Michigan State has endured an up and down 2012 season, the low point being a four game span during which they won only once, squeaking by Indiana. The Spartans bounced back last week, though, edging Wisconsin on the road. Throughout the season, Michigan State’s defense has remained strong, and they rank in the top 5 nationally in opponent yards per play.
While our numbers don’t quite favor the Spartans to pull an upset over Nebraska this week, we do see the game as a relatively even matchup. With the public heavily favoring the Cornhuskers, Michigan State looks like the best value upset pick of Week 10.
Where We Stand After Week 9
Here is where our game winner pick’em strategies currently stand on ESPN (which uses confidence points) heading into Week 10. There wasn’t much change across the board, and in a week with some crazy upsets in ESPN’s 10-game pick’em, Penn State’s failure to upset Ohio State weighed on our more aggressive strategies.
- Conservative: 94th percentile (-2.4 from last week)
- Aggressive: 75.4th percentile (-2.3)
- Very Aggressive: 67.4th percentile (+1.4)
In a battle of two teams playing for pride rather than post-season glory, Penn State welcomes the Ohio State Buckeyes to Happy Valley this week. Even with the questionable health of starting quarterback Braxton Miller, the vast majority of the public has picked the Buckeyes to win this game, despite OSU being only a one point favorite.
Our models like the Nittany Lions well enough and we see this game as one of the best value opportunities of the week, provided the projections and Vegas odds hold steady. (It’s worth noting that Penn State did open as a 2.5 point favorite, but the Vegas lines have shifted to ever-so-slightly favor OSU.)
Where We Stand After Week 8
Here is where our game winner pick’em strategies currently stand on ESPN (which uses confidence points) heading into Week 8. The more aggressive strategies continue to slip a bit, which isn’t a shock, since they are more boom-or-bust approaches.
- Conservative: 96.4th percentile (+0.1 from last week)
- Aggressive: 76.7th percentile (-5.0)
- Very Aggressive: 66th percentile (-4.0)
With several solid chances to choose anti-public favorites last week, our game winner picks had a very solid performance, and all three strategies should have moved you up in the standings. While there may not be as many odds-on value opportunities this week, there are several attractive upset picks, and there is a Sun Belt game we really like.
Where We Stand After Week 7
Week 7 was a nice bounce back week for our game winner picks across all strategies. After a down Week 6, all three strategies climbed in the rankings, highlighted by our Conservative strategy that now ranks in the top 4% nationally.
Here is where our game winner pick’em strategies currently stand on ESPN (which uses confidence points) heading into Week 8. The Conservative pick set should have you in the top 5 of a 100 person pick’em pool:
- Conservative: 96.3rd percentile (+4.8 from last week)
- Aggressive: 82.7th percentile (+7.5)
- Very Aggressive: 70th percentile (+4.9)
Oregon State travels to Provo this Saturday to take on the BYU Cougars. Our system favors BYU, who is two heart-breaking road losses from an undefeated record, and Vegas has them favored by 6. Despite the point spread and a key personnel loss for the Beavers, an overwhelming majority of the public has picked against the Cougars at home. Rolling with BYU this week is just one of several excellent chances to pick against the public in week 7.
West Virginia has put up some pretty impressive offensive numbers this season. That success could be misleading, though, since we rank the Mountaineers’ strength of schedule as just the 70th most difficult in the nation. In fact, their run should end this week at Texas, which currently ranks #4 nationally in our Overall Power Ratings.
The general public disagrees, which makes this one of several games this week where there’s an opportunity to both pick the favorite, and gain ground on the majority of your opponents.
Week 5 looks like a great opportunity to both play it safe and pick against the public, the holy grail of pick’em strategy. Before we get into the analysis, though, let’s see how our pick sets are doing so far.
Where We Stand After Week 4
Week 4 was sort of ho-hum for our pick sets. There were no huge wins to celebrate overall, but we also did well enough to keep our entries at or near the top of the charts nationally. Overall, our pick sets slipped a bit in Week 4, but all six pick sets currently rank in the top 10% of the country, and three of six are in the top 5%.
Here is where our Game Winner pick’em strategies currently stand on ESPN (which uses confidence points) heading into Week 5. The Conservative pick set should have you in the top 3 of a 100 person pick’em pool:
- Conservative: 98.6th percentile (-0.6 from last week)
- Aggressive: 94.1st percentile (-1.1)
- Very Aggressive: 91.8th percentile (+0.6)
Here is where we stand on Yahoo! with our Point Spread pick’em strategies. Some of our more aggressive pick risks didn’t pay off last week, but all strategies are still doing well, again highlighted by Conservative:
After a strong Week 2, we followed up with another solid performance in Week 3. On the game winner side, all three of our office pool pick sets are top 10% on ESPN. Our Conservative strategy is in the 99th percentile; Agressive picks are at the 95th percentile. After making some big bets on UNC and Arizona State that didn’t play out, our Very Agressive pick set dropped back a bit to the 91st percentile.
On the point spread pick’em side (where we use Yahoo!, since ESPN doesn’t report percentiles there), we are simply killing it so far. All three of our pick sets are in the top 1% of Yahoo!. Week 3 was just average for our Aggressive and Very Aggressive plays, which both hit around 50% of games, but that was enough to keep both within the top 250 entries in the nation.
However, last week was our Conservative strategy’s time to shine on the ATS side. That pick set went 13-6-1 on Yahoo!, and is now one of the top 50 entries in the nation through three weeks. Let’s hope we keep it up and get to the Week 4 advice…
Let the good times roll. After a decent Week 1, our college football pick’em strategies had a smoking Week 2, thanks to several calculated risks paying off.
The schedule this week gives us plenty of chances to make small gains in confidence point pools, but there are not as many smart opportunities for big risks in non-confidence pools. In other words, it’s a good week to chip away at your opponents, and play it relatively safe.
We got off to a great start in Week 1 of college football pick’ems. Two of our three highest-value game winner upset picks came through with wins (Ohio over Penn State, and Colorado State over Colorado), and our spread-based pick’em strategy would have led you to place near the very top of Yahoo!
Our Conservative ATS strategy — which takes into account stale lines and public pick biases as well as our projected cover odds — went 13-7 in Yahoo!’s Week 1 games, which snagged us a top-300 rank and means we’re beating 99% of all contestants. It is, of course, super early, but we’d rather be off to a great start than a poor one! Our more aggressive strategies — which, remember, are designed to be more “boom and bust” — are sitting in the 93rd percentile and the 97th percentile.
As if you didn’t know, college football is back, and the first regular season game is Thursday evening. That means it’s time to email your Week 1 pick’em picks to the guy in accounting who runs your office pool. You should probably send him that PayPal payment he’s been pestering you for, as well.
To help you get back in the swing of things, here’s a little assistance on those picks. We’ll be doing this every week, all season, just like we did last year. Our conservative picks ended up finishing in the 94th percentile in ESPN’s game winner based college pick’em last year, after finishing in the 97th percentile in 2010, so it’s a good bet that following this column won’t be a waste of your time.