Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 10:39 AM
The mainstream media tends to focus on “good news” because they’re trying to hype future telecasts. That means handicappers have to dig for the bad news themselves. Sometimes, that bad news is so obvious that you don’t have to dig!
The Atlantic Coast Conference just suffered a humiliating week in college football…one that has cast into serious doubt everything that the media was telling you through the summer and the early part of the season. We don’t mean that they had a couple of off weeks that probably won’t matter much. We’re talking about playing SO FAR BELOW expectations that you want to sue people who created the expectations.
Let’s review some of that what happened last week…and how that fits into a storyline that’s been going on even longer.
*The collapse started in the Thursday Night game between NC State of the ACC and Cincinnati of the Big East. Before the season started, NC State was expected to be the better team. Athlon’s respected publication had it this way:
NC State: 31st in the nation
Cincinnati 57th in the nation
State had looked awful in their first few games, even losing outright to Wake Forest (tabbed at #83 in the preseason). So, the market made a correction. Cincinnati was a 7-point favorite…meaning they were seen as four points better on a neutral field.
Final Score: Cincinnati 44, NC State 14
Total Yardage: Cincinnati 503, NC State 322
Rushing Yardage: Cincinnati 240, NC State minus 26
If you watched, you know it was a slaughter. If you were watching night two of “X Factor” on Fox because you love clones of “American Idol,” be aware that the final score here was legitimate. NC State really was that bad. They might be 50 spots worse than Athlon had them pegged.
*Believe it or not, things got WORSE on Saturday. Maryland was about a 10-point favorite over Temple, and was in a great position because Temple had just played a very physical game against state rival Penn State. Temple was in position to win that game, but fell apart at the end. If there was ever a scenario for a flat effort from a road dog, this was it.
Instead, it was Maryland who no-showed the game in stunning fashion.
Final Score: Temple 38, Maryland 7
Total Yardage: Temple 422, Maryland 240
Rushing Yardage: Temple 282, Maryland 45
Oh, we haven’t given you the Athlon preseason rankings yet.
Maryland: 33rd in the nation
Temple: 96th in the nation
Are you kidding?! Maryland got squashed by a team that barely snuck into the top 100?! To be fair, Temple is A LOT better than that preseason ranking. They’ve established that in no uncertain terms. Maryland impressed in their season opener against short-handed Miami…and was certainly in the game against respected West Virginia recently. Where did this come from?
We can say that Maryland is capable of playing like a top 30 team when things are clicking. You can’t consider them a top 30 team after this performance.
*That Miami of Florida team that couldn’t beat Maryland did bounce back soon afterward to beat Ohio State. But, the ugly stick hit them as well this past week as favorites of 12 points over Kansas State.
Final Score: Kansas State 28, Miami 24
Total Yardage: Kansas State 398, Miami 411
Rushing Yardage: Kansas State 265, Miami 139
A very close game. Miami almost pulled it out of the fire in the final seconds…which deserves some respect. But, you’re not supposed to sweat games like this when you’re almost two touchdown favorites, and you’re playing at home in friendly weather conditions (teams from the Midwest often wilt in the humidity of the Southeast). And, look at those rushing yards! Miami was dominated at the point of attack.
Let’s check the Athlon preseason ratings here…
Kansas State 73rd in the nation
Miami: 19th in the nation
That was before the Miami suspensions…so you can assume a drop into the 30’s when not at full strength. They basically played like they were in the 70’s on this afternoon considering it was a home game against an opponent that wasn’t battle tested.
Those were the three games that really jumped out in the disaster movie. Let’s also note that Virginia lost at home as a 3-point favorite to Southern Miss 30-24. You can’t call the Cavaliers a representative team in terms of preseason expectations this year because the expectations for them were pretty low. But, they didn’t live up to the market.
Other notes involving ACC teams:
*Florida State was picked #4 in the nation in the preseason by Athlon, and has already lost twice. Yes, those were tough opponents in Oklahoma and Clemson. But…you could see with your own eyes FSU wasn’t a top five team. They were overpowered at the point of attack by Oklahoma even before the FSU quarterback was hurt in the second half. Solid team. Improving team. Not remotely a top five team, as we discussed back during the summer when those ratings came out.
*Virginia Tech was picked #7 in the nation in the preseason by Athlon. They are off to a 4-0 start, but it’s come against a very weak schedule. In terms of market expectations, the Hokies are just 1-3 against expectations. And, the offense looked surprisingly bad against the horrible defense of East Carolina. This team has a knack for gradually rising to their ranking through the course of a season…so we’re not ready to include the Hokies in the disaster theme yet.
*Boston College was picked #45 in the nation in the preseason by Athlon. They started the season 0-3 with losses to Northwestern (#46), Central Florida (#51), and Duke (#77). Boston College missed the spread by 12, 20, and 8 in those games…meaning they were WAY behind media and market expectations.
To the degree there’s good news…Clemson looks to be better than expected so far (we’ll have to see how good that win over Auburn looks in about a month…and Clemson has a chance to impress again this week at Virginia Tech), Georgia Tech looks to be better than expected so far, and Wake Forest isn’t playing like the 83rd team (last in the ACC) either. It’s not quite “The Poseidon Adventure” or maybe “Titanic” since this is the “Atlantic” Coast Conference. But, there’s been a lot more bad news than good news…and the bad news is STUNNING in its magnitude. Top 40 teams shouldn’t be crushed by Cincinnati and Temple…or play warm weather home nailbiters with Kansas State.
Vegas oddsmakers are prone to have misreads on conferences because they spend a lot more time than they’d like to admit listening to the media, and a lot less time than they’ll admit doing their own thinking. Keep looking for ways to take advantage with the teams we’ve discussed today…and in all the other conferences where misreads are prevalent (we told you about one, we’ll keep the others to ourselves for awhile!).
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Football resumes this Thursday. South Florida-Pittsburgh on ESPN (Pitt is on its way to the ACC by the way) and Houston-UTEP on CBSC. Two more games Friday will help you build your bankrolls for a blockbuster Saturday that includes Alabama-Florida, Nebraska-Wisconsin, Michigan State-Ohio State, Clemson-Virginia Tech, and Texas A&M-Arkansas.
We’re still in September…so…in football…THE WINNING IS JUST BEGINNING!
And…when it comes to JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK…the letters “ACC” mean ALWAYS COLLECTING CASH!