Heading into a year with as much doubt as ever for the Michigan football program, it likely wont warm too many Wolverine hearts that the squad opens its season against one the best underdog bets anywhere across the college football landscape.
While there is serious discussion in the Beehive Stae about the chances of the Utah Utes running the table and returning to a BCS game, it should not be forgotten that this program built its reputation, in gambling circles at least, of being a money maker when catching points from the oddsmakers.
Consider the following numbers: Since the start of the 1997 season, Utah is 24-5 ATS as an underdog. Breaking that down even more reveals that Utah is 4-0 as a home dog, 2-0 as a dog in bowl games and a remarkable 18-5 as a road dog. Relative to that last number, it does not really matter too much if Utah is playing out of confernece or a league brethern. While they do have a better mark in league play as a road dog, 10-2, their mark against non conference is only percentage points worse at 8-3.
Putting those numbers in financial terms, had you wagered $100 on Utah everytime the Utes were getting points since 1997, you would be up $1,850. Only in two seasons during that span did the Utes not win money as an underdog, but one of those seasons was the 2004 Urban Meyer created monster that ran the tables into the Fiesta Bowl. That squad did not make money as a dog because they were favored in every game, of course they still cranked out a 10-2 ATS mark that season. The other non-money making year the Utes had as a underdog was 2006 when they logged a 1-1 mark in that roll, thus costing players merely the juice on a pair of bets.
Clearly, the Utes as a dog is a strong trend. Many in the gambling world shun trends. In some cases, that instinct is correct as you can dig up a trend to support any play you want to make. However, I have always included trends as part of my personal handicapping routine. History carries value. I have a degree in history and a deep rooted passion in college football. So when those paths intersect in terms of placing a wager, I lean on it. But, it has to be proven out long term. Utah as an underdog is just that. It goes back more than a decade and covers three different coaching regimes. It is not a fluky run, or the product of a quick run led by a shining star coach. No, for Utah it is part of the program's culture. They play their best, or better than expected at least, as the competition, and the odds against them grow.
Frankly, I am surprised by this line. It comes courtesy of the Las Vegas Sports Consultants. THE LVSG is not a site where you can actually place wagers, however. I believe it is just a sports gambling resource and information site. Tons of usefel stuff, for sure, but I dont think you can actually lock in a bet at the -7 line at that site. No other internet book that I found has actual week 1 lines up. Plenty have posted lines for the 'games of the year' and listed is Michigan +14.5 against a certain team from down south. I will have thoughts on UM lines in those games in other diaries.
Getting back to the opener, I feel when the lines do get released by the actual books in the week leading up the game, this line will get bet down, perhaps by more than a field goal. It might be released at that small of a number, the LVSC opening guideline be damned. Before I saw the line, I gave strong consideration to the fact this game might be close to a pick 'em. To a certain extent, the point spread of the game is geared towards public perception and an attempt to even out the wagering. And, who is not dissing Michigan this off season? Most expect this power to sink, even as it relates to this specific game. There has been a lot of chatter about BYU-Utah closing the season in a battle of unbeatens, a Utah football announcer in an interview with Rivals said the Utes should be favored to win, college football news.com has penciled in a "W" for Utah and you cant surf the web for too long before stumbling upon some enterprising writer calling for an opening week upset, most with a "lightning will strike twice" theme. A Utah win on August 30 will not necessarily surprise the college football punditry, nor its casual 'Michigan will have a ND 2007-like season" audience.
The line at -7 shocked me. At first blush, it seems like its easy money for Utah. Perhaps too easy. With that in mind, here are a couple reasons why Michigan might buck history in this one and beat/cover as a favorite against Utah.
The experts in the desert dont make too many mistakes. While the goal is to get even money on both sides, dont be fooled into thinking Vegas does not attempt to predict games or manipulate lines to trap a lot of people on the eventual wrong side. This is their business and their business has always been good. I dont know too many cash poor bookies. If the line indeed is -7, they are giving a strong indication that Michigan, as they analayze it, should win by more than a score. While the public gets entranced in the summer by teams who look good at the skill positions, Vegas knows and understands the whole picture. They see a top flight defense wearing the Maize and Blue. They understand that its only a matter of time before we know UM's skill players by name. The skill players may be anonymous, but they know its as talented a group the Utes program ever sees. While the public keeps talking about UM's struggles against the spread, the experts who profit off of casual fans misconceptions figure that fault will wane because a spread innovator is now in control and the D sees this now every day at full throttle in practice. The oddsmakers are well aware that people jump on the Utes when they're a dog, so why make them a full TD puppy against a foe that everybody is expecting to embarass themselves this year? Perhaps Vegas does not expect Utah to score much in this game?
