Sunday, June 26, 2011

The experts have spoken and hate Auburn

About five years ago, I decided to start betting on college football. And I was smart about it: I started by picking out lines I liked, writing down a hypothetical bet and then keeping tabs on my imaginary earnings/losses without actually putting any real money in play. I wanted to be sure I actually, you know, didn't suck and stuff, because I really hate losing money.

This went quite well. So the next season, I put a couple hundred bucks into an account at some site (I think Sportsbook or Bodog) and started puttin' my skillz to the test. This went OK but not great -- I stayed about even for eight weeks, then had a terrible week where I lost all but about 50 bucks, then put all $50 on one game the next week and went bust.

After that I got married, started having kids and decided my money was probably better off, like, paying bills and buying food rather than wagering* on 20-year-olds playing football. It occurred to me at some point that there's a reason casinos make bazillions of dollars per second and the smart guys light their cigars with my 50 bucks while gold-skiing in their Scrooge McDuck vault.

. . . . .

I started this post about two weeks ago and never finished it for some (probably kid-related) reason, but a de facto national holiday came and went June 10 and was basically unnoticed by everybody except the junkies (like me!):

Lines. We have some.

The Golden Nugget published its lookahead lines (which I really wish I would've remembered when I was in Vegas), and while they mean squat once the games actually start, the unfortunate truth is that the guys who set them are pretty good -- sports books wouldn't exist if they didn't make money.

Some lines of interest:

September 3
LSU vs. Oregon (-3)
Boise State (-6) vs. Georgia

September 10
Alabama (-9) at Penn State
Mississippi State at Auburn (-3.5)
Notre Dame at Michigan (-2)
Utah at USC (-8)

September 15
LSU at Mississippi State (-1)

September 17
Oklahoma (-3.5) at Florida State
Michigan State at Notre Dame (-6)
Tennessee at Florida (-13.5)
Auburn at Clemson (-1)

September 24
Arkansas at Alabama (-11)
LSU (-4) at West Virginia
Oklahoma State at Texas A&M (-6)
USC at Arizona State (-3)

October 1
Alabama (-6) at Florida
Arkansas at Texas A&M (-2.5)
Auburn at South Carolina (-7.5)
Nebraska at Wisconsin (-2.5)

October 8
Oklahoma (-8) at Texas
Florida at LSU (-5.5)
Auburn at Arkansas (-7.5)

October 15
Arizona State at Oregon (-11)
Oklahoma State at Texas (-3)
Florida (-1) at Auburn
Michigan at Michigan State (-3.5)

October 22
Auburn at LSU (-9.5)
Oklahoma State at Missouri (-2.5)
Wisconsin at Michigan State (-1)
USC at Notre Dame (-4)

October 29
Stanford (-2) at USC
Georgia at Florida (-3)

November 5
Texas A&M at Oklahoma (-7.5)
LSU at Alabama (-9)
South Carolina at Arkansas (-4)

November 12
Alabama (-7) at Mississippi State
Oregon (-1) at Stanford
TCU at Boise State (-13.5)
Miami at Florida State (-7.5)
Auburn at Georgia (-4.5)

November 19
USC at Oregon (-11)
Nebraska (-1) at Michigan

November 24
Texas at Texas A&M (-7)

November 25
Arkansas at LSU (-4.5)

November 26
Alabama (-8) at Auburn
Notre Dame at Stanford (-6.5)
Florida State at Florida (-1)

December 3
Oklahoma (-2) at Oklahoma State

Important note: These were the original lines, and there has been some not-insignificant movement in the past couple weeks. There are also a lot more games listed over at if you're even more obsessed than I am (doubtful but possible).

A few observations:
  • Ohio State's entire season is off the board (lol).
  • These oddsmaker dudes love them some Alabama (OK), Oklahoma (OK), Oregon (OK) and Stanford (?).
  • Mississippi State is actually getting some respect (favored over LSU?!?).
  • Texas A&M is favored in every game except the Oklahoma one (+7.5).
  • The books like Michigan a lot more than the money-droppers do -- every Michigan game listed has swung massively in the wrong direction since these lines were posted (Notre Dame went from 2-point dog to 3-point favorite, Northwestern went from 4-point dog to pick 'em, etc.).
  • Some Auburn skepticism was to be expected, but whoa -- Auburn has eight games listed and is the underdog in SEVEN of them, and only the Florida game is even within a touchdown. Either Auburn will be terrible or somebody will win a lot of money.
  • ASU favored over USC? Ummm ... OK. They're both 11-point dogs against Oregon, so I guess they're considered about equal, but that's pretty tough to wrap my mind around after the last 10 years.
That's all for now -- a couple of these items deserve more discussion/detail and therefore a separate post (hopefully tomorrow), and I gotta get back to the real world where I do NOT have expendable money, immediate ATM access or enough gas to get to Vegas. Sad face.

*I almost broke down last year and put money on Wisconsin to beat Michigan, which was only like a 7-point underdog despite having a defense made of string and masking tape and rusted-out parts (Mike Martin notwithstanding). I told my wife I was gonna bet on Wisconsin and couldn't lose -- seriously, no chance -- so I planned to get up before the game, put down 50 bucks and watch the onslaught. I overslept, missed the opening kickoff by like five minutes and still got to witness the onslaught (48-28) except without the winnings. Good times.


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