Bet The Farm (3-2): Week 2

As we wrote last week, the beauty of sports betting is that while the house has no shortage of edges, you the bettor do have one edge: you can cherry pick whatever games you like. That edge worked well enough for us, with our cherry-picked lines going 3-2 in Week One. Can we stay hot in Week 2 in the Survivor Pool, Boot Pool and more? Read on…

The Big Three

Clemson (+5.5) at Georgia Tech, Thurs.
USC (-4.5) at Ohio State
Notre Dame (-3) at Michigan

Without even looking at the lines, I'm thinking Tech, USC and Michigan. My Rule No. 1 is to always bet on teams No. 1 - No. 5 against teams No. 6 - No. 25, and USC/Ohio State qualifies nicely. Rule No. 2 is to always bet against Clemson and Arizona State until proven otherwise. And, hey, I'm a Michigan fan, how could I go with Notre Dame?

Of course, Notre Dame won 35-0 last week, with Clausen 13-of-16. And I believe I am actually Michigan's starting safety and second-string cornerback. So I think Michigan's a little overrated, if anything, right now, with all the attention on them given the extra practice issue and their strong showing against Western Michigan. Notre Dame meanwhile, I've said it before and I'll keep saying it until I'm wrong -- I think they're a top-ten team. So I'm going with the Irish and hoping I'm wrong.

Caught some of the Georgia Tech-Jacksonville State game – QB Josh Nesbitt can run, but his arm leaves much to be desired. The nerds also had a severe case of fumble-it is, so Clemson looked much more impressive against their no-name opponent than Tech. Still, Thursday night, Atlanta will be rocking and, of course, it's historically flaky Clemson – have to go with Tech here.

And finally, USC is going to kill Ohio State by about 42 points. Linesmakers couldn't give me enough on this game. All Trojans baby. Lock of the week.

Last week:How much have things changed such that Miami/Florida State wasn't one of the three biggest games heading into last week -- but Oregon/Boise State was. I rode the Broncos to a 1-0 victory and foolishly thought that I would stay in the black for the rest of the season with a little more early season luck. Then came Saturday, and Georgia put up a good effort but fell to Oklahoma State. The nightcap rubber match was in doubt to the end, but Alabama's late score was enough to cover. So a hard-earned 2-1, I'll take it.

Stanford

Last week: Stanford came through at -16.5 on Washington State. 1-0. This week, who the heck knows? I think both teams are slightly overrated. Stanford will always be overrated by our fan base, like any school's rabid fans – I think the national perception that we're more likely than not to miss a bowl certainly isn't shared on the site. Wake Forest, meanwhile, lost 24-21 to Baylor in a game that wasn't that close – the Deacons gained less than 300 yards and trailed 21-7 at one point.

Stanford's been pretty good on the road under Harbaugh, and I think Stanford's home/road performance split is less than the average team's because the average team has better fan support than we do, and I don't know if the linesmakers sufficiently account for that. Ultimately though, Wake is en route to a 4-8 season in my mind, and this is therefore a game Stanford should win. I'm calling a 28-21 Cardinal victory and I'll be rooting my head off in Winston-Salem (with crack reporter Andy Drukarev) to see the good guys through. Hope to meet Booties there!

Cherry picking

I think human tendency is to overreact to the latest data point, and at no time in the season would that be true more than this week. We have knowledge of the program, its recruits, its players, its coaches, its performance in recent seasons – and we have how it looked five days ago. I think the latter is as important as the former, especially when most Week 1 games were against creampuffs, and so there are good opportunities for value.

USC – 4.5 Ohio State. Wish I could make a bet where if USC wins by 9, they pay double, if USC by 13.5, they pay triple and so on, but if Ohio State wins by 4.5, I'd pay double, triple on 9 and so on. (I know, I know, you can buy points against the line, but it doesn't quite work like that.) I'd probably bet the Trojans if it were USC -17. I also really like North Carolina -4.5 versus Connecticut and Oregon State -8.5 against UNLV -- both teams are seriously underrated. I'll also take Hawaii -2 against Washington State.

On the money line: I like UCLA +190 at Tennessee, Purdue +400 at Oregon, Vandy +550 at LSU , and Oklahoma State -605 at Houston – love that line.

