How FlaTerp fared (season record in parenthesis):
Terptown16 4-1 (6-5)
Charles Owen 3-2 (8-3)
cliffhanger45 3-2 (7-4)
englandumd 3-2 (8-3)
Lauderdale Terp 3-2 (7-4)
Octavian 3-2 (7-4)
QuigTerp 3-2 (11-6)
TerpsAught1 3-2 (10-7)
Noah Niederhoffer 2-2 (9-7)
Zol 2-2 (9-6)
BET on Terps 2-3 (9-8)
Brendan Darr 2-3 (5-6)
sleteach 2-3 (5-6)
umcp96 2-3 (5-6)
LeoinMD 1-4 (5-6)
MellophoneMathMajor 1-4 (4-7)
NickTerp85 1-4 (4-13)
PAB522 1-4 (4-7)
thedurtyturtle 1-4 (6-11)
younghollywood5 1-4 (4-7)
Testudo's Attorney 1-4 (3-7)
nyterp1 0-4 (6-9)
Jersey Terp 0-5
mtcassell 0-5 (6-10)
Time to talk about this week's games, starting with ....
Maryland (3-1) at Indiana (2-1)
Opening line: Indiana -2.5
Current line: Pretty wide range at the time of this writing, from a low of 3.5 at the Las Vegas Hilton to a high of 5 at several books. Most published spreads fall in the 4-4.5 range. We'll go with a working line of 4 for our purposes this week.
Trends: The public currently backs Maryland at a 64% clip, which is not a decisive enough split for me to base my action on it. The interesting thing that's happened is that the wiseguys continue to build up the line, even while the bettors are already on Maryland's side.
What it means: Again 64% is not a heavy enough split for me to feel comfortable basing decisions on, but if I had to guess what the counterintuitive line movement (making Maryland a bigger dog even while they're already being bet by the majority) means, it means that Vegas is seeking an even higher percentage of Maryland bettors than they already have -- because they like Indiana. If you saw the line moving down, not up, that would tell you that Vegas is looking for a 50-50 split.
My pick: Right now, the 64% support Maryland is getting isn't compelling enough for me to pick Indiana for my typical contrarian reasons. If the line keeps growing to a point where Maryland draws 80% of the action vs. the spread, that would probably move me away from the Terps, but right now things are even enough that I'll just look at the matchup on its merits. Looking objectively, Maryland is the more talented team here. In the five recruiting years between 2009 and 2013, the Terps finished an average of 29 slots higher than Indiana in the Rivals team rankings, which is a pretty decisive difference. Now we all know that recruiting rankings aren't the end-all, but this divide can tell you that your average physical specimen at Maryland is more advanced at the start of his college career than at Indiana. Take that for whatever it's worth to you. Looking at the bodies of work this season, both teams are coming off high-quality wins, with the Hoosiers' triumph at ranked Missouri easily the more impressive. There's been some debate in the Testudo Times world over the quality of Maryland's win at Syracuse, but to me it was a decisive road win over a team with similar-to-better talent than Indiana and over a team that hammered the Terps last year at Byrd. Maryland led wire to wire and won without stress -- on the road against a major-conference team. I loved that win. Meanwhile, Indiana's win over Mizzou was much more signature, but the Hoosiers still showed some warts -- just like Maryland did in Syracuse. They were 1-for-14 on 3rd down conversions, got shredded through the air, and faded badly in the fourth quarter before rallying for a late TD. A peek at Indiana's prior two games sends up even more red flags. The Hoosiers took a loss to Bowling Green, which isn't exactly beating this world this year, and before that only managed 28 points despite rolling up nearly 600 yards against a FCS team (Indiana State) that was 1-11 in 2013. I'm not sure who's going to win this game, but I do feel pretty certain that a 4- to 5-point spread favoring IU is not a fair reflection of the matchup, which I strongly believe would slightly favor Maryland if it were on a neutral field. You tell me: Is Bloomington worth a full touchdown?
Pick vs. the spread: Maryland+4
Game pick: Maryland 38, Indiana 24
5 I like
NORTHWESTERN (+11) @ Penn State: I have a feeling I may be lonely with this pick, but it's a 91-9 betting variance in PSU's favor. The Nittany Lions, while 4-0, are not ranked and have yet to decisively beat anyone not named "UMass." Their opposition in those other wins (Rutgers, Akron, UCF) hasn't exactly been murderer's row. Northwestern got some love in the preseason but is off to a slow start. Now I'm interested in them in underdog scenarios when the trends allow for it. This is one of those times.
MISSOURI (+6.5) @ South Carolina: Here's a straight contrarian play with 89% of the action on the Gamecocks at home. Missouri is a well-coached team that will circle the wagons after stumbling vs. Indiana, and the road probably isn't a bad place for them after their home stinker. South Carolina is still trying to find itself and I don't see them in blowout mode. They had a great win over UGA (that we nailed!) but were suspect before that against A&M and again last week in a lackluster showing vs. Vanderbilt.
FLORIDA STATE (-21.5) @ N.C. State: FSU, without their Heisman QB, got the scare of a lifetime from Clemson last week at home while the Wolfpack is 4-0 against creampuffs, two of whom (Ga. Southern and ODU) made things a tad uncomfortable for our friends from Raleigh. The 'Pack is a team that has given FSU well-publicized problems in the past, but this is an other-level 'Noles team that will be elated to be back at full strength. Because of that Clemson game -- to me, a throwaway without Jameis -- only 27% of the public likes FSU to lay the three touchdowns. Count me among them. Also, never pick state!
@PURDUE (+10.5) vs Iowa: We're 1-0 playing the Boilermakers this year and I really like them this time around even though it's not a contrarian play -- the action is almost exactly 50-50. My take is pretty simple: Iowa just isn't nearly good enough to be laying 10 points on the road in a conference game.
@SYRACUSE (+12) vs. Notre Dame: Here's an 80-20 game and understandably so. Syracuse is way out of favor here because they didn't look good last week against the Terps and now a much more respected team comes in. Lost in that loss, though, was a pretty darn potent rushing attack and a quarterback, Hunt, who I really like. Just a hunch: 'Cuse keeps this one close and breaks a lot of bettors' hearts.