Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Vindy's Picks Week 1-2016

SYDNEY, Australia (UPI)…An American tourist playing the smash-hit Pokemon Go, who traveled thousands of kilometers to improve his chances of capturing more-desirable characters, oblivious to his surroundings, at the moment-of-truth with the score tied at 14 on a key 3rd Down situation for California in the opening stanza, inadvertently impeded the progress of ball-carrier RB Tre Watson as he tried to dive into the end zone, forcing the Bears into a field-goal attempt instead. The unidentified fan then vehemently-announced his capture of Squirtle, leading hundreds of other gamers to charge the field, delaying the contest for several minutes as the officiating crew and security tried to clear the gridiron and allow play to continue.

Meanwhile, on the continental U.S., following an offseason spent “doin’ summer like a Winta’ Soulja’ Olympian”, re-learning to skate for his upcoming role this fall in “Vindy’s Picks On Ice”, and shooting daily episodes of “Vindy & Kelly Live!”, Vindicator breaks da’ huddle with his 2016 Preseason Forecasting Strategy Team of…Steve Harvey, Mexican drug-lord “El Chapo”, Ammon Bundy, Johnny Manziel, Puppy-Monkey-Baby,  Little Caesar’s Pizza scapegoat Chet Wallaby,  Deadpool, blind USC long-snapper Jake Olson, “Chewbacca mom”, the entire Russian Olympic track & field team, Michael Strahan, Melania Trump speech-writer Meredith McIver, “Scary Lucy”, Ichiro and Ryan Lochte…and offers…

(Bigger than Taco Bell’s Quesalupa!)

#9 TENNESSEE (-20 ½) over Appalachian State: Vols 41 Apparition State 14

#19 LOUISVILLE (-40) over Charlotte: Pretty-hefty line and UL is one of a small handful of  faves gettin’ our nod to commence this season’s Picks, but Cards catch scheduling-break this year after opening 2015 with games against Auburn, Houston and Clemson, leading to 0-3 start. 49ers now have a year of FBS play under their belts and return 18 starters, but were smoked 73-14 at Middle Tennessee State last September en route to 3-6-2 spread record …Da’ Ville 48 Charlotte 6

Kansas State (+15) over #8 STANFORD: LOCK OF DA’ WEEK. First away-opener for the Purple Persians since 2010 and middlin’ rush-D (ranked 63rd nationally last year, yielding 4.4 ypc and 166.7 ypg) will be seriously-tested by Cardinal RB Christian McCaffrey, who finished second in rushing yards behind only Tide RB Derrick Henry. SU’s breaking-in a lot of new starters. We think KSU can keep this to single-digits (unofficially, we also lean toward an “under 48”)…Trees 23 K-State 17
Furman @ #12 MICHIGAN STATE: No line.

Northwestern State @ #23 BAYLOR: No line.

#20 Southern Cal (+11 ½) over #1 Alabama (@ Arlington, TX): ‘Bama continues its penchant for piling-up outright victories, but is mere coin-toss when it comes to the spread. Of the last 11 tilts to finish at-or- within 10 points, Tide has won seven, covered…one. Saban’s teams have been shaky ATS early, going no better than 1-2 over the first three games in each of the past three seasons. While the Trojans have gone 3-8 ATS vs. ranked opponents the past three years, they’ve won on the scoreboard in five of ‘em. The scholarship cup is no longer half-full in L.A.  2016 is an election year. Will we hear fans in Tuscaloosa yell, “Poll Tide”??!!!...’Bama 37 Sudden Cal 31
#14 AUBURN (+8) over #2 Clemson: Looked long and hard at this one for an upset pick, but we’ll conservatively call it…CU 28 Auburn 27

#15 Houston (+11) over #3 Oklahoma (@ NRG Stadium, Houston, TX): Sooners 34 Coogs 31
Wisconsin (+10) over #5 Louisiana State (@ Green Bay, WI): Bayou Bengals are getting’ a lotta’ preseason-love as a contestant in the national title game, in particular given return of Heisman-hopeful RB Leonard Fournette. Pretty good considering the Pelican State guvnah’ had the LSU football program gettin’ dissolved this fall in light of budget-shortfalls. Defeat by the Tigers (28-24) in 2014 (one of just three that season) won’t be lost on Wisky, though Badgers have beaten the spread just once in nine tries with revenge (per Marc Lawrence’s Playbook.Com) and allowed a paltry 14 ppg-against last year. BTW, we had da’ Badgers even before Leonard Fournette started sporting a boot for da’ ankle-sprain…Tigers 20 Cheeseheads 17

