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Bad Betting Advice, Week Eight: Lying Low

It’s the bye week, Spartan fans! Take a break. Relax. Go outside. Find a book to read. In any event, let’s enjoy the next two weeks.

Marvin Hall/The Only Colors

Welcome to the bye week, Michigan State fans! We all know that it has been a tough season so far, but last weekend’s overtime win over Wisconsin seems to have rekindled the fire in the belly of Spartan fans near and wide.

Not only that, but we all get a full two weeks to bask in the afterglow of the homecoming win over Wisconsin. By the time Oct. 29 rolls in for the game against Michigan, it might even feel like a two-game winning streak.

Until then, I suggest lying low for a while. Take a break. Go read a book, drink some cider, or carve a pumpkin. Or, of course, watch some other football teams. If your Wolverine neighbor wants to talk some smack, just smile and wave. We will have time for that next week.

Yes. Let’s just lie low for a while. It’s a good time of year to catch up on some backlogged television. Maybe we can catch one of Michigan State’s recent upset wins in Ann Arbor on B1G Football in 60 on the Big Ten Network. Let’s see, which one should we watch? 2020? 2017? 2015? Maybe 2010? There’s just so many to choose from! It’s exhausting just thinking about it. I think I need a nap.

Picks of the Week

While it might be a good week for us fans to take a rest, data never sleeps. So, as I do every week, Figures 1 and 2 below give this week’s projected point spreads for each of the 53 games involving two FBS teams. Figure 1 shows the projected point differentials from my algorithm relative to the opening point spreads, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook. Figure 2 shows a similar analysis using the picks from ESPN’s FPI.

Figure 1: Comparison of the projected final margins of victory based on my algorithm to the opening DraftKings lines for Week Eight.
Figure 2: Comparison of the projected final margins of victory based on ESPN’s FPI to the opening DraftKings lines for Week Eight.

Table 1 below summarizes the upset picks that are derived from the two figures above. My algorithm is certainly not napping on the job when it comes to upsets this week. It suggests a total of eight upset picks, including Duke over Miami, Kansas State over TCU and Purdue over Wisconsin. ESPN’s FPI provides three additional picks, including LSU over Ole Miss.

Note that my simulation of this week’s action using the opening point spreads suggests that a total of 15.8 upsets, plus-or-minus 3.2 upsets, are likely to occur. That is the biggest number so far this year from the simulation, so it’s a good week for the favorites to keep their heads down.

Table 1: Summary of upset picks for Week Eight.

If the dear reader is so inclined to lay down a bet or two this week, Table 2 below summarizes the recommended wagers that are implied from Figures 1 and 2 above (i.e. the games that fall outside of the dotted diagonal lines.)

Table 2: Picks against the opening spread for Week Eight. The picks are listed in order of confidence score.

In this case, the computers are also relaxed this week with only three games total on the board. Two of those three games involve Big Ten teams, as both computers like Maryland to cover the spread over Northwestern while my computer predicts that Iowa will cover versus Ohio State.

Table 3 below summarizes the recommended point-total bets for the week, otherwise known as the “over/under” bets.

Table 3: Recommended total points bets (over/under) for Week Eight. Note that the picks labeled as “locks” are at a higher level of confidence.

This newest set of recommendations was having a phenomenal year until last week when the performance hit a real low point. Hopefully these picks will show a strong rebound in Week Eight

Big Ten Overview

Michigan State is not the only Big Ten team that plans to lie low this weekend. Michigan, Illinois and Nebraska will join the Spartans on the couch on Saturday. But that still leaves five Big Ten games on the slate, the details of which are summarized below in Table 4.

Table 4: Summary of Big Ten action in Week Eight, including my algorithm’s projected scores. The teams shaded in green are projected to cover by my algorithm. The teams shaded red are projected to cover by the FPI.

