College Four-Play: Week 3 predictions

Las Vegas oddsmaker Keith Glantz, of the ‘Glantz-Culver’ line, once told me that 70 percent of the teams who cover the spread, also win the game.

I thought of that this week when I was doing a story on the four college football teams that were 2-0 SU (straight up) this season heading into Week 3 who had yet to cover a spread.

Every now and then I’ll throw the 70 percent rule out to people. Some nod, rub their chins and murmur something like “interesting”, while others just flat out call “b.s.”

So I put our nerds on the case and asked them delve deep into our database to unearth the truth.

Turns out I’m right. Well, Glantz is right - at least when it comes to college football.

Over the past five seasons, the team that won the game SU went 2660-937-49 ATS (against the spread) in FBS (Div. 1-A) games, not including bowl games. That works out to 72.95 percent of the time.

Just to show the numbers aren’t skewed by the time period, last year the winning team went 557-210-9 ATS, for a percentage of 71.78.

So what does this mean?

Well, for starters, it brings some clarity to the value of the moneyline if you weren’t aware of this adage before. Many public bettors are terrified of, or simply ignore, the moneyline when it comes to more sizeable underdogs.

Many sharps, however, like to place a smaller moneyline wager in games where they’re also taking the points with the underdog. The reasoning being, if you like them to cover, there’s a decent chance they’re also going to win.

Usually, bettors who do this have some kind of rule around it. For example, they only do it for underdogs of between 10 and 20 points. That’s up to the individual bettor to decide.

The other factor here is that I’m trying to distract you from the fact I went 1-3 with my 4P picks last week. I’m now 4-4 on the season.

On to this week’s selections.

Boston College at Northwestern (-3.5, 54.5)

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said this week that only one of his players on either side of the ball is “playing at a championship level.” 

I can’t tell if he’s bragging or complaining. This is Northwestern we're talking about. 

Pick: Northwestern -3.5

BYU at Utah (+3.5, 46)


Check out this lede from a story in the Salt Lake Tribune this week:

“The kicks went to the left, they went to the right, they went barely above the grass and sometimes, they even went through the goal posts.”

To summarize, head coach Kyle Whittingham called the kicking situation in Utah “discouraging”.

Not good when the spread is 3.5 points.

Pick: BYU

Utah State vs. Wisconsin (-13.5, 51)

Hey, remember that moneyline thingy we talked about? Let’s give it a shot.

Pick: Utah State +13.5 (and a half unit on the ML)

Texas A&M at SMU (+11,60.5)


This may be a sucker bet but it was hard not to love the way Johnny Manziel played last week against Florida in his first college start. 
 
Pick: Texas A&M -11

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Posted by eyers
1 year ago

I would like to see that states that if a team is expected to win, i.e. giving points, what percentage will they cover? Now if that is 70% that would be impressive!
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Posted by NBA2H
1 year ago

The reasoning is completely wrong here. Please learn conditional probability. What you gave as 70% is the probability that the team covers the spread GIVEN that they win straight up. In notation that is P(Cover|SU Win) The conclusion you then try to come up with is that if you like a team to cover, you should like them to win straight up too. That is looking at the probability that you win straight up GIVEN you expect them to cover. ie. P(SU Win|Cover) Those are completely different probabilities. To quote: "Over the past five seasons, the team that won the game SU went 2660-937-49 ATS (against the spread) in FBS (Div. 1-A) games, not including bowl games. That works out to 72.95 percent of the time. " Instead of looking at the teams that won SU and then checking the ATS, you're supposed to look at the teams that beat ATS, and then see how many of them won SU. I guarantee you the numbers will be quite different.
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Posted by Jon_Campbell
1 year ago

That's a fair analysis dafirestar. I think that's accurate for the NW and Utah State plays. I think A&M will just bowl over SMU and BYU will out-muscle Utah in a grind of a game. Good luck with your plays.
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Posted by dafirestar
1 year ago

I like our selections this week. Quite often I find myself selecting against teams as opposed to betting on a team. I see your selections seem to follow that line of reasoning this week. Your not so much relying on the side your choosing to play well, but rather wagering that the other team plays poorly.
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Top Response

Posted by NBA2H
1 year ago

"The reasoning is completely wrong here. Please learn conditional probability. What you gave as 70% is the probability that the team covers the spread GIVEN that they win straight up. In notation that is P(Cover|SU Win) The conclusion you then try t..."