Football Betting Bliss or Miss: The Thrill of Victory, Agony of Defeat
by Josh Nagel - 10/07/2008
Sometimes, one team burns you so much that it just becomes personal. You start to conclude that they are covering so often specifically because you have a bet against them, and as one of its celebrating players wags his finger at the camera, you're convinced he is taunting you from inside the television screen.
You reach your breaking point and decide enough is enough … you WILL win money betting against this team no matter what it takes. With this insatiable appetite for revenge in mind, here is this week's Bliss or Miss, an intricate look at the ups and downs of betting on college football.
Bliss: Georgia Tech -13.5 vs. Duke. Final score: Georgia Tech 27, Duke 0.
You read that right, Duke, 0 … take that, Dukies! This was the one game that I had to have. The Blue Devils were starting to wreck a reliable old maxim that states "bet on Duke in hoops, bet against them in football," a simple formula that has for years produced a consistent winner. I was not about to believe that it was unprofitable to bet against Duke, even though I had losses betting Northwestern, Navy and Virginia against the Devils to prove otherwise.
This had to be the game where the anti-Duke bettors got their redemption. Under former Navy coach Paul Johnson, the Yellow Jackets have implemented just enough of his option offense to go along with their trademark sturdy defense, and entered the game undefeated against the spread. It was hard to imagine that the Devils could slow them down for the whole game.
Yes, former Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe deserves some kudos for turning around the Duke program in such short order but, really, how much can he do? It's one thing for coach K to pluck Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley and their future clones from the suburbs and put together a Final Four contender every year; in college basketball you only need a few good players to contend. But is it really possible for Cutcliffe to find 50-60 Duke-eligible footballers to legitimately compete in the ACC? Only time will tell, I suppose.
But this game was about this season, and getting a measure of redemption for taking an unnecessary financial beat down from the Dukies. What's more, the spread surprisingly moved from 14 to 13.5, indicating no shortage of interest from Duke bandwagon jumpers.
Hopeful that I would soon see score updates rapidly multiplying by seven in Georgia Tech's favor, I assumed it was a typo when the halftime score flashed 3-0 in the Jackets' favor. Then, it flashed again and a tinge of that sick feeling began creeping into my stomach and subconscious. No way Duke can hang for two halves, I reckoned. The Devils put up a fight in the first half, but they surely will wilt in the face of Tech's athletic superiority in the second. My personal pride depended on it; more important, my money depended on it.
Thankfully, the Jackets came through. The touchdowns started piling up, though at 20-0 the spread was still volatile to one Duke touchdown. That all changed when ESPN cut in for a highlight showing a Tech receiver breaking free of a hapless would-be tackler and racing for the spread-clinching touchdown at 27-0. This play was reminiscent of the Duke I remembered; the tacklers looked small, slower and just so Duke-like compared to their Georgia Tech opponents. For a moment at least, all was right again with the Duke football program.
Miss: Colorado +13.5 vs. Texas. Final score: Texas 42, Colorado 14.
It should first be noted that I bet on the one Big 12 chalk that did not cover last Saturday, that being Kansas, despite its miraculous second-half attempt to do so. While squads such as Missouri and Texas Tech were covering with delightful ease, I chose an underdog and was stuck with this turd.
As is often the case, I should have known better. Although coach Dan Hawkins' relishes the role of underdog--and his team did upset Oklahoma last year as a 27-point dog in Boulder--this was not an inspired performance. More than anything, the Buffaloes could not match the strength and speed of the Longhorns, and this is a fact that I readily ignored despite taking advantage of such knowledge the previous week.
The previous weekend, Colorado was a six-point dog at Florida State and there seemed to be some action on the Buffaloes. I reasoned that there was no way Colorado could handle the speed of Florida State's defense, and that the public would turn against the Seminoles because of their disastrous performance in a home loss to Wake Forest. While that one had the desired and predicted result, I dismissed all the evidence of a similar contest about to take place, simply getting caught up in the hoopla of taking two touchdowns on a home dog with upset potential.
Unfortunately, that potential does not mean a whole lot when the other team is a heck of a lot better. Although Hawkins is a good coach and his quarterback son Cody is a pretty talented and clever player, the program still is in the rebuilding stage and it will take a while before he can get the level of athlete needed to consistently compete against clubs like Texas. If only this logic had set in before kickoff.