How FlaTerp fared (season record in parenthesis):
ESterps08 5-0 (21-13)
Testudo's Attorney (5-0, 14-13)
NickTerp85 4-1 (12-22)
Pete Volk 4-1 (20-14)
sleteach 4-1 (14-14)
umcp96 4-1 (16-12)
zol 4-1 (19-13)
cliffhanger45 3-2 (17-11)
KStalz 3-2 (6-5)
nyterp1 3-2 (15-16)
QuigTerp 3-2 (20-14)
TerpsAught1 3-2 (18-16)
TerpsRising 3-2 (19-10)
testudbro 3-2 (15-13)
englandumd 2-3 (13-15)
FearTheTurtle 2-3 (12-20)
Jersey Terp 2-3 (8-13)
mdterps7 2-3 (5-5)
MellophoneMathMajor 2-3 (12-16)
NYCSportsFan 2-3 (9-13)
Palm City Turtle 2-3
thedurtyturtle 2-3 (11-21)
Charles Owen 1-4 (15-12)
Lauderdale Terp 1-4 (12-16)
wittcap79 1-4 (13-16)
younghollywood5 1-4 (10-18)
chiterp 0-5 (5-12)
And now, let's pick some games starting with the Terps' return to action, post-bye ....
Iowa (5-1, 2-0) at Maryland (4-2, 1-1)
Opening line: Maryland -3
Current line: The majority of books are listing Maryland -5, which we'll use. There's also some 4s and 4.5s out there.
Trends: Even at Maryland -3, the public was backing underdog Iowa at a roughly 65% to 35% clip. Vegas has since showed its hand here by adding points to to the spread, effectively seeking out even more Iowa action than the majority they were already getting at just a field goal. It hasn't really moved the betting public though, as the split was still 66-34 toward Iowa at the time of this writing, Wednesday morning.
What it means: Pretty simple really. It means the wiseguys like Maryland in this matchup, even with the Terps laying a not-insignificant chunk of points. Betting trends and line movement reveal Vegas's desire to stack the public on Iowa's side at a pretty heavy ratio, at least right now. We'll see what happens for the rest of the week.
My pick: Because I consistently plant myself on the house's side -- and the house appears willing to stick its neck out for the Terps on this one -- you can probably see where I'm headed here, regardless of the characteristics of the matchup. But let's take a look at the matchup anyway and see if we can make a non-contrarian case for Maryland as well.
First, the bye week factor. I tried to take that into consideration in this game, but then I remembered being so disgusted last year when Maryland came off its bye to face Syracuse at home and completely and utterly no-showed and got dominated at the line both ways. That was one of the true cringe-worthy days of last season, along with Wake Forest (ugh!), FSU (ack!), Marshall (pfft!), the UVA game that Maryland tried so desperately to give away (cringe) and the BC icing-the-kicker episode (groan). Man, I hated last year.
What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, the Iowa game. Anyway, I'm not sold that our coaching is good enough to gain an advantage out of the bye week so we'll look at other facets of the matchup. The Hawkeyes may be 5-1, 2-0 but it's a very, very soft version of those records. The season started with shaky wins over average Northern Iowa and bad Ball State, followed by a loss to Iowa State (2-4, 0-3) and then 14-point conference wins over Purdue and Indiana, two of B1G's worst. The combined record of Iowa's six opponents is 11-20 and not-a-one has a winning record. Is Iowa as good as its record? Too soon to tell.
Even against that softer opposition, the Hawkeyes average 3.8 yards per carry -- not awesome -- and rank 90th in the FBS in total yardage. In other words, it's an undynamic offensive team. Defensively, they look a little better, ranking 24th against the pass and 41st against the run, but again, the competition hasn't been spectacular. Iowa is 19th in the nation in points allowed, but the one common opponent, Indiana, scored about twice as many points vs. Iowa than Maryland and gained about 33% more yardage.
In the big picture, just about any advanced team stat you look at rates Maryland significantly higher than Iowa despite the Hawkeyes' superior record. And that's even before taking into account here that Maryland indisputably has played the tougher schedule.
So the line, Maryland -5, may on the surface appear a little big after the Terps' blowout home loss. But a closer look reveals some evidence backing that number -- and backing Maryland as a genuine favorite in this game, regardless of what the public thinks.
Pick vs. the spread: Maryland -5
Game pick: Maryland 20, Iowa 13
5 I like
@PITT (-1) vs Virginia Tech: In this Thursday nighter, the counterintuitive choice of Pitt as the slight ATS favorite predictably caused the public to jump all over the Turkeys, who I continue to never like even though they've covered and stung the house (and me) multiple times this season. The public betting split toward VT is a resounding 81-19 as I type. I've been saying it all year: The ACC Coastal is a crappy division full of crappy teams that can beat each other on any given day. Nobody should get 80% backing. VT isn't special.
@WAKE FOREST (+5) vs Syracuse: Finally, I get to bet against Syracuse! I'll be honest, I have no idea exactly how much Wake Forest sucks, but it must be a hell of a lot for them to be 5-point home underdogs to crappy 'Cuse and still be on the wrong side of a 97-3 betting split. Wow, just wow. I have gotten to know Syracuse pretty good having bet on them about 4 weeks in a row and even winning with them last week in a routine loss to FSU. Syracuse is not worthy of 97 percent road support as a 5-point favorite in any conference game. Not even close.
@OREGON (-20.5) vs. Washington: This one is another eye-popping 95-5 betting split, toward Washington, and I still get to play Oregon at home against a U-Dub team that has beaten exactly nobody? Lay. The. Points.
@OKLAHOMA (-8) vs Kansas State: This is exactly like the Oregon game. Oklahoma is a better program than Kansas State, with better personnel all over the field, and they should definitely be laying a touchdown or more at home in this game, but Kansas State is drawing 87% of the action. What am I missing? I can get both Oregon and Oklahoma at home as public outcasts? Yes, please.
N.C. STATE (+17) @Louisville: I'm putting all you Never-Pick-Staters to the test here, because this is a really fat line to lay for any ACC team not named Florida State (who hasn't really covered much this year either, by the way). C'mon now, betting public, 82% Louisville as 17-point favorites? The same Louisville that lost to UVA and struggled to beat Wake Forest? Never Pick State? Never say never.