.0

Houston

114.5

0.3

Penn St.

109.9

2.5

Illinois

106.5

5.9

Indiana

110.4

3.0

Rutgers

106.3

7.1

East Carolina

93.7

2.5

Connecticut

105.2

-9.0

Nebraska

110.5

3.0

Iowa

110.8

2.7

South Florida

103.5

3.0

SMU

103.8

2.7

Ohio St.

110.3

3.0

Wisconsin

115.5

-2.2

Conference Tournaments Update

America East Conference

All games at home floor of higher seeds

Quarterfinals–Saturday, March 9

Md.-Baltimore Co.

62

Albany

54

Vermont

73

Maine

57

Binghamton

73

Stony Brook

71

Hartford

78

UMass Lowell

70

 

Semifinals–Tuesday, March 12

Seed

Home

Seed

Visitor

1

Vermont (25-6)

7

Binghamton (10-22)

3

Maryland-Baltimore Co. (20-12)

4

Hartford (18-14)

 

 

Atlantic Sun Conference

*** Championship Game–Sunday, March 10 ***

Seed

Home

Seed

Visitor

1

Lipscomb (25-6)

2

Liberty (27-6)

 

 

Big South Conference

*** Championship Game–Sunday, March 10 (at Radford) ***

Seed

Home Team

Seed

Visitors

2

Radford (22-10)

4

Gardner-Webb (22-11)

 

 

Colonial Athletic Association

Site: North Charleston Coliseum, North Charleston, SC

First Round–Saturday, March 9

James Madison

74

Towson

73

UNC Wilmington

93

Elon

86

Quarterfinals–Sunday, March 10

Seed

Team

Seed

Team

1

Hofstra (25-6)

8

James Madison (14-18)

4

William & Mary (14-16)

5

Delaware (16-15)

2

Northeastern (20-10)

10

UNC Wilmington (10-22)

3

Charleston (23-8)

6

Drexel (13-18)

 

 

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Site: Times Union Center, Albany, NY (Siena)

Quarterfinals–Saturday, March 9

Monmouth

98

Quinnipiac

92

Siena

87

Rider

81

 

Semifinals–Sunday, March 10

Seed

Team

Seed

Team

1

Iona (15-15)

5

Siena (17-15)

2

Canisius (15-16)

6

Monmouth (13-20)

 

 

Missouri Valley Conference (Arch Madness)

Site: Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO

Semifinals–Saturday, March 9

Bradley

53

Loyola (Chi)

51

Northern Iowa

60

Drake

58

*** Championship Game–Sunday, March 10 ***

Seed

Team

Seed

Team

6

Northern Iowa (16-17)

5

Bradley (19-14)

 

Northeast Conference

All games at home floor of higher seeds

Semifinals–Saturday, March 9

St. Francis (PA)

72

Long Island

64

Fairleigh-Dickinson

66

Robert Morris

62

 

Championship Game–Tuesday, March 12

Seed

Home

Seed

Visitor

1

St. Francis (PA) (18-13)

2

Fairleigh-Dickinson (19-13)

 

 

Ohio Valley Conference

*** Championship Game–Saturday, March 9 ***

Murray St.

77

Belmont

65

Champion:  Murray St.  27-4

 

 

 

Patriot League

All games at home floor of higher seeds

Semifinals–Sunday, March 10

Seed

Home

Seed

Visitor

1

Colgate (22-10)

5

Navy (12-18)

2

Bucknell (20-10)

3

Lehigh (20-10)

 

 

Southern Conference

Site: US Cellular Center, Asheville, NC

Quarterfinals–Saturday, March 9

Wofford

99

VMI

72

East Tennessee St.

68

Chattanooga

64

UNC Greensboro

77

Samford

70

Furman

85

Mercer

74

 

Semifinals–Sunday, March 10

Seed

Team

Seed

Team

1

Wofford (27-4)

4/5

East Tennessee St. (24-8)

2

UNC Greensboro (27-5)

3

Furman (25-6)

 

 

Summit League

Site: Denny Sanford Premier Center, Sioux Falls, SD

Quarterfinals–Saturday, March 9

Western Illinois

79

South Dakota St.

76

Omaha

81

North Dakota

76

 

Quarterfinals–Sunday, March 10

Seed

Team

Seed

Team

Purdue Fort Wayne (17-14)

5

South Dakota (13-16)

North Dakota St. (15-15)

6

Oral Roberts (11-20)

 

 

West Coast Conference

Site: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV

Quarterfinals–Saturday, March 9

San Diego

80

BYU

57

Pepperdine

89

San Francisco

72

 

Semifinals–Monday, March 11

Seed

Team

Seed

Team

2

Saint Mary’s (20-11)

6

San Diego (21-13)

1

Gonzaga (29-2)

8

Pepperdine (16-17)

 

Teams In The Big Dance

Murray St.  (OVC)  27-4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 17, 2018

2018 Big Ten Conference Preview

Note: The preseason ratings you see in the previews may not be the same as the ratings you see for the first game. We update every team’s rating based on player injuries, changes to the depth charts, and other factors that may change during preseason practice.
Our Power 5 Conference preseason ratings and won-loss predictions were figured before knowing the outcome of recent suspensions to Coaches Urban Meyer and D.J. Durkin at Ohio State and Maryland. Because our ratings set 100.0 as average, and the mean of all 130 teams must be 100.0, taking points away from Ohio State and Maryland require redistributing points to the other 128 teams. Expect these ratings to change prior to August 25.

