Tag Archives: College football

Greg’s Gambling Lines: College Football Futures Bets

With August only a couple days away and football season around the corner, I thought it’d be a good idea to go through a few futures bet markets. For the few of you who don’t know what futures bets are, I’ll explain it to you in the most basic terms possible: you are betting NOW on the outcome of something that can only be determined in the FUTURE; this is the gambling equivalent of a long-term investment. By betting in the futures markets, you can get decent value, have a greater ability to hedge and make money during the season, and also have something to root for in the long-term.

In this piece, we’ll be evaluating college football futures, focusing on team win over/unders and division/conference winners markets for the upcoming season. Do note that because I like the value, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m predicting the bet to be successful, but that the value of the odds is significant enough for me to bet it.

College Football (all odds courtesy of 5dimes)

Team Win Over/Under Market

Arkansas Razorbacks OVER 5.5 wins (5/7 odds)
The 6 win threshold seems very low to me here, and I like Arkansas’ chances to get to that mark. Bielema is a massive upgrade over John L. Smith at Head Coach, and he has a schedule that is rather favorable in the first few weeks. Louisiana-Lafayette, Samford, Southern Miss and Rutgers should give Arkansas a 4-0 start to the season. From there, they’ll only need two wins in their last eight, and I’ve got a sneaky feeling that one of those will come against Texas A&M at home on September 28. Should they lose their next four, they will still have two very winnable home games against Auburn and Mississippi State that should get them to six wins.

Michigan State Spartans OVER 8.5 wins (5/6 odds)
Michigan State has a very weak schedule and is coming off of a down year, finishing 7-6 (with a 3-5 conference record) that immediately follows a couple of seasons with double digit wins. This team reminds me a lot of Ohio State prior to last season: mediocre record, down year, great defense, bad offense and A LOT of close losses. Seriously, look at their Big Ten losses from last season: lost to Ohio State 17-16, lost to Iowa 19-16 in Double-OT, lost to Michigan 12-10 in Ann Arbor (Michigan kicked the game-winning field goal with 5 seconds left), lost 28-24 to Nebraska on a late TD, and lost to Northwestern 23-20. They were top ten in the country in terms of points against last season, and they return seven starters on that defense. In addition, the offense will return eight starters and will be battle tested. I like the Spartans to rebound this season, and I will back them heavily to get at least nine wins this season.

Nebraska Cornhuskers OVER 9.5 wins (even odds)
This mark is just a bit low. This team is probably gonna start off the season at 8-0, with its last game against Iowa at home. That’s nine wins right there, with only one win against the likes of Michigan (away), Michigan State (home) and Penn State (away) necessary to achieve ten wins. The value is there and I’d pounce on it.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights OVER 6.5 wins (11/10 odds)
I know that it is REALLY easy to hate Rutgers right now, but the value here is too good. The team is in a weak conference, plays against Norfolk State and East Michigan at the start of the season and then will only need 5 wins in its last 8 games to break the 6.5 win threshold, which is really low for a team that has made a bowl game in seven of the last eight seasons.

Tennessee Volunteers UNDER 5.5 wins (8/5 odds)
Tennessee has three easy wins in its non-conference schedule, which should be a solid case for them to finish with over 5 wins this season. Here’s the problem: the rest of their schedule is the equivalent of a murderous slaughter—they face Oregon, Florida and Alabama away, in addition to Georgia and South Carolina at home. That’s five potential losses right there, giving them four games to get another three wins. That’s gonna be rather difficult for a team that only won one SEC game last season, and that was against Kentucky at home in the final week. They will play Kentucky again (albeit on the road), but they’ll also play against Missouri, Auburn, and Vanderbilt. I find it difficult for them to get six wins.

Texas Longhorns OVER 9.5 wins (2/3 odds)
It’s not so much the value that I like here, but I think this is a sure thing and I would bet it HEAVILY. I’ll explain my thoughts on this bet a little more in a bit.

