Two For The Money

Stats are not enough, you need a voice! These are gamblers ready to risk what they can’t afford for what they can’t have, you’re selling the world’s rarest commodity: certainty, in an uncertain world.” ~Al Pacino, Two For the Money

Happy Tuesday Cougar fans.

Two For the Money is a great look at football betting.  The story is based on the famous football handicapper Brandon Lang and his move from playing college football to serious football handicapping.  Here is a nice little clip to give you a better idea what the movie is all about. 

Side note – part of the movie is written by Rene Russo’s husband Dan Gilroy.  Gilroy’s father, Frank, attended Wazzu!

In the past, this site has taken a stand against betting on college sports, but here I am breaking all the rules!

As promised last week, here is my look at some upcoming games based on the Las Vegas spreads.  No, this isn’t a pick’em/Football Friday type post, just a look at the spreads.  For simplicity’s sake, aka because it is the site I prefer, I will make the picks based on the spreads posted at

But first, on the pick’em – sorry for any confusion, but as you may have heard, we now have two groups on Yahoo.  That’s great, however we made a mistake yesterday and had to reset the games that we will pick.  When that happened, any of you who already made your picks for this week, well, they were wiped out!  That means that, unfortunately, you need to make your picks one more time.  You have until Thursday, which is good, but your picks are now gone.  Sorry about that. 

Here’s the Yahoo pick’em group info:

Group #2:

1)  Go here, to the Yahoo Sports Fantasy College Football Pick ’em.
2)  Click Join a Group.
3)  Enter the following information: 

Group: 16079
Password: wazzufbblog

If you already joined group #1 as one of the first 50 to sign up, here’s the information:

Group: 14767
Password: gocougs

Disclaimer:  WSU Football Blog does not encourage betting on sports…..with that, continue on for more.

Here is a brief tutorial on the basics to betting:

Each game has three basic bets.  There is the Spread, Over/Under, and the Moneyline.

For this weekend’s matchup between Hawaii and USC the Spread is 21, USC is a 21 point favorite, meaning they’re -21.  Hawaii as a 21 point underdog is +21.  If you pick USC -21 then you won’t get paid unless the Trojans win by more than that amount.  If USC wins by exactly 21, the bet is a push, and if they win by any less than 21, you lose!

Sticking with the USC game, the Over/Under (O/U) is 54 points.  If you take the Over, both teams must combine to score at least 55 points for you to get paid.  If they score exactly 54 points the bet is a push, and if they score 53 or less you lose.  If you select the Under of 54, than the logic reverses.  Pretty simple, right?

The final bet on any game is the Moneyline, aka you pick a winner straight up.  The basic logic to this, is the bigger the underdog, the better the payout.  So if you took USC to beat Hawaii straight up, on a $10 dollar bet, you might receive a $1 in earnings on top of getting your original bet back.  If you took Hawaii to win straight up, and for some reason they beat the Trojans, you would be looking at a nice payout.  The Moneyline odds for this weekend’s games aren’t out yet.

I was in Las Vegas in 2008 and sitting in the Bellagio Sportsbook for the game between UCLA and Wazzu when Taylor Rochestie went bananas en route to a big time win for WSU.  I took the Cougs and the 13 points, which only paid me $18 on top of my $20 bet.  Had I taken the Cougs straight up, my $20 was probably worth closer to $60.  Oops.


Each bet has odds attached to it, and that determines how much you will  be paid.  USC is (-110) on the spread, which means that if you bet $10 and the Trojans cover, you will get paid 91% of your original bet, plus your $10 back.  So you would be looking at $19.10.  The odds on a spread are usually identical for the opposite team, as oddsmakers believe the spread levels the playing field.  Why pay more if Hawaii covers the 21 points given?  You really start to make money when you start placing Parlays.

A parlay is a multiple-line bet, that has a much better payout that the original odds.  For example, if you took USC -21 and Over 54 and they covered both lines, your $10 bet is now worth $26 plus your original $10 back.  Parlays can also involved multiple games too if you really want to get crazy.

A few final notes before we get looking at some interesting lines this weekend.  The team with Homefield Advantage generally gets 3 points given to them in the spread.  Las Vegas does not offer spreads against FCS foes, therefore the following Pac 10 games this weekend don’t have a line: Stanford hosts Sacramento State, Cal hosts UC Davis, and the Sun Devils play Portland State in their first of back to back FCS opponents, before hosting Northern Arizona.  My last bit of advice.  Regularly you can cover the Over when big-time programs in non-AQ conferences get into conference play.  When TCU, Boise State and Nevada-Reno begin taking on the likes of Utah State, San Diego State, and Colorado State, pay close attention to the O/U.  Those bets treated me very well last season.

Lets take a look at some interesting lines in Week 1.

Texas Tech and SMU over 60.5: The Red Raiders have won 13 straight against the Mustangs and are 16-1 in their past 17 home openers, but it is a new day in Lubbock under Tommy Tuberville.  June Jones has his program fired up after stomping Nevada-Reno in last season’s Hawaii Bowl.  Look for this one to be reached by Halftime!

Arizona -14.5 at Toledo: The ‘Cats are on the road, but against a subpar MAC team that Phil Steele pegged for third place in their division in the MAC.  I think the Wildcats have enough offensive firepower in Foles, Grigsby and Dean to win by more than 15.

Washington State +15.5 at Oklahoma State: The last time these two teams met, the programs were going in opposite directions. Coach Gundy was in the middle of five bowl games in six seasons, while the Cougs were just ushering in the Paul Wulff era.  Well in my mind, the Paul Wulff era truly begins this Saturday in Stillwater.  In 2008 with a potent offense featuring future pros Des Bryant, Zac Robinson, Brandon Pettigrew and Russell Okung, the Pokes left Seattle as 26 point victors.  In 2010, the Cougs have finally got some depth and talent, albeit young, while Oklahoma State has lost many key players and is picked at the bottom of the Big 12.  Phil Steele notes that only Okie St and ECU return less than 60.5% of their letterman, which through his research only gives them a 12.5% chance of equaling their win total from last season.  I think the game is decided by less than 2 TDs.

Oregon State +13.5 at TCU: The Horned Frogs and Beavs will match-up in Dallas at the Palace of Jerry.  Oregon State usually disappoints early in the season, and the Horns look loaded once again.  TCU has a great offense, while the jury is still out on the OSU offense. That being said, OSU should have a good enough defense to keep the margin of defeat less than 14.

Pittsburgh +3 at Utah: This one I am torn on, as Pitt is a Big East favorite and Utah, not quite a Mountain West favorite.  Dion Lewis is the only player leaving the state of Utah after Week 1 that has a shot at the Heisman (I’m talking to you Jake Locker). I am going to take the experienced Pitt team over the Utah team that has won some big games against big time competition in recent history.

Boise State -3 at Virginia Tech: Last year the Broncs treated me very well covering the majority of their spreads and hitting the “over” in WAC games. Virginia Tech in Washington DC will promote a road trip much longer than anything the boys in blue are used to.  I think it is a close, low scoring affair, but the experienced Boise offense gets the job done on the road.

That is all for today Cougar fans.  I hope you like this new feature at the Blog, and don’t forget to check in tomorrow for a recap of the current affairs with Oklahoma State!!