Note: I use this column to examine the college football landscape and the weekend ahead. The use of gambling numbers helps to show the public perception of a team and of their respective conferences. Even if you don't gamble, or are against gambling, this is worth a read solely because it will keep you informed of the happenings with many of college football's teams. Think of this as your weekend primer!
Welcome to another edition of For Entertainment Purposes Only! Last year, this rather informal column went 251-190 (57%) +41.0 That's 251 wins and 190 losses for a winning percentage of 57%. If you were wagering $100 fake dollars per game, you would have netted $4100 at season's end. But since these are fake wagers, I refer to our wager amount as "units." First though, a disclaimer:
I want to emphasize that I don't endorse gambling, and anything on here is for entertainment purposes only. Always check with your local, state, or federal laws to determine the legality of wagering.
First I discussed some wagers for conference and division winners. Then I went over season win totals. Vegas set the number, I called it over or under! In Week 1 I went 20-24 (45%), -6.3 Units. Week 2 I went 42-25 (63%), +16.32 Units. Week 3 was 34-27. +4.50 (+5.7 College, -1.2 NFL). Week 4 was 50-34, +13.62 Week 5 I went 50-33 (60%) for +17.48 Units (25-31, -4.42 College, and 24-2, +21.9 Units in the NFL). Week 6 I went 27-21 (56%) +4.23 , Week 7 I went 39-38 (51%), -1.35. Week 8, I got crushed, going 46-60, -19.25. Week 9 went 37-28, +7.9 Last week I went 35-31, +1.45 Units. For the season, I sit at 380-320, +38.60. If I finish at 55% over 500 selections, I'll be absolutely elated. I like to play a lot of games to grind out the variance. The swings over 500 games aren't nearly as dramatic as they are over 100. It's as simple as grinding out the sample set. Keep in mind that I have hit some ML Dogs, so the ROI is higher than the percentage would indicate (currently, return on investment is exactly 5.0%).
This week, I'll discuss which games I bet on Sunday night when the opening lines come out, and which games I decided to wait out in pursuit of a more favorable line. But this week also features something special- a breakdown of FSU's bowl chances.
Alright, so the question is, will Florida State make a bowl game? A team must have 6 wins to reach a bowl game and only one of those wins can come against Division 1AA program. FSU sits at 4-5 and they already have their 1AA win (Jax State). That means they need two more. Will they get them?
The remaining games are this weekend at Wake Forest, next weekend hosting Maryland, and the following weekend against Florida in the Swamp. Are there two wins there for the 'Noles?
To answer that question, let's turn to one of my favorite pieces I have ever authored: Using Proportional Win Shares to Craft Realistic Projections. It was a piece over the summer and chances are you have not read it. So if you would, check that out and then click back. This will make a lot more sense if you read it.
As the article tells us, we need to determine the point spreads for the games before we can convert them into a winning percentage or a proportional win share.
The line for Wake Forest is already out. The Deacons are favored over the 'Noles by 4.5 points. We know that by converting it (remember the linked article), that FSU will win this game about 35% of the time. Not to be crass, but please don't turn this article into a debate over the chance to win any individual game. We're using the Vegas spread, which is incredibly accurate. And yes, the line obviously factors Christian Ponder's absence into the equation.
So how about Maryland and UF? Let's do UF first because we have available data on them. The line for the UF-FSU game is UF by 24 (and yes, you should absolutely bet UF right now because it will likely be much higher by game time. Similar lines this week include Indiana @ Pittsburgh, and Texas @ Baylor. (Thanks Coach Bowden, your selfishness and senility has us as a similar underdog as Indiana or Penn State). But what does that imply for a chance to win? You might be surprised, but that gives FSU about a 7% chance to beat UF in the swamp. Now, that still means that the 'Nole's will get blown out more than half the time, but there is a 7% chance and for accounting purposes, we cannot ignore that chance.
Which brings us to the Maryland game, the only remaining contest without an available line. Maryland is a bad team. Their offense is a significant step below FSU's even without Ponder, their defense isn't a lot better and their special teams are horrid. And the game is in DSC Stadium. But we don't know if the team will have quit (if they lose to Wake, I'd expect an underwhelming senior day). They were 7.5 point underdogs to NC State last weekend at NCST and now they are 17.5 point home underdogs to Virginia Tech. I expect FSU to be a touchdown favorite, which means they will be about 70% likely to win.
So we have 35%, 70%, and 7%. Together, that's 112% (or 1.12) So FSU is projected to win 1.12 remaining games. Obviously, we can't win 1.12 games. So let's look at the individual possibilities:
- Beat Wake, Beat Maryland, Beat Florida: 1.7%
- Beat Wake, Beat Maryland, Lose Florida: 23%
- Beat Wake, Lose Maryland, Beat Florida: 1%
- Lose Wake, Beat Maryland, Beat Florida: 3%
Any other combination means FSU doesn't go to a bowl game. So the 'Noles have a 29% chance of making a bowl game. That's not something I would bank on, and as you can see, they really must beat Wake & Maryland to have any realistic shot at making a bowl.
Does FSU really want to make a bowl game? Personally, I don't give a damn about bowl games. I want to compete for championships. Caring about silly stuff like wins records and bowl streaks got FSU to where it currently is. Rooting for your team to miss a bowl game can be seeing the forest from the trees.
On to this Week's picks...
I have bad reads on this week, but on Sunday night, I hit:
Bowling Green -3 I accidentally bet this and will have to eat it. Miami(OH) is a better team.
Louisville -6.5 This is now 7 or 8 everywhere and I can't believe they released it at 6.5, 'Cuse is a bad team
Indiana +21.5 This was a miss by me as Penn State had lots of backers
Wake Forest -3.5 Hit this before the Ponder announcement ;)
Clemson -6 I plan to middle, but Clemson should be favored by more from the onset.
Kentucky -3.5 Don't really like this one anymore.
Ole Miss -3 The Tennessee love fest is a bit much, don't you think?
UAB -1.5 I don't like this anymore, as nobody is backing Memphis. I might get off it.
Boise -28 This was great. Line is now over 30.
Stanford +12 Good hit, Stanford still struggles for respect.
UNC +4 Miami could go down this weekend. That team just doesn't like those late season colder games.
Arkansas -14 This one scares me, I am probably underrating Troy.
And here is what I added yesterday
Ball State +17.5 I've done well on/ against N. Illinois, and I think they are probably inflated by TD.
Miami (OH) +3.5 -105 I made up for the mistake wager and can't lose both.
Toledo +17.5 +100... ouch, already a loss, they got killed last night.
USF -1 +103 Rutgers never turned it on this year. USF is well rested and their DLine balls out here.
Akron +4.5 +105 Never thought I'd see the day where Temple is a public favorite!
Cinci -9 WVU isn't well coached and Cinci won't hesitate to run it up.
UVA +4.5 -105 Boston College isn't much of a road team.
Illinois -4 Northwestern is now only catching 4 just because they beat Iowa? Come on.
FSU Over 57 The defense should give up 40 by itself...
Wisconsin -9.5 +105 Michigan might be falling apart
Purdue +3 Loved Purdue all year
Baylor +24 Texas isn't elite.
Va Tech -17 Look for VTech to win by 24... or lose outright.
EMU +12 +100 I've gone against them L2W, but this week they are the play. Directional Michigan laying DD's? Please.
New Mexico +27 Fading BYU again.
SMU -7 UTEP is living off their Houston win, June Jones can coach.
Pitt -7 Notre Dame is almost always inflated. Pitt has a QB and a decent defense.
Arizona +2 Cal w/.o best? I'll play Zona, which is a team I really like.
Arizona State +17.5 +100 Hmm..Oregon can't stop anybody but they sure can score.
Missouri PK -105 I don't really like KSU.
Rice -2.5 Rice is the truth! Battle of country's 2 worst teams (w/ Tulane)
UCF +5 +100
WKU +21.5 Thought I swore off the sunbelt, guess now.
More NFL to come later.