The thought that Vegas is setting a trap for underdog players in this game might even heighten once the rankings are released. We can all agree that UM will not be ranked in those first polls. But what about Utah? Rivals has them ahead of us, but not in the top-25. Still there is a palatable buzz going around in the punditry circles about this Utah team. I exepct Utah to be in the first polls in the 20-25 range. If Michigan is still favored in the game, then I might even go to the window asking for a favorite ticket. If you're looking to break into the sports gambling world this season, do this one thing and you will make money: During college football and hoops, look at the lines everyday and find unranked teams favored to beat a ranked opponent. Place a bet on that unranked favorite. You will win two out of three games and slowly develop a nice profit.
Part of using historical trends as a handicapping method is knowing when the tides of history are changing. Do the oddsmakers see a momentum change regarding the profitbality of Utah as an underdog? Its easy for people to go to an information site and quickly find out the Utes are 18-5 ATS as a road dog. They can throw the -7 out there and get all those people to happily climb aboard.
Do those people know the Utes are only 4-4 the last three years as a true (meaning in the other guy's stadium, not a neutral field like a bowl) road dog? A trend that runs a 77 percent success clip is coughing at 50 percent success rate (you lose money if you're going 50/50 by the way) the last three seasons. Utah still has a great percentage over the years in this role, but 80-percent of their losses in this spot have come when this year's senior class has been in uniform.
Or that Utah is 1-3 in that role the last three years against schools from the BCS conference, with double digit losses against North Carolina, UCLA and Oregon State? They did rebound and win outright last year as a dog at Lousiville, but the Cardinal team was the worst of the group and until a few seasons was not a BCS school, but a mid major colleague of the Utes. Coincidentally, their failures at UCLA and at Oregone State came in the last two season openers, just like their upcoming tilt with Michigan. That tells me that when Utah pays off as a dog it happens later in the season, after the public has discounted them. Over an eight year span, Utah went 8-0 ATS as a road dog in non league games, but this year's senior class is just 1-3 in that spot.
I dont feel confortable about either side in this one vis a vis the point spread. The bookish historian in me wants to grab those seven points and see what happens. But, I lost my right ankle and then my left ankle stepping into those season opening "bear traps" in Utah games the last two seasons. Hey, they did earn that money back later in both those years, but maybe this season I will step around the possible trap and wait to play Utah later in the year. Besides, dont we all need to be pulling together this cominig opening week (and season) to get this regime off to a good start. We dont need some jackass in section 14 whose inner accountant is quietly pulling for the Utes.
If I really want to bet on an underdog that opening week, I ought to save my cash for Fresno +5 over Rutgers. Or perhaps MSU +7 over Cal.
I’m getting tired of reading articles that praise Bill Stewart but completely forget to mention that Calvin McGee was at the game. It’s as if the world forgot that RR put the system in place, Barwis turned it into a machine, and Calvin schemed his ass off…which leads me to ask this question…
West Virginia went out and b-slapped Oklahoma all over the Fiesta Bowl field. Instantly the credit for this whipping went to the coaching and preparation of Bill Stewart.
- Did Bill call the offense?
- Did he do anything new with the defense?
I look at this and say…the assistant coach's did their job and Stewart was a figure head to rally the team. IMO, Bill gets credit for getting the team to the game…but McGee and the D-coordinator get credit for organizing the game.
So…What do you say? Beyond the players, who gets credit when an interim coach comes in and wins a big bowl game?
For those that care, here are the numbers the freshmen will wear next year. You will note that there is no #1.
2 - Sam McGuffie
4 - Marcus Witherspoon
5 - Justin Feagin
7 - Terrence Robinson
9 - Martavious Odoms
12 - J.T. Floyd
15 - Michael Cox
16 - Roy Roundtree
20 - Michael Shaw
22 - Darryl Stonum
25 - Kenny Demens
28 - Brandon Smith
33 - Boubacar Cissoko
36 - Taylor Hill
42 - J.B. Fitzgerald
56 - Ricky Barnum
57 - Elliott Mealer
63 - Rocko Khoury
64 - Kurt Wermers
65 - Patrick Omameh
68 - Mike Martin
78 - Dann O’Neill
86 - Kevin Koger
88 - Brandon Moore
Fall practice preview..
First (for some it is old news but..) Notre Dame going into fall practice is down two players. Of the two, Darrin Walls is the most noteworthy. He was a blue chip CB that was recruited by ND, Michgian, PSU, and Pitt. Rumors around South Bend is because of classroom related problems. I cannot believe it is grades because it seems Notre Dame's football players all graduate, win the Nobel Prize, and go from a high school 2.5 gpa to a "top univeristy" MD in business with honors.
What does this mean for Michigan? Considering the passing game will be the most unkown quantity of the offense this year, it could only help that one of the better ND secondary is at home for this game.
What else is new for ND this year.
