Brett McMurphy’s College Football Musings and Predictions for Week 2

    Why Tom Herman dominates against the spread, where "Group of 5" came from and much more.

    September 5, 2019

    What I’m wondering while waiting for this weekend’s games …

    How in the world is Tom Herman so successful as an underdog? Well, I asked him.

    In the underdog role as a head coach, Herman is a flat-out wizard. At Houston and Texas, Herman’s teams have won 10 of 15 games when they are the underdog and – more importantly (to some) – is a remarkable 13-2 against the spread as an underdog.

    Add in his days as an offensive coordinator at Ohio State and Iowa State and Herman’s teams are 24-2 – yes, 24-2 – as an underdog against the spread in his last 26 games as an underdog.

    Before last season, I asked him how he attributed his success when his team is in the underdog role (see the video above). Basically, Herman said his teams want it more.

    “Whenever you can play more physical, when you can play harder, when you can play with a greater purpose than your opponent – which, for us, is the genuine love of the guy next to you and your coaches – then you can overcome a lot of talent discrepancies,” Herman told me. “You can overcome maybe some strategic deficiencies. We live by the adage that culture eats strategy for lunch.”

    Herman also added, “Even when you are faced with significant talent discrepancies, you can at least stay in every ball game by playing harder and more physical than the team across from you.”

    At Houston, Herman’s teams may have encountered some “talent discrepancies,” but that likely won’t be the case at Texas. Since arriving in Austin last season, Herman’s Longhorns have been an underdog 10 times. They have won five of those games and covered the spread eight out of 10 times.

    So now I’m wondering … why am I taking LSU? Based on my success last week, that should be good news for Texas. More picks below if you dare. …


    Wonder why they are called the Power 5 and the Group of 5 conferences? That’s a question I frequently get on Twitter. Specifically, why the American, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences are called the “Group of 5.”

    Funny you – uh, I – should ask. That’s because in 2013 when the conference commissioners announced they were getting rid of the BCS, adding the College Football Playoff and reducing the Automatic Qualifying 6 conferences to five leagues – ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC – the officials from those remaining conferences asked us, the media, to refer to their leagues as the “Group of 5.”

    I was part of the media contingent attending those meetings in Fort Lauderdale in 2013. I’m sure the commissioners realized “Group of 5” would have been better than any of the catchy or not-so-flattering names we may have come up with. The power leagues never asked to be called the Power 5, but it just seemed like an obvious – and accurate – description. So that’s was what they were called. …


    Now that you know the history of the Power 5/Group of 5 names, that brings me to the “Power 6.” There is no such thing. It’s a marketing ploy. A unicorn. A fable. The Loch Ness Monster. It’s never actually been seen. Does not exist. There is no Power 6, Power 7, Power 8, Power 9 or Power 10. However, there is a “10,” starring Bo Derek. (Google it, millennials). Yes, definitely, a “10.”

    There are only five leagues that have all the power: They each have the automatic bids to the College Football Playoff New Year’s 6 bowls, each team in those conferences earns at least $30 million or more in media rights revenue, and they receive the vast majority of revenue from the College Football Playoff. (Obligatory reminder: don’t shoot the messenger, I didn’t create the current eco-system of college football, I just report about it). The non-power leagues can promote, protest, Tweet, put P6 on down-and-distance markers or drop P6 propaganda fliers out of airplanes during games, but this will never change.

    One day, the Power 5 may go away. It could be reduced to four leagues. However, it will never – never – add another league and add another mouth at the table. There is no way the power players in the Power 5 will want to divide their hundreds of millions six ways, instead of five. …


    Wondering which Group of 5 team has had the most success against Power 5 leagues so far? Easy. It was the Mountain West, which was 4-3 and probably should have been 5-2, but Utah State lost late to Wake Forest. The Mountain West also was a remarkable 6-1 against the spread in the first week.

    Group of 5 records vs. Power 5 this season:

    Mountain West: 4-3 (Nevada, Boise State, Hawaii, Wyoming won)
    American: 2-4 (Cincinnati, Memphis won)
    Sun Belt: 1-4 (Georgia State won)
    Conference USA: 0-3
    Mid-American: 0-5


    Now on to this week’s picks (ignore last week’s results, I was testing a new algorithm and will flip a different coin this week). Odds from @BetOnline_ag:

    LSU -4 at Texas
    Texas Tech -34 vs. UTEP
    Cal +13½ at Washington
    Missouri -14 vs. West Virginia
    Hawaii-Oregon State over 78

    Lock of the Week: Schlage Touch Keyless Touchscreen Lever with Century Trim and Latitude Lever

    The Tote Board
    Last week: 1-4 (Only Tennessee had a worse week than I did)
    Year to date: Not important
    Lifetime Lock of the Week: Still Undefeated

    MORE: Brett McMurphy’s College Football Bowl Projections After Week 1

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