With a wild week of college football in the rearview mirror, we gamblers -- most of us with our bank accounts still in tact, move on to a somewhat more serious Maryland game in Week two. Let's take a look back first and check out the damage from last week ...
How FlaTerp fared (season record in parenthesis):
Maryland vs. spread: Won (1-0)
Maryland straight up: Won (1-0)
Overall vs. Spread: 4-2 (4-2)
Thoughts: I started off with a blaze of glory, picking up Northwestern, Temple and Louisville before nightfall on Saturday (I couldn't cash in on Maryland because FCSvFBS games are off the board). I'm not going to lie, it was a giant week for me. I typically play my dogs both ATS and on the money line, and I also tie all these games together both ML (when applicable) and against the spread. That means a 3-team parlay came home, not to mention a two-team money line parlay with two substantial underdogs (Temple +7, Northwestern +12) winning outright. These are the type of tickets you might cash just a small handful of times in a good season. It was a memorable day, and it also knocked me off the hinges for the big national games (Ala-Wisc and OSU-VT) because had either of those underdogs covered we'd be talking about 4- or 5-team parlays, and if they both won I'd be in the Caymans right now. Alas, we'll just take the win and move on.
How you all fared: I'm not tracking everyone's picks this year because my schedule is just too hectic. I scanned your picks from last week's comments and it appears NickTerp and MellophoneMathMajor's coin led the parade by each going 5-1. Well done guys (and small metallic objects). A boatload of you went 4-2 like I did, though most of you went about it differently and correctly picked chalk in the form of both the Tide & Buckeyes. Contrarians like me rarely get to play the elite teams because the public generally loves them and the lines get bloated. But it is what it is. Good teams do good things sometimes.
Speaking of good teams, let's talk about Maryland! (Not my best or most accurate segue ever. Oh well.)
Bowling Green (0-1) at Maryland (1-0)
Line: Maryland opened as a 9-point favorite but Vegas has taken a big bite out of it since. As I type Thursday morning, the Terps are laying 7.5 points.
Trends: Maryland as a 9-point favorite early in the week was drawing about 50% of the action. From a Terp fan perspective, that would've been perfectly fine. If it held, it would mean Vegas took its best shot at predicting the final margin -- and they tend to be really good at that most of the time -- and would've been content splitting the action and winning the juice. Things have changed, however. The sharps bet the line down and the public has tilted its favor toward the Terps, who are drawing 72% of the action as I type. The trends player in me really loves 80-20 splits and bets them pretty much without thinking most of the time. 70-30 or wider, it's not automatic for me but it makes me very interested in making a case for the team on the short side of it, and that happens to be the Falcons.
My pick: There's a few teams out there that are so gimmicky that you almost have to put an asterisk by their name. We're talking about teams like Georgia Tech and the service academies with their run-centric offenses and teams like Oregon because of their quick-fire offenses that roll up basketball scores on a weekly basis. Bowling Green is probably an asterisk team too, because they play at a blistering pace and run a ton of plays (as Alex describes in his excellent piece). The Falcons are no Oregon in terms of quality, but their enigmatic style demands a one-off type of week of preparation by their opponents. Maryland will need to focus on things they wouldn't focus on any other week, things such as conditioning, rotating, adjusting, etc. The normal between-play procedures for signaling, huddling, etc. are out the window when the opposing offense is running 100+ plays some weeks. College football is most often a battle of talent, I firmly believe that, but some weeks -- like this one -- coaching and preparation factors in more than others. Maryland has homefield and better talent, so the Terps simply have to dictate how this game is played at least some of the time. Indiana failed to do that last year against BGSU and got lured into a 45-42 defeat. Tennessee fell victim to the same issue last week but still prevailed in a game that saw 89 total points scored. The Terps ran the ball well last week and should be able to do the same this week too -- Tennesee had 6 rush TDs, after all -- but passing was an eyesore for the Terps in their opener. If the offense clicks both ways, I'd like Maryland's chances to win comfortably. Still, I'll reluctantly pick the Terps to win this game straight up, but I'm not laying more than a touchdown to a gimmicky opponent that scored 30 points on an SEC team last week.
Pick vs. the spread: Bowling Green +7.5
Game pick: Maryland 36, Bowling Green 33
5 I like
BUFFALO (+21) at Penn State: Am I piling on Penn State here? Sure I am, but this is also a great play if the current line and trends hold up. Buffalo is not a good team, but are they bad enough to be getting three touchdowns from a PSU team that got smoked by Temple last week? Not so sure. It's a big line for a team that blew out just about nobody last year with a much better OL. Why is 86% of the betting public on Penn State's side right now? I have no idea.
@COLORADO STATE (+6.5) vs. Minnesota: Minnesota put on a good show vs. heavily favored TCU, no doubt, but the Gophers had an entire offseason to prepare for that one. It's a low scoring team that shouldn't be a near-touchdown road favorite against a reasonable opponent, which CSU is. 80% of the public likes Minny here, and in my mind that's a preference based on last week's performance, not this week's matchup.
@VIRGINIA (+13) vs. Notre Dame: I'm not going to overthink this one. It's 95% of the action on Notre Dame and that's way, way too much. Vegas wouldn't allow it unless the wiseguys had a hunch. I don't care for Virginia, but gambling isn't personal. Notre Dame looked fantastic last week so I'm guessing it's time for a hiccup.
@TENNESEE (+2) vs. Oklahoma: Interesting matchup here and it's a temperature-take for the Vols, who are trending upward in the national scene. 83% of the betting public backs the Sooners right now in what is very close to a pick-em, so I'll take the Vols for a minor upset in front of a huge and hungry home crowd.
@CINCINNATI (-6.5) vs. Temple: I had to pick a favorite at some point, and I love this one. Cincinnati is a better team and a better program than Temple, and they've beaten the Owls by more than this line in each of the last three seasons. One Temple win against Penn State is nice (and thoroughly enjoyable for us Maryland fans) but it doesn't change the dynamic of this matchup. 65% of the public is buying Temple here and I think that's due to last week's showcase game against PSU, not because Temple is suddenly in Cincinnati's class.