Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Vindy's Picks Week 1-2014

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (UPI)…UNLV will roll out a minor in drones this Fall…shortly thereafter, the Rebels football and basketball teams will unveil innovative unmanned-to-man defenses (sponsored, of course, by Amazon, who has made commercial-use of the flying machines). The official name of the course-of-study is Unmanned Autonomous Systems or UAS, or what folks in the southeastern part of the nation know as…University of Alabama-Samford!

In related news, the home-town Rebels initially failed to meet minimum APR standards and drew a conference post-season ban for 2014, achieving score of 925 across a four-year average, short of the minimum of 930. It appears the classrooms were unmanned as well! The resulting penalties included five days of football-related activities rather than six, but additional academic time focused on drones and unmanned-to-man D! Apparently, the FAA has no jurisdiction over indoor flights, so the Rebels hoops teams have free-reign when it comes to drone-flights inside da’ Thomas & Mack (which will also deliver beer and pretzels to patrons!)

Elsewhere in the gambling mecca of da’ world…after spending the last several months figuring out how to conduct the opening Bitcoin toss, your humble narrator races outta’ da’ tunnel followed by his 2014 Preseason Forecasting Strategy team of Charlie Sheen fiancĂ©e Brett Rossi, a litter of Doberhuahuas, “Adele Dazeem”, NFL prospect Adam Muema, Vladimir Putin, “right hand arm” V. Stiviano, Michael Sam, Belmont-winning racehorse Tonalist, former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, former Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, Rocket Raccoon and Little Leaguer Mo’Ne Davis …who throws out the ceremonial first pick of…


(Gettin’ egged more than Justin Bieber’s neighbor’s house)


#9 SOUTH CAROLINA (-10 ½) over #21 Texas A&M: Johnny Football is gone (and now annoying NFL teams by flashin’ the “We’re Number One”-sign with the wrong finger). Gamecocks lost their long-time man-at-the-helm in QB Connor Shaw, but Dylan Thompson won three games in three tries in Shaw’s absence last season. Aggies are young at the skills and our only concern is the bulletin-board material the Ol’ Ball-Coach provided during the summer, basically saying that the Aggies’ previous opponents haven’t graduated yet from the kiddies’ table… Fightin’ Fowl 29 A&M 16

#18 Mississippi (-10) over Boise State (@ Atlanta, GA): LOCK OF DA’ WEEK. Rebels 37 Boise 17
Weber State @ #19 ARIZONA STATE: No line.  

FRI. AUG. 29
Jacksonville State @ #8 MICHIGAN STATE: No line.

SAT. AUG. 30
#1 Florida State (-17 ½) over Oklahoma State (@ Arlington, TX): We considered this one for lock of da’ week. ‘Noles lost some serious bodies from the national championship team that got by Boston College and Auburn, while devastating everybody else on the 2013 schedule, but are the trendy pick to at least make Division I-A’s first Final Four. We’re ain’t bettin’ on a repeat, but the Cowpokes are rebuilding both sides and unless Jameis Winston gets tossed in da’ pokey the night before the game, we’re drinking the Kool-Aid this week. Winston said he wanted to be “viewed like Peyton Manning”….remind us again…the Hall of Fame QB got arrested for shopliftin’ crab legs and crawfish …ummmm…when ??!!...FSU 42 OKSU 10

#2 Alabama (-27) over West Virginia (@ Atlanta, GA): In all honesty…we’re not comfy with this choice, making it our inaugural 2014 best guess for “wish I had it back” selection. Tide’s been hittin’ the ATS board at paltry 13-12 pace over the previous two seasons, though the last time ‘Bama was on the wrong side of the spread to open the year was 2006 vs. Hawaii. Across the field, the Mounties hope to rebound from a dismal youth-and-health-hampered 2013 that saw WVU cover just three games in eleven chances. The story will be the performance of QB Jake Coker, a Florida State transfer, for Alabama, who won’t even be starting. But with Elephants relying on solid  running game, heavy D and special teams …and ‘Eers still learning to shave…and Nick Satan unhappy with Tide’s outright defeats in two of final three games last season…Alabama 37 WVU 6
South Dakota @ #3 OREGON: No line.

