Jimmy’s blog: Odds-makers make some odd picks

By Jimmy Hyams

Folks that set the lines in Las Vegas make a lot of money, make no mistake.

But if you think their spreads are pin-point accurate, think again.

I’ve been convinced for years that odds-makers in Vegas don’t have any better idea of the final margin in a college football game than many of us fans.

The first two weeks of the season, I took the pregame.com line listed in the local paper and compared it to the final scores. If the spread was within 7 points and the correct winner was picked, then that was a win for Vegas.

The first week of the season, counting just FBS teams, pregame.com was 10-22 given my parameters, with four double-digit favorites losing.

But that was Week One, when no one knows for sure just what each team has. Opening weekend can be the toughest to forecast.

So I did the same thing for Week 2. The results: 11-33 with four double-digit favorites losing (Florida, Arkansas, Purdue, North Carolina). Six times, the spread wasn’t within 20 points of the final score. And 14 times, the favorite lost.

This is not to suggest you can cash in against Vegas lines, but it does suggest how hard it is to pick college football games. And it makes me feel better when I make my picks.

Before I get to my picks, 14 observations:

  1. There is a greater distance between Georgia and the No. 2 team in the East than Alabama and the No. 2 team in the West.
  2. Florida’s defense allowed Kentucky to rush for more than 300 yards, a stunning figure, raising serious questions about the Gators defense.
  3. Arkansas blew a 27-9 second half lead against a Colorado State that was allowing 44 points per game. The Hogs didn’t score in the final 22minutes of the game.
  4. Despite a 59-3 win over ETSU, Tennessee still must improve its offensive line, pass rush and pass defense.
  5. Six SEC players are averaging over 135 rushing yards per game: Nick Fitzgerald of Mississippi State, Scottie Phillips of Ole Miss, Benny Snell of Kentucky, Treyveon Williams of Texas A&M, Nick Brossette of LSU and Kylin Hill of Mississippi State.
  6. Four players with at least 10 carries are averaging at least 10 yards per carry: Keytaon Thompson of Mississippi State, Asim Rose of Kentucky, Hill and Phillips.
  7. Only three SEC quarterbacks are averaging at least 300 passing yards per game (Jordan Ta’amu of Ole Miss, Drew Lock of Missouri and Kellen Mond of Texas A&M) and only four are averaging at least 230 per game.
  8. Four quarterbacks are averaging at least 10 yards per attempt and five are hitting over 70 percent.
  9. Missouri receiver Emmanuel Hall is averaging 171 receiving yards per game and 24.4 yards per catch. Hall is from Nashville and was not recruited by Tennessee.
  10. Seven SEC receivers are averaging at least 20 yards per catch.
  11. All 14 SEC teams are averaging at least 30 points per game, eight average at least 40.
  12. Four SEC defenses are allowing less than 10 points per game and Alabama is not one of them.
  13. Five SEC offenses are averaging over 550 total yards per game, two average less than 360.
  14. Five SEC defenses allow less than 300 yards per game, while Ole Miss gives up 557.5 – 164.5 more than No. 13 Arkansas.

Here is a thumbnail recap of last week:

Hit or near hits: We picked Alabama 47-7 over Arkansas State, the Tide won 57-7. … We had Clemson over Texas A&M 23-17, final was 28-26. … We forgot to mention our pick of Ole Miss 47-27 over Southern Illinois was just for the first half; the Rebels romped 76-41. … We picked LSU by 34 over Southeastern Louisiana, the Tigers won by 31. … We picked Auburn to win by 47 over Alabama State, Tigers won by 54. … We picked Missouri by 28 over Wyoming, the fighting Derek Dooleys won by 27.


The misses:

Colorado upset Arkansas, which blew a 27-9 third-quarter lead. … Kentucky (a 13-point underdog) upset Florida to snap a 31-game losing skid to the Gators. … We picked the Vols to score 40 against ETSU; we failed to figure in basically three non-offensive touchdowns in a 59-3 romp. … We picked Georgia 27-24 over South Carolina, Dawgs won 41-17. … We picked Vanderbilt by 7 over Nevada, Dores won by 31. Vandy athletic director David Williams was so stunned, he resigned.

Last week: 10-2

Overall 23-3

SEC Picks

Kentucky 40-10 over Murray State

Notre Dame 27-17 over Vanderbilt

Auburn 23-17 over LSU

Arkansas 30-27 over North Texas

Florida 37-30 over Colorado State

Alabama 52-30 over Ole Miss

Georgia 47-7 over MTSU

Mississippi State 44-20 over Louisiana-Lafayette

Missouri 30-20 over Purdue

Texas A&M 38-20 over Louisiana-Monroe

Tennessee 44-13 over UTEP

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