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Another Florida team joins the overrated list

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

September 4, 2018 12:05 AM

Now Florida State joins the list of overrated college football teams. FSU and Miami lost by a combined 57-20 as prime time TV favorites! Plus a quick study of double-digit upsets from Saturday, and Labor Day impact on the pennant races right now in VSiN City.

College Football: Virginia Tech shocks Florida State (plus a bonus breakdown of double-digit Saturday upsets)
Well, THAT was an ugly football game. Florida State was a huge disappointment to fans and chalk bettors Monday night. What looked like a slow start in the first quarter turned into a disastrous season opener against fired up Virginia Tech.  

Virginia Tech (plus 7.5) 24, Florida State 3 
Total Yardage: Va. Tech 319, Florida State 327
Yards-per-Play: Va. Tech 4.8, Florida State 5.2
Rushing Yards: Va. Tech 112, Florida State 94
Passing Stats: Va. Tech 16-26-0-207, Florida State 22-35-3-233
Third Downs: Va. Tech 21%, Florida State 31%
Turnovers: Va. Tech 0, Florida State 5
Length of TD Drives: Va. Tech 75-85, Florida State no TDS

Tough game to explain if you didn’t watch. It’s like…new FSU head coach Willie Taggart wanted to unleash his loaded talent in a blur of creativity…only to find out that getting cute doesn’t work against teams like Virginia Tech. (Duh!) Plus, it’s REALLY hard to get everyone’s timing down on the tricky stuff in advance of a tough season opener. Try that against Austin Peay. 

Virginia Tech had a pretty poor offensive game itself. One TD came on a blocked punt return. Hokies were only 3 of 14 on third downs while managing less than 5 YPP on the night. It’s just that VT would flounder before punting. FSU would move the ball, then give it away. Tech did manage to finish a couple of drives for TDs. FSU never could.

Florida State still has time to recover in the ACC…and gets Clemson in Tallahassee later this season. Tech is still Tech. FSU was trying to do too much too soon…and has a chance to matter later this season. That said, Deondre Francois did not have the look of an elite national quarterback. 

Yesterday we promised to run box scores from three high-profile Saturday upsets…

Maryland (plus 12) 34, Texas 29 
Total Yardage: Texas 405, Maryland 407
Yards-per-Play: Texas 5.4, Maryland 5.1
Rushing Yards: Texas 142, Maryland 143
Passing Stats: Texas 21-39-2-263, Maryland 21-34-0-264
Third Downs: Texas 20%, Maryland 33%
Turnovers: Texas 3, Maryland 0
Length of TD Drives: Texas 39-69-50-36, Maryland 67-65-20-75

Not the end of the world for Texas, who bounced back well from a season opening loss to Maryland last year. But, it does fairly quickly eliminate them from national dark horse contention. That’s most obvious in the third down and turnover categories. Though, a statistical dead heat in the earlier categories is also embarrassing considering all the turmoil Maryland had been going through. Against a vulnerable defense, Texas was just 3 of 15 on third downs, while giving the ball away three times.

Quarterback Sam Ehlinger is best when he can scramble for yards against an overconfident opponent that doesn’t respect him enough. He doesn’t seem to have learned much in the offseason about reading defenses or making quick decisions. That probably eliminates Texas from being a threat to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title hunt. 

Oh, let’s also note that Texas had two TD drives less than 40 yards. Maryland had a cheapie too. Neither was as explosive as this final score made it look. Generic yards-per-play and poor performances on third downs for both. 

Cincinnati (plus 14) 26, UCLA 17 
Total Yardage: Cincinnati 304, UCLA 306
Yards-per-Play: Cincinnati 3.9, UCLA 4.5
Rushing Yards: Cincinnati 194, UCLA 144
Passing Stats: Cincinnati 14-26-0-110, UCLA 23-37-1-162
Third Downs: Cincinnati 28%, UCLA 40%
Turnovers: Cincinnati 1, UCLA 2
Length of TD Drives: Cincinnati 75-27-36, UCLA 13-78

UCLA only managed a very cheap TD until relatively late in the game. Not the stellar debut Chip Kelly was hoping for. Long time handicappers know that “offensive gurus” are prone to have the game pass them by if they don’t adjust. This result doesn’t mean that’s already happened to Kelly. It means you have to be on the lookout. Poor passing numbers for both considering the number of attempts. Well, if you watched a lot of games Saturday, abysmal yardage and YPP performances. Cincinnati’s edge in rushing yardage helped trump some of its other deficits. Brutal for UCLA to visit Oklahoma this coming week after such a confidence crusher. 