#4 OKLAHOMA (-37 ½) over Louisiana Tech: Sooners 54 LT 13
Navy (+14 ½) over #5 Ohio State (@ Baltimore, MD): We were all over da’ Middies inside double-digits long-before Buckeyes QB Braxton Miller got sent to da’ pine fer da’ duration with a throwin’-shoulder ouchie. State hasn’t faced the Navy option-game since ’09. That means none of the current State players have faced the option (at Division I-A level). There’s even been suggestion of a Sailors’ upset at this point. Urban Meyer’s in his 3rd year at the OSU helm and he’ll adjust, so we ain’t callin’ for an outright Navy victory, but we figure it’ll grind out a cover …Buckeyes 23 Da’ Fleet 17

Arkansas (+21) over #6 AUBURN: Razorbacks ended last year with nine consecutive defeats after winning their first three and have been lousy as road dogs. They do have a senior-laden defense. Despite the partial-game suspension of Auburn’s starting QB Marshall for marijuana possession and a window-tint violation (?!)in Georgia for this one, they’ll need the D to stay close enough to cover here. As BCS Title Game runner-up, the Tigers became the first team in eight seasons to cough up a national title to someone outside the conference …a fact that got War Eagle teased mercilessly by the other SEC squads…Tigers 37 Bacon 19
#7 Ucla (-21) over VIRGINIA: Cavs look to rebound from horrible 2013 that saw just two straight-up victories (both in September and one vs. AA Virginia Military Institute). That’ll be tough to pull off this week against a veteran UCLA team led by now third-year coach Jim Mora Jr. Bruins have been strong ATS in the early part of the season under Mora, opening 4-1 in 2012 and 5-0 last year (though they saw only two spreads this big during that time)…UCLA 44 Virginia 17

UC Davis @ #11 STANFORD: No line.
#16 Clemson (+7 ½) over #12 GEORGIA: Injury-hampered Dawgs still averaged 34 points per game last year, but did lose last year’s opener to the Tigers 38-35. We favor an “under” 57 ½ since both lose multi-year quarterbacks and figure to be stout on D. Bulldogs get our nod as one of the mid-range faves (20-1) to win it all next January. In the wake of a disappointing scrimmage on offense earlier this month, UGA coach Mark Richt was quoted as sayin’, “There were just too many guys having to be babysat out there as far as getting lined-up right.”. Can’t wait to see assistant coaches place personalized pacifiers along the line-of-scrimmage on the Dawgs’ first couple of possessions in this one!...UGA 24 Clemson 19

#14 Wisconsin (+5) over #13 Louisiana State (@ Houston, TX): Badgers bring back just three defensive starters and have a JUCO quarterback leading the charge in this one. Bengals just 2-8-1 ATS in last 11 games decided by a touchdown or less, but have covered 7 of last 9 vs. ranked opponents. Fourth time in five years Tigers have kicked-off a year facing a Top 25 team (winning 3, covering 2), while Wisky has opened against the likes of UNLV (twice), Hawaii and Northern Iowa the past four seasons. State is young at the skills and has allowed an increasing number of points-against in each of the previous three campaigns. Best guess for a Top 25 upset, but…LSU 29 Wisconsin 27
Fresno State (+21) over #15 USC: Troy Boys 17 FSU West 0

Rice (+21) over #17 NOTRE DAME: Owls have been solid plays as road dogs and against non-conference teams, while the Leprechauns are under investigation for submitting papers written by…well… somebody other than the players themselves. Everett Golson is back under center for the Irish following a year-long suspension for his own academic falsehoods…ND 31 Owls 21
S.F. Austin @ #20 KANSAS STATE: No line.

Florida Atlantic (+23 ½) over #22 NEBRASKA: Huskers 26 FAU 13
Liberty @ #23 NORTH CAROLINA: No line.