Two of the five games will have little to no impact on the race in either Big Ten division. The winner of the contest between Rutgers (-3) and Indiana might be able to squeak into a bowl game, and Maryland (-13.5) is likely to blow out Northwestern at home.

Minnesota travels to Penn State (-4.5) this week as both teams cling to fading hopes of a division crown. Both computers predict a win for the Nittany Lions, but they are split as to which team will cover the spread.

Ohio State returns from a bye to take on Iowa (+29) in what will be the Buckeyes’ sixth home game (out of seven total games) so far this year. In all likelihood, this will be a blowout, but my computer projects a much closer game than the Las Vegas line would suggest. This will also be the first time this year that Ohio State will face a team that Michigan has also played. As such, it will be the first chance to make a direct comparison between the two mostly likely teams to win the East.

The game of the week in the Big Ten is Purdue’s trip to Wisconsin (-2). While the Badgers are favored in this game, my computer likes the Boilermakers in an upset. If Purdue wants to keep pace with Illinois in the Big Ten West, a win in Madison may be required.

Notable National Action

Before we all head out to enjoy the fall weather, let’s get the low-down on the other notable action nationwide. Table 5 below gives the details for the remaining games teams that I will be watching out for this coming weekend.

Table 5: Summary of other notable national action in Week Eight, including my algorithm’s projected scores.

The SEC East is generally lying low this week as well (with Georgia and Kentucky on a bye week and with Tennessee facing Tennessee-Martin), but there are a couple of SEC West matchups that are worth watching. Alabama (-21) should have no problem at home against Mississippi State. But the biggest challenger to the SEC West crown will likely be in a dog fight, as first-place Ole Miss (-1.5) heads to Baton Rouge to face LSU.

The FPI is sounding the upset alert in this matchup, but my algorithm predicts a comfortable win by the Rebels. Either way, Ole Miss will very likely need to beat Alabama in Oxford on Nov. 12 if it is to advance to the SEC Championship game.

In the Big 12 there will be high intrigue as the four teams at the top of the standings will all be playing each other. First, Kansas State travels to TCU (-3.5) and the winner will emerge in sole possession of first place in the conference. My algorithm projects an upset win by Kansas State. In the other highlighted game, Texas (-3.5) travels to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys have a solid 5-1 record and No. 11 national ranking, but my algorithm has them ranked down at No. 35. As a result, my computer favors the Longhorns by over two touchdowns.

In ACC Atlantic Division, Clemson (-13.5) can for all practical purposes wrap up the division with a home win over Syracuse. That said, my algorithm projects that this game will be much closer than the opening spread suggests. Things are generally quiet in the Coastal Division, as current front-runners North Carolina have the week off. Note that no team in this division is ranked higher than No. 50 in my current power rankings.

Last week two of the top four teams in the Pac-12 squared off and Utah wound up edging out USC in Salt Lake City. Those two teams have the week off, but the other two members of the current top four will face off as UCLA travels to Oregon (-6). The winner will be alone in first place at the top of the Pac-12 standings. There is general consensus between Vegas and the computers that the Ducks will win by roughly a touchdown.

Group of Five action is generally a bit on the down-low, but the four leading contenders for the spot in the New Year’s Six are all in competitive games this week. In Sun Belt action, South Alabama (-3) hosts Troy, and the Trojans very well may be the toughest team left on the 5-1 Jaguars’ schedule.

In American Athletic Conference (AAC) action, the three teams that remain undefeated in conference play (Central Florida, Tulane and Cincinnati) will all get a stiff test. Tulane (-7) has the benefit of facing Memphis at home. Meanwhile, Central Florida (-4) has to travel to East Carolina and Cincinnati (-3) must travel to Southern Methodist. The computers do not predict any upsets here, but my computer sees the Bearcats’ game as a virtual tossup.

That is all the advice that I have to give this week. Rest up, Spartan fans, next week will be a big one. As always, enjoy, and Go State, beat the Skunk Bears!

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