September 01, 2006

Risk Capital - Week One

Welcome to the first 2006 installment of Risk Capital - the series where I share what I believe to be the best opportunities in the world of betting college football*.
*for entertainment purposes only

First, let me share with you my betting rules/strategy:
  • I prefer to play underdogs - if I see an upset possibility, I'll take the points so I can win in a close game or on the upset. If I feel really froggy, then I play the moneyline for the underdog to win straight up also (see Huss Hedge below).
  • I am a "Phil Steele Disciple" - not only is his pre-season mag the Rosetta Stone for true college football fans, his Power Sweep Weekly Newsletter is a great way to "outsource" your research and monitoring (I receive no compensation from NC Sports).
  • I will remind you that I also founded the top fantasy college football site, Fantasy College Blitz. Based on my feel for the scoring capabilities of most of the teams, there is opportunity to take advantage of over/unders that are not set appropriately.
  • Successful betting is like successful stock trading - you must discipline yourself to money management. When I discuss the selections, I give each a confidence call of one, two, or three units. A unit should equal 5% of your betting capital, so no bet should ever be more than 15% of your capital. E.g., you have $100 of betting money, 2 units is $10.
So, given those groundrules, here are my five plays for Week One:

1) Nevada +13 at Fresno State, 1 unit.
Big WAC matchup to start the season - this one means as much to these programs as the Noles-Canes game on Monday means to the national championship race. Nevada is led by some top-of-the-line offensive talent and a couple of NFL quality DB's like Joe Garcia. Fresno is breaking in a new QB, a RB Dwayne Wright that has missed the last couple years with a knee injury, and a coach who is as intense and talented as any in America in Pat Hill. I think the teams balance out to even, so getting almost two TDs looks like a steal if it weren't in Fresno - hence only one unit.

2) Houston -14 at Rice, 2 units
This is Phil Steele's 4-star play, and a couldn't agree with the rationale more. Not really a road game - the schools are 5 miles apart. Rice transitions from option to spread offense under new HC Todd Graham and new OC Major Applewhite, and those things always take time (see Kent St. and new Mexico State in 2005, maybe Baylor this year...) Houston has QB Kevin Kolb, a four-year starter, paired with a couple big play receivers and an athletic defense that should oovercome some onerous trends:
  • Cougars are 1-14 in road openers since 1991
  • Rice is 21-7-1 over the spread as a home dog since 1994
3) Georgia Tech +7 over Notre Dame, 3 units
Irish is 3-8 ATS in last 11 road openers, and have done little to address the weak pass defense - bad mix when a) ND goes to Bobby Dodd and usually performs contrary to expectations and b) ultimate weapon GT WR Calvin Johnson will be pushing the DBs all day long. I would love to get more points, but I find it amazing how many people forget the beating at the hands of OSU.

4) UL-Lafayette +30.5 at LSU, 2 units
OK, so the Rajin' Cajuns haven't scored on the Tigers since 1924!

This and the FAU/Clemson game are the only ones with 30 points on the line today, and this one got the nod due the solid ULL defense and the ball-control offense. All of ULL OL is 300+ lb. My hypothesis is that that ball control will keep the LSU offense off the field and the five-year tenured coaching staff, headed by Ricky Bustle, could have a trick up their sleeve.

and if you weren't shocked enough...

5) Arkansas +8.5 over Southern Cal, 3 units
5a) Arkansas +290 Straight Up or Moneyline, 2 uits
Steele's upset of the week pick, and he has loved Arkansas for the better part of last year as well. So many moving parts on the Trojan offense, with new QB JD Booty and a bevy of backs. Contrast that with 19 starters returning for the Hogs, and we have the makings of something special. The weak links - the health of star RB Darren McFadden (broken foot in a bar fight) for the Hogs, and the new offense installed in the off-season as Houston Nutt aggressively looks to save his job. I prefer to interpret this as does Steele, that the RB depth is strong and the Trojans have no idea what to expect.

I expect a close game, and initiated what I like to call the "Huss Hedge" . Named after my friend and colleague John Huss, You play the underdog line with your max bet then also play a smaller amount on the moneyline for them to win straight up. The only way you lose is if your underdog gets blown out - this strategy was used to great effect in bowl season on Tulsa and Texas (and a couple others I cannot recall).

None of the totals (over/unders) got my attention this week except the ones below and Toledo/Iowa State last night. You will see more as the season rolls on.

Enjoy opening weekend!

1 comment:

Vince said...

Not a good week as went 2-3, and at least one game that was on my radar happened as I expected but I did not play them (Rutgers specifically).

Houston had a late furious comeback to 31-30, but that is two TDs less than I expected.

Stupid picks - I picked ULL +30.5 rather than Rutgers +4? Jeez, trying too hard to be smart.