When you take a team from a low-level conference to play one of the premier teams in college football, you want one word to embody that team: Tough.
You want them to be tougher than a the $2 sirloin special at Beefsteak Charlies.
You want them to be so tough, you could fork the steak off your plate, rest it on your shoulder and play it like a Stradavarius violin.
You want them to be so tough, that when John Candy goes to eat that steak in the Great Outdoors, you make him eat the gristle...leaving him face down on his plate at the end of it all. He finished you off, but just barely.
Well I have that tough $2 steak team right here for you: Utah State.
We won't win because we're on the road playing the Badgers. But we get a whopper of a spread (29) and enough guts and grit to get us inside this number.
Let's talk about why we will cover.
1. Sharps love Utah State
Now sharps know Utah State so it's not like I'm revealing an incredible secret team here. How do we know sharps like them? Well it goes back to a post I made last year when I questioned a line with the thread title "Why is Wyoming only 6 point favorites over Utah State in Laramie?"
Now we all know how tough it is to play in Laramie. Just ask Boise State and SDSU. But on top of that, Wyoming was having one it's best seasons ever. Utah State conversely was mired in one of its worst and would miss a bowl completely. But despite all that, that line opened at -6 and closed at -4 Wyoming! That is SHARP money folks. There is no way around it. It is a smaller more obscure conference and Sharps were trusting that Utah State would turn it around on a bigger stage (and Wyoming would come crashing down to earth). Now that game didn't work out too well for the Sharps: Wyoming won 52-28.
But that line screamed Sharp money. Even the week before that, Utah State was only a 5 point dog at home to the might SDSU. They got crushed 40-13.
But last season was an aberration.
In the end Utah State is a sharp, more unknown buy. Over the long term that is a good side to be on. A profitable side. A sharp side. We get that here.
2. The Classic Buy Low/Sell High Theory
With Wisconsin, you'll alway be buying High on a line (Bad...you want to SELL high). They are one of the most public teams in all of college football.
With Utah State in 2017, getting over 4 TD's, you are Buying LOW.
Why? The STAIN of last year's 3-9 debacle is rearing its ugly head in this spread. That is a GOOD thing. Because Utah State is much better than that.
How do we know? Phil Steele has a nice little "Stock Market Index" indicator formula for us to use. Take the average total wins from the 2 years prior to last year (2014 - 9 and 2015 - 6) and subtract 2016's total wins (3). That equals +4.5. Of 143 teams since 1990 that had a +4.5 "Stock Market Index" indicator, 108 improved the following year. That is a whopping 80.4% of the teams or 4 of 5 teams improve the next year.
No, that doesn't cover the spread for us. No, that doesn't prevent a blowout on the road against a top tier team.
What it does do is say Utah State WILL almost certainly be better (or has a great chance to) and that means this 29 is OVERVALUING the terrible year last year by giving out such a number and UNDERVALUING the team on the field this year, which will improve.
This puts us in a good spot ATS with such number (and it's a big one).