It has been some kind of run. As difficult as it is to be transparent within this industry when things aren’t going your way, we chose the high road here at BangTheBook.com, even if it means owning up to a 2-13 start with our Power Rating Plays of the week. It’s not even as if the market is moving against our numbers, or sharp steam is coming in late; we have been in line with the moves most of the time, and more often than not have even realized some closing line value.
All I can really do is preach the facts that relatively few choose to accept in regard to the world of sports betting: success is grinded out over the long term, bad runs do happen to even the best in the world, and those that are world class are only winning at a 60% rate in their best years. I also reiterate as I have ad nauseam, that Power Ratings are only a start from which to base a handicap, and a 15 game sample size is still quite small in the grand scheme of things; though, it’s pretty remarkable to think of how unlikely it is to flip a coin 15 times and for it to come up tails in 13 out of 15.
In any event, UCLA was the first loss of the weekend, losing 38-16 as a 9-point underdog. The Bruins were the object of some definite sharp action, with this number crashing down through 10, while UCLA received around 40% of the tickets, but it was definitely the wrong side. They lost the yardage battle 477-298, were out first-downed 26-15, and allowed Colorado to convert 57% of 3rd downs while only converting 31% of their own. As a result, UCLA was downgraded 3.5-points and Colorado upgraded 4 (one of the larger adjustments of the week).
Buffalo, as an eventual 7-point favorite, lost in ugly fashion, 42-13, for the second L of the week. Coming down to 7, Army appeared to take on some late steam, and rightfully so, but this game really wasn’t as bad as it looks when you dig into the box score. Army only outgained the Bulls by 117 yards; though they held Buffalo to a 18% 3rd down percentage rate, and obtained a 25-14 first down edge, all the while losing the turnover battle by 1. Army converted on 64% of 3rd down attempts, 3 out of 3 first down attempts, and only punted once. Though maybe a bit misleading, Army earned a 3.5-point upgrade, and Buffalo a 1-point downgrade in Adam’s Power Ratings.
The final play of the week was with Kent State; who too took on some sharp action, closing a 7-point underdog from a 7.5-point open, but really struggled on the defensive side of the ball, losing 52-24. Kent did manage to put up 466 yards of offense, but gave up 620 of their own, and were really out of the game by halftime. Losing two fumbles didn’t help matters, nor did the 17 penalties for 142 yards, but rarely are you going to give up over 600 yards of offense and cover a number. Ball State was subsequently upgraded 1.5 points and Kent State downgraded by the same amount.
As rough as it is plodding through a bad run, what’s great about sports betting is that with another week, comes another slate of games, and a fresh start in which it can all turn around. And as much as you hate to buy into the notion that some positive results are “due” to come your way after a bad run, it certainly does feel like the football gods owe us some favors. So with our newly adjusted Power Ratings and an optimism amid much frustration – our Power Rating’s Plays of the Week.
Pittsburgh vs. Syracuse
Off shore Consensus Open: Pitt 6 -110
Off-shore Consensus Line: Pitt 3 -105
Bang the Book’s Power Rating line: Pitt 1.5
Though coming away with the loss last week, when you almost escape with a win against arguably one of the top three teams in College Football, a loss can actually boost the perception of, or bias towards your team. Throw in the fact that Pitt took a beatdown at the hands of UCF last week, and you have the makings of a potentially over-adjusted line.
And this is certainly the case with Syracuse, who opened as a consensus 6-point favorite on the road for Saturday’s game in Pitt. With action overwhelming in support of the Orange thus far, to the tune of 85% actually, a move of this magnitude against that consensus would suggest some serious sharp involvement with the Panthers.
This move is right in line with what we would expect with our Power Rating of the game having it lined at 1.5, and despite that fact that a lot of value was lost coming from six to three, there may still be some line value to be had, especially when you see a few of the more recreationally tailored books, such as Bovada and MyBookie, offering soft 3.5’s on Pitt, while the rest of the market is reduced on Pitt at 3.
The 3.5 gets us down through a primary key onto our number, and with the 3.5 relatively a cheap number compared to the rest of the market, it certainly warrants consideration of a bet. If without access to a three currently, waiting until just before kick to bet may pay-off with that hook, or maybe even better.
Northwestern @ Michigan St.
Off shore Consensus Opener: Northwestern 10.5 -110
Off-shore Consensus Line: Northwestern 10 -110
Bang the Book’s Power Rating line: Northwestern 7.5
Taking what is arguably a top-10 team, Michigan, down to the wire last week, Northwestern is another team that may have received a boost in reputation, despite a loss. Michigan State, on the other hand, won in dominant fashion, but failed to cover as a 28-point favorite over a Central Michigan team that struggled mightily on offense this year.
With Northwestern opening over a double-digit dog here, our number would suggest that this opened a bit high and may still offer some line value on the secondary key of 10. Even after adjusting Northwestern downward a point following their defeat to Michigan, we still would have this game lined at 7.5.
The market has been in-agreement with our number, losing the hook on 10 across the board, with Northwestern receiving 64% of the action thus far. At 10, the sharper books seem comfortable taking action on either side, with Pinnacle, for example, offering reduced juice on both sides. Seeing Matchbook reduced to even money on Northwestern would also give me pause betting them at 10 -110, but also makes the 10.5 -115 attractive at BetOnline, and because of how scarce the hook is, maybe it’s worth paying the extra 5 cents juice, when the sharpest books were unwilling to remain at 10.5. With the consensus shaping up to be in favor of the dog, however, I’m not sure any other 10.5’s will ever be available again, or even if the 10’s will last.
Texas A&M vs. Kentucky
Off shore Consensus Open: Texas A&M -6.5 -110
Off-shore Consensus Line: Texas A&M -5.5 -110
Bang the Book’s Power Rating line: Texas A&M -10.5
I do realize this number have moved a tad away from our number, but at this point of the season, this is simply too much overlay to ignore. Especially when it’s understandable how over-adjustments in the market may have been made on Kentucky in light of how much they have exceeded expectation so far this season.
This is a minor move in college football, however, and though we don’t love seeing the consensus slightly in favor Kentucky and this move coming in against it, the positive way to spin it is that we now have overlay through three key numbers in regard to our Power Rating of the game.
Specifically, at 5.5, Pinnacle and Matchbook are the few books juicing the A&M side, which does demonstrate some value in that number if you can get a -110 or softer. BetOnline is one of the few books that has remained at 6, juicing the Kentucky side, so that is a little lean towards the Aggies, relative to the rest of the market as well.
With 5.5 being essentially a dead number, there’s no reason to rush to the book, but I’d watch closely to make sure this doesn’t get steamed up to 6 or higher by kick. Though the key numbers aren’t as significant as they are in the NFL, you’d still rather lay 5.5 than 6.