Beating Vegas: College Football Bets To Make in 2010

Art VandelayCorrespondent IJuly 30, 2010

ANN ARBOR - October 30:  Wide receiver Braylon Edwards #1 of Michigan catches a touchdown pass defended by Jaren Hayes #31 of Michigan State at Michigan Stadium on October 30, 2004 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The Michigan Wolverines defeated the Michigan State Spartans 45-37.  (Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images)
Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

While you and I are certainly aware of the evils of gambling (I'm pretty sure the Bible says not to do it, at least that's what my mom says), if you do so choose to sell your soul to try and make a few quick dollars, you might as well get your money's worth. So, I'm going to offer some advice.

Colin Cowherd recently listed four teams who he thinks Vegas "whiffed" on for predicting the number of wins specific teams will have.  You can find the complete list of Vegas odds here , and you can listen to his reasoning for his picks here .

He said to bet the over on:

1) Auburn - eight wins

2) Michigan - seven wins

3) Washington - 6.5 wins

4) Utah (the biggest "whiff" of all) - eight wins.

I've exhaustively gone through each team's schedules so as to prognosticate the odds of each, and here's what I think. 

1) I don't love Auburn, but I do think they'll win at least nine games, including their assumed bowl, and they could win 11 games so that's an okay bet.

2) Stay away from betting on Michigan (trust me, I'm a die-hard Michigan fan).  Michigan is a five to seven win team in the Big Ten this year.  It's conceivable that they could win as many as nine, but it's just as conceivable that they lose as many as nine. 

Purdue/Danny Hope/Joe Tiller HATES RichRod and will always play their best game against the Maize and Blue; plus Purdue gets them at home. 

Mark Dantonio, who previously coached under Saban at MSU and Tressel at Ohio State, has the same sentiment as Hope and Tiller, but also brings back more talent than U of M.  MSU won't enter the Big House unprepared this year.

UConn was very good last year and returns almost everyone, and playing in South Bend is never easy, not to mention that Brian Kelly is one heck of a coach (I'm quite familiar with him from his days at Central Michigan and Grand Valley State University).

Indiana is certainly miffed from last year and will be out for revenge.  They also will have one of, if not the toughest passing game in the conference, which could easily exploit Michigan's porous secondary.

Michigan lost its two best defensive players from an atrocious defense last year in Donovan Warren, their cover corner, and Brandon Graham, their pass rushing end.  Any team with a decent passing game will be licking their chops because there's no guarantees Michigan will be able to pressure the passer or defend the pass.

All in all, STAY AWAY from Michigan.

3) Washington's a great bet.  They will have IMO one of the most talented teams in the Pac-10, not to mention one of the best quarterbacks in the country.  They play an extremely tough schedule (@BYU, Nebraska, @USC, @Oregon), but return something like 20 of 22 starters from a solid team last year.  IMO, taking the over of 6.5 is all but a sure thing for this team.

4) I'd make this bet too.  With their bowl game, I'd bet Utah wins at least nine, but probably 10.  Taking the over is a pretty safe bet.

Here's some more advice:

5) Stay away from betting on Alabama for either the over or under. 

Saban's a great coach and great recruiter, but Alabama's schedule is brutal and crazy.  They were rewarded for going undefeated in the SEC the last two years by playing everyone in conference (figuratively speaking) after their bye week, and they only return two starters on defense.

When betting, stick with what you know.  Even if you THINK their defense will be as good or better than last year, you just don't know.  Most of their production is gone at each level, so don't make that bet.

6) Stay away from LSU at eight wins.  I am convinced that they are going to be terrible, but I looked at their schedule and think they COULD win seven games, getting them a weak bowl bid and easier eighth W, so just stay away from them altogether. 

They lost most of their team last year, including most of a terrible offensive line.  What they do return hasn't been good, so while I'd be tempted to take the under, my advice to you is to not even bother.

7) Bet the over for Wisconsin at nine games.  Wisconsin plays a cake schedule, and they MIGHT have the most talented team in the Big Ten.  They have what is probably the best offensive line in the country, a seasoned quarterback, and a Heisman candidate in the backfield.  Their only significant losses on defense were on the defensive line, but if that can hold true, they will be in good shape.

They get Ohio State at home, miss Penn State, and have fewer questions than Iowa, despite having to play them on the road.  They statistically dominated Ohio State last year in Columbus, so it's not inconceivable that Tolzien plays better in Madison with more experience and leads the Badgers to victory, which leads me to my next piece of advice...

8) Bet on Wisconsin to win the national championship. At 40/1 odds, with a favorable schedule and talented team, this is a good bet.  Don't get me wrong, they probably won't go undefeated and win the title, but they've got a better chance than most, and monetarily this make sense.

For the more aggressive and risky gamblers

9) Bet the over on Penn State at 8.5 games.  Yup, I know they've got quarterback issues.  Yup, I also understand they play in Tuscaloosa the second week of the season. 

In the Nittany Lion defense, they return most of the team from last year that went 11-2.  They return four of five offensive linemen, their stud running back, and their entire receiving corps from that team. 

They lost Jared Odrick at defensive tackle and all three linebackers, but basically everything else on defense remains in tact.  And have you EVER known Joe Paterno to NOT field excellent talent at linebacker? I didn't think so.  Penn State is better than everybody thinks and should win at least nine games.

10) This may seem crazy, but bet on Michigan State to both win the national championship AND to win the Big Ten conference.  Trust me, I'm thinking completely rationally right now and am in no way inebriated.  Before you mock me, consider this:

- MSU doesn't play either Ohio State or Indiana.  Indiana is one of the only teams in the Big Ten with a passing game that would exploit the terrible MSU secondary. 

- Michigan State gets Wisconsin at home.  They do play at Iowa, but remember, Iowa beat State last year as time expired on a touchdown catch, and Iowa has significant questions on the offensive line. 

- Michigan State has the best quarterback in the nation no one knows about in Kirk Cousins, possibly the best linebacker in the nation, a defensive-minded coach, and also probably the best receiving corps in the Big Ten.  All they need is a marginally better pass rush and for their secondary to step up and be decent.

If the questions on Iowa's offensive line are worse than currently expected and the Spartans can escape the Badgers at home, then games in Evanston and Happy Valley are the only thing standing in the way of a very confident squad. 

Michigan State SHOULD be favored in all but three games this season, and all are winnable.  With National Championship odds at 125/1 and conference title odds at 15/1, betting on State could win you some cereal* bucks.

In a tough economy it's important to be responsible with your money, and like the mantra goes, you have to spend money to make money.  I'm pretty sure this is what whoever made that saying up is talking about, but I could be wrong on that one.  Let me know what of my advice you like, as well as other good bets.  I like to make money too.

* cereal - Al Gore's way of saying serious (It's from South Park).


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