Sunday, January 06, 2019

Strangers in the Field Part IV: How'd We Do?

As I have done the past few years, I went to Vegas over the summer and made some wagers. Here is how they turned out.

Over/Under Win Totals

Ball State over 4 wins -105 ($40 to win $38.10)
This ended up being a push. Ball State was still a pretty bad team in 2018, but the MAC was a pretty bad conference and the Cardinals were probably fortunate to win four games, although they could have cleared the bar had they beaten a bad Western Kentucky in the non-conference.

Central Florida under 9 wins +115 ($30 to win $34.50)
I will never ever bet on UCF to go under their win total. Despite a new coach and some big defensive losses, the Knights were only really challenged once in conference play (at Memphis).

Coastal Carolina over 4 wins -105 ($40 to win $38.10)
The Chanticleers somehow beat the Conference USA champion (UAB) and the Sun Belt’s West division winner (Louisiana-Lafayette) to cash here. They were still a pretty bad team and I was quite fortunate to not add this one to the loser’s pile.

Florida International under 5 wins -110 ($30 to win $27.30)
Not even close. FIU easily surpassed this low win total despite major attrition from last season’s team that was fortunate to qualify for a bowl.

Georgia State under 4.5 wins even ($30 to win $30)
This was one of my few good calls in the win total department. The Panthers came perilously close to losing to Kenesaw State in their opener and never threatened to go over this number.

Georgia Tech over 6 wins even ($30 to win $30)
Hope seemed lost after the Yellow Jackets stumbled out of the gates with losses to South Florida and Pitt. At 1-3 with Georgia waiting at the end of their schedule, the Yellow Jackets won out with the exception of Duke to send Paul Johnson off with seven wins. However, Nate Woody was not able to fix the defense as I predicted he would when making this play.

Indiana over 5 wins -115 ($20 to win $17.40)
The Hoosiers managed a push and even had a shot to go over their win total in the finale against Purdue. Looking back, this was probably not a good play as the Hoosiers were fortunate to beat an improved Virginia team to manage said push.

Iowa over 7.5 wins -105 ($40 to win $38.10)
The Hawkeyes were much better than their 8-4 regular season record, but after three close losses in a row (Penn State, Purdue, and Northwestern), they needed to beat Nebraska in the season finale to get to eight wins. A field goal at the gun pushed them over the total.

North Carolina over 5.5 wins -135 ($20 to win $14.80)
This was an awful bet, but I was bailed out thanks to their canceled game against Central Florida. This bet was made at a different casino (Golden Nugget) than the Central Florida bet (Southpoint) so it ended up being a push instead of a loss.

Old Dominion over 5.5 wins even ($150 to win $150)
This was my biggest bet and it was basically dead in the water after the opener. The Monarchs were not good at all (99th in Bill Connelly’s S&P+ ratings), but the bet was somewhat justified by their easy schedule. They lost to teams ranked 111th (East Carolina), 112th (Charlotte), 118th (liberty), and 129th (Rice) in S&P+. If they won half of those games, this bet cashes.

San Jose State over 2.5 wins -125 ($60 to win $48)
Of all my losers, this is probably the bet I would be most likely to make again. San Jose State had an extreme negative turnover margin in 2017 and still managed to win one conference game. In 2018, I figured they could double that conference win total and beat UC-Davis from the FCS. They opened the year losing to UC-Davis and then managed just one win all season.

Tulane over 5.5 wins +115 ($40 to win $46)
It took a gamble on a two-point conversion, but the Green Wave managed to go over their win total despite an option offense that continued to struggle in their third season under Willie Fritz.

Tulsa over 4 wins -130 ($40 to win $30.80)
I expected a bounce back and Tulsa did not deliver. Their offense continued to stink and they eventually turned the reigns over to an inaccurate freshman quarterback. However, had the Golden Hurricane not choked away a lead against South Florida, they would have pushed.

UCLA over 5.5 wins even ($30 to win $30)
Not even close. Cincinnati and Fresno State were better than expected meaning the Bruins would have needed six conference wins to eclipse their season win total. I didn’t lay a lot on this, but I should have stayed away altogether.

