2017 College Bowl Best Bets Recap:
I was 6-5 on my Bowl Bets, going 4-1 on sides and 2-4 on totals, but my analysis was much better than my record. My 6 Best Bets wins won by an average of 20.3 points with all 6 winning by 7 points or more – 5 of them winning by more than 10 points. I lost one bowl Best Bet by 40.5 points, while the other 4 losses were by an average of just 3.6 points. My first 3 totals Best Bets lost by 1.5 points, 4 points, and 1.5 points and I certainly had the right side in one of those. Overall, my 11 Bowl Best Bets beat the number by a combined total of 66.5 points yet I was just 6-5.
An average line differential of +6.0 points would normally equate to a 65.5% win percentage in college football but an unlucky 0-3 record on the 3 close games turned that good handicapping into a barely profitable 54.5%. I actually started with 5 Best Bet losses in a row before winning my final 6 Bowl Best Bets and I appreciate those of you that stuck with me, knowing how unlucky we were on those first few totals Best Bets.
The Bowl Strong Opinions were just as unlucky, capped off the losing the under in the National Championship game in overtime because a senior kicker that was 14 for 15 on kicks inside of 40 yards missed in the final seconds to keep the score tied at 20-20 to force the OT. Overall, the Bowl Strong Opinions were just 5-6-1 but that last under certainly should have won and we were 1-2 on the other close Strong Opinions (losing two by 1 point and winning one by 1 point). The 12 Strong Opinions had a total line differential of +62.5 points based on scores at the end of regulation (+5.2 average line differential), so our fate on the Strong Opinions certainly should have better too. The Bowl leans were 14-10, going 7-7 on sides (including an FCS playoff game) and 7-3 on totals.
Overall I feel like my level of handicapping in the bowls was really good and it’s actually an accomplishment to have a winning record on Best Bets despite losing every close game. It was a microcosm of the second half of my season, which had numerous close losses.
My bowl season started off with two close losses and I started 0-5 on my Best Bets before rallying with 6 straight Best Bets wins.
My first Best Bet was a 2-Star Best Bet on Under 63.5 points in the Middle Tennessee State vs Arkansas State game, which was a great bet. The teams combined for a low 5.1 yards per play and the projected total points based on the stats is just 54.8 points. Unfortunately, there was a fumble return touchdown that helped that game go over with 65 total points. Good bet. Wrong result.
My next Best Bet was a 2-Star loss on the Texas Tech-South Florida Under 68 and that play looked good most of the way with just 20 total points in the first half and 41 points through 3 quarters. Unfortunately, the teams combined for 31 points in the 4th quarter to push the game over at 72 points for another close loss. This one, however, was projected to go over based on the stats so this game will be graded as a deserved loss.
My next Best Bet was a 2-Star Best Bet on Toledo -6.5 and the Rockets were completely dominated by Appalachian State to the tune of 34-0. I’m still scratching my head over the result. Obviously, the worst call of the bowl season.
My 1-Star Best Bet on the Northern Illinois-Duke Under 48.5 started out as bad as it could possibly be, as Duke scored on their second possession and then got a gift when the Northern Illinois attempted a fake punt on 4th and 18 from their own 11 yard line. Four plays later Duke had scored an easy touchdown to make it 14-0. WTF? What idiot calls a fake punt on 4th and 18 with the punter throwing the ball 4 yards into his own endzone? The game ended up with 50 total points scored on just 766 totals yards, going over by just 1.5 points. Thanks coach for that brilliant play call. This will be graded as a toss-up game that lost.
My 1-Star Best Bet on Kansas State-UCLA Over 59.5 totaled just 52 total points for my 5th and final bowl loss. This wasn’t a completely horrible bet, as the teams did combine to average 6.3 yards per play, but the pace of UCLA’s offense was much slower than anticipated, as they slowed down the tempo with Josh Rosen out. They didn’t slow down the pace in other games when Modster played, so I assumed the Bruins would play at their normal pace. The stats projected 55.7 total points, which is only 4 below the total, but I’ll grade this one as a deserved loss.
I got my first, much needed, bowl win with a 1-Star Best Bet on Purdue +4 against Arizona. Purdue led 31-14 at the half but Arizona came back to take a 4-point lead late in the 4th quarter before the Boilermakers staged a comeback of their own with a 75-yard touchdown drive to win the game. Purdue outgained Arizona 559 yards to 430 yards and the stats project a 9 point win so the Boilermakers were certainly the right side in this game.
My next win was a 2-Star Best Bet on Michigan State +3, which was released a few weeks earlier when the line was +3. MSU ended up being a 3-point favorite and won 42-17 as the dominated the Cougars. Those that signed up after my initial release of my favorite 3 Best Bets (all won) did not have this game as a Best Bet unfortunately because it was only a Best Bet at +3 points or more.
My 1-Star Best Bet on the Texas A&M-Wake Forest Over 64.5 points was my most resounding victory of the bowl season, as the teams totaled 107 points in a 55-52 Wake Forest win.
One of my other early Best Bet releases was my 2-Star Best Bet on Ohio State -6.5 over USC and the Buckeyes cruised to a dominating 24-7 victory. We had some good fortune in this game, as Ohio State was +2 in fumbles and were outgained. However, the Buckeyes did average more yards per play despite playing very conservatively with a big lead (just 20 pass plays the entire game) while USC got a lot of their yards late (over half of their yards came in the 4th quarter when they were throwing on nearly every down). It wasn’t as good of a bet as the final score indicated but I do feel Ohio State was the right side.
My final two Best Bets were on the Alabama-Clemson semifinal game, as I had a 2-Star Best Bet on Alabama -2, which I released before any of the bowl games started, and a 1-Star Best Bet on the Alabama-Clemson Under 47.5. This game played out exactly as I had written it up and Alabama won 24-6 to give us two easy wins and a slight profit in the bowl season despite the unfortunate 0-5 start.