Last Updated: 2017-08-30
If you like sports, handicapping, or you’re just a friendly degenerate with money burning a hole in your virtual pocket, this Saturday is just what you’ve been waiting for. OK, so maybe College Football doesn’t have a full slate of games for another week, and the NFL might be a couple weeks away from starting its regular season, but the fall feels like it’s finally here. Gone are the Saturdays where you jam a First-5-innings bet in a 4p MLB game because there just isn’t anything else going on. Now instead of binge-watching Netflix, you can binge-watch 3rd-string QB’s trying to make a roster. Busier times are upon us.
With such a variety of events dominating the sports landscape this weekend, here are 5 themes to consider as you’re taking it all in, and figuring out how to allocate your bankroll.
Heisman hopefuls make their opening statement. The “big guns,” so to speak, don’t get to throw a pass or attempt a rush until NEXT week, but in the meantime, a few players get a chance to dominate the conversation. While Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, and Lamar Jackson are resting and preparing, a guy like Quinton Flowers from South Florida (Still +3750 at 5Dimes) can get a head-start on his Heisman campaign against a San Jose State team that may not be interested in playing any defense. Last year, Lamar Jackson burst onto the national radar right away (8 total touchdowns against Charlotte), and never relinquished the spotlight until he was on the stage in New York City. Being first has its advantages in these situations. A couple other players to pay attention to: RB Bryce Love of Stanford (175/1 at 5D) and QB Tanner Mangum from BYU (175/1 at 5D) who is taking on lowly Portland State.
South Florida’s journey to January begins. No team from the Group of Five has more preseason hype than South Florida. There are many pundits who feel they have a legitimate chance to go undefeated. Currently they are +250 to make a “New Year’s Six” bowl game (5D), and +3000 to make the playoff (5D; 27 teams with better odds). As with any team that doesn’t get primetime games against big opponents, the way the Bulls stay on everyone’s radar is with style points. They don’t just need to beat teams like San Jose State, against whom they are currently listed as a 20-point favorite…they need to dominate them.
Do the Browns finally have a competent quarterback? 9 preseason games on the slate Saturday night, but the one you might want to pay the most attention to is…(gulp)…Cleveland at Tampa Bay. The Browns are currently +3.5 with a total in the game hovering around 41.5. It will be your best chance to see what Cleveland has in potential week 1 starting QB DeShone Kizer, going against a first-team defense with some ability in the Buccaneers. If Kizer impresses, not only do you re-configure your fantasy draft board (if you haven’t drafted yet), but maybe you start to look at Cleveland’s futures this year – Win total hovering around 5, +245 to finish anything other than last in the AFC North, +1450 to make the playoffs — a little differently.
When you bet the Travers Stakes, think differently. Yes, significant horse racing is going on this weekend, at Saratoga in the Travers Stakes (post time: approximately 5:44pm ET). Known as the “Mid-summer Derby” it features all 3 horses who won a Triple Crown race earlier this year (Always Dreaming, Cloud Computing, and Tapwrit). Your knowledge and memory of those horses may lead you to invest money in them performing at that same high level, but you would be wise to consider other options. The last winner of a Triple Crown event who won this race was Summer Bird, 8 years ago. The betting favorite has won just 30 percent of the time in the last 20 years. Last year, some horse named Arrogate surprised a field of champions and went on to have one of the more impressive years in recent memory. A couple horses to consider: Girvin (10/1 morning line) and McCraken (12/1 morning line), who could both “pull the upset” that wouldn’t surprise those of us who know the race history.
What to do about that fight Saturday night? You are no doubt aware that McGregor-Mayweather is live from Vegas late Saturday night, and the odds have been interesting to follow as the week has gone on. Every tweet you see is about how the average bet on McGregor is basically a handful of 20’s, and the average bet on Mayweather is a year’s worth of mortgage payments.
What I would add to what you know about the fight is a pretty simple philosophy: Although I don’t know Mayweather personally, it is quite obvious that the most important things to him are his undefeated record and money. Not breaking news. He has achieved success in these super-fights by being as strategic as possible, avoiding damage, and out-pointing his opponent. There is little to suggest to me that he would take a different approach here. It’s easy to envision McGregor doing a lot of talking, taunting, and aggressive tactics in the ring to attempt to get Mayweather to back off that plan, but no one has yet been able to do so in his previous fights. Why would Mayweather choose to engage when he knows there is a clear path to victory based on sound boxing skill? With that in mind, I am looking to bet both the over (9.5 +170 at 5D), and Mayweather by decision (+295 at 5D). I am betting on the fact that McGregor has the stamina to last that far into a fight, which is an unknown, but at Mayweather’s age and with his in-ring intelligence, this is the clearest path to a victory he is greatly-favored to achieve.
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