Texas A&M Aggies UNDER 9.5 wins (7/5 odds)
The belief in college football right now is that there’s the SEC and then there’s the rest of college football. So how exactly did Texas A&M fare in their first season in the toughest conference in college football? I mean, you can’t say it was all that bad, especially when you consider the 11-2 record, Cotton Bowl victory and the Heisman Trophy for Freshman QB Johnny Manziel. Oh, and they beat National Champion Alabama in their own house. Look, nobody is denying that A&M is a very good team, or that Manziel is a very good QB, but they’ve got a target on their back right now. The SEC will have more film on them and will take them more seriously headed into this season. I expect them to lose three or four games, with two of those coming against Alabama at home on September 14th and LSU away on November 23rd. I also expect them to lose one of their two road games against Arkansas and Ole Miss.

Tulsa UNDER 8.5 wins (29/20 odds)
Tulsa went 11-3 last year, but they won a lot of close games and return only ten starters. They also have a relatively tough schedule this season, with games away to Bowling Green, Oklahoma and East Carolina along with home games against Marshall and Iowa State. They’ll probably win two or three of those games, but that does make the margin rather slim with an over/under mark of 8.5 wins. Bet a small amount here and with a bit of luck it’ll cash.

USC Trojans OVER 10.5 wins (33/20 odds)
Notre Dame away and Stanford at home aside, the Trojans have a very easy schedule this season, especially when you consider the fact that they avoid Oregon for the first time since 2004. I know that it’s very easy to just bet against Lane Kiffen on historical and moral grounds, but the value here is actually rather good, and that is why I would put a small amount of money on this future.

Virginia Tech Hokies OVER 9.5 wins (7/5 odds)
This will be explained in the next bet.

Conference & Division Winners Market

Virginia Tech Hokies to win the ACC Coastal Division (81/20 odds) and ACC Championship Game (39/4 odds)
The Hokies are coming off of a 7-6 season after 8 straight seasons with 10+ wins. A big reason for that was an inexperienced offensive line, the loss of David Wilson to the NFL, and a young defense that struggled against the run the first half of the season. Logan Thomas was projected to be a Top 5 pick in last year’s draft before the season, but plans for the NFL were put on hold as a result of Virginia Tech’s down year. This season, however, the Hokies return nine starters on a defense that saw big time improvement at the latter end of last season. Another huge plus is that they will avoid playing Clemson and Florida State during the regular season, while also getting Miami and North Carolina at home. Their futures odds across the board are available at great value right now, and I’d put some money on them to win over 9.5 games, the ACC Coastal and ACC Championship Game because of that.

Michigan State Spartans (71/10 odds), Nebraska Cornhuskers (25/4 odds) or Michigan Wolverines (24/5 odds) to win Big Ten Championship Game
Even as a Buckeye, I’m placing money on one of these three to beat Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. It isn’t that I’m not confident in Braxton Miller and Urban Meyer, it’s just that the value on these three is too good for me to turn down, especially when it comes to Michigan and Michigan State.

In the event of a Michigan-Ohio State Big Ten Championship Game ONE WEEK after a showdown in Ann Arbor, you get the feeling that something weird is gonna happen; there’s a distinct possibility of this showdown taking place, and if I’m getting almost 5/1 odds on a team to win a rivalry game, I’m taking it.

In the case of Michigan State, their conference schedule is REALLY weak with their only major challenges coming against Michigan and Nebraska during November; they have a very good chance of winning the Big Ten Legends Division (13/4 odds) because of that. If they make The Big Ten Championship Game, I like their chances against Ohio State, because Dantonio is a former Ohio State assistant who studies his alma mater intently to prepare for them.

As far as Nebraska is concerned, you put a bit of money on them just to do it. They’re a solid team that will contend for their division. Should they get through the division, you’re essentially getting over 6/1 odds on them to win a game against the Buckeyes. I like that value.

