Ness Notes: Wednesday, Nov 18

by Larry Ness

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary."

Tuesday MACtion featured a pair of games featuring 2-0 schools playing 0-2 ones and as expected, Buffalo moved to 3-0 in defeating Bowling Green 42-17 and Kent St made it three straight wins to open the 2020 season by beating Akron, 69-35. Buffalo RB Jaret Patterson carried it 31 times for a school-record 301 yards and scored four TDs. Patterson has now rushed for 3,323 yards at Buffalo, moving him to second on the school's all-time list (Branden Oliver holds the Buffalo record at 4,049). He sure loves playing BG, as last season he rushed for 298 yards and a MAC-record six TDs against the Falcons. Buffalo outscored BG 14-0 in the third quarter to open a 35-3 and has now outscored its opponents 49-0 in the third quarter over three games. Kent St found itself in a much tougher than expected game vs winless Akron (much more on the Zips in a bit), leading just 35-28 at the half. However, the Golden Flashes were 'golden' in the second half, outscoring the Zips 34-7 to earn a 35-point win and get the cover. Kent QB Dustin Crum threw for 348 yards and three TDs, while adding 104 rushing yards with two TDs. Kent St ran up 750 total yards against the Zips, including 390 on the ground (7.6 YPC). Tuesday's results set up a showdown on Nov 28 (Saturday after Thanksgiving) in which 3-0 Buffalo plays at 3-0 Kent St. The winner will move to 4-0 and will have a near-stranglehold on the East Division title, with a one-game advantage and just two games to go, while also owning the tiebreaker edge.

Wednesday's MACtion serves up a three-game card. 2-0 Northern Illinois is at 1-1 Ball St (Cardinals are favored by 14 1/2-points), 1-1 Toledo is at 0-2 Eastern Michigan (Rockets are a 6 1/2-point road favorite) and in the MAC's "Game of the Week," 2-0 Western Michigan is at 2-0 Central Michigan. This game has a similar scenario that will face Buffalo and Kent on Nov 28, but 10 days earlier. The winner puts itself in PRIME position to win the MAC West. The MAC is only playing SIX league games, meaning the team which comes out of the game at 3-0 will effectively own a TWO-game lead, considering it will also have the tiebreaker. Central Michigan opened as a small home favorite but as of Wednesday morning, WMU is the one-point favorite. One thing is for sure, Toledo will be rooting for the Chippewas (of course the Rockets have to make sure they beat EMU, first). Western Michigan 'stole' a win from Toledo last week, meaning if the Rockets and Broncos both win, Toledo will be one game back but WMU will own the tiebreaker (tough 'hill to climb' with just three games left). However, if CMU wins, the Rockets may be looking at a "winner-take-all" home game with the Chippewas at home on Dec 12.

CFB 2020's loveable losers: Entering the current CFB week (Nov 17-21), there are SEVEN winless schools among FBS teams that have played at least four games. Throw in Akron, which fell to 0-3 (1-2 ATS) with its loss Tuesday night (Zips get 'grandfathered in') and I'm dubbing them the "Not-So Great Eight!" A list of the seven schools 0-4 or worse follows, in order of the team with the most losses. UL-Monroe checks in at 0-8 (3-5 ATS), followed by 0-7 (0-7 ATS) Kansas and 0-6 (3-3 ATS) Vanderbilt. Four more schools are all 0-4. That group includes 0-4 (0-4 ATS) Penn St, 0-4 (0-4 ATS) Utah St, 0-4 (0-3-1 ATS) UNLV and 0-4 (1-3 ATS) FIU. Doing the math reveals that my "Not-So Great Eight" are a combined 0-40 SU and 8-31-1 ATS (20.5%).

