The Texas A&M Aggies’ 2014-15 College Football Betting Preview

Steve - CollegeFootballWinning.com

Thursday, July 3, 2014 3:46 PM GMT

Texas A&M lost three offensive players in just the first round of the 2014 NFL draft! That sounds bad, right? As it turns out, they lost a grand total of those three players to the entire 2014 NFL draft. How might a team perform after losing QB “Johnny Football “ as the 22nd overall pick?

 


Just two years ago, there was another Texas A&M team that lost a QB to the first round of the NFL draft. (Ryan Tannehill was the 8th overall pick in 2012.) The Aggies of 2012 not only had to replace the first-round draftee QB, but they also had to deal with a new coaching staff and changing conferences- to the SEC! That 2012 squad had four starting offensive linemen returning, the same as this 2014 team. The Aggies of 2012 returned 61% of their tackles. Texas A&M of 2014 returns slightly more than 65%. That 2012 group had the 39th-ranked QB (ESPN’s 2011 ranking of Johnny Manziel coming out of high school). This 2014 bunch has the #1 (pro-style) QB in early-enrollee, Kyle Allen. How did that 2012 team do? They finished 11-2 straight-up (SU), beat the spread at a rate of 61.54%, and finished the season with their highest final AP ranking (#5) since Bear Bryant’s 1956 Aggies. The question for bettors is: Just what are the expectations for the 2014-2015 Texas A&M Aggies? As a betting preview, this article will explore that and other questions that college football bettors should be asking.


Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin Against-the-Spread (ATS)
As head coach at Texas A&M, Sumlin is exactly 50% ATS. If you include his head coaching at Houston, Sumlin is 54.55% ATS overall. Perhaps the revealing part about Sumlin’s two head-coaching stints is his tendency to beat the spread at Home, yet fail to do so when Away. At A&M, Sumlin’s teams have covered the number 57.14% of the time at Home, but only beat the spread 41.67% in Away games. When you add in his Houston record, Kevin Sumlin’s ATS winning rate is 67.57% at Home and 42.5% Away.


Expectations in College Football Betting
As an admitted oversimplification, betting lines are driven by expectations. Although Sumlin’s Aggies have compiled a 20-6 SU record over the past two years, many attribute that to Johnny Manziel. Last season, we at CollegeFootballWinning.com thought that Texas A&M entered 2013 clearly overrated. They had the fourth-shortest odds to win the BCS National Championship, and we warned that there would be trouble with only returning five defensive starters. For 2014, the Aggies have the 22nd-shortest odds to win the National Championship (according to Pinnacle), yet they have seven defensive starters returning. (Only four SEC teams have more returning defensive starters.) The knock on this defense is that, in 2013, the Aggie scoring defense ranked 92nd against FBS competition, so most are unimpressed with the returning defenders. That is yet another reason why expectations have been lowered for Texas A&M in 2014, and anything that lowers expectations for a team is generally good for ATS outcomes. In our article outlining preseason predictive principles, we discussed three conditions for a profitable ATS season:

1) Be unranked in the preseason polls. With the AP Top 25 Preseason Poll still two months away, most major college football publications do not have Texas A&M ranked in their preseason top 25. If the Aggies are ranked in the Preseason AP Poll, it should be near the bottom, which is a significant drop from last year’s #7 preseason ranking.

2) Be unprofitable the prior ATS season. Beating the spread at a rate of just 38.46% in 2013 means A&M was definitely unprofitable in 2013.

3) Increase the straight-up (SU) wins from the prior season. Over the last 10 seasons, EVERY time Texas A&M increased their SU wins from the prior season they were profitable ATS, and EVERY time the Aggies decreased their SU wins from the prior season they were unprofitable ATS. Texas A&M had nine overall SU wins in 2013. As this is being written, their regular season win total has been posted at 7.5, with the Over at +135 and the Under at -175. Since the Under is “juiced,” the bookmakers’ belief is that more of the public is expected to bet the Under 7.5 regular season wins. If we believe those expectations, and even if we add a complete SU win for a Bowl game, the Aggies are expected to win a total of less than 8.5 games. Whether you regard eight-and-a-fraction as eight or nine wins, it still does not EXCEED their nine SU wins from 2013.


