Monday, January 13, 2020

Strangers in the Field Part V: How'd we Do?

I thought about never retiring this blog after my atrocious bowl season picks, but I know you were waiting with bated breath for another post. 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

Auburn over 7.5 wins -115 ($30 to win $26.10)
Going off the trend regarding preseason top ten teams that finish unranked, I figured Auburn would improve upon their 7-5 2018 regular season and cash this ticket. The Tigers were quite fortunate to beat Oregon in the opener, and were 4-2 overall in close games during the regular season, but were probably the right side considering they beat this number by a game and a half.

Boise State under 10 wins +120 ($30 to win $25)
Despite this ticket being a loser, I think it was the right side. Excluding their lone regular season loss against BYU, the Broncos trailed in six of their other eleven games. They trailed in the second half of five of those games, including three times by double digits! Give the Broncos credit for their clutch play in winning those contests, but in the long run, they probably should have lost at least one more game.

Colorado over 3.5 wins -155 ($20 to win $12.90)
I was probably fortunate to cash this ticket as four of the Buffs five wins came by three points or less. Of course, three of their seven losses also came by a touchdown or less, so they weren’t exceptionally lucky in close games.

Florida State over 7.5 wins -110 ($40 to win $36.35)
After the Seminoles blew that big lead in the opener against Boise, this ticket was destined for the trash. The ACC was down in 2019, but the non-conference losses to Boise State and Florida meant the Seminoles would have no margin for error in the conference outside of an expected loss to Clemson.

Indiana 6 wins +110 ($30 to win $33)
I bet the under as the Hoosiers have four built in losses by virtue of the division they play in. Unfortunately, the Hoosiers won every game that looked like a tossup or potential loss in the preseason. They beat Maryland by six, Nebraska by seven, and Purdue by three. Oh, and Northwestern also fielded on of the worst offenses in FBS. This bet was probably bad, but was Indiana really eight win quality in 2019?

Notre Dame under 9.5 wins -140 ($40 to win $28.55)
With road games at Georgia and Clemson on the schedule, I figured the best Notre Dame could finish was 10-2. With seven other Power Five teams on the schedule, I figured the Irish would stumble at least one more time. Alas, close victories against Southern Cal and Virginia Tech (with Bud Foster calling the worst three man rush two minute defense I have ever seen), Bryce Perkins fumbling all over the field in the Virginia game, and Stanford’s decline allowed the Irish to get to double digit wins.

Oklahoma State over 7 wins -130 ($40 to win $30.75)
After a 3-3 start, the Pokes won four of their last five games to get this one home. I was probably a little fortunate this one cased, but at worst I was probably looking at a push.

Pittsburgh over 5.5 wins -165 ($30 to win $18.20)
This bet ended up hitting, but not for the reasons I envisioned. I thought Mark Whipple would keep the Pitt offense near the top of the ACC, but the defense carried the team to seven regular season wins.

Rutgers over 2.5 wins -165 ($20 to win $12.10)
With Massachusetts and Liberty on the non-conference schedule, I though the Knights would need just one conference win to hit the over. They took care of business against the Minutemen and Flames, but their closest conference loss came by 21 points to Penn State.

Southern Cal over 7 wins -130 ($50 to win $38.45)
I figured with the talent on hand and the addition of Air Raid concepts, Southern Cal would rebound from their 5-7 campaign in 2018. They made me sweat it out by losing their starting quarterback in the opener and losing to BYU after a 2-0 start, but behind Kedon Slovis, the Trojans did not lose another game they were favored to win the rest of the way. This bet wasn’t assured of cashing until they beat UCLA in the regular season finale, but I felt pretty good about a push once November rolled around.

Texas under 9 wins -110 ($20 to win $18.20)
I didn’t think Texas was back after their Sugar Bowl performance against Georgia. The Longhorns lost some close games (seven points each to LSU and Oklahoma), but also needed a field goal at the buzzer to edge Kansas. After the Longhorns lost to LSU and Oklahoma, I felt pretty good about at least getting this to push, but TCU, Iowa State, and Baylor came through for me to easily cash this ticket.

TCU over 7.5 wins +110 ($30 to win $33)
My blind faith in Gary Patterson was not rewarded. The Horned Frog offense looked lost for much of the season and the Frogs misses out on a bowl for the first time since 2013. Realistically, I should have stayed away since this number was more than seven. At seven I could justify the bet with the possibility of a push, but at seven and a half, it was just a bad bet.

