Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Back with a look at a few of the most misleading college football final scores from this past weekend. As you handicap the season going forward, you need to know WHAT really happened on the field in every game…so you can make correct choices against the Vegas numbers.
One of the most misleading final scores came in a game many of you probably watched on TV…
MIAMI 21, FLORIDA 16
Miami hung tough, and won outright as a home underdog. But, the reason they had to hang tough is because their offense couldn't move the ball! Florida actually outgained Miami 413-212, but the Gators lost the turnover battle by a staggering 5-1 margin.
This wasn’t a “statement” win for the ACC. This was proof that any decent team is going to win outright when they have a 5-1 turnover advantage!
Did Miami “force” those turnovers? They played aggressive defense to be sure. But, if a team could “force” five turnovers a game on command, all the best defenses would be doing that weekly. Miami took advantage of Florida miscues…and Florida’s offenses have been known for miscues lately. Don’t give the Hurricanes too much credit for this final score. Would they have even covered the spread in this one if turnovers had been even? Given that 413-212 yardage disadvantage and the fact that they went 1 of 11 on third down tires?
TENNESSEE 52, WESTERN KENTUCKY 20
It was funny…you heard studio hosts talking all about Western Kentucky’s turnover issues early in this game…but then they went on anyway to talk about how Tennessee may be developing into a real threat in the SEC East. Yeah…if SEC opponents give them 7 turnovers a game…the Vols will be a real threat!
Total yardage: Western Kentucky 393, Tennessee 383
Third Downs: Western Kentucky 53%, Tennessee 40%
Tennessee was the better team at the point of attack given their 241-171 rushing advantage. But, this final score was misleading in the extreme. Tennessee isn’t really much better than Western Kentucky (under new coach Bobby Petrino) in the big picture. Will they cover any spreads against SEC opponents who don’t hand them gift points?
BALL STATE 40, ARMY 14
Many of you just scoreboard watch low profile games like this. Doing that would lead you to believe that Ball State won a slaughter, and is now poised to put together some good results in MAC action. Maybe they will offer value. But you need to be aware that total yardage was only 440-439 for Ball State. They also benefitted from a turnover edge…3-1 in this case.
Be sure you’re college Power Ratings show a reasonable difference between these teams…rather than a humongous difference created by a misleading final score.
AUBURN 38, ARKANSAS STATE 9
This score wasn’t misleading because of turnovers. It was misleading because the visitor from the Sun Belt didn’t have quite enough moxie to finish off their drives. Total yardage was just 468-422 for Auburn. How did they run away and hide on the scoreboard? Arkansas State had to settle for three field goals, and was 0 for 3 on fourth down attempts. They could move in the middle of the field…but then stalled when it was time to score.
What’s going to happen to Auburn against better offenses? Those opponents will move in the middle of the field…then will keep right on moving! This was a clean win. We’re not saying Auburn is a pretender. We’re saying that the final score is in danger of creating illusions about Auburn’s defense that isn’t backed up by their total yardage allowed. They gave up 150 rushing yards and 272 passing yards to a Sun Belt team.
Handicappers should make an effort to review all college and pro boxscores to gain a deeper sense of each team’s true strengths and weaknesses. Nobody’s ever picked winners just by looking at final scores!
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