Monday, July 1, 2013

Let's Bet on College Football!!!!

Are you really betting on this dude to win the Heisman again?

By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

I know I can't be the only person out there starving for football. I mean, seriously, I actually spent some of my Saturday watching the the Saskatchewan Rough Riders and Edmonton Eskimos play a first half that ended 22-1.

One point! In football!

The only reason I was even watching the game was because one of my all-time favorite Boilers Kory Sheets was Saskatchewan's starting running back, but watching him just made me yearn for college football season. Luckily, Las Vegas had my back, coming out with future odds on who will win the BCS National Championship and Heisman Trophy, plus over/unders for each FBS squad.

Now, I'm not a betting man, but here are the wagers that caught my eye.

Bet The Third-Tier Quarterbacks to Win the Heisman

With 3/1 odds, reigning Heisman winner/Scooby-Doo enthusiast Johnny Manziel is Vegas' favorite to again win the award in 2013. Ohio State's Braxton Miller follows him at 6/1, and South Carolina defensive end/apex predator Jadeveon Clowney checks in at third with 10/1 odds.

Look, I think Clowney will be the best player in college football next season, but there's just no way he wins the Heisman. An exclusively defensive player has never one the award. For Clowney to become the first, he would probably need to break the single-season sack record (24 by Terrell Suggs in 2002) and South Carolina would need to make an undefeated run through the SEC.

With teams doubling him all year, and Steve Spurrier muttering around on the sideline, I don't see either one of those things happening.

Then you have to realize that, since 2000, the award has gone to 11 quarterbacks and two running backs (One was Reggie Bush who had to vacate the award). So, basically, this is a mostly quarterback occasionally running back thing. So get rid of USC receiver Marqise Lee at 12/1. Heck, I'll even get rid of explosive Oregon running back DeAnthony Thomas at 12/1 as well.

So, what we're left with are a bunch of quarterbacks, but which bets have the best value? I don't like 3/1 odds for a sophomore that's had an eventful off-season. Plus, remember what happened when Tim Tebow was supposed to cruise to a second consecutive Heisman? I thought so. Then you have Braxton Miller. As a dual-threat quarterback for a national contender, Miller has all the right circumstances to win the award, but he just isn't that good.

No seriously, go look at his numbers from last year. He threw for just over 2,000 yards and 15 TDs in one of the worst Big Ten conferences ever. Yeah, he can run decently well, (1,271 yards), but he still has less than 3,500 yards of total offense and 30 total TDs. You're not winning the Heisman with those numbers.

Then we have Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron at 10/1. He's a two-time national champion, but also a perceived caretaker of the physical Crimson Tide offense. If the voters wanted to give him the award, they would have done it already. Aaron Murray from Georgia checks in at 10/1 as well, but I just have zero faith that he won't blow a game and cost Mark Richt his job this year.

That brings us to the valuable third tier, where we have guys like Tajh Boyd and Marcus Mariota at 12/1, Teddy Bridgewater at 15/1, and Kevin Hogan and Blake Bell at 20/1. Boyd has, in my opinion, as good a shot as anybody to win this thing, and a better shot than guys like Murray or Miller because he already puts up huge numbers and plays an easier schedule. As for Mariota, if the Ducks make another run to the tittle game, it's hard to not see him winning the Heisman.

Bridgewater is a bit of a stretch, but Louisville's schedule should be user-friendly enough for him to put up huge numbers, and the national hype he gained from picking apart Florida in last year's Sugar Bowl will have him on some voters' radar. Hogan and Bell are long shots (And I didn't even count NIU's Jordan Lynch at 20/1) but I would never bet against a kind-of-crappy Oklahoma quarterback coming out of nowhere to win the award due to inflated statistics(Jason White anyone?), or a guy that has a chance to lead a non-traditional power like Stanford to a title game.

Bet the Under on the Whole Big Ten

Here are your Big Ten over/under win totals for 2013: Remember, bowls and conference championship games don't count toward these totals.

