by Chris, the Impaler - 09/14/2005
A handicapper is only as good as their last pick and a gambler is only as good as the last game they bet. Both 'cappers and gamblers share in the immutable fact that a play is only as good as the number you get. Successful handicappers and bettors bet good numbers and avoid bad ones.
Last Saturday North Texas was installed as a 5-point underdog on the road at MTSU. However, those +5 points were bet down to four so if you missed the five points you were not getting the best number you could (unless you bought the point) get on the game therefore grabbing four points (and considering other key factors in our analysis) was in our estimation a bad number.
Likewise, for the EMU-ULL tilt, the game opened up -5 for the Eagles and steamed to -7. Again we grabbed the seven points since laying the number looked like a possible win or a push. In fact it turned out it was another bad number got covered. These are the exceptions that prove the rule. Last week we went against two teams with bad numbers that both originated at 5 and then went in opposite directions. We thought the line had moved in our direction but it did not and leaves us an unpalatable 0-2 hole after one week playing in the NCAA.
While we lost on both plays last weekend (in no small part to a tremendous amount of turnovers by both teams) we stand by our handicapping and believe that both those games were victimized by the 'intangibles' that every handicapper and bettor knows can happen. As an old bookie once told me, "Chris, you always talk about your losses first. You don't learn anything from a win."
Then thank god we're learning something cause I'd hate a 0-2 record to go to waste.
Last Week Value Bets Recrap (0-2)
An E-mailer asked me last week where the value is in betting on two losing picks? My response was that they were winning picks that happened to lose. Inherent in recrapping a losing week is the fact that no matter how it is done, the loser (me) often sounds whinny and pathetic. However, nothing burns our collective handicapping ass than losing games against the spread that we should not have lost. Without making any excuses let's go beyond the scoreboard and find out how we lost and why.
Looking at our first game, we correctly identified the weaknesses in North Texas and their red-shirt freshman QB Daniel Meager as well as the inexperience on the DL. Indeed, Meager was, eh-hem, meager as he ended the game 10-15 for 122 yards. MTSU held Mean Green to only 274 yards on total offense, of which a small majority, 152 yards were on the ground. Not exactly the dominating run game we have grown accustomed to from North Texas. On the flip side, the Blue Raiders came out and dominated on offense from a yardage perspective as they got 383 yards in total offense and a TD. We mentioned that the unseasoned DL would have difficulty stopping the Blue Raiders-which they did. However, the differences in this game were five critical turnovers by the Blue Raiders of which three were interceptions. As if turnovers weren't bad enough, Maurice Holman intercepted a pass at the North Texas 1 yard line and returned it 99 yards for a TD! The bad luck continued as game breaking WR Chris Henry (60 catches last year) broke his leg in the fourth quarter. North Texas ultimately won the contest 14-7 (after being shut-out in the first half). The final score could have easily been 14-7 in favor of the Blue Raiders and an easy cover-but that is what happens when you bet on college football. Simply stated, if you backed North Texas last week you were lucky to win your wager. Period.
In our second play of the weekend we advised a play on the Ragin' Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette grabbing seven points on the road at Eastern Michigan Eagles. While the Eagles had an easy win on paper, the fact they held the Cajuns to only 10 points was the first time the Eagles had held an opponent to 10 points since 1998! Looking at the Cajuns we figured the game as a high scoring affair with little or no defense. Again the Cajuns killed us on turnovers. ULL recorded 410 yards of total offense (182 rushing, 228 passing), but lost four fumbles! If you managed to tune in the game you saw the Cajuns only scored two times out of four trips inside the twenty. Regarding the Eagles we anticipated the stellar play of senior QB Matt Bohnart was impressive with two passing and two rushing TDs. In the win, Bohnart's stats were 26-of-36 passing for 263 yards. Bohnart also rushed for 85 yards. Costly turnovers and the inability to score once inside the red zone as well as EMU defense playing better than they have in seven years all accounted for our second loss last weekend.
As we continue this season we are reminded that gambling is a marathon and not a sprint. This week we've rooted out two more fugly games for our weekend's college sports investment.
Baylor Bears (-5.5) at ARMY (o/u 54)
Baylor opened at four points and was bet up to 5.5 quicker than you can say Oscar Robinson. The total has dropped from 55 to 54. Bettors looking for value on the money line can get +180 backing the Black Knights while you'll be laying a bit more than 2/1 backing the Bears.
