I'm back with my head hanging in shame after an 0-5 week. And I hate to say it but these games I pick for you guys I also tend to bet on in real life, and so you can probably guess how the week went financially for me. What can I say? Gambling is a hobby that humbles the crap out of you sometimes and I got bit, plain and simple. I feel bad about it, sure, but really I just feel bad for you guys. What has your life become when you're reading a gambling column written by some clown who goes 0-5?
Anyway, if there's one thing I've learned while gambling over the years, it's to never put all your eggs in one basket, don't get too high when you win or too low when you lose. It's a season-long endeavor, never a one-week money grab. So what am I gonna do? I'm going right back to the big board to find some games I like, then I'm going to bet, watch football, eat, drink, and hopefully have a good time doing it.
Let's pick some games.
How FlaTerp fared (season record in parenthesis):
Maryland vs. spread: N/A (4-2)
Maryland straight up: N/A (5-1)
Overall vs. Spread: 0-5 (19-21-1)
How you all fared: Courtesy of StatJax
Time to pick some games, starting, of course, with Maryland.
Maryland (2-4, 0-2)
vs. Penn State (5-2, 1-2)
Line: Penn State opened as an 8-point favorite, which is probably about right, I guess, when you consider the way Maryland has played this season. It's since been moved down to 6.5, which is interesting and we'll talk about it below.
Trends: When this game opened at PSU -8, it generated a betting split pretty close to 50-50, which means the subsequent move down to 6.5 is the wiseguys asking for more people to bet Penn State. They got exactly what they wanted, because the split has moved from around 50-50 to around 70-30 in PSU's favor. It seems to me that Vegas has cast its lot with Maryland here, which is good news for Maryland fans, but before we get too excited I should say that even 6.5 is a pretty chunky line and so all Vegas is really saying is that they think this is going to be a close game. That's not a wild thing to bet on, since both teams are pretty freaking shaky on offense and aren't the blow-you-out type.
My pick: In the gambling world, Penn State seems to be a pretty polarizing team and as a result they've been in a lot of 80-20 splits and I've bet them several weeks this year, both for and against. The Nittany Lions are 3-4 vs. the spread, while Maryland is 2-4, having covered against USF and Ohio State. A 70-30 betting split is not typically imbalanced enough for me to bet, so I'm just going on hunch here moreso than my contrarian formula that has led me to the soaring sub-.500 heights I've hit this season thus far. It's really hard to measure Maryland right now because a midseason coaching change is such a jarring and wildcard type of thing. I think the players are probably pretty stoked that the wicked witch is finally dead, and I think they're probably going to be pretty motivated to play for Mike Locksley and turn this season's mission into forcing the administration's hand into removing his "interim" tag. Motivation alone is not enough though. You've got to also play winning football if you want to win, and Maryland hasn't done much of that this season. Penn State is winning ugly, but at least they're getting it done. All signs point to Maryland running more and taking less chances, while Penn State can't block for Hackenburg so they're not likely to do anything too wild either. I really like this game to stay within the 6.5 points. As for the win? I mean, who knows? I'm going to go the homer route, because f*** Penn State.
Pick vs. the spread: Maryland +6.5
Game pick: Maryland 24, Penn State 23
5 I like
@USC (+3.5) vs. Utah: Similar to the Terps' situation this week, USC plays a really big game with an interim coach. It seems to me that Sark probably doesn't have anyone crying for him in the Trojans' clubhouse, so they'll probably be pretty amped up to prove to the world that he, not the players, was the problem. 75% of the public is betting against USC dysfunction here, and betting on a really good Utah team. I'll play along with the wiseguys on the other side of conventional wisdom.
@OLE MISS (-5) vs. Texas A&M: TAMU's unbeaten run fell off the rails vs. hyper-talented Alabama, while Ole Miss beat the vaunted Tide but has now lost 2 of 3, pretty handily, to Florida and Memphis. The public loves the Aggies at an 80-20 ratio. But coming off a gut-punch loss and heading into Oxford to face a really talented team, I don't love the ground they're standing on.
AUBURN (+6.5) @Arkansas: I'm a little flummoxed by this line, and a lot flummoxed by the 73% of the public who likes Arkansas to beat Auburn by a touchdown or more. Auburn has underwhelmed, sure, but it's Arkansas. 2-4 Arkansas. Lost-to-Toledo-and-Texas-Tech Arkansas. The line's too big and the public is wrong on this one.
@GEORGIA TECH (+6.5) vs. Florida State: Only 19% of the public likes GT here, which is understandable on the surface, but look a little closer and you'll find that the last time FSU beat GT by a touchdown or more was 2002, and that was an 8-point win, not a blowout.
@RUTGERS (+21.5) vs. Ohio State: Widest gambling spread of the week has 91% of the public on the Buckeyes, and that's what typically happens with a national champion, a super bowl champion, etc. The public can't get enough of them against the spread and so you have to pay a premium to bet them. In this case, the premium is more than three TDs in a road game against a Rutgers team that isn't as bad as their negative headlines would make you think. They just played Sparty to a near-win, remember. Ohio State deserves their No. 1 ranking and they're definitely playing better of late, but Urban Meyer's boys are also 2-5 vs. the spread this year. I'm not laying all those points, thank you.