Looking Back at the Week in College Football Betting
by Trevor Whenham - 10/8/2012
Each Monday we look back at the highs and lows of the college football weekend from a betting perspective. What makes betting on the sport so great and so tough at the same time is that it is so unpredictable. Anything can and usually does happen, and that can lead to intense joy or crushing frustration depending on the side you were on. This week was no exception:
If you were on the wrong side of any of these four games at the end then it probably took more than a minute or two — or a beer or two — for the pain to ease:
USC 38, Utah 28
After a rough early start the Trojans kicked it into gear and were totally dominating in this one late. They were favored by 14 and were up by 17 with nine minutes left after returning an interception for a touchdown. Unfortunately, they chose to take the rest of the game off. They knew they weren’t threatened, so they rested players and looked towards their next game. Obviously they hadn’t bet on themselves. The Utes worked their way down the field and scored a meaningless touchdown with just 38 seconds remaining to cover the spread.
Toledo 50, Central Michigan 35
Central Michigan was an 11.5-point underdog in this one. After scoring a touchdown with three minutes left to make the score 40-35, it seemed like they were going to steal a nice cover for their backers. Toledo threatened, but the Green Wave were ultimately held to a field goal. Then, with less than a minute left, Toledo was up by eight and a cover for Central Michigan bettors seemed to be in the bag. The Chippewas couldn’t resist a chance to get a TD with a two-point conversion to tie it up, though. That led to a risky pass, and a interception returned for a touchdown. Toledo won by 15, stole the cover, and made grown men who had bet on Central Michigan weep.
Idaho 26, New Mexico State 18
This is one of those games that was only watched by two groups of people — the family members of the players, and the degenerate bettors who had bet on it. Beyond that this wasn’t exactly must-see TV. Idaho was favored by 8.5, and they had a comfortable 16-point lead deep into the fourth quarter. Inside of two minutes left the Aggies scored a touchdown. No problem for Idaho backers — a converted touchdown would still leave the Aggies down by nine, and Idaho would still cover. Despite having an offense that barely breaks into the Top 100, though, the team gambled with a two-point conversion to maintain a tiny chance at tying the game up and winning in overtime. Miraculously, they got the two points, and wound up covering the spread by a mere half a point.
Louisiana Tech 58, UNLV 31
The newly-ranked Bulldogs and their potent offense were putting on another clinic at home against UNLV on the weekend. Favored by 27, they were up by 34 after scoring inside of three minutes of the last quarter. Understandably, they focused more on celebrating than playing defense on the final possession, and the inept UNLV offense was able to march down the field and score a quick touchdown to make the game a push. This robbed Louisiana Tech backers of a hard-earned win.
Worst game ever
BYU 6, Utah State 3
The line was set at 6.5 here, but that might as well have been the total in this dog of a game. Worse yet, BYU’s points came from a TD with an ugly missed conversion kick, and all the scoring was done by halftime. I’m sure worse games have been played, but I hope I never have to watch one.
Oddsmakers are typically very good at their jobs. Sometimes, though, even the best blow their read on a game. two stand out this week:
Cal 43, UCLA 17
UCLA’s season had started with such promise, and Cal has not looked particularly good. Therefore, you can’t blame oddsmakers for making UCLA a 2.5-point road favorite. What you can blame the Bruins for, though, is forgetting to show up for the game. They were blown out and they humiliated themselves. They were a strong 4-1 ATS heading into this one, and Cal had lost four of five and looked lost. This result was all but impossible to see coming.
Duke 42, Virginia 17
Duke has been so lousy for so long that it makes sense to remain skeptical about the Blue Devils despite their solid 4-1 start. They were at home here, yet Virginia was installed as a small one-point favorite. That line looked justified as Virginia went into the half with a 17-14 lead. Virginia never scored again, though, and Duke scored four touchdowns to turn a tight game into a farce and cover the spread by a mere 26 points.
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