South Carolina Gamecocks (17/4 odds), Georgia Bulldogs (19/4 odds) or Florida Gators (12/1 odds) to win SEC Championship Game
As with the previous paragraph, I like the value a team could get in a one-game playoff against a National Championship contender. In this case, it’s South Carolina, Georgia or Florida against Alabama. All three have a very real chance of winning the SEC East, and as such each deserve a small amount backing them in the SEC Championship Game.

Texas Longhorns (3/1 odds) to win Big 12 Conference
They’re second-favorites behind Oklahoma State, but I like this Texas team to finish 11-1 and win the Big 12 Conference. The Longhorns return 10 starters on offense and nine on defense after finishing last season with a 9-4 record. If it weren’t for injuries last season, Texas would’ve had a much better defense and could’ve finished with at least 10 wins. I would also put a small amount on Texas to win the National Championship (20/1 odds).

Fresno State to win Mountain West Championship Game (51/20 odds)
Fresno State has always had a solid program, and this year they have a chance to be a legitimate BCS-Buster. Even if they don’t make a BCS Game, they’re a very good team that should be able to cruise through the MWC West Division into the MWC Championship Game. There, they will probably play against Conference favorite Boise State, who is also being touted as a BCS-Buster. With a one-game playoff being rather realistic and a team getting slightly over 5/2 odds to win the conference, the value here is rather good.

BCS National Championship Value Bets
Look, I could just cop out and give you Alabama or Ohio State to win it, but that’s just gutless. If you want a Championship pick with a bit of juice in it, here’s a list of four possible champions to choose from (small wager amounts, of course):

1) Texas Longhorns (33/1 odds)

2) South Carolina Gamecocks (25/1 odds)

3) Michigan State Spartans (100/1 odds)

4) Nebraska Cornhuskers (50/1 odds)

Follow Greg Visone on Twitter @njny

**Disclaimer: All odds and analysis provided is for entertainment and informational purposes only. Any use of this information in violation of federal, state, provincial or local laws is strictly prohibited.

Greg’s Gambling Lines: College Football Week 4

Okay, I’ve never had my own column for picking winners before. Alas, with my only column these days being the EPL wrap-up column every week, we had to figure something out to get me writing articles on a more regular basis [Editor’s Note: You can pitch and write on your own ideas too!]. So here’s my first ever gambling column going into tomorrow’s College Football games. If I do well, then we’ll continue it for the rest of the season. If it doesn’t go over well, then we gave it a shot. Still, it’s about time my gambling addiction came in handy.

I’ll have three “Big Money” picks this week, in addition to one specialty parlay.

Note: All picks will be against the spread, and all odds, unless otherwise noted, are -110 (or 10/11). That means you need to bet $110 to win $100, and the ratio stays the same for however much you bet.

Alright, here are my picks for this Saturday’s College Football action:

Kansas (+9) at Northern Illinois

Kansas is getting its leading rusher from last season James Sims back from suspension going into this game, but Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox have filled in for him rather well despite his absence the first three games. They’ve started off 1-2, but I think they’ve got enough here to beat the spread at Northern Illinois.

Miami (Ohio) (-24.5) v UMass

High-octane passing game at home against a team that’s coming off three consecutive spankings against BCS Conference opponents? I’ll take that. I’m weary about spotting 24 points, but willing to take the risk here.

Louisville (-13.5) at Florida International

Not exactly thrilled to be going with this pick, but Florida International beat Louisville 24-17 in their meeting at Louisville last season. Louisville’s starting off the season well, however, and should have that humiliation from last year fresh in its mind going into this one.

Washington State (-20) v Colorado

I’m going to sum this up for you rather sweetly: Colorado is fucking horrible. They’ve not only lost to Colorado State and Sacramento State in close games, but they’re also coming off a humiliating blowout to Fresno State. Lay the 20 points and expect the Buffs’ miserable season to continue in their first Pac-12 game of the season.

Arkansas (-9) v Rutgers

I know Arkansas’s got injury problems and has lost to UL-Monroe & Alabama at home, but they should be strong enough to bounce back here. Yes, Rutgers is 3-0 and coming off a big Thursday Night win at South Florida, but John L. Smith needs this game to somewhat salvage the season (and his locker room).

Under 59.5 UAB at Ohio State

The Ohio State offense has been out there for a little while, and chinks in the armor are starting to show in spite of their 3-0 start. While UAB might not get much going with the ball, they should be able to give Braxton and Co. a tough time as the Buckeyes play their last tune-up before the Big Ten schedule starts.

Three “Big Money” picks

Notre Dame (-5.5) v. Michigan

As much as I hate to say it: Notre Dame looks legit right now. The defense is playing very well, while the offense is carrying the load and doing its job so far. Michigan, however, hasn’t really had a conventional opponent since Alabama. Air Force is an option offense that Big Ten teams don’t usually run, and UMass is, well, UMass. So take Notre Dame here against the spread. Still, I’d love it if both of these teams could lose. Seriously, could we please try to make that happen?

Florida State (-14) v Clemson

Okay, before you all get started: Yes, Florida State hasn’t played anybody yet. But they’re kicking the shit out of whoever the hell they do play. I mean, you gotta be doing something right to win 69-3, 55-0 and 52-0 your first three games. Yes, Clemson is much tougher than Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest, but that defense is still suspect. Remember the Orange Bowl against West Virginia? I mean, that was only 9 months ago…

Auburn (+20.5) v Louisiana State University

This one is based on history more than anything. This is a massive rivalry game, with Auburn and LSU always playing tough (and close) games against each other in Auburn. Yes, Auburn has struggled in their early season games so far, but I have my doubts that this will be a blowout by LSU. Take the points and look for Auburn to give LSU a bit of a scare here.

*7-Point Teaser*:

South Carolina (-3 / under 55.5) v. Missouri (line: -130)

——–

Alright, there’s my picks. Enjoy, and remember: if you’re dumb enough to bet your house on one of these recommendations, then you deserve what happens to you.

Follow Greg on Twitter @njny

January Madness???!! Taking the College Football Playoff System Further

Let’s go back to September 1st, 2007, to the great state of Michigan (Whoo!). The fifth ranked Divsion (1-A) Michigan Wolverines are pitted against Division (1-AA) Appalachian State Mountaineers. The Wolverines are heavily favored by 27 points. After a hard fought game, the Mountaineers stunned the Wolverines 34-32, capping off what many deem to be the biggest upset in college football history. Never had a Division 1-AA school ever beaten an AP ranked team since the NCAA split itself into two divisions in 1978. To this day, even mentioning Appalachian State to a Wolverine fan brings up feelings of hatred and regret (being a Michigan State Spartan, I do it every chance I get!). Now imagine if this had been a championship game instead of the first game of the season. Imagine if this was the crowning achievement of a Mountaineer team that had fought with all it’s might all the way to the top and was finally crowned National Champions. Cinderella is in the building. The new four team playoff system that is being implemented in college football got me asking myself: Why can’t we just bring “March Madness” to college football?

The details that are coming through about the playoff system that is to be implemented in 2014 got me wondering what was to become of my beloved college football now that things are changing. The BCS is bullshit, it always was. The results of the polling and computer analysis always pissed off more people that it made happy. It wasn’t like the NFL, where the reason a team made the playoffs was obvious and easy to follow. In the BCS, teams were chosen based on a multitude of different reasons and factors which led to a large amount of confused fans, players and coaches. It was never as simple as a win-loss record.

The NCAA has finally heard everyone’s cry and has officially adopted a playoff. While I’m all for this, the playoff they intend to adopt falls short of the mark. A four team playoff is not enough to help ensure that a team from every conference has a fighting chance to make it to the National Title game. Essentially, conferences with historically less competitive schools still have no chance of making it to the Title game due to the perceived lack of competitiveness of their conferences. There are six automatically qualifying conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, Big East, PAC-12) that get BCS bowl games bids because these are considered BCS conferences. The  remaining conferences (Conference USA, Mountain West Sun Belt West Atlantic Conference) are not considered BCS conferences, and basically have to go undefeated for a shot—just a shot—at a BCS bowl. Even an 8 or 12 team playoff would still leave a large field of teams that played really well, but were deemed not good enough to compete for the national championship. An easy way to remedy this would be to simply adopt the NCAA basketball playoff system, or the “March Madness” system. Seeds would be taken from every conference and an ensuing playoff structure would emerge and whittle down the field until a champion is crowned.

The system in which teams are selected would be essentially a clone of the current college basketball system. Separate schools into regions and mix and match teams based on quality, which would help equalize the skill level of each region. Then develop a 64 team bracket (68 if you include the first four) with 31 of those teams being chosen automatically by winning their conference championships (there are 32 separate conferences in college basketball. The football teams of each school can organize using the same conferences, with the extra one conference being used for the independent schools such as Notre Dame. The easiest table of all the conferences can be found on Wikipedia. The remaining 37 teams would be chosen by a selection committee. The selection committee would be fair because every team had the opportunity to win their conference and be guaranteed a position in the tournament. Any concern about biased and unfair treatment would be history. Of course, there’d be snubs like there is every year in college basketball, but compared to the outrage that the BCS causes every year, no tears would be shed.

The number of games played would increase drastically. This would greatly increase the amount of money flowing into college football programs. It’s estimated that with the four team playoff there would be an increase of roughly $500 million profit each year on television rights alone. Going by the 12-year contract, that could be $6 billion dollars in profit. Now imagine if we used the 64 team tournament which would end up being 64 more playoff games instead of just four (64 teams playing 32 games and on down the line until the national championship game=64.)

The NCAA has a contract with CBS worth $10.8 billion over 14 years for the March Madness television rights. That contract makes up 95% of the NCAA’s revenue. The BCS games averaged a 8.9 television rating last year, while March Madness averaged a 5.3. College football, and football in general, is much more popular than basketball. It’s unfathomable how much a network would pay for the rights to broadcast a “January Madness” for college football, but it’s a safe bet that it would be over the $10.8 billion CBS deal.

Overall, this four team playoff is a giant leap in the right direction. Unfortunately, the four team playoff will never stand. It will have to be expanded. Any change to the BCS is good, but after a few years teams and conferences will begin to question the fairness just as they did with the BCS system that is currently in place. Eventually it will need to be expanded to accommodate all the teams and give everyone that has the ability to earn a spot a fighting chance.

Some will argue that the tournament would add too many postseason games and make the season drag on too late, but in actuality, most teams wouldn’t play more than they already do as half the teams wouldn’t even make it into the tournament. College football currently has 35 bowl games following the regular season and they begin in the first week of December. By forgoing the break in between the end of the season and the first week of december, you’ll have ample amount of time to complete a complete tournament bracket in roughly the same amount of time it currently takes the entire football season to end. If you play a 64-team tournament and play one round each week starting the first week of December, you’d be down to 32 teams by the second week, 16 teams by the third week and eight by the fourth week. The following week would be the quarterfinals, followed by the semifinals and then the national title game, so the season would wrap up by the second or third week of January. Problem solved.

This system would ensure that every team has a fair shot and making a run at the National Championship. The Championship would become more fluid and exciting like March Madness is, and it would be done in a completely fair manner. College football needs a dramatic make over if we as fans are legitimately concerned about the fairness of the game. Coaches polls and computers shouldn’t decide who get to compete—wins should determine who get to play for the Championship. This system would ensure that the team who wins when they must get the recognition they deserve. Couple the added fairness and competitive nature of the tournament with the astronomical level of financial benefit and it would be foolish not to implement this new playoff system.

Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelPakkala