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Some people bounce back quicker than others. Think about the last time you woke up late, left the house wearing unmatched socks and your shirt inside-out, spilled coffee on your khakis, then realized too late that the slides you grabbed for a PowerPoint presentation were instead those priceless images of your buddy’s Cancun bachelor party.
Did you come back like a champion the next day and get a promotion at work, or were you more likely to call in sick after deciding to drown your blues away? Hey, we all respond differently to adversity.
Football teams – and those of us who gamble on them – are no exception. The manner in which they bounce back tends to vary, as do the theories that apply when handicapping such clubs.
Provided a team has good talent and coaching and ample motivation to win the next one, some bettors are inclined to back this type of club in its next outing. Others prefer to kick a team while it’s down, reasoning that a team might still need time to get off the mat after getting punched in the gut.
This week, we’ll see which approach pays off as there are quite a few teams in “bounce--back” mode, and whether the club you support springs back to life or sticks to the canvas can make the difference in your bottom line.
In this week’s Lines That Make You Go Hmmm … we’ll look at a few teams that appear to be in a potential bounce-back spot and whether it appears prudent to ride or fade these clubs. Covers Expert Stephen Nover came along to provide some insight.
Oklahoma at Kansas State (+13.5)
This one depends on which motivational factor you think will take hold here. Will the Sooners (6-1, 4-3 against the spread), coming off a crushing upset loss to Texas Tech that cost them their BCS title hopes, take the field with a vengeance against the upstart Wildcats?
Or does Kansas State (7-0, 6-1 ATS) continue to quiet its critics with an inspired performance against an opponent that might have reason to be uninspired? Is the two-touchdown spot here a slice of heaven or fool’s gold?
“It could go either way,” Nover said. “I kind of view it toward anti-Kansas State. I just don’t know how good they are. They have really overachieved. I think it’s a very bad spot for them.
“They killed Kansas, and that’s their big rivalry game. I don’t think they are in the caliber of other top Big 12 schools. On top of this, the schedule gives them Oklahoma off their first loss, and Oklahoma is probably coming in madder than hell.”
Clemson at Georgia Tech (+4)
This one features a Clemson (8-0, 7-1 ATS) club that, despite its record, still has its share of skeptics against a Georgia Tech team (6-2, 4-4) that has backers jumping off the bandwagon as if it were on fire.
After getting upset by Virginia, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson encouraged observers to give his team another chance. Those who did so were treated to last week’s no-show against Miami.
Even so, there’s something about Clemson coach Dabo Swinney that you can’t trust. He just looks so damn young, smug and … like he belongs as the (student) equipment manager more than a head coach.
Still, Clemson has covered five straight as a chalk, while the Jackets are a woeful 3-7 ATS in their last 10 as home dogs.
“I tried to fade Clemson a few weeks ago and I couldn’t do it,” Nover said, a notion to which most of us likely can relate. “I’ve given up. I’ve been waiting for the (annual) letdown and it didn’t happen. This is a case where you keep riding the Clemson bandwagon or stay off the game.”
Michigan State at Nebraska (-4)
Bounce-back is a relative term here, as neither club is coming off a loss. But we think it’s possible to live in the bounce-back-osphere even when coming off a victory.
Nebraska’s voyage into the Big Ten has been a shaky one. Its debut was ruined in a blowout loss to Wisconsin, and the Huskers (6-1, 2-5) needed a miracle to avoid embarrassment at the hands of short-handed Ohio State. They warmed up for this one by beating up on hapless Minnesota last week.
The Spartans (6-1, 5-2) will be looking to see if they can bounce back with a third straight strong performance after two of the biggest wins in the program’s recent history. After beating rival Michigan two weeks ago, they defeated Wisconsin on an improbable Hail Mary after squandering a late 14-point lead.
Previous Michigan State clubs have been flat in spots like this against Nebraska, and a lackluster display wouldn’t catch us off-guard.
“It would not surprise me, either,” Nover said. “Nebraska is looking for a signature Big Ten win, and this is a good spot for them.”
Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks (+3)
On paper, this looks like an ugly game, and it’s very likely to translate into one on the gridiron as well. But on the betting board, it’s curious enough for us to take a second look.
While the Seahawks (2-4, 3-2-1) have spent much of the season looking like viable contenders for the Andrew Luck lottery, there is still something about the confines of their home stadium that has them stealing money from the hands of well-intentioned faders. Atlanta -4.5, anyone?
Although the Bengals (4-2, 5-1) rate to be a slightly better club, they are still led by rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton, who sometimes plays like one, and he’s the signal caller for the Bengals, who sometimes play like the Bengals.
“Seattle is still a whole different animal at home,” Nover said. “The Bengals are the better team, but coming into a hostile setting with a rookie quarterback is still a tough combination.”