Even before Ohio State had to put Meyer on paid leave, our summer PiRate Ratings had another team rated a little bit ahead of the Buckeyes. Michigan State won 10 games last year with wins over Michigan and Penn State. The Spartans were not as bad as they looked in the blowout loss in Columbus, and with practically the entire team returning plus the additions of some excellent talent that redshirted or saw minimal action, the Spartans begin the season ranked slightly higher than OSU.
Coach Mark Dantonio’s offense was not up to par last year, as Sparty averaged just 25 points and less than 350 yards per game. Things will be different this year, as returns 10 starters and a majority of the 2nd 11. Quarterback Brian Lewerke is not Khalil Tate, but the junior signal caller is primed to improve greatly on his passing numbers and equal or top his running numbers. Lewerke is known for breaking long runs in an unconventional manner. While he can break free on zone read plays, he has been known to make a simple quarterback sneak a long-gainer, and he can scramble as well as any contemporary.
Running back L.J. Scott can do a lot of damage between the tackles and then exploding outside once he gets through the line. He is powerful and has speed, and he excels at every part of the game, as a power runner with quick bursts to stretch the play wide; as a pass receiver (Ohio State got burned by a screen pass play to him); and as an incredible pass-protecting blocker).
The trio of Felton Davis, Cody White, and Darrell Stewart won’t confuse fans for the receivers at Oklahoma, but these guys are more than capable of making a defense that is expecting run pay dearly. Davis gives Lewerke the jump ball receiver in the end zone with his size and leaping ability.
An experience line with talent throughout should allow MSU to increase its offensive production to more than 30 points and 400 yards per game this year. Combine that with a highly-rated defense, and the Spartans can contend for a Playoff bid.
The strength of the defense is in the secondary, where free safety David Dowell intercepted 5 passes, knocked away 4 more, and recovered 2 fumbles. Cornerback Josiah Scott is a potential All Big Ten player as well.

Michigan State is solid at linebacker with Joe Bachie and Andrew Dowell returning, the team’s top two 2017 tacklers. Bachie intercepted three passes. If the Spartans are to reach the pinnacle, their pass rush will have to make a jump forward. End Kenny Willekes is capable of dumping the quarterback two or three times a game, but somebody else will need to step forward to prevent him from being double-teamed.

Michigan State might win an extra game with its special teams. Kicker Matt Coghlin was a perfect 38-38 on PATs and 15 of 19 on field goals. Punter Jake Hartbarger averaged 42 yards per punt with just 12 of his 69 punts returned for a measley 2.3 yards per return.

Ohio State has had to replace a head coach just prior to the start of a season in the recent past. In 2011, coming off a 12-1 season, Jim Tressel was dismissed, with Luke Fickell taking over as the interim. Ohio State fell to 6-7 and 3-5 in the Big Ten with the best talent in the conference not jelling. Urban Meyer became coach the next season and ran the table.

No matter who wears the headsets on the sideline on September 1st when the Buckeyes welcome a rebuilding Oregon State team to the Giant Horseshoe, Ohio State will look like Ohio State. The 2011 team commenced its season with a 42-0 win over Akron. It will be September 15, before the coaching issue might matter, when Ohio State plays TCU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Ohio State rarely must rebuild when they lose highly-talented players every year, and this year is no different. Quarterback J.T. Barrett passed for 35 touchdowns and ran for a dozen more in his final year in Columbus. Normally, replacing a star talent like Barrett would lead to a major drop in offensive production, but not at this football factory. Ohio State’s probable third string quarterback until the number two guy transferred was a former high school phenom who out-dueled Josh Rosen, never lost a game in his high school career, and has been compared to Doug Flutie. Tate Martell will have to wait his turn, while Dwayne Haskins runs the offense. Haskins has the better arm and can force defenses to keep an extra man in the passing zones, while Martell is the scrambler type, the type that wouldn’t lose a game of tag, but with the need to work on his passing mechanics a little more.
The Buckeyes are loaded at running back with the return of J. K. Dobbins (1,403 yards 7.2 avg) and Mike Weber (626 yards 6.2 avg 10 TDs). Weber is a little more powerful, but Dobbins is the better pass-catching threat.

As good as the running back unit is, the receiver unit is better, again not as good as Oklahoma, but as good as any other Big Ten foe. Parris Campbell is the current Percy Harvin for this offense. The speedy hybrid receiver is a threat to score every time he touches the ball, be it on the speed sweep or via the pass (or as a kick returner). When you can catch a pass at the line of scrimmage and take it all the way, defenses must tell their safeties to retreat, and that opens the middle for bigger receivers as well as gives running backs more room to break free.

The Buckeye offensive line is the best in the East Division and second best in the league. Their version of Michael Jordan is a tall and strong guard who opens holes inside and stops enemy pass rushers. Tackle Isaiah Prince makes the left side of the Ohio State line mighty tough. The line should allow the Buckeyes to top 40 points and 500 yards again this year, unless there is a mini-train wreck with Meyer being dismissed.

Ohio State begins the season just behind Michigan State because their defense lost a lot of talented players, including the top three tacklers, two of 2017’s top pass rushing trio, and players responsible for 2/3 of the interceptions. One position that will be strong is at end, where Nick Bosa returns following a year where he finished third in the league with 16 tackles for loss and tied for first with 9 sacks. Robert Landers assumes the vacant end position.

Tuf Borland anchors the second line of defense, but this is one area of concern in 2018. Ohio State is thin at linebacker, and it wouldn’t surprise us if they eventually transition to more of a 4-2-5 team if they can uncover enough quality in their backfield. Ohio State has some re-tooling to do in the back line of defense, where cornerback Damon Arnette and safety Jordan Fuller need some help.

If Meyer is not able to coach this team, Ohio State will be at least a touchdown to 10 points weaker in 2018. Still, the Buckeyes would be a contender for the East Division crown, but not the top or even second choice to do so.

