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College football, Week 7: Schedule, TV listings, S&P+ and F/+ picks

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WE’RE BACK, BABY

Virginia Tech v North Carolina Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

First things first: FINALLY A GOOD DAMN WEEK.

After two dreadfully unlucky weeks — S&P+ went 15-32 ATS in games decided within 7 points of the spread and 6-15 in games decided within 3 points — the picks went soaring in the right direction in Week 6.

S&P+ went 34-18 against the spread last week, and the best part was that luck wasn’t the entire reason why. The absolute error moved under 12 points, and while there was luck (13-9 in games decided within 7 points of the spread), S&P+ was just dialed in, going 21-9 in games decided comfortably far from luck territory.

So that’s the first bit of good news. Here’s the second: That volatility concept I discussed last week has massive potential.

A refresher:

I’m guessing that it’s a bit too early for these to be reliable, and I haven’t finished setting up a simulation for 2015 yet, but like I said — we’re still in experiment stage. So we’ll press forward.

If we have an average (the S&P+ rating) and a standard deviation, we are in position to simulate. So what happens if we take every game on the Week 6 docket and simulate it 10,000 times? In theory, we can come up with different average and median scoring margins. We can also compare these margins to the Vegas spread and take a peek at how frequently Team A covers against Team B in these simulations.

See where I’m going with this?

I haven’t been able to simulate previous seasons yet, so I still don’t know enough about how volatility works — how much it shifts, how much is replicable, etc. — to comfortably say “When these numbers say Team A has a 58% chance of covering, that means that Team A has a 58% chance of covering.”

But let’s just say the trial run went pretty well. Okay, really, really, really well. I’m going to put this in really big header font:

In Week 6, teams given at least a 56% chance of covering (per Friday’s volatility experiment) went 19-1 against the spread.

That’s amazing. And completely, ridiculously unsustainable. But if anything can show the potential in this idea, it’s that.

So we’re once again going to press forward with the idea, even as I try to actually make the math more sound behind the scenes. Here are the 19 games in which Team A has at least a 56% chance of covering. We’re going to set the bar there just to see what happens.

  1. UCLA +7 at Washington State (70% chance of covering)*
  2. Bowling Green +31 at Toledo (68%)
  3. Pitt -3.5 at Virginia (64%)
  4. Georgia Southern +11 at Georgia Tech (64%)
  5. Minnesota +6.5 at Maryland (63%)*
  6. Kansas +35 at Baylor (62%)
  7. New Mexico +14 at Air Force (60%)
  8. Arizona State +13.5 at Colorado (60%)
  9. Colorado State +31 at Boise State (59%)
  10. Texas Tech PICK ‘EM vs. West Virginia (59%)
  11. Syracuse +19.5 vs. Virginia Tech (58%)
  12. Oklahoma -11 vs. Kansas State (58%)
  13. Memphis -11 at Tulane (58%)
  14. Ball State -10.5 at Buffalo (58%)
  15. Akron +11 vs. Western Michigan (57%)
  16. Clemson -18 vs. NC State (57%)
  17. Temple +3.5 at UCF (57%)
  18. NIU +2.5 vs. CMU (57%)
  19. Southern Miss +24.5 at LSU (56%)

* Obviously part of the reason for this spread is because of Josh Rosen’s potential injury. The game’s been taken off of the boards entirely in some places. So now’s a good time for a reminder that S&P+ doesn’t care about injuries. If Rosen doesn’t play, UCLA probably doesn’t actually have a 70% chance of covering. Same with Minnesota-Maryland — Gopher quarterback Mitch Leidner isn’t expected to play.

We’ll see. If these picks go 1-18, then we’re back to square one. But if it ends up being another good week, I’ll have to come up with a good name for these picks. Something more fun than “AIRTIGHT LOCKS” and whatnot.

Anyway, here’s the updated Google doc with all picks. And, as always, here’s a completely useless embed, just for fun: