Posted Sunday, December 14, 2008 08:18 AM
Posted Wednesday, December 10, 2008 03:04 AM
Here we go... it's my favorite time of the year... Bowl Season! These are my best bets:
CFB Game of the Year (Citrus Bowl): Georgia (-7)
This one is all about matchups! The first matchup is an SEC team playing against a Big 10 team. I have not been big on Georgia this year (other than betting against them, for the most part), but this will be their time to shine. The SEC has dominated the Big 10 in major bowl games over recent years, and this is the best matchup pitting these two conferences this year. The second matchup is the one-dimensional Spartans offense against what has been an underachieving Bulldogs defense. Despite the fact that UGA didn't live up to the hype, they are still good enough to tee off on the vanilla style offense that MSU brings to the table. We saw two games this year where Mich St faced a defense that could shut down their running game, forcing them into 3rd and long situations where Hoyer had to try to bail them out (Ohio St and Penn St). Those games exposed the achilles heal of the Mich St offense (throwing the ball), and Georgia is a prime candidate to take advantage of this same weakness. The third matchup is the QBs. I always look for QB mismatches during bowl season. Teams with a solid QB excel over teams that struggle with their QB play. The matchup between Stafford and Hoyer is the most lopsided QB matchup available this season. Stafford is a legit (possibly #1 pick) NFL prospect, playing in his final game as a Bulldog. Hoyer is, pure and simple, weak. Georgia comes in with a pro-style offense that is very difficult to stop. You can't focus on the passing game or the running game, meaning the defense is always on its heals. And the Mich St defense has not done well against teams with a balanced offense (see PSU). This game just has too many matchup problems for MSU, and if (and when) they fall behind, and are forced to stray from their running game, it will get ugly fast. They will have a much greater following, since this is SEC country, and MSU is a long way from home, so expect the Bulldogs to feed off of that and get the big win!
Motor City Bowl: CMich (-6.5)
Nice little home game for the Chippewas to finish off Dan Lefevour's illustrious career. Will be a sad day for those who have watched him over the years, and even sadder for those who won money by riding their bandwagon (moreso last two years than this year). Fla Atl is one of the few (only?) team from down South that will be far from home this bowl season, playing against a Northern based team playing in their backyard. More importantly, CMich is quite a bit better than FAU, having played a much tougher schedule to get here. Fla Atl found its way into a bowl game with a shoddy 6-6 record playing in the weakest Div 1 conference in the country (Sun Belt). Despite a somewhat disappointing year for CMU, they are still the better team, and more battle tested, relatively speaking. I expect Lefevour to bring a great game on his final appearance in front of the home fans, and post some gaudy numbers in a high scoring game!
Chic-Fil-A Bowl: Ga Tech (-3.5)
I really like this matchup! First, it pits the best team in the ACC (despite the fact they didn't win the championship) against a middle of the pack SEC that was arguably the most disappointing team in CFB this year. And this is important, because the ACC has quietly played outstanding football this year, while the SEC was a shell of what we've seen in past years. Yes, Alabama and Florida are both dominant teams, but behind them the competition was subpar at best, while the ACC was the deepest conference in all of football. Ga Tech put a hurting on Georgia with their triple-option, and UGA is a much better team than LSU (as indicated by their 52-38 smackdown at LSU). One of my favorite mismatches in this game is on the coaching front. Les Miles detractors have been calling him out for the past two years for making horrible decisions, but nobody listened because those decisions somehow worked out for him. This year, with a less talented team, those detractors have had the chance to sit back, laugh, and say "I told ya so." This team plays about as stupidly as any team I have ever watched in CFB. Meanwhile, coach of the year Paul Johnson has quietly put together an amazing season, with an option attack that has become very difficult to stop. One of the more favorable matchups in this game is the LSU QB (Lee, Jeffereson?) going up against a very underrated GT defense. LSU hasn't been able to get quality play out of their QBs all year, and I expect a swarm of Yellow Jackets putting pressure on them and forcing mistakes all game long. Most of all, I don't think you will see LSU stop the Ga Tech offense much this game. Once GT gets out to a lead I expect to see a lot of points scored in this game!
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech (+2)
This is probably the bowl game with the most angles pointing in its favor. For starters, we have a Va Tech team that got here by playing one of the toughest schedules of any team in CFB (SOS rank: #11), going against a Cincy squad that rode one of the easiest schedules of any Div 1 team (SOS rank: #60). The ACC, as stated before, played outstanding football this year, while the Big East was, to put it mildly, a complete joke! I will take advantage of the misperception here, as people look at an 11-2 team playing a 9-4 team and don't realize which team is better. Here is a quick breakdown of the two conferences and how they performed out of conference, using only the teams that will be playing in bowl games: ACC most impressive wins (UGA 45-42, Miss 30-28, Cal 35-27)... Big East most impressive wins (Iowa 21-20, Kansas 37-34, Hawaii 29-24); ACC worst losses (MTSU 14-24, ECU 22-27)... Big East worst losses (BG 17-27, Fresno 7-24, ECU 3-24); head-to-head records (ACC 2-1 over Big East); overall non-conference records (ACC: 14-8, Big East: 9-9); how they fared against all other Div 1 conferences (ACC: 10-5; Big East: 5-4). The most impressive non-conference win by the Hokies was a 35-30 win at Nebraska that was 28-10 at the end of the 3rd quarter. The most impressive non-conference win registered by Cincy was a 29-24 win at Hawaii in which they trailed by 14 in the 4th quarter. I just don't think Cincy is battle tested at all, as opposed to Va Tech who has played a number of solid opponents and fared well in most. Beamer has great success in bowl games, and Va Tech has flown under the radar due to their struggles at the start of the year, when Taylor was not playing originally, and then both Taylor and Glennon fought through injuries. This team is peaking at the best time, and playing great defense, and Pike is NOT a solid QB. I expect Cincy to be basically happy to be in their first BCS game, while Va Tech is here to win! Wrong team favored, boys!
Total of the year: Rutgers/NC St Over 51
This looks like a gift. Blindly betting overs may not be the way to go in bowl season, but finding the right spots will yield some amazing value for high scoring games. This one pits two of the hottest offenses in the country down the stretch, and two of the hottest QBs. Neither team will be able to stop the other's aerial assaults. Something to watch for is future NFL star Kenny Britt, WR for Rutgers and one of the best kept secrets in CFB. Don't be surprised if the winning team in this game covers the over by themselves. Shootout!
RU 48 NCSt 44
Other great totals opportunities:
Ball St/Tulsa Ov 77
LSU/GT Ov 49
Boise/TCU Ov 45
Ok St/Ore Ov 77
Tx Tech/Miss Ov 70.5
USC/Penn St Un 45.5
Alabama/Utah Un 45.5
Fla/OU Ov 71.5
GL to everyone, Happy Holidays, and here's hoping the Bowl Season yields many gift-giving opportunites!
Posted Wednesday, November 05, 2008 02:52 PM
Ok, before i get into my Bowl Season picks and write-ups, here are some tips for handicapping Bowl Season.
1) Offenses prevail: there are a number of reason it plays out this way... first, the games are played in warm weather sites (and domes)... totals progressively drop at the end of the CFB season due to bad weather, and bettors tend to hang on to the most recent results... this creates some value in the Overs... second, because the matchups involve teams from different conferences, they are usually unfamiliar with one another... this provides schematic advantages for the offenses... third, it's Bowl Season! this means teams play loose... the pressure of conference titles and national championship races are gone, and the only thing to play for is this last game... players are happy to be where they are, and often get caught up in all of the hoopla... psychologically, this favors the offenses... lastly, the teams that get into the bowls are the teams that were succesful offensively during the season, meaning frequent matchups between offensive juggernauts... look for games where plenty of angles favor the offenses and bet the over... some games to consider: Ok St/Oregon, Rutgers/NC St, Boise/TCU, LSU/Ga Tech, Tulsa/Ball St, OU/Fla, Tx Tech/Ol Miss...
2) QBs Rule: this has been a very useful angle for me over the years... probably has something to do with #1 above... QB play is essential in bowl games... it is rare that a team with a struggling QB finds itself on the winning side against a team with a QB that has been playing well... teams are looking to put points on the board, and a team that is one-dimensional is unlikely to do well, particularly because Bowl teams are more likely to have stronger defensive play... be careful putting your money on a team that built up several wins during the season running for 300+ yards against weak opponents, but couldn't put together wins against solid defensive teams for their failure to more the ball through the air when the running game struggled... also, keep an eye on teams with solid senior QBs playing in their last game before hitting the Pros... some QB mismatches to consider: Georgia/Mich St, GTech/LSU, VT/Cincy, Fl St/Wisc, Rutgers/NC St, Ok St/Oregon (among others)...
3) Small favorites: as you may have noticed, finding easy winners down the stretch of the season became more and more difficult as lines became inflated to adjust to early results... a big reason for this is because more samples allow the books to create sharper and sharper lines... the big culprit is conference play... as teams within a conference play each other it gets easier and easier to gauge where they all fall in the rankings (i.e. Fla, Bama, UGA, Miss, LSU, etc.)... hence, you get fewer small favorites to take advantage of down the regular season stretch run... however, that turns back around in Bowl Season... once again, oddsmakers (and the public/sharps) are stuck trying to measure teams against one another without a solid basis for comparison... basically, you're getting a #2 team from one conference against a #3 team from another conference, and neither team is going be a heavy favorite because both teams have a solid backing of bettors due to their success during the season... you will almost never see a team favored by more than 14, and almost all games have a spread of 7 or less... the reason this provides favorable betting value is because, Bowl season is no different than the regular season... most of the games still end up being blowouts, just like in the regular season... but now, a favorite that wins will almost always cover... so, as a general rule, if you can pick the winner straight up, you are going to pick the winner ATS... you will be amazed at the % of teams that win SU and cover ATS... very few backdoor covers, especially in the short spread games...
4) Coaching: with a full month to prepare, the coaching advantage becomes even more exemplified... certain teams are perennial bowl winners because they have coaches who know how to bring a successful gameplan... if you can find a coaching mismatch in a game that also has other favorable angles, this can be a very useful tool... notable games with a favorable coaching matchup: GT/LSU, VT/Cincy, Ore St/Pitt, Boise/TCU (Boise does NOT lose Bowl games)...
5) Conference matchups: analyze the conferences... ACCURATELY! don't just go based on myth... conference strength changes from year to year... this is important because teams that have run the gauntlet through a brutal conference schedule will find the going easy come Bowl season... a tough conference schedule builds toughness (mentally and physically)... a team that may look weaker due to their record may actually be stronger when evaluated in light of their conference, creating favorable pointspreads... this year, Big 12 was head and shoulders above the rest, while the ACC proved to be the deepest conference in football... the SEC dropped off from previous years... the Pac 10 was decent, although the bottom half was attrocious, the Big 10 was slightly more competitive than recent years, but still not very strong, and the Big East was flat out weak! the MWC was surprisingly strong, while other non-BCS conferences were a notch (or two) below the competition... notably favorable conf matchups: UConn/Buffalo, VT/Cincy, Cal/Miami, UGA/Mich St, Tex/Ohio St (among others)...
if you can find games that involve several favorable angles from this list, you will generally be on the winning side... it is best if you can find the qualifying sides and totals and get them early... these lines will change (sometimes dramatically) as they get closer to kickoff... try to gauge the early line movement so you don't miss the bus on some of the best matchups (i.e. Georgia/Mich St), and lock in your main plays early on for these games... most games will hold fairly steady in line movement, so you can hold off on these ones until they get closer to the game... needless to say, unexpected injuries can effect the lines, as well as your handicapping, so pay attention to the news... hopefully, these should be minimal at this time of year...
will get on some write-ups before too long... happy holidays folks! hopefully Bowl Season will prove to be the gift that keeps on giving...
Posted Tuesday, October 28, 2008 01:22 AM
Bounce-back game of the week: Georgia (-9.5)
In honor of my goal to get a bounce-back win this week, i'm going with a team that shares the same goal. The Dawgs got smacked around last week (like i believe i said they would), and they aren't looking like a pretty favorite this week on the road in the SEC. But Kentucky is really beat up. They have issues on both sides of the ball, and are set up to be a punching bag the rest of the way. We already saw what Florida did to them... Georgia won't match it, but they still have some serious talent on offense and should be able to take out some frustrations on a youthful and banged up defense...
Big 10 game of the week: Penn St (-7)
As i look at what these teams have done, i am surprised that some people are calling for a possible upset in this one. What i see from Penn St is very impressive... prior to beating Ohio St, they had beaten their 7 Div 1 opponents by an average score of 42-12, with the closest being a 14 win at Purdue... What i see from Iowa is not that impressive... They have blowout wins over Wisconsin, Illinois and Fla Int, a close win over Iowa St (yuck!), and close losses to Pitt, NW, Mich St and Illinois... The toughest game Iowa had to play this year was a 13-16 loss at Michigan St. The toughest game Penn St had to play this year was a 13-6 win at Ohio St. Ohio St beat Mich St 45-7 at Mich St. Now i don't think any of those scores fail to reflect the power structure of the teams. Penn St is the best team in the Big 10, and Mich St is the 3rd best... and the gap between Ohio St (at #2) and Mich St (at #3) is a massive one... Iowa falls around #4 or #5 on the Big 10 ladder... They can keep a game close if they can make it a garbage game... but that requires two key things... 1) they must be able to run the ball very effectively, despite their inability to throw it, and 2) they can't fall behind by 2 scores... you might say it requires a 3rd thing: a weak opponent... Penn St is not! They will be geared to stop the run, forcing Stanzi to throw the ball more than the Hawkeyes want him to... and once Penn St gets a couple of scores on the board, Iowa will be hard pressed not to abandon their only offensive weapon and further the damage by going to the air... i doubt Iowa can score more than 17... but i see something more like...
Penn St 34-10
WAC game of the week: SJ St (-6.5)
Let's see if i can get a rebound with my WAC game of the week and SJ St at once (both losers on my board last week)... SJ St needs one win to have a shot at a bowl game, and 2 wins to virtually ensure it. They know they need this one, as La Tech is a flailing team this year. La Tech's win against Fresno St means little... it's a long trip for Fresno, and they are a team in complete disarray. Even Utah St and Hawaii beat them. I expect Nevada will, too... but this is a write-up on SJ St! They want to finish off 3-0 (or at worst 2-1) to secure a nice bowl game, and La Tech is 0-4 on the road this year, with the closest game being a 7 point loss to Army. SJ St is 3-1 at home, with their only loss coming to Boise St. The Spartans defense (despite their lackluster 4th quarter performance last week) has been solid, and the Bulldogs defense has not. Regardless of the QB status of Reed (since Myles is just as good), i think SJ St will have an easy time with La Tech at home...
SJ St 38-21
Posted Tuesday, October 21, 2008 08:29 AM
Best bet of the week: SJ St (-16.5)
Loving this spot for SJ St. Took a shot staying off the Spartans last week hoping they might lose badly and get good value this week against the Vandals. Idaho is one of those teams that makes betting fun. They got a predictable cover against the most disappointing team in CFB this year (Fresno St), and meanwhile SJ St got waxed by a very good Boise St team. San Jose is well coached, has a very good defense, and against a team like Idaho, will not have trouble scoring points. I would have considered betting this up to 24... loving it at 17 or less... nice bounce back win!
SJ St 38-10
Big 12 game of the week: Texas (-6)
Texas Tech's win against Kansas was impressive, but not as impressive as Texas' win against Oklahoma St. And what needs to be understood about that win is the fact that Okie St was successful because they were able to throw balance at Texas on offense, and play physical with them on defense, establishing a consistent pass rush, and holding the running game in check. These are things that Texas Tech cannot do. When Oklahoma State was forced to throw the ball, they were working into the strength of the Texas defense. Texas Tech doesn't have that kind of balance on offense, and can't play the physical style of game on defense to keep Texas from putting up a lot of points. If this line was up aroung 10 or 11 i might stay away, but this is great value at less than a TD!
WAC game of the week: Utah (-7)
This might be the easiest bet we'll get in the WAC this year. Utah coming off of a bye against an apparently over-rated New Mexico team. A lot of people got sucked in to this team as a 6 point dog against Air Force last week, and it didn't pay off. The huge point explosion against SD St and the win against Arizona have people putting the Lobos on a level that is unwarranted. New Mexico has little if any chance of winning this game, and will most likely not even be competitive. Utah is in another league, and this is just a stepping stone on the way to bigger things.
Best bet of the week: Troy (-23.5)
This game pits the best team in the Sun Belt against the worst team in the Sun Belt (the who?)... the Sun Belt. It's basically the Bible Belt conference but college football likes to keep religion out of it! That's too bad for North Texas because it will take an act of God to keep this game close. North Texas is giving up 50.7 points per game on "defense"... good enough for them to rank 120th in Div 1 (FBS) football... that's pretty bad considering i thought there were only 119 teams...
Big 12 game of the week: Oklahoma (-19)
This game gives us our first opportunity to bet on one of the Big 4 against the sieve that is the Kansas St defense. After two straight non-covers (the last one because of a meaningless garbage TD by Kansas in the final :30), the OU bandwagoners have left the building. This allows me to enjoy the mini-bar while i watch the Sooners shred this "defense" on each and every drive. Give the punter the day off, Stoops...
Mismatch of the week: Ball St (-23.5)
This isn't the MAC game of the week because that honor goes to CMich - Toledo, simply because the line is more favorable. But this game pits probably the best MAC team against the worst. EMich is another one of those bet against teams in CFB. Don't really need to look at their opponent, but in this case we get a high-powered and efficient Ball St team, coming off of their bye week, playing against an EMich team that still has no had a bye this year. Trust me, they are tired of playing football. And they will be tired of this game by halftime. Nate Davis is a stud QB and will enjoy the stat-padding opportunity in this one...
Ball St 48-7
SEC game of the year: Alabama (-6)
How much does Alabama hate Tennessee? Let's put it this way... a lot! Since returning from their probationary status, the Tide haven't had the kind of talent to really pound Fulmer's team for his role in their punishment. This year they do, and they will. Tennessee is a joke! That hasn't changed since their route against Florida. Even Georgia dominated UT, despite the fact that the final score looked relatively close. UGA had 3 very impressive drives inside the redzone that resulted in inly 3 points in that game. Bama has meanwhile coasted to a couple of non-cover wins, which, once again, has left the bandwagon vacant. It's so empty i might have to drive... i see a total ass-whooping in this game from start to finish, with Tennessee getting blanked on the scoreboard.