Each passing week is one week too many that failed hire Randy Edsall is still Maryland's football coach, and I, being the dark-cloud curmudgeon I am, will start making a point of harping on it in this space for as long as it remains a reality.
(Update: As you all know, the Edsall story has evolved dramatically since I wrote this Thursday morning and will continue to evolve, so the stuff below probably doesn't reflect the current situation, whatever it happens to be when you read this story. I really should just stick to what I do best: giving mediocre gambling advice!)
Anyone else read John Feinstein's WaPo piece earlier this week about Edsall, Mike London, and the hopeless football situations at both Maryland and Virginia and why neither of them are that likely to change anytime soon? Well, I recommend it. Allow me a quick sample:
"But if the Terrapins get humiliated by the good teams left on their schedule -- Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa and Wisconsin -- and don't beat Penn State, Indiana and Rutgers, the screaming for Edsall's head by the few who still care about Maryland football will intensify."
It's a painful but sadly true assessment of the mood among Maryland fans these days: equal parts frustration (which is healthy and can be a catalyst of change) and apathy (which puts us on a path to becoming Kansas). And the takeaway, which I'll let you read about on your own, is that it's pretty unlikely that we'll see a coaching change anytime soon (though since Feinstein wrote this our humble leader Alex opened a floodgate of reports suggesting otherwise). Anything you read about out there about Chip Kelly or anyone else who seems way more exciting that what we've got right now, don't get too stoked about it. It's probably just a fading glimmer of false hope. My only advice is this: Keep watching the games and being an active fan of Maryland football. It's OK to be angry, just don't stop caring.
Good to great!
OK, let's talk gambling.
How FlaTerp fared (season record in parenthesis):
Maryland vs. spread: Lost (4-1)
Maryland straight up: Won (4-1)
Overall vs. Spread: 2-4 (15-14-1)
Thoughts: I'm officially in a rut, having gone 3-8-1 over the past two weeks to creep back down toward the dreaded .500 mark. That's OK, gambling gods, you can't faze me! I've never seen a losing streak so bad that I couldn't throw money at it to make it go away. OK, maybe never is a strong word, but I usually do snap out of it. You have to look at gambling as a season-long endeavor and budget accordingly. If you put all your hopes on one game or one weekend, you eventually go bust. As for the Maryland game last week, all I can say is that Michigan really tried to play along with Vegas with all those turnovers, but Maryland is just way too bad offensively to take what's handed to them. Vegas took a beating on that game and it was easy money for Joe Public. So was Army and Oregon. Vegas is rarely that wrong, that often, on the same day, but it does happen. Oh well.
How you all fared: Courtesy of Statjax, here are the results. Props to mtcassell for a 6-0 week. Someone's done it three weeks in a row now. Pretty impressive!
Week 3 results
Time to pick some games, starting, of course, with Maryland.
Maryland (2-3, 0-1)
at #1 Ohio State (5-0, 1-0)
Line: Ohio State opened as a 29.5-point favorite, but the public wasn't remotely concerned about laying all those points and piled on the Buckeyes at a 90-percent clip. In other words, the secret's out among gamblers nationwide: Maryland isn't just bad, they're bad. Vegas agrees, and didn't want any part of being married to Maryland for two weeks in a row, so the wiseguys have chase Terp action by steadily adding points, to the point that Ohio State is now favored by 33.5 at the time of this writing. That's what we'll work with.
Trends: By adding four points in four days to an already huge line, Vegas seems to have found that happy medium where even lowly Maryland begins to look appealing to some bettors.As I type, the break down is 60% Buckeyes, 40% Terps. That makes it a game I'm not normally interested in playing, but we're here to make decisions, so I'll make one.
My pick: The sad news is that Maryland is little more than a passenger in this matchup ... and, for that matter, in most matchups for the rest of this season. If the Terps' remaining opponents do their thing offensively, they'll win, and probably pretty easily. If they struggle, then maybe Mighty Maryland has an opening to make things interesting somehow. There's no question in anyone's mind that Ohio State is the vastly superior team that should win this game with little resistance. Beating Maryland is easy; beating the spread, not so much. In fact, the Buckeyes have lost 2 of their last 3 ATS and seriously underwhelmed against both Indiana and Northern Illinois. It raises a question with this Buckeyes team: are they going to round into form, or are they a repeat of last year's defending champs, FSU? The '14 Noles routinely underwhelmed in shaky wins while the world waited for them to wake up, but it never happened and they just weren't as good as people thought. Success certainly didn't sit well for Urban Meyer at Florida, where he also ascended quickly to the mountaintop, but then couldn't rein things in when the program spun out of control and fell to pieces around him. Now in his dream job, I think Meyer has outgrown those issues and his hypertalented squad is going to find itself on both sides of the ball. That fat, juicy line, 33.5, it's a lot of points, but we can pretty confidently say at this point that the Maryland offense is not going to score much, so that lessens the amount of work the Buckeyes will need to do in order to cover. Without much help from the betting trends, I have to side with strength here over weakness.
Pick vs. the spread: Ohio State -33.5
Game pick: Ohio State 49, Maryland 3
5 I like
@PENN STATE (-6.5) vs. Indiana: I wish I knew how to quit you, Penn State. Why do I end up betting the Nittany Lions every damn week? Well, because they're always in the middle of an 80-20 betting split, and that's where I live. In fact, this time it's a whopping 88% of the public in bed with Indiana in a road conference game. I mean, it's Indiana, right? I haven't lost this year playing against Penn State and haven't won playing with them, but every losing streak has to end sometime.
@TENNESSEE (+3) vs. Georgia: Another ridiculously lopsided betting split with only 13% of the public siding with the Vols as home dogs. UGA is coming off a stomach-punch home thumping and hitting the road to play a pretty good team in a very hostile environment. Tennessee seems like a no-brainer if you have Vegas behind you.
@NOTRE DAME (-14.5) vs Navy: My career record in games involving service academies is 0-157-1, but man, that push back in 1997 when Army beat Eastern Michigan, that was sweet! Just kidding, but not about always getting these games wrong. I feel like the Dame at home should be laying more points here, but they aren't because it seems like Navy takes this one to the wire every other season despite the massive talent gap. The public, or 79% of them at least, remembers all those close games. So I'll play the other side of it because I feel like the line is a discount.
@MICHIGAN (-7.5) vs. Northwestern: A really, really interesting game in the big house. A full 80% of the action is on Northwestern here and I get it. Michigan just isn't that good on offense and Northwestern, I mean who saw 27-0 coming last week against Minnesota? If you can't root for an unbeaten Northwestern team, you're made of wood. Rooting and betting are two different things, however. Michigan made a million mistakes last week while still winning easily against a Maryland team that looked lost in broad daylight. The Wolverenes will be better this week.
@MISSOURI (+5.5) vs. Florida: The SEC is funny this year. Nobody is sacred, and as soon as you think you're flying high, you get stung. It's Florida's turn to take one on the chin. Mizzou wins outright.