College Football Is Back: A Weekend Betting Breakdown
College Football Is Back: A Weekend Betting Breakdown
The aftershocks from Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement can still be felt throughout the city of Indianapolis. Colts fans everywhere are left wondering what could have been. An AFC Championship? Perhaps a Lombardi Trophy? Now oddsmakers project the Boys in Blue to win just 7 games, a rather bleak outlook compared to a week ago. So what does it all mean?
The sports betting market is a lot like your ex-wife or husband. It overreacts on a regular basis and tries to take all of your money. Enter the Andrew Luck saga. The Colts were forecasted to win as many as 10 games this season at some sportsbooks, but now stare a not-so-lucky 7 square in the face. Losing a 4-time Pro-Bowler and last year’s Comeback Player of the Year isn’t cause for celebration, but the win total has now been lowered to an enticing level. A 6.5 win prediction would be ideal (a 6-win Colts team is hard to fathom even with Brissett under center), but the lesson here is when betting markets overcompensate, wagering opportunities arise.
The spread for Indy’s first regular season game in Los Angeles moved 3.5 points (to +7) in a very short amount of time, and there’s reason to believe that the initial spread of +3.5 had Luck’s uncertain status for Week 1 already factored in. We always want the numbers to work for us. There’s a substantial difference between betting on ‘Over 7 wins’ versus 6.5, and wagering on a +7 rather than a +7.5. Ties aren’t losses (you get your money back), but we need our likelihood of winning to be above average and worthwhile. The two betting lines I’ve mentioned, as they sit right now, offer a decent chance of tying (or “pushing”, in wagering terms), but any further movement towards 6.5 wins or a +7.5 spread and you should be ready to pounce.
Sobek’s Selections, Week 1: College football
Now for the good stuff! Labor Day weekend 2019 sees the Indiana Hoosiers, Ball State Cardinals, Purdue Boilermakers, and Notre Dame Fighting Irish all in action. Week 1 college football games have a reputation for being ugly; the team that makes fewer mental errors and limits turnovers is at a clear advantage. Therefore, I’m not a believer in using 20 different betting trends to assess early-season contests. Expect an uptick in statistics for future articles as we gain a better understanding of the college football landscape and learn more advanced wagering concepts.
My Notre Dame/Louisville pick will be released in Saturday’s bonus blog, as the game is slated for Monday night. All odds are provided by Fanduel Sportsbook.
Purdue @ Nevada (Friday, 8/30 @ 9:30pm, ET)
Have you heard of a guy named Rondale Moore? Yeah, me too. The super-sophomore has garnered tons of national attention during his short time in West Lafayette. Year 2 could really be something special. Moore will be the best player on the football field in every game Purdue plays this season. You’ll see him line up in the backfield, the slot, and if he could throw, I’m sure coach Jeff Brohm would stick him in at quarterback.
Purdue's Rondale Moore
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images
#4 will be the primary focus of a Wolf Pack defense that has question marks at the two safety spots. Yikes! Tackling in space will be essential for Nevada against the shifty Moore and company. Below is a brief rundown of the way this game plays out on paper.
Purdue: Rondale Moore; Jeff Brohm’s game planning ability, although he’s 0-2 in season openers
Nevada: Receivers (and height – Nevada’s top 4 targets average 6’4”); The offense’s air raid principles should give a shaky Purdue secondary all it can handle; Running back; Offensive tackle
Question marks --
Nevada: Freshman quarterback Carson Strong (He’s shown maturity in fall camp, but practice is only practice. Sorry to those of you hoping to watch Last Chance U’s Malik Henry.); Safety; Interior o-line
Purdue: Running back; Overall inexperience (with perhaps 7 freshman seeing action on offense); A bottom-10 pass defense a season ago
The amount of youth on both sides of the ball has to be a concern for the Boilermakers as they head out west. Purdue’s defense surrendered nearly 5,300 yards last year, good for 100th in the country (“good” is a relative term). The line started around -9.5 in favor of the Black and Gold and has ballooned out to -11. The numbers are great here; I’ll take the home dog to cover. And throw $10 on an outright win.
Bets: $30 on Nevada @ +11 (-110) to win $27.27
$10 on the Nevada moneyline @ +340 to win $34
Indiana vs. Ball State (Saturday, 8/31 @ 12:00n, ET)
It’s Big Ten bottom-dweller IU versus the Fighting Lettermans at Lucas Oil Stadium in the Ruoff Kickoff Classic. Talk about a mouthful. Ball State enters 2019 after another injury-plagued effort under head coach Mike Neu. The good news is, the Cards have depth and return a host of players at key positions. Seniors Riley Neal (QB, Vanderbilt) and James Gilbert (RB, Kansas State) transferred to Power 5 schools in the offseason; Drew Plitt is poised to take over as the signal caller, and the backfield will feature a speed/power/balance rotation of Malik Dunner, Caleb Huntley, and Will Jones.
There are two glaring questions that need answering:
1. Is Indiana’s Michael Penix, Jr. ready for the starting quarterback gig?
2. Can Ball State’s wide receivers get any kind of separation against the Hoosiers’ press man-coverage?
IU's Peyton Ramsey and Michael Penix, Jr.
Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images
We’ll find out if Tom Allen’s decision is the right one by halftime on Saturday. Peyton Ramsey will be ready and waiting. The answer to the second question is “don’t count on it”. Ball State hasn’t had a receiver capable of winning one-on-one coverage on a consistent basis since Jordan Williams back in 2015. Justin Hall presents an element of speed and explosiveness, but he’s often underutilized in the offensive scheme.
In full transparency, this game has little to do with what Indiana brings to the table. The Hoosiers are always prepared in the non-conference. Quality of competition aside, they haven’t lost a game outside of the Big 10 since 2016.
Ball State, believe it or not, is 9-3 against the spread in nonconference games since hiring Neu 3 years ago. The Cardinals have the talent to trade punches with the Hoosiers; it will all come down to execution and predictability. If BSU gets into the run-run-pass mode that has hampered them time and again, things will get out of hand. I’ll give the slight edge to a Ball State cover, but power ratings (which I will discuss more in depth in the weeks to come) have this game at around a 20-point differential. I would recommend you stay away from this one.
Bets: $5 on Ball State @ +17.5 (-105) to win $4.76
$5 on the Ball State moneyline @ +590 to win $29.50
*Wouldn’t hurt to parlay the Nevada and Ball State moneylines; $2 returns a cool $58.72
Track all of my picks throughout the season in Sobek's Selections.
“The greatest mistake is to continue to practice a mistake.” –Bobby Bowden
Title photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images