Football! This Weekend's Best Bets -- Crushing Las Vegas
Vegas is begging you to bet on a dog.
For years, the rule in Las Vegas (because that's the only place you can wager, online wagering does not exist...cough, cough) has been that squares (wagering parlance for "Joe Q. Betting Public") bet favorites and overs a vast majority of the time. And for years, a majority of the time, the underdogs and the unders are what hits, at least when it really matters.
When sharp bettors would try and point this out to the squares, the cliché became, "You don't build all of those sparkly buildings by following the public." Ultimately, despite decades of evidence to the contrary, the law of averages says it has to even out at some point, though. (Right?....um, RIGHT?)
I don't know that the bet-taking community will ever ultimately get squared up by the public, but if it is going to happen, 2011 thus far has been a decent start.
Up through last week, teams in the top ten in college football had been covering the spread at about an 80 percent clip, and looking dominant in doing so. In short, there's a reason that every time you click on Yahoo! Sports or ESPN there seems to be an article about how many undefeated teams we will wind up with -- it's because this season a) we have several undefeated teams (ten in all, and it's almost November) and b) most of them have not really been challenged. (Exceptions: Clemson has played a couple close games, Kansas State has lived on the edge all season, and Houston had a scare against Louisiana Tech.)
The trend only got stronger in Week 7, as the top ten (nine of whom were in action) were not only favored by an average of 22 points, but went 7-1-1 against the number and covered by an average of 8.3 points. So not only is Vegas scrambling to get its money back by daring you to take underdogs, but they're still off by over a touchdown!
And at this point, why would you back the underdogs? It's like backing my dad in a game of Madden against my 12-year-old son. My son will score every time, while my dad takes three hours to find the L1 and R1 buttons on the front of the controller.
To that end, with all top ten teams in action, Vegas has made all of them favorites and by an average of 23 points. In other words, once again they're daring you to take my dad in Madden against my son.
And while most of the time I'm up for a good dare, not when American currency is involved. So let's get you the best handful of heavy favorites for this week's Best Bets, with the caveat that if you just take all ten in the BCS Top Ten, you'll probably go 7-3 at worst.
Oklahoma State - 6 1/2 over MISSOURI At this point, we almost need to make a rule that if any of the top ten are favored by less than a touchdown, you MUST take them, especially a team like Oklahoma State who would probably be able to score a touchdown in the middle of one of those riots over in Egypt if they had to. So let it be decreed, we are riding with the Cowboys.
Wisconsin -7 over MICHIGAN STATE Check that, slight tweak -- we take any of the top ten if they are favored by a touchdown or less. Welcome to the party, Badgers!
BOISE STATE -31 over Air Force Check that, another slight tweak -- for Boise the same rule applies except instead of one touchdown the rule will be five touchdowns. Arkansas -15 over OLE MISS Ole Miss is 0-3 against the spread in the SEC so far this season, and 0-3 in real life as well. In Year 4 of the Houston Nutt Era, the Rebels have now crossed over to the part of a coach's career arc (Year 3 or later) when they are more likely to quit on their coach than rally around him. Arkansas, meanwhile, is laying in wait hoping that LSU beats Alabama so they have a shot to work their way back into the SEC West race. WHOA PIG SOOEY!!
Oregon -30 1/2 over COLORADO I don't know who is starting at quarterback or tailback for the Ducks, and I don't care. We are riding this Top Ten wave mercilessly until the bookies scream uncle while laying in a pool of their own blood. (You can see I've bet LOTS of favorites and overs in my day. The only way I could be more square is if I had four equal sides.)
Packers -9 over VIKINGS In the spirit of "fire on heavy favorite week," we will take the Packers against a rookie quarterback (Christian Ponder) making his first start. The Packers are a Cam Newton backdoor cover in Week 2 from being 6-0 against the spread. This sounds weird to say, but in terms of being "automatic," the Packers are the closest thing to a top ten college team we have in the NFL.
And oddly enough, that's the highest compliment I could pay an NFL team.
Last week: 4-2 Season Record: 23-19
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio and 1560 The Game weekdays noon to 3 p.m., and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.