Don't Be Fooled By Misleading Final Scores

HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

HANDICAPPERS MUSTN'T BE FOOLED BY MISLEADING FINAL SCORES

by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

On Tuesday's this fall we're going to provide a weekly report on the most misleading final scores from the prior Saturday in college football. Most gamblers tend to overreact to final scores anyway. When a final score has painted a misleading portrait of the game anyway, that's an even bigger problem!

What about misleading NFL scores? We'll deal with NFL stats on Wednesdays this year. You regulars know we've always emphasized the "big three" key stats in that sport of rushing yardage, DRIVE POINTS (those scored and allowed on drives of 60 yards or more), and third down conversions. We'll do a "big three" capsule of every NFL game including Monday Night in a special midweek report that will then springboard us into the new week of action.

Today, the focus is on the colleges. Here are what we consider to be the most misleading scores from the past Saturday. Games are presented in rotation order so you can make notations for review in your schedules.

EAST CAROLINA 49, MEMPHIS 27
Total yardage here was only 425-413 for East Carolina. They cashed in some cheap points early in the game against a very soft Memphis defense. Yet, they could only gain 425 yards for the day against that unit. Coming off the last play upset of Tulsa the prior week, East Carolina has now planted themselves in the minds of many pundits as a force to be reckoned with in CUSA and beyond. You remember how little offense Mississippi State showed last Thursday Night against Auburn? They gained 569 yards on this Memphis defense the week before! This final score probably has you too optimistic about East Carolina's 2010 outlook. That's important to remember because the Pirates will face a very angry Virginia Tech team this week.

CALIFORNIA 52, COLORADO 7
Yes, we're all used to California winning huge home blowouts vs. non-conference teams before fading in Pac 10 play. This victory wasn't as great as it seemed, so the annual fade may be even worse! California only gained 357 yards on the day, but used a 5-0 turnover edge to create a misleading blowout. They were certainly the better side. And, they deserved the cover too based on execution. But, 52-7 overstates the case to an extreme degree here.  California isn't as good as this score makes it look. Keep that in mind as you're handicapping Friday Night's TV game at Nevada.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE 28, CENTRAL FLORIDA 21
Nice upset for the ACC underdog. Or, was it? They won the game, but they were outgained 300-239 on the evening. Quarterback Russell Wilson was 10-30-1-105 passing on the night, which is HORRIBLE if you're facing a CUSA defense. Remember how bad NC State looked in last year's season opening loss to South Carolina? This was almost a replay...except a 5-0 turnover edge helped create a misleading upset. The Wolfpack averaged only 3.4 yards-per-play, and converted less than a third of their third downs. They'll have to do a lot better than that this Thursday when they host Cincinnati. Central Florida will try to bounce back on the road at Buffalo, who will be back home after a long trip to Texas to face Baylor.

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TEXAS TECH 52, NEW MEXICO 17
Texas Tech is supposed to win big. So, when they did, nobody thought twice about. The Raiders might deserve deeper analysis! Total yardage here was only 462-433, which is almost nothing when you're facing a truly horrible team like New Mexico. Oregon outgained them 720-107 to give you a frame of reference. Yes, Oregon is a bunch of bullies. Tech still should have been something like 550-250 if they were a budding power in the Big 12. Maybe they were looking ahead to Texas this Saturday Night. Or, maybe Tech isn't as good as this final score is suggesting. We'll find out in that prime time meeting with the Horns. New Mexico hopes to catch Utah napping in its Mountain West opener this week.

OKLAHOMA STATE 41, TROY 38
This must have been a fun game to watch. But, that's because Oklahoma State kept it close by giving the ball away 5 times! State won total yardage 522-371, and yards-per-play 6.9 to 4-9. They were a two-touchdown favorite, and probably should have won by something near that margin. Don't think of this is a nailbiter. Think of this as the bad turnover game that created temporary illusions about Troy and Okie State. Note that Oklahoma State hosts Tulsa this week, in a game that will probably feature the highest Las Vegas total of the season (it better, or we'll really hit the Over!). Troy visits struggling UAB.

RUTGERS 19, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL 14
This one is hard to believe. Rutgers was outgained 371-172 by a team that hadn't played a game yet. Your debut is supposed to be your rustiest game. Rutgers, with an extra week to get sharp, lost total yardage by almost 200 to a bad Sun Belt squad!! Once again, it was turnovers mucking things up...as FIU lost the ball five times. Note that Rutgers averaged just 2.0 per carry on the ground, and passed for less than 100 yards. Greg Schiano's teams are always slow starters. His 2010 start boggles the mind considering the poor opposition on the early schedule. At least he's not getting annihilated by the likes of Cincinnati or North Carolina any more. Well, not until September 25th anyway, when Rutgers hosts the Tar Heels after a bye week. Florida International visits Texas A&M this week, representing one of the biggest upgrades in opposing offense imaginable.

JAMES MADISON 21, VIRGINIA TECH 16
The final score was a stunner to be sure. Just in case there's anyone that thinks Virginia Tech really is this bad...they won total yardage 362-235, but lost turnovers 3-0. In a flat spot and a short week off the Boise State game, this STILL should have been a Hokies win. Don't let the final score lead to an overreaction in your handicapping. Tech hits hard most of the time anyway. They're REALLY going to hurt somebody soon after this rocky start. Look out East Carolina! And Boston College. And NC State. And Central Michigan. You get the picture.

That wraps up our look at misleading final scores from this past Saturday's college action. Back tomorrow with our "big three" analysis from NFL boxscores. Thursday we'll preview Cincinnati/NC State as a new week of football action kicks off.

We won't have time to mention baseball much if at all this month because there's so much going on in football. Don't forget that pennant race selections are yours daily right here at the website. You can also sign up for BLUE RIBBON BASEBALL online, or by calling the office at 1-800-323-4453. Football is fun...and we really enjoyed that early blowout on the NY Giants Sunday over Carolina. Adding baseball to your package magnifies the fun and the profit. There's a lot of buzz right now about the Yankees/Rays series in the AL East. We're also paying close attention to Minnesota/CWS in the AL Central, and San Diego/Colorado in the NL West. Don't leave money on the table just because it isn't football money!

Whatever the sport...game day releases are always available a few hours before the slate begins. Full season packages offer the greatest value because they've been discounted to maximize your edge.

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21
Nov

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