GAMES OF THE YEAR BETS 2015 – PART 2

So this weekend BetOnline decided it would be a good idea to release their own proprietary lines. And as much as I admire their ambition, it probably would have been good for them to check 5Dimes and see if their lines were anywhere remotely close. It provided middles opportunities such as:

BetOnline 5Dimes Difference
Georgia Southern +31 West Virginia -17 14
Baylor -23 SMU +33 10
FAU +17.5 Tulsa -8.5 9
Akron +38 Oklahoma -30 8
Mississippi State -14.5 Southern Miss +21.5 7
Marshall -2 Purdue +9 7
Western Kentucky +7 Vanderbilt -2 5

I suppose someone could simply take the middles, but for me I wanted to actually find out which line was correct and which line was wrong, and exploit the line that was wrong. This led me to the below bets, all from BetOnline:

Baylor -23 at SMU (Double Bet): If this game was played at the end of last year, Baylor would have been favored by 48. Things change over the course of an offseason, and SMU will most certainly improve after it hit rock bottom last season. But Baylor won’t fall too far – despite losing Bryce Petty, the Bears return 17 starters. When I handicap this I get around 35 points. More importantly, there are a few main factors that I think will contribute to SMU running up the score:

  • QB competition – Seth Russell will definitely come out firing against SMU to try to solidify his spot. He will most likely be very successful against SMU. And if/when he leaves the game and Baylor puts in their backup, it will be Jarrett Stidham, who will also want to prove his worth at QB. Baylor often uses these games as an opportunity to test what their players can do. Expect them to continue passing even when ahead.
  • Fat guy touchdowns – LaQuan McGowan is a 410-lb monster who used to play on the offensive line. Now he is a tight end. This strategy will not work in real football games. But SMU, Lamar and Rice are going to have one heck of a time dealing with this guy. And reception is at least a few yards, and any double teaming leaves you shorthanded in the secondary–something you absolutely can’t have when defending Baylor.
  • Lack of home field advantage – When I went to the last TCU vs SMU game, it was 90% purple. Add in the fact that TCU did not have to actually travel (they’re in the same city, not sleeping in a hotel, etc) and SMU had literally no home field advantage. In fact, one could make the case that it’s a negative home field advantage when you see that your own fans are all gone and the opposing team’s fans are the only ones left in the stadium. That same thing is going to happen against Baylor. The #PonyUpTempo campaign may draw in a few hundred fans, but they will be outnumbered by the 20,000-30,000 Baylor fans at the game.
  • Speed – Have you noticed that Baylor seems to always cover against lesser teams? It’s because they create mismatches on offense. They seem to burn defenses either isolating on the edge on a vertical route, or a smash concept that matches a fast slot receiver against a safety trying to cover an open corner of the field.

Georgia Southern +31 at West Virginia (Double Bet)I have this line at 17, so I’ve got to take the 31. I have some worries about the young GSU secondary against West Virginia’s passing attack, and even though Matt Breida returns I worry about the turnover offensive line. Still, none of that is enough to justify 31 points. Not against a team that almost beat Georgia Tech, that beat Florida the year before, and has historically been able to maintain a very solid level of continuity. Georgia Southern’s style (run, run, run…surprise you with a pass) is often quite conducive to running out the clock, too. With fewer possessions than West Virginia is used to, it will make it very difficult for them to pile on too many points.

Akron +38 at OklahomaRemember McNeese State last year? It was the bad news bears of the FCS – a melting pot of many players who left top programs for a variety of reason, and banded together to almost beat Nebraska. They’ve taken in a ton of transfers this year, including:

Player Former Team Position
Se’Von Pittman Ohio State DT
Tommy Brown Ohio State OL
Joe McNamara Wisconsin OL
Larry Hope Miami S
Tra’Von Chapman Pitt QB
Darryl Monroe Washington State LB
Nordly Capi Colorado State DE

Add to this the fact that Akron has aggressive front seven to stop the run, and should be capable of preventing Samaje Perine from running all over them. I’ve got them as 34 point underdogs before accounting for all of these transfers – but after you factor in all of the new blood coming in, I’d put the line at 30 or lower.