Stats that lie: College football favorites 'leaking oil'
Crunching the numbers and handicapping the stats is a big part of any sports bettor’s process. But what about those times when the scoreboards, boxscores and spreadsheets fail to tell the true story?
We look at some of the stats that can lead you astray when handicapping this week’s action:
Nine college football teams managed to win games last week, despite being out-gained on the stat sheet. They include: Air Force, Arkansas State, Kent State, Maryland, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Rutgers, Temple and Western Kentucky.
The Golden Flashes, the Knights and the Terrapins were each out-yarded by over 100 yards.
Fresh Eggs For Sale
Four more undefeated teams left the ranks last week, leaving 12 teams with perfect records this season.
The Big East and SEC lead the race with three squads each, followed by the Pac-12 with two unbeaten teams.
Of those terrific 12, top-ranked Alabama owns the best defense in the land, having held every opponent to season-low yardage. In fact, going back to last year’s national championship team, the Tide have held 14 opponents to season-low yards, including the last eight in a row.
FYI: Only one other team in the land can lay claim to having held every foe to a season-low yardage mark this year. Hint: Their name starts and ends with a vowel.
On the other side of the coin, three teams are still searching of their initial win of the season. Two of them, Eastern Michigan and UMass own 500-yard stop units. The other squad, Southern Mississippi, sports a marshmallow-like offense, ranked No. 112 overall.
Not So Common Opponents
Florida International and Troy have faced one common opponent in 2012, Louisiana Lafayette.
The Panthers lost the game 48-20 and were out-gained by 242 yards. The Trojans dropped a 37-24 decision but won the stats by 199 yards.
In addition, California and Stanford have squared off against one similar foe this season, USC.
The Bears were mauled, 27-9, while losing the stats by 238 yards. The Cardinal defeated the “University of Spoiled Children”, 21-14, while managing to win the stats by 137 yards.
By definition, a team that is leaking oil is one who has lost the stats (total yards) in each of its last three games.
These teams become high-risk propositions when they find themselves as favorites. It’s not often you’ll find a favorite covering the spread in a game in which it has been out-gained.
This week’s list of college football favorites that are leaking oil includes: Georgia Tech, Texas, UTEP and Vanderbilt.
On the NFL front, the Buffalo Bills should plan a visit to the nearest Jiffy Lube before hosting Tennessee Sunday.
Where Have All The Victories Gone?
Seven teams who made it to the postseason last year fail to own a winning record at this stage of the NFL season.
Three of them, namely Detroit, New Orleans and Pittsburgh, own sub-.500 records.
Of the seven, surprisingly four quarterbacks – Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay), Peyton Manning (Denver), Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) and Tom Brady (New England) - rank in the Top 6 in QB Ratings.
Detroit’s Matthew Stafford’s 79.2 QB rating ranks the lowest (No. 24) of the subpar seven.
No less than five NFL teams came up winners last week while losing total yardage in the game by over 100 yards.
They included: Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Miami and Seattle.
Stat Of The Year
NFC dogs are 33-4-1 ATS this season. That is not a misprint.