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The 2016 Cougs continue to be a glitch in the matrix when it comes to Vegas

FIVE GAMES into the 2016 Washington State football campaign, and the Cougs are at it again. Oddsmakers generally don't set a line on FBS-FCS matchups - and so that week's effort remains the most impressive thing Las Vegas has done when it comes to a Wazzu game this season. Though four FBS matchups, Vegas has yet to beat WSU. And it hasn't even been close.

In Washington State games against Boise State, Idaho, Oregon, and Stanford, oddsmakers missed the point spread on WSU by an average of 21 1/4 points.

This is a mathematically ridiculous margin of error.

My best explanation for why the Cougs have confounded the sportbooks? Because they continue to confound the computers.

Take my favorite pin cushion Bill Connelly for instance. Connelly's S&P+ rankings are among the most advanced and widely followed computer evaluation models in the business. Heading into last week, the Cougs ranked a lowly  No. 56 nationally in his rankings.

An argument could have been made in support of that -- Wazzu had thoroughly demolished Oregon (a top 25 team according to Connelly) but it was the Cougs' only significant win of the season through four weeks. Plus, WSU had lost lost to an FCS team just a month before. Perhaps the numbers balance each other out to a mere middle-of-the-road assessment? 

But that theory can be thrown out the window after what happened in Palo Alto on Saturday. WSU's 42-16 dismantling of Stanford ought to have left zero doubt -- in the minds of man or machine -- that the Cougs are a solid football team. Right, Bill?

Not according to Connelly's calculations. After one of the most dominant performance in a decade by WSU, the Cougars moved up to ... No. 56.  No change.

So holding the Cardinal offense to 9 total points, including a meaningless TD on the game's final play?  Meh. Scoring 42 points on the vaunted Cardinal Defense which had previously only given up 20 per game? Sigh.

I have this image in my head of Connelly's Gateway 2000 Laptop going onto Blue Screen of Death after Shalom Luani and his Cougars' so-called "102nd-ranked defense" picked off Keller Chryst to seal the blowout.

Matt Moore


And if this isn't enough to figures out what a glitch in the matrix the Cougars are, you need only look at what happened to Stanford after the loss in the same rankings. The Cardinal came into the game ranked No. 28 in the S&P+ rankings. So what happened after getting demolished by the lowly Cougs?

They moved up seven spots ... to No. 21! 

You can't make this stuff up.

For whatever it is worth, the oddsmakers may be flailing, but the gamblers are starting to catch on. The Cougs opened as 12 1/2 point underdogs to Stanford but Johnny Gambler pushed it down to 7 points by kickoff.  On Sunday morning, WSU opened as a 1 1/2 point favorite over UCLA --  within six hours the line had moved to 4 1/2.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

RELATED STORY: Why oddsmakers miss so badly on WSU each week 


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