A happy return to you, my fellow degenerate. Welcome back to Edge Sorting, the weekly gambling column here at HERO Sports that focuses on college football games that don't have the full attention of bookmakers.
There are all kinds of reasons why people gamble. Many of us want to be The Betting Guy, the one who amazes his social circle or social audience by correctly predicting something that few others could see. Some people want to feel that dopamine rush of locking a bet. Some of you maybe just want to walk out of a sports season with more money than you had at the start of it.
This week, I'm speaking to gamblers who Skin-In-The-Game guys. These are bettors who aren't emotionally invested in a particular game, so they want to get literally invested in it. That guy wants to bet Bama-LSU for the same reason he asked the cute redhead in his English class to be his girlfriend 45 days before prom — dances aren't really his thing, but does he really want to be the only guy not in his high school gymnasium on the first Saturday in May?
I get it. Everyone is locked in for this weekend's Game of the Century (of the Year), and you want personal investment. So does everyone else. One book I'm friendly with has taken 7500 tickets on this game; by comparison, Iowa-Wisconsin — a de facto Big 10 elimination match! — hasn't even taken one fourth of that.
Bet Bama-LSU if you want, but there are two things you need to know first:
1. This line is crazy fishy. I probably don't know much more about Tua's health than you do, but assuming he plays — and this line is assuming that he does — seven points is a pretty sizable spread against a team as good as LSU. The public is all over the Tigers here, too with more than 60 percent of bettors backing the road team. That would be smart if it was a hedge against Tua playing, but my gut tells me people just think LSU is better. Vegas seems to disagree, and when bookmakers go against the public… well what side of that do you want to be on?
2. There's just absolutely no reason to bet this game when there are so many other tasty lines. LSU isn't even one of the five juiciest underdogs on the board this week!
Stay disciplined this week, as there are a lot of tasty games to target. Take a flyer on LSU moneyline late if you want, but my advice is to keep your focus on other contests. This is not a game I want to lather up for.
On to the Week 11 picks!
Saturday, 12 p.m. EDT
I was all over this game before I knew anything about TCU's quarterbacks. We bet against the Frogs at Oklahoma State last week, and it was absolutely the right call. Now, TCU is a short home dog to Baylor, who can stay on track for a Big 12 title berth with a win here. TCU is in quarterback hell right now — two quarterbacks have left the program in the last couple of weeks, and two more were hurt in Stillwater last week. It appears that Max Duggan will be able to suit up this weekend, but facing down Baylor's defense at less than 100% is not a reciple for success for a Gary Patterson team that's already a bottom-half conference team.
Baylor is 1-3 ATS as a favorite this year, but they played all four of those games as a double-digit favorite. With the small spread here, and Baylor's extra prep time following last week's Thursday game with West Virginia, the Bears are the right side here.
Pick: Baylor -2.5
Louisville (+6.5) at Miami
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EDT
I am on record saying that Louisville is the second-best team in the ACC. I am also on record saying that I will never, under any circumstances, for the remainder of the 2019 season, bet on a game that involves the Miami Hurricanes.
Yeah, about that… I'm betting this game. As much as I hate betting on Miami games this year — I think I'm like 0-4 on games involving them? — this number is too good to ignore. Here's how I'm rationalizing it: Miami is 3-0 ATS as an underdog this year, with two outright wins; by contrast, it's 1-4 ATS as a favorite this season, with two outright home losses as a favorite of 17 points or more. Yuck.
This season, Miami is one of those teams that it actually might be profitable to bet, but only if you're getting them as a dog. Here, they're playing as a home favorite, and that clearly has not been a good spot for them. I know Miami's roster has been up and down this season, but regardless of who is playing quarterback, I think the Cardinals have the better team. To me, the extra 6.5 points is just candy.
Pick: Louisville +6.5
USC (+2) at Arizona State
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EDT
Arizona State is a little inconsistent, but the Sun Devils are due for a win. They're playing at home for the first time in a month, after taking road losses in the Pac-12 at Utah and UCLA. Now, after a bye, they get a USC team that's still not all that healthy and hasn't really looked right since the Utah win back in September.
