It's back! College football season is here, and that means gambling season is here (where legal)! Once again, we have the wonderful opportunity to put our hard earned (hypothetical) money into the care of wildly unpredictable 18-22 year olds. And coaches who routinely have no idea when they should go for two.
Rather than the irreverent slate of picks, this season we're going to take a more sober, real world approach by managing a phony bankroll throughout the season. We'll start off with 10,000 GAMBLIN' BUCKS, HOLLA!, or GBHs for short, and each bet will be sized and wagered from that hypothetical pool of funds.
A serious word on bet size: Most gamblers... ahem... sports investors make the mistake of placing bets that are far too large relative to the size of their bankroll. A good sized bet should be only about 1% of your available funds, and a max bet really shouldn't be more than 3%. You can't guarantee a winning season in September, but you can certainly guarantee a losing one.
We'll source all lines from VegasInsider. VI is an solid resource, showing spreads and totals being dealt at major Vegas books as well as offshore outlets. Additionally, you can see historical line movements on each game and drill down to see how teams have performed year to date. Bookmark it and visit as needed. Another must bookmark? The TV schedule at LSUFootball.net.
Week one is perhaps the toughest gambling week of the season. You can study Phil Steele and the amazing SBNation Previews and read local practice reports - Every freshman is ahead of the curve! The new schemes are amazing! - but until you see teams in live game action, it's impossible to get a sense of who and what they are. (Except for LSU. We'll know they'll have a ferocious defense and inexplicably bumbling offense. LSU fans reading this are nodding in agreement.)
With that in mind, we'll be keeping bets small,. placing mostly "interest bets" this week. Those are bets that'll keep your attention on the game and compel you to study the result after the fact as we begin to form opinions.
On to the action!
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Thursday game wagers were posted before this article was published)
Current bankroll: 10,000 GBHs.
THE GAME: UNC at Sakerlina
It's the contest that kicks off the college football season on ESPN. And between the Clowney for Heisman hype and SEC dominance in out-of-conference contests, the public loves the Cocks. Public money has poured in on USCe and the offshore outlets that mainly deal with Joe Sixpack have moved their lines as high as USCe -13. But Larry Fedora is in year two in Chapel Hill and has good things brewing. We'll make a contrarian play here.
THE BET: UNC +12 (55 GBHs to win 50)
THE GAME: Ole Miss at Vanderbilt
The second headlining game on opening night is an all SEC contest. This line has experienced significant movement, with Vandy going from being a slight favorite to a home underdog. And for good reason. Everyone loves what Hugh Freeze is doing in Oxford, and Vandy's offseason has been marred by off the field legal entanglements, to put it lightly. With the 'Dores underpowered offense, it's hard to see how they keep up with a more polished Bo Wallace and company.
THE BET: Ole Miss -3.5 (55 GBHs to win 50)
THE GAME: Texas Tech at SMU
A Friday night affair has Kliff Kingsbury making his debut as the prodigal son returning to helm his alma mater, bringing V-neck swag to the plains and getting things turnt up. Meanwhile, June Jones finds himself without Zach Line and Margus Hunt, but with Garrett Gilbert at quarterback. Despite being played at Ford Field, this game will have a neutral site feel. Kliff notches a solid win in his first outing. Go Big XII!
THE BET: Texas Tech -5 (55 GBHs to win 50)
THE GAME: Alabama vs. Virginia Tech
Nick Saban's dynastic Tide against Frank Beamer and a Hokie program that seems to be on the decline. Everyone knows what Bama is bringing to the table, and VT will be lucky to get two legitimate offensive scores. The sense is that if Nick wants to cover, he'll cover. I think he does.
THE BET: Bama -20 (55 GBHs to win 50)
THE GAME: Clemson vs. Georgia
The setup is simple: Georgia brings back their entire offense and none of their defense. Clemson brings back Heisman candidate Tajh Boyd and a dynamic offensive scheme coordinated by Texas Aggie Chad Morris. When we last saw Clemson, they were executing a comeback win against LSU - arguably the best defense in college football - in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Clemson will undoubtedly Clemson this year, but it won't be in week one. The green Bulldog defense just can't get the job done.
THE BET: Clemson +2 (55 GBHs to win 50)
THE GAME: LSU vs. TCU
TCU is a nice program and Gary Patterson is, next to Chris Petersen, the king of getting the most out of his talent. But they simply don't have the athletes to keep up with LSU for four quarters. Not much else to say.
THE BET: LSU -4.5 (55 GBHs to win 50)
Ohio State -34.5 (33 GBHs to win 30) Urban Meyer is a jerk, but he's a jerk with an outstanding ATS record, especially against cupcakes.
Rice at A&M O66.5 (33 GBHs to win 30) Once JFF hits the field, the accelerator stays glued to the floor until the clock hits zeroes. Oh, and Rice's fiesty offense gets some scores.
Have questions? Looking for more information? Fire away in the comments section.