Week 10 college football picks from The Quants

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Our picks went 3-3-1 last weekend, with Big Plays 1-2-1 and Other Plays 2-1. We were oh-so-close to a profitable weekend and a 3-0 record on Other Plays, but a last-minute fumble by Alabama (-17) at the Tennessee 1-yard line cost us the cover. I probably jinxed that game by mentally grading it too early when Bama got out to a 27-0 lead. Miami (-1.5) gave us an easy road cover in Blacksburg on Thursday night, while Rice (-14) responded to a 7-point halftime deficit by reeling off 27 unanswered points in the second half to cover at home against North Texas.

Our lone winner of the four Big Plays – Illinois (+6.5) – was an outright winner as a home underdog vs. Minnesota.  Kent State (+7) fell 10-3 to Miami (OH) to push our bet (Kent State missed a 30-yard field goal attempt with 5 minutes left in the game). UCLA (-13.5) blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead before beating Colorado in overtime, 40-37 (the UCLA defense gave up 37 points to Colorado…seriously?). Our other sizable favorite – Toledo (-16.5) – gets graded a loser, as Massachusetts made a game of it keeping the score difference to only 7.

We won our one MP Lean this week, as another 6.5-point dog, North Carolina, pulled off the upset win. It’s been a very negative-variance year for our leans across NFL and college football, despite strong line value, but we are back to .500 for our college leans.

Some of this week’s picks are below.  Our Big Plays run in Friday’s edition of The Linemakers on Sporting News’ free newsletter.  Sign up right here.  It’s free!
 
Week 9 Closing Line Value:

In Week 8, our picks beat the closing number by an average of more than 2 points. This past week also had strong move our way (averaging 1.5 points) despite the Thursday release. Is the release of these picks affecting the market? Probably some. 

-- Illinois: picked +6.5, closed +3.5, CLV +3.0
-- Toledo: picked -16.5, closed -17.5, CLV +1.0
-- UCLA: picked -13.5, closed -14.25, CLV +0.75
-- Kent State: picked +7, closed +5, CLV +2.0
-- Miami (FL): picked -1.5, closed -2.5, CLV +1.0
-- Alabama: picked -17, closed -19.75, CLV +2.75
-- Rice: picked -14, closed -16, CLV +2.0
-- *North Carolina: picked +6.5, closed +7, CLV -0.5
* M-P Lean (non-official pick)

Week 10 Picks:

Big Plays (12-8-1 YTD)
-- one best bet this week.  Register for The Linemakers’ free newsletter.  Then check your email after 1 p.m. ET Friday.

Other Plays (21-13 YTD)
-- Texas A&M -33 vs. Louisiana-Monroe
-- Oklahoma State +14.5 at Kansas State**

MP Leans (8-8-1 YTD)
-- Temple +7.5 vs. East Carolina
-- Kansas +36 at Baylor
-- Louisiana Tech -7 vs. Western Kentucky
-- Indiana +7 at Michigan
-- Georgia Tech -3.5 vs. Virginia
-- UNLV pick ‘em vs. New Mexico

** We are scratching Oklahoma State since the line moved to +13.

Pick criteria remains the same: Big Plays (55%+), Other Plays (54-55%), Leans (53.5-54%).

In response to a lot of questions the past few weeks about why a certain game isn’t a play, my usual response is that our plays our very conservative. We regress our number strongly back toward the market number when we calculate our edge. Since this regression is based on the historical predictive power of our MP number relative to the closing line, it significantly underweights the MP number when looking at the mid-week line. This results in fewer plays, but stronger plays. And yes, I do believe our plays should hit at a higher rate than what I claim. But it’s better to undersell. Since lines do move, and we only post picks once a week, you should free to use the set of ratings, published here, to calculate lines yourself, and decide yourself if the difference warrants a bet.

Our lines are calculated by taking the difference in MP power ratings, adjusting for home field and teams coming off a bye, and further adjusting for pace of play (or as I’ve dubbed it, the Baylor adjustment).

Massey-Peabody uses a quantitative approach to sports handicapping and uses its calculations to profit at the bet window.  Find more valuable information and insight at Massey-Peabody.com.

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