Schedule Notes
Utilizing the NCAA’s method of determining strength of schedule, Texas A&M ranks 5th. While perusing the schedule, look to justify at least eight, preferably nine, SU wins:

DATE

OPPONENT

LOCATION (STADIUM)

NOTES (Texas A&M Under Kevin Sumlin)

08/28/14

South Carolina

Columbia, SC

(Williams-Brice Stadium)

ATM’s season opens with a conference game. The Aggies are 0-2 ATS in both season-openers and SEC road-openers. Meanwhile, SC (under Spurrier) is 5-4 ATS in season-openers and 5-3-1 ATS in SEC Home-openers.

09/06/14

Lamar

College Station, TX

(Kyle Field)

ATM is 2-1 ATS vs. the FCS. The Aggies were favored by at least 33.5 points in each matchup. The total number of points scored in ATM‘s 3 FCS matchups was 252 (an ave. of 84 points per game). The Aggies are 0-2 ATS in Home-openers.

09/13/14

Rice

College Station, TX

(Kyle Field)

Rice played here in 2013, and ATM failed to cover the spread by a TD. The Total went Over by 13.5 points. ATM is 2-1 ATS vs. non-conference FBS opponents at Home.

9/20/14

SMU

Dallas, TX

(Gerald J. Ford Stadium)

ATM is 2-0 ATS vs. SMU. The last time these teams played in Dallas (2012) ATM beat the SPREAD by 35 points! In both matchups, the Total went Under by 9.5 (2012) and 25.5 (2013) points.

09/27/14

Arkansas

Arlington, TX

(AT&T Stadium)

ATM is 1-1 ATS vs. Arkansas, beating the spread at Home and losing Away. Both times the line direction (from the opening to the closing betting line) indicated the correct side. Both times the Total went Over. ATM is 1-2 ATS in neutral-site games (including Bowl games).

10/04/14

Mississippi State

Starkville, MS

(Davis Wade Stadium)

ATM is 1-1 ATS vs. MSU. Each time, the road team beat the spread. That road ATS victory over MSU in 2012 is one of just three ATS SEC road wins (in eight tries). ATM is 0-2 ATS in true SEC road-openers (i.e. SEC games not played in neutral locations.)

10/11/14

Ole Miss

College Station, TX

(Kyle Field)

ATM is 0-2 ATS vs. Ole Miss. Both games saw significant line movement (2012’s line moved 4 points from opening to closing), and both times the line movement suggested the wrong side. Both games were in Oxford, and both times ATM won (SU) by 3 points.

10/18/14

Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL

(Bryant-Denny Stadium)

ATM is 2-0 ATS vs. Bama, and both times the Aggies received the minority of the public betting. ATM was more than a TD-underdog in each game. The two ATS wins over the Tide are the only ATS wins ATM has as underdogs (in five tries).

11/01/14

Louisiana-Monroe

College Station, TX

(Kyle Field)

The last time ATM played ULM was in 2007 (pre-Sumlin & pre-SEC). The Aggies of 2007 beat the 22-point spread by 18 points. ATM is 0-2 ATS after a bye. ATM is 2-2 ATS in SEC “sandwich” games (i.e. non-SEC games played in between SEC contests).

11/08/14

Auburn

Auburn, AL

(Jordan-Hare Stadium)

ATM is 1-1 ATS vs. AU, and each time the road team won both SU and ATS. Both games saw the Total go Over. Neither the spreads nor the Totals were less than two TD’s away from the actual outcome of these games. (In other words, all betting lines have been way off between these two teams.)