BYU (plus 11.5) 28, Arizona 23 
Total Yardage: BYU 392, Arizona 326
Yards-per-Play: BYU 5.5, Arizona 4.7
Rushing Yards: BYU 183, Arizona 129
Passing Stats: BYU 18-28-0-209, Arizona 17-34-0-197
Third Downs: BYU 42%, Arizona 40%
Turnovers: BYU 0, Arizona 0
Length of TD Drives: BYU 59-75-58-36, Arizona 77-75-67

Wow, clean win for a double-digit dog across the categories. Sure, the TD drives were a bit cheaper. But, that’s a clean sweep down the list until you get to the turnover tie. Awful game for Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate. You can see AZ was just 50% in the air for less than 200 yards. Tate can be a dynamo with his legs. Only 14 yards on eight carries. More and more defenses are learning how to stay back and contain QBs like this…making them throw for yards. NFL defenses led the way with that theme. 

Obviously the last two losers were from the Pac 12, off a true bowl debacle last season. We talked in the New York Post Saturday about how only Utah won straight up last bowl season…and that was against a West Virginia team missing its quarterback. Not all bad news this past Saturday for the league. Enough to further damage its national perception. 

MLB Monday: Cubs-Brewers, Yankees-A’s in potential playoff previews
Nice to have some important games on a holiday. Two day games that just might be early October playoff matchups. Then, an interleague game involving division leaders too. 

We’ll take the three showcase matchups in Nevada Rotation order…

Milwaukee (plus 110) 4, Chicago 3
Total Bases Plus Walks: Chicago 11, Milwaukee 12
Starting Pitchers: Hamels 6 IP, 2 ER, Davies 5 IP, 1 ER
Bullpen: Chicago 2.2 IP, 2 ER, Milwaukee 4 IP, 2 ER

Pitcher’s duel. These teams have played some ugly, low scoring games against each other. While Chicago has recently pulled away from the pack in the NL, it mostly did that against weak opponents. Can the Cubs establish superiority vs. “playoff caliber” in this last month? More on that Wednesday in the New York Post. Cubs are still four games ahead of the Brewers in the NL Central race. Chicago falls to 81-56 with this loss, while the Brewers improve “wildcard at worst” hopes at 78-61.

Oakland (-115) 6, NY Yankees 3
Total Bases Plus Walks: New York 12, Oakland 20
Starting Pitchers: Sabathia 3.1 IP, 4 ER, Cahill 5 IP, 2 ER
Bullpen: New York 4.2 IP, 1 ER, Oakland 4 IP, 0 ER

Yankees are now 2-9 vs. teams with a winning record since the All-Star break. That’s 0-4 vs. Boston, 2-4 vs. Tampa Bay (who won’t make the playoffs), and now 0-1 vs. Oakland. Getting tougher and tougher to take the Yanks seriously as a World Championship threat. Would you trust Sabathia to win a playoff game for you? Big week in Oakland and Seattle could change our minds (or lock them in). Oakland now just 3.5 games behind NYY in what could be a race for home field in the wildcard game. Yankees 86-52, A’s 83-56. If this is a crappy western swing for the Yanks…who knows? 

Boston (-125) 8, Atlanta 2
Total Bases Plus Walks: Boston 21, Atlanta 17
Starting Pitchers: Eovaldi 3.1 IP, 0 ER, Toussaint 4.2 IP, 3 ER
Bullpen: Boston 5.2 IP, 2 ER, Atlanta 4.1 IP, 3 ER

Boston clustered its bases extremely well. Should have been a 5-4 type game based on offensive bases. Nathan Eovaldi was throwing on just two days rest after a rain-shortened appearance vs. the White Sox. Kind of weird for Boston to gamble with a rotation arm given how little is at stake right now. Sox move to 95-44. Atlanta falls to 76-61. No worries for the Braves, because Philadelphia also lost. 

In other Monday action involving playoff contenders…

*St. Louis (plus 170) LOST at Washington 4-3 in 10 innings. Bryce Harper hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to force extra innings. Nationals won it in the tenth. Heartbreaker for the Cards, who fall to 76-62 in the jam-packed Wildcard race. 

