Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Vindy's Picks Week 1 2015

WASHINGTON, District of Columbia (REUTERS)…On the heels of failures in nearly 96% of covert, unannounced tests this past Spring, to prevent smuggling of banned weapons by security screeners at several-dozen airports nationwide, that saw the Homeland Security folks go all “Stripes” and send the then-TSA big-dog to an Arctic weather-station, the Transportation Security Authority assessed the agents-in-question and recognized that many also fell for ruses pulled across major sports leagues. As a result, the agency  has been able to quickly dismiss subsequent job-applicants who were easily duped by baseball’s “hidden ball trick”, football’s “Statue of Liberty” play, and those who were “deked outta’ their shoes” by hoops-players conducting head-fakes on dribble-drives! Les Miles has not returned media phone calls following suggestions that he was brought in as a consultant by Homeland Security.

Following an offseason spent as an understudy for various roles in the Broadway smash hit, “Oregon Duck Commander: The Musical” and producing a collaborative effort with Forrest Whitaker called “Twilight Zone Defense: Da’ Musical”, Vindicator breaks the huddle with his 2015 Preseason Forecasting Strategy team of skier Lindsey Vonn, Seahawks fan & jailbird Scott Shelton, the Jackie Robinson West Little League team, Kanye West, the staff of Rolling Stone magazine, CHAPPiE, Captain Obvious, Barles Charkley, Niners’ rookie/retiree Chris Borland, Triple-Crown winner American Pharoah, Stephen Curry’s two-year-old daughter Riley, Caitlyn Jenner, cerebral palsy awareness champion Hunter Gandee, Knicks’ first-pick of da’ 2015 NBA Draft Kristaps Porzingis and Ant-Man, which can be a harbinger of  just one thing…the return of…
                                                          (Generatin’ “trigger-warnings” across da’ globe!)

MINNESOTA (+17) over #2 Texas Christian: Horny Toads 34 Gophers 24

Alcorn State @ #16 GEORGIA TECH: No line.
#22 ARIZONA (-32) over Texas-San Antonio: Best guess for “Wish We Had It Back”. Wildcats were fortunate to escape The Alamo, Da’ River-Walk and various other San Antone tourist-attractions with a 26-23 dubya after playin’ some major defense late in the 2014-version of this contest. UA has beaten just three teams four times by this many over the last three seasons (UDUB, Utah and UNLV [twice]) and the Feral Felines show a recent 4-11-1 ATS tally in non-conference matches giving points in Tucson. Roadrunners bring back just 2 starters on O and 4 on D and regressed to 17 ppg-scored last season. UTSA had covered 6 of last 8 non-conference tilts, but with the little voice in Vindy’s head yellin’, “Don’t do it!”, we’re backin’…Wildcat E. Coyote  42 Beep-Beep 3

#4 Baylor (-36 ½) over SOUTHERN METHODIST: Bears lose QB Bryce Petty but Coach Briles will just throw another stud out there and that lucky young man will have 18 returning starters from last season’s 1-loss squad around him. Hobby Horses opened 2014 with a 45-0 defeat to Baylor on their way to being outscored 202-6 over the first four games and would go winless until season-finale at UConn, managing a 27-20 victory. SMU has a new coach and we don’t think the home-field venue justifies this much of a line-adjustment…Baylor 49 Ponies 10

WESTERN MICHIGAN (+17) over #5 Michigan State: Sparty 31 Broncos 16
Washington (+11 ½) over #23 BOISE STATE: Broncos are gettin’ lotsa’ nods as the Group of Five club most-likely to reach a big $$$$ bowl again with the majority of the team that toppled Arizona in the Fiesta last year back, but they’ve absorbed major hits to the offense. Boise has lost three straight season-openers, including the 38-6 defeat by these Huskies to start 2013, but begin on the blue field (where they’ve won 14 consecutive matches) for first time since 2009’s victory over Oregon. Then-BSU coach Chris Petersen is now on the UDUB sideline and helped the Sled Dogs go 4-2 SU/ATS away in 2014, almost upending then-#17 Arizona in Tucson in November. We seriously considered callin’ this our “upset pick of da’ week”, but we’ll conservatively predict…Boise St 27 Washington 24

#20 Wisconsin (+10) over #3 Alabama (@ Arlington, TX): Tide 24 Badgers 20

#6 Auburn (-10 ½) over Louisville (@ Atlanta, GA): In 2014, da’ Tigers couldn’t send opposing offenses to the sidelines, but did put up points themselves. Now-Auburn DC Will Muschamp’s Gators had a great defense, but couldn’t dent the scoreboard on offense. Sounds like a marriage made in Heaven! Aubie dropped four straight games outright vs. FBS teams to end last year. Hello, new season!...Tigers 35 Birds 20
Eastern Washington @ #7 OREGON: No line. EDUB transfer Vernon Adams passed his final exam in August, the last obstacle to getting his undergrad degree and to him getting the nod to line-up as starting-QB for the Mallards. (FYI, Ducks were #117 in penalty yardage last season!)