Last week: Penn State led 31-0 but didn't cover 26.5 against Akron: 0-1, barely. Navy at +21.5 was a darn good bet: 1-1. Stanford -16.5 makes it 2-1, Alabama and VT over 38.5 big makes 3-1. Arizona's late-night tilt against Central Michigan would represent the difference between a good day and an epic one, and when the Wildcats won by 13, instead of 13.5, 3-2 was the final mark, with the two losses by 0.5 and 2.5 points, and the wins all by double digits.

Survivor Pool

With Oregon State over Portland State, we're through one week, and this week, we'll take Arizona over Northern Arizona. Like Oregon State, Arizona is a team I think finishes in the middle of the conference, so why not use them here in a gimme and save Washington State for later? (Same with ASU, my tenative pick for the next two weeks.)

I probably won't win this pool or the BootBoard Pool, given inherent luck and the fact that I'm facing 50 pretty smart folks in their own right. However, I am confident I will be one of the most prepared guys for the Survivor Pool. Before the season began, I looked at the entire Pac-10 schedule and chose a team to pick each week. However, naturally, I had too many of some schools, so I had to revise. The going got pretty dicey on a couple of weekends, and I'm not 100 percent solid on these picks, but here's what I've ended up with for now:

9/5 Oregon State over Portland State (win)

9/12 Arizona over NAU

9/19 Arizona State over ULM

9/26 Georgia over ASU

10/3 Notre Dame over Washington

10/10 Arizona State over Washington State

10/17 USC over Notre Dame

10/24 Oregon over Washington

10/31 Cal over ASU

11/7 UCLA over Washington

11/14 Cal over Arizona

11/21 OSU over WSU

11/28 Notre Dame over Stanford

12/5 USC over Arizona

Teams fill up pretty darn fast, and so if your goal, as mine is, is to make it through the season unscathed, you're going to have to go out on a limb a few times, no way around it. That reality is compounded by this year's Pac-10 schedule -- two weekends in particular. First, there are no clear-cut favorites on October 17 in USC at Notre Dame, Cal at UCLA, Stanford at Arizona, Washington at Arizona State, and I've already used Washington State, who's playing Notre Dame. Second troubling date is November 28: UCLA at USC, Arizona at Arizona State, Notre Dame at Stanford and Washington State at Washington. Obviously picking against Washington and for USC in each of those weeks respectively is the safest bet, but then look at December 5: Cal at Washington, Arizona at USC and Oregon State at Oregon (on that Thursday). I have to take USC over Arizona there, which already removes one USC from the roster. Plus, anytime Notre Dame's playing a Pac-10 team, it's a good idea to pick that game because that only costs you one Pac-10 team instead of the two teams in an intra-conference matchup, which makes things really dicey if you try repeatedly. No limit on picking Notre Dame, so we have them in here for Stanford, Washington and USC, which altogether eliminates USC.

So then you're left with some pretty tough choices. Oct. 17 is a weekend that's going to knock out a lot of people, so going with USC to win in South Bend isn't as crazy as it would appear at first blush -- especially when the only other rational option is picking the Jekell and Hyde act that is Arizona State against a team with a pulse. So I'm counting on Notre Dame not to be too good, but I'm also counting on them to be pretty legit, because I do have them beating Washington and Stanford, two other games which could easily knock me out. Cal over the Arizona schools is also dicey, but hopefully come late October we'll have a better read on these teams and I can adjust as necessary. Speaking of on-the-fly tweaks, maybe I switch to Notre Dame over WSU on Oct. 17 and switch the week previous to UCLA over Oregon if the Ducks continue to flounder. Guess I'm just trying to use up the middle-of-the-road teams first, and while I have a general gameplan and an idea of the tough weekends, I'll remain flexible as the season unfolds. Stay tuned -- unless, of course, Northern Arizona has a little UC-Davis in it this weekend.

BootPool

Last week: lost along with Illinois, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, but I imagine a lot of people did as well. Long season, everyone's pretty close. We'll track this more carefully as the out-of-conference snooze fests fade to full-fledged intra-conference tilts.


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