Wake Forest over 5.5 wins -160 ($50 to win $31.25)
After a close victory against Utah State in the opener, I didn’t have to sweat this one at all. The Demon Deacons began the year 5-0 and cashed this ticket around mid-October.

Tampa Bay over 6.5 wins +105 ($30 to win $31.50)
Despite Jameis Winston’s propensity to keep the Bucs and their opponents in the game, we managed to get this one home. For a while, I thought the football gods were against me as Tampa opened the season 3-7 with a late missed field goal and a botched call costing them two games. They then won four in a row so I didn’t have to sweat out the last two weeks of the season.Overall, Tampa probably should have won eight or nine games, (3-6 record in close games and outscored their opponents on the year), so I think this was a good bet.

Games of the Year

September 13th
Houston +7 Washington State-110 ($30 to win $27.25)
I was right that Washington State would decline in 2019, but I didn’t anticipate Houston struggling as well. The Cougars (Houston edition) needed a late score to push this number, but they actually led at halftime and this game turned on a failed fourth down conversion by Houston in the second half.

September 21st
Oklahoma State +9.5 Texas-110 ($30 to win $27.25)
I doubled down on fading Texas and the Cowboys responded by getting a backdoor cover. Probably not the best bet I made all season, but the Cowboys had plenty of opportunities to win this game outright.

October 26th
TCU +3.5 Texas -110 ($30 to win $27.25)
I tripled down on fading Texas and TCU got the outright win by ten points at home.

November 2nd
Southern Cal +1 Oregon -110 ($30 to win $27.25)
The Trojans went up 10-0 early in this game, but turnovers and special teams gaffes made it a laugher early in the second half. Many were calling for Clay Helton’s firing after this embarrassing performance, but the Trojans rebounded and won their final three regular season games.

November 16th
Auburn +6.5 Georgia -110 ($50 to win $45.45)
This one hurt. The Tigers fell behind 21-0 before coming alive in the fourth quarter and cutting the lead to seven points. The Tigers actually got the ball back twice with a chance to tie, but a bad pass and another failed fourth down sealed the loss.

November 23rd
Baylor +6 Texas -110 ($30 to win $27.25)
I quadrupled down on fading Texas. Baylor was actually favored by about a touchdown in this game and the outcome was never in doubt.

November 30th
Stanford +4 Notre Dame -110 ($30 to win $27.25)
While I bought the Baylor game at a great price, I bought at a terrible price here. Notre Dame was about a seventeen point favorite when they traveled to Palo Alto. Stanford actually led 17-7 in the second quarter, but the Irish scored 31 straight points to put the game away.

November 30th
Florida State +13.5 Florida -110 ($30 to win $27.25)
Once again, placing my faith in Willie Taggart was a bad idea. Still waiting on the Seminoles to get their first defensive stop in this game.

December 14th
Navy +8 Army -110 ($50 to win $45.45)
Probably the best bet I ever made. Navy was a significant favorite by the time this game kicked off and I didn’t have to sweat it at all.

Conference Champion Bets

Tampa Bay Bucs to win the NFC South +1000 ($10 to win $100)
The Bucs were definitely better in 2019 than they were in 2018, but the Saints also reside in this division. They pretty much had it wrapped up by late October.

Reckless Parlay 1:
$10 to win $110

Game 1: August 24th
Miami +7 Florida

Game 2: August 30th
Wake Forest -3.5 Utah State
Nope by a half point.

Game 3: August 31st
Michigan -31.5 Middle Tennessee State

Game 4: August 31st
Auburn -2.5 Oregon

Two out of four.

Reckless Parlay 2:
$10 to win $60

Game 1: September 8th
Tennessee +5.5 Cleveland

Game 2: September 8th
Arizona +2 Detroit

Game 3: September 9th
Denver +2.5 Oakland

Money Wagered: $800
Money Won: $774.55
Return on Investment: -3.18%

If not for the bet on Tampa Bay to win the division and the two reckless parlays, I would have actually a small (very small) profit this trip. I was a few points from a very prosperous trip, as I lost the Auburn/Georgia game by a half a point and was a point away in the Notre Dame/Virginia Tech game from seeing the Irish go under their win total. All in all, I think I was a little unfortunate to lose money this year. Oh well, here's to better luck next season.

Tonight's title game 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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