I include Akron in my list because while the Zips are just 0-3 to open 2020 (MAC didn't begin play until Nov 4), they own the nation's longest-active losing streak at 20 in a row (last win came back on 10/27/18 when the Zips won 17-10 at home over Central Michigan). Akron has not just lost 20 straight, it's also gone a 'money-burning' 5-15 ATS (25%) in that span. Three of the seven schools that are 0-4 or worse are from Power-5 conferences, Kansas, (Big 12), Vandy (SEC) and Penn St (Big Ten). We've all talked about and heard enough about Penn St and no one cares what Vandy is doing, even SEC fans. However, I will discuss Kansas in some detail (sorry Gayle), as the Jayhawks own the second-longest active losing streak (11) behind Akron.

Remember the 'svelt' Mark Mangino? He was hired as Kansas head football coach in December 2001. The program had NOT posted a winning season in any of the SIX seasons prior to his arrival. However, in 2003, his second season at KU, Mangino led the Jayhawks to an appearance in the 2003 Tangerine Bowl (now known as the Camping World Bowl). This was the first bowl appearance for Kansas since 1995. In 2005, his fourth season at KU, the team finished the regular season 6–5, to post its first winning record under Mangino, and went on to the Fort Worth Bowl, its second bowl game in three seasons. In 2007, Mangino coached the Jayhawks to a 12–1 record and a 24-21 win over Va Tech in the 2008 Orange Bowl (their first ever BCS appearance). Kansas finished as the AP's No. 7 team in its final poll that season. Mangino led the Jayhawks to 19 consecutive weeks ranked in the AP and/or USA Today polls (2007–08), 20 wins in a two-year period for the first time in school history, set home attendance average records in each of his last four seasons (2004–2008), led KU to its first appearance in national polls since 1996 and to the school’s highest ranking ever at (No. 2), produced the top-three total offense seasons in school history, the top-two passing seasons and two of the top three scoring seasons and won three Bowl games, the same number Kansas had won in its 102-year history combined, prior to his arrival. However, things fell apart quickly for Mangino. There were allegations of academic fraud and recurring issues of Mangino's chronic, alleged misconduct towards his players. It became the subject of an internal investigation by the University of Kansas Athletic Department. After a prolonged period of negotiations, the university and Mangino's attorneys agreed on a buy-out amount that was large enough to secure his quiet resignation in December 2009.

So how have things gone since? Kansas opened the 2020 season with a 21-99 record since 2010 (span of 10 years), including a 6-83 record in the Big 12. The laundry list of head coaches since Mangino was forced out include, Turner Gil, Charlie Weis, interim head coach Clint Bowen when Weis was fired, David Beaty and now Les Miles (note: Joshua Eargleis is currently coaching the Jayhawks, as Miles is following protocols after testing positive for COVID-19). Throw in Kansas' 0-7 SU and ATS record in 2020 and since Mangino left, the Jayhawks are 21-106 (.156) overall, including 6-89 (.063) in Big 12 play. Wondering about KU's ATS record? It's 49-75-3 (41.9%). Anyone have Mangino's cell number or email address?

You know me, I can never end without "one last thing." The UMass Minutemen football team is the FOURTH-oldest program currently in FBS. UMass began play in 1879 and has since appeared in three FCS National Championship games, winning the title in 1998. The Minutemen began a two-year FBS transition period in 2011, becoming bowl eligible in 2013. In March 2014, the MAC and UMass announced an agreement for the Minutemen to leave the conference after the 2015 season due to UMass declining an offer to become a full member of the conference. The Minutemen have subsequently played as an independent through the 2019 season. 

UMass was one of the first schools to say it was NOT going to play in 2020. Here's the statement. "After consulting with university, state and public health officials, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 UMass football season," athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. "We have been in constant communication with university leadership and our football staff since March, with the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff remaining our top priority. The continuing challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic posed too great of a risk, and we reached the conclusion that attempting to play a season would not have placed the members of our program in the safest situation possible." However, UMass reversed that earlier decision in late Sep, saying it intended to play fall football. The problem being, the Minutemen had trouble finding opponents to play. Maybe, UMass should have left well enough alone? Coming off a 1-11 season (3-9 ATS) in which the team allowed 52.7 PPG, the Minutemen were able to schedule just four games. They've opened 0-2, getting outscored 92-10! Paul Revere would NOT be happy.

Good luck...Larry

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