Arkansas State (+27 ½) over #8 USC: Much ado is being made about the Trojans finally getting outta’ the NCAA doghouse this year. We’ll see how well that translates on the field-of-play. Meanwhile, Red Wolves increased their scoring output by 8 per game last season, with just 4 starters back on offense,  but Arkie State has covered just two of last six against the Power Five conferences and the defense has been problematic...SoCal 37 ASU 17
#9 GEORGIA (-35) over UL-Monroe: Joja’ 45 ULM 3

#10 FLORIDA STATE (-29) over Texas State: Despite multiple personnel changes on offense and ongoing off-field distractions, we expect better spread results this year from the ‘Noles, who covered just three games last season. TSU lost at Illinois by just 7 last year, but has not faced a team of this caliber in its two-years of FBS play. Seven victories still saw the Bobcats at home for the holidays, so as Phil Steele notes, the team  motto for 2015 is “Leave No Doubt”. How giving up on Gwen Stefani’s band is gonna’ help Texas State’s bowl chances is beyond us, so we’ll just say…FSU 44 Ain’t No Hollaback Girls 10
#11 NOTRE DAME (-10) over Texas: Irish 31 ‘Horns 16

Wofford @ #12 CLEMSON: No line.
Virginia (+20) over #13 UCLA: Bruins 31 Cavs 16

McNeese State @ #14 LSU: No line.
#15 Arizona State (+3) over Texas A&M (@ Houston, TX): LOCK OF DA’ WEEK. MINOR UPSET PICK OF DA’ WEEK. ASU has most of its players back from one of the most inexperienced squads in the country that hit the win-column 10 times last year (but the D needs to stop the back-slide). Aggies have beaten 15 straight non-conference opponents over the past three seasons. We think that nice run ends here…Pitchforks 38 A&M 34

Tennessee-Martin @ #17 MISSISSIPPI: No line.
#18 ARKANSAS vs. Texas-El Paso (“over” 49 ½): Bacon Bits 48 Minecraft 13

Akron (+31) over #19 OKLAHOMA: Sooners 34 Zips 14
NORTHWESTERN (+12) over #21 Stanford: Stanford 24 N-Dub 17

SE Missouri @ #24 MISSOURI: No line.
Bowling Green (+20 ½) over #25 Tennessee (@ Nashville, TN) (“Over” 60?): Culminating the 2014 season, the MAC East had just two teams reach .500 or better and just one squad finished with a winning SU record. That team? Da’ Bee Gees, who pulled that off even while yielding 17 more points-per-game than they did in 2013! This time last year, we were wonderin’ if the Vols might go 0-12 if they weren’t careful, but Rocky Top’s young club made the postseason, improving 5 ppg on each side of the ball, thus the lofty expectations now…Vols 42 Falcons 27

VIRGINIA TECH (+12) over #1 Ohio State: As we all know by now, Hokies put the lone stain on State’s otherwise-pristine win-loss record last year. But does this really count as a “revenge” game given that the losing team went on to win a national title? While we’re not puttin’ any stock in historically-undisputed AP preseason #1Buckeyes’ diminished-chances to cover due to multiple suspensions because Meyer has a long line of talented folks in reserve that’s reminiscent of a snake of shoppers waiting outside any major department store on Black Friday, we note VirginiaTech has a bunch back from last year’s two-TD victory, is solid outright at home and OSU survived a number of one-score final-margins en route to the inaugural CFP crown…State 31 VT 24

Arkansas State kicker Luke Ferguson, not be outdone by his counterpart at Wisconsin, Rafael Gaglianone, who made a video of himself bootin’ a ball for a three off his holder’s nose, launched a kick that split the uprights off his holder’s tongue. Geez….what’s next…kickin’ the pigskin off somebody’s earlobe, contact lens or jock-strap?!!! It’s a known fact that kickers have……ya know….”issues”. But doesn’t anybody on the recruiting staff do any kinda’ mental health evaluation of the holders???! Rorschach ink-blot test??! One of those Facebook “What does your profile pic say about your ability to fit in as a normal human being?” quizzes?!…Something??!!!  

A pair of therapy-llamas bolted from an assisted-living facility in Sun City, Arizona. Coaches for the Sun Devils, Wildcats and NFL Cardinals scrambled in an effort to sign the elusive animals to fulfill needs at wide-receiver and running back! (BTW, Vindicator has a couple of service-anacondas. They monitor his blood pressure…and when it gets too high, the snakes eat the people responsible for the stress! Teams in the weekly “Shoppe Talk” section of our blog should consider themselves duly-advised!)
Much ado was made in June by the European Space Agency upon receipt of signals from Philae, a space probe thought to have been toast seven months prior. Big deal! Vindy’s Picks traditionally goes off da’ gridiron in mid-January following the national championship game, only to pop-up in late August and announce its annual sentience! Holla!