11/15/14

Missouri

College Station, TX

(Kyle Field)

ATM is 1-1 ATS vs. Mizzou, with the Home team winning both SU and ATS each game. Each time, the Home team received at least 2/3 of the public betting (and the public was right). The winning team has beaten the spread by less than a TD each time.

11/27/14

LSU

College Station, TX

(Kyle Field)

ATM is 0-2 both SU and ATS vs. LSU. In 2013, ATM failed to beat the spread vs. LSU by 20.5 points- the greatest ATS loss under HC Sumlin, and the greatest ATM ATS loss since October of 2010. The Total went Under both times as LSU held ATM to 19 and 10 points in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The Aggies are 1-1 ATS both in final regular-season and final Home games.

 

Another Freshman Quarterback for Texas A&M?
With Johnny Football gone, the court of public opinion has already condemned the 2014 Texas A&M season to mediocrity/rebuilding, perhaps especially because there is an unknown about to line-up behind the center. Aggie fans are probably the last people who need to be convinced that freshmen QB’s have the opportunity to surprise (positively). Should freshman QB, Kyle Allen, start for the Aggies, then that could be a great sign for college football bettors. Consider the season ATS results for some teams led by excellent freshmen QB’s the past six years:

YEAR

FRESHMAN QUARTERBACK

TEAM ATS RECORD

2008

Kellen Moore (Boise State)

8-4

2009

Andrew Luck (Stanford)

8-5

2010

Danny O’Brien (Maryland)

9-4

2011

Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville)

8-5

2012

Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)

8-5

2013

Jameis Winston (Florida State)

11-3

TOTAL

52-26 (66.67%)

 

 

Ten Sumlin’s Tales

In 2012, the average ATS margin of victory for Texas A&M was +10.96.

In 2013, the average ATS margin of victory fell to -3.81.

In 2012, A&M allowed just one team to rush for more than 200 yards- an ATS loss for the Aggies.

In 2013, A&M allowed nine teams to rush for more than 200 yards; they were 2-7 ATS in those games.

In 2012, the Aggie rushing defense allowed an average of just 3.72 yards per carry. In 2013, A&M’s defense only got below their 2012 average twice, both ATS wins.

Texas A&M was 5-2 ATS when Johnny Manziel ran the ball LESS THAN 10 times in a game.

Texas A&M was just 3-7 ATS when Johnny Manziel ran the ball MORE THAN 15 times in a game.

Under Sumlin, the Aggies are just 28.57% ATS in games when the spread is less than a single TD.

Line movement (from the opening to the closing betting line) for Sumlin’s Aggies has indicated the WRONG side in 2/3 of all Away games.

Reverse Line Movement (RLM): Usually an indicator of where the “sharp” money has gone when it opposes the majority of the public bets, the RLM side has been WRONG in all but one of A&M’s games under Sumlin.

 

Preseason Conclusions
The 2015 College Football National Championship will be determined by playing-off four teams chosen by 13 people. For good or ill, this will be the most subjective method of determining the four best teams in college football since before the BCS. Given the extreme subjectivity of the selection process and the fact that we have no data on the results (since this is the first year of the process), we recommend the most conservative approach to your National Championship futures betting. Going undefeated in the SEC would guarantee a spot in the College Football Playoff, but opening the season at South Carolina, playing Away at Mississippi State, Alabama, and Auburn, while finishing the year with their de facto SEC nemesis (LSU) is just too much to handle. Consequently, our money will Not be on Texas A&M as a betting pick to win the National Championship.

If Texas A&M can find a way to beat South Carolina in August (a game where one offshore sportsbook already has the Aggies as 12-point underdogs), then there is a realistic chance that A&M can reach that nine-SU-win mark. For a profitable ATS season, however, history suggests that they would need to exceed nine SU wins, and that seems too difficult. If, on the other hand, this young Aggie offense loses convincingly early, but improves steadily while the young, yet experienced defense makes the achievement leap we believe possible, then there could be good money to be made later in the season against some of those tougher teams. Until then, note the starting QB and the South Carolina opener- they should tell a lot.

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