This is a pivotal year for Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. The former NFC Champion coach with the 49ers has not worked the same magic at his alma mater that he was able to do at Stanford. This year gives him his best chance, and if the Wolverines don’t look as powerful as they did during the Bo Schembechler days, the fans in Ann Arbor may demand change.
The Maize and Blue have the talent to compete and even contend for a playoff bid this year, and if Harbaugh can get his new quarterback to play like he did against Auburn and Texas A&M while leading the Ole Miss offense, the pieces are in place for the Champions of the West to make a run at the championship of the Big Ten East.
Shea Patterson took his redshirt off late in the 2016 season at Ole Miss and looked like the next Archie Manning with his exceptional running ability and passing arm. Seven games into his sophomore season, Patterson’s season ended with a knee injury against LSU. Still, in just 6 1/2 games with the Rebels, his 2,259 passing yards and 17 touchdowns topped the entire Michigan offense in 13 games by more than 300 yards!

Michigan still has issues in the offensive line, where three starters return but only guard Ben Bredeson being all-conference quality. Patterson may be on the run too many times this year if the blocking cannot improve, and the ground game may stall like it did last year against teams like Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and South Carolina, the five teams that beat them.

If the line blocks just a tad bit better than average, the Michigan ground game will succeed. Patterson can take some of the defensive keying off Karan Higdon and Chris Evans, which should help the two running backs top their combined rushing for 1,679 yards and 17 touchdowns. Give Higdon a little room, and he can explode for 7-10 yards quickly. Evans is better equipped to earn the tough yards when they are needed.
Michigan has a young but somewhat experienced group of receivers. Last year’s starters did not shine, and this year’s replacements could easily make UM fans forget the 2017 starters. The best receivers may be tight ends Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry, and Michigan could succeed with the double tight end alignment this year. Patterson went to his tight ends in Oxford last year for some nice gains and conversions.

Make no mistake about it; Michigan’s bread and butter is their defense, and as good as the Wolverines were at stopping enemy offenses last year, 2018 could be very special. UM finished tops in the nation in passing yards allowed and third in total yards. Their secondary is even better this year, and we believe the Wolverines can lower last year’s points allowed per game from 18.8 to 15, especially if the offense sustains more drives.
In 19 years out of 20, a secondary this talented would be the tops in the land. This is that 20th year, when Washington has one of the best secondaries of all time. Michigan ranks just behind with the top two cornerbacks in the league. Lavert Hill and David Long may not put up the jazziest of numbers, but quarterbacks tend to throw the ball elsewhere. Think of it like issuing an intentional walk to a 50-homer guy in baseball.

The middle trio of this defense features two All Big Ten players in Khaleke Hudson and Devin Bush. Both are complete players that can stop the run, dump the quarterback, and defend against the pass. Bush might contend for the Butkus Award this year.

The defensive line is the weakest unit on this team, but it is still a big asset that is almost as strong as their rivals’ to the South’s d-line. End Rashan Gary should make first team all-conference if he stays healthy. Opposite side end Chase Vinovich could have been playing for pay this year, but he chose to return to Ann Arbor, and with another great year, his draft stock should go up.

Michigan begins the season playing what could be a playoff qualifier. The Wolverines travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame in the top game of the opening week of football. The winner of that game should carry the momentum forward to a 7-0 start through mid-October. Michigan has some tough games in the second half, having to face Sparty in East Lansing and Ohio State at the Giant Horseshoe plus host Wisconsin and Penn State. This team has the talent to go 11-1 or 10-2, but with just a little less production, UM could find itself back at 5-4 in the league, which would be dangerous for Harbaugh’s chances to return in 2019.

Penn State coach James Franklin worked his magic at Vanderbilt, doing the unthinkable by winning nine games in back-to-back seasons, both years finishing in the top 25, and by beating Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee in the same season. So, it should come as no surprise that he would do wonders in Happy Valley, as the Nittany Lions just enjoyed their first back-to-back 11-win seasons since Joe Paterno was still walking the sidelines.

Coming off a Big Ten championship in 2016, the Nittany Lions may have been a little better last year, even though they came up a game short in the East Division standings. The two losses were by a combined four points, so the Nittany Lions were oh so close from running the table and making it to the Playoffs.

We expect Penn State to take a slight backward turn this year, because their defense is almost entirely new this year. Only one two starters return on this side of the ball, and none of them played in the secondary last year. Amani Oruwariye actually made the All Big Ten Second team last year as a key reserve, so the defensive backfield is not in as bad a shape as it appears to be.

Linebacker U must have talent in the middle of their defense, and this year is no different. Koa Farmer, a converted safety and Cameron Brown give the defense a pair of talented stoppers.

The front four has talent as well, led by end Shareef Miller. In a league with multiple star defensive ends, Miller takes a back seat to nobody. He led Penn State with 11 1/2 tackles for loss and 5 1/2 sacks.

The Penn State defense will not be as stingy as last year, when they finished 6th nationally in scoring defense, but the decline will not be severe. Expect Penn State to give up about 21 to 23 points per game this year.

The offense returns its star quarterback, but it loses its heart, as superstar running back Saquon Barkley has taken his 1,271 rushing yards, 632 receiving yards, the nation’s best kick returning, and his 23 total touchdowns to the New York Giants. Miles Sanders might rush for 1,000 yards replacing Barkley, but he won’t be the all-purpose player that comes around to a school about as often as Halley’s Comet.

Trace McSorley needs to have an incredible finish to his career to move up the ranks in a very heavily talented field of draft-eligible quarterbacks. He’d probably be an undrafted free agent if this were next May. He’s a tad undersized and lacks the arm strength to contend with players like Patterson at Michigan, but for Penn State’s offense, he is more than adequate, bordering on stardom.

McSorley will need wideout Juwan Johnson to have a breakout year, as he is the only one of three 50+ catch receivers left on the roster. Johnson provides a big target and has a nice combination of speed and agility to go with excellent hands. If DeAndre Thompkins can be the 1A receiver and play like he did as a secondary talent last year, then the Penn State passing game should be in good shape.