Bowling Green (+28) over #6 OHIO STATE: Buckeyes 34 Bee Gees 24
Hawaii (+41) over #7 MICHIGAN: ‘Bows loggin’ some serious mileage again a mere eight days following aforementioned tilt Down Unda’. UH senior class hasn’t traveled this far East since late 2013 season game at Navy, and even that only followed a Mainland trip to Logan, Utah. Wolverines enjoy da’ first of five consecutive games at the Big House, but haven’t won by this many since thrashing Central Michigan 59-9 under Brady Hoke’s watch to kick-off 2013 campaign. Islanders suffered two losses last year this badly (55-0 at Boise State and 58-7 at USAF). Points-against and yards-allowed continues to suck dirty pond-water for UH. The Islanders finished 2015 a dismal -23 in turnover-ratio and went -3 in last week’s defeat. With just Central Florida on-deck, Jim Harbaugh won’t be afraid to pile-on and might not pull da’ UM starters early. Having said that, Hawaii has covered the first two games in each of the past three years and got the spread-win last week (albeit, not by much) vs. da’ Golden Bears… Wolverines 51 Hawaii 14

South Dakota State @ #13 TCU: No line.
#14 WASHINGTON (-26 ½) over Rutgers: UDUB 42 “Rut-Roh, Craggy!” 13

TEXAS A&M (-2 ½) over #16 Ucla: Aggies have won 19 of last 20 non-conference contests and have luxury of offensive coordinator Neil Mazzone, who was on da’ Bruins-sideline last season. A victory here over a ranked non-conference opponent might douse, temporarily at least, that Sterno can Coach Sumlin is straddling…A&M 31 UCLA 27
Miami-Ohio (+28) over #17 IOWA: Best guess for “wish we had it back”. Changed our initial pick here. Uh-oh…Hawkeyes 34 Redhawks 14

#22 North Carolina (+3) over #18 Georgia (@ Atlanta, GA): MINOR UPSET PICK OF DA’ WEEK #1. See our “hashmarks” section below to determine our faith in Joja’…Tarheels 29 ‘Dawgs 27
SE Weeziana @ #21 OKLAHOMA STATE: No line.

UC Davis @ #24 OREGON: No line.
#25 FLORIDA (-35 ½) over Massachusetts:  Now-Independent Minute Rice is in major rebuilding mode despite being in third year under their coach. UMass lost by 34 at Colorado and 35 at Notre Dame last year. Gators won 10 games in Jim McElwain’s first campaign, but closed out the season dropping three straight (scoring a total of 24 points in that span) and were just 1-3-1 ATS as home favorites…Florida 48 Massachusetts 6

TEXAS (+3 ½) over #10 Notre Dame: MINOR UPSET PICK OF DA’ WEEK #2. It’s “put-up or pack-up” fer Steers’ third-year coach Charlie Strong. UT made changes in the offseason to boost the offense and to improve on record that shows Longhorns winning just 3 of last 11 non-Big 12 games. Irish are solid at QB, but just 3-8 road chalk last 3 seasons. We like getting’ more than a FG here, especially after Leprechauns’ 38-3 victory in 2015. We also unofficially lean toward an “under 60" here.  Another double-digit defeat for the Cattle will prolly jettison Strong from the Austin sidelines permanently. Can’t wait to see YouTube video of Melania Trump’s plagiaristic-version of Knute Rockne’s famous half-time speech to da’ Irish. In OT…Texas 27 Our Lady 21

#4 Florida State (-4 ½) over #11 Mississippi @ (@Orlando, FL): A mid-August injury to expected senior starter Sean McGuire leaves the ‘Noles with a redshirt freshman running the offense here and led to the bottom fallin’ outta’ the original 6-point spread. Back-up Deondre Francois is however a dual-threat, so expect a steady-diet of running plays between himself and Heisman-candidate RB Dalvin Cook (…and he’s joined by the rest of last year’s starters on that side of the ball). On the other sideline, Rebels are still dealing with fall-out over Laremy Tunsil pre-NFL Draft debacle and issues that occurred on Coach Freeze’s watch. How much of a distraction that’ll be is up for debate, but it certainly doesn’t help…Tribe 27 Rebels 17

BTW, on our first day playin’ the world’s hottest game, we captured a Runupdascaur, a Tacklchu and a Mewtwo-point conversion! And for those who remember a certain Coors Light commercial…”The three most-important words in da’ world are…’HeyPokéMon!’” In addition, Dustin Hoffman was in da’ Sydney stands for da’-game-in-question and subsequently-insisted da’ Bears’ team-flight home be via…QANTAS!

Speakin’ of Pokémon, anybody think 2016 Olympic mascots, cat-like Vinicius and plant-rep Tom, were simply glorified critters from the aforementioned game??!! Was it just us or did the live-version of Tom elicit flashbacks to the one-up mushroom in the Super Mario Brothers video-game series?! And we don’t know about the readership, but we look at the Rio Olympics emblem and see…a stylized pacifier!
Given a penchant for creative-recruiting, Jim Harbaugh elected to not embarrass his opponents by participating in the traditional Haka Dance ahead of this week’s game (though he holds out hope of satellite camps in the Islands!). Torch dance?! He did roast a pig….negating his efforts to sign players from the state of Arkansas!

