FanPost

Field of 64 First Round Point Spreads

Hey everyone.

If you saw my previous FanPost, I gave a Field of 64 for the 2018 college football season. Methodology is explained there.

Now, let's have some fun and see what would happen if this was played out. First, Round 1.

A note: after examining my notes, I figured out why I had an SEC problem in the top half of the East Bracket. I had bumped Auburn the wrong way to avoid a conflict. In reality, Auburn should've bumped up from 8 to 7, not down from 8 to 9. This has been corrected. West Virginia slips to 8 and Utah to 9. There are now no conflicts.

Anyway, this is as much a hype thread, because I plan on doing this tournament and seeing what happens. I will use the Massey Matchup Calculator, which also determined the point spreads for Round 1. (NOTE: I used Sagarin as my primary "computer ranking" for the seedings so that this bracket wouldn't get too chalky.)

Feel free to place unofficial SUP points. Since I'm running this, I won't pick an upset.

EAST

16 Duquesne at 1 Clemson (-56 1/2)
9 Utah vs. 8 West Virginia (-3)

13 James Madison at 4 LSU (-32)
12 Kennesaw State vs. 5 Penn State (-28)

15 Wofford at 2 North Dakota State (-34)
10 Princeton vs. 7 Auburn (-16 1/2)

14 Northern Illinois at 3 Central Florida (-24)
11 Duke vs. 6 Appalachian State (PK)

ANALYSIS: All four home teams are huge favorites in the first round, a theme throughout the tournament, so let's look at the middle four. In Clemson, Utah and West Virginia face a culture clash in more ways than one, as this game features the Mountaineer's explosive offense against the stingy Utes. In Baton Rouge, Kennesaw was dominant against a weak Big South, but Penn State was Top 10 most of the season; as we'll see, the 11 is the sweet spot, not the 12, for upsets. In Fargo, an angry Auburn team that mauled Purdue faces an undefeated but untested Princeton squad; while the Ivy Tigers could be a sexy upset pick, they drew a very bad matchup. In Orlando, two battle-tested teams face off; Duke was 3-3 against the field, Appalachian State 4-2 (albeit two of those four wins against 16 seed Louisiana). No wonder the oddsmakers think this a coin flip.

WEST

16 San Diego at 1 Oklahoma (-46)
9 Northwestern vs. 8 South Dakota State (+10)

13 Pittsburgh at 4 Iowa (-10)
12 Temple vs. 5 Kentucky (-14)

15 North Carolina A&T at 2 Georgia (-46 1/2)
10 Ohio vs. 7 Stanford (-7 1/2)

14 Middle Tennessee at 3 Fresno State (-19)
11 Georgia Southern at 6 Syracuse (-19 1/2)

ANALYSIS: In Norman, the Jackrabbits were one of the best FCS teams all year, but don't have any of their 10 wins over anyone in the Massey Top 100; Northwestern, meanwhile, played half their schedule against playoff squads. In Iowa City, it's the hosts that are smaller favorites; Pittsburgh's close performances throughout the season against teams like Notre Dame and Stanford have oddsmakers wondering if the conservative Iowa offense can pick up a big win. In Athens, the surprising Bobcats earned their way into the field with a rout of Buffalo and a close game against Cincinnati; both they and Stanford are looking for ways to establish the run. There's not much drama in Fresno, at least in the opening round; the Bulldogs and Orange are both three-score favorites to advance to an intriguing Round 2 showdown.

SOUTH

16 Louisiana at 1 Alabama (-44 1/2)
9 Wisconsin vs. 8 Army (+4 1/2)

13 Weber State at 4 Washington State (-27 1/2)
12 Buffalo vs. 5 Utah State (-10 1/2)

15 Maine at 2 Michigan (-35)
10 Iowa State vs. 7 Oregon (+2 1/2)

14 Jacksonville State at 3 Texas A&M (-40 1/2)
11 Virginia vs. 6 Cincinnati (+5)

ANALYSIS: In Tuscaloosa, matchups are everything; Army's triple-option is potent, but if any team knows how to stop the run it would be a team that sees it all day in practice in the Badgers. In Pullman, two small-school winter teams face off, but Utah State's hot hand gives them the edge as Buffalo struggled down the stretch. In Ann Arbor, we probably have the best Round 1 matchup, as Oregon's offense is running into a Cyclones D that rates in the top 25 in Division 1. The most head-scratching spread may be in College Station -- no, not A&M by 40, but Cincinnati's 11-win season still relegating them to a rather sizeable underdog status against the Cavaliers.

MIDWEST

16 Alcorn State at 1 Ohio State (-46 1/2)
9 Eastern Washington vs. 8 Mississippi State (-17)

13 Colgate at 4 Washington (-25)
12 Boston College vs. 5 Texas (-8 1/2)

15 Nicholls at 2 Notre Dame (-36)
10 UAB vs. 7 NC State (-9)

14 Memphis at 3 Florida (-18 1/2)
11 Troy vs. 6 Boise State (-10)

ANALYSIS: In Columbus, the FCS runners-up have a rough road against a Bulldogs team whose five losses are all against opponents on one of the top five seeding lines -- perhaps a sleeping giant in the making. In Seattle, the Longhorns probably jumped two lines by beating Georgia, but BC is a team that can win ugly, making this a tricky first-round match. In South Bend, UAB's big comeback puts them against an NC State squad that seems vulnerable after getting shellacked by A&M. In Gainesville, the weather advantage is gone as trendy Boise State faces gritty Troy; the Broncos have the big-game experience that hopes to translate to a W.

Your thoughts?

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