Misleading College Scores



by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

There were several more college football games this past weekend where the final score didn't really paint an accurate picture of the statistical differences between the teams on the field. In future action, teams tend to play to their stats rather than outlier final scores. As you handicap this weekend's college football action, and the rest of November...keep that in mind for the following teams (games presented in rotation order)...

Miami trailed much of the day as a backup quarterback was learning how to finish off drives. They were much more dominant that the final score makes it sound though. Miami won total yardage 504-254, and rushing yardage 218-96. You'll be tempted to give Maryland credit for this cover and near-miss upset. Just be aware that they were outgained by 250 yards...out-yarded on a per-play basis 6.4 to 4.7, and only converted 25% of their third downs. The road trip to Virginia this Saturday will present a challenge for the tired Terps.

Speaking of Virginia, the Cavaliers won total yardage my more than 150 against the Blue Devils! The finally tally was 641-488. But, a 3-1 turnover deficit kept the Cavaliers from scoring another ACC victory. Duke's defense is still awful. Try to find ways to take advantage of that as their schedule winds down. Look at Overs. Look at opposing teams going over their team total. Duke was very lucky to steal a win here, and has created the illusion of momentum to a certain degree as they prepare for this week's encounter with Boston College.

You probably know that Iowa trailed much of this game, and that Indiana dropped what would have been the game-winning touchdown pass in the final moments. You may not be aware that Iowa won total yardage 445-313, and yards-per-play by a whopping 7.2 to 4.5. Be careful giving Indiana too much credit here. They're going to be demoralized off a game they really didn't play that well in anyway. You should think of this as at least a two-TD win for the Hawkeyes...who play on the road again this week at Northwestern. Indiana goes on the road to face physical Wisconsin.

We have the opposite here, as the Badgers were in a total yardage tie with a very bad and undermanned Purdue squad. The final tally was 303-303. Wisconsin had a defensive TD to help them pull away. And, their strong running game did help keep the door slammed shut once they rallied from a halftime deficit. Still, rushing yardage was just 177-162 for Wiscy, who should own that stat by A LOT more against somebody like Purdue. The Badgers are still vulnerable. Purdue is undermanned, but feisty. Wisconsin catches a break with Indiana coming to Madison this week. Purdue will try to figure out how to tackle Michigan's various weaponry.

Would you believe total yardage was almost a tie?! East Carolina kept turning to ball over to set up short fields. They don't have a defense that can defend a short field. So, a yardage win of 596-567 for Navy turned into a 41-point slaughter that had people running their eyes at the scoreboard scrolls all day. Navy's a bowl caliber team. They're not THIS good though. East Carolina may bounce back with some pride in this final month...but be aware that their defense is going to keep allowing points. Our warning here is more about Navy than EC. The Pirates started the year fading in the second halves of games. Now they fade in the bus on the way to the stadium. That's bad news with a short preparation week in play for a Thursday Night road game at UAB. Navy hosts Central Michigan in a rare huge blowout letdown spot.

We have to do this again. Last week we warned you that Baylor wasn't as good as the score made it look in their victory over Texas. Same deal this week with Kansas State. Texas won total yardage 412-270, but lost the turnover category 5-1. It looks like Garrett Gilbert is going to keep throwing to the wrong team all year. That opponent may have trouble winning the NEXT week when he's not the opposing quarterback! Baylor got routed by Okie State off their Texas win. Be careful giving K-State too much credit here. They'll fight you. But, they're not a team loaded with frontline talent right now as they go on the road to face Missouri. Texas hosts Oklahoma State, with the city of Austin in a depression that hasn't existed since the John Mackovic days.

Fresno didn't do a very good job of maximizing production off their yardage. The visitors actually won stats by a 529-308 margin. Turnovers hurt...and other ways of shooting yourself in the foot. They're in a conference where yardage usually rules the day over time. Biggest key here may be that Louisiana Tech was much worse than the score suggests. This should have been a loss of 17-21 points at least. Handicap in that light the rest of the way. Louisiana Tech travels to New Mexico State this week. Fresno State hosts Nevada in what's likely to be a heated WAC affair.

It's very easy for college handicappers to take their eye off the ball in November because they think they've got a read on all the teams. Studying boxscores will help you avoid that to a degree. We STRONGLY suggest you keep track of key stats in all the board games this week. ESPN's website does a great job of posting final boxscore stats right when a game ends. There are other websites out there with accurate stats. There's really no reason you can't make a few clicks and jot down total yardage, rushing yardage, turnover differential, and whatever else suits your fancy in your schedules once the games have ended.

The market reacts to final scores. YOU need to react to WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED ON THE FIELD!

JIM HURLEY'S stat handicappers have been doing that since before the internet started. They used to comb big city newspapers, or even call press boxes to get game stats. Now, the information superhighway delivers GOLDEN INFORMATION direct to your desktop or laptop. We're doing the work to get those numbers. Why aren't you?

If it seems like too big of a chore for you to handle, why not take the easy way out and sign up with NETWORK for the best plays on the board every day. We'll be attacking the MAC the next two nights with Toledo/Northern Illinois and Miami of Ohio/Bowling Green on ESPN2. Doubleheader action resumes on Thursday and Friday...highlighted by Pittsburgh/UCONN Thursday and Boise State's next big TV game on Friday. (And the NFL starts up its Thursday Night package this week too with Baltimore/Atlanta!). Big GAME OF THE YEAR selections are scheduled for the next few Saturdays based on our read of how the schedule is going to play itself out. Sign up early to make sure you earn a fortune during the annual TURKEY SHOOT and CHAMPIONSHIP weekends.

Call 1-800-323-4453 to lock yourself in. Or, make a few clicks here at the website. Note that game day releases can always be purchased a few hours before kickoff if you want to try things out to get your feet wet.

Oh...basketball is off to a great start too. We'll talk more about the NBA and college hoops when football winds down here in the NOTEBOOK. BIG JUICY WINNERS are available nightly in ALL SPORTS!

Scoreboards can be misleading...but JIM HURLEY'S career record tells the story to a tee. #1 IN THE INDUSTRY FOR ALMOST 25 YEARS!

This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.


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