Not a full on preview this week since it’s a crappy week, but instead a look at five bizarre gambling lines.
I don’t bet on games. I make my three picks on Twitter each week for fun, and to prove to myself that I should never consider betting on games. My dad always had this mantra that if it seemed to good to be true, it probably was. Which leads me to five games this week that have lines that just seem way off.
LSU (+1) @ Arkansas
Wow. What? LSU is 7–3. Their losses are to Mississippi St., Auburn and Alabama, all top 10 teams. Arkansas is 4–5. Their best win is at Texas Tech or against Northern Illinois! So what gives? If you believe in the Bruce Feldman “Body Blow Theory” © then this makes a little most sense. LSU just had a rough game against Alabama. It’s a perfect letdown situation. Plus Arkansas is coming off a bye. Arkansas is a top 40 team according to Football Outsiders. Still seems crazy.
Mississippi St. (+9) @ Alabama
Mississippi State is #1 in the country. They are 9–0. They have handled every challenge that has come their way. They have beaten Auburn and LSU. They had Tennessee Martin last week, so as close to a bye as you can get. So what gives? Football Outsiders has Alabama as the best team in the country (6th offense, 2nd defense). Mississippi St. is ranked 6th by them, and behind Alabama in both categories. This is a little crazy though. How often is the #1 team getting 9 points, even on the road?
Nebraska (+6.5) @ Wisconsin
Nebraska is rank 16th and is 8–1. Wisconsin has two losses and is ranked 20th. This isn’t just a spread bumped by home field. Nebraska hasn’t beaten a top 25 team. They lost at Michigan St. and their best win is Miami, who is ranked 12th by Football Outsiders, but have come a long way since September. Wisconsin has two losses. One was opening night against LSU (excusable). The other was against Northwestern (inexcusable). Nebraska is coming off a bye week. Football Outsiders has them ranked 14th, and Wisconsin ranked 19th. This one doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Auburn (+2.5) @ Georgia
Auburn is ranked 9th, Georgia is 15th. Both have two losses. Auburn lost at Mississippi St. and to Texas A&M. Both top 25 teams. Georgia lost to South Carolina and Florida, both of whom Football Outsiders has ranked behind Virginia. Georgia’s defense isn’t great, and even with Todd Gurley back Auburn is probably better on both sides of the ball. This line at least makes a little sense factoring in home field, but still seems a little off.
Florida St. (–2.5) @ Miami
On first glance, this is insane. But FSU’s best win is a fading Notre Dame team, or a Clemson team that has come on late. Miami has lost three times. On opening night at a solid Louisville team, on the road against a good Nebraska team (both in September) and a more inexcusable loss at Georgia Tech. But all 6 of their wins have come by at least 10 points, and their last three all by at least 21. They are coming off a bye, and more importantly Football Outsiders have them ranked 12th (10th offense, 18th defense), and would likely be higher without a 64th ranked special teams. FSU is 9–0, but they are ranked only 9th, with the 29th ranked defense.
When it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. I have been picking three games for fun every week and at this moment, those would be Miami, Arkansas and Alabama.