As we note this time each year, from 1993-2008, at least two teams unranked in the AP preseason poll finished in the Top 10 of the final AP that season. In 2009, only Cincinnati did so and in 2010, only Stanford did so. 2011 saw no qualifiers. But 2012 saw a return-to-form with Notre Dame (#26 preseason) and Texas A&M (no votes in the preseason poll) finishing 4th and 6th, respectively, after opening the season without a hashtag by their names. 2013 had four (count ‘em four!) teams make da’ cut…title-game loser #2 Auburn, #3 Michigan State (which was #26 in the opening poll), #5 Mizzou and #10 Central Florida! Most recently, TCU finished the 2014-15 season at #3, while Joja’ Tech came in at #8! Your mission…should ya choose to accept it…is to figure out which squad(s) will surprise in a big way for 2015! Our best guess….Kansas State!  
And upon further review, going back to 2002, at least one team in the AP Preseason Top Ten each season has finished outside the rankings in the final AP poll for that year. Two or more preseason darlings have done so eight times. Georgia and Florida, #5 and #10 respectively to begin 2013, ended up with nary a vote in the poll published following last year’s National Championship game. A closer look reveals that eight of those years saw a minimum of at least one SEC club get the dubious distinction (11 total from that conference over the current skid)…with at least one member of the SEC East falling in five of ‘em (seven total from the division), including 2014 preseason #9 South Carolina! The Big 12 gets honorable mention, showing five seasons with at least one qualifier, including 2014 preseason #4 Oklahoma (who had 7 votes in the final poll)! Again, we challenge the loyal readership to predict which team(s) from among Ohio State, TCU, ‘Bama, Baylor, Michigan State, Auburn, Oregon, USC, Joja’ and Florida State will finish in relative obscurity!

Marc Lawrence’s Playbook.Com mag recommends betting on bowl teams from the previous season who drop their first two games SU, then win Game Three outright and play in their own friendly confines during Game Four. The strategy went 2-fer-2 in 2013, with Syracuse (-17 in 52-17 win over Tulane) and Iowa State (+7 in 31-30 loss to Texas) both bringin’ home the money in the designated role! Last season’s qualifiers also went 2-0, with Vandy +21 and Wazzou +23 ½ covering nicely in Week 4. Reviewing the list of 2014-15 post-season squads, Game Four road contests instantly eliminate more than half of last season’s bowlers and  realistically, another half of the remaining teams would need to suffer upsets by one or both of their first two opponents to be considered, putting the feasible number of options in the teens this season. But not-to-worry, faithful readers…we’ll track the progress for you and announce the qualifiers in our forecasts for Weeks Four, Five and Six! Don’t touch that Dial-Up soap!!!
Hooray for da’ “little guy”…in match-ups of FBS vs. ranked-FCS teams this week, we provide our predictions on upsets that are most-likely, fitty-fitty and won’t happen:  Most-Likely…#3 Villanova over UCONN, #7 New Hampshire over SAN JOSE STATE and #15 South Dakota State over KANSAS; Fitty-fitty…#2 Illinois State @ Iowa,  #4 Sam Houston State @ TEXAS TECH, #10 Northern Iowa @ IOWA STATE, #16 Youngstown State @ PITT and  #21 Fordham @ ARMY; Won’t…#23 McNeese State @ LSU and  #6 Eastern Washington @ OREGON. Mark it down. Ya heard it here first!

According to a recent ish of Popular Mechanics (which apparently now prides itself on correcting quarterbacks’ throwing motions!), Big Blue’s tilt this week at Utah is…a “cupcake game”???!!! Here are the possible reasons…. someone at PM is a die-hard (and delusional) Wolverines fan; Kyle Whittingham asked the mag to write the piece to fire-up his own guys as a counter-measure to all the hype surrounding hire of the ex-Stanford/ex-49ers’ head coach or…(GASP!) Harbaugh himself submitted the propaganda because Jimmy’s known to have…er…um…well… “Batmans in the belfry”…to Jack Nicholson/Heath Ledger levels!
Still rakin’-in big dollars at the box-office this week…Celebs and other baseball fans are terrorized by an unnatural barrage of violent-wind-blown home-runs by rappers from Compton, California in…”Straight Outta’ Da’ Parknado!”

“Locked in a Box?”:  1-1 (.500) in our very-truncated 2014 prediction-campaign.     
Shoppe Talk (calling out teams that have given us waaaay-more spread-pick difficulty than others): On-hand for the 2015 grand-reopening of Ye Olde Taxidermy Shoppe to be stuffed and mounted…Fresno State, who has thwarted 8 of our last 9 tries to pick them correctly against the spread (1-8, .111); Clemson (2-6, .250); Oklahoma (4-11, .267) and Michigan (3-7, .300)!

Vindy’s Week 1 Best Bets: North Carolina +2 ½ over South Carolina, NC STATE -25 over Troy, TEMPLE +7 over Penn State, Mississippi State -20 ½ over SUDDEN MISS Last season: 1-7 (.125…again, we threw in the towel after Week 2 in 2014).
Next week…More off-season silliness, including a few thoughts on…the NFL!       

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