Given the number of players arrested on each team during the offseason, if Auburn faced Notre Dame this week, they’d have to bill the game as “The Longest Yard”!
On da’ big screen…high school gridiron meets da’ horror-movie genre in…”Friday Night Lights-Out!”

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! Last year, ’Da Coogs of Houston and da’ Iowa Hawkeyes, who saw no votes whatsoever in the 2015 Preseason poll finished at #8 and #9, respectively! Your mission…should ya choose to accept it…is to figure out which squad(s) will surprise in a big way for 2016! Our best guess(es)….San Diego 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 nine 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 nine of those years saw a minimum of at least one SEC club get the dubious distinction (13 total from that conference over the current skid)…with at least one member of the SEC East falling in six of ‘em (eight 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)! 2015 saw then-#6 Auburn, #8 USC and #9 Joja’ got zero, 10 and 109 votes respectively (‘Dawgs just missed, coming in at #26). Again, we challenge the loyal readership to predict which team(s) from among ‘Bama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Florida State, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan, Stanford, Tennessee and Notre Dame 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 2015-16 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!!! In 2015, the only “qualifier” was Texas-El Pesto, who went into Game Four as 27-point chalk vs. I-AA Incarnate Word and left with a mere 10-point victory in 27-17 win!
Hooray for da’ “little guy”…in match-ups of FBS vs. FCS teams this week, we provide our predictions on upsets that are most-likely, fitty-fitty and not gonna’ happen: Most Likely: Montana State over IDAHO and Amway Coaches Poll #5 Northern Iowa over IOWA STATE, Mississippi Valley State over EASTERN MICHIGAN, Rhode Island over KANSAS and  Southern over WEEZIANA-MONROE; Fitty-fitty: #4 Richmond over VIRGINIA, #10 William & Mary over NC STATE, #16 Colgate over SYRACUSE, #20 Fordham over NAVY (Hey, star QB Keenan Reynolds is gone fer da’ Middies and da’ Rams took out Army last year), #22 Villanova over PITT; Eastern Kentucky over PURDUE, SC State over CENTRAL FLA; Not: South Dakota State over TCU, #18 Northern Arizona over ASU, #23 Sudden Utah over UTAH, New Hampshire over SAN DIEGO STATE, Towson over SOUTH FLORIDA and Liberty over VIRGINIA TECH. We’ll monitor a few upper-lower division match-ups in future weeks as well.

BTW, Vindy “is an Amway of One”.
Local UNLV is expected to improve in the second-year under Coach Sanchez, but face I-AA Jackson State (who received 24 votes in the opening FCS poll) to kickoff da’ year. We anticipate an outright victory for the hometown heroes, but stay tuned

An Ahhhnold Schwarzenegger-hawked military-style video game meets Major League Baseball…”Da’ best defense is a pitcher-friendly umpire” in…”Mobile Called Third-Strike”!
Meanwhile, around da’ horn, Rangers’ relief-pitcher Jake Diekman, found himself on da’ DL in July after thrusting his hand into da’ luggage containing busted remnants of a souvenir beer-mug from Beantown bar-staple “Cheers”. A tootsie-injury woulda’ been better fer *us*, but we’ll pretend it *was*… and sing…”sometimes, ya cut.. yer toe…where everybody knows yer naaaaame…and yer always glad ya caaaaame…you wanna’ be where people seefeet are just  all da’ same, you want yer feet where everybody knowwwws yer name.”

“Locked in a Box?”:   Last week: 0-0  Last season: 5-10 (.333…OUCH!)
Shoppe Talk:   Last Week: 0-0   Last Season:  44-35-1 (a pretty nifty .557). We’ll be lookin’ to improve on our calls for Utah (3-7, .300), Vindy’s own “Lock of da’ Week” (5-10, .333) and Ohio State (4-7-1, .364).

Vindy’s Week 1 Best Bets: Last Week: 0-0 Last Season:  44-35-1 (a pretty nifty .557) Colorado -8 over Colorado State, Army +16 over TEMPLE, Kent State +22 over PENN STATE (Sorry, Lions’ fans, the Alma Mater is a notoriously-slow starter ATS in season-openers vs. FBS competition), TULSA -4 ½ over San Jose State, UL-LAFAYETTE +20 over Boise State, Northern Illinois -10 ½ over WYOMING
Up next…more offseason silliness and we welcome…da’ NFL! (Meanwhile, we invite the female readership over fer some “Vindy’s Picks and chill”! Hey, don’t laugh…Vindy is a ‘pick-magnet’…because “chicks dig da’ long-snapper”!).