December 26th Bowl Plays
Staying at my folks house for a couple of days, so not going to post the match up grids, but here are the write ups and plays for today:
Marshall as a team failed to meet expectations this year because of a lack of production in the passing game. They eventually settled on freshman Litton and while he had a decent TD-INT ratio, his ypp average remained below average. Still, the Thundering Herd were just an overtime loss to MTU away from winning 10 games, which is about what they were expected to do with the pretty soft schedule they had. While pass offense might be their weakest of the four main categories, Marshall actually was below average at run defense and offense, too. They had twice as many "worst" games of run offense as "best" ones, 6-3, and the same goes for their run defense, which at 2-1 was at least more consistently mediocre. Pass defense is Marshall's only above average statistical category. Connecticut is in the same boring boat, actually, only good at pass defense. The Huskies, though, are 25 ranks higher at pass defense and 27 ranks higher at pass offense than Marshall. The teams are close in rush defense while Marshall is 13 ranks better at run offense. CONN has played a much tougher schedule. CONN QB Shirreffs is now probable for this game. He's missed time in several games this year because of injuries and concussions. With him playing I don't see much value in either the side or total in this game. On pure run and pass match ups this should be a very close game. The reason I'm projecting Marshall to win by 5+ points is because CONN has been awful at turning yards into points, while Marshall has been very good at "bending but not breaking" on defense.
Played Under 45 (-120) for 0.8%
I think there's a common misconception that Washington State is a really good passing team. Emphasis on "really" there. They are good, but not great. They have the most pass yards per game in the FBS because they throw it a higher percent of the time than any other team in the FBS -- and it's not even close. They throw it on 73% of standards downs, the next closest team is Illinois at 57%, which is the start of the normal distribution that continues on down until tapering off on the pistol and then triple option teams. So really, WSU is a running a pass heavy offense like nobody else in the FBS. Is there anything extraordinary about their passing game, other than it's high volume? QB Falk does have a decent TD-INT ratio, and he does complete 70% of his throws. Falk's ypp average is pretty near the FBS average, but given the fairly soft level of pass defenses they've faced means their passing game is actually below average, by my metrics. You've seen in my TSCMUGs or heard me write about "best" and "worst" performances. For a pass offense, a "best" performance would be one where a team gains 1.06 more ypp than the opponent usually allows. WSU hasn't done that once this season, though they came incredibly close in the upset win of UCLA when their number was 1.05. Instead, they've had four "worst" qualifying games (though one of those was with backup Bender at Washington in the final game -- a spot where I really loved the Huskies against the Falkless Cougars). Miami only defends one thing well -- the pass, so that's a matchup that favors Miami, both defensively and offensively. You see, Miami has a much higher rated pass offense. Brad Kaaya and company have thrown for a much higher ypp average versus a lot tougher competition. Miami has had 8 "best" qualifying pass games, and only one "worst" -- and that was against Clemson, who has my highest rated pass defense. With all that in mind, I still actually favor WSU to barely win because of the running match ups. Both teams have bad, near bottom 10 rush offenses. WSU, however, was showing some improvement toward the season's end, while MIA staggered to the finish line, failing to match the ypc average that a team usually allows in their final 9 FBS games. As such, it will be interesting to see if WSU looks to exploit the running match up, I'll be looking at the box score after the game to see exactly what the run-pass percentage split ended up being. *** Miami has injuries to their starting RG and RT. The RT is def. out with the RF "?". Miami has freshmen backups.
No recommended plays.
The perenially overachieving Duke team finally crashed back to earth in the second half of the season, snapping a four game skid with a win against Wake Forest in the final week. Indiana, conversely, finished up the season trending upward on offense, especially on rush offense, as they got healthier there. Still, Duke should have the advantage on the ground, but should ultimately lose the game because IND has my 25th ranked pass offense while Duke has a woeful 113rd ranked pass defense, worst in the ACC. At under a field goal it seems like a no-brainer on Indiana, and my numbers support that. While I like the Over in this game, keep an ey on the weather as this game will be played on Yankee field in the Bronx the day after Christmas. *** Duke's OC has been named ECU's new HC.
Recommended investments on opening lines: IND -1.5 & Over 64, 1% each.
Beamer ball ends with a Bowl game against barely qualifying Tulsa, who needed two pick sixes in the final quarter of the regular season to get by Tulane for their 6th win. VT never ended up being particularly good at anything this season, though their defense was gelling a bit by season's end (barring the shred job UVA's run game did against them in their kinda' lucky 6th win in the final game. VT's run game was particularly poor this season, with 6 "worst" games versus only one "best." VT's defense, when looking at the entire season, was highly inconsistent -- they tended to be either good or bad, with little in between. In 11 FBS games they had 6 "best" games of run defense and 4 "worst," leaving them with only one averagish game in all 11. In pass defense they had 4 each "best" and "worst" with 3 average games. With VT's more consistent unit being their rush defense, that's a good match up for Tulsa, who is much better at passing than running. Tulsa's defense is pretty bad, meaning VT should score enough to get the win, but Tulsa's passing game always makes them a backdoor threat as a large dog. Only twice this season did Tulsa lose by more than 14 -- to Memphis and Navy, teams with much better offenses than VT has. *** Tulsa's OC has taken the same position at Texas.
Recommended investment: Tulsa +14 1%
Nebraska's most consistent unit as a team this year was their passing game, which you might not believe if you saw the terrible interceptions Armstrong threw in the regular season finale against Iowa. Other than those picks, though, Nebraska threw for 0.6 yards more per pass than Iowa usually allows. Nebraska's only "worst" game of pass offense came against Illinois, versus 4 "best" games. UCLA's only consistent unit has been their pass defense, with a dominating 7-0 ratio of "best" and "worst" games. UCLA QB Rosen wasn't particularly sharp in the final month for the Bruins, which helped cost them 2 games and a chance to play for the PAC12 crown. Still, I project the Bruins to have the slight advantage in the passing game because of their defense. When it comes to rushing, UCLA has the better offense, while Nebraska has the better defense, which ends up as an equal projection of 4.4 ypc for both teams. I'm showing line value on NEB, but am a bit worried by their inconsistency. The line is currently at 6.5, if it gets to 7 with reasonable juice I will probably put 0.7% play in on them.
Recommended investment: NEB +7 for 0.7%
Washington is a team that I really liked down the stretch, making them one of my top plays of the week in the final two blowout wins against Oregon State and Washington State. Freshman QB Browing progressed a ton during the season, finishing with three "best" games in the team's final five vs no "worst" games. That success came in tandem with success at running the ball, as the team had three "best" games in their final seven vs. no "worst" games. Washington's defense was pretty solid all year long, with an 8-1 ratio of "best" and "worst" games of run defense, and 5-2 on pass defense. Man, why did I project Southern Miss to win a close on here? Washington is playing really well right now! lol. I can tell you that a field goal's worth of points is due to in-season trends, with Southern Miss finishing the season playing at a higher level than at which they started. They became a highly consistent offensive team, that actually ended up with more "best" games on run offense than they did of pass offense. The passing was more consistent, though, as they ended up with zero "worst" games. Will USM's higher rated pass offense end up making the difference in this game? Right now I project that to be the case, even though WASH's pass defense is ranked twice as high as USM's pass offense. WASH has played, of course, a much tougher schedule. My compensated stats do eliminated the strength of schedule problem to a large degree -- I guess we'll find out if they did so well in this game. I'm honestly a bit puzzled how I have USM favored in this game when I have WASH power rated twice as high as USM. Some of my highest value plays this Bowl season are on smaller conference dogs.
Recommended investment: USM +8.5 for 1%