South Dakota State @ #24 MISSOURI: No line.
HAWAII (+16 ½) over #25 Washington: UDUB took heavy hits to its offense and now presumed starter QB Miley Cyrus…er…um…Cyler Miles will be benched for offseason troubles. ‘Bows don’t fare well getting points on the Island, but are 3-0 ATS run vs. Top 25 foes and have covered 7 of last 8 out-of-conference contests. Hawaii’s defense has regressed under Coach Chow, allowing 39 ppg last year (though the team did hit the scoreboard for almost a TD more per game than in 2012). UH AD intimated that the football program is badly in the red and might eventually be headed for the choppin’ block. The players need to enjoy it while they can!...Huskies 27 ‘Bows 12

SUN. AUG. 31
Southern Methodist (+32) over #10 BAYLOR: Young Bears previously covered 11 of 12 home games. The schedule for a run toward the playoffs sets up nicely, with five teams that had losing records last season, including these Ponies, in 2013. Marc Lawrence’s Playbook.Com notes June Jones’ teams are excellent as dogs in seasons after they didn’t make the postseason. SMU had gone bowlin’ four straight times before sittin’ out last year … Baylor 42 SMU 24

Upon further review, Rebels officials submitted some fuzzy-math, and lo-and-behold…the NCAA provided its blessing over the new academic numbers in late June and lifted the post-season ban, leaving only Idaho as the lone APR victim in Division I-A! BTW, we have a few doubloons on Unlv +24 over ARIZONA!

The NCAA announced a proposal in February to slow down up-tempo offenses by forcing the snap no sooner than 29 seconds left on 40-second play-clock (to allow defenses to substitute and reportedly improve player-safety). In related news, defenses must also allow a subsequent count of “three-Mississippi” before rushing the passer.
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin took a break from practices and let his team take in a movie!...”Frozen”?  “Sharknado”! How ‘bout the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” remake??!!

Just before the Pope’s mid-August arrival in Seoul, the North Koreans were thought to have “test-fired” three missiles into the sea. Two of the launches were confirmed to be military weapons, however further analysis of satellite photos indicated the third projectile was, in fact, the result of a strong-armed high-school quarterback who was simply throwin’ the ball away to avoid a sack!
Week 1 Upset Alert: Don’t be shocked to see outright road victories by any or all of  the following AA clubs against their FBS opponents…North Dakota State over IOWA ST, Eastern Illinois over MINNESOTA, South Dakota St over MIZZOU, Cal Poly over NEW MEXICO ST, Northern Arizona over SAN DIEGO ST and Montana over SAN DIEGO ST!

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! Your mission…should ya choose to accept it…is to figure out which squad(s) will surprise in a big way for 2014! Our best guess….Northwestern and Marshall!
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 seven of those years saw a minimum of at least one SEC club get the dubious distinction (10 total from that conference over the current skid)…with at least one member of the SEC East falling in four of ‘em (six total from the division)! The Big 12 gets honorable mention, showing four seasons with at least one qualifier. Again, we challenge the loyal readership to predict which teams from among Florida State, ‘Bama, Oregon, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Auburn, UCLA, Michigan State, South Carolina and Baylor 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! Reviewing the list of 2013-14 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 soap!!!
An investigation following its poor outing on da’ rink at the Sochi Games in February revealed that, due to a clerical error, the USOC actually sent its best Olympic “speed-dating” team to Russia!

Did the absence of vuvuzela horns blaring during this year’s World Cup soccer competition lead anybody else out there to think they’d lost some range-of-hearing over the last four years???!!!
“Locked in a Box?”:      Last Season: 6-7 (.462….uggghhh)

Shoppe Talk: We’ll be puttin’ some teams under da’ microscope this season, to include…Oklahoma, who thwarted Vindy’s ATS selection for the Sooners 10 times in 13 tries (.231), Clemson 3-8 (.273) and South Carolina (3-7, .300, despite a forecast win in da’ bowls)
Vindy’s Week 1 Best Bets:       Last Season: 54-35-1 (.607)

Penn State (+1) over Central Florida (@ Dublin, Ireland); NORTHWESTERN (-11) over California, Marshall (-24) over MIAMI-OHIO, Utah State (+6) over TENNESSEE
Next week…More off-season silliness, a famous audible and some thoughts on… da’ NFL!