Western Michigan over 6 wins -135 ($40 to win $29.65)
This one looked like it was going to cash easily, but the Broncos lost their starting quarterback after a 6-2 start and lost three straight before upsetting Northern Illinois in the regular season finale.

Games of the Year

September 15th Boise State +4.5 Oklahoma State -110 ($25 to win $22.75)
I bought at a good price as this line opened at Oklahoma State -3 and trickled down before kickoff. However, the Cowboys blew the Broncos away kicking off what would be a very weird year for Mike Gundy’s team.

October 6th Florida State +6 Miami -110 ($25 to win $22.75)
I bought at a horrible price as this line was nearly a touchdown higher by kickoff. Florida State played perhaps their best game of the season through three quarters and this looked to be an easy cover. Then turnovers and a lack of offense nearly swung this back to the Hurricanes. Miami won, but took a knee inside the ten to run out the clock and preserve this undeserved cover.

November 10th Tennessee -1 Kentucky -110 ($25 to win $22.75)
This handicap was both good and bad. I thought Tennessee would be better than they were in 2018 and I had no inkling that Kentucky would be as good as they were, particularly on defense. However, I was able to identify a spot for a letdown as the Wildcats were coming off a date with Georgia (that ended up being for the SEC East title). Kentucky played their worst game of the season and Tennessee won rather easily despite being a touchdown underdog.

November 24th South Florida +4 Central Florida -110 ($25 to win $22.75)
As I mentioned earlier, I am never going against Central Florida again. The Knights were better than I thought and while I figured South Florida was due for some regression, I figured they would have their act together by the end of the season. This ticket never came close to cashing.

Conference Champion Bets

Georgia Southern to win the Sun Belt +1000 ($10 to win $100)
This was a pretty good bet as Georgia Southern upset Appalachian State at home to take control of their division race. However, a road loss to Louisiana-Monroe and a home loss to Troy prevented them from taking the division. Had they won either of those games, they likely would have qualified for the championship game and been favored to win it.

Louisiana Tech to win Conference USA +700 ($10 to win $70)
The Bulldogs upset North Texas early in the season and figured to be the frontrunner following that game. However, UAB handled them the very next week on their way to easily winning the division and (not as easily) the conference title.

Miscellaneous Bets

Atlanta Braves to win World Series +2500 ($10 to win $250)
The Braves won the NL East without much trouble as the Phillies faded, but never seriously threatened the Dodgers in the Division Series.

Oakland Athletics to win World Series +3000 ($10 to win $300)
The A’s may have been the third best team in all of baseball, but they were unable to beat the Yankees in a winner take all Wild Card Game.

Pittsburgh Pirates to win World Series +6000 ($10 to win $600) The Pirates made a brief run right before I made this bet, but faded shortly after.

Reckless Parlay 1:
$10 to win $110

Game 1: August 31st Utah State +25 Michigan State

Game 2: September 1st Miami (Ohio) -2 Marshall

Game 3: September 1st Coastal Carolina +30 South Carolina

Game 4: September 1st Louisville +25.5 Alabama @ Orlando
LOL. Nope.
One out of four.

Reckless Parlay 2:
$10 to win $60

Game 1: September 9th Cleveland +6 Pittsburgh

Game 2: September 9th Cincinnati +3 Indianapolis

Game 3: September 9th Washington +1 Arizona
Winner. Despite the presence of Hue Jackson, the Browns came through for me.

Money Wagered: $810
Money Won: $657.35
Return on Investment: -18.85%

This was by far my worst summer of betting. Despite my poor predictions regarding win totals and line moves, had Old Dominion come through for me, I would have actually made a profit. Its back to the drawing board. Hopefully we can get back to profitability next year. Sorry if you tailed. :)

Tomorrow marks a rather somber day for me as it is the final college football game until August. However, Statistically Speaking will help you get through the long offseason by starting the YPP and APR conference reviews on Thursday. For those that aren't  regular readers, we'll review each FBS conference through the lens of Yards per Play (YPP) and the Adjusted Pythagorean Record (APR) with one post per week. As always, we'll go alphabetically starting with the AAC. That will get us close to Memorial Day and then I'll have some more sporadic posts over the summer until the football season begins anew. As always, thanks for reading and feel free to drop a comment should you feel the urge. See you on Thursday.

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