The best news on this side of the ball is that the offensive line might be the most improved of any in the league. Five players with significant starting experience plus three others that will earn extensive playing time should give McSorley the time he needs to locate open receivers and open some holes for the running game.

Maryland is a team with a lot of dissension at the present time. Coach Durkin has the support of his players, and if he is fired, we expect the this program to be affected more than Ohio State’s losing Meyer would be. This team was on the cusp of contending for bowl eligibility, but it would not surprise us if the Terrapins fell to the bottom of the division and even go 0-9 if the players don’t rally around interim head coach Matt Canada, who just arrived from LSU.

The Terp offense will move on the ground more than through the air this year after being exactly equal in 2017 with 162 yards rushing and 162 yards passing per game. The running back tandem of Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison should team up for about 1,800 yards with the improved blocking expected from an experience offensive line that welcomes back the top five players from last year.

Maryland leads the nation in only one quarterback statistic, and unfortunately, that is number of quarterbacks used. The recent history has been quite negative as to the incredible number of QBs in need of disability insurance. Last year was more of the same in College Park, as the first two were done for the year in Mid-September. To complicate matters further, Maryland will switch from a shotgun alignment to an under-center alignment this year. Redshirt Freshman Kasim Hill and sophomore Tyrell Pigrome have very limited experience, but one of the two will start against Texas on September 1.

Maryland basically threw the ball to two players last year, and one returns in 2018. Taivon Jacobs turned 47 catches into 553 yards and 5 TDs last year. Jacobs will not be able to make up for the receptions and yards lost when D. J. Moore became a first round pick in the NFL Draft.

Maryland needs to re-tool a little on the defensive side, but there are some athletes here that can shine. The Terps use the 3-3-5 defense, and the secondary will be the strongest unit on the team. Safety Darnell Savage intercepted three passes last year and returned one for a touchdown. He led UM with 8 passed defended. Nickel back Antoine Brooks finished second on the team with 77 tackles last year, and he proved to be an excellent run defender, finishing with a team-leading 9 1/2 tackles for loss.

Outside linebacker Isaiah Davis is the lone returning starter at linebacker. The Terps need Buck linebacker Jesse Aniebonam to emerge as a force coming back from injury after starring there in 2016, when he made 9 QB sacks.

With Durkin as coach, we were prepared to give Maryland a 50-50 shot at bowl eligibility this year and a 90% chance of getting five wins. If Durkin is dismissed, this team could fall to 2-10, and there will be a long coaching search trying to find somebody to right the ship.

Rutgers found a way to win four games last year with an offense that averaged just 18 points and 263 yards per game. The Scarlet Knights scored just 71 points in their eight losses. Coach Chris Ash is a defensive specialist, having been the defensive coordinator at Ohio State and Arkansas before coming to RU. Quietly, he doubled the win total between his first and second year, and he returns more experience this year than either of his first two seasons in New Brunswick.

The offense should experience some improvement this year, but don’t expect too much. Quarterback Giovanni Rescigno shared the job last year with less than stellar results, so there is only one way to go from 47% completions and 5.2 yards per pass attempt. Tight end Jerome Washington returns after leading RU with just 28 receptions and 282 yards. Former Boston College running back Jonathan Hillman and talented sophomore Raheem Blackshear will get the brunt of the rushing attempts. Blackshear has the ability to break a long gain via the run or the pass, but his diminutive size will limit the amount of touches he can get and stay healthy. The offensive line is anything but an asset, as the Scarlet Knights frequently allowed pass rushers to get into the backfield quickly.

The RU defense will most likely carry the team on its shoulders again this season. This unit limited Purdue to 12 points, but it is not one of the league’s premier stop troops. Eight starters return from 2017, so Rutgers’ numbers on this side of the ball could improve a little after finishing 11th against the run and 10th against the pass.

Linebackers Deonte Roberts and Trevor Morris finished one-two in tackles last year, and they could both top 100 tackles this year. There are multiple players with experience returning to the secondary, but none appear to be ready to challenge for all conference honors. The pass rush was close to nonexistent last year, and the top pass rusher used up his eligibility.

Indiana was on the verge of turning the program around into an annual bowl-contender until they decided it was time for Kevin Wilson to go. Wilson ended up at Ohio State as an assistant, while Tom Allen took over in Bloomington. After a 5-7 finish last year, it could be difficult to contend fro a 6-win season and bowl bid this season.

The defense gave Indiana a chance to compete in several games last year, and this year, a major rebuilding task will send the defensive averages up by about 7-10 points per game. The offense will not be that much better if any better at all, so the Hoosiers may have to fight to stay out of the basement if Maryland doesn’t implode.

The old saying goes that if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks. What does it say when you have three? Allen was not all that pleased with the depth chart here, and late in Spring, he signed former Arizona Wildcat starter Brandon Dawkins to join the competition between Sophomore Peyton Ramsey and true freshman Michael Penix. Dawkins performed admirably under center in Tucson, but he was not going to see a lot of time with Khalil Tate on the roster. He is an excellent dual-threat player and should eventually become the starter.

The Hoosiers have a decent but not flashy running back duo that should help IU top the 130 rushing yards per game from last season. Morgan Ellison and Cole Gest should both get 7-12 attempts per game.

Two of the three starters returning on defense play in the secondary. Cornerback Andre Brown is not one of the top 10 at his position in the Big Ten. Jonathan Crawford is a decent but not exceptional strong safety. The Hoosiers have numerous inexperienced players with promising talent, but this secondary is vulnerable.

At least the secondary has some experience. The front seven is void of experienced starters. There are a couple of players in the trenches that look like Big Ten athletes. Tackle Jacob Robinson should make some big plays from the inside, but IU is weak everywhere else up front.

