Which Odds Makers Will Get today’s College Bowls Wrong?

Which Odds Makers Will Get today’s College Bowls Wrong?

Lots and lots of hindsight. Not so much foresight. Once again, betting on college sports has got to be a mug’s game, even aside from the general sleaziness and greasiness of putting money on other people’s bone-breaking from the vantage point of the couch, while fork-lifting plaque into the arteries via fat-filled dips washed down with alcohol. Not to sound like a latter-day Carrie Nation, gentlemen. But really. Google ‘Images’ for ‘bad cholesterol’.

ER care

As of yesterday, remember, the odds on yesterday’s football bowls were as follows:

Tuesday, Dec. 31 bowl games:

  • AdvoCare V100 Bowl: Arizona favored by about a touchdown over Boston College. Uh-huh. Final score: Arizona over BC 42-19
  • Sun Bowl: UCLA is picked over Virginia Tech by almost a touchdown: Final score: 42-12 UCLA
  • Liberty Bowl: Mississippi State favored over Rice: Final score: Miss State 44, Rice 7
  • Chick-fil-A Bowl: Texas A&M favored over Duke by at least two scores: Final score: A&M 52, Duke 48


Rice season

Spread predictions here.

That’s four games, with for a change four winners picked. However, three of the picks were so ludicrously undervalued that the prediction bears virtually no resemblance to the game. The Arizona-Boston College game was more lopsided than the score indicates. The UCLA-Virginia Tech game was more lopsided than the score indicates. Even the Mississippi State-Rice game was more lopsided than the score, not an easy feat to pull off with a final 44-7. The fourth bowl–Duke and Texas A&M–was undervalued in the other direction. Duke had an excellent chance of winning up to about the last minute and a half of the game. Arguably, Duke–which racked up 38 points in the first half–should have won. A couple of bad play calls and a wrong non-call on pass interference in the last quarter made a crucial difference in a game where mostly the Aggie defense looked helpless. Couldashouldawouldas aside, Duke predominated, especially in the first half, enough that the predictions in no way represented the game that took place. Duke can go home with nothing to be ashamed of.

There may be a need for more new bowl names in future years. Lopsided Bowl? Wild Card Bowl? Chalk-Up-a-Win Bowl? Beef-Up-Your-Stats Bowl? ‘Consolation Bowl’ is already de facto in use. As said, parody falls short in this context.

Not enough bowls

As of today, 23 games have been played on the NCAA football bowl schedule. Out of 23, six picks have been wrong. Of the winning teams and right picks, ten of the favored, depending on how you count them, were favored too narrowly to be realistic. The prognosticators’ ratio is not improving, although the narrow win-loss tally is.

Going forward

So–on to the next college bowl games: How will the next picks hold up? Happy 2014.

Jan. 1, 2014:

Nothing is a sure thing in sports. Given the youth of the players, there are especially no sure things in college sports, and then there are the massive injuries.

Once again, betting on these is unsavory–and foolhardy. Even a non-expert can see that the picks for the Gator, [Capital One], and Rose bowls are houses built on sand.

For the more consensus views, there is a little more supporting evidence. Outback Bowl sponsor Outback Steakhouse has been advertising a promotion: customers coming in tomorrow (Jan. 2) and mentioning the bowl can get a free coconut shrimp appetizer if Iowa wins, or a free blooming onion appetizer if LSU wins. Since the blooming onion is considerably less expensive to make than the coconut shrimp, it’s a safe bet that Outback sees LSU as more likely the victor.

Today’s question: Who will get today’s bowls wrong?


More to come.


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