The Wiz Of Odds: Don't get weak during Week 1

Jay Christensen covered college football, among other sports, for the Los Angeles Times and produces the popular college football blog TheWizofOdds.com.

The end of hibernation for college football fans is near.

It has been 238 long days since last season’s BCS title game. Thursday marks the start of the 2009 season.

For months, bettors have been preparing for Week 1 games, building up their bankrolls, reading as much literature they can get their hands on and scouring the Internet to track injuries and suspensions of key players.

And now that the magical day has nearly arrived, what should a bettor do?

Not a damn thing.

That’s right — do not place a bet on opening week. Instead, wait, watch and listen.

Betting NCAAF Week 1

What is the best way to wager Week 1 of college football?

NCAAF Week 1 has value

Covers columnist David Payne says you should strike early while the playing field between bettors and books is even.

NCAAF Week 1 matchups

Take a look at Week 1's games.

Let’s count the reasons:

Lack of competitive games

There are 74 games in Week 1, with 38 of the games (51.4 percent) involving Division I-A teams playing I-AA opponents. It’s likely the highest number and percentage of such games in a week’s schedule since the NCAA adopted the divisional setup in 1978. It’s laughable, really. Spring scrimmages are more competitive.

Big numbers

Crummy matchups mean double-digit pointspreads. Of the 40 games listed on Covers.com , 25 had spreads of 10 or more points. Do you really feel good about Texas being a 40-point favorite over Louisiana Monroe? Besides, where’s the sport in that? That’s like fishing at a trout farm.

The hype factor

Every team is feeling good about its chances at the moment. Even fans of Western Kentucky, which is playing its first season in Div I-A, are giddy with optimism. Reality is about to hit them like a tsunami. Western Kentucky is a 31.5-point underdog at Tennessee.

Clarity of mind

It’s important to study and watch teams closely in the first week without rooting for or against a team. Check out strengths and weakness, style of play. Do they have a quarterback who can make plays? What about that idiot coach? Doesn’t he know how many timeouts are allowed in a half? Seriously, this tiny investment will pay big dividends later in the season.

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I won’t take it personally if you go against my advice. Despite what the surgeon general says, some people still smoke. Proceed at your own risk.

If you must dip your toe into the betting waters this early, here are some points to consider when picking a side:

Take a team with an experienced offensive line

Last season, eight of the Top 10 teams in the final Associated Press poll began the season with at least 65 combined career starts by their offensive linemen. Utah and Mississippi, two of the biggest surprises of 2008, had more than 80 starts of experience. Georgia, Missouri and Clemson, three Top-10 teams that disappointed, had fewer than 40 starts each, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Here are five teams to watch and their offensive line starts: Notre Dame (100), Virginia Tech (100), Texas (91), Florida State (86) and Michigan (75). Here are five teams to worry about: Oregon (20), West Virginia (25), Oklahoma (29), Penn State (

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Posted by buckeye61
4 years ago

Busch League is for those who got kicked off or couldn't make the Budweiser League. I agree, lay off this weekend and might as well just lay off the whole season as far as I'm concerned. What a dufus. He comes on covers saying don't bet.....heh heh heheheheheheh! I' wait for this all year long!!!!! Liking a lot of dogs....like South Carolina tonight! Waht to win some $ without sweating too much Tease those dogs!
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Posted by garbotalks
4 years ago

Hey, Man with Ice Running Through Veins, Busch League refers to baseball.
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Posted by larojoes
4 years ago

Sorry, but this is not Western Kentucky's first season as a Div. I-A team. Last year they were considered an independent. This year they are a member of the Sun Belt. It would be nice if you got your facts straight.
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Posted by rebnasticator
4 years ago

I agree with ya doobz, but we really do not know what these teams have put in at these points. I will go against a first start QB on the road especially if the coach is new as well, as it will be tough to implement an offense with a tough crowd yelling at them. Those are the plays I like early on. Also, it's tough to be a successful handicapper on the pot. That's how I got into the game, but it hinders long term success. It helps with your bad beats and getting over things, but kills your competitive advantage. I think most of the top guys will agree with this one.
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Posted by doobiebrother
4 years ago

"feel out the public"? Smart bettors bet the teams. Sure it's public misconceptions that cause incorrect lines but if you know the TEAMS, you will know an incorrect line when you see one, and it really doesn't matter WHY the line is wrong or what the public thinks, or who they are betting on, or whether it' week one or not. What's going to happen on the field will happen regardless. Most years I find a higher quantity of good plays early on and more BIG plays later, but an excellent play or an excellent group of plays might pop up at any time. Early season/late season, like all generalizations, is stupid. Each game must be taken individually. This week's card is strong, and I really don't care what week it is.
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Posted by rebnasticator
4 years ago

The weakest bettors generally do better early on. It is very difficult to call yourself a sharp bettor and go against what you believe in. It is better to ease in, test the water, and when it is your time take it to the building when you are riding your midseason stride. Navidson, in your idea, why not just say when you are on a cold streak, just bet the opposite of what your picks would normally be because you think your picks are a loser. I, and a lot others I know, prefer to slow it down at first, feel out the public, and smash it down the stretch.
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Posted by Bisket23
4 years ago

what a dumb article, the weatkest lines you will see all year are in week 1 and 2
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Posted by navidson76
4 years ago

where's the sport in that? do you guys do this for sport or for profit? what is more important week 1, picking some dogs and convincing yourself and others that you are a sharp bettor and know how to pick em or having a square card and hitting most if not all and making "money"?
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Posted by doobiebrother
4 years ago

I disagree completely. It's all about matchups and it's extremely rare to find the kind of mismatches in conference play that you find in non-con action, and especially in week #1. There's also teams that are way down or way up from previous reputation (can you say Oregon) that the public overrates/underrates and the oddsmaker is forced to set the line incorrectly to get his vig. Week 1 is where you get all the value on/against these teams, and after week 2 or 3, the public has caught on and the easy pickin's are gone.
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Posted by garbotalks
4 years ago

It's finally here!!!!! I much prefer the wham-bam thank you ma'am approach.
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Posted by bej0101
4 years ago

lets dive in and see how deep the water is later..yeehaw!!!!!!!!!!
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Posted by TheWiesguy
4 years ago

Good heads on the OL figures. I will wade into the pool gently this weekend. I see a lot of value on CMU/NEV/VT as dogs.
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Top Response

Posted by TheWiesguy
4 years ago

"Good heads on the OL figures. I will wade into the pool gently this weekend. I see a lot of value on CMU/NEV/VT as dogs."