Illinois: 3.5
Indiana: 5.5
Iowa: 5.5
Michigan: 9.5
Michigan St: 8.5
Minnesota: 5.5
Nebraska: 9.5
Northwestern: 8.5
Ohio State: 11.5
Penn St: 8.5
Purdue: 5.5
Wisconsin: 8.5

As an avid Big Ten football fan, when I saw these numbers I had two thoughts.
1. These are going to change, because A LOT of people are going to take the unders based on how crappy the Big Ten has been lately, and
2. I am betting the under on every single team in this conference.

Looking at these bets, why wouldn't you bet the under on EVERY SINGLE ONE? Illinois is going to be terrible, and they've got non-conference games against Washington and Cincinnati, plus all of their winnable Big Ten games (Purdue, Indiana) are on the road. Indiana is Indiana, despite their shiny new helmets. This may be the worst Iowa team of Kirk Ferentz' career, and he has his winnable games (Purdue, Minnesota) on the road as well.

Come on, Michigan is going to win 10 games right after they lose Denard? Michigan St. is passable as an over bet, but they lose so much on defense, plus face Notre Dame and a should be improved South Florida in their non-conference. Minnesota is Minnesota, and Nebraska has been consistently overrated since joining the conference, no way they win 10.

Northwestern, like MSU, has a shot at reaching the over, but I just don't see the stars aligning for them this year like they did last season. An over bet on Ohio State is essentially saying they will go the BCS title game and complete a second consecutive undefeated regular season. Sorry, I just don't see that happening considering they nearly wet the bed at home against Purdue last year.

Penn State was better than expected last season, but the seniors that held the team together are gone, and the Nittany Lions will now begin feeling the effects of lost scholarships and defections. Purdue won six games last year, but lost it's leading passer, leading rusher, leading receiver and best defensive player. Plus, the Boilers face two BCS bowl teams from last year and three 10-win squads, and that's just in the non-conference. Wisconsin will again be solid, but I think nine wins is a stretch considering they just lost their head coach and lack play makers on offense.

Use West Coast Bias When Betting on the BCS Championship

Top to bottom, the Pac 12 is not the best conference in college football, but that's actually better for us in this case as we place bets on Oregon (7/1) and Stanford (18/1) to win the BCS National Championship.

Think about it, the two favorites to win it all are Alabama (5/2) and Ohio State (6/1). Somebody from the SEC is going to play for the national title, but with LSU, Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M and South Carolina all looming, are you really that sure it's going to be the Crimson Tide?

As for Ohio State, I think I've made it pretty clear that I just don't think they're going undefeated this season. The Big Ten will be improved, they lose key pieces on defense (The real strength of their team last year) and half of their 12 wins in 2012 came by a touchdown or less (They beat Indiana by three and needed overtime to beat Purdue). Something tells me they won't be quite as fortunate this season.

After those two teams, you have our Pac 12 buddies and a hodgepodge of SEC and Big 12 squads, plus Clemson and Louisville.

Here's why I like one of these two teams to go to the title game:

1. The Pac 12 is just good enough to be legit, but not a meat grinder like the SEC or Big 12.
2. Each of these teams has challenged itself in the non-conference. Oregon will face two BCS opponents in Virginia and Tennessee, while Stanford finishes out the season with a marquee home game against Notre Dame. So, the strength of schedule will be there.
3. Lane Kiffin is still the coach of USC.

Here is why I like one of these teams to win the title game:

1. Oregon was a weird "dude's knee not quite touching the ground" run from beating Cam Newton and Auburn back in 2010, so clearly they have the speed and scheme to play with the SEC's best.
2. Stanford doesn't quite have the speed or depth of talent of, say, Alabama, but they have the strength and physicality to match any SEC squad.

Again, if the bet was "any SEC team," I would take that. But, since the SEC is loaded at the top this year, I'll take each of these squads with a puncher's chance against whoever emerges from college football's best conference.

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