Short Lines in New Year's Bowls

Short Lines in New Year's Bowls

By the KING of Las Vegas WAYNE ALLYN ROOT

Normally on a day like this...a huge sporting showcase that the whole world we'll be watching...I would come in as THE KING OF UPSETS to outline for you the true expectations for major upsets. But, this year...most of the spreads are so short that the word "major" wouldn't be used in front of any upset!

As I write this, there aren't any spreads more than a touchdown. And, four of the six New Year's Bowls are around a field goal. This is in stark contrast to recent seasons. Last year, we had three games within a half point of a touchdown...and then the Fiesta Bowl in the evening was at two touchdowns. We had double digit spreads in each of the last three years in fact. But, no one-sided favorites here on the second day of 2012.

I still want to review what's happened the past few seasons to give you a sense of the best expectations for what could turn out to be a very exciting day of college football.

NEW YEAR'S GAMES...LAST YEAR
Texas Tech (-7.5) beat Northwestern 45-38
Florida (-7) beat Penn State 37-24
Alabama (-7.5) beat Michigan State 49-7
Mississippi State (-3) beat Michigan 52-14
TCU (-3.5) beat Wisconsin 21-19
Oklahoma (-14.5) beat Connecticut 48-20

Notice that the favorites won all six games last year, but only covered four of the six. We had three really big blowouts with Alabama and Mississippi State sending a message from the ACC to the Big 10, and Oklahoma embarrassing undersized Connecticut from the Big East. I can't talk specifically about my plays for this year's games...but I will say that I expect at least one decent-sized blowout on the card in my biggest play.

Don't get any delusions of favorites about betting only favorites based on last year though. Look back at what happened two years ago...

NEW YEAR'S GAMES...TWO YEARS AGO
Auburn (-9) beat Northwestern 38-35
Florida State (+3) beat West Virginia 33-21
Penn State (+2) beat LSU 19-17
Ohio State (+4.5) beat Oregon 26-17
Florida (-12) beat Cincinnati 51-23

There were only five games instead of six. Underdogs covered 80% of the games and won three of the five outright! Yes, the spreads were small. There weren't any huge upsets. Northwestern just missed springing one of those in an early game though. Favorite players were whining all day long in the sportsbooks (and most public bettors love favorites). Dog players didn't take a hit until Cincinnati got spanked in the Sugar Bowl.

NEW YEAR'S GAMES...THREE YEARS AGO
Iowa (-3.5) beat South Carolina 31-10
Nebraska (+2.5) beat Clemson 26-21
Georgia (-9) beat Michigan State 24-12
USC (-10) beat Penn State 38-24
Virginia Tech (+2.5) beat Cincinnati 20-7

Two upsets from underdogs of less than a field goal...but the favorites covered all three games that they won.

What can we take from those three years of data?

  • The straight up winner usually covers the game. Don't try to get cute and squeeze under a tight pointspread with an underdog. Make sure you believe your dog can win the game by more than a field goal before you think about backing them with any level of confidence.

  • The best teams usually play to their expected form. If they lose, they lose a close game. The biggest exception was when West Virginia lost by 12 as a favorite to Florida State. But, that was in Bobby Bowden's last game at FSU...and his players really rose to the occasion for them. You're just not going to see "flat" favorites in New Year's Bowls. So, only back underdogs if you believe the favorite has an exploitable weakness.

  • Teams from the North have trouble winning New Year's games straight up! Iowa played a great game against South Carolina. Penn State did sneak by LSU...but that game was played on a very muddy field that favored a team from the North over speedy athletes from the SEC. You know the Big Ten wants New Year's revenge after last year's debacle. Are they capable of getting it this year with Penn State, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Wisconsin all playing outside their preferred climate?

No hints from me. I made my name as the "Don't Make Sense" handicapper many years ago because I would buck tradition when it suited me...and I would buck recent form once everyone convinced themselves that some things just "couldn't" happen. I will SHOCK THE SYSTEM on Monday January 2nd with plays that are definitely going to stun some of you. i have my New Year's Bowl Game of Year (which is also my Bowl Upset of the Season) and my Bowl Favorite of the Year. You can win along with me if you purchase those games right here at the website with your credit card.

Be sure you take care of business EARLY on Monday because we have so many early afternoon ET kickoffs (those are in the morning out here in Las Vegas). If you have any questions, call my office at 1-877-766-8946.

We've had a great run through the bowls already...and now the single biggest day of college bowl action has arrived. It's not just the single biggest day on TV...it's the single biggest day of bowl betting here in Las Vegas. That means you should spend some time with THE KING OF LAS VEGAS before making your final decisions. Make a few clicks to get Monday's BOWL BONANZA from WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!

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