Games of the Year Bets 2015 – Part 1

Bets Placed:

UNLV +34 vs UCLA: I remember last year when NIU went to UNLV, favored by something like 23 points. They struggled to win the game, in part due to the brutal desert heat in September in Las Vegas. Now UCLA, a team that is also used to very mild weather conditions, travels into an inferno and is tasked with covering a very large 34 point spread. Even if the Bruins get close to this, they will have no incentive to continue running up the score on the road and will be ready to get out of the heat. I have the game set at 25 points, way off from what is on the board.

LSU -18.5 at Syracuse: Syracuse returns 3 starters on defense. That spells trouble against Leonard Fournette and an LSU offense that returns 9 starters. Given that it’s early in the season, we should see the Cuse defense struggle and LSU get out to an early lead. I have this game slightly higher at -21.5, so this combined with my expectation that Syracuse defense will be unable to contain LSU make this look like a good bet.


Georgia State +49 at Oregon: This is a sandwich game for Oregon. They will have just faced Michigan State, and will be looking forward to their conference opener against Utah. There’s no real reason to run up the score in this one – I imagine the Ducks will want to pull their starters as soon as possible. Georgia State has also shown the propensity to play at a higher level when facing touch competition, as was evidenced against Clemson and Washington last year. I have this handicapped at 43.

MTSU +35.5 at Alabama: Sandwich game for Alabama – they will just have faced Wisconsin and look forward to Ole Miss the next week–the team that beat them in last year’s regular season. I highly doubt they will spend too much time on MTSU film. Middle Tennessee on the other hand faces Jackson State in week 1 – a game in which they will be 41 point favorites. It’s likely that MTSU has been spending a significant amount of time this summer studying Alabama film and preparing for them this summer. They should make it interesting. I have the game handicapped at 29, and I’m debating whether I should take the line now or let it float higher. I should probably take it.

Connecticut -3 vs Army: I have Connecticut set to make at least a decent bounceback from that terrible 2014 season, and combined with Army returning very few starters this gets me a UConn -14 line for this game. My only real concern is that they’ll be very defeated after the Villanova game if they lose. And if I incorrectly regressed to the mean and only used half, I get closer at -6.5.

Connecticut +35 at Missouri: I have the line set at 24, and something is making me gravitate towards this. The only reason for the discrepancy is again because I think UConn will actually improve, and I guess the books don’t. A part of me wonders if UConn will surge due to the “2nd Year Effect” – Bielema at Arkansas, Sonny at Cal, Holtz at LA Tech, etc. It’s possible but not likely. The most likely outcome is they improve from 119th to 100th. In power ratings I have them +15 just from regression to mean, from 45 to 60. If I only do half of that regression then I’d need to adjust down by -7.5, which would get us to a 31.5 point line.

But then I think to myself “no way, even if UConn’s defense holds steady for most of the game, the offense won’t hardly score any points against Mizzou.” I don’t know. I’ll think about it.

Expected Lines:

Villanova up to -20.5 at Fordham:

Ever year I try to identify teams at the FCS level that will drastically defy expectations. This year, that team is Fordham, who will let down everyone who puts faith in them. The Rams have 5 returning starters: 3 on offense, 1 on defense, and a kicker. That spells doom for Fordham.

They face Army in week 1, and Army should be favored despite returning 9 starters (if not, I will be betting on Army). But what I am more concerned with is their week 2 matchup with Villanova, who returns Walter Camp Award Winning QB John Roberson. The lines you can come up with vary greatly based on how much information you have on Fordham:

Based on last year’s power ratings: Villanova -1

Based on last year’s power ratings, plus regression to the mean: Villanova -9.5

Based on last year’s power ratings, plus regression to the mean, plus returning starters data: Villanova -20.5

Sam Houston State up to -27 vs Lamar: I’m wondering if the line will come out around -16 for this game, which is solely based on last year’s power ratings. SHSU returns 20 starters and may win the FCS playoffs this year. I have them handicapped at -24, and SHSU has a bye week before this game, putting them at -27. While SHSU has a bye week, Lamar is coming off a game at Baylor and will be very beat up. These current ratings are before adjusting for Lamar’s starters so my line may rise – I know that Lamar is losing QB Caleb Berry who was ranked #2 in the FCS in total passing yards last year, so that will be a huge loss.

