After all these weeks filled with sleepless nights spent pouring over reams of statistical data, studying the astrological signs of starting quarterbacks, keeping track of which team has the fewest suspensions and, well, flipping a lot of coins, now I finally discover there was a quicker way to make my weekly predictions.
At the halfway mark of the season, I've actually turned a 12 percent profit -- increasing my imaginary bankroll of 5,000 Brett Bucks into 5,600. That's hitting a respectable 54 percent so far. Not bad.
Yet, I have found a much easier and more successful way to make my football picks. And it's fairly simple: every week just take the AP's top 10 teams against the spread.
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That's it. If you had done that all season, you would have hit 74.5 percent (38-13, excluding head-to-head top 10 games and games against FCS opponents) and you would be reading this column from your new villa on the French Riviera.
It's doubtful that the AP's top 10 teams continue to cover nearly 75 percent of the time, but it's something to keep an eye on. You can thank me -- or curse me -- later.
If you're interested, here's where you can find all of my Top 25 picks not listed below.
In this column I have been staked an imaginary bankroll totaling 5,000 Brett Bucks (similar to dollars, but for entertainment purposes only). Each pick is for 50 Brett Bucks, except for the best bets, worth 100 Brett Bucks. Point spreads from Wednesday's USA Today.
This week's picks:
UCF at UAB (Thursday): I'm not saying Central Florida and Orlando is pulling out all stops to get the Knights in the Big East, but Orlando's Disney World just announced it had renamed one of its rides as "Big East Thunder Mountain Railroad." UAB +15½
Army at Vanderbilt: The SEC suspended Vanderbilt center Logan Stewart for the first half against Army. Remember the good old days when a player would be ruled ineligible and the SEC would reinstate them a day later. Sigh, how times have changed. Vanderbilt -10
Colorado State at UTEP: Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain wants to build a 20-foot high electric fence along the border with Mexico. Just across the border from El Paso is Juarez and its infamous donkey shows. A 20-foot high electric fence separating El Paso and Juarez? Breaking news: all of UTEP's 2012 recruits just de-committed. Colorado State +6½
East Carolina at Navy: California preacher Harold Camping is predicting the world will end on Friday. The world is ending? I guess it is official: East Carolina to the Big East and Memphis to the SEC. Navy -10
Fresno State at Nevada: Next year the Bulldogs and Wolf Pack move from the WAC to the Mountain West. Last week, the Mountain West and Conference USA announced they were merging into one conference that would stretch over five time zones to provide stability. Another description might be: we're rearranging the deck chairs. Nevada -10½ is my best bet
Georgia Tech at Miami (Fla.): Senior defensive tackle Micanor Regis was suspended for his cheap shot last week for punching a North Carolina player in the groin. Just think: if this had happened a few years ago Nevin Shapiro would have rewarded Regis with hundreds of dollars. Now that Shapiro's incarcerated, he could only give Regis a pack of smokes. Miami -3
Illinois at Purdue: A couple weeks ago, Illinois scored a touchdown for a 20-13 lead at Indiana. Instead of kicking the extra point for an eight-point lead, Coach Ron Zook decided to go for two. Later he admitted: "Maybe I didn't know what the score was. That's happened to me before." Zook also probably doesn't know the Illini lost the last time they visited Purdue in 2009. He'll be reminded Saturday. Purdue +4
Kansas State at Kansas: Already this season, Kansas has allowed 66 points to Georgia Tech and 70 points to Oklahoma State. Even the Paul Westhead-coached Loyola-Marymount basketball teams are embarrassed by the Jayhawks' horrid defense. Kansas State -10½
Marshall at Houston: When asked about Houston's chances to get an invite to the Big East, coach Kevin Sumlin said "to spend time speculating or really just fantasizing about what could possibly be is really a waste of time." Marshall's fantasy? Hold Houston under 50 points on Saturday. Houston -22
Maryland at Florida State: With a new coach in charge at Maryland, fans were very optimistic about the Terps' chances to be much improved with better offensive and defensive schemes and even hopes to be a contender in the ACC. But enough about Maryland's basketball team and coach Mark Turgeon. Florida State -16½
North Carolina at Clemson: UNC senior Ebele Okakpu was dismissed from the team this week for "violating team rules" after apparently getting in a shouting match with a Tar Heels assistant coach. I don't know about you, but I miss the John Blake days when UNC players would only get in shouting matches with their agents. Clemson -10 Pregame: UNC-Clemson
Southern California at Notre Dame: Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Notre Dame Stadium isn't loud enough and can be too quiet at times. That actually could be an advantage on Saturday for USC, which is accustomed to participating in hushed settings such as NCAA infraction hearings. Notre Dame -8½ Pregame: USC-Notre Dame
Utah at California: Utah improved to 9-0 all-time against Big East teams with last week's win at Pittsburgh. The problem is the Utes left the Mountain West for the Pac-12, where they're 0-3 in their debut season. Make that 0-4. California -2½
Washington at Stanford: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck remains among the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. The Cardinal, however, remain the most hated team by Las Vegas sports books. Stanford is the nation's only team that is a perfect 6-0 against the spread this year. Washington +20½ Pregame: Washington-Stanford
Wisconsin at Michigan State: Warning: actual research ahead. Out of the 120 FBS teams, Wisconsin's five FBS opponents so far currently rank No. 118, 112, 100, 90 and 52 in pass efficiency defense. Michigan State ranks No. 1. Michigan State +7½ Pregame: Wisconsin-Michigan State
Even more picks: These are games that defy description -- or games that I'm too lazy to provide comments on. One or the other: Buffalo +14 vs. Northern Illinois; Central Michigan +1½ at Ball State; Iowa -23 vs. Indiana; Louisiana Tech +6½ at Utah State; Southern Miss -3 vs. SMU; Temple -13½ at Bowling Green; Western Michigan -12½ at Eastern Michigan.
"Cover Me:" This week "Cover Me" likes Missouri +6½ vs. Oklahoma State, Alabama -29½ vs. Tennessee and Virginia Tech -21 vs. Boston College is his best bet.
Lock of the Week: WordLock padlock PL-056-SL
McMurphy's picks: 11-13
"Cover Me's" picks: 2-1
Bankroll: Up 600 for season; 5,600 balance
McMurphy: 69-60; +500; (4-3 best bets)
"Cover Me":12-9; +100 (3-4 best bets)