We've crossed the desert of the offseason, friends. It's a journey that always ends with the nadir of every degenerate's annual calendar, wagering on the Little League World Series. Let's take a shower to wash off that shame and join the excitement of risking money on the mercurial actions of 18-22 year old* American males.
(*Or 25 year olds with magic underwear, in the case of BYU)
Here's how it works. As gambling on college football is illegal in the US outside the state of Nevada, and using US Currency would therefore appear unseemly, we'll be starting out with 10,000 GBHs. Which as everyone knows are "Gamblin' Bucks Holla!" Each week we'll pick about five games as main plays and a smaller number of games with smaller plays as bonus bets.
Because we're responsible, we'll size our bets conservatively, typically risking 1% of our bankroll on any one bet and no more than 3%. In all seriousness, bet sizing and bankroll management is one of the biggest mistakes made by most bettors. Everyone encounters cold streaks, but it's the ability to ride those out and not get on tilt that keeps one's bankroll healthy. This sound approach led us to a profitable 2013 campaign.
Without further ado, let's take a look at a few games that caught my eye as we embark on what's sure to be a fun 2014 season. Our bets will be a bit smaller this week given the unknowns of season openers.
CURRENT BANKROLL: 10,000 GBHs.
THE WEEKLY CARD
THE GAME: Texas A&M +10.5 at South Carolina
Let's get things started with the first big game of the season. Our very own Texas Aggies go on the road to face Steve Spurrier's Cocks, riding high with a lofty Top 10 ranking. The last impression folks have of A&M is a team with horrid defense and a magical Johnny Manziel under center. But USCe is not without questions of their own, replacing the top NFL draft pick, their starting QB, and most of their secondary. A&M will be able to move the ball and score, which makes a double digit spread too many points for a season opener.
THE BET: Texas A&M +10.5, risking 77 GBHs to win 70
THE GAME: Penn State +1 vs UCF
Top 'o the mornin' to ya! Start your Saturday college football feast bright and early with this neutral site affair from Ireland. The perception is that UCF will regress without Blake Bortles. Resume embellishments aside, George O'Leary is a quality coach that's built a solid program in a talent rich state. The depth and stability is there. Meanwhile, new coach James Franklin helms a still-depleted Penn State program that features... um... Christian Hackenburg and not much else. The betting public likes the Nittany Lions while the line has moved in favor of UCF. That's our cue for a contrarian play.
THE BET: UCF -1, risking 77 GBHs to win 70
THE GAME: Ohio State -16.5 vs Navy
There's a saying among degenerates: A good coach wins. A great coach covers. Urban Meyer is a great coach, with a lifetime record against the spread of over 60%. This line hovered at around 17 points before the news of Braxton Miller's season ending injury broke, driving it down under 12. That's when gamblers realized "Oh yea, Ohio State is still more talented than Navy at 20+ positions on the field..." and the number quickly rebounded to more than two touchdowns. With plenty of time to prepare for Navy's option attack and Urban on the sidelines, take the Buckeyes.
THE BET: Ohio State -16.5, risking 77 GBHs to win 70
THE GAME: Cal +11 at Northwestern
Nerds playing football! Northwestern had a tumultuous offseason, losing playmaker Venric Mark. Meanwhile, Cal spent the offseason licking their wounds from a rough debut year for Head Coach Spike Dykes. The public remembers an awful Cal team badly beaten up in the rough Pac-12 north and is accordingly backing the Wildcats. We'll take a different view. Look for a Cal team to improve significantly in Dykes' second year and hang close with a Northwestern group that simply isn't as talented or athletic as their counterparts from Berkeley. Once again, the double digit number is too many points.
THE BET: Cal +11, risking 77 GBHs to win 70
THE GAME: UTSA +11.5 at Houston
Larry Coker's Roadrunners quietly strung together five wins to close 2013, including a decisive win over Tulsa and quality win over what would be a nine win North Texas team. Houston opens their shiny new stadium with talented QB John O'Korn returning. Naturally the public favors Houston in this spot, especially given last season's 31 point win for the Cougars. But once again the line has trended the other way. It feels like a broken record. Another week one game that will be decided by single digits, not 10+.
THE BET: UTSA +11.5, risking 77 GBHs to win 70
Baylor and SMU OVER 73.5 (risking 33 GBHs to win 30) Anyone think Briles is stopping before the scoreboard hits 60? Or that June Jones is gonna slow it down and grind it out? Yea, me neither.
Teaser: Georgia -1.5 vs. Clemson & LSU +1 vs. Wisconsin (risking 33 GBHs to win 30) Let's be S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C! homers, joining these games in a teaser that buys the UGA line down to 1.5 from 7.5, and LSU from -5 to +1. Pull for our conference-mates to get big non-conference wins.
Washington -16.5 at Hawaii (risking 33 GBHs to win 30) Cap off the opening Saturday of the season by watching windswept garbage on the turf in Oahu. And by windswept garbage, I mean the Hawaii football team.
Good luck to all and let's enjoy the weekend's action!