College of Faith:  To the best of my knowledge, this fake online school didn’t score a point last year. So in matchups against terrible FCS teams, I’ll expect these FCS teams to not only pounce on the opportunity to score a bunch, but have little mercy in running up the score. Everyone wants to pad their stats, and this is game to do it. I still struggle to determine which is COF Charlotte and which is COF Arkansas, but I’m pretty sure this team playing these games is COF Arkansas. It doesn’t really matter because they were both equally terrible, as a power rating of -70 in my all-division ratings (for reference, Eastern Michigan–perpetual bottom dweller of FBS football, would be favored by 85 when hosting them).

Matchup Expected Line
College of Faith at Houston Baptist -48
College of Faith at Texas Southern -61
College of Faith at Valparaiso -59


Season Win Totals Bets 2015 – Part 1

It’s time for football season! With less than 3 months away and win totals posted on 5Dimes, I will be releasing my bets as they are placed. So far I have placed bets on two win totals so far:

Indiana Under 6 Wins, -135: Indiana returns Nate Sudfeld, who was out for most of last year with an injury. His return will certainly help out the team, but the loss of Tevin Coleman will have an even greater negative impact. Statistically, Indiana finished last season around their average power rating (65) for the past 15 seasons or so, so there is not much expected regression to the mean. They return 12 starters including quarterback, which is pretty average as well. There’s no case you can really make for why the Hoosiers will significantly improve–they’ll likely either remain the same, or possibly drop off with Coleman’s departure. I have them at an average of about 4.5 wins. The solid 6 number provides us with a solid buffer, as they have to make 7 in order to lose money.

Winnable Games (2): FIU (-11), SIU (-10)

Toss Up Games (4): WKU (-4), at Rutgers (-1), Wake Forest (+3), at Purdue (+6)

Likely Losses (6): Maryland (+8), at Iowa (+9), Michigan (+11), Penn State (+16), at Michigan State (+24), at Ohio State (+27)

In order for Indiana to break the six win mark, they would have to avoid stumbling early against a tricky SIU squad, win all four of their toss up games including road trips to Rutgers and rival Purdue, and manage to knock off one of the other teams that they’re likely double digit underdogs against.

Assuming they play around the same level as last year, the probability of wins breakdown is as follows:

7+ Wins (OVER): 11%

6 Wins (PUSH):  16%

5- Wins (UNDER): 73%


Texas State Under 7 Wins, -120: Texas State returns 12 starters, including their QB and a strong offensive line with 96 career starts. Last year the offense was the most improved in FBS, and while that is great, we can’t be sure how much more improvement we can expect from them. The defense is likely to regress as they lose some of their biggest playmakers. Overall, any improvement in the offense will likely be offset by regression in the defense, so this team will likely be very similar to last year’s team, which had a power rating of 59.

Last year, Texas State managed 6.2 pythagorean wins at this level of performance, and 7 actual wins. But this year’s schedule gets significantly harder. Texas State travels on to face their toughest three conference foes on the road (at UL Lafayette, at Georgia Southern, at Arkansas State) and start off with a rough non-conference slate (at Florida State, at Houston).

From a betting perspective, it is much more desirable to be betting on the win totals for a team that has tough opponents on the road and easy opponents at home. Why? Because the outcomes of the games are easily predictable, which means there is a lower variance of outcomes for the season win total.

Below are the odds for the bet of over 7 wins:

8+ Wins (OVER): 12%

7 Wins (PUSH): 14%

6- Wins (UNDER): 74%


Finally, in the spirit of so many goons claiming to be betting but not actually betting, I’m posting my bet slips as we go here.