There is a problem with backing Arizona State here, and that's the fact that you're way late to the party. When I talked about this game with Andrew Doughty on High Motor earlier this week, the Sun Devils were a home dog of 1-2 points, depending on your book. Since then, they've been bet all the way to -2.
I still like ASU to win, so I'm still recommending the play, but it's always good to remember how much value you've lost when the line has already moved 3-4 points by the time you get there. I know some pros would never bet Arizona State under these circumstances, regardless of whether or not they liked the side.
Pick: Arizona State -2
Kansas State (+7) at Texas
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EDT
Here's a recent text conversation I had with my friend Erik this week:
Erik: Chase, why is Texas favored by 7 over Kansas State?
Chase: Because bettors are dumb.
That pretty much sums it up, right? I've talked about how I think Kansas State is going to play Baylor in the Big 12 title game this year. I've also talked about how I think Texas is so, so overvalued. Kansas State is 5-2 ATS this season, including 3-1 as a dog; Texas hasn't covered a conference game as a home favorite yet this season. Kansas State is the better team, and thanks to the people that bet this up from -5 to -7, you can get them catching a full touchdown. To me, this is a no-brainer. I expect the pros to come in heavy on this on Saturday, so get this now at -7 while you can.
Pick: Kansas State +7
FCS GAME OF THE WEEK
Towson (-3) at Stony Brook
Saturday, 2 p.m. EDT
If you told me you wanted nothing to do with any CAA Football game for the rest of the year, I couldn't really blame you. But CAA underdogs have actually been quite good this year, with tons of outright wins. Here, a not-fully-healthy Towson team goes to the north shore to play an increasingly desperate Stony Brook team. I think the Seawolves can match offensive firepower with Tom Flacco, so I like Stony Brook as a home dog here.
Alternatively: Stony Brook lost its last game, and Towson won it. That's been a pretty great formula to bet a Colonial underdog this season. Whichever strategy you like, back the Brook as a home dog. I think they get the outright win.
Pick: Stony Brook +3
[divider]MORE FCS: With Three Weeks to the Playoff, the Committee Drops its Official Top 10 Ranking[divider]
The Pro Game
Baltimore (-10) at Cincinnati
Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
I haven't seen heavy numbers from this game yet, but I expect this to be a big Pros vs Joes game. Baltimore is coming off a huge win over the previously undefeated Patriots on Monday Night Football. Now, they have to go on the road to play divisional rival Cincinnati on a short week, while the Bengals are coming off a bye. Unsurprisingly, two out of every three tickets are on the Ravens.
Here's the thing, though. Cincinnati played Baltimore tough less than a month ago, losing 23-17 in Charm City. Now, the Bengals catch double digits at home? Plenty of people are pointing to Ryan Finley's status as the starting quarterback in this game, but Cincinnati is so bad in so many places that I'm really not sure quarterback play should factor into an evaluation of the team all that much. In an obvious let down spot, with a focused Cincinnati, in a divisional game, this is wayyyy too many points. Super sharp play, here. Give me the Bengals, who, by the way, have covered the same number of games as the Ravens this season.
Pick: Cincinnati +10
[divider] Week 10 Rewind: Digging up Value in Short Conference Favorites
Last Week's Record: 5-1
2019 Official Picks Record: 32-31-1[divider]
There are not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE outright dogs in the 2K Parlay this week. Who cares? I feel great about it.
- Oregon State +10
- Virginia ML
- West Virginia ML
- Louisville ML
- Virginia Tech ML
- SMU ML
- Oklahoma ML
- Georgia ML
- Kansas State ML
- Stony Brook ML
- James Madison ML
- Weber State ML
13-leg parlay, $5 to win $2,295.58
And with that.. we're out of here 'til next week. I know the LA Chargers have a new OC, but I still can't fathom why they're a road favorite against the Raiders tonight. It seems like handicappers continue to undervalue the Raiders because Gruden is an easy target. Act accordingly…
Good luck in Week 11, and don't forget… fortune favors the bold!