How much should you read into Baylor's road win at SMU since last week SMU defeated TCU? Probably not too much as TCU's loss was no doubt caused in part by a Sooner hangover. But still, with a win at West Point, the Bears could go 3-0 for the first time since 1996. Army-Baylor is hardly a college football tradition for most of the country, but the two times in their history that these teams played one another (as if that has any damn bearing on the game played on Saturday) Baylor has won both contests. In fact the last time these two teams met at West Point in 1979 the Bears won 55-0.
Army moved to the Independents over the winter, which provided the Black Knights an immediate benefit of playing a lighter schedule than they have had in years past. This is HC Bobby Ross' second year at Army and the Black Knights have seasoned QB Zac Dahman and Carlton Jones running the ball effectively. While the Black Knights only won two games last year the move to the Independents could actually mean that Army doubles last year's win total, but they'll have to play better (and tackle better) than they did at BC. Until that happens Army might have a hard time winning any games this year.
The Baylor Bears have had a hard time as a member of the Big 12. They were out gained by 232 ypg in Big 12 play in 2003 and managed to cut that number to 142.1 ypg in 2004. Credit goes to HC Guy Morriss who brings a talented team who have only gotten better over recent years. That might not be a huge compliment considering that in conference play the Bears are 6-66 SU since joining the Big 12. However, this is a favorable out of conference match for the Bears and they should easily cover the number this week.
Gamblers betting on this game should note that the Bears are 8-2 ATS before a bye week while the Black Knights are 6-12-1 against the spread in their last 20 games at home. Finally, double check the weather charts on Saturday before you bet this game.
PICK: Baylor -5.5 for $330
Wyoming (+3) at AIR FORCE (54.5 o/u)
Game 163/164 on your card had the Air Force Academy as 2-point home favorites with the total set at 52.5. Air Force has since risen to a 3-point 'chalk' with the total soaring to 54.5 as gamblers anticipate a high scoring affair. Those looking for value added to the line can back the Cowboys at +125 or lay -145 to back the Falcons in Fort Collins. Falcon's QB Shaun Carney has Air Force fans believing they can win the Mountain West this year. But they'll need their other players to step up to the challenge if they hope to make that a reality. Coming off their first losing season in years, the one positive for the Falcons is that last year's squad scored at least 20+ points in all but one game (California) and protecting Carney this year is Air Force's best OL in recent memory.
The Falcons HC Fisher DeBerry has had only two losing seasons in 21 years! Following the losing year his teams have gone on to win eight games. Of last year's squad that went 5-6 SU (3-4 MWC) and 5-5 ATS, DeBerry lost only 17 lettermen, which is most likely one reason why the Falcons have overcome double-digit deficits in both of their wins this season. But how long can you spot a team 10+ points and keep winning? Saturday's game should be an excellent Mountain West match-up between two teams with a legitimate shot of winning the MWC title. Air Force is undefeated this year-but barely. They beat the Washington Huskies 20-17 in Seattle and won at home last weekend against the Aztecs of San Diego State 41-29. The Falcons rode their running backs most of the day, running the ball a total of 67 times for 272 yards! Kendrick finished the game with 128 yards on 26 attempts and four TDs earning him Offensive Player of the Week in the Mountain West.
The Cowboys quietly had a great year last year notching a money earning 8-3 record ATS and a 7-5 SU record and a Bowl Bid. This year Wyoming returns 17 starters - the most in the Mountain West. QB Bramlet is on pace to score a few TDs per game through the air and build on last year's offense that averaged 26.5 points per game. This year the Cowboys hope to rely more upon play-action. Last week Seldon rushed for 121 yards against UL-Monroe so you can take that in the spirit as it was given. The shut-out gives Wyoming a skewed points against defensive ranking, however, the Cowboys held Urban Meyer's Gators powerful attack to only 32 points at the Swamp. The Cowboys currently have the top rushing defense in the Mountain West, allowing only 92.5 ypg on the ground, and with the pass defense permitting 223 ypg, the unit as a whole ranks third in the league in total defense, giving up 315.5 ypg. If you are laying your hard-earned cash on this play you should know that in this series the home team is only 2-5 against the spread in the last seven games. Air Force sports an 8-5 SU record over the last 13 games against Wyoming; however, the Falcons are only 6-7 against the spread versus Wyoming. Last year, Wyoming was the home favorite and easily covered the two-point spread winning 43-26.
PICK: Wyoming +3 for $330
Let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org