By Paul Schmidt
Welcome to the new feature on The Sports Bank, where I tell you how to make money in a completely legitimate and accepted way!
You know, as long as you live in one of the states that approves of gambling on sporting events.
That’s right, each week I’ll be advising you of the four best lines I see on the Big Board every week in college football (and professional, starting next week), and give all of us a chance to line our pockets with a little bit of scratch!
So quick housekeeping notes:
1) If I place a bet against your team, it’s nothing against them, I just want to make money, and I don’t think they will cover/beat the spread.
2) Just because you think a team will win does NOT make them a good bet.
3) Betting on your own team is never a good idea, and I’ve only bet on the Illini one time — which happened to be in 2007 against Ohio State (-13). I only wish I’d teased it with the under and put a bet on the money line…
4) Betting on the big name teams and games is not always the way to go — the books don’t pay a lot of attention to the smaller conferences (and that will CERTAINLY be reflected in my week 1 picks here), and generally, if you know a little about the teams, you can make some money on the lesser schools (I watch a lot of WAC football late on Saturday nights…trust me on this).
5) If a line looks too good to be true, it probably is — even with point 4 in place, the people who do this job are still very good at what they do. Be careful out there! 6) For record-keeping purposes, I’m looking at the Harrah’s Casino’s lines, which will be current when I type the pick in. Why Harrah’s? I generally stay at one of their casinos while in Vegas, and I like most of them. So there.
And with all that in mind, the best week of the gambling year is here, week one of college football! The lines are a little goofy, you can play your sleepers without a ton of danger, and some big conference teams are oooooover-rated!!
As a quick bonus pick, generally, books will not take action on a Division 1-A football team taking on a 1-AA team. I’ve heard a couple rumors of bets being taken on Florida and Charleston Southern. While I’d never suggest betting the house on them, Charleston Southern is reportedly +62. That’s a whoooole lot of points for a team that probably won’t have their first team on the field for more than the first half. Again, I’m not saying bet the house there, but there’s probably value.
Now on to my picks (which, oddly enough, are all underdogs for week 1):
Western Michigan (+13) over Michigan (@ Michigan)
Since all we have to go on is last year’s games, Michigan seems to be getting too many points here. Western Michigan popped Illinois pretty good in Detroit last year, and Illinois routed Michigan in the Big House. I’m not saying that I used that to make this pick completely…but the Broncos do return Tim Hiller, and he’s probably the second best QB that you’ve never heard of. Again…not saying Michigan will lose, but I really, really don’t think they win this game by two TDs (the amount needed to win the bet).
Georgia (+5) over Oklahoma State (at OK State)
I like this Georgia team. No one seems to be talking about them and I think they are just as talented as anyone else in the SEC this season. I also think Oklahoma State is one of the nation’s most overrated teams — that’s right Mike Gundy, I said it. I’M A MAN!!! I’M 31!!!! The SEC has something of a history of stifling high-powered Big 12 offenses recently (last year’s national title game), and I like Georgia to win this one outright.
Northern Illinois (+16.5) over Wisconsin (at Wisconsin)
I don’t know a ton about Northern, but they seem to return a lot on defense (though they lost their best player to graduation and the NFL in defensive end/linebacker Larry English). This wouldn’t seem to bode very well for a Wisconsin team that should struggle mightily to score points on offense. I don’t think Wisconsin puts up 17 total in this game, honestly. That still might be enough to win the game, but not come close to covering.
Central Michigan (+13.5) over Arizona (at Arizona)
Remember when I said, just a little earlier, that Tim Hiller was the best player you’ve never heard of? The best is playing in this game. Quick…who has the most yards from scrimmage of any player in college football the last three years? I’ll even tell you, he’s got an insane 11,702 yards from scrimmage. Give up?
The answer is Dan LeFevour, an extreme dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate (at least he should be). He’ll pace a very, VERY good Chippewas offense this season, and could go a long way towards improving his Heisman candidacy with a road win against a Pac Ten team. Look here as well for the Chippewas to win outright (and if you’re of a mind, place a bet on the money line!! I’m seeing +450 or thereabouts, meaning you have to wager 100 dollars to win 450).
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to comment on how obnoxious I am, how good/bad my picks are, any questions you might have, and, most especially, how wonderful and praise-worthy I am…