In the offseason, the biggest splash was the hiring of Jon Tenuta as assistant head coach and linebacker coach. I believe it will be a stepping stone to the Defensive Coordinator postition as well. If the defense improves, I think Corwin Brown is pushed out or demoted. If the defense does not improve, I think Corwin Brown is pushed out or demoted. My opinion only here, but why hire a guy who is the "most awesomest DC" not to be the "most awesomest DC" of a good program. I remember Notre Dame hiring the last decent DC to beat them and groom him for head coach. You remeber Bob Davis don't you? Is history about to repeat itself?
Emu and the Gang.
By Imperial edict, Jimmy Clausen is the second comming, only better. He is fully recovered from last year's pre-season elbow surgery that wasn't supposed to be a problem or cause him to lose any of his awesomeness. One 3-9 season and whoops!!!! The savior was only playing at 5% of his full potential. Only the Son of God could have done so good given the conditions. Gotta love the sliding scale used by Charlie.
- "No, it won't be a problem."
- Doh! "Yea, it was a huge problem, we never said otherwise."
Last year we saw ND quaterbacks not named JC heading out of town. Evan Sharpley, a MLB prospect and not a NFL one, was the only one to stay. He was the most senior member of the QB club and played in a few games. Now, ND has a good incoming QB in Dayne Crist. I will go on record here and saying I think Charlie has him penciled in at the #2 postition and will give him the reps to be so. Charile is all about the QB and his percieved mojo as a QB guy. Evan Sharpley is a dead end since this is his last year. Crist is probably just as good on paper as Jimmy C, but may have more upside due to his size and strength.
Can I get a running back for $100 Alex?
Despite decent recruiting in the backfield, Charlie has yet to figure out what to do with these guys. James Aldridge is their version of Kevin Grady minus the booze. In other words, a highly ranked recruit yet to prove themselves. Neither one is presumed to be top of their prospective depth charts. I could go on to review the other members of the backfield, but unless Charlie changes his M.O., they are mere pawns in his quest for QB domination.
Why so many defections?
In the past, there have been quite a few players deciding to transfer, despite it not being the coach's first year. It may seem higher than normal, but most programs see players leave for various reasons. Why may it seem more likely at Notre Dame is, I believe, the promises of playing time. Combine that with the pressure of playing the "hot new recruit" may drive players that feel forgoten to look elsewhere. I think that is something that may not be unique to Notre Dame, but they are a product of their own hype.
I ran across the post below from a WV fan named "jdakanwv " on the Sportsline Boards.
Aside from his "Mouse Pasties" avatar, I think he sheds some unbiased insight into how the offense might operate.
One thing he stresses is over use of the bubble screen. I hope this does not become the new "Throwing the Rock since 1969".
Here's the post and the direct link:"Recently I was on the WVU boards and began having a discussion with Dsoph about things to expect in Ann Arbor over the next few years. You will see some things that you have never seen before. Some will be impressive, others...not so much...here is my list, take it for what it is worth....
- Everyone will be leaner, quicker, and faster. Your linemen will go from averaging 315 across the line to averaging about 280, but they will be quick and explosive.
- The bubble screen....Get used to it. You will run it on average, 8-12 times a game. At least twice a year, you will see some version of it 20+ times in a game. The idea behind it is a good one, get the ball in a playmakers hands quickly and let them make a play, but you can only see it so many times before you are ready to go nuts.
- Changes. Many of your traditions will remain, but there will be little tweaks to most of them. As you can see with your road uni's, that has already begun.
- Big Plays. Once RR gets his full compliment of players and a true dual threat QB, the number of 35+ yd TD's will increase dramatically. (There is no site like watching a speedy RB or QB bust thru the line and split the safeties like they were standing still and having him go 50yds untouched for a TD. You can see that it will happen within the first two steps the ball carrier takes....it is a site to see and you will enjoy that.)
- This one is the most impressive to me. At the end of the 1st and 3rd qtr's, (especially when you are on offense) Your offensive line will sprint to the other end of the field to get ready for the next quarter. When this is the most impressive is heading to the 4th quarter of a hard fought game and seeing the looks on the defenses faces as the linemen sprint to the other end of the field and the D is gasping for air and sucking down water like it is their job.
Good luck to Uof M in the upcoming seasons. RR's style will take a little time to get used to, but in the end, you will enjoy it.
P.S. Barwis is an animal...You guys will love him."
It's nice to see a WV fan not bash the university, fans or RR.
Three yards and a cloud of Bubble Screen... could be my new blog page, only time will tell.
Even though the evil banner suffered an epic beat down in the semis of the banner contest, I apprecaited all of the positive feedback from the community. I heard some of you guys asking for larger versions of the banners, so I did a bit of work and brought an old site out retirement.
I put up a couple of the older wallpapers along with a couple newer ones. I have some more pieces in the works and am always open to requests and feedback.
p.s. feel free to download if you like anything but let me know in the comments section (of the site) so I can trend the good ones.