*Philadelphia (-140) LOST at Miami 3-1. We talked awhile back about how poorly Philadelphia has played on the road this season. Phils seem ideally suited to exploit the home run tendencies of their home park. Road record is now a lousy 29-39. Their overall slump is now 4-11 the last 15 games, 8-16 the last 24 (slumping to 72-65 for the season). Not a playoff caliber team for awhile. Miami’s win only lifts the Marlins to 9-22 their last 31. 

*Colorado (-150) beat San Francisco 9-8. Wild game. Those have been surprisingly rare at Coors this season. Rockies move to 75-62. Interestingly, they’re only 35-30 at home. Rockies typically have a big home field advantage. Not this year. 

*LA Dodgers (-140) LOST to the NY Mets 4-2. Mets broke a 1-all tie with three runs in the top of the ninth inning. Price was low because deGrom started for NYM. His ERA is 1.68 for the season. Dodgers fall to 75-63, now a half-game behind Colorado. 

*Arizona (-215) LOST to San Diego 6-2. Horrible loss considering how bad the Padres are, and how it wasted an opportunity to pull even with the Dodgers or pick up ground on St. Louis. Arizona falls to 74-64. 

*Houston (-240) beat Minnesota 4-1. Astros stay 2.5 ahead of Oakland at 85-53.

*Cleveland (-200) LOST to Kansas City 5-1. Indians now 77-60.

*Seattle (-205) beat Baltimore 2-1. Another one-run win for Seattle. Mariners now 34-18 in those. That “plus 16” in games over .500 is a match for the full season mark of 77-61. Mariners a coin-flip 43-43 in games decided by two runs or more. By the way, Oakland is 27-12 in one-run games, 56-44 otherwise.

US Open Monday: Sharapova ousted, American women still top three favorites
A couple of upsets on the women’s side Monday. Carla Suarez Navarro (plus 190) beat Maria Sharapova in straight sets. Naomi Osaka (plus 133) edged Aryna Sabalenko. Favorites Madison Keys and Lesia Tsurenko advanced to quarterfinal action Wednesday. 

(Note that Roger Federer was down two sets to one against Australian John Millman as we reached publication deadlines late Monday night. By the time you read this, you’ll know if there was a huge upset of a -2200 match favorite or not!)

Here are Monday night exchange odds to win (or not win) the women’s title from Betfair…

Women’s Championship
Serena Williams: risk $1 to win $1.64, risk $1.70 to win $1 that she won’t win
Sloane Stephens: risk $1 to win $4, risk $4.20 to win $1 that she won’t win
Madison Keys: risk $1 to win $4.50, risk $5.20 to win $1 that she won’t win

Red, White, and Blue showing well through four rounds. Here are overnight odds from bookmaker.eu for Tuesday’s pair of quarterfinal showdowns…

Early money lines for Tuesday’s Quarterfinals
Serena Williams (-305) vs. Karolina Pliskova (plus 250)
Sloane Stephens (-245) vs. Anastasija Sevastova (plus 205)

Winners will meet in the semifinals. 

On the men’s side, the sum of market influences keep flip-flopping on the likely winner. Novak Djokovic had slipped back ahead of Rafael Nadal when we checked prices. 

Men’s Championship
Novak Djokovic: risk $1 to win $2.50, risk $2.60 to win $1 that he won’t win
Rafael Nadal: risk $1 to win $2.55, risk $2.75 to win $1 that he won’t win
Juan Martin Del Potro: risk $1 to win $8, risk $8.80 to win $1 that he won’t win

(We left Federer out pending his late Monday result.)

Here were bookmaker.eu odds for Tuesday’s pair of quarterfinals… 

Early money lines for Tuesday’s Quarterfinals
Rafael Nadal (-375) vs. Dominic Thiem (plus 305)
Juan Martin Del Potro (-340) vs. John Isner (plus 280)

Before calling it a day, let’s quickly post early point spreads for Tuesday night’s series finales in the WNBA semifinals. Both matchups are tied 2-2. Tonight’s winners will play a best-of-five for the league championship. 

*Washington (-1/164.5) at Atlanta
*Seattle (-3.5/170) vs. Phoenix

Seattle’s Sue Bird is expected to play in a protective mask after suffering a broken nose in game four. Elena Delle Donne is still hobbled with a bone bruise, or Washington probably would have been -1.5 or -2.

Also, wanted to alert you to a fun read about sports betting in Mississippi from ESPN’s David Purdum. Click here to read it if you missed it online Monday. 

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