Thursday, October 7, 2021

College Football: The Red River......whatever.

When UT-Austin and Oklahoma-Norman play tackle football it's always a big week. People in my generation grew up calling it the Red River Shootout, but the woke folks over at ESPN have decided that such things are no longer allowed.

So, we have had the Red River Showdown, Rivalry and a host of other names, none of them which have stuck.

What we do know is that it's a pretty big rivalry game (yes, we still miss UT-Austin vs. aTm on Thanksgiving) that's pretty much appointment viewing because something weird is going to happen.


I've decided, moving forward, to get rid of the FIVE.  One of the big reasons is that I'm not comfortable being forced to pick 5 games.  There are weekends where I have more than five, and some where I only have one or two that I really like. So I'm replacing that little experiment with this, an overview of the weekend at hand, I'll share some things that I'm considering but offer no picks.


Tonight I like Houston.  I grabbed them at -4.5 early in the week and the line has since moved to -6.5 or -7, but I still like them against Tulane. After stubbing their toe against Tortilla Tech in the season opener the Cougars have started to get things together and, especially on defense, are starting to get on a roll.

I also like Temple as a big dog (+29 currently) against a Cincinnati team that I think is going to have a "we just beat Notre Dame team in their house" hangover.  I don't like Temple to win, but I do like them to cover comfortably.

Another play that I'm really liking is Stanford +13 against Arizona State. The Cardinal are a good team, not a great team, that can stay close to other good teams as are the Sun Devils. I'm still not a believer in the fighting Herm Edwards.


Aside from those three games I think Michigan State (-6) is light against Rutgers as is Louisville (-2.5) vs a Virginia team whose defense cannot stop a hard-charging Jr. High Marching Band.


Outside of the Red River game, the rest of the schedule does not pop-out to the eye, on paper. It's during weeks like this however that college football endlessly surprises.

Good luck however you bet.

Friday, October 1, 2021

1 October

 I remember sitting at home in Houston this night, four years prior. 1 October, 2017.

It was a normal night, Mrs. TPM and I were at home watching college football, I was on Twitter when I started seeing the tweets that there were some shootings in Las Vegas.  At first, as is usual in a chaotic situation, there was confusion, misinformation and panic. As cell-phone video and news reports started to filter out we realized that something very bad was happening.

We stayed up until around 4AM that morning, refreshing Twitter and trying to make sense of what was going on.  We knew it was bad, we did not yet know just how bad it was going to be.

When that deranged individual executed his plan, it forever changed the lives of Millions, but especially the ones in the families he left behind. Those that he deprived of fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, family members.

For the rest of us he reminded us that, even in our happy place of Las Vegas, we're never truly safe. As long as there are deranged individuals out there we go forward by the grace of God.

In the aftermath I sort of tuned out the news as the usual political mumbo-jumbo took hold. Those who use these things to forward their political agendas, forwarded their political agendas. Many stories were written, foolishly, about how video poker is the crack cocaine of gambling etc. Guns were, of course, the enemy, as was Las Vegas itself, by the National media that is.

For the rest of us, the normal among us, it was a tragedy, one that still lives with us, even if we weren't there.  The Vegas bubble had been broken, and their was no rebuilding it.

Today, even 4 years later, I cannot walk past the Mandalay Bay hotel without looking up where the window was, and thinking about it just a little. But we need to keep travelling and keep visiting places we love.

While the terrorists certainly won after 9/11 we cannot let the crazy win after 1 October.

We are, always #VegasStrong.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

College Football: Giving the FIVE a week off.

Last week was a college football blood-bath. My worst week in a couple of years.  The FIVE struggled to a 1-4 record which lowers my season tally to 10-10 which is only .500 and now places me below the vig.


I am taking off this week to re-evaluate my numbers and try and figure out where the noise is in my model. This means stripping it down and evaluating where I'm getting it wrong. So my CFB betting this week is a test of my new model and not reflective of the FIVE.

I will have some things to say about other gambling stuff, and that will come later in the week.  IF I'm happy with my new numbers this week we'll bring back the FIVE next week and see if we cannot continue moving forward at a better clip.

Enjoy the weekend's games.  Alabama vs. Ole Miss should be a scorcher.

Good luck however you bet.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

College Football: The Week 4 FIVE

Into every life a little rain must fall, and to every college football better a disappointing week must occur. Such was my week three. Disappointing performances by teams that I thought would play a LOT better (Looking at you Virginia) some downright silly things (Hi San Jose State) and a really wrong take on a game. (Auburn)

This left me at an underwhelming 2-3 for the weekend and staring down the barrel at my first losing week on the FIVE. Overall we're still OK, 9-6 for the season which is still good, but we were hoping for so much more.

My strategy this week was to grab lines early, once they were posted before they had a chance to move, to try and catch the market at its least efficient.  Let's see where we land this week.....

1. Kansas State (-7) vs. Oklahoma State (Curr: -6 O/U 46)

The Cowboys are NOT a good team this year, and I really think Kansas State is. I would not be at all surprised to see the Wildcats walk away with the win on the ML. I'm quite happy taking a touchdown and extra point here.

2. Michigan State (-4) vs Nebraska (Curr: -5 O/U 52)

I have been very impressed with the Spartans this year and have raised my rating of them. I have been very disappointed with Nebraska this year and have lowered my ratings significantly.  I envision a scenario where Michigan State runs away and hides here.

3. West Virginia (+16.5) vs Oklahoma (Curr: +16.5 O/U 56)

I'm a little surprised that this line has not moved toward the Mountaineers yet. Oklahoma's defense is, to be blunt, still not good and West Virginia has a quality offense. WVU also play pretty solid defense for a Big XII team. I don't see much more than a FG between these two teams and I'm certainly contemplating the over.

4. Liberty (-6) vs Syracuse (Curr: -6 O/U 52.5)

The Flames are really good, the Cuse is not. Head Coach Dino Babers has not thrived in New York and Hugh Freeze has done a good job building Liberty into a very, very solid team. I think six might be a gift here.

5. Utah State (+9) vs Boise State (Curr: +9 O/U 70.0)

Yet another line that I expected to move toward Utah State but has not. I'd be surprised if you can still grab +9 at kick off. Yes, Boise State gets a bump for playing at home on the Smurf turf, but their opponent is a really strong Utah State team that would again not surprise me if they won this outright.

Honorable Mention:

Northwestern (-14.5) vs Ohio (O/U 48)

That it is a bad number is the only thing that kept this game out of the FIVE. Northwestern is a decent team playing a very bad team at home. Blowout potential.

And Finally....

Michigan (-20) vs. Rutgers (O/U 50)

If anything, I like the Over here but I hate, hate, hate this line for Michigan. If anything, I'd almost take Rutgers here but the bad line makes it a pass.  But Go Blue! anyway.

Good luck to you however you bet.

Friday, September 17, 2021

College Football: The Week 3 FIVE

 Last week was a nail-biter. We started off rough, 0-2 after the first two games, and then rallied to finish 3-2 for the week (including the BYU ML call) which brings us to 7-3 for the season, 8-4 overall (which includes bets not in the FIVE)  As I stated before, one of the biggest issues with college football season is self-editing. It's easy to find a dozen games on which you have a lean, but we don't bet leans.

With that in mind here's the third week of the FIVE.

1. Auburn (+6) vs. Penn State. (Curr: +5.0 O/U 53.0)

I'm pretty high on the Tigers this year, and I actually think they have a solid shot of pulling off the outright upset in Happy Valley. But, I'm not brave enough to pull that trigger. So I'm going with the spread and thinking there's about a FG between these two teams.  It will be another "White out" for Penn State, which is pretty much any game they play at home now which is causing it to lose it's luster a bit.

2. Utah State (+8) vs. Air Force. (Curr: +8.0 O/U 54.0)

I think Air Force is a tad bit overrated due to them beating up on a pretty not-good Navy team last week. Utah State has been in pretty tough so far this year, and I think that they have enough to keep it very, very close against Air Force.

3. Virginia +9 vs. North Carolina (Curr: +9 O/U 66.5)

I'm still seeing a disconnect between my downgrade of North Carolina, due mainly to all of the skill position players they lost, and the odds, so I'm rolling with that. Virginia has a very good offense and a defense that I think is going to give the Tar Heels fits.

4. San Jose State (-7) vs. Hawaii. (Curr: -6.5 O/U 61.5)

Last year the Spartans won the Mountain West, and despite an up and down start I think they're much better than a down Hawaii team this year.  Plus: This gives me a reason to stay up until all hours of the night for a Hawaii game.

5. Michigan State +6.5 vs. Miami. (Curr: +6.0 O/U 56.5)

My analysis on this one is simple: Miami is the most overrated team week after week on the odds board. At some point the adjustment will come but until it does, I'll even take a bad number against them.

Honorable Mention:  UCF -6.5 vs. Louisville. (O/U 67)

This promises to be an offensive showdown between two teams looking to re-establish themselves as top teams. I like UCF here. I think a blowout UCF win is much more likely than a blowout Louisville win.

And Finally.....

Michigan -27.5 vs. Northern Illinois (O/U 54)

Yes, yes, yes, we all LOVE Michigan right now after they made mince-meat out of the Washington Huskies, but Michigan cannot throw the ball and eventually teams are going to figure that out. Playing offense one-handed is tough. Michigan NEEDS to develop their passing game sans Ronnie Bell.

Good luck to you however you bet this weekend.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

College Football: The Week 2 FIVE

After missing a couple of bets in week 0, we rebounded nicely in Week 1 going 4-1 for the FIVE (curse your conservative nature David Cutcliffe) and 7-2 overall. This brings us to 4-1 for the FIVE this year (yay) and 7-4 overall for the young college football season. (As a reminder, I only list the FIVE but I have other plays. I'm not selling plays, these are just the ones that I really liked when typing out this blog.)

Week Two can often be a lot of fun because the market tends to overreact to a small sample size in week 1. This means that there is often opportunity to be found in some lines that are skewed off of what your numbers show they should be. Early in the season, trust your numbers. This might get a little more dicey later in the season as the market gains efficiency, especially in the Power 5 conferences but, for now, I trust what my numbers are telling me.

With that in Mind......

1. Illinois +10 @ Virginia. (Curr*: +10 O/U 55)

Here's one where I think the market is overreacting to a team in a classic sandwich week, losing to a lesser known team that's actually pretty darn good.  UTSA are a contender in Conference USA, West Division, and have a pretty salty offense.  Virginia beat up on an FCS foe that they should have beaten and I think they are getting too much credit for that, while Illinois is taking too much blame.

2. South Carolina +2 @ East Carolina (Curr: -1.5 O/U 56.5)

This line opened at -3 SC at most books, and almost immediately moved to ECU -2.  When I saw SC at +2 -110 at my book I pounced. Even at -1.5 think this is playable, maybe even up to -2.5. Watching line moves and taking advantage of a market issue is a feature, not a bug in sports betting.

3. Oklahoma State -12.5 vs. Tulsa  (Curr: -13 O/U 51.5)

OSU did not look impressive against Missouri State in their opener. And Tulsa looked even worse, loving to UC Davis at home. It typically takes any Mike Gundy coached team a game to get things moving, but they usually perform much better in game 2 vs game 1.  I think we're going to see that here against a Tulsa team that's probably going to struggle in the AAC this year.

4. Rutgers -2 vs. Syracuse (Curr: -2.5 O/U 52)

As I predicted last week, Rutgers was MUCH the better team than Temple. NOT the Temple that people think of when Matt Ruhle was coaching there. I think Syracuse is overrated after facing an Ohio team that's having to deal with a late head coaching change after the retirement of Solich. I expect to see Rutgers win comfortably this week and next week against Delaware, before their schedule gets much, much tougher.

5. BYU ML +220 vs. Utah. (Curr: +220, -7 Utah, O/U 49)

BYU did not look spectacular over a fairly pedestrian Arizona team, while Utah beat up FCS member Weber State. Because of this Utah is installed as a fairly good sized favorite, with people believing that their transfer QB is the key to them finally getting an offense that matches their always good defense. There are a couple of reasons that I like the Cougars here though. 1. It's still early in the season and they have not yet been beaten down by the sausage grinder of a schedule that they go through as an independent. 2. It's not unusual for Utah to look good against inferior competition.  Finally, this is the Holy War. Strange things happen when the Holy War is played in Provo.

Honorable Mention: Coastal Carolina -25 vs. Kansas. (Curr: -25, O/U 52)

Friday's game is going to get ugly, early.  Kansas has the best coach that they've had since Mangino but the talent cupboard is bare, bare, bare.  I see this as a 56-10 type of game. (You might want to play the over as well if you're so inclined.)

And finally.....

Washington @ Michigan (-7, O/U 48.5)

Being a Michigan Man I always have to talk about Big Blue, despite the fact that I would not touch this game with a 20 foot betting pole. Losing Ronnie Bell for the season is going to hurt, meaning that someone in the WR corps is going to have to step up. Washington did get beat by Montana, at home, and now they have to go on the road to the Big House's Michigan.  Stay away, stay far away.

But Go Blue.

*Current lines taken from as of 12:39PM on Wednesday, 9/8/21. It is probable that, by the time you've read this, things have changed.

Sports Section