Is it just me, or have the end-of-year pieces for 2013 taken a rather dark turn? I suppose it’s inevitable for anyone who’s writing honestly about popular culture – and doubly so when it comes to college football. I don’t need to rehash all the troubles this sport has experienced over the past year. Instead, let me point at the silver lining: No matter whether you’re sharp or square, there’s never been a better time to bet on college football.
First, the squares. In this (relative) age of abundance, you can make disposable income without too much mental effort, and you’re free to blow off your stack betting on NCAA football. This is your world now. This is your culture. As for you sharps out there – look at all those squares in the marketplace, with all that money in their fists. You know they’re just going to bet on their favorite team. If they don’t have one, they’ll pick the team with the nickname they like more. Bright colors help, too. It’s Red State vs. Blue State, all the way.
That’s where we’re at with the BCS National Championship Game (Monday, Jan. 6, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). This is the peak of the college football betting season; thousands of people who wouldn’t know an A-gap from a hole in the ground are going to bet on this game. And if the standard rules of thumb apply, the majority of those squares are going to bet on the favorites: the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles (13-0 SU, 11-2 ATS).
Not that there aren’t viable reasons for betting on Florida State. But viable reasons aren’t what the squares are about. Even the ones who are at least rubbing a couple of I.Q. points together will bet the Seminoles because they’re undefeated – they can’t lose – or because they have the 2013 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Jameis Winston – he can’t lose. That’s about as far as their mental capacity will stretch.
At the other end of the field, you have the No. 2 Auburn Tigers (12-1 SU, 11-2 ATS). Plenty of squares will be betting on the Tigers, too, out of sheer love for the SEC and all things Dixie. But the Tigers are 8.5-point underdogs as we go to press, and Auburn doesn’t have the same brand recognition as the Alabama Crimson Tide or the Florida Gators. How many squares can even find Auburn on a map? Without using Google, that is.
There’s a point to all this old-man crankiness. When the squares place their bets on Team A, they cause the college football betting lines to shift, making Team B more likely to beat the spread. That’s the rationale behind contrarian betting – to fade the public. The National Championship Game, the Super Bowl, and March Madness are your best opportunities to employ this sports betting strategy and pick up some of that not-so-smart money.
The Green Room
There’s a right time for everything, of course. Another rule of thumb is that squares tend to bet much closer to game time, especially during the weekend. Our consensus reports at press time show 58 percent support for Auburn, with a heavy burst of action on the Tigers just after the NCAAF lines opened on Dec. 8. That support has moved the Tigers down from +9 to +8.5; however, if things unfold as I’ve suggested, Auburn will move back to +9 and even higher once the public enters the marketplace. It pays to be patient.
I’ve already laid out why the Tigers (and the UNDER) are such a great college football pick from a football perspective. When you factor in the usual betting habits of the marketplace, it just makes Auburn that much stronger. That’s no guarantee the Tigers will win or even cover, but hey, even a blind dog finds a bone now and then. May the prolate spheroid be with you in 2014 and beyond.
Take the Tigers +9 at The Greek
Take UNDER 68 (–109) at Matchbook