#Betting101: Pegleg Pirate Booty, Arrrrrrr

Jason Lake

Friday, September 8, 2017 5:03 PM UTC

Friday, Sep. 8, 2017 5:03 PM UTC

The computers say the East Carolina Pirates “should” be 15.5-point underdogs this Saturday. So why are they +24.5 on the college football odds board, me hearties?

In our first very special episode of #Betting101, we talked about “sharps” versus “squares” in the betting marketplace. That second term is a slap in the face to bettors who just want to throw a couple bucks down on their favorite team. It’s not a crime. Recreational bettors should be treated with the utmost respect. They’re the ones making all this possible.

Having said that, if betting value is more important to you than entertainment, you need to look beyond the Top-25 rankings when you make your college football picks. Now that we’re getting closer to Saturday’s slate, let’s take a look at the consensus reports and see if we can find a good team at a good price. Filter No. 1: Teams who are getting less than 30 percent consensus at press time. A little over 30 percent is fine.


After some button-clicking, here’s what we’ve dug up at the home office:

Florida Atlantic (vs. Wisconsin): 32 percent
Eastern Michigan (vs. Rutgers): 33 percent
East Carolina (vs. West Virginia): 2 percent
North Texas (vs. SMU): 31 percent
USC (vs. Stanford): 30 percent

One of these things is not like the others. The East Carolina Pirates opened as 19.5-point road dogs for Saturday’s game (noon ET, FS2) against the West Virginia Mountaineers, and before you could say “Clarence Stasavich,” the line was up to +24. This was the day after ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery announced that Thomas Sirk would replace Gardner Minshew as the starting quarterback. Hmmmm.

The most recent consensus snapshot for this game was taken on Tuesday, so the 30-percent trick might not work against this early-and-presumably-sharp action. But are the Pirates a bargain at this new price? Sirk was the starting QB at Duke in 2015 before tearing his Achilles (again) and sitting out the 2016 campaign. Duke’s offensive co-ordinator at the time? Scottie Montgomery. The plot thickens.

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Thomas Sirk looks mad after tonight's loss. pic.twitter.com/BAiCTDrAyO

— Owen in Tampa (@OwenInTampa) September 3, 2017

Injury and favoritism concerns notwithstanding, Sirk figures to be an upgrade over Minshew, if only a small one. He outperformed the incumbent after taking over during last week’s 34-14 loss to the reigning FCS champions, the James Madison Dukes (–1 away). Not that Sirk was Jeff Blake out there or anything: 21-of-35 for 210 yards and two interceptions.

ESPN’s Football Power Index projects West Virginia to win this game 89.1 percent of the time, which works out to –818 on our SRB Betting Odds Converter. The Mountaineers are –2500 on the NCAAF odds board. They “should” be somewhere around –15.5 on the point spread, if the projections are accurate. Something weird is going on here, but I don’t see any other red flags on the news wires, so a small bet on the Pirates seems appropriate – just in case this blip in the betting market is indeed too good to be true.

Free College Football Pick: East Carolina +24.5
Best Line Offered: at Bovada

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