They were oh so close last year, but came up a bit short. Wisconsin ran the table in the regular season beating Northwestern by two games, while no other team in the West Division finished above .500 in league play. The Badgers are still the favorite to repeat as division champions, but they won’t be as good this year as they were in 2017. The Badger offense will need to be the best defense this year, because UW lost a considerable amount of talent on the other side of the ball from the league’s top defense.

The Badgers are noted for having excellent offensive linemen, tight ends, and powerful running backs. Expect more of the same in 2018, as the nation’s best offensive line is loaded with talent and experience. There is such incredible depth here that some of the backups could start for other Top 25 teams! Three of the players could make All-American! Tackle Michael Deiter could be the first tackle picked in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he is the second best on the team, and he is actually better utilized at guard. Dave Edwards is a beast. He is strong, quick, and agile, having been an option quarterback in high school.

Wisconsin lost a fine tight end in Troy Fumagalli (46 catches 547 yards), but when they still have two fine players nominated to the John Mackey Award Watch List. Zander Neuville and Kyle Penniston can block like guards but can sneak into the secondary and turn a short pass into a nice gain.

Fumagalli was the leading pass receiver, but the three two wideout receivers are back this year. Quintez Cephus, A.J. Taylor, and Danny Davis combined for just 87 pass receptions, but the trio averaged 16 yards per reception with 16 touchdowns.

Alex Hornibrook returns as the starting quarterback, and if he moves forward as much this season as he did last season, he could challenge McSorley and Lewerke for first team all-conference honors. His top job though will be handing the ball off to Jonathan Taylor, who rushed for 1,977 yards as a freshman.

If the Badgers stumble this year, it will be because their defense allows opponents to score points faster than the offense can respond. After giving up less than 14 points per game, less than 100 rushing yards, and just 262 total yards per game. The Badgers are still strong at linebacker with last year’s top two tacklers returning. T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly combined for 169 tackles with 22 for lost yardage; they picked up 5 passes, with Edwards taking one to the house.

Nose Tackle Olive Sagapolu can stop the two A-gaps without doing much of anything. At 346 pounds, he is tough to move out of the way and can force running attacks to direct plays to the next gap over. The Badgers are totally inexperienced at the end positions, and this will be a concern at the start of the season.

In the defensive backfield, safety D’Cota Dixon is the lone returning starter, and while he is excellent against the run, he is not a pass defense star.

Wisconsin will have time to get their new defensive players some playing time against three beatable opponents. The September 22nd game at Iowa could go a long way in determining the West Division champion.

Northwestern returns enough talent on both sides of the ball to give Wisconsin and Iowa fierce competition for the West Division flag. The University spent $260 million building the finest indoor facility in the nation, right on Lake Michigan, and the Wildcats are going to ramp up recruiting and possibly become the football equivalent of Duke Basketball, where the finest combination of athletic and academic successes end up in Evanston. This is down the road; for now, Coach Pat Fitzgerald tries to improve on a 10-3 season that included a narrow win over Kentucky in the Music City Bowl.

Clayton Thorson may not be an all-conference selection, but the senior quarterback has a good shot to hear his name announced in the 2019 NFL Draft. Thorson’s 2017 season was a bit off the 2016 season, but with his size and strength, NFL teams will have an interest in him. He has a a pair of experienced wide receivers returning, and Ben Skowronek and Flynn Nagel were the leading receivers last year.

Thorson relied on a lot of passes to his backs, and he will miss Justin Jackson’s 44 receptions and 1,311 rushing yards. Jeremy Larkin actually had better averages than Jackson in limited touches, as he has breakaway speed when he gets a little open space. The offensive line should be strong on the right side, but the left side could pose problems against some tough defensive stars.

Defensively, the Wildcats are stronger in the front seven and lacking in experience in their back line. Linebackers Paddy Fisher and Nate Hall combined to make 192 tackles with 26 for loss. Hall blitzed and sacked the QB five times. Up front, Samdup Miller and Joe Gaziano teamed for 14 1/2 sacks and 21 1/2 total tackles for loss. The secondary has just one returning starter. Montre Hartage intercepted a couple of passes, but this unit is lacking in stars.
Usually, Big Ten teams begin the season with a winnable game against a Group of 5 opponent. This year, Northwestern begins the season on the road in a pivotal conference game against Purdue. Then, in November, when Big Ten teams rarely play out of conference, the Wildcats host Notre Dame. The schedule is not favorable for a run at a division flag.

On the other hand, Iowa has a very favorable schedule to make a run at the division flag, even if like Wisconsin, they have a lot of replacing to do on the defensive side. Coach Kirk Ferentz enters his 20th season in Iowa City, and as a gift, the Hawkeyes are the only team in the Big Ten that does not play Ohio State, Michigan, or Michigan State.

On the offensive side, they Hawkeyes are led by their best player, quarterback Nate Stanley. Stanley came from out of almost nowhere to take over at QB last year and surprised the nation with 26 touchdown passes and 2.432 passing yards. Included in those stats were 5 TD pass games against Iowa State and Ohio State.

Like many teams in this league, Iowa uses a lot of two tight end sets, and the Hawkeyes return both starters this year. Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson teamed up to grab 54 passes good for 814 yards and 14 touchdowns. They will team up with top wideout Nick Easley to make Iowa’s passing game strong. The running game may be a work in progress with last year’s two top backs no longer around. Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin saw limited action in 2017 and looked capable of becoming contributors this year, but the Iowa running game may be down a little this year.

The defensive liability that will hurt the Hawkeyes this year is the middle of the defense. All of last year’s top linebackers are gone, and there isn’t much experience returning. Iowa will be vulnerable early against the short passing game and play-action passes until the new linebackers get enough reps to understand how to play at full speed. This is not the case up front, where the defensive line should be rather strong this year. Ends Anthony Nelson and Parker Hesse should get to the enemy quarterback a fair amount of times and stop running backs on stretch plays often enough to encourage offenses to try something else.

The secondary may have four new starters this year, even though there is returning starting experience. The Hawkeyes will miss star defensive back Joshua Jackson and his eight interceptions.

Who saw this coming last year? Purdue was picked to maybe contend for fifth place in the division and hopefully win four or five games. Under new coach Jeff Brohm, the Boilermakers looked more like the Drew Brees team that played at Ross-Ade Stadium 20 years ago than recent Purdue squads. Purdue Missouri, Minnesota, and Iowa in the regular season, and then secured a winning season by topping Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl.
It is more of the same for the Boilermakers offensively this year, but like most of the division, they must rebuild on the other side of the ball. The offense improved only marginally in scoring average in Brohm’s first season in West Lafayette, but the defense shaved 18 points off the scoring average allowed.

A tight race for the starting quarterback job is still too close to call. Last year, Elijah Sindelar got a majority of the snaps, but he did so only because David Blough was out for the year with an injury. Sindelar played the last few weeks on a torn ACL, but both should be ready to begin the year. It could easily continue to be undecided into the season, as both could play.

The Boilermakers need true freshman Rondale Moore to live up to his credentials as soon as possible, because there isn’t a go-to guy on the roster. Most of the returning receivers are capable second and third options, but only if there is a play-making first option.

The running game should be slightly improved, even though last year’s starter has graduated. Markell Jones and Tario Fuller will carry the ball behind an experienced line featuring Rimington Award contender Kirk Barron at center.

Purdue’s run defense was one of the better groups in the nation last year, but most of the stars that made it so powerful won’t be on the sidelines this year. One of those who will be back is middle linebacker Markus Bailey, who finished second on the team in tackles and first in sacks. He played on the strongside last year, but he will return to the middle in 2018.

The front four has questions, especially at end, while there are concerns at the cornerback spots as well. Safeties Jacob Thieneman and Navon Mosley return as starters, but they were more of supporting role players than stars.

Purdue has two strong non-conference opponents on their schedule in Missouri and Boston College, and most of the winnable conference games are on the road this year. If Brohm can take the Boilermakers back to a bowl this year, it may be an even better coaching job than last year. It also may get him a lot of offers to coach at more successful programs.

Minnesota used to be as big a power in college football as Ohio State is today. That was nearly 60 years ago, but this school still has the resources to return to greatness. Second year coach P. J. Fleck knows how to recruit and coach, as he made Western Michigan a New Year’s Bowl participant. Fleck is a motivational coach in the mold of James Franklin, but don’t underestimate his ability to get the most out of the talent on hand. The Golden Gophers fell one victory short of qualifying for a bowl last year, but with a majority of his starters returning on both sides of the ball, Fleck should play game number 13 in December.

Minnesota couldn’t move the ball or score points well enough to find that elusive sixth win. Narrow losses to Maryland, Michigan State, and Iowa could have been wins with just a little more offense. Quarterback play was a major liability in 2017, so the fact that Minnesota will have a new signal caller in 2018 is not a bad thing. It was thought that either redshirt freshman Tanner Morhan or juco transfer Vic Viramontes will be under center when the Gophers take on New Mexico State in week one. However, in recent days it appears that true freshman walk-on Zack Annexstad might be the starter.

Annexstad is not your typical walk-on. He turned down scholarship offers at multiple FBS schools to pay to attend his father’s alma mater. He has the stronger arm and has the skills to lead this team to at least seven more points per game than last year.
UM is set at running back, where Rodney Smith narrowly missed topping 1,000 yards and could easily match or top his fine sophomore campaign, where he rushed for 1,158 yards. It’s at receiver where the Gophers are not yet quite up to standards of the top teams in the league. Tyler Johnson is a fine receiver, capable of turning a short pass into a long gain, but he cannot do it all himself. Freshmen and untested sophomores will man the other positions. The Gophers plan to create shade for the fans in the stadium, and they signed two of the largest offensive linemen in the game. Tackle Daniel Faalele tips the scale at 400 pounds on a 6 foot 9 inch frame. Curtis Dunlap is only 6-5 and 370. Both should add depth to an improving offensive line this year.

Unlike most of their division brethren, Minnesota has experience returning throughout the defensive side of the field. In fact, they have a star in each unit. End Carter Coughlin led the team with 6 1/2 sacks. Linebacker Thomas Barber led the team and finished third in the league with 115 tackles, including 10 1/2 for loss. Safety Antoine Winfield looked like an all-conference player when he was healthy in the four games he played.

Minnesota gave up 22.8 points per game and 347 yards per game, which in the Big 12 would have been outstanding. It’s just average in the Big Ten, and the Gophers have a chance to improve those numbers to 20 points and 330 yards given up. A non-conference schedule that should give them three wins means, they only have to go 3-6 to get back to a bowl. That’s a strong possibility.

There is a generation of college football fans that do not know that Nebraska was once what Alabama is today. The Cornhuskers last won the national championship 21 years ago and last looked like the best team ever 23 years ago. The Cornhuskers are a far cry from even respectability, but new coach Scott Frost should stir up excitement at his alma mater. Too bad he doesn’t have eligibility left, because Nebraska could use him under center. Two freshmen are competing for the starting quarterback job, Tristan Gebbia and Adrian Martinez. For the time being, both may play in the early games in hopes that one will emerge as the clear choice.

Whoever is in at quarterback, he will have a fine pair of receivers to aim his throws to. Stanley Morgan, Jr. and J.D. Spielman teamed for 116 receptions and 1,1816 yards. Morgan’s father was a star with the New England Patriots and likely headed to the NFL in another year.
In past years, it was not unusual for Nebraska to rush for 400 to 500 yards with 1st team All-American backs. Things have changed in Lincoln, as the Cornhuskers finished 13th in the league in rushing with just 107.5 yards per game last year. No back topped 500 yards rushing for the season, and leading returnee Tre Bryant fell short of 300 yards. A combination of having Frost’s hurry up spread offense and a better blocking wall should help Nebraska increase their rushing average by 30-50 yards per game this year.
The defense formerly and famously known as the Blackshirts in the dynasty years of this program looked more like the black and blue in recent years. Nebraska gave up 36.4 points and 436.2 yards per game last year, including 42 points to Oregon 56 to Ohio State, and a final three swoon that saw Minnesota, Penn State, and Iowa all top 50 points. Expect these numbers to shrink in 2018. We would not be shocked if NU shaved 10 or more points and 50 or more yards off those poor averages.

The front seven will lead the way in 2018. Nebraska switches to a 3-4 after being an even-front team last year. The move to defensive end from outside linebacker should help Ben Stille team up with Carlos Davis and Freedom Akinmoladun top the 7 sacks the trio produced last year. Linebacker Dedrick Young is the leading returning tackle, and he’ll team with juco transfer Will Honas to give the Cornhuskers a better second line of defense. Expect more aggressive play in the secondary this year, as defensive coordinator Erik Chinander prefers a defense that concentrates on forcing turnovers.
There is a path to six wins for Frost in his first year at Memorial Stadium, but it isn’t going to be easy. After an opening game at home with Akron, the next three games are a bit tricky.
Illinois finished last in offense and 12th in defense in the Big Ten last year, and Coach Lovie Smith realized that desperate measures were needed. After Arizona fired Rich Rodriguez, Smith hired his offensive coordinator, Rod Smith to try to jump start the Illini offense. Quarterback Cam Thomas flashed just enough talent in a relief appearance against Purdue last year to give Illinois fans hope that he can move the team with consistency. The cupboard isn’t bare in the receiving corps, as Mike Dudek, Ricky Smalling, and tight end Louis Dorsey all saw extended playing time in 2017 and combined to catch 77 passes. Mike Epstein led the team with 346 rushing yards, even though he wasn’t the starter. He should top 500 this year. The entire offensive line returns, so expect Illinois to do much better than the paltry 15.4 points and 280 yards per game this year.

Defensively, Illinois gave up 31.5 points and 418 yards per game last year and won only two games, against Ball State and Western Kentucky. In Big Ten play, they went 0-9 and only really challenged in one game. There really is no reason to believe those numbers will improve this year. The defensive line and secondary is the weakest in the Big Ten, and the linebacker trio is only marginally better.

This could be the end of the line for Smith as coach of the Illini. With a 5-19 record in two years, another double-digit loss season might not be acceptable.

Here is how the Big Ten Conference Media voted in the preseason poll, which was taken before Meyer and Durkin were put on leave.

Big Ten
East 1st Place Points
1. Ohio St. 23.5 191.5
2. Michigan St. 2 142
3. Penn St. 1 141.5
4. Michigan 1.5 140.5
5. Maryland 0 75.5
6. Indiana 0 60
7. Rutgers 0 33
West 1st Place Points
1. Wisconsin 28 196
2. Iowa 0 155
3. Northwestern 0 138
4. Nebraska 0 104
5. Purdue 0 98.5
6. Minnesota 0 64.5
7. Illinois 0 28

The PiRate Ratings differ somewhat, and as we have mentioned, we expect considerable movement in these ratings, especially in the East Division if Meyer and/or Durkin are dismissed. LATE NOTE: It was announced Friday afternoon that the Meyer investigation would conclude on Sunday.

Big Ten Conference
East Division
Team BTen Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Michigan St. 0-0 0-0 127.7 125.1 128.1 127.0
Ohio St. 0-0 0-0 125.1 122.3 125.6 124.3
Michigan 0-0 0-0 121.7 120.6 122.7 121.6
Penn St. 0-0 0-0 121.2 117.7 121.6 120.2
Maryland 0-0 0-0 102.2 100.2 100.5 101.0
Rutgers 0-0 0-0 98.4 97.0 96.2 97.2
Indiana 0-0 0-0 97.8 96.3 97.3 97.1
West Division
Team BTen Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Wisconsin 0-0 0-0 123.1 119.2 123.4 121.9
Northwestern 0-0 0-0 114.8 112.6 115.4 114.3
Iowa 0-0 0-0 113.2 110.0 112.0 111.7
Purdue 0-0 0-0 107.9 106.3 106.6 106.9
Minnesota 0-0 0-0 104.7 103.6 104.0 104.1
Nebraska 0-0 0-0 100.5 98.7 97.8 99.0
Illinois 0-0 0-0 94.0 93.5 92.9 93.5
Big Ten Averages 110.9 108.8 110.3 110.0

 

New Coaches
Not counting the two interim head coaches, Scott Frost is the lone new head coach in the league this year. Frost left undefeated Central Florida to return to his alma mater Nebraska. He turned UCF from an 0-12 team to a 14-0 team in just two years. If he can get Nebraska to a bowl in year one and then compete for 9 wins in 2019, he will have some property named after him in Lincoln.

Predicted Won-Loss Records
Note: These predicted won-loss records are strictly mechanical based on the initial PiRate Ratings. No upsets are factored in these predictions. Additionally, our PiRate Ratings are only useful for the next week of games and cannot really be used to forecast past that point. Part of our weekly adjustment to our ratings includes a factor where depth issues or non-issues have been pre-set. In other words, a team without talented second stringers may lose ratings points as the season progresses even if they win games by the predicted margin, whereas a team with exceptional depth (like Alabama) will improve during the season and see its rating rise even if they win games by a little less than the predicted margin. Ohio State and Maryland could see their ratings change by large amounts depending on the outcome of the two coaching investigations.

Team Conference Overall
East
Michigan St. 9-0 13-0*
Ohio St. 8-1 11-1
Michigan 7-2 10-2
Penn St. 6-3 9-3
Maryland 3-6 5-7
Rutgers 2-7 5-7
Indiana 0-9 2-10
West
Wisconsin 7-2 10-3
Iowa 7-2 10-2
Northwestern 5-4 7-5
Minnesota 5-4 8-4
Purdue 3-6 4-8
Nebraska 1-8 4-8
Illinois 0-9 2-10
* Michigan State to win Big Ten Champ. Game

Bowl Tie-ins
1. Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA
2. Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL
3. Outback Bowl in Tampa, FL
4. Holiday Bowl in San Diego, CA
5. Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL or Music City Bowl in Nashville, TN
6. Pinstripe Bowl in New York, NY
7. San Francisco Bowl in San Francisco, CA
8. Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, MI
9. Armed Forces Bowl in Forth Worth, TX
10. Heart of Dallas Bowl in Dallas, TX

Coming Tomorrow–The Atlantic Coast Conference

November 2, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for November 2-6, 2017

The PiRate Captain had to send up the white flag after his lasses staged a successful mutiny two weeks ago. Much to his chagrin and ego, the ladies proceeded to come up with back-to-back weeks of pillaging of the Vegas vessels.

Last week, they brought in enough booty to send the SS Fortune into the black for the season. They proceeded to return a profit on the investment of a whopping 147%, missing out on going a perfect 4 for 4 by one play in overtime in the Appy State-U Mass game.  For the season, the PiRate Account is now in the black with a very modest 1% ROI.

The Captain will note that in the previous two seasons, the period from the last of October to the first of December followed the same MO–the selection results went from red numbers to black numbers and clinched a profit for the overall seasons.
Now, the lasses are lobbying to change the name of the PiRate ship to Queen Anne’s Revenge. The Captain is worried that five swollen heads on the lovely ladies could lead to a return of some booty to the Nevada books, but the ladies are overly confident that they have zeroed in using their superior female intuition.

Once again, the ladies picked the teams they thought had the best chance of winning outright but at the same time went off as small favorites, total tossups, or even slight underdogs. The Captain merely served as their accountant, putting together the best possible parlays as far as favorable odds go, thanks to his knowing which of the 2 dozen reputable books had the best overall odds.

 
The PiRate lasses selected four money line parlays, each going off at better than +120 odds, which is the unwritten rule for this weekly feature. Actually, there are just three parlays this week, as the fourth selection is a single game where the ladies believe the underdog should be favored by at least a touchdown.

Enjoy the picks, but remember, neither the ladies nor the Captain ever wager real money on the outcomes of these games. The goal here is to have fun with math.

#1 @ +155  
Must Win Must Lose
North Texas Louisiana Tech
#2 @ +144  
Must Win Must Lose
Georgia St.
Georgia Southern
Kentucky Ole Miss
#3 @ +167  
Must Win Must Lose
Navy Temple
Northwestern Nebraska
#4 @ +204  
Must Win Must Lose
Missouri Florida
UAB Rice
Tulane Cincinnati

 

 

September 28, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for September 28-October 2, 2017

After four weeks of the football season, our readers might just want to take a knee; then again, they might want to place that knee firmly in some PiRate groin!  Ouch!  1,000 apologies if you took our ill-adivsed advice!

Another losing week, and we are now in the hole to the tune of -25% return on our investment for the season.  We won only one of last week’s four selections, returning $245 on $400 invested.  The -25% return for the season comes from $899 returned on $1,200 invested, quite a hole to try to emerge from before the season runs out of dates.

Our one solace, and we hope this is yours as well, is that these are imaginary dollars.  We can continue to select a liberal amount of games and be a bit wild with our selections, because we are only out the time it takes to pick these games.

This week, you will notice that all of our selections are college football games.  There are no NFL picks.  Make of this what you want, and you will be partially correct.  For one, we just didn’t feel like looking at the NFL Money Lines.  None of us will attend any games this week, and as far as we know, none of us will be watching on TV or listening on the radio.  Another reason why we didn’t select any NFL games is that the league is extremely erratic this year.  The supposed sure-thing 0-16 Jets won big over a playoff contender, and the Texans with a rookie QB almost beat New England, so let’s just walk away from the NFL for now.  The politics can only make the outcomes more unpredictable.

That leaves us with college football, and there are a lot of good games this week.  By good, we mean games in which the favorite is in the 5 to 10 point range, which presents us excellent Money Line potentials.  We actually like one underdog winning outright on the road, and we are going to put that one out as a single entry.

Here are our 5 parlay selections for this week.  Remember this: The members of the PiRate Ratings are not foolish enough to wager real currency on these selections.  We are nervous enough with our value stock selections, which are real, so we don’t need the added stress.  You to should avoid the stress of worrying about losing $500 real dollars on these selections, so only wager imaginary money if you must.

#1 @ +155  
Must Win Must Lose
Georgia Tech North Carolina
Georgia Tennessee
Nebraska Illinois
#2 @ +150  
Must Win Must Lose
Iowa Michigan St.
#3 @ +146  
Must Win Must Lose
Central Florida Memphis
Cincinnati Marshall
#4 @ +128  
Must Win Must Lose
Kentucky Eastern Mich.
Western Mich. Ball St.
La. Tech South Alabama
Boston College Central Mich.
#5 @ +135  
Must Win Must Lose
UNLV San Jose St.
Florida Intl. Charlotte
San Diego St. N. Illinois
Florida Vanderbilt

 

 

 

 

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