It was a great week for the Terps but a tough week for most of you gambling fools. Twenty-five of us played, and only three of us -- just three! -- had winning records. Kudos to Testudo's Attorney who won the week and has gone 9-1 over the past two weeks to vault way up the season leaderboard after a slow start. And kudos also to Pete Volk, who has been steady as can be picking these games and leads the field with 24 correct picks. Pete is a tremendous journalist with a great work ethic -- and a worthy degenerate too! Who knew? That's a rare combination.
Anyway, I still maintain that I'm going to beat all of y'all by the time the season is over, and I'm gaining ground with the second-most wins (22), tied with TerpsRising (still our percentage leader), Zol, QuigTerp and ESterps08.
Maryland vs. spread: Won (4-2)
Maryland straight up: Won (4-2)
Overall vs. Spread: 4-2 (22-18)
How you all fared:
Testudo's Attorney 4-1 (19-14)
Pete Volk 4-2 (24-16)
cliffhanger45 3-3 (20-14)
KStalz 3-3 (9-8)
mdterps7 3-3 (8-8)
NickTerp85 3-3 (15-25)
Noah Niederhoffer 3-3
NYCSportsFan 3-3 (12-15)
Palm City Turtle 3-3
sleteach 3-3 (17-17)
TerpsRising 3-3 (22-13)
wittcap79 3-3 (16-19)
younghollywood5 3-3 (13-21)
Zol 3-3 (22-16)
Charles Owen 2-4 (17-16)
englandumd 2-4 (15-19)
Lauderdale Terp 2-4 (14-20)
MellophoneMathMajor 2-4 (14-20)
QuigTerp 2-4 (22-16)
nyterp1 1-4 (16-20)
chiterp 1-5 (6-17)
ESterps08 1-5 (22-18)
TerpsAught1 1-5 (19-21)
And now, let's pick some games starting with the Terps' first trip to a traditional B1G power ....
Maryland (5-2, 2-1) at Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1)
Opening line: Wisconsin -11.5
Current line: The majority of books are still listing Wisconsin as 11.5-point favorites, with a couple of 11s and a couple 10.5s.
Trends: The trends have held steady, with the public just slightly backing Maryland throughout the week. At the time of this writing, Wednesday evening, it's 56% Maryland, 44% Wisconsin.
What it means: Vegas hasn't done much in the way of adjusting a situation that has been consistently in the neighborhood of 50-50, so it seems like they're content letting the chips fall where they may in this matchup and just collecting the juice. What does that tell you? Basically, the handicappers took their best guess at the difference between the two teams (around 11 points) and don't really have a strong opinion in which way the game goes from there.
My pick: With no help from Vegas, I'm pretty much on my own here, and that's fine. I can spit bullsh** til Christmas -- I'm not afraid of it.
Wisconsin is about as far from a mystery as it gets in college football. As Alex Kirshner deftly showed us this week, the Badgers are running the ball a very high percentage of the time. They don't pass well or even have a definitive quarterback, and they don't really care. It's ground and pound, three yards and a cloud of dust ... you name the rushing cliche', they fit the mold.
So how does Maryland fare against the run? Not particularly well. The Terps rank 102nd in the FBS, which could probably be disclaimed slightly since they've faced a some pretty darn good rushing teams in Indiana (8th in the FBS), Ohio State (28th) and Syracuse (42nd). So Maryland's probably not that bad at run defense, but the numbers don't lie -- they aren't good either.
The Terps did, however, fare quite well against an Indiana RB star, Tevin Coleman, who looks remarkably similar to Melvin Gordon, both by numbers and by the eye test. Wisconsin, however, is a far superior football team to Indiana with a much, much better offensive line and a much bigger homefield advantage too.
Since Maryland's strength lies in its offense, let's flip the script and look at Wisconsin's D. Here's where things get a tad frightening. The Badgers are 2nd in the FBS in total yards allowed (1,700) and rank eighth overall against the pass and 21st against the run. So it appears to be a sound, solid defense. Maryland has tended to need to score a bunch of points to be guaranteed a win this season, and that may be difficult to do this week in Cheese Country.
When Vegas doesn't offer any help, it brings out the homer in me. I have to guard against irrationally picking my Terps, but it's just not that tough to stay away this time. Since Maryland rose up vs. the run against Iowa and Indiana, I'll take our Turtles against that beefy 11.5-point spread, but I just don't like Maryland's chances to steal a road win against one of the biggest, toughest and most disciplined rushing teams around.
Pick vs. the spread: Maryland +11.5
Game pick: Wisconsin 27, Maryland 21
5 I like
@VIRGINIA TECH (+2.5) vs Miami: Another Thursday nighter, another 80-20 contrarian play with the public stacked up on a very suspect Hurricanes team. Wait a second ... 80% Miami? The 'Canes are 0-3 on the road this season and failed to cover at Nebraska, at Georgia Tech and at Louisville. We're down on the ACC Coastal this year and any time I see an 80% Coastal team (as a road favorite no less!), I'm going the other way. Give me the Hokies. They're winning this game.
BRIGHAM YOUNG (+7) @Boise State: Again, it's 80% Boise State here and just like with Va. Tech vs. Miami, I don't know that the Broncos are the better team at all here, let alone a full touchdown better. Anyone see "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"? To quote that worthwhile flick, Boise State's phenomenal run is "like the Sopranos. It's OVER. Find a new show." I think this line is oversized and based on ancient history. I'll take the Coogs.
@KENTUCKY (+14) vs. Mississippi State: Don't get me wrong, I'm taking the points, but I'm going to say it anyway: No. 1 is going down in Lexington this weekend. Remember where you heard it first, and when you speak of me, speak well.
RUTGERS (+17.5) @Nebraska: Just too much line, that's all. We're seeing it first-hand: the B1G isn't some impossible puzzle to solve for us newbies. Rutgers got smacked by Ohio State last week, but Nebraska ain't Ohio State. This one's gonna be a struggle.
@PENN STATE (+14) Ohio State: Ohio State (85%) has the betting world around its finger now because why? Because they rolled it up over some MAC team, Maryland (no offense) and Rutgers? This is a road game in a tough stadium and it's a border battle with much on the line both in real life and in recruiting too. Someone's season is going awry after this matchup. It'll probably be